A Student Film
The screen was dark before it came to life with bright colors and nearly blinding sunlight. A figure in a sweater walked in front of the camera, trying to adjust where it was pointed.
“Jace,” said the person behind the camera.
“What?” said the man in the sweater, Jace.
“It’s on,” the cameraman said.
“Did I turn it on by accident or did you turn it on?” he asked.
“You turned it on.”
“Well, you know how to edit this out, right, Kay?”
“Okay, we’re good then.”
Jace walked out of the camera’s frame, allowing the scenery to be viewed in full. It was something similar to a city’s street. Its sidewalks were empty and there were no other buildings towering over it. It was just a film lot in the back of their university.
“Are you both ready?” Jace asked.
“It’s too early for this,” a third voice said off camera. Their voice was slightly higher than the other two.
“It’s eight,” Jace said. “How’s that early?”
“Not everyone is an early bird like you,” Kay said. He raised the camera a bit and focused it to the farthest part of the street before it turned out of view.
“Alli, go get into position,” Jace ordered. “Cameron’s already there.”
“Fine,” Alli said. She ran towards the other end of the false street, her long brown hair bounced on her back as she went and shone in the Florida sun.
“Kay, are you filming her ass?” Jace asked.
The camera lowered toward the floor. “No, asshole. For the last time, that wasn’t me. That was Cameron.”
“Whatever you say, man.” Jace walked up until he was barely in frame and cupped his hands over his mouth. “You both ready?”
“Yeah!” a pair of voices answered.
“Alright, aaaaand…” Jace backed out of the frame. “Action!”
Alli ran onto the street. Her eyes were wide with fear and her hair was a wild mess. She looked over her shoulder. A man in a gas mask shambled behind her with a machete in his hand. She let out a scream and broke into a full sprint. Then she tripped and crashed face first into the ground.
Kay burst into laughter and Cameron stopped his chase to rip off his mask to laugh as well. A loud smack was heard offscreen before Jace walked toward his actors.
“Cut! Cut!” he shouted. “What was that, Alli?”
Alli lifted herself off of the ground. “You try running in heels.”
“You don’t have to run in heels,” Jace said with genuine concern in his voice. “We have a pair of sneakers for you in the bag.”
“No,” she said bluntly. She brushed off her clothes and readjusted her shoes. “Sandra McGillicutty would wear heels so, goddammit, I’m going to run in heels.”
Jace put a hand on her shoulder. “Okay, just don’t hurt yourself, Alli.”
“Fine,” she said with a shrug. “I’ll be more careful.”
“I could give her some tips,” Cameron said.
“Okay, let’s start from the top.” Jace started walking back. “Alright, Kay. Time for ta…”
Suddenly, Jace, Cameron, and Alli dropped to the floor. The camera dropped to the ground about two seconds afterward. It clattered to the ground and pointed away from all the people on the lot.
For about a minute, there was absolutely no movement. No sound.
Finally, there was a groan beside the camera. There was shuffling and scraping of rocks against a hard, smooth surface.
“What the…” There was the flop of something heavy being lifted up and dropped to the floor. “Ow! Wait… What the fuck? What the fuck is this?”
“Kay! What the fuck happened to your legs?!” Jace cried out.
Kay let out a scream. His torso fell onto the ground as he tried to scramble away. “What the fuck happened to your face?!”
“I just fell to the ground, of c-”
“No! No! No! Your eyes, Jace! There’s only one!”
“Not like one of them fell out, I mean there’s just one huge eye in the middle of your face!”
“What…? Oh my god! H-Holy shit!”
Kay picked up the camera again with shaky hands. He pointed the camera toward the others. Jace was sitting up with his hands feeling his face. His body was thicker and two feet taller than before. In the middle of his face was a large grey eye. He looked up at Kay with confusion than shielded his face.
“D-Don’t film me!” he cried.
“Sorry!” Kay pointed the camera away from Jace and toward Alli. “Wait, shit, Alli! Go check on her! She still hasn’t woken up!”
Jace crawled over to their friend and shook her shoulder. She didn’t stir yet.
“Alli! Oh, fuck! Alli, wake up! Please!”
She finally lifted her head. Her nose was red, swollen, and bleeding. But it was obvious that she, too, had changed. There were small horns poking out of her head and there was fuzzy, wispy beard on her chin.
