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Topics - Geo Holms

Pages: 1
Writer's Guild / Badgered
« on: August 01, 2012, 07:24:55 PM »

I met the vampire in winter apparel, though I didn't know it at the time. All I saw was a fuzzy little bat hanging off a scarf. It looked as if were sleeping. My approach caused no response. I took a mesh shopping bag from under my clothes-folding cart and snuck towards the bat. Without hesitation, I scooped it off the scarf with the bag. Its small wings flailed weakly, and I could see the small teeth of protesting jaws as I placed the mesh bag on the cart.

I looked up and down the aisle. Monday night brought a sort of quiet to clothes retail, especially in a store with this large of floorspace located on the edge of town. Many days could pass on these four hour shifts where no customers would disturb the racks, and if I played my cards right, I wouldn't even see a manager stir. I would occupy myself folding and refolding the jeans section, letting my mind wander to anything besides work.

On occasion, I would also patrol the store on crooked path, searching for anything amiss: Like a bat hanging off a scarf. I scanned the area for the manager on shift that night: Hutch. I tried to avoid him as much as possible if he was around on my shifts, mostly because he was a jerk, this time because of his animosity towards bats. He had killed one with a broom no more than a month ago. The bat had made a valiant effort to escape before Hutch had made the final blow, laughing manically as he did.

This one was not going to meet that same fate if I had anything to do with it. I sneaked around the long way to the back, to the far corner of the store. I would slip into the back room, down the corridor, take the exit door by the office. Hopefully Hutch wouldn't be there to hear me and investigate. I would release the bat and no one would ever have to know.

This plan went all wrong soon after I entered the storeroom. I had left the cart, now holding only the mesh bag, the bat still twitching within. I slipped between the huge metal shelves of musty smelling overstock when I heard the scrabbling. I stopped. I looked down at my shoes. The scrabbling continued, along with some snuffling, like some creature stalking the other side of the shelf. I pressed against the boxes. I sank down, trying to peak under the shelf, between the boxes, seeing what might be making the sound. Then I noticed it was coming from the opposite side of the room, at the same time. Two mysterious sources.

Then the lights went off. I swore. I pulled my cellphone out. The green glow from the screen did not provide much illumination. The storeroom was separated from the rest of the back rooms. No windows. Plastic doors separated this part from the rest of the corridor. If I could make it there...

It was then I saw the glowing eyes. Multiple sets of glowing eyes, blocking my path between the shelves. I turned to run the opposite way, back out into the florescence of the rest of these store, to find more glowing eyes. Could see the vague phantoms of snouts under them, broad snouts, dripping jaws. Some stupid part of me wanted to see further details. The sensible part did not. That part got me to climb up the second level of shelves. The sets of eyes came forward, and converged, until they were all below me, staring up. I climbed another layer. Two layers above. I saw the forms made no movement. They just kept staring up. I waved my cell phone about, trying to find an escape route. This set of shelves was an island. I couldn't believe I had got this high. I was not exactly in a safe position anyway, hanging out, one hand hanging on the metal ledge and mesh bag, the other holding my cell phone.

I hoped the bat was alright.

I thought about calling for help. That would mean dealing with Hutch. Mmm...did I really want to make that sacrifice. There was multiple creatures gathered below me...I didn't need another creature to deal with. I closed my eyes. Perhaps the creatures would just...disappear.

"Let us go."

I opened my eyes and looked down.

"Let us go."

The voices came from below.

"Let us go."

I could count eight sets of eyes. Oh dangit. This day had went from slow to careening-down-a-mountain-road-with-no-breaks rather quickly.

"Let us go."

A chill went down my spine. This voice came from another course. I slowly turned to where my hand gripped the shelf. There, between the boxes, a face stuck out, its hot breath on my fingers, its fangs dripping upon them. I could see in the cell phone light the truth of what it was.

"Let us go," it growled in unison of those below.

And I did. Well, I let go of the shelf. This caused me to fall ten feet to the hard, cement ground.

I did not black out as I hoped I would. I also hadn't seemed to have broken my back as I hoped I wouldn't. I lay there, very still. I felt pain and I also felt my fingers, feet, and other extremities. As I realized why the face had been familiar, the light clicked back on, and I found myself surrounded by nine badgers sitting around me. They did not look as menacing without the glowing eyes. Their jaws still dripped a little, and their canines did look a little unusually long and sharp, but otherwise, they appeared rather calm and...cute. They were American Badgers. I didn't know why this detail held any relevance at this time, but it seemed worthwhile to note.

One of them spoke. "Let us go...please?"

"Please," another piped up, "Please? Is that the best you can think of?"

"Well you are not coming up with any new ideas."

"We're of the same mind you blasted..."

"Are you certain. It appears you are coming down with the mange."

"Why you little..."

I cleared my throat. They all stopped and turned to me. "What do /you/ want?" the badgers all said. I wondered if I should feign death, and if I didn't do that, what was there to do? Flail madly and hope to bop one of them on the snout before they ripped my throat out? Perhaps these were just manifestations of my mind. Perhaps all they would do would rip out my sanity. Or perhaps that was already a bygone conclusion and they were just here to report the news.

I figured inquiring for some logical explanation could do the least harm at this point.

"Who are you exactly?" I asked, trying to keep a squeak from my voice.

They all looked about at each other before they answered: "Vampire."

The badger on the far left trotted closer. "Before you say anything and make a fool of yourself, I'll save you the trouble of gibbering and confirm, we're not exactly what you expected from a vampire, eh?"

I shrugged.

"Just release us and we'll show you..." He checked my name tag, "...Lance."


"I suppose we are being a bit cryptic, the bat, in the bag, could you please I'm sorry the pronoun use is a little tricky. It is a little disorienting for us. You might notice, I'm missing my left forepaw." The badger rose on his haunches, displaying his forepaws, or rather, forepaw, as he said, the left foreleg was missing the accompanying paw.


"Just release us. I don't want to explain further, the rest of me is getting restless and I really don't want to go through the trouble of killing you. I smell it in your blood. You don't mean harm." He placed his right forepaw on my arm, and patted lightly.

I slowly lightened my white knuckled grip on the bag. I opened it. The bat flapped wildly, past my face, to the badger. A rustling of leathery wings turned to crackling bone and soon, the badger was flexing a regained left forepaw. "Much better. Now, could you direct us to the changing room?"

O   O   O

I paced outside the changing room with my cart. I ignored the rack of clothes waiting to be returned to their rightful locations. I usually made sport of the task on a normal work day. I ran from section to section, trying to place the clothes in the right sections, like pieces in a puzzle, wondering time and time again, why the store played games with my mind. Like why did the winter coats insisted on being spread between the men's, woman's, winter sports, /and/ clearance section?

I came up with a few principles when it came to the task. For one, the longer you looked, the more likely the place it was supposed to be was right behind you when you asked any given manager.

I did not have any principles about vampires.

This lack of principles kept me there waiting for the creature to emerge from his...changing room.

When he did, it was a human of short salt and pepper hair, a few days of grizzle around his face, dark glasses, and a faded navy letter jacket. He flashed a grin, and I saw a hint of the sharp canines remained. He handed me back the dressing room key, which I had given to the jaws of one of the badgers five minutes before. "Dusty, but I've had worse changing rooms before. Could you show me where I could find sweaters? It's getting a little nippy outside."

I led the way. Had what happened just happened? There wasn't much hint in the man's face that it had. He glanced about the store with a cheerful curiosity, but that wasn't anything more strange than most customers. I ran over the events in my head and if I tried to look at them too closely, I felt my mind trying to escape by thinking about anything else.


We both stopped. Hutch was stalking down the aisle, a blouse clutched in a hand. As he came up, he waved the blouse wildly in my face, "What is the meaning of this?"


"I have been up at the front staring at this blouse for the past two hours!"


"It was lying on the floor in the woman's section."


"You were in the woman's section no more than an hour ago."


"Are you mocking me?" he growled.

"No. No," I said it twice to defend myself from the glare that flared up at saying it the first time.

"You need to fix everything in every section. It needs to be perfect. What if a customer saw it? They would think our store is sloppy. No excuses. I don't need to hear them. I need to see results. I actually knocked this blouse to the floor on purpose, to test you. You need be more aware. Go over each section again and again and again and again..." Hutch said, hands gesturing wildly, waving the blouse like a battle flag. "What are you doing now?"

"I'm helping a customer find some sweaters."

Hutch suddenly looked past me, his expression changed to a warm smile, he gave a light wave to the Customer. "I hope you are finding what you need. Do you need any further assistance?"

"Lance is being a great help, thanks."

"I'll be up at the front if you need anything." Hutch shot another glare at me before turning on his heel, stalking around a corner and out of sight.

"Well, he's a jerk."

My shoulder's slumped. "A bit."

"A bit?"

"He's jerktastic. I rushed through the woman's section because I could feel his gaze trying to explode my head." Something occurred to me. "You know, it didn't seem he noticed you at first. He usually puts on a nicer face if he thinks a customer is watching."

"Ah, one of my talents." He rose his glasses, the eyes behind them were not glowing red, or pitch black, or even golden. They were blueish. "I can hide between gaps in human perception. Humans, being as oblivious as they are, are really simple to hide from in plain sight. Unless I want them to see or they want to see me, they really don't notice me right away. It is much simpler than it sounds. I'm Brock, by the way," he presented a hand. I took it and he shook. The grip was strong, the skin was warm.

He released and looked where Hutch had headed. "I swear I've seen that fellow before. Not sure where. I'm sure it will come to me. Anyway, I suppose you have questions to ask."

"What would I ask?"

"Anything besides if I sparkle in sunlight and I think you'd be safe."

I looked him over. "Mind if I straighten up some clothes while I ask? I'd help me relax."

He nodded and I headed into the boy's section and began to straighten sweatshirts. "So...badgers?"

"I thought you might ask that. I suppose I don't have to say to you that vampires are not quite what myth makes us out to be. We are much more practical. Though part of me can't help but drool that it seems you have a cut on your elbow, I really have no impulse to pounce you and rip your arm off. I'd be lying if the thought didn't cross my mind."

I focused on the sweatshirts. He placed a napkin in front of my face. I took it and wiped my elbow.

"Really. Humans are a little too gamey these days. Especially with eating habits as they are. I can sense the grease from KFC on your skin. Humans used to be more lean and fresh and really, we need to think of ourselves in this health conscious climate."

I moved onto the jean cubbies.

"In the first place though, humans have never been our choice of blood resource. As I said, we are more sensible than that. We don't like being murderers. Too messy. We just have...iron insufficiencies that need to be managed."

I dared a glance at Brock. He was licking his lips.

"Dare I ask?"

He smiled. "Rodents."


"You know. Mice, rats, squirrels, groundhogs. This is where the badger part comes in. Most vampires have two forms: one is usually a species of bat and the other is usually a species of large or medium sized mammal."

"...why were you nine badgers?"

"Ah, there is the trick. We are bound, for some reason or another, to the law of conservation of matter. Therefore, I must become an amount of badgers that is equal to my mass as a human. The same goes for bats, though I must say, it is tricky to keep myself together as a bat. The more pieces, the more fragmented my mind becomes. You could tell when I was badgering you, correct?"

"A little."

He sighed. The sniffed. "Wait..." He opened his mouth, releasing a high-pitched squeak. He cocked his head to an angle, as if listening. He felt a hand against the wall of t-shirt cubes. Brock scanned the floor. He knelt down. He rubbed a finger against the floor. He licked it. He rose. "Did someone die here?"


"Did I die here?"

"What do you mean?"

He came forward and stared down at me. "You know what I mean."

I remembered, the memory coming back, Hitch swinging that broom a few weeks ago, me coming around the corner with a bag, in hopes to capture the bat. Seeing the blur and the sickening thwack.

"Oh no..."

O   O   O

"A customer wants you."

"You help them," Hutch muttered, not even looking up from where he was doodling on a piece of scrap paper at the registers.

"He wants you though."

"Well, Lance, you tell them that I'm not available right now."

"Strange, you don't look that busy."

Hutch looked up, startled at a voice besides my own. The supposed customer waved at him. "I just wanted to know the specifics of the methods used by your company that keep the prices so low here."

Hutch, though flushed, collected himself, "Oh, it's in high volume."

"Ah, and what does the label 'Made in Swazieland' suggest? I was wondering if you would come with me to the pleather section. I think that my questions would have more weight if we weren’t engulfed by the subtle smells of formaldehyde."

I even rose my brow at this, but tried to hide it. I noted the clenching of fists behind the vampire's back.

Hutch appeared confused, but his talent of slipping out of the grips of having to 'do something' did not appear to be working this time.

"Lance..." he attempted.

"No, I believe that a manager would be the only person that would be able to answer my questions."

"Assistant manager...actually..." Hutch said.

"That will do," the vampire said. "To the pleather section?"

Hutch flashed a fiery look at me before he said, "Watch the registers." He then walked off with the vampire. I watched until they turned a corner into the women's section. I walked up to the front and sat behind the register's counter. I poked at the dust underneath the registers, I checked the receipt rolls were stocked, I had just started sweeping when Hutch reappeared. His usually impeccable polo had gaping rips, his hair was ravaged, his eyes were crazed.


"Excuse me?"

"You heard me...if...a badger...the kids" He kept twitching, his mouth kept moving but stopped saying words, he kept shifting looks behind him. "I...I..."

"Are you alright?" I said, continuing to sweep.

"You can close the store, right?"

"I guess."

"There were no sales. You know how to count the money. Here, put this forty-two bucks back into the till. I need to go."

I looked at the crumpled ones and fives he had placed on the counter. "Oh. I can do that."

"Yes. Yeah. I...I...yes."

And with that, Hutch left, running.

The vampire, or rather, some badgers came plodding up. I kept sweeping as they came behind the counter. All nine badgers lined up and sat down, watching me work, their snouts following the progress of the broom. After I had brushed the dirt into the dustpan, the badger on the left sneezed as I emptied it into the garbage.

"So, feel liberated?" I ventured.

"Yes," all six badgers said.

"Dare I ask what transpired?"

"Do you really wanna know?" they all asked.


"Some things are best left to the imagination," the badger to the far right said, spreading his paws.

"But I suppose that is worse...depending upon the person." the second badger said, rubbing his chin.

"I'll just assume you gave him a big hug...with your teeth."

"Ooo, very close," the fourth badger said, before the fifth badger whacked him across the back of the head.

"Do you think this will change him at all?"

"Naw, he'll still be a jerk," the sixth badger said, "But, I will predict he will have a hilarious reaction if you ever say 'badgerbadgerbadger' around him. Use that power for special occasions."

"I shall keep that in mind. So, is that it?"

The badgers all brought a paw to their maw's in thought. "You know," the fifth one said, "About those t-shirts in the kids section. Do you think you could get one that would fit..." He gestured to his fuzzy body.

