The Incredible Norn

Author: Mike Davisson

Date: April 13, 1998 - May 24, 1998

Summary: Mild-mannered Bill the Norn is dosed with gamma radiation by a malfunctioning teleporter. After the accident, he turns into a Grendel every time he becomes angry or frightened-- but he has no memory of this happening, or what he does in his transfigured state.

Part 1

Bill had, so far, lived a normal life for a creature of his kind, known as the norns of Albia. He was one of the few norns who had a mohawk and pale blue eyes, though neither he nor the other norns cared much about looks. What he liked doing more than anything was to use the teleportation devices, especially the one that carried him to and from a carrot vending machine, which was otherwise unreachable in Albia. Few norns ever went there, so it was a nice place to relax, eat a few carrots, or take a nap without fear of being bothered.

Feeling quite hungry one day, he went through the entrance teleporter to the carrot machine. He re-materialized feeling quite normal, not knowing that the teleporter had malfunctioned that particular time, exposing him to a large quantity of gamma radiation.

Bill used the carrot dispenser until he was full, and settled down for a quick nap. He then went back through the teleporter (which functioned normally this time) and ventured over to the music room, another one of his favorite places. The trumpet was nowhere to be found, so he contented himself to playing the drums.

Then Bruce came down the elevator to join him. Now Bruce was known to have quite a nasty disposition, often hitting other norns for no apparent reason. This was exactly the mood he was in then, so he went right up to Bill and started slapping him repeatedly. "Stop norn," Bruce said, in the norns' simplified language.

Bill had always been a gentle sort, always preferring to run from aggressors rather than fight. But this time, only a wall was behind him. Bruce hit him again. "Stop" said Bill. Bruce hit again. "Stop!" Bill repeated.

Bruce continued hitting, laughing and genuinely enjoying it all the while. Bill didn't like it. "Bill angry!" he said. Bruce ignored it, and slapped him again. "Bill angry!"

Bill's eyes started to change from blue to a deep red. Bruce hit him once more. Bill's suddenly hit the ground and started having convulsions. His skin turned green, his arms and legs grew claws, and a ferocious set of fangs formed from his teeth. He was no longer a norn, but had become the evolutionary throwback known as a grendel.

Bruce stared at him. "Grah!" said Bill, all his peacefulness gone. He went towards Bruce and hit him, again and again. Bruce dared not to hit back, and tried to get back to the elevator.

"Narg!" Bill hit Bruce repeatedly, until he stopped moving. Bill then went up the elevator and wandered off.

Bruce got up after a time, badly, though not irreversably, injured. He found a piece of cheese, ate it, and went to sleep.

Bill had apparently fallen asleep as well. He woke up, his body back to normal, not remembering what had happened. After wandering aimlessly for awhile, he found Bruce, who immediately said "Run!" and scurried away.

In his own simplified way, Bill realized that he had done something to Bruce, something to make him afraid. It must have been in response to Bruce's aggresiveness; he must have made Bill very angry, or scared. Bill was always so peaceful, so gentle. He knew that normally he would have just let someone pummel him to death, rather than fight back. This is what his genetics dictated. But somehow, the beast within had been revealed.

Bill knew that he must try not to ever again become angry, or frightened, for this was when his horrible transformation took place. Somewhere in Albia, the had to be an answer, a reason, a solution to his problem. And he knew he must spend every waking moment trying to find it.

Part 2

James had seen things. Strange things. Things that could not be explained.

It had all started a long while ago. He had seen a norn, with a mohawk and blue eyes, arguing with Sammy over a toy. Sammy got carried away, and had begun hitting the other norn. The norn tried to get away from Sammy, but was at the end of the pier.

Then James saw something incredible. Suddenly, before his very eyes, the norn fell to the ground. When he stood back up, his skin was all green, his eyes a burning red, and he had grown enormous claws and fangs. The norn--if it still even was a norn--pounded on Sammy, until he stopped moving. He then hurried away. Afterwards, James had brought food over to Sammy, to help him recover.

Ever since then, James had been keeping track of the mysterious norn. Every so often, James would find him. Sometimes he would transform, sometimes not. It usually seemed to happen when he became enraged.

James had taken it upon himself to follow this norn, to minimize the chaos the norn would cause, and to warn others when possible. It was a long, tireless journey, and he could not imagine where it would all end up.

Bill was walking along, minding his own business, when he saw his friend Sally talking to Bruce (the bully of Albia so far as Bill was concerned). Bill picked up a full pot of honey and went over to them.

Bill stood in front of them, on a long platform high in the trees. He dropped the honey in front of Sally. Bruce promptly picked it up and shamelessly drank the whole thing.

"Come norn," Bill said, wanting Sally to walk towards him.

She started to do so, when Bruce gave her a slap. She turned around. "Stop!" She hit him back, then continued towards Bill.

Bruce slapped her again. "No!" Bill said. His genetics made him a very peaceful sort when he was normal, so he was unable to do anything to Bruce. Bruce slapped her again, sending her to the ground. Bill became angry. "Stop!"

Bruce punched Bill once, then went back to Sally and hit her yet again. Down below in the carrot patch, James was watching them. He could see anything in Albia, as all the norns could. But for the time being, Bill was the focus of his attention.

