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One of these things is not like the other...

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As expected when things first went down it was utter chaos. Everything shut down for a good two weeks or so before anybody even tried to go back to normal. Most people had no idea how to deal with what was happening. So many were lost to their own instincts in the first few days.

Osheen’s family solution to problems has always been to try and ignore them until they couldn’t anymore. They easily embraced the slight changes to their daily lives with ease and pretend had truly changed. Which was rather simple since the family of five had turned out to be cervitaurs, peaceful herbivores. The only real issue they have had so far is learning how deal with the extra limbs.

Aisling was quick to realise she was different from the rest of her family. For one instead of the reddish brown fur that covered their animal halves, she had black feathers that glinted blue and purple in the right light. She also was now the tallest in her family, she stood nearly a foot taller than her dad not counting his antlers. Speaking of antlers, she had found two little nubs growing just within her hairline. Which couldn’t be right since from what she had seen her mom and older sister were antler free. Aisling also had noticed that she was lacking the same craving for greens as well. If anything she was craving the opposite. She was dying for a bite of steak, bloody, just the way she likes it.

She had tried to point out her difference in size and pelt to her parents at first but they had just waved her off saying that she must have gotten some sort of recessive gene. That it was no different than someone being born with blue eyes or red hair, that she had nothing to worry about.

They were so wrong.

Aisling found herself once again puking up her guts in the bathroom after yet another one of her mother’s creative attempts at a salad dinner. Mom seemed to think that she had some sort of allergy to one of the veggies in the salads which is why she kept getting sick after each meal. She had been trying different variations of the same salad all week. The only respite she has had was a couple days ago when she had taken a walk. She had stopped by a convenience store and bought a large packet of jerky on impulse with the last of her birthday money, so far it was the only thing she has been able to keep down other than water.

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Aisling didn’t know what to do. Her mom had found her stash of jerky and threw it out before yelling at her for ‘Clinging to your old self’ and ‘No wonder you have been getting sick’. It has been three days since then and Aisling felt worse than she ever had before. Her limbs has started to shake when she exerted effort such as standing too long and she was finding it hard to focus on anything. To make things worse Mom had taken to watching her to make sure she ate what was provided to her and nothing else. So Aisling was feeling rather dehydrated as well due to being unable to keep anything down for more than twelve hours, it was making her nauseous and her head was pounding. Maybe if she tried explaining things one more time Mom would believe her, especially after seeing how ill she was getting. Aisling certainly looked ill, skin clammy and paler than ever, eyes unfocused and sinking into her skull, hair greasy and tangled from lack of energy to try and take a proper shower, and her ribs had started to show.

Aisling stumbled out of her room and down the hall to the kitchen where she could hear her mom would be preparing tonight's dinner. Aisling kept her hand on the wall to hold herself steady as she walked. It was only she and her mom home at the moment. Her little brother was spending the night at a friend’s house, her dad was still at work and her big sister Evie was at the store. Aisling stepped into the kitchen, hooves clicking against the tile. Mom stood at the counter chopping vegetables for her latest salad creation, ears tilting towards the new noise.

“Dinner will be ready at 7:00, sweety.” Mom said without looking up from the cutting board.

“Uh, Mom?”

“Hmm?” Mom kept chopping.

“I don’t think I’m getting better, I feel even worse than before.”

“It’s just those nasty toxins working their way out of your body, dear. Give it a couple more days and you’ll be right as rain.” Mom said nonchalantly While Aisling stared at her mother in horror, how could she dismiss her own daughter's obviously failing health like that?!

“IT WAS JUST JERKY, MOM! I NEEDED IT! IT IS THE ONLY THING I CAN SEEM TO EAT, I CAN’T KEEP ANYTHING DOWN! I'VE TRIED! I WILL STARVE TO DEATH BEFORE I GET ANY BETTER AT THIS RATE!” Aisling yelled, this finally got her mother to look at her. She was scowling, ears pinned back.

“YOU WILL NOT SPEAK TO ME IN THAT WAY YOUNG LADY!” Mom shouted, slamming down the knife on the cutting board.

“WHY NOT? IT’S NOT LIKE YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME OTHERWISE!” She stomped one of her front leg in attempt of ridding herself of the sudden burst of energy filling her body.

“THROWING A TANTRUM WILL NOT GET YOU ANYWHERE, AISLING!”

“A tantrum? A TANTRUM! I AM NOT THROWING A TANTRUM MOM! I PUKE OUT MY GUTS AFTER EVERY MEAL! I CAN HARDLY STAND WITHOUT SHAKING! I’M DYING MOM! YOU’RE STARVING ME TO DEATH!” Aisling screamed, tears running down her face.

“I WILL NOT SIT HERE AND LISTEN TO YOU ACT LIKE A…” Her mother stuttered trying to find the right words. “LIKE A DRAMA QUEEN! GO TO YOUR ROOM AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL YOU CAN ACT LIKE A RATIONAL ADULT!” She bellowed pointing back down the hallway. Mom then went back to the abandoned veggies on the cutting board, her body language tense.

Aisling really didn’t want to admit defeat but it was clear that her mom would listen anymore, she turned to go back to her room.

“Ow, shit. That smarts.”