I laughed and pulled out a tape measure from a drawer.

Writer's Guild / No Overtime
« on: July 22, 2012, 11:15:41 PM »
Fenton's ginger head bobbed this way and that has he switched between computer screen. After sharing a cubical with Fenton for about two years, his distracting red hair remained his only fault, and that was only because I could be distracted by any notable moving object in close proximity.

Our cubical partnership was flaky at best. Fenton fended off software code issues and I fended off public relations issues. His screen remained black with archaic characters, where my remained in word processors and graphic editing programs. The reason for the company placing us together remained a mystery. Still, we put up with each others quirks, helped each other out if we could, and occasionally got some lunch together. I liked Fenton as a co-worker. That's where my relationship ended with Fenton. Never saw him before 8 AM or after 5 PM. Everything I knew of him existed in this moderate sized cubical space.

I clicked my pen, leaned back in my chair and watched Fenton work. When I thought about Fenton, I realized how little I knew about him. Not that I couldn't have a conversation with him. Just afterward, I discovered what while I had said many things about myself, he had rarely said anything about himself. He kept cheerful, he asked questions, he always met me with a bright "Good morning" in the beginning, and a "Have a good evening" at the close of the day. I remained curious about Fenton. Part of me held that if you don't know about someone, sometimes it is best not to know. Not like I'd even heard any gossip on him (and sad to say, I had stalked around the water cooler before and tried to). I'd brought him up with Ruth, the front secretary one time, who seemed to have a scoop on everyone.

"Fenton is a good worker," Ruth said.

I waited for more. She didn't go further. "That's it?" I whispered.

She shrugged. "I can honestly say I have never heard or come across anything either way on him. He's normal. He's boring. He's also cute...but...well...I suppose there is one thing."

"What?" I said, leaning in over her desk.

"Oh please. This is nothing you don't know. You know very well he doesn't hang out with anyone outside of work. That usually would mean he's a workaholic or something. But here's the weird part. Haven't you noticed he has never taken overtime?"


"I see some memos go through here. He's been called in about it. It's a little strange. And that's it. Do you want to know about Cindy?" Ruth said, leaning in, as if wanting to bite me with gossip fangs. I declined.

Come to think of it, that was strange. Thinking back, I did notice the strangeness of this seemingly innocent act. When we first were cubical partners, I remembered manager after manager poking their head over the side, asking Fenton if he would be able to finish an extra project that came up, or pop in on Saturday to help with some diagnostics or other technical tasks. Fenton briefly flipped open his pocket calender, chewed on a pen briefly, looked up at the manager and said, "Sorry, no" each time in a different variation "How about I see if I can finish it before five?"

The managers came back before five. Fenton always said he was done. The managers never returned to complain. Eventually the requests to do overtime stopped. They just turned into "could you do this before five?" visits. Fenton knew what he was doing. Still, every once in a while, there came a request that needed to be done on the weekend. Fenton never said yes to one of these engagements. After being asked to his manager's office a few times, and then the boss's office once, these requests stopped. I never asked for specifics and Fenton didn't present them. I became more curious.

"Fenton?" I said.

Fenton turned around, attentive and ready.

"Would you like to hang out at the bar tonight? Some friends invited me and said I could bring a friend..."

Fenton rubbed his red scruff of a goatee. "Sorry, I don't drink. Thanks for the offer."

"I don't drink much either," I said, truthfully (I usually quaffed root beer), "Just like the company."

He looked me up and down, not saying anything.

I felt I needed to fill in the silence. "I mean, we've been working with...or at least near each other for a while now. You're a cool guy. I just want to..."

"Sorry, I'm...busy."

"Tomorrow maybe?"

Fenton shook his head. "Trent, I know you mean well. I'm just not made out for being social outside of work. I hope you understand."

"Yeah, I do," I sighed. "Still, if you ever change your mind, let me know."

"Will do," Fenton said, turning back to his work.

I turned back to mine. Fenton was just a private person. I needed to respect his privacy and let him be. I couldn't force him to be social. He was fine. He was allowed to have his secrets.

I almost got myself to believe this by the end of the day.

Tuesday, I almost asked him again and stopped myself.

Wednesday, I almost asked Ruth for his address. I changed the topic midway into the question.

Thursday, I debated digging through his desk for answers when he went to a meeting.

On Friday, I decided to tail him home in my car.

I will be the first to admit that this is not the most sane action for me to take. But I had got myself invested in this mystery, and once that happened, my imagination started to conjure up all these reasons and ideas and explanations until I couldn't sleep at night. The logical side of me kept insisting there was nothing that I needed to know. Fenton was a normal person with a normal personality, and, presumably, a normal life. Just because he never discussed hobbies or family or friends or vacations did not mean anything. Lots of people in the world didn't talk about that stuff. I couldn't think of any though. My mind got corrupted by this question until I snapped early Friday morn and decided to take action.

I picked up a pie from the bakers. My plan was to follow Fenton after work, see where he lived, go away for an hour, come back with a pie, saying some line of "oh, I saw your car when I was passing through the neighborhood and since I had this pie..."

A horrible idea through and through. No one in their right mind wouldn't buy the facade and would, most likely, slam the door and call the police. However, as I half paid attention to my work through the day, I somehow convinced myself of the genius of this hare-brained plan.

Five o'clock came around, Fenton gave a cheery good evening, and left. I quickly shutdown my computer and followed in his wake. I sprinted down the stairs, scooted down halls, looking like an idiot until I made it into my car and focused in on his dark green car pull out of his space. I felt sick to my stomach when he stopped at the grocery store and came out with milk and break. I was shivering when he stopped by the garden store and came out with fertilizer. I yelled to myself when he stopped at the pet food store and came out with some cat toys. None of this in itself was odd. Just normal chores of a person who ate, tended a garden, and had a cat. The only thing I noticed was he appeared to check his wristwatch every minute. I wanted to flee give up this horrible idea and eat the blasted pie to comfort myself.

I kept going. I at least wanted to see where he lived at this point. Then I would be done. I wouldn't even do the stupid pie thing.

By the time I saw him pull into his drive, from down the block, so low in my seat I could only peek over the dashboard, my confidence had returned. I would go have coffee, return, and give Fenton some pie. I wrote down the address as I passed by. The length of drinking the coffee brought me up to hysteria then down again to illogical calm. I returned to the house to find it dark. Not even the porch light on. Had he left. His car still sat in the driveway. Perhaps someone picked him up. I sighed and slumped in my seat. All this and nothing. I decided I could still leave the pie and maybe a note.

I got out of the car and walked to the door. I set the pie on the doorstep. I stared at the doorbell button. I shrugged and pushed the button. It dinged. I looked up and down the street. I turned the door handle. Unlocked. The door swung open, silent. I looked at the shadows beyond. I looked at the street again. My car waited. I needed to leave. Now.

I picked up the pie. Since the door was open, may as well leave the pie in the kitchen. I walked into the house, down the hall, took a left, and found the kitchen. I looked at the counter. Perhaps I should put the pie in the fridge. I opened the fridge. Rodents, lizards, and eggs in plastic bags. I closed the fridge. I then noticed the fogged glass window door. It wasn't to the outside, no, that door was on the opposite side of the room. Based on placement, it could very well be the living room. I noticed the vents leading out above the door and the soft whirr of an air system. I exited the kitchen and came around another way, another fogged glass door, and a few sheets of fogged glass. Odd. Actually, as I walked, I noticed that the rest of the house was separated from the kitchen and dining room. Walls of the fogged glass blocked all entrance from the rest of that house. Unless I opened a door.

I feared what lay behind the door. I had come so far, my unhealthy curiosity had dragged me into this situation, and now that the normal of Fenton had fallen on the wayside, the unknown of the strange lay behind those glass walls. I reentered the kitchen and opened the glass door.

I walked into a forest. An artificial forest of large potted trees in a living room, but a forest nonetheless. I wandered through the foliage and found couch and a TV sat in the middle of the room, a cartoon show played in mute, the remote sat on the couch covered by tarp. I walked further in, ducking under branches, walking on wet sod. I looked up and saw a skylight that took up the entire ceiling, the moonlight added to the strange aura. I exited the living room and entered the hall. This was not as well lit. The trees were pressed closer together. I shimmed between trunks. My shoe sank into mud. I squelched onward. This was absurd. Fenton was growing an entire forest in his house. Why would anyone do that? Yes, I could understand this in someone's backyard, but why would someone do this in their house? I couldn't really get past this thought. Or his accomplishment. Despite the crazy, this really was amazing. Then I remembered the cat toy.

Wait...what if he built this for someone rather than himself. I froze. Here I stood, in a closed in forested hallway, no means of escape, and there, very possibly, could be an unknown animal, perhaps carnivore, very close. Then some leaves very near to my face rustled. I heard a growl.

Panic set in. I flailed, pushing against the trees, trying to get away, I ran into a door, wood, I found the handle, I opened, I ran forward. Right into a wooden board at face level.

I lay on the floor. Or ground. I felt carpet in any case. I bed nearby. Bedroom. Wooden slates across the room covered in vines. A cat toy next to my head, a puffball on the end of a spring. I rubbed my forehead where I'd ran into the board.

"Trent? What...why...what in the world?"

Fenton. At the doorway. Finally. Some sense. I turned to try and fail at explaining. The babbling never came. I stared at the creature sitting there that was obviously not Fenton. Until it spoke. "Oh. I..." His own words faded off. We stared.

Fenton, or the creature that had Fenton's voice, sighed. "I guess this couldn't last forever. Do you want a drink?"

"What do you have?" I squeaked.

"Water and...water."

"That would be good."

We sat at the kitchen table. To be more specific, I sat on a chair and Fenton sat on the table. I drank the water. Fenton dunked his paw into the glass, then licked the water off his paw.

"First things first: why exactly did you break into my house?"

"To be fair, the door was unlocked."

"How did you even find my house?"

I sank into the seat. "I...followed you."

Fenton looked displeased. This made him look more cute. "What's keeping me from just calling the cops on you?"

" being a...what are you?"

"Red panda."

"You being a red panda?"

He paced the table, making a twittering noise.

"You /are/ Fenton, right?"

"Yes, I'm Fenton." He gave a deep huff.  "I guess only thing I can do is explain to you why I'm like..." he sat up and motioned his paws to his body, "...this."

I sat back up in my chair. "That would be a good start."

"I've been hiding this for a long time," he said, shaking his head, "Too long. I don't know how I kept this a secret so long. I may as well start at the you want to move to the couch?"

"May as well."

As I settled onto the tarp-covered couch, Fenton draped himself onto a nearby branch at eye level.

Fenton cleared his throat. "As with most stories like this, it started with a girl. Or who I thought was a girl. She ended up to be much more than that. I loved her. But things went sour at one point or another, as relationships sometimes do.

"She wanted more from me than I was willing to give. She wanted to be around me all the time. She wanted to talk with me all the time. She wanted to be there for me, and wanted me to be always there for her..."

"So I tried to break up with her."

Fenton rubbed his paws on his temples. "She did not take that well.

"Turned out that she had plans for me. She was a kitsune. She was an all powerful multitailed fox trickster spirit who had chosen me to be her mate for life...and to have me reject her...yeah... That was an extremely awkward dinner, I can tell you.:

"She thought I was being selfish and shallow and maybe I was. It all depends upon the point of view. I said I need some time to think. She thought if I wanted some time to myself, I would have it. So she cursed me to be this, five days a week. So I would have plenty of time to myself."

"Wait, that doesn't make sense," I said, "I've seen you at work, five days a week, every week."

Fenton sat up and held up his paws, shaking his head. "No, no, no. I found out soon after this curse was placed on me, that the curse was deemed by hours rather than days. It translates five days as 120 hours. I can keep myself from becoming a red panda...if I have the time. I have 48 hours to be human each week. So forty hours for work, eight hours for driving home and back, chores, shopping, other events."

"Have you tried just...not being a red panda?"

Fenton sighed. "Yeah, if I try right from Sunday to keep from turning, by the time it turns Tuesday, I'm a red panda the rest of the week with no human interludes possible."

"So this is why all of..." I tapered off, pointing at the surrounding foliage.

"Yeah, I figured if I spent most of my time home as a red panda, I may as well build the habitat for it. I tried the park a few nights. Bad idea. Too many stray dogs, no bamboo, and raccoon temperaments may vary. I just feel more comfortable in a forested area."

"Haven't you tried to..."

"Break the curse? Yeah, I beg and pleaded with her...the kitsune. I tried to find other mythical creatures and magical persons. I tried remedies from online. All dead ends. I still see her from time to time. She leaves notes. She's still mad. She told me she lives thousands of years. She might stay mad for a while..."

"How do you...keep sane?"

Fenton swung his long ringed tail. "By not fighting it. I think I got a bit of red panda instinct with the body. I just let the red panda in me take control. It really is relaxing, with no predators, poachers, and plenty of food, works out not half bad."

I rubbed my forehead, still sore from hitting that wood. "What was it I hit?"

"I'm building an agility course in the bedroom, to keep me occupied and give me more climbing practice."

"Ah." I leaned forward and looked at my feet. "I'm sorry I broke in. I...don't know. I just got so...curious and I...had to know."

"I think I just have that aura. I know you meant well, Trent. Anyone would do what you did."

"You think so?"

"No really," Fenton said, giving what looked to be a grin.

I stood up. "Thanks for explaining. Sorry for intruding."

"Don't worry. As long as you don't spread it around the office."

"If I did, the rumor would just be, 'Did you hear Trent's insane now?'"

Fenton chuckled at this, "Yeah, that's the office for you."

I walked to the glass door.


I stopped.

"You don't...have to leave."

I looked back. Fenton had leaped off the branch and now sat at my feet.

"There's...I mean, you don't have to stay. if you don't want to. Since you're's a Friday night. I have a limited collection of DVDs. Mostly badly narrated red panda documentaries. Still, great to make fun of."

I couldn't say no to that face.

I woke up the following morning, a red panda curled up on my chest. I rubbed him between the ears. Fenton chirred and twitched his long tail.

May be unconventional, but I thought this might be the start of an interesting friendship.

I noticed the fox, five tails swirling behind, laying on the head of the couch. . A moment later, the name came to mind: kitsune. I wanted to scramble for cover, but I didn't want to wake Fenton, so I lay there, forcing a smile up. "Morning," I whispered.

"What are you doing in this house?" the kitsune said, calm, uncomfortably calm. She rose onto all four paws and trotted closer to my face.

"Just visiting," I whispered.

She looked to Fenton, then snapped her attention back to me. "You do not seem surprised by my appearance." She leaned in, nose almost touching my own, her golden eyes shimmered, almost glowed. I felt small and scared.

