I had woken up at around nine in the morning and my entire morning ritual was fucked for it, orobably had something to do with me not being able to sleep or something. I dragged myself out of bed and threw on a plain white tee and some jeans I had bought second-hand, didn't see the point in dressing up. What didn't help was this discomfort that came out of nowhere. Allow me to elaborate; ever since yesterday I've felt as if something drastic had changed in the air. As if there were a thin string around my neck attempting to strangle me. I had thought I had felt it when I fried the Vromeros and its compadres but it didn't feel like this. No, the sensation in the alley was the string being tied in the first place and only now did I feel its snare. Let me tell ya, it's fucking annoying.

Shuffling down into the penthouse living room, or whatever architects call them, I saw my dad going over something with a bunch of blue collar gents. Pops turned over to me and smiled a bit wider.

"Morning son, casual Tuesday?"

I just did the teenager-who-just-woke-up thing of shrugging and then zombied my way to the kitchen for some plain oatmeal and water. No orange juice today, didn't feel like treating myself. Pops came over and sat next to me while I waited for the oatmeal to cook.

"Moving day today." He said matter of factly

"That's today?" I asked

"Yeah. Movers are here to pack everything up. Best ones I could find."

I just nodded and started on my now finished oatmeal.

"Once you're done with your breakfast I'm going to need you to run an errand for me."

Ah. Ever since I was thirteen my dad's been trying to get me out of the house more rather than just sitting around moping or practicing. So Pops and I have built up this long list of code phrases and responses for when he wants to trick me out of the house. That's his code for "Son, I love you, please get out of the house". I mean I fell for them at first, but every time he's done this it usually works out for the best so I just went along with it anyway.

With plain oatmeal and all of its comforting blandness in my mouth I asked "What'd you need?"

That's my code for "I don't want to and I have no plans, where should I go?"

"I don't believe you've checked out Lord Street Market yet. Nice greasy spoon burger joint called Fugly Bob's on the edge of it. Pick out a housewarming gift and then treat yourself to some lunch."

Pops slid me thirty dollars and then got back to the movers. This wasn't code or anything, just some pocket change I guess.

Breakfast sped on by with nothing else interesting happening, at least to me. Actually I think dad got a call from Gramps or maybe uncle E. I honestly wasn't paying attention to what phone he answered with and couldn't really be asked to care. Regardless, after breakfast I had to skedaddle. I didn't really have the energy to ride my fixie so I just hailed a cab and we made it to there with thankfully little conversation.

When I got out of the cab I was thoroughly underwhelmed. I don't know where a bunch of cheap plastic folding tables in plywood stalls on dying grass ever counted as a market but apparently Brockton Bay decided to lean into ghetto swap meet chic. Bootleg DVDs, cape merchandise, hippy arts and crafts, and all manner of nick-knacks dotted the stalls. By Kronos' severed scrotum, this place is fucking boring! I'd rather deal with creepy chick from yesterday than mill around this dump!

And as soon as I thought that, it happened. I turned a corner and bumped into a girl walking way too fast for a leisurely stroll around the market. A girl who was probably my age, stomping around a market, on a tuesday, during school hours. Yeah, totally not weird.

"Watch it ass-" the girl looked up at me, her face shifted from scowl to awe "-hole…"

You know that part in romcoms where the edges of the screen blurs, the cheesy romantic slow jam kicks in, and the heart frames whatever lad or lass has her heart pining for? Yeah, lil miss frizzy haired athletic girl has that. Meanwhile I've got Marlon Wayans shouting the ever so iconic "RUN BITCH, RUN!" in my ear. Frizzy Creepy Chick started biting her lip, playing with her hair, and cycling through every other sign of infatuation. It'd be charming and cute if I was in the mood for theatrics. I tried to think of something, anything really, to get me out of this situation that didn't involve me outing myself as more than human. I sincerely doubt calling down a lightning bolt in the middle of a cloudless day to hit one person would be a good idea.

The stalls might catch fire if she survives the initial bolt after all.

While I was trying to come up with an excuse other than potential property damage and murder, the FCC was opening and closing her mouth while expelling air. I think she was trying to communicate.

"Uh, so-sorry." Was what I translated the FCC's Vocal Chord Vibrations as.

I tried to back away slowly from the potentially volatile specimen but sadly there was some poor bastard's vegan gift basket stand in the way of my escape. I gave the hippie bastard the most angry glare I could before putting on the most polite "please leave me alone" look I could muster.

"I really should have looked where I was going." Oh good, FCC got the stuttering phase out of the way.

Thinking fast I replied with a "Shit happens, no worries, I'll just be off then." and attempted to walk past her.

