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Am I Dreaming?

From Shifti
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She woke up slowly, with a headache piercing her skull. She didn't open her eyes, just tried to think about why her head was hurting. She'd never had one this bad. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She was lying in tall green grass. This was not right. Groaning, she got to her feet and looked around. She did not recognize this place. It was an expansive field, and it stretched on farther than she could see in all directions. The grass reached her calves, tickling her skin. In a panic, she began to run. After a few moments, she stopped, breathless. The field was huge. She still couldn't see the edge. She turned and ran in another direction, but it all looked the same. Was this a dream? She’d seen somewhere that when you were dreaming, you couldn’t read. She searched her pockets for a scrap of paper or a receipt. She came up empty. She had nothing.

So she kept moving. Finally, she thought she could see some activity that wasn't the waving of the sea of grass. She sprinted again, as long as she could stand it, and a pond came into view. And around the pond was livestock. Sheep, cattle, pigs, goats, and a few horses. There were so many. She looked around. Surely there were some humans around. Who took care of these animals?

She made her way to the bank of the pond and knelt to take a drink. Cupping her hands, she ladled up some of the cool, clear water and lapped it up. She was so thirsty. Handful after handful, she drank until her stomach was sloshing with the almost-intoxicating water. The animals seemed not to notice her. She sat back to wait. Someone would come soon. Someone would come to reclaim the animals and she would be saved. Someone would come and explain this crazy place, explain how she’d got here, then take her back home. Someone would come.

They had to.

Right?

Mindlessly, she scratched at an itch on her forearm. To her surprise, it was hairy. Thinking that some nasty bug had crawled on her, she batted at her arm. But upon inspection, she realized that the hair was her own. But it was white and soft. And it was thickening rapidly. The itch moved all over her body. She touched her face, looked at her legs. The hair was growing everywhere. With a yelp, she stood up, tugging at the hair frantically. Suddenly, the headache came back full force, her temples throbbing. She touched them with her bare fingertips. Hard knobs were swelling underneath her skin, threatening to break through. The bones in her legs and feet began to crack and grow. She fell forward, onto her hands, unable to support her whole weight on two legs. Tears streamed down her face, she closed her eyes and willed herself to wake up from this dream. Her feet felt strange, as if her toes were fusing together. She looked back and saw that she had cloven hooves. She looked back at her hands. Her fingers were shortening and her nails were growing black and hard. They were fusing together like her feet had. Her temples felt like they were on fire. The knobs had burst through her skin, and she knew that they were horns. Her face seemed like it was being melted and pulled like taffy. She could see her mouth and nose protruding into a muzzle. Her backbone was growing, lashing into a tufted tail. She was shrinking and her insides were squishing, changing. With a tired, agonized bleat, she collapsed.

She woke up to something nudging her horns. Her eyes sprang open. A brown billy goat with sad eyes was standing above her. He maaed as she stood up shakily. He pushed her gently to the water, and she drank. He chewed at the grass and watched the new nanny become accustomed to her body. She turned from the water and looked to him. Resignedly, she lowered her head and ripped her meal from the ground.