The kitsune backed away, walked back down the head of the couch, and then stepped down onto my stomach.I felt her claws through my shirt. She was light. She sat down and watched Fenton's sleeping form. Her five tails lashed, she bared her teeth, though didn't growl. "What did he tell you?" She did not look up from Fenton.

I fumbled with regaining my "Just...some things. Not much really."

"You didn't run away."

"I...tried. I hurt myself." I rubbed my forehead, where a bump had formed.  

"You know too much."

She said this. The words got in deep and reverberated on my chords of fear.

"I can leave," I whispered. I knew if Fenton woke up, it really wouldn't matter at this point.

"And never come back?"

I stared. She finally looked up.

"I...I...can't do that."


"He' friend."

She smiled and shook her head. "You don't know him like I do. He's not worth it."

"Why not?"

"Do you know what he did for me?"

"Would you rather he lie about loving you?"

"If it would keep me happy. Yes."

"That's not how love works."

She stepped past Fenton, brought her face back close, she spoke, low and evenly, showing her teeth as she spoke. "You are on a very narrow ledge here. This is none of your business and I'm giving you the chance to step away right now. You're Trent, right? His co-worker. He's talked about you. He thinks you're nice. You can keep being nice. At work. Act like nothing happened and you don't know.

"Fenton will understand. He will keep living his life. And you will keep living yours. Free of any complications. Fenton does not need you as a friend. He only needs me. And as long as keeps denying that, he will remain just as he is. You do not want to make the same mistakes he has made. Make your choice wisely, human. I do not make idle threats."

I made a choice.

O   O   O

Fenton woke up refreshed. He chewed on the bamboo placed in front of him cheerfully, relishing the flavor. Yes, the fact that Trent had come by was strange, but after last night, Fenton appreciated Trent. Trent had accepted the situation, he hadn't run away (at least after the explanation), he didn't panic, and his commentary during the documentaries had been somewhat entertaining. By the end, the smell of nervousness had diminished greatly.

He caught the scent of kitsune.


He jumped off the couch, sniffing the air for Trent. Perhaps he'd left before she came around. Perhaps nothing had happened. He wished he wasn't such a deep sleeper. Nothing out of place, no sign of a struggle, nothing on fire. But he couldn't smell anything of Trent besides where he had been on the couch. He got on his hind legs to look around.

Then he smelled the popcorn.


Fenton took another snuff. Yes, fresh popcorn. That was weird. He followed the smell. Past the glass door, it was not in the kitchen, down the hallway, to his bedroom door. It was cracked open. He peeked in. He saw a black figure hunched over his computer. Fenton entered, holding his body close to the ground, trying not to make a sound. The figure was an animal, that was for certain, black fur with silver, long curved tail that curled and uncurled. It gave off the smell of popcorn.

Fenton's stomach rumbled, the figure turned around. Black furred face, golden eyes, grizzled fur, large triangle ears.

"I hope you don't mind I'm using your computer," the creature said, in a familiar bashful voice."I was just doing some you know how hard it is to type with paws?"

Fenton gaped. "Trent?"

"...yeah," Trent said, ears drooping.


"I met your ex-girlfriend. I'm sorry. I don't know."

"Trent. I'm sor-"

"No, no, don't apologize. It's all my fault. I found out she's a wee bit crazy."

"Trent, I..."

"No, really I'm fine, despite being a..." Trent looked at the computer screen. "A binturong. Also known as a bearcat. At least I'm somewhat adorable." He rubbed his snout, embarrassed. "I just...wanted to be your friend. I'm sorry to impose on your life. You don't need any more complications."

Fenton trotted up to Trent, pacing back and forth, taking in the details of the new binturong. He sat down in front of Trent. "Trent, you're not a complication. I'm sorry I wasn't more...forthcoming."

"You don't need to say anything. I would have thought you were crazy if you did. Then we...wouldn't be here." The binturong gave a chuckling type sound.

Fenton gave a twittering laugh back. "I suppose not. I suppose, considering circumstances, you can stay over this weekend. I'll show you the ropes, so to speak," he said, gesturing at the ropes and board constructed climbing course above.

"Ooo, can you? I read I have a prehensile tail that I want to try out. And do you think I can try some of those rats you have in the fridge? I'm a dash famished after the change."

"Sure. Just keep your jaws off the bamboo."


Writer's Guild / Traffic
« on: July 20, 2012, 07:09:28 AM »
Derik's breath fogged up the windshield when he sighed. Normally, his face would not be close enough to fog up the cool glass, but normally he didn't have a wolfish snout either.

Not in the car, in any case.

The wipers wiped, smearing the drizzled water across the glass, blurring the sea of red break lights beyond. The lights flashed and moved intermittently. The one in front of Derik's car did just this, pulling ahead another five feet. Derik grumbled and fumbled his foot to move from the break to the gas, to tap it carefully. Doing this with footpads instead of shoed feet had proved to be a challenge in itself. Especially when he couldn't see where his footpaws were fumbling. He managed to get five feet forward and squeak the car to a halt once again.

A low growl rumbled in his throat. Werewolves were not meant for this environment, squeezed awkwardly in a compact car, work clothes shredded about him, tail kinked against the seat, back against the ceiling, nose against the windshield, forepaws resting on middle of the steering wheel. This car was meant for a five something human, not a seven something wolf beast. When choosing a car, he had not considered this eventuality. If he had, he would have gotten one of this questionable boxes on wheels with more headroom than a normal person would be capable of filling. At least he had gotten a car with tinted glass (if only because it had been used and he was not picky).

His growling turned to a whine. Oh, how he wanted to get out of here. Derik wanted to be loping through thick underbrush, between looming trees, feeling the mud and wet leaves on his pawpads. He wanted to hunt for rabbits and squirrels and mice and deer, sometimes for catch-and-release, sometimes for a quick dinner. All of the thrill was in the hunt. The twitching of the kill made him queasy, werewolf or not. He wanted to escape this confinement.

But he couldn't. He needed to stay put. It was not his fault, really. Work had went longer than expected. One last project. One little task. As some obscure law of work deemed, it seemed that if such a small task presented itself ten minutes before the end of work, it was bound to somehow last two more hours than expected. So it happened that Derik's planned trip to a park at the edge of the city had been delayed. And then the traffic jam happened.

Even if the moon were obscured with gloomy rain clouds, he still experienced his monthly affliction. He never saw it as much of a curse until now. He couldn't even put his tail between his legs in depression from his position. The wolf in him wanted to gnaw on the steering wheel or rip an escape route through the roof, but the human in him restrained himself. He continued to whimper. He fumbled at the glove box until it popped open. With his massive claws, he carefully reached in and picked out a box of dog biscuits. Cardboard, plastic and all, he chomped the small box, relishing the soft taste of fake bacon that melted through. Strange how it never really tasted like bacon until he was a wolf. He'd tried as a human and had been sorely disappointed. He frowned at the debris the chomping left on his dash, but crumbs were preferable to claw marks.

The car in front of him started moving again. He regripped the steering wheel and made a fumble for his gas peddle, sticking his tongue out in concentration as he tried to get his massive footpads hit it.

He hit it, but a little too hard this time, the car jumped forward, and he desperately tried to hit the break. He hit the pedal, but not before his snout crunched against the windshield and his bumper crunched into the car in front of him. Dazed, he tried to rub his snout, he saw a few drops of blood on the glass, he licked his nose and tasted the metallic tang. Oh how he wished it had been rabbit blood instead. He found himself drooling.

Then the driver's side door opened of the car he'd just hit. Large guy, muscled, block jawed, rage in his eyes. He could hear the yelling and his ears would have shifted back against his skull, of the car's ceiling wasn't already doing that.

Derik had had enough now. His paw fumbled at the handle of the door until it clicked open. He slowly opened the door, and then stepped out into the drizzle and headlights. He rose to his full height, spine and muscles creaking. He cracked his neck and looked down at the guy, who had been mid-knuckle cracking before freezing at the sight of Derik.

Derik imagined he was a sight to behold: large muscled form, grizzled wet gray fur, eyes glowing red, usual werewolf features, against a traffic backdrop, which Derik figured added to the shadows. He also knew that cell phones would be quickly coming out once shock faded away, so he moved, close to the guy, snout to nose.

"How does the damage look?" he said in his gravely voice.

The guy squeaked. Derik looked at his hood and the guy's rear bumper. Didn't see anything evident.

"My insurance is in the glove compartment if you want it," Derik said, in as calm a voice his growling werewolf muzzle could manage, "I'm sorry for the trouble."

He looked back at his car, then over the landscape of glistening cartops. He sniffed at the air, full of oil and exhaust. His car was no longer an option. Derik looked back down at the guy, who's eyes were so wide Derik thought they would pop out of their sockets any moment. He gave a toothy grin. "Again, sorry for the inconvenience. You have a nice night."

He ran, He caught the notes of a girly scream from the guy as he headed off, but ignored it, focusing on his route through traffic. Instead of going between, he went over, jumping from roof to roof, sometimes across hoods, keeping his grip on the slick metal, hoping not to leave too many dents behind. As he kept going, he started to forget the traffic, the stress, the confinement of his car, the worries. He let his tongue loll out as he scarpered over a truck, up, on top of a semi-trailer, paused and looked over his surroundings. His quick breaths turned to cloud in the cool air. Derik looked up, saw the moon peak through the clouds.

He let out a long howl.

After that, a few more car roofs, then he loped off the freeway, into underbrush.

He hunted rabbits.

The repercussions for Derik's actions proved to be anything as serious as he would have imagined. Yes, he had to pick up his impounded car, but even that seemed less dramatic than he expected. A werewolf sighting in a traffic jam had not stirred media or public interest, due other news pushing whatever public interest it might have held aside. Getting his car back did not prove as complicated as he imagined either. Yes, it included paperwork and a small fine, but a distinct lack of awkward questions.

Derik bought a GPS with traffic alerts on the way home.

Writer's Guild / Anywhere But Here
« on: April 28, 2011, 05:59:58 PM »
This was meant to be a pointless fluff piece done over the course of one weekend.

Here it is, three months later.  ];)

Enjoy, peeps.

O   O   O

Anywhere But Here
The raccoon looked out at the snow. His breath fogged up the glass when he sighed. He traced his claw on the frost with one paw while the other fiddled with his hoodie's strings. He sighed again for good measure.
"Dringer, sigh anymore and I'll have to get a muzzle for ya." A red fox sauntered in, can of refried beans in paw. "Or stuff a bean burrito into your muzzle, whichever works best."
"I'll take the bean burrito option, Rex."
"Thought you would, you fake-Mexican-food-loving 'coon. As long as it perks those droopy ears of yours."
Dringer murmured unintelligible phrases. To anyone without fox ears at least.
"Don't you say anything about my mum," Rex snapped.
"I was referencing the general populous of mums."
"Still. My mum is included. Stop being so mopey." Rex pulled down Dringer's hood and rubbed the raccoon between the ears. "What grand plans did you have in the unknowns outside Wyoming anyway?"
"I don't know," Dringer grumbled, stuffing his paws into his hoodie sleeves. "Stuff."
"And things, I suppose," Rex said, tossing the bean can up and down.
"I just...need to get out of this place. I need to get out of..." He pulled open the curtains and pointed out at the outside. There lie the tundra: flat, white with scruffs of grass poking through, the far horizon would contain a jagged mountain underbite, if it weren't for the swirling snowstorm. "This!"
The fox rubbed his snout. "I don't know. I've always kinda liked the view."
"You know what people say when I say I live in Wyoming?" Dringer said, playing paws over masked eyes, "Sorry."
"You're being mellow dramatic, good chap," Rex said, giving his tail a wag, "Yer not looking at the bright side of the godforsaken landscape."
"Like: There will be a lack of subjects that can be infected by a zombie apocalypse?"
Rex snorted. "True enough. I just think you need to just enjoy the quiet."
A few moments of silence.
"But I don't waaaaaaaanna."
Rex slapped the raccoon across the muzzle. "Shush, you insufferable loctor. Well, if you really wanna get out, since the roads are closed...I do have a solution..."
Dringer's ears perked, then lowered. "Nothing to do with a toaster this time?"
"I make no promises."
Dringer chewed on this a few moments. "Carry on."
He followed the fox through the house, to the back room. He had not been back here before. Though they shared the house, they gave themselves enough space to be sane or insane if they wished to be without bothering the other. Dringer had the garage (which, in exchange, he kept the cars running). Rex had the laundry room (which, in exchange, he did the laundry).  Dringer occasionally wondered what projects Rex was up to. But from occasional previews of the more absurd, he learned not to ask. It made his snow blower project pale in comparison.
Rex opened the door and flicked on a light. Dringer stepped in behind him. "Ah, looks like a dentist chair...leaving now."
Rex caught Dringer lightly by the tail. "Come back here you. It was the only chair I could find after the recliner was infected by fleas..."
"Ah, the ones the size of melons."
Rex shifted his eyes. "...yes."
Dringer became aware of the wires and computer towers surrounding the chair. "So...what is this exactly?"
"Haven't come up with an official name for it yet. One of those "hard to describe unless you taste it" sort of things."
Dringer made a face. "I have to lick the chair?"
"Haha. No. I suppose this really depends on how desperate you are to take a brief vacation."
"What does it involve?"
"How desperate are you first?"
"Is it safe?"
"Depends on your desperate-ness."
"I'm disconcerted by your focus on my desperateness."
"As far as I know, it is quite safe. The cockroaches I tested on seemed very happy afterwards."
Dringer didn't like the way Rex was smiling, or the twitch of the fox's tail.
Rex spread his paws, "All depends on where you want to go."
"How about anywhere but here?"
Rex draped an arm across Dringer's shoulders. "That can be arranged."
He placed Dringer into the chair and handed the raccoon a bike helmet riddled with wires. Dringer placed it on without question. The chair was oddly comfortable. One of those, that if in a dentist's office, you would be worried about the relative pain of the tooth operation.
Rex was typing at a keyboard. "Just need to collect your consciousness and we get get you on your way."
"They way you said that makes it sound like you're collecting my consciousness in a bottle."
"Better than your brain, and easier to digitize."
"Don't worry about it. I'm going to give you a smashing little vacation away from the depths of Wyoming."
Dringer reached up for the helmet straps. "You know, perhaps this isn't the best idea I..."
Then everything shifted.

O   O   O
Dringer did not quite know how to explain the moments that followed. He could not see, taste, or smell. Yet he could feel. Feel beyond reality, between universes and dimension, into the edge through time and space, down, over, and through. Or so he tried to rationalize in the string of fragmented parts that made up his mind.
Everything clarified, sharpened, returned.
“What happened?” he said, the words feeling strange and detached with an accent.