Sadly she was far stronger than she looked and decided to lean into me and grab my shoulder. I think she was trying to be a swooning girl or something but hot damn did she have my shoulder in a vice grip. I don't think she understands the concept of gentle.

"Please, let me make it up to you."

I hoped that she wouldn't, because if this was how good her grip was I didn't want her hands anywhere near any other part of me. I tried to pry her hand off my shoulder and move away from the table, only for her to take my hand and pull it to her chest and pull herself along my path.

"I don't even know you, it's fine-" I was panicking at that point, that weird look in her eyes was not helping!

"My name's Sophia." she breathed out. I could easily guess that she lacked her namesake.

"Greek for wisdom. Nice." I got my hand out of her chest and started scooting away, she followed me like a cat about to chow down on a crippled mouse. What is it about me that attracts clingy chicks?

"So you know Greek?"

Gods damn it.

I looked around frantically, hoping that I could spy something that would get me out of this shit. Verbally insulting her would only bring about extremely painful, for me, results. This wasn't like whatsherface the ginger from last month who would be stunned long enough for me to leave on my fixie, this psycho would probably chop me up and bake me into a pie and serve it to her neighbors.

"Yeah, a little." Bullshit I was fluent.

"I've been thinking of picking up a new language myself-"

Gods fucking damn it

"Kinda have a full schedule." HAH! Perfect out I though of.

Sophia the Pyscho went from smily and infatuated to poorly disguised anger

"That thing with your friend right?"

Oh good she remembered. This was a great out after all!

She pointed at a burger joint, big sign that said "Fugly Bob's" above it. Oh hey, that's the joint Pops mentioned…

Oh crap.

"Wanna talk about it over food? my treat." she said, trying to sound comforting and failing.

Before I could even reply she had a follow up; "My mom likes to say that talking with someone about stuff that's bothering you helps."

Did she also teach you her "How to cook handsome as fuck boys who think you're crazy into a pie" recipe? I bet she did. Probably a crazy ass like you.


"Great! The burgers there aren't half bad. Thick enough to be cooked rare and juicy just the way I like 'em!"

Oh great she likes em bloody.

She dragged my skinny ass all the way down the road. I was trying to tell the local peasantry that I was distressed with my eyes, sadly these simple fools could not read my eyes for they just looked at us like we were a fine example of young love.

OK, not all of them there was a guy who just shook his head in shame at me as we walked past him. But that's besides the point. Stupid pasty ripped dude. Fuck you, that dumb ass tiger statue you bought, and your bitch ass boyfriend with the shitty tattoos.

When we got in the burger joint I only had one play left.

"Listen, Sophia?" I said "Before we order, I'm gonna use the bathroom ok?"

She pouted but let go of my arm.

"Knock yourself out." She nodded over to it, down a short hallway away from the front door. Not a good sign but hopefully there'd be a window I could climb through or fly out of.

I calmly strutted down in there and closed the door, locking the deadbolt and the button lock.

I let out a heavy sigh and looked around. No window. Just three bathroom stalls, three urinals, and some poor bastard panic shitting in the handicapped stall. I looked at the ceiling, trying to find a vent or something that I could get into. I saw one, and noted that it was welded shut.

Who the fuck welds shut a vent?

I had a last ditch gamble, but that would require me to get a different shirt.

Right on cue, the handicap stall door burst open and Mr. Panic Shits rushed over to the sink and got to work washing his hands. Blonde hair, blue eyes, kinda pudgy in a "I don't do much" way rather than being a fatass. His hair was in a god awful bowl cut. He was shorter than me but that wasn't going to be an issue. Height was a mutable concept after all. His clothes seemed nondescript enough for what I was planning especially that generic enough looking jacket.

I was going to pay him for his coat, but he quickly washed and dried his hands before rushing face first into the bathroom door, the shock of it sending him to the floor.

I let out a chuckle and applauded his slapstick routine

"Why is that door locked?" he groaned out, his hands covering his nose.

"Cause I locked it." I told him, a genuine smile growing on my face.

I held out my hand to help him up.

"Donnie Rhodes the Third." I told him

He reached out with his now bloody hand "Greg Veder."

I paid it no mind and helped him up. "Nice to meet 'cha Greg."

When we got out hands back I rinsed off the blood.

"Got in here to see if I could shake a clingy crazy chick." I explained to him "What's go you in a rush?"

