Nothing. The backpack (aside from a bedroll, a folded up waterproof mac, a small flint fire-starting kit, and a blackened tin cooking pot) held no clue as to the owner. I searched through the pockets and found only a small red cup of the most exquisite china, a waxed-paper sachet of what smelt like a delicate green tea, and a curiously engraved folding camera. There was nothing for it but to re-pack it and take it with me out of the forest… maybe someone at the lighthouse in Cowell would be able to help locate its owner.
The moment my arms slipped through the straps an explosion of pain shot through my spine. There was a sound like shearing metal and I was engulfed in a foul green light that blinded me to the forest around…
My mind, slipping into unconsciousness, was filled with terrible images… my clothes torn from my body…My limbs stretching, curving… My skull changing shape, sharp ebony-black horns sprouting upwards…
Until, finally, darkness took me and I dreamt no more…
An aeon passed.
I was lost in the darkness.
Voices spoke to me. Whispered to me. Sung to me. They told me truths and lies I could not tell apart and their songs spun around me like angry hornets.
An aeon passed.
My eyes flickered open. I felt sick. My head echoed with voices fading like morning mist.
I had no way of knowing how long I had been unconscious. I staggered to my feet and tried to force my bleary eyes to focus. The eerie green light was still around me but it seemed to by dying, the sunlight slowly reclaiming the forest. I stood in the silence, waiting for my head to stop spinning and looked down at the ground. It was only then I realised my shoes were missing and my naked feet were… white! Pure, snow white. My legs, too. And my stomach. In fact, most of my skin was now cloud white or fawn brown. My hands shot to my face – it felt strange somehow, familiar yet different at the same time, and when my fingers ran over my now-bald head I gasped out loud as they found two solid, bone-like protuberances… I had horns
Dear God! What had I become…?