“That was a bit of a mawslap and a half there,” he murmured, the strange accent remaining on his voice.
“We haven't even got to the show, mate,” another voice with an accent interjected. “If you're ready to start it, I am. So whatdoya say, Digs?” A kangaroo slapped Dringer on the back and, in turn, slapped Dringer back into reality. Or fiction, he didn't know at the moment. He was certain that there had not been a kangaroo next to him a moment ago. Then again, he didn't remember being in a big blistering red sand desert either. He tried to steady himself and found himself grabbing onto the kangaroo for support. He then found the paws grabbing for support did not look like raccoon paws at all.
“Digs, matey. You're not getting dehydrated, are ya? I thought I told you to take as many swigs as ye could on the way here. In fact, I think you lapped up half the jug. Now, I know you're a little out of sorts, and you think we should deal only with insects, but this project be close enough, mate. We're Roob and Digs, exterminators extraordinaire!” The kangaroo, Roob, Dringer figured, said this, while pointing a machete into the hazy blue skies.
Dringer thought he would find this proclamation comforting if he knew what the hell was going on. He was still trying to see how he'd got from point A from a questionable dentist chair in Wyoming, to here, feeling completely out of sorts in body and location, in...Australia, perhaps? It would explain the accent.
But just being in Australia did not change one's accent unless they were an idiot tourist...
Roob tossed him something that flashed in the sun, Dringer caught it on instinct. Another machete. What exactly were they doing here?
“Now, you watch that hole, and I'll flush the bugger out, got it, Digs?”
Dringer nodded, “I guess...”
“That's the spirit. See ye in a few hops,” the kangaroo said with a wink, before hopping off.

Dringer watched the kangaroo a few moments, shuffling around some brush, before looking down at the unfamiliar paw holding the machete. What sort of paw was it? I wasn't his own. Well, it was now but...he had a flash of inspiration. Dringer turned the blade, he rubbed at its dusty surface until he could see his blurry reflection. Pointed snout, pointed ears, tan fur, almost redish on the edges. He stuck his tongue out. Seemed like a properly cliché thing to do. He looked behind him and spotted a curled tail. It wagged a little at his bidding. He looked down. Rugged shorts, digitigrade legs. He bounced a little on them. He'd always wondered how canines could deal with these.
Only then, did Dringer realize that at the moment, by all definitions, he was currently a dingo.
Was it a dream or...?
He heard rustling from the hole. A sort of scrabbling of stone and sand of some creature moving about. Dringer glanced at where Roob was still hopping about. “Roob?” he called.
Dringer looked back at the hole. Or did Digs look back at the hole? He would worry about that later. He started to notice some details. The hole seemed to be fringed by a white silk. The winds changed. He smelt some smoke in his new canine nose. Coming from where Roob was. Was Roob burning something. Wait...he looked at the hole closer. That wasn't silk...that was web. And if that was web...
The most massive spider Dringer had ever seen burst from the hole, right at his face, fangs waggling, all eight legs reaching out.
"Blimey Charley!"
He flailed his paws at the leaping spider, one of which held a machete. The crack of a blade through exoskeleton and splatter of spider guts followed. Dringer stood there, the slime dripping down his face, staring at the two halves of twitching spider carcass. He wiped the blade on his pants.

“Nice show, Digs!” Roob called, hopping back into view. “That was…”

Everything shifted.  
O   O   O
Dringer stumbled forward and suddenly found altogether different paws grabbing for balance on a grimy sink. He was breathing deep, as if settling down from a panic attack. He looked up into a cracked mirror and saw a different face than the one seen in the machete.
Dringer was no longer a dingo, that was for sure. He placed a tawny paw on his muzzle, he pressed the pink feline nose. By all accounts, he now appeared to be a cougar of some sort, with a sizable cut over his left eye. His whiskers twitched, sensing a certain electricity in the air. He looked down to find himself wearing a tattered looking tux.
His pants were kakis. Dirty, though not tattered and moth ridden like the tux. Why was he wearing a tux, anyway. Then again, why had he been a bug-exterminating dingo? Why wasn't he a raccoon? What exactly had that crazy fox done?
The tattered state of the tux matched the setting, he was in a place where soggy pieces of wood had been formed into the vague shape of a bathroom, or large outhouse.
"Get on our here you slack-tailed puma!" a gruff voice called.
Dringer squinted through an encrusted window. He could only see greenish and brown of the surroundings. The air was as soggy as the wood. His tan fur likewise.
"GET OUT HERE!" the voice bellowed.
"Just a min-" he started.
He didn't finish because of a gun shot, then half the outhouse door exploded and he hit the floor, scrambling under the sink. A few seconds later a snout poked through the new hole in the door, a large scaly snout of an American Alligator. The alligator brandished a shotgun. It grinned down at Dringer. "There ya are, ye puma. Stop wibbling like a guppy and get on out here. The ceremony is about ta begin."
"Ceremony?" Dringer squeaked.
The gator kicked open the door, waddled over, and pulled up Dringer with muddy claws. "Yes, Miter Landen. You're gonna be a fine husband for my dear Gertrude."
Outside, the scene was seething with gators.
Dringer swore. The gator who had retrieved him, nudged him with the barrel of the shotgun. "Don't you be teaching the little ones any bad language, you hear?" The currently-puma took note of the small gators scampering about his footpaws. He lifted his long tail from nipping range.
He was in a swamp. The trees were coated with moss and the branches sagged with ivy and moss. This appeared to be a gator community, shacks connected by rickety docks, blending into the murky surroundings.
Fine husband. The phrase finally set in and mixed with the details of the tux and the shotgun. Ahead, he saw a crowd. As they neared, an aisle with green scaled walls formed, leading to a sleek figure in a muddied white dress.
As he neared, he saw the gator in the bride dress was smiling. As he got closer, he saw the smile was forced. The gator lass took his arm and pulled him close. "I'm so sorry about this, Henry. My family is a little…over-zealous to see me married."
"Oh really, I couldn't tell," Dringer said, trying to catch his footing. His whiskers twitched nervously. He figured his grim sarcasm would fit the situation.
"Don't worry, I've called in a favor."
"I don't wanna know, Gertrude."
"I've told you before, call me Gerty."
"I think that is besides the point now."
"Are you alright?"
"I'm currently a raccoon in a puma's body at a shotgun wedding, what do you think?"
"I didn't think you were one of those spiritual inner-animal types."
"You have no idea."
"And by the power invested in me by this ‘ere great State of Georgia, you may kiss that there bride!" the reverend gator exclaimed.
Dringer and Gerty stopped. "Wait…when did…how…?" Dringer began.
Gerty sighed. "Gator weddings get straight to the point otherwise limbs are lost in anticipation for dinner."
"…I'm not dinner, am I?"
Gerty snorted. "Oh no. Don't be silly. We're gators, not savages. However…there was that one raccoon that…"
"Don't wanna know."
There was a whirring noise. The gators around stopped hooping and hollering when they heard it. They all looked around suspiciously.
Gerty pulled Dringer closer. "That's the favor. Now, get ready…"
"For what?"
She ran forward, pulling Dringer along, past the reverend, past the crowd, towards the edge of the docks, over the edge, through the air, towards the murk below…the boat interrupted the impact: A swamp skimmer sort of craft, piloted by a grizzled raccoon with a wide brimmed fishing hat. He saluted Gerty and Dringer, other paw on the steering lever, the large fan propelling them buzzing behind him.
"How is the new couple?" the raccoon yelled over the noise and the splashes of swamp water around them. Dringer could just hear the gun shots over the buzz, and assumed that's where the splashes were coming from. "
"Don't worry, Henry," Gerty said, resting her scaly head on his chest, "The best shot in that village is me. The rest couldn't hit the side of a bogbeast. I'm dreadfully sorry about all this."
Dringer awkwardly patted her head. "Ur…no problem…"
"You know, we're technically married still."
"I have been curious, Henry. What kissing a mammal might be like…"
Dringer looked desperately to the raccoon, who just gave a thumb up…
Gerty closed in on her prey…
O   O   O
Wait…was this the taste of a kiss? It certainly tasted fishy enough. The scales were not nearly as rough as he would have imagined though. Wait, if this were a kiss, why did it feel as if he were biting on something? And why did he feel as if he were underwater?
Because he was underwater, immersed in a deep cold blue, dim light filtering down into upside down valleys of ice. His whole body moved through the water, jaws clamped down on some unknown thing that still thrashed. Up, movements smooth he couldn't even stop these instinctual actions nor did he want to risk doing so.
He broke the surface, diving into the air, before he flopped onto the snow. White spread all around. Blank snowy bright white. Dringer squinted.
"Great job, Mac! You got us a big one!"

Dringer turned to see a sea otter scampering up, outfitted in a puffy winter jacket, florescent orange.
He managed to unclamp his jaw from the object, what appeared to be a very large fish, it’s gullet ripped out. "No problem," he rumbled, licking his bloodied chops.
"Do you taste mercury?"
Dringer considered this, rubbing his chin with a fore-flipper. “I don't believe so.”
“Great,” the sea otter said, “Let’s get this fish to the station so we can do more tests.” Dringer swore the otter’s tail was wagging from this prospect.
Dringer, on the other flipper, still needed to get a hold of this situation and currently having flippers instead of paws was not helping. At least he felt warm, thanks to what he assumed was a good layer of blubber on his sleek body. The sea otter pulled up his hood and picked up the fish. Dringer hopped along behind, relishing the smell of blood on the frosted air. He hoped he could have some soon. That would be nice.
But that wasn't the main concern. How exactly was this happening? As far as he could tell, his brain was lose from his body, or at least his consciousness was. He was hopping  huge distances without being restricted by his own body. He felt something on his neck. He looked down to find a card on a strap there. It had a picture of a seal of some sort sticking out its tongue, the name Rodney, the species sea leopard. Ah, that explained it.
Well, didn't explain anything really. Just whose body he happened to be residing in. But if he was in this body, where was the default occupant? Perhaps that was the nibbling at the edge of his consciousness, those little pulls that made him do certain actions and say certain things before he quite knew what he was saying. It was as if he were pushed into a play and needed to follow a certain script. As if he wasn't truly saying anything on his own free will. Was he really even being himself while in these bodies?
His head hurt. He wanted to eat more of that fish.
He opened his mouth to ask the sea otter if he could have some…
Everything shifted.
O   O   O
Dringer found himself dangling above an active volcano.
That couldn't be right. He looked up at his paws holding tightly to a burnt branch, and down to his footpaws, which dangled over a pit of spitting lava far below.
Yep. First impression had been correct.
He also appeared to be wearing a large emerald jewel around his neck.
Other observations were interrupted by the unsettling creaking of the branch he held on to. Then the crack. The branch shifted and he only barely kept a grip. The blackened cliff face was far out of reach. Then he heard the chanting. Above, peaking over the edge, were a row of painted chinchilla faces. Dringer prided himself in knowing chinchillas when he saw them. He had a chinchilla friend once. His hugs were fantastic with that plush fur.
These ones did not seem to be the hugging sort. The chanting didn't help his impression. Where the heck was he? Timbuktu?
No…Africa wasn't a native habitat of the chinchilla. Emphasis on "native." He looked back down at the jewel and at his clothing. Breathable shirt, light vest, kaki pants, wide belt, machete in a sheath…hellgates, was he an explorer of some sort? And what was he now…from the hanging legs and tail...
The chanting stopped. Dringer looked up. The faces were no longer there. The branch snapped. He fell. His paws kept hold of the branch. Perception slowed. He saw his snout as he opened his mouth to yell.
He heard the eagle screech before he made a sound.
Dringer hit something. Softer than rock and cooler than lava, and judging from the feeling from his stomach, he was going up. He found himself draped on a tawny hide, a massive wing flapping in front of him. Paws took hold of him and pulled him up into a hug. He awkwardly hugged back, distracted by what the heck he was riding on.
"Juke, you're all right, I'm so glad."
Dringer had enough time to register that this was a black panther speaking before she pulled him into a long full-muzzled kiss. Much nicer kiss than the gator gave, that was for sure. He didn't fight it. She didn't taste fishy. She tasted slightly of passion fruit… It made his issues fade away.
She pulled away, leaving what he knew was a dumb smile. She then punched him across the muzzle. "And that's for leaving me to fend for myself, ye blasted fox."
Rubbing the side of his face, Dringer shrugged. "I guess I figured that you and your…griffin…could fend for yourselves. You are a…talented…lass?"
The panther's expression softened. "You're a scamp, that's for sure."
"I try. So…really, is this a griffin?"
"Roberto, you idiot," the griffin countered, "I've saved your neck enough times, you should remember it by now."
“Yes…of course. So…what exactly is this artifact…” the panther asked, “After all that trouble, I hope it was worth it.”
“Ur…not sure yet…” Dringer brought his paw up to the jewel. It glowed, blinding him in an emerald sheen. The light covered him, sank into his body, causing a tingling down into his very bones. His snout contracted, his ears stretched, his tail extended, he felt the changes all along his body. By the end, his clothes were a little baggier and the jewel had turned orange.
“You…appear to have turned into a ringtail,” the panther commented.
“Oh.” Dringer looked down at his now sleeker and ring tailed body.
“You don’t seem to be very distressed by this.”
“Not today at least,” Dringer said with a wink. “I bet a kiss would make it all better…” He leaned in. The panther shrugged and took his face in her paws, and pulled him in and...
“Get a room,” he heard the griffin grumble, just before everything shifted.
O   O   O
Dringer lifted his face from a sticky counter and looked up through blurry vision. Alcohol fumes bit the inside of his nose and his tongue lifted the taste of it off his muzzle. A half full glass sat before him. He cocked his head muzzily to the side as he studied it, a hoofed paw tapping next to it. His own hoofed paw. He willed it to take hold of the glass.
He became faintly aware of the bar, of the patrons, of the chaos. His swig was companied by the music of an off-tune piano over breaking glass.
A mirror faced him over the counter. A mule deer faced him through the mirror. He tapped one of his half grown-in antlers. He waggled his comically over-sized ears. He used his long tongue to lick the bottom of the glass and ordered another of the same.