"Girl I go to school was getting bullied by some popular girls, one of those girls grew a conscience and sent me all the evidence she had in case something happened to her Well she didn't turn up at school, she isn't answering any of my DMs on PHO, her Nymphstagram hasn't been updated since last week, nothing on Facebook, Agni, nothing.." He blurted out. Greg leaned against one of the bathroom walls and slid down to the floor to sit "That girl they were bullying, something really bad happened and then it kind of just clicked. They found out that she was going to come forward, they shut her up somehow, and either they found out she sent all that stuff to me or she blabbed when they got her and the craziest out of all of them is after me."

I got the gist, kinda sounded like Sophie the Psycho outside.

"Small world, I came in and locked the door to shake a psycho girl myself."

"Yeah. Now we're both stuck hiding in a bathroom." Greg chuckled out "What's your crazy's name?"

"Sophia." I answered honestly, no point in lying.

Greg's face tweaked and he just gave me the verbal equivalent of a dial tone.

Never a good sign.

"Black girl, athletic, got her hair in ponytail kind of?"

Apt description but I needed more

"Resting bitch face coupled with the inability to express human emotion that didn't involve scowling or being angry?" I offered.

Greg nodded and continued "Scary beyond all reason?"

"I'd say creepy, but yeah beyond all reason."

It was at that moment that we formed a brotherhood of being stalked by a singular psycho bitch. The Bitches Be Crazy Brotherhood. We should have gotten t-shirts.

"Damn." He chuckled out. "What did you do to get on her shit list?"

I shook my head. "I think she's got a crush on me and hasn't noticed that I think she's crazy as fuck."

"Say no more. I understand now."

We stood there in silent contemplation, trying to figure out a way past the psycho at the doorstep for what felt like hours but was probably only a minute and a half. Growing bored with the thinking I asked Greg what Psycho Sophie did to that girl from his school.

"They shoved that girl into a locker full of nasty shit. They fucking shoved her into a locker for seven fucking hours." Greg's hands were tightened into a fist. "Took some new kid coming out of his own first day stabbing to grab a pair of bolt cutters to get the lock off and get her out."

The smile left my face. Blood was pounding into my ears. I could feel my blood getting ice cold.

"Greg. What were you planning on doing with the information you've gotten your hands on?"

Greg looked confused and then cautious

"If I could shake Sophia? I was going to take it to the cops."

Good on Greg, he sounded like he was about to sack the fuck up for the first time in his life.

"Greg. You just made my day." My smile returned "We're going to get the hell out of here and we are going to get that info to the cops."

Greg beamed

"Dude, that's awesome! But how?"

"I have a plan now. All I need is one thing from you."

Greg nodded confidently, psyching himself up.


"Sweet!" I clapped "Hand me your jacket real quick."

He did so and I put it on.

"Alright now what?" he asked me "Hit me."

Ignoring the poor choice of words, I put on his jacket and rubbed my hands together. Feeling the divine ichor in my blood start warming up.

"This might tickle."

"Wait what?"

I felt the Sky flow from my fingers and into Greg, merging his clothes into his skin as he shrank and shifted. Within two seconds, Greg Veder went from a teenage boy with a bowl cut to a golden chicken…

Also with a bowl cut. Yay for the good old Theoi Metamorphosis trick.

While Chicken Greg started panicking and clucking around, I got to work on myself. Looking into the grafitted and scratched mirror, I started tweaking my face. A little more length, a bushy moustache, some gray hairs, longer teeth. All hand sculpted with help of the divine power within me. Finally I shrank and sucked in myself to be able to fit inside Greg's jacket better.

"Don't you worry Greg, it's only until we can get out of this shit situation."

I leaned down and opened my arms widely and tested out a vaguely Swedish accent "Now come to papa Rolf and ve vill get out of vis playce!"

Greg got to panicking more and it took me about five minutes to get him to calm down and go with it. Granted he did start pecking at me every so often as I fine tuned my accent. When I was ready to go, I unlocked the doors and walked out, Chicken Greg pecking at me while clucking angrily.

As I walked past the very confused Sophia the soon to be jailed Psycho I nodded to her and said "He so friendly chicken yes?" as I hugged Chicken Greg to my chest.

I got to walking and turned a corner into an alley once I thought we reached minimum safe distance.

I let my body and voice rubber band back to normal and got to work trying to get the ichor flowing to change Greg back.

"See Greg? What'd I tell you?"

Chicken Greg was the angriest chicken alive right at that moment.

"Now hold still, this might tickle."

I got the ichor flowing and willed the Sky out of Greg.

And there was still Chicken Greg in front of me.

I tried again, feeling the ichor flow and willing the Sky out of Greg.


"Greg." I told him, as he was attempting to fire a Poultry Optic Blast into my soul. "We might have a slight problem..."