“Ow…” she groaned. She tried to grab her nose and winced. She tried to sit on her feet but she cried out in pain and went back onto her hands. “What the hell?” Her eyes drifted over to Jace and she screamed out.
“I know!” he said. “But look at you- You have horns!”
She reached up and felt the small points under her fingers. She tugged at them and hissed. They weren’t coming off.
“What the fuck?!” she screamed.
“I don’t know!” Jace shouted. “Look at me! And look at Kay, he’s a fucking fish now!”
Kay pointed the camera to his lower body. Rather than a pair of legs, there was a big red fish tail with large, thin fins flapping on the sides of it. He tried to lift it off the ground again to show that it was indeed real.
“What the hell…” Cameron gasped behind them.
Everyone turned toward him. With his gas mask and slasher villain costume still on, nobody could tell what had happened to him. He got up onto unsteady legs. He walked over to Jace and Alli. His mask turned from one to the other.
“Cam, take off your mask,” Jace said. “Let’s see if it happened to you too.”
Cameron’s hands reached up to remove the mask. He yanked it off in one swift motion. The second that his skin was exposed to the sunlight, he started screaming. His skin started bubbling and smoking and burning. He dropped to his knees and started clawing at his face. His friends screamed as he finally fell to the ground in a smoldering heap.
“Oh my god!” Alli screamed. “This is fucking insane!”
There were screams in the distance. Everyone looked at each other with worried expressions. Jace got up to his feet and held out his hand to help Alli up. She got onto her feet with a wobble. She looked down to see that her feet were replaced with small cloven hooves. She sighed and let her hands flop to her sides.
“I think I’m some goat thing from Narnia,” Alli said.
“At least you can stand!” Kay shouted from behind the camera.
“Do you think this happened to everyone else?” Jace asked.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out…” Alli said.
"What about Cam?" Kay asked.
"He..." Alli's face twisted uncomfortably. "We'll go find help for him."
They approached Kay and went to either side of him. He felt two pairs of hands grab his arms.
“Ready, Kay?” Jace asked.
“Yeah…” he said uncertainly.
Kay and the camera were roughly lifted off the ground. He had to adjust his grip to stop the camera from slipping out of his hands. He then pointed the camera directly in front of him.
“Why the hell are you still filming?” Alli asked. “Put the camera down! It’s heavy!”
“No!” Kay said firmly. “This is a huge thing that just happened! Someone has to document what happened!”
“This isn’t some damn found footage movie!”
“No, no,” Jace said. “He has a point. Let him keep the camera.”
They slowly walked back to the main part of the campus. Kay pointed the camera at whoever they passed. A panicked woman with claws and wings ran by them. One of their professors stayed huddled in the shade with part of his face burned. A huge boy with horns and a girl with a tail were carrying their unconscious but still human friend. There were several more passersby just stumbling around getting used to a new center of balance.
“What the hell is going on?” Jace asked. “It’s like the world’s been thrown into some fantasy book…” Jace then looked up. “Oh my god…”
Kay pointed the camera up to where Jace was looking. Soaring through the sky was a huge green figure. It was bulky with muscles and its wings flapped great gusts of wind to whoever stood below it. It opened its mouth in a roar and a long lick of flame poured out.
“Is that a fucking dragon?” Kay asked. “In Florida? A dragon?”
“Should we get inside before it notices us?” Alli asked. The dragon changed directions. “Yeah, we should.”
They scrambled over to the closest building they could see: the library. The towering shelves made them feel like they were covered by some sort of protection. It seemed they weren’t the only ones who felt that way, because the library was crowded with others like them.
“Wow…” Jace said in awe.
“Why do you have a camera?” said a bulky woman with horns. “I don’t want to be seen like this!”
“Someone has to record what’s happening!” Kay protested. “There’s always a guy with a camera when something goes wrong!”
“Does anyone even know how this happened?” said a professor who was now scaly and tailed. “This is madness…”
“Well…” a girl with glasses and fangs said. “Maybe it’s a curse?”
“Who the hell would curse us?” said a man in the back and out of view of the camera. “Witches and shit aren’t real.”
“Neither are fucking vampires and trolls but here we are.”