The world felt hazy on the edges. Dringer started giggling and he didn't know why. Oh, he really liked this body. It felt so cozy and nice and...he took another swig of the unknown drink. It burned on the way down. He lifted a paw to the coyote barkeep for another. Where was he? He looked down at the coaster. He squinted at it for a long time, trying to form the letters into something coherent. Almost seemed like another language, which he supposed could be completely possible in his situation.
Cheyenne, Wyoming placed in front of a posing buffalo.
Everything shifted.
O   O   O
Dringer took off the helmet. Rex stood over him with a wide grin. Dringer punched him.
"What in hellgates was all that?"
"Just a little experiment of mine." Rex rubbed his snout. "Nothing special. Well…sorta special. Just something I made in my spare time…"
"No, what happened to me? Why was I…"
"…having an out of body experience?"
"…that works. Multiple out of body experiences."
Rex tapped his paws on the knobs and levers. "That was the plan. You see, I took your request of 'anywhere but here' and fed it into the system" He pointed at the screen of scrolling 0s and 1s. "The system did the rest. It makes an equation that took into account all available sentient consciousnesses, and sent your own consciousness to temporarily integrate with theirs. It runs off a dash of math and a dash of chaos and a lot of battery power."
"You were just throwing my consciousness out there at random?"
The fox tapped the raccoon's nose. "Nothing is random, my dear 'coon. You admit that every situation you were in was interesting and, most definitely, not here."
"So I wasn't in danger?"
"Your consciousness was securely tethered to your body through the entire event."
"That's not an answer," Dringer said, pacing around the fox.
"Well…it was experimental…but you wanted an adventure…and I figured you wouldn't mind and…"
Dringer pressed both paws into Rex's chest and, before the fox could react, he was secured in the chair and the helmet was being placed on his head. "Ur…Dringer?"
"Yes, Rex?" the raccoon said, ringed tail wagging as he went to the controls.
"What exactly are you doing?"
"You'll understand in a bit, my dear fox." He flipped a switch.
Everything for Rex shifted.
O   O   O

Rex evaluated the mountain and sniffed the air. He shook himself. Where was he? Mountains met him at every turn where he stood on the mountain pass. He looked at his arm and then his tail. Gray with black markings. He licked his chops and felt his muzzle. Feline?

The setting and species came together in his mind. Snow leopard, Himalayas. Dang it. He hoped Dringer knew how to bring him back and…

Something dropped on him from behind. He lay face down in the dirt, someone sitting on his back. A face peaked into the corner of his vision, of soft features and feline grace. She spoke in a gravely yet sultry tone, “Ah, the female snow leopard finds her natural prey…the snow leopard male…” She nuzzled against his neck and hugged him close.

Rex hoped Dringer wouldn’t bring him back too soon.

Writer's Guild / Nothing Otter
« on: December 23, 2010, 01:42:40 PM »
Nothing Otter

Wend was skeptical the moment Luke professed his extreme love of sushi. He didn't profess it verbally as much as show it while eating at every meal and mid-meal snack. And it was just the way he fed upon it. "Ravenously" was the only word that properly captured the display.

Wend thought this word while peeking over his book of calculus at Luke snacking on the sushi, in his usual chomping way. Wend cleared his throat. Luke didn't notice.

"Ah-hem," he said.

Luke paused, straightened up, and looked directly at Wend. This bothered Wend. Or, rather, the bright eyed excited expression he got when being spoken to, as if it were a treat in itself. "Yep, Wendal?"

"Must you, what's the word, slurp at your plate like that?"

Luke's expression fell. " will I be able to obtain all of the fishy goodness down to the last fishy morsel of fishiness?"

Wend did not quite know how to answer. This was another thing that bothered him about Luke, his impressive capability to leave him tongue-tied. He shook his head and tried again. "I just need to study. That's all."

"I can go in the closet to eat if you wish."

"No, that's not..."

"I can go outside. I'm really sorry to bother you with my eating habits. Is there..."

"Luke, I don't..."

"Do you not want me to be your roommate? I can..."

"NO!" Wend yelled. He then noticed he had yelled, and Luke had sunk down into his seat, hiding behind his plate.

"I'm sorry, Luke. It's nothing. Really."

"Is it about your dad?"

"What? How do you know about that? I mean, no!"

Luke had sank further.

Wend pinched the bridge of his nose. "You must have just overheard. I'm sorry. College is just not what I expected...I would figure after two years I would have some sense what I wanted to do. I thought maybe getting off campus would be better. Perhaps it would take some of the stress off. And my dad gets all panicked. He wants me to..."

"College is weird," Luke said, slowly getting back in his seat. "I didn't really know what to expect either. It's a fun too. Ooo, do you want to come to that game group I go to? You would like the guys there. Even though their stat sheets on mythical creature are completely out of whack."

Bright-eyed and ever-optimistic Luke, the gleam shimmering in his eyes had not even flickered since that first moment that he'd inquired Wend about the co-rental. The freshman had been a pleasant change of attitude from the usual ragged college adventurer, and Wend took to him quickly, though his personality never quite agreed. He often wondered why he had fallen to Luke's charms in the first place.

“Hi there! I’m Luke. I’m really glad to meet you. I’m going to college here. Is this place for rent? Are you the lord of the house?”

Wend blinked at the zealous freshmen shaking his hand. Only a freshmen could be that cheerful. “I’m not the…landlord. I’m just staying here.”

“I saw this paper and it said that there was space.”

“Oh…I put that up. My last roommate had a nervous-breakdown...I’m Wendal. Most people call me Wend. And…you appear to be hugging me.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m just really excited to be here.”

“…you’re still hugging me.”

“Oh…sorry.” Luke finally released. “So, can I be your roommate?”

He looked at Luke’s face. There was just something infectious in the expression, something around the eyes that just made him melt. Wend found this worrisome on multiple levels. Wend knew he was doomed to say yes.

As a roommate, Luke was actually a good find in the long run. It was just the little things that rubbed Wend the wrong way. The cheerfulness, for one, the odd night hours for another. Usually on weekends and sometimes a few weekdays, at three am he heard the front door squeak open, the padding of boots down the hall, and the clanking of a mattress bend under weight. The day after, before class, Wend would rub down the muddy tracks from the hall with a series of sighs he hoped would wake Luke.

Wend knew Luke would clean up the mud he said something about it, with a smile at that, but he held it as some tangible item to hold against Luke if they ever got into one of those rumored roommate feuds.

It had not come close to that. Except for the long showers. One gasp from Wend at the water bill and Luke quickly agreed to cover all water costs from then on. Wend, though he thought it was silly in retrospect, could not stand how damned /nice/ Luke was.

And now Wend had snapped at Luke, and now Wend felt horrible about it. Snapping at Luke was like slapping a kitten.

"No. That's fine," Wend sighed, "How are your classes going?"

Luke's face brightened again. Wend knew he had opened the floodgates, but he was fine with it. As long as Luke retained such a romantic view of college, he supposed he ought to let Luke bubble about it, even if he tended to tone out Luke halfway though his flowery descriptions of the first class.

"...and do you know the fantastic things you can do with numbers. You can make them bigger or smaller, and there are numbers that can go on forever. Did you hear about pi? Sounds tasty, but even though you can't eat it, you can use it to measure circles and..."

Wend did find it strange how much Luke retained that feeling that only elementary students and strange graduate students contain: a love for school. He quietly laughed at this thought as he turned back to his calculus under the blanket of Luke's narrative.

Wend awoke in a pool of drool on the glass surface of the kitchen table. He slowly came to consciousness, wiping a sleeve across his wet face, then sorely pushing himself up. Ah, calculus and sleep had conspired again to put him into this position. He noticed a blanket had been draped over him. Luke. Of course. He was half surprised his roommate hadn't carried him to bed. The kitchen was dark, the echo of the clock ticking overhead, the soft green glow of the microwave shining 3:00 across the way, moonlight flittering in, giving the sink a strange glow. A click of a key in lock, the squeaking of the front door opening.

Wend got to his feet, stumbled to the kitchen door, and peeked into the hall. A shadow closing the front door. "Ah, the mysterious figure returns," he said in a low voice, words slurred from grogginess.

A startled squeaking, a clattering, perhaps the coat rack being knocked over, silence. Then, in a small whisper, "Wendal?"

"I always say call me Wend. That's what my friends call me. If I had friends. I suppose."

"I wasn't doing anything strange."

The words of Luke were half captured by Wend's mind. He couldn't quite separate them out, and his sleepiness was not dissipating, rather, making a comeback. He attempted muzzy grin at the shadow. Odd, seemed a little weirdly shaped. Not what a proper silhouette ought to be. More like what one of a childhood monster ought to look like. Sorta. Wend rubbed his face. "Yeah. Whatever. Just wipe your boots when you come in."

"Alright. You should go to sleep, Wend. Don't you have a test tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I suppose."

An arm went around his shoulders, leading him down the hall, onto his bed, under the covers. He would object, but his consciousness was quickly falling away until he lost it again.

The sun woke him, glittering through the blinds, in turn blinding Wend. He fell out of bed, murmuring murderous phrases under his breath. Memories of three am came to him blurry, making fragmented images. He rose from the floor, trying to piece them together, a puzzle with many parts missing. Mmm...he'd seen Luke. The details stopped there.

He made it to the hallway, down the hall, to the bathroom door, locked. The familiar whistle of the shower fixture rang out, steam flowed over Wend's toes from the doorjamb. Luke's infamous shower. Friday, hence, it would be longer, since it had been agreed, according to the schedule, that since Wend was not required on campus until noon, and Luke at ten. Hence, Luke could take one of his long showers, and then there would be enough time for the hot water to reboot and...this made much more sense when Luke had described it with accompanying charts.

Wend always wondered how Luke managed to keep going, since the hot water couldn't have lasted that long.

Wend placed his head on the door. He needed a shower to wake up though. There was no coffee filters in the kitchen, and he'd learned in semester one that chewing a mouthful of grounds for a quick pick-me-up in the morning was a bad idea. Friday. College paper. Reading grammar-error filled articles of juicy gossip might wake him up.

He wandered down the hall. He looked out at the frosty yard, a rolled up newspaper on the sidewalk beyond. The chill set the hair on his exposed arms and legs on end. Wend grasped at the coat rack, still half-aware, grabbing the first available item. Luke's sweatshirt. Wend glanced at the coat rack. Nothing else.

Go find his own ragged coat. Skip into the frosty morning in a t-shirt and shorts. Or...he took a look down the hall at the bathroom door...he pulled the sweatshirt over his head, it would only take a minute. The warmth was immediate and jarring, like a hug from a bear, without the mauling. He pulled up the hood and scampered outside, breath making a trail of fog on the way. By the time he picked up the paper, the comfort of the sweatshirt fully struck him. No wonder Luke wore this thing all the time. He hugged himself and relished the soft plush warm of the fabric.

"Who made this shirt?" he murmured, looking down at the chocolate brown sweatshirt for some tag. He noticed a word written in thread on the cuff of the left sleeve.

" that's..."

Then Wend couldn't say anymore.


Luke stopped the shower. He'd felt something. Something on the edge of his instincts. Something very odd.

He peeked out of the shower curtains. No, the toilet had not overflowed.

Luke did not take stopping a shower lightly. He loved standing under this indoor waterfall of warmth until the heat died down and the brisk cold started flowing, invigorating his soul. Not as enlightening as an actual waterfall, but it gave the right taste. He got out of the shower and quickly dressed, trying to place what would cause the hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end. The something that he'd felt remained a vague something. Luke had felt this something before. It did not feel like a hunter watching from the woods, a fish on the edge of being captured, or the thrill sliding on one's belly down a proper muddy slope.

The something felt almost electric.

Then he realized what the something was, just as a thunder rattled the bathroom. "Fishmuffins," he squeaked, opening the bathroom door. A little late in the year for a storm. Luke rather liked storms. It was in his blood. However, this seemed a little haphazard for his taste, just, something in the way the wind rattled against the house, a little too concentrated and unstable. Not the way he would compose a storm, to be sure. A flash filled the house, immediately followed by a boom of thunder. This was followed by the banging of a swinging screen door. Luke turned to the front door.

He stopped. He saw the empty coat rack. Wait...hadn't he...he'd left his shirt right there...but where...perhaps he'd just forgotten where he'd placed it, humans forgot where they put things all the time. They no talent for perception. They saw the world through a very small scope. That was one of the things Luke had noticed in his observations. He rather pitied Wendal for the fact.


The storm. The missing sweatshirt. No...couldn't be. Luke ran to the front door and looked out into the front yard, through the sheets of pounding rain, and he saw what he feared. He wrenched open the door, ran out, being saturated completely through a moment, he picked up the furry bundle from the middle of the lawn. It had been huddled around a soggy thing that had been a newspaper. Luke ran back inside, and stood there, dripping, afraid to look down at what he held. He stroked the thing, the autumn storm stopped being as erratic.

He slowly walked into the living room. He knelt down and placed the bundle onto the couch. Luke waited. Minutes passed. Eventually, the fuzzy bundle stirred, and uncoiled. Long sleek body, thick tail, streamlined face, a creature made for water that Luke knew all too well, the animal yawned with toothy jowls. It looked around warily until's gaze fell on Luke. It opened its mouth and squeaked. It closed its mouth. It opened its mouth again. It squeaked two more times. The creature seemed disconcerted now. It scratched behind one of its small twitching ears then paused. It turned to stare at the hind paw which was doing the ear-scratching. It's fore paw touched at the hind paw. It ended up staring at the forepaw, then feeling the forepaw to its face. It turned back to Luke.


The creature barked, loudly, as if saying, "Yeah?!" Actually, Luke /knew/ that's what the animal was saying.

"You...put on my sweatshirt, didn't you?"

The animal nodded rapidly.

"You read the inscription on the sleeve, didn't you?"

The animal nodded, slower this time.

"Well, I hope this doesn't put a strain on our roommate relationship or anything, the moment, you are an...otter."

The otter stared blankly at Luke.

"Yes, you're an otter. I can explain, you see-"

Luke didn't have time to continue as the otter leapt at him with bared jaws and flailing paws. Thankfully, the otter had not become coordinated enough with the body, so he just ended up falling to the floor in a flailing ottery heap. Luke carefully picked the otter up, opened the hallway closet, placed the otter inside, and closed the door.

Luke listened to the sound of panicked scratching from within. "I know that Mrs. Henroy is very nice, but I don't think either of us want to explain why there are scratches on the inside of the closet door." The scratching stopped, but plaintive squeaks continued. "Wend, I just placed you in there because you are panicked, angry, and I'm sure you are struggling with some internal instincts at the moment. In all, I don't want you to bite me."

A growl came through the door.

"As a human, you are completely out of your depth, you are not used to dealing with changing into a new body."

A questioning bark.

"I'll try to explain, with you outside of the closet. So I can speak directly to your fuzzy mug. As long as you promise not to bite me."

A hesitant squeak.

"I'm opening the door." Luke cracked opened the door and looked down at the otter tangled in a multicolored scarf that must have been on the floor of the closet. He did not look like a happy otter, the bared teeth told that much, but at least Wend didn't lunge at him again. "I suppose you need some sort of explanation of why you are suddenly an otter."

Wend made an expression made a gesture with his paws that practically said, "Duh."

"Well, for one thing, I'm not technically human, for another, I'm not technically nineteen either. Long and short of it, I'm a selkie."

The otter squeaked.

"No, not like the seals who turn into woman. I'm impressed you know that much, Wendal. Those are actually saltwater selkies. I'm a freshwater selkie, so my neutral form is actually a river you might be able to guess...but, not to bore you with details...though, I guess you might want to know as many details as possible...considering the situation...that sweatshirt that I usually wear is my otter skin made to /look/ like a sweatshirt. It would look sorta strange if I came to college with a literal otter skin draped over my shoulders. Anyway, the sweatshirt is almost as comfy as and otter hide itself. Admit it, that fur you're wearing is cozy."