Bill's eyes started glowing. James knew what was about to happen. Again.

Bill went down on the ground, even as Bruce was hitting him. He shook. His skin turned green. He then stood up as the monster--the grendel!

The grendel hit Bruce. Hard. Bruce stepped back from him. But Bill stepped forward, and punched him. Bruce suddenly remembered that this had happened before, and he ran off.

Bill usually gave chase, but not this time. His grendel eyes were on Sally, and James became scared for her life.

But then James saw something amazing, something unexpected. The grendel walked to the left, found a carrot, and brought it over to where Sally was now sleeping. He then found an herb and dropped it in front of her. He picked up the empty honey pot, and hurried away.

So maybe the grendel was completely bad after all, James' simplistic norn mind wondered. Perhaps the rage was only directed at those who made him angry, not towards innocent norns like Sally. Maybe he was only trying to help, in his own bizarre way.

How did Bill do it? Was it at will or involuntary? Did he realize what he was doing? These questions James could not answer. He only knew he had to keep watching; he had to seek out the truth.

Of course, Bill knew that he did not have a choice in the matter. He didn't want it to happen. It just did. How could his usual calm nature get so turned around? How could he separate himself from this--this thing?

Was death the only way out? Bill did not know. Full honey jar in hand, he stood at the submarine bay, waiting for his ride to isolation, and safety.

Part 3

Bill could see no end to this nightmare. He started to believe that death may be the only way out. He was at the island, lonely. But he had to belonely. It was the only way to keep his monster from appearing.

Suddenly, Sally came up the elevator. She walked over to Bill and started kissing him.

"No," Bill said. Could his condition be inherited? Bill didn't know, nor did he contemplate the issue. His simplified norn mind only told him not to get involved with Sally. So he went down the elevator. Fortunately, Sally didn't follow him. She stayed where she was and played the radio.

Just as he got off the elevator, another norn arrived in the ocean tunnel cart. Who was this? He was a quite plain-looking norn, if that mattered. But he seemed to recognize Bill, and actually seemed startled.

It was James, of course, the norn who had been following Bill for so long. James saw Sally up above with the radio, and wasn't sure what to do. Get away from Bill before he turns into a grendel? But that would leave Sally vulnerable.

While James was making up his mind, Bill got on the cart and pushed it off. James rushed over to catch the ride. James was worried about being in the cart with him, but he had to go wherever Bill did.

Bill was worried too. Always worried that something would happen to anger him, or scare him. He knew he did bad things after being angered, but he didn't know how or why. He had to get away from this other norn.

They arrived at the other end of the tube, and Bill went up the elevator before James could get off the cart. Feeling somewhat relieved, Bill stared at a fish bowl. He tried to take the fish out of the bowl, but for some reason he couldn't.

Suddenly, James came up the elevator. Bill immediately ran to the right, where he hopped on a raft and went across the pond. He headed towards the computer room, the safest place he knew of.

James waited for the raft to come back, and got on. He followed Bill, up through the music room and down underground. He had to do something to Bill. He had to stop him, somehow.

It was a long way to the incubator. Even though it was pretty nearby, there were walls blocking the way. Bill would have to go all the way to the temple, then back through the garden. He got to the temple, and saw Bruce there. Apparently Bruce had forgotten all that Bill had done to him as the grendel, because he approached Bill and slapped him once. Bill hurried up the elevator, got off, and ran into the garden. Suddenly, he felt very tired and was forced to take a nap.

On his way to the temple, James found something. It was a Solution-X device. James wasn't sure what that was, but it didn't seem pleasant. Perhaps it would be useful in dealing with Bill.

James found Bruce at the temple. "Push norn," Bruce said, and he hit James. James rushed towards the garden. Bruce picked up a jack-in-the-box toy, and followed.

James saw Bill, sleeping next to the teleporter. He decided to wait. Anything he did, would have to be done to Bill as the grendel. It didn't seem right to harm him as a norn.

For Bruce, that was no problem. He walked right up to Bill and started slapping him until he woke up. He then activated the jack-in-the-box, which scared Bill out of his skin when it popped up.

James approached Bruce and hit him a couple of times, hoping to distract him. Bruce turned his attention to him, and hit him four times in rapid succession. James tried to withstand it but could not, and backed away a few steps.

Bill had started to walk away but Bruce engaged him. A couple more slaps was all it took. Bill went down on the ground and started to change.

James noticed that Bill was right on the teleporter, and got an idea. He approached the device, and while Bruce was still focused on the changing Bill, he pushed the control button.

Bill did not teleport away like James expected him to. He did not change into the grendel either, however. Instead he stood up and ran back towards the temple. James started a punching match with Bruce and it lasted until they both finally fell asleep.

Bill felt better. Much better, as a matter of fact. He went up an elevator, and then rested, staring at some birds fluttering near the mountain. He then turned his attention elsewhere, and saw something rather interesting. . .

The grendel, formerly a part of Bill, had made it through the teleporter. He found the learning computer and began teaching himself words. Up until then, his only existence had been an angry one, with only brief moments of calm just before changing back into the norn. He was not angry now; in fact, he was quite content. He drank from a nearby pot of honey, and smiled. He was free, and had a full, promising life ahead of him.