“This whole mess is crazy!”
Everything dissolved into shouting and obscenities. Suddenly there was the sound of skin hitting skin. A brawl shortly followed and people started running into the shelves.
Everyone froze. Everyone turned to see one of the professors with her teeth gritted and her face flushed with anger. It was an older woman with thick glasses and an aged face. However, everyone felt the oddest attraction that they couldn’t place.
“Everyone needs to calm down!” she said sternly. “Acting like a pack of animals won’t solve anything! We need to think it over calmly and rationally! What was everyone doing before this happened?”
She received a variety of answers that ranged from “Working on projects” to “Cutting class” to “Getting a tour.” None of them really gave an explanation for their transformation. The closest anyone could get was practicing with tarot cards.
“We saw our friend get burned up,” Jace said. “It was horrible…”
“We’re all gonna die?” said a girl in the back of the crowd.
“No!” said the professor with scales. “This is just some mass hallucination!”
“This feels pretty fucking real to me!”
“Didn’t the hot lady just tell us to calm down- Wait, did I just call Mrs. Sanchez hot?”
“Wow, what a fucked up world we’re in when Mrs. Sanchez is suddenly hot.”
“Can we ignore Mrs. Sanchez for a minute and remember the actual problem?”
“What the hell can we do to fix it?”
“Guys!” Alli said. “We’re in a library! Grab a book and look for an answer!”
That’s when everyone scrambled to the reference section in a desperate search for a solution. Every medical and mythological book as ripped off the shelves. The small fiction section was picked clean. The sound of flapping pages filled the air with both hope and despair. Kay sat on the library counter recording every minute.
“Anyone find anything yet?” Alli asked.
Jace rubbed his eye. “Fuck! Reading with only one is hard!”
“Ow…” Kay groaned. “This thing… My tail feels… You know how it feels when your lips are chapped? My entire lower body feels like that right now.”
“Sorry, Kay,” Alli said. She walked over with a sympathetic expression and a copy of Harry Potter in her hands. “We’ll go get you water in a bit.”
“Why not now?” he asked.
“Are you fucking crazy?” she said bluntly. “There’s a motherfucking dragon outside.”
The girl with fangs’ eyes widened. “What? Really?”
“Yeah,” they both answered.
Her face spread into a smile. “That is fucking awesome.”
“Dude,” Alli said. “It could eat you.”
“But a dragon though!” She pouted and walked off to research some more. “Dammit, why’d I have to turn into a fucking vampire? I prefer werewolves.”
Soon most of the people present gave up searching. Jace had left to check the situation outside. Many of the students sat with their heads on their knees and tables. There were a few stubborn souls still futilely looking for answers.
Suddenly, Jace burst in with a cellphone in his hand. He was panting heavily and his eye was wide.
“Guys!” he croaked. “Turn on the tv! The news! The news!”
The librarian with wings scrambled to grab the remote and quickly turned on the tv. Kay turned the camera to the anxious audience.
“Hello, everyone,” the anchorman said. He had horse legs beneath him and his hair was frazzled. “As you may have noticed, a majority of people and animals in the country have turned into, for lack of a better word, monsters.” A wave of unrest spread throughout the library. “As it turns out, this is a problem not only America is facing. It seems the whole world has also transformed. As of this moment, it seems as though society itself is crumbling. The Pope, according to witnesses, burst into flames in the middle of his Sunday Mass. The president of the United States is now an incubus. We’ve received distress calls from Boston but as of now, have no information as to what is happening. The president of India has mysteriously vanished. Um, I’m just receiving word now of dragons flying around in many countries and planes all around the world disappearing. We’re keeping the station running on nonstop for the next twenty-four hours while we receive information. For now, let’s take a short break. This is Nathan Brian… God help us all.”
The librarian shut off the television. There were tears streaming down some of the faces of the students, including Alli. Jace was trembling; with rage or with fear, Kay couldn’t tell. He had trouble keeping the camera steady himself.
They all sat in silence. It was the numb and mournful type of silence. The silence after an attack. The silence of a funeral. The silence that was the world registering the Posthuman Emergence Day Incident.
“I think…” Kay said quietly. “I think I should stop recording now.”
His hand went over the camera before the world went dark once again.