Wendal relented and gave a bark in the affirmative.

"Now...the issue is, you're not a selkie. You're not meant to change forms or switch back and forth between species. That is not your skin, and a human wearing a selkie skin is...tricky. That's why there's a certain word a selkie says to activate the skin, which you obviously found.'re not going to like this part..."

Wend leaned forward, motioning a paw for "And...?"

"I'm not sure I can change you back to a human," Luke said as quickly as possible, hoping it wouldn't sound as bad if he just blurted it out. He saw the fire alight in Wendal's eyes and he quickly closed the closet door again. He didn't think warnings of displeased landlords would deter the otter's frantic scratching this time.

Luke walked to the bathroom, hands on his face. Part of the reason he thought Wend had been a good choice for a roommate, besides the prime location near a fish pond behind the house, was Wend's lack of suspicion. Wend tended to be in odd moods and appeared to have issues with his father at the moment, but besides that, Wend had not asked why he ate so much sushi, why he went out late at night, or even about his general lack of knowledge about human conventions. Luke was certain that Wend had noticed these things, especially after the run-in last night, but Wend wasn't the sort of human to really poke his nose into business that wasn't his own.

Wend putting on a sweatshirt that wasn't his own did not logically count, Luke decided, he supposed that's just what roommates let other roommates do from time to time. Luke still hadn't gotten up the courage to test if the action of "glomp" was an acceptable roommate action. He'd read about that on the Internet. It sounded fun.

He filled the bathtub until the water lapped the top. He felt the temperature. Nice and cool. Perfect. Luke went to the kitchen and retrieved his stash of sushi from the fridge. He placed four rolls into a bowl, arranging them evenly. He knew if he were going to be around humans, that they frowned upon someone ripping out the juicy entrails of a trout at the dinner table. However, sushi was considered completely innocuous. It did not have the same texture or juices of a freshly caught fish, but it contained a nice flavor all its own that Luke found satisfying when his mouth was under human limitations. Fresh caught fish. The premise struck him and sunk into his stomach like a stone. If he couldn't fix this, would he even be able to catch fish in his own jaws again...

He shook himself. No need to worry about that. He was a selkie, not a human, he did not worry about those things on the horizon. He lived in the moment of now, where everything had a chance to get better just around the corner. He got back to the closet. The growling and scratching had stopped. Luke knocked lightly. "Wend. You alright?"

No response.

"I'm going to come in. I have something that might make you feel better." He slowly opened the door. Wend lay in the middle of the closet, rolled in a sleek fuzzy ball, face tucked under his tail. Luke smiled. He carefully placed the bowl near the otter, then backed away to watch. The otter slowly moved his head, peeking out over his tail at the bowl, obviously suspicious, sniffing the air. Wend unrolled himself and trotted to the bowl, sticking his muzzle in, sniffing a little more before giving the contents a cautionary lick. The otter shot a brief angry glance at Luke before taking a bite of the sushi. Luke could see at least a little of displeasure fade from the otter's demeanor as Wend continued to chew upon the raw fish delight.

Luke waited till Wend was nearly done with his meal before clearing his throat. "Would you mind following me to the bathroom? Or are you still getting used to having four paws?"

Wend barked, and scampered towards Luke.

"Ah, nice. Your instincts are kicking in." Hopefully not too much, Luke thought.

"I figured if there's anything that would get you into a better mood, it would be a nice swim," Luke said, motioning towards the bath when entering the bathroom, "True, I imagine part you may want to try the pup pool first..." he added, gesturing to the toilet, "but I think the bathtub would be more hygienic." The attempt at humor received a growl. Wend scampered over to the bath, balancing up on his hindpaws, he grasped the top of the bath with his forepaws, sticking his face over the edge to look at the water. This may not end well, Luke thought, just before he leaned down, placed his hands around the otter's middle, and heaved the creature over the edge, into the tub with a moderate splash. Wend bobbed to the surface, barking at Luke, then seemed to become aware he was floating with ease. "Feels nice, eh? It's not a pond, but it does the job in a bind. I'll be right back."

Luke retrieved his book bag and grabbed a little sushi for himself. By the time he returned, Wend was swooping through the limited bath area with the fluid movements and turns only an otter could accomplish. The instincts were catching up indeed. It took saying Wend's name three times before pulling the otter's attention from his new-found swimming talents. "Listen carefully Wend. I need to get to class."

The otter barked.

"I know, leaving you like this sounds callous. But I really can't afford to miss any classes. And there's two exam reviews and a chem lab today. We're making things with explosive reactions and...I guess that's not the point. Just..."

The otter sighed, and then nodded.

"You're alright with me going?"

The otter shrugged, and floated on his back in a circle.

"I have someone I can call to ask about this. Don't worry, I want you out of that skin as much as you want out of it. Trust me. After class, I'll get some answers and we can act like this never happened, alright?"

The otter stuck his tongue out for an obvious "Yeah, right." Sorta just came off as cute. Luke didn't state this.

"I'm going to close the door, you know, just in case someone stops by. I'll leave another bowl of sushi for you right here," Luke said placing a bowl on the floor, "I'll be back as soon as possible." He slowly backed out of the room and closed to the door. The sound of splashing water resumed when he was out of sight. Luke took a deep breath. He could fix this. Maybe. He pulled out his cell phone as he exited the house and dialed Dr. Griff's number. As he listened to the ring tone, he hoped Wend would be alright being alone for the day. What's the worse a river otter left in a house for an extended period could get up?

He knew from personal experience, yet wouldn't admit it to himself now, but the answer was"a lot."

Random Topics / Suggestions For (Shiny) Laptop
« on: November 09, 2010, 11:10:10 AM »
I am finally considering buying my first laptop. I have had a good run with the IBM ThinkPad I got mysteriously a few years back. It has made it across the country, to Estonia and Finland, though dozens of openCanvas sessions, a lot of random writing interludes, and generally has been a good friend.

Recently I have been using the MacBook Pro (otherwise known as MacDook), and though it is a fantastic computer, it is in all respects my work computer which I will have to let go whenever I leave this job (which hopefully is not anytime soon). Also, I believe their ought to be a separation between work use and personal use computers.

So, since my Christmas shopping is almost completely done (due to a surprisingly productive Amazon shopping spree), I'm considering buying a new laptop at the close of this month. That's where you peeps come in.

I'm not really picky when it comes to computers. But saying that, I want something slightly better than my usual "can I type stuff on it?" standards (what can I say? I'm easily pleased). My target price is under-1000, but if I see something quality above that, I won't automatically brush it off. I will be aiming for a PC rather than a Mac because though Macs are fantastic…I really don't /need/ all that a Mac provides. Shiny only gets me so far.

I need something fast enough that I won't notice when I have a half dozen moderate programs running, with enough space that I don't clog it with pictures after one month (though I'm getting better at not doing that as much anymore), and something in range for my budget-minded self (shush about the iPad!). Other shiny features will be considered upon suggestion.

So what do you peeps suggest? What laptop brand and model should I consider in this little quest? Your opinions are valued because I have not a clue of where I should even began. Thanks in advance and forgive me n00bishness.

Writer's Guild / Nothing Up My Sleeve
« on: October 05, 2010, 10:49:40 PM »
This is part of a trade of sorts with Jonas. What the premise was, I'll leave that for you to figure out. I will say this does play with a few themes that I wanted to use in NQF but never was able to. Hope you peeps enjoy the first part of this likkle tale. (Part two should be tomorrow) ];)

Special thanks to Jonas for editing.  ]:)

Every time I opened the closet door to grab a jacket, shoes, or miscellany, the fox stared down at me. To a normal person, they would find this unsettling. To me, it just caused me to sigh. Sometimes I looked up into its vacant expression and stared back a while. Usually, I just closed the door and carried on my way.

It was an impulse purchase. Late on a Friday night after a long week of work, actions muzzy at best, I somehow ended up ordering a fursuit.

Don't get the wrong impression from that. I know the stories that go around about fursuits and I'm not one of those guys. I do it for the same reason people want to be a mascot. For that absurd detachment from reality, to be someone else, at least for a little while.

In retrospect, that still sounds strange.

Anyway, the following days, some e-mails with the maker (who I found was a beginner in the business, though showed a lot of talent) and after much internal debate... I caved and carried through with the ambitions of my late-night actions. I placed the order, paid the deposit, waited, and three or so months later a disembodied head, paws, and tail arrived on my doorstep. I could have gotten a full body suit, but some part of me held back from going quite /that/ far. That being said, when I got the costume I promptly panicked and placed it in the closet before I could let its presence set in.

Where it stared at me day after day.

My talent for foresight is again shown to be faulty.

Time passed. I went to work. I stared at a computer screen from eight to five. I went home. I stared at computer screen until sleepy. I went to bed. Meals and chores scattered between. I never could remember what I actually stared at screens for afterward, at either work or home. Pixels just blurred by, acting as a form of time eater, consuming the time from point to point. Life was just being life, in the usual menial way.

Then the e-mail came from the fursuit maker, asking how I liked the suit, and my clicking through pixels stopped for a moment. I returned to the closet, and locked my gaze with the fox. The design of the fox was nice. Russet fur offset by the lower white, black marks on both sides of the muzzle, golden eyes, shiny nose. A fox was not exactly the most original of costumes, but I had a character when I was a kid; a goofy adventuresome fellow who happened to be a fox. He didn't even have a name as far as I knew. As I grew older, I played with the idea of him less and less until only a vague memory remained. So, in a way, it was him staring down at me from shelf in the closet.

I took down the head, the paws, and the tail, from closet and brought them to the living room. I sat holding the head for a long while.

"What are you looking at?" I said.

The fox head stared.

"Yeah, you're most likely wondering why I've left you in the closet for a while. You see, I'm not sure you're right for me. I mean, yeah, it sounded like a fun idea to wear you at the time, but now...when am I supposed to do so? I don't have time or money for conventions. I have no friends I hang out with who would be comfortable with me wearing a fox costume around. And now I'm speaking to an inanimate object."

I patted the fox between the years. "No offense."

The fox kept staring.

Well, there was only one way to end this. I carefully pulled the black paws over each hand, the oversized footpaws over my feet, hooked on the tail onto the back of my pants, and, of course, pulled the head over my own, hooking the velcro strap under my chin.

I stood there, the sound of my breath magnified within the head. I saw the room through the two eyeholes. I settled back down on the couch, moving the tail to the side so I could sit properly. After waiting so long, I supposed some part of me thought finally putting on the costume would be significant somehow. But, after doing it, I just thought the velcro strap felt a little itchy under my chin. I got up and wandered to the bathroom. I looked at myself with the fox's face in the mirror. Same vacant expression--though the smile was visible now-- small plastic canines, pink tongue sticking out a little. A tad surreal to see, but it still didn't stir anything within me.

Dang, this had been a waste of money. At least I'd only bought a partial. I rubbed my temples. then realized I was rubbing the temples of the fox's head. I snickered a little. "My enemy, Lord Fisher of the Laundry Room has eluded me once again," I stated, rubbing the fox's muzzle, "Alas, his leagues of brainwashed lemmings are a force to be reckoned with. They have the nasty habit of setting themselves a-blaze and throwing themselves off cliffs into the canyon we must pass to enter the Weasel Valley."

The memories of tales composed in yesteryears bubbled up as I said the words, those worlds I spun for the fox to explore, the dangers I had the fox face, the challenges that I had the fox solve in his creative and swash-buckling way. I paced the bathroom. "How can I do this? Time is of the essence, to rescue our comrades." I took a towel and tied it around my neck, letting it hang like a cape behind me. I grabbed the plunger by the toilet. I slunk to the door, and peeked into the hall. "I must work quickly. With this magic staff, given to me by the wise Sir Wolfie, I will find a way."

As I kept up this monologue, the story started growing, both old forgotten plots and new formed tangents, I crawled and scampered around the house, before I realized the absurdity of it while giving a one-liner to a pillow as I held the plunger to its nonexistent gizzard.  Even then, I finished the sequence with "So long, Lord Fisher," before pressing the plunger into the pillow.

After that, I quickly returned the costume to the closet and slumped back on the couch. I sat there wondering what had just happened. I was pretty sure I had not lost my mind. Just, doing all that had felt like the right thing to do when I had that fox head on. All in good fun. And I had enjoyed it. I occurred to me that I had been playing with my imagination, which, for someone in their mid-twenties, was an unsettling thought. Perhaps I had lost my mind. But no, I wasn't doing anything I hadn't seen people role-playing do, and that really was my motivation. it was just fun to act like the fox for a little while. That fox of my younger imagination, who I'd almost forgotten, who may very well be reincarnated by that costume.

With these troublesome thoughts, I headed to bed.

The events of the evening did not leave me. The following day at work I could not stop thinking about it. I found myself jotting down notes of possible adventures. My fingers danced on the desk, plotting out daring-do escapes. I couldn't get my mind off it; even in discussions with co-workers, my mind wandered to the quests I would set forth upon once I got home.

My evenings changed.

The moment I got home, the adventure began again.

My schedule changed from staring at the computer screen to questing to defeat whatever evil happened to be plaguing the land. I overthrew the tyrannical Master Jupiter, the crazed wildcat from the far west. I tricked the Haze the Owl Dictator at his own games. I set free the lemmings enslaved by the gang of arctic foxes, who used an abbey as their cover for their trading of labor. Castles made of couch cushions, forts made of sheets, mountains made of comforters and pillows, each day a new landscape or adventure. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, until, just before setting off on a quest for the Eternal Fresh Scone, the phone rang.

It took me a few moments to place where the strange sound came from, that it came from my phone, and then actually find the phone to answer it.

"Evan? Is that you?"


"This is Mr. Roberts from across the street. Just wanted to present you an invitation to the Neighborhood BBQ this evening. Everyone will be there and Mrs. Roberts and I did not want you to feel excluded. We know you live alone and perhaps you will meet some new friends."

I knew that tone all too well. It was the one my parents used. It meant that "You are coming to this event whether you like it or not and oh! Look over there! There is a girl your age who is nice looking and single, why don't you go over and chat with her!" Though Mr. and Mrs. Roberts were not my parents, they were the same general age and seemed to have the parent aura about them (plus, I had my suspicions that my parents had built a network of informants among my neighbors.)

"OK...when is the event?" I asked, hoping to fend it off with some made up scheduling conflict.

"Just started. We will be waiting for you. See you soon."

He hung up before I could respond. I glowered at the cell phone. I had little choice to put on a coat and head across the street. I did not like social events. Not that I had any trouble talking to people, but normally, conversation revolved around the current local gossip, a topic I could only nod to while retaining a hopefully interested blank expression.