Aisling froze. A sweet smell blossomed into the air, it was utterly mouth watering and from the way her stomach rumbled it agreed. Where was that smell coming from? She needed to know? Closing her eyes she stuck her nose up in the air and breathed deeply, blindly following the smell. When she finally opened her eyes she found herself standing about a foot or two of her mother. Mom was holding a paper towel to her left hand, the white was staining with a steadily darkening red. Aisling found herself unable to look away. Mom had noticed her staring.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. It's just a little cut. See?” Mom pulled the towel away to reveal a sluggishly bleeding cut across two of her fingers. The way the blood dripped lazily from the cut was mesmerising. She had never noticed how appetizing the particular shade of red blood was before. Aisling wondered if it tasted as good as it looked.

“Uh… honey? Could you let go of my wrist?” Aisling brought the wound up to her mouth and gingerly ran her tongue across the bleeding gash. It was ambrosia across her taste buds, like a cool glass of water after wandering days in the desert. Aisling could feel her eyes dilating in relief. She wanted more. She needs more. She prodded at the wound with her tongue, trying to draw more of the sweet liquid.

“AH! LET GO OF ME! THAT HURTS!”

A harsh shove sent her tumbling to the floor. Aisling glared at the deer woman that stood before her with hands held close to her chest, the red ambrosia dripping down the woman’s wrist. A growl escaped Aisling’s throat. How dare she take it away! Aisling needed it!

“Aisling?” The woman called as Aisling got back on her hooves. Aisling bared her teeth and snarled, razor sharp points on display. The woman tried to back away but she had nowhere to go, having already backed herself into the counter. So instead the woman reared up, eyes blown with instinctual terror and front legs flailing. The display seemed to make something click in the back of Aisling’s head. She charged the woman with clawed hands outstretched. Grabbing one of the flailing legs with one hand and digging the other into the woman’s stomach, the soft flesh was like butter beneath her claws. The woman screamed and swung an arm at Aisling’s head, she dug her teeth into the meaty part before it could do any serious damage. The sweet red ambrosia filled her mouth. It was heavenly, especially when coupled with the pleasant feeling of squishy flesh between her teeth. She dug her teeth deeper into the soft flesh making the woman scream louder. Fingers tangled in Aisling’s hair and yanked her head back. The sudden pain made her jaw snap shut hard as she was pulled away. The chunk of flesh she had been chewing on had torn free, she swallowed. Delicious.

The woman yanked on her hair again. This time Aisling retaliated. She tightened her grip on the woman’s foreleg and gave her a sharp twist. The woman screamed behind clenched teeth as it made loud snapping sound. Aisling dropped the now useless leg in favor dragging her claws down the woman’s back, filling the air with even more of that irresistible smell. Her other hand was drenched in red from where its claws were dug in the woman’s gut. The woman’s grip in her hair was loosening giving Aisling the opportunity to lunge forward once more. She dug her teeth into the woman’s shoulder and tore another chunk free, teeth scraping bone. By this point the woman had stopped screaming and struggling, having exhausted herself from the combination of trying to fight back and blood loss. Aisling was losing herself in the feeling and flavor the sweet meat gave her when a sudden noise broke her single minded focus, her head swiveling towards the sound.

“MOM, I’M HOME.”

That voice sounded familiar… wait. Evie? Aisling’s eyes grew wide. She wasn’t supposed to be home for another hour? Wait. Why did her hands feel sticky? Aisling let out a gasp of horror at what laid before her. Leaning against the blood splattered counter was her mother, or at least what could be considered her mother. Her skin was covered in gashes, the biggest were across her stomach. One of her foreleg laid jutting out in an impossible angle and worse of all. Her left arm was missing several chunks leading up to her shoulder where the bone was clearly visible. Mom’s face was mostly untouched save for two deep cuts on her forehead. The only good thing Aisling could see was the slight rise and fall of her chest indicating that she was still alive.

“MOM? YOU HOME?”

Evie called out again setting Aisling into action. She raced to her room, kicking the door closed behind her. She came face to face with herself in her vanity mirror. Her front was drenched in blood, it covered the lower half of her face and stained her sleep shirt she was wearing. Her hands were just as stained. The red dripping from her now fully grown claws. It was then Aisling realised she couldn’t stay here. She snatched a towel off the ground and scrubbed the blood off the best she could. Ditching the shirt and towel on the floor, she grabbed the first outfit she had in her closet and threw it on.

“OH MY GOD! MOM!!!!!!!!!”

Evie had found Mom. She needed to hurry. Aisling grabbed her bag and stuffed the few things she couldn’t live without inside. Finally she grabbed her cloak she made for halloween a last year. It should keep her warm enough. She proceeded to slowly open the door, she would need to make a run for the front door before Evie noticed her. “I need help, oh god. My mom is hurt and I can’t stop the bleeding.” Evie was crying so hard that it was hard to understand her, she seems to have called 911. This was Aisling’s chance. She carefully stepped into the hall. Making her way to the front door, muffling her steps the best she could. She had made it to the door. She scrambled to get it open, dropping all attempts at stealth.

“WHO’S THERE?”

She finally threw the door open. Aisling broke into a sprint, ignoring Evie’s call. She ran and ran until she could run no more.