I did not expect the odd looks I was given when I entered the backyard. I decided they were a pleasant change of pace. The kids there were very warm towards me, which I should have found suspect. Still, I decided to play along with the social coil, and at least make an effort to be grown up.

"Seems like a nice BBQ," I commented, to the first neighbor I encountered, "You're Mr. Cory, right?"

The man nodded, eyes a bit wider than I was used to seeing.

"I didn't miss the good steaks, did I?" I said, nudging Mr. Cory on the arm, flashing a smile.

He shook his head and edged away.

It was then I noticed that the odd looks had turned into odd stares from everyone at the BBQ. I saw Mrs. Roberts walking towards me. I gave a good-natured wave, then noticed her face was covered by a nervous expression. "Excuse me, who are you?"

"Evan, Mrs. Roberts. Mr. Roberts just invited me, I thought..."

"What are you wearing?" she whispered, gaze giving me a once-over.

"Ur...a coat."

"Don't be silly, Evan. That is not what I'm talking about."

The reality dawned on me as I went back over my actions between getting home from work and getting the call from Mr. Roberts. Putting down bag and hanging up jacket, taking out the fox suit, setting forth to defeat the zombie squirrels, getting the call from Mr. Roberts, putting on the coat...I have obviously missed a step somewhere. I was still wearing the fox suit. It would seem something I would have noticed. I guessed I was getting so used to wearing it after work that it felt natural.

"Ur...this work."

Mrs. Roberts pursed her lips. "As a software engineer?"

"...Casual Friday?"

Mrs. Robert's sighed and took hold of my paw. "Come with me, Evan."

She led me over to a girl, rather, a girl about my age, brown flowing air, cute classes, a bit of freckles on her nose.

"Hilda? This is Evan, he lives across the street from us."

Hilda giggled. "You told me about him. But you didn't..."

Mrs. Roberts sighed, interrupting her. "Hilda is new to the neighborhood, she lives just around the block. I leave the rest to the fates." She sighed again, and moved away.

Hilda smiled, and not an odd forced smile either. "Mrs. Roberts did not mention how cute you were."

I shrugged, "I guess my rugged good looks did not meet her standards."

"Shall we get some food?" she asked.

"Why not?" I said, "I suppose you're not up on the neighborhood gossip."

"I don't know," Hilda said, leaning in, "I have it on good authority that the person who lives across the street dresses up like a fox in his spare time."

"Really?" I said, lowering my own voice conspiratorially as I picked up a paper plate.

"Yeah, and there's a good chance he might be a furry."

"You don't say. How scandalous." I chose a hamburger bun and blackened hamburger to place inside.

"I know. But I'm sure he's harmless. Not a sexual deviant or anything."

"For sure. I've heard he just does it to release his inner child." I added ketchup and mustard.

"That sounds oddly cute."

"Or just weird."

"I like weird," she said, rubbing my snout. "By the way, how are you managing to eat through the costume head?"

I stopped in mid-chew. I tasted the mix of burnt meat, bun, ketchup, and mustard in my mouth. Though, I didn't quite know /how/ I had the taste in my mouth. I chewed a little further. I swallowed.

"Evan? You know. That's really cool how your costume is moving like that, the jaw and everything. Aren't you worried about stains."

I felt my tongue across my teeth. I felt my tail twitch.

"I'm sorry. I must go."

"But you just got here. I..."

"I really. I just..." I started backing away. "Nice to meet you. Long day tomorrow. Work."

I ran. Through the yard, through the gate, across the street, to my door, opened it, went inside, closed it, leaned against it, gasping for breath. I took account of myself. Everything felt odd. I rubbed a paw across my face. It was hard to describe. it was as if I could /feel/ the touch, in both my paw and on my muzzle. I slowly walked to the bathroom. I turned on the light. I looked the same. Though now, I knew, I wasn't looking through  two small holes in the fox costume's eyes. The costume’s eyes and my own were one in the same. I stared cross-eyed down my muzzle. I could tell in the mirror that nothing of my appearance had changed. Wait. I opened my coat. I lifted my t-shirt and found white belly fur. Oh, my partial suit seemed to have become a full suit at some point.

It still looked like a costume though. I could see seams, I could still see the eyes were plastic, and, though I could move it, the tongue was even fabric (but now with slight mustard stains). I breathed. Still a costume. I could feel it. Perhaps I could just take it off. I pulled off my left paw.

I yipped in surprise.

I rose my left hand. Or rather, the space at the end of the left arm where my hand ought to be. I tried to move my left hand. The left paw, still being held by my right hand, clenched. Carefully, I placed the left paw back near the arm. It stayed. I wiggled the digits.

Ok, this could still be just a very absurd dream.

I took my left arm, and this time, pulled the fuzzy sleeve down. There was my left paw, hovering in mid-air. No arm. Cautiously, I moved my right paw through  where the arm should be. It passed through air. My left paw made a peace sign. I carefully pulled the sleeve back down. The strange part was that when I'd done that, I could swear I could feel my skin wrinkle back..

One last test. I unhooked the Velcro strap of my head. I put a paw on each cheek.

I lifted.

I was suddenly looking down from a foot higher, my head detached from my shoulders. I chanced a look down at the empty hole where my head ought to be on the suit before my paws dropped my head into the bathtub. Soon after, I heard a soft thump, which I assumed was my body loosing balance. I felt the impact.

There I was. Head lying sideways in the bathtub, cheek soaking up a puddle of stagnant water left over from the last shower, body lying elsewhere. I wondered if this was the time to panic. Oddly enough, I felt rather calm about the situation. Yes, I had somehow turned into an animate fursuit. How was I supposed to react to that? All I could really do was try to get my head back on my shoulders and go from there.

I concentrated on my body. I made it feel its paws about itself. Floor. Porcelain. No, too curved. Must be the toilet. Plastic sheet. I saw the shower certain move. OK. I could guess where it was now. Sit up. Strange to do when I was literally disembodied. Took a bit of effort. Eventually, after a bit of fumbling, feeling wetness as I tried to seek purchase on what I concluded was the toilet, I saw two black paws, and then my headless fox body rise over the rim of the tub. I'd say it was looking down, but you see how that wouldn't make sense without a head. It was a disorienting action, but I somehow got my paws to grip my head, lift up, dizzying as I tried to get my head to an upright angle, and place it back onto my fuzzy shoulders. I reconnected the Velcro strap. To what, considering I was lacking a chin, I could not say.

I sat next to the bath a long time, absently rubbing my tail. Events caught up to perception. I realized I felt different and felt the same. Different, because my body was obviously...was. Same, because all my thoughts and feelings felt normal. What instincts would an animate costume have need to corrupt me with anyway? Avoid starches? I lifted the shirt again to look down at the white stomach fur. I felt along it. By all accounts, it felt like there was something under the fabric fur. I felt under my chin again and my claws caught hold of a zipper. I mentally steeled myself, and pulled down to my stomach. I lifted the shirt again, and pulled the opening apart. I could see the back of the costume, an athletic mesh, similar to that of the paws and arms. No insides whatsoever.

I zipped back up.

Shouldn't this awareness cause me to collapse? By all accounts, I should be limp on the floor. Then again, by all accounts, I shouldn't be a fox costume either. So perhaps one weirdness met with the other and collaborated so I could remain in this odd middle ground.

I needed some coffee. I wondered I'd be able to. Then I realized the half of a burger I'd eaten had went somewhere, so coffee couldn't hurt to calm my literally thread nerves. As I contemplated the odd sensation of coffee soaking into my tongue, I considered my options.

Well, there was always the fursuit maker…

To be continued...

Writer's Guild / Not Quite Furry
« on: July 26, 2010, 10:36:06 PM »
Don't take this too seriously. Tis all tongue in cheek and meant to be in good fun. ;3

Jacob walked into the bathroom breathing hard.

He brought costumed paws to over-sized plastic eyes and leaned back against the sink. The paws sank, lingering on the sides of his muzzle, before they came down to his coat. He straightened out the baggy cloth, riddled with pockets and brass buttons, briefly took out a large novelty pocketwatch to check the time, and then patted down the chest fur that stuck out his unbuttoned front. Only then did he peak a look at the mirror behind him. He didn't have to flash a smile, it was already displayed in muzzle and foam teeth on the mask. The goggles, just big enough to cover the costume's eyes, were still there.

David thought he might have lost them busting some moves in the lobby. What could he say, he was a sucker for an audience. Especially an audience of geek females. Must have been the glasses. And perhaps the offer of a cookie (which had been nicely placed through the mouth of his costume, complete with nomming sounds).

His breathing slowed. He rubbed at the fur at his neck, trying to relieve the itchiness of wayward velcro.

The sound of a stall opening interrupted him. Followed by a question. "So, what are you supposed to be?"

Jacob rolled his eyes under the facade. His friends had suggested he'd go as the Tenth Doctor, there wouldn't be as many questions, they said. He turned and saluted to the figure, only noticing in mid-motion that it was another fellow in full animal costume, russet furred fox and with the many tails, kitsune, outfitted in leather vest and bowler cap. A dash more realistic design than his own, yet still processing a dynamic flair. Jacob hadn't seen any other fellows of the fuzzy sort during this con, but it being just a small general sci-fi / fantasy con, he hadn't expected to.

"Are you one of those that doesn't speak?" the kitsune form asked.

"Ah, no, sorry. Didn't know anyone was in here. Just taking a breather. I usually reserve speaking for outside this room of porcelain thrones."

"I can jive with that," the kitsune said, turning on the faucet, "Not exactly the most enlightening of spots in human society, especially those frequented in public locations. Not many places make my nose wrinkle more, but they serve their purpose."

Only when the sink had turned off did it occur to Jacob he wasn't certain if the kitsune had removed his paw gloves before washing. By then, the kitsune was already heading to the door. Jacob took one final look in the mirror, to be certain his head was straight, and followed.

"So, what are you?" the kitsune repeated, as they headed across the tiled lobby, beyond through a pair of double doors, into the madness known as a science fiction / fantasy convention. A world filled with foam swords, fake pointy ears, horns, leather, and enough high-level Red-Bull-fueled geekness that would knock a Dementor a into a coma.

It was a dynamic quite unlike any other.

"Steampunk ferret, Regi Tesla, created in an alternate timeline where the development of genetics took a more mad science route the same time steam became the primary power source. Not completely ferret, a few other weasel species thrown in, have an otter tail, golden chest fur and ears of a marten, and fringed with bright blue markings on the edges, as you can see. And, a blue tongue, just for fun."

"Wow. What prompted all that?"

"Boredom. Mostly. That, and when you be dealing with fantasy and sci-fi, much more fun to dance on the outskirts than sit on the mainstream. What better way than to mix together fringe science and anthropomorphic creatures? What is your backstory?"

The kitsune shrugged. "Kitsune trickster wandering time and space messing with whatever unwitting victims he happens to meet."

"I believe you've come to the epicenter of 'unwitting victims' my friend."


"I like it. Straight to the point. Simple to explain. And nice bowler cap, by the way."

"Nice goggles."

"Thank ye."

"So, what exactly takes place here?"

"First con?"

The kitsune looked like he was chewing his lip. Jacob brushed this off as a trick of a nearby stobelight. "Yes, you could say that."

"Mine too. The basics are thus: geeks gather together to discuss, buy, and play about geeky things. There's discussion panels, gaming rooms, a theater (mostly filled with bad anime), and, of course, the dealer's den, where merchandise calls its siren's song to con-goers. Just a matter of poking thing and seeing what you like best."

"Not many ferrets around."

"Alas, not enough people are as cool as me. Only I dare to be fuzzy among this geekiness. I don't have the guts to go to a con with primarily fuzzy creatures. Ah, the furries."

"Come again."

"Furry. I use the term 'anthropomorphic creatures' myself. Seems to give it a more literary edge. Still, can't go about wearing a ferret costume for long without the word popping up. Heck, I put a few months of trying to get this costume just right. Who else but a crazy person would go through the trouble, and the needle stabbing, involved in sewing just to sweat it out in a furry costume, hot and uncomfortable, barely able to see through these blasted eyeholes and...? I'm babbling. Point is, perhaps I'm a little insane."

"No, of course you're not."

"Posh. Everyone has levels of insanity. Mine is the fact I dress like a ferret hybrid because it feels like no one can see me, I can be someone else because everyone expects someone else, they do not see me, they see Regi."

"I disagree."


"Isn't it more along the lines of when you wear that suit, you are free to act as yourself?"

Jacob screwed his face into an odd expression, which he was glad the kitsune couldn't see. Now that seemed a little too odd to him. It was one thing to wear the costume, it was another to suppose the costume was him. He decided this fellow was one of those spiritual furries and suddenly he felt as he'd been pulled somewhere where he didn't want to go. All there was to do now was to figure out an excuse to get out of this potentially awkward situation.

"I just do this for the fun of it."

The kitsune nodded, looking down at the floor with a reflective look. How did his mask do that? Jacob decided this was the time to make his escape. "So, a panel I wanted to go to is coming up so...I best be going."

The kitsune's ears perked. Literally perked. Jacob was becoming more and more wary. Why had he been saying all that stuff to this stranger. He didn't even know his name. He needed to go. But... He put up a paw. "Paw bump?"

The kitsune stared.

"You know. Like a fist bump. Except with paws. Just use your paw and bump mine. The least I can do." Weird or not, Jacob couldn't resist doing this action to anyone he met. The kitsune carefully clenched his digits and tapped Jacob's paw with his own. An odd surge, like a string of static electricity, spread through the fabric through Jacob's hand. He kept from letting loose a startled squeak and saluted with his other hand. "Nice to meet you, dude. Enjoy the con!"

He backed away a few steps before turning tail, slithering through the crowd. Very strange chap, Jacob thought. All people here danced on a very thin line, between normal fans and crazed fanboys. Jacob liked to think of him on the sensible side, despite the ferret suit. His hand still tingled.

The rest of the Friday evening went without fanfare. The Dragon Slaying panel turned out to be less on-fire than Jacob would have hoped, and the Werewolf panel lacked bite, but the Totally Non-Sparkly Vampires panel didn't suck as much as expected either (the Vampire-in-the-Box had been a nice touch), so it all evened out. Soon, Jacob forgot about the kitsune, his focus being drawn to Doctor Who replicas in the dealer den and marathon of bad movies complete with humorous commentary.

He parried questions about his suit with what he hoped was an infectious flair, throwing some in-character comments from time to time (usually doing brief interludes on whatever devices or 'shinies' con-goers had on their person). Soon he started growing the character on the fly, making him a mechanic or engineer, always prone to seeing out stuff worked, obsessed with gears. He would need to write some of this down when he got back to the room.

Throughout the evening, the numbness remained in his arm, starting to spread outwards, radiating over him, inch by inch. He pressed this to the back of his mind.

Late, in the motel bar, Jacob found it impressive how much free drinks he could get just because people wanted to see him swig through the mouth of his costume.



Through the haze, he felt himself being pulled up.

"Regi? I never caught your real name earlier."

Bright lights and shadows surrounded him and blurred as he tried to focus. He stumbled. Something gripped him, keeping him upright. He felt obliged to slump on this something. He noted russet tails waving behind his something. An arm wrapped around his middle and led him forward, onward. Still in the bar. Voices, laughs, how much had he drank? The voice trickled into his mind again.

"You appear to have drank a lot. That can't be good for your changing metabolism."

Jacob didn't trust himself to speak, so he gave a muzzy smile at the kitsune.

"Can you feel this?"

Something poked his nose. Strange feel. Odd. Just didn't, then there was a rub at the back of his neck, a pinch and suddenly his entire body went slack.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, forgot about that ferret reflex. Up we go."

Somehow, Jacob kept upright. He noticed vague details. The hall. The elevator. His tail twitching. Odd. He nuzzled the kitsune. Though he didn't normally do that in suit, just sorta happened. The kitsune pushed him back, chuckling.

"No, you just need rest. Glad I took a swing back to see how you were doing. Now, ah, judging from your key card, this is your room. This is where I'll drop you off." He pressed the door open and the key into one of Jacob's jacket pockets. They got into the room. Jacob felt himself fall onto the bed. He clutched at the comforter and sheets, pulling them to his body. He made a little dooking noise.

"Now, when you wake up, you're gonna feel much better, Regi."

The world faded away.


Jacob opened one eye, the sunlight blinding it immediately. He turned over and slumped off the bed with a soft thump. His head burned. He licked his muzzle. The sticky taste of alcohol tinged the fur. His breath stank. His vision swam when he tried to push himself up.

The full definition of the word "hangover" wandered crookedly through his mind.

He saw paws blurrily. Still in costume? Figures. Still, it appeared he was in his room at the least. Small blessings. The premise of coffee wandered by. His whiskers twitched and he started moving towards this idea.

He stumbled on all four paws out of the bed sheets before snuffling about for his clothes. He found his jacket behind a chair, his bandana under the bed, his leather tote bag in the shower. While there, he took the time to splash water on his face. He smoothed the fur about his eyes, blue tongue licking a stain of something on his nose. Jacob got to his hind paws, cracking the vertebrate of his back, stretching it this way and that, getting himself limber, finding the right balance point by getting his thick tail into position. He shook himself, patted his left jacket pocket for the hotel keycard, and headed into the hall.

Jacob played off the people along the journey from room to breakfast room. Giving sleepy waves, high fours, and goofy faces to the younger ones. He felt much better by the time sat down to lap at his coffee. There was a little trouble to be had with the chair though. He couldn't quite get his tail to cooperate, so he had to settle with sitting on the chair sideways, so the tail could be unfettered.

He nodded politely to the variation of "great costume" that were tossed his way. He hoped they couldn't smell the beer on his fur.

Halfway through his cup of coffee the gleam of a shiny object in the breakfast nook caught his eye. Before he could stop himself, he had scampered to the shiny, and was examining it, turning it all ways in his paws. Feeling the smooth edges, claws picking at the coils within. He pulled a screwdriver out of his tote. He unplugged the device, for safety. Soon, coils and wires spilled out the bottom. A few persons came by, bread in hand, opened their mouths, then ended up just watching the progress. Jacob smiled. He loved an audience.

Then someone cleared their throat in a displeased way. Regi didn't like that sound. Made his tail twitch. Jacob looked up, to see a mustached man with hotel employee tag on his jacket.

"Excuse me, sir. What are you doing with that toaster?"

"Fixing it."

"Sir. That is property of the hotel. If it was broken, you should have told us and..."

"Oh, of course it /worked/. Just wasn't working to its full potential."

The hotel employee's brows furrowed. The other hotel patrons quirked theirs.

Jacob carefully closed up the toaster and plugged it in. "Let me show you. You see, this device was not using the energy it was using to its full potential to heat the coils and toast the bread." Jacob took a piece of bread from one of the audience and placed it in the toaster. He pushed the lever down with one claw. The toaster blazed with light for no more than a second, before the toast popped back up. The audience gasped. The bread had been toasted to the most perfect shade of brown.

"See, reduces the time and completely streamlines the process. You'd think that a society with an advanced paw on manipulating energy would be more adept at taking advantage of these sorts of things. Now about your waffle maker, I think..." Jacob caught sight of something in the toaster. He picked it up again. He looked closer. He saw a reflection. He saw a face. A face of a ferret, a dark mask around its eyes fringed with a line of bright blue fur, maw gapping, showing a blue tongue, this surrounded by muzzle, complete with twitching whiskers.

And suddenly the string of events, from first opening his eye to looking into this toaster lost their alcoholic haze. From nose to tail, he felt everything. He did not have a limited view through two eye holes for those eye holes were where his eyes were, now looking cross-eyed at his own muzzle, at his paws holding the toaster, down at his golden furred chest.

Jacob placed the toaster down. "I'll get to the waffle maker later."

The hotel employee, still staring at shock at the toaster, did not react. He gave a few more high fours and salutes as he snuck out of the group of people.

In a blur, he got back to the elevator, up to his floor, back into his room, back into the bed, and promptly gave a series of panicked chitters into a pillow.

To be continued...

Writer's Guild / A Brief One-Sided Conversation
« on: July 20, 2010, 09:49:50 PM »
A little dash of an experimental tail...ur...tale. A one-sided conversation inspired (obviously) by CF conversations. Wasn't going to be based on Geo or myself at first...but it snuck in during the course of writing. It may not be clear, it may not make sense, but as I said in the beginning, its an experimental tale to see where I would take the premise.

"Just listen to me. There is no need to panic. Certainly, you may feel like there is at this point, but just let me tell you that it is the lack of a breakable spine that is causing this sensation. And the general fluid nature of your current emotional structure.

"No, no. Don't panic. You do have a spine. Just take a deep breath, not that deep, heh, gotta love when a fellow expands his gut like that. Shows an initiative in breaking real world psychics. What? I keep telling you to not panic. Just. Hey. You. Don't.

"I didn't want to do this.

"Trust me, the frying pan was completely necessary.

"Look at the little birdies. Cute, huh? Hitting you produces these instead of pain now. Sure, you get a ringing in the ears, and through the entire bod at times, but as for pain, not an issue, dude. Well, unless you have an unfortunate run in with some paint thinner. Even then, its more your limbs get a little soggy rather than causing actual pain. Erasers, now those are tricky things...

"What? You want to be turned back? Now why would you want that? What? I'm really having... There. Aren't zippers nice devices in calming down? Now, now. No need to use that language. Zipper or not. Think of the kids. Ah, see. You felt that. Eh? The ink is getting to your brain finally. I can see how your pupils dilated there. Heck, your ears and the pencil work on your edges smoothed exponentially. I think we can unzip you.

"Why. A little bit existential of a question for a cartoon, don't ya think? I shall humor you. Only a matter of time before...

"You keep panicking when I say that. Like you'll be loosing something. Must say its fun to see your limbs flail like that. Right beginnings of a nice comedy routine. Also, the cap popping about is a nice touch. What? Of course you have a blue vest too. And a ringed tail. Ah. To be fair, you haven't seen a mirror yet. Yes. You're one of your own characters. And a right dynamic beastie at that.

"Again with the existential questions. Of course you can be something of your own creation. All creations are in turn a part of the artist and vise versa. So no issue. Eh? Now. Again with panic. I didn't want do do this. OK. You leave me no choice.


"D'aww. The way your ears perk and tail wags when that word is said is just adorable, dude.

"Who am I? Ah, now that's a question. And a belly rub? I see the ink is getting further into your thoughts. No worries. I'll oblige. I'm an idea. Just a little idea, whether good or bad is up in the air. Sometimes, ideas get a little out of paw and tend to take events into their own claws. Like now. But really, as I can tell from your chittering purrs, it all turns out alright sometimes, eh?

"Just let the world melt away, embrace the bright colors at the edges, seeping into your vision, just let the fluff take hold, just let yourself loose. Go forth to those shiny garbage cans over there.

"Yes, shiny. Shiny. Shiny.

"Sorry. Just love seeing you twitch like that. Go on. Have a dash of fun. You can decide if I'm a good or bad idea later.

"Beware of mallets though. Those can be troublesome.

Art Gallery / 10 Out of a 100 (Free Sketchies)
« on: February 26, 2010, 08:41:52 PM »
Hullo chaps. As you may have gathered, I'm doing the 100 theme challenge in sketch form, trying to get as many of the themes done before I convince myself to give up. I figure even they don't all give me complete drawings, it shall give me a lot of practice, and a lot of potentially random comics to finish afterward. I'm doing it in order, and at the moment, I've gotten to 20. Cookies (which I have an idea for).

But I want to take time to draw some other peeps besides my likkle raccoon and bearish creature (it doesn't help their dialogue is too easy). So, for themes 21 through 31, I shall be incorporating some of you beasties. I can't promise you a completely drawing...I may finish them, I may not. All depends on the wills of the sketch. You Just Never Know. So, first ten beasties with a reference, I'll pull them along and place them into a theme sketch (not necessarily in the order you request in). I can't promise it will be fantastic, but I can bet it may be humorous/weird.

So, lend me yer characters so I may put them through artistic turmoil.  ]:P

(And if this goes fine, and I keep going, I may do this again at some point over the next 70 themes afterward)

Writer's Guild / Noname: A MK Story
« on: November 07, 2009, 11:57:15 PM »
Don't quite know about this. I wrote this while in Estonia this summer. Got caught up in the flurry of college when i got back and promptly forgot to carry it on. I do have more of the story in mind...and I might change a few scenes in the future. But for now, here is the rough draft of what I have so far.

Meet Noname, a con artist with identity issues...

Noname pulled the last strap tight and stepped back to see his progress. Small travel bag, umbrella, drab shirt, vest, wool pants, dark cloak, a nice amount of gold hidden in faded leather boots. That settled his processions, besides the odds and ends throughout his cloak and mentioned bag. The weapons had been pawned off and the cart, lonely without them, left to find companionship elsewhere.

One week scouting. One week selling. That's how the deal went. Metamor had a few more quirks than the average endeavor, but he'd played this field before. He knew the limits. In. Out. Simple. Even his formerly black mop of hair was now a dirty blond, and his facial hair was reduced to a bit of ill-shaven scruff. All bits of paunch and warts and other traits were stored away for future mixes. Sir Leppersop was gone. He would be Noname until he allowed a new identity to infect him.

Noname smiled. He picked up the bag and slipped out the door. He slipped everywhere, in, out, over, under and through places, lives, attention, never leaving proper tracks. Metamor had been a nice change of pace. To play not only men but beast, who could practically smell the lies that shifted through the frigid air.

The mist of air being snorted out by a massive elk in full winter coat (and winder Metamor Keep uniform too) would make any con shiver, Noname decided. He played the ungulate well, complete the sale of harpoon and steel polish. Would have been nice for the elk if the harpoon was actually made out of steel but … that was the game. Selling that child a war ax had been a highlight. Noname smirked as he slunk down the in corridor avoiding the form of a drunk skunk and a brooding female in hunting leathers, puffing a pipe.

Yes, Metamor was a strange swath of the world, but not a place to stay. Even a person such as himself, who did not believe in place's legends and myths, found his sense of reality shifted by merely coming here. He needed to leave. Casually. He looked over tavern as he came down the stairs and paused. A flash of Metamor Keep uniforms and gnashing jaws. He kept moving down. No hesitation. Move. Confidence.

Noname whispered this word. One of the soldiers' ears, a grizzly bear, twitched an ear in his direction. Noname hit the bottom of the stairs and dived under a table before he could see if the gaze followed. How did he even know if they were coming after him? Three big beasts from the Keep coming after him? No, that sounded just like the sort of men to be send after him. He started scampering. It was a talent he picked up as a young beggar scamp. He weaved around around table legs, people legs, fuzzy paws, stopping only when a pair of heavy hooves he recognized as elk stalked past his location midway into the room. If anyone noticed his undertable route, they were either too drunk or disinterested to raise alarm. He hadn't heard any bellowing for his person, yet.

A tap on his shoulder. His breath caught. “Nice evasion tactics.” Noname turned to find a rodent snout, whiskers, and bright eyes sharing the table he was currently under.  “But you ought to know. If they are looking for you, they have your scent.”

“Thanks. That's the fun.”

He held out his hand, the rat morph shook it, while nibbling on a hunk of unidentifiable foodstuff. Nothing quite like shaking a rodent paw. Noname flashed a smile, wavered, then asked, “That uniform. You're part of the Keep forces?”

“Off duty.”

“Ah, wish me luck.”

The rat saluted. “Sure thing.”

Noname moved on, filing away the face and words, and the knowing smile he could swear were on that rat's maw. Towards the door. Table by table. No fear. The scent of fear lured attention. First lesson in being good at being confident. Particularly when animals were involved. Almost to the door. Just the final few steps. Step forward. Raise up. And walk. To. That. Do–


Only a bear could boom with a voice like that. That phrase was one of Noname's more popularly used titles. But Heyyoo just never sounded right as a name except when used in exclamation.

Noname did the classic thing. He turned around and stuck his tongue out. Then he ran. It was the little details of the getaway that mattered.

Snow did not help. Only when he exited did he know that he was going to be trying to escape in a blizzard. And then one knows that there is at least two species in pursuit that are built to pursue in a blizzard if necessary, they usually panic. Noname kept positive and took in his options. There was a reason he picked the inn. For one, it was on the edge of town. For another, he had planned out various escape routes depending on weather. For instance, there was a bridge, obvious

A howl. Despite himself, Noname looked back. Framed in the tavern door a wolf stood. A rather big wolf. So...they send the massive winter animal squad to get him. Nice. Why couldn't they send one of their ladies...or a kid...something more...unpredictable? Later on, Noname would discover the mistake in such a hope, but this was not the time. He lengthened his stride and headed towards the bridge. Snow crunched, wind whipped into his face, fingers numbed, he wondered why they hadn't caught up yet. He kept looking back. Between the white flakes swirling and engulfing dark, he couldn't tell. He should be by the bridge soon. He kept his breath even. No need to freeze the lungs. Not far and then he could...

A wolf's furred arm came into view, face level. A classic in stopping a good paced run. Everything went black upon impact with the well choreographed clothesline technique.

O   O   O

Noname awoke in a muzzy state of mind, for he was neither in a muggy or fuzzy state, more of a strange mix between the two. He let himself fall into a balanced sound of a groan sigh as he clenched his hands against the sheets. Sheets. He clenched them the other way and came in contact with the blankets above him. The moments scampered back to his mind, the fleeting details of the plan until one blaring thought that he must reach the bridge and...

Halfway out of the bed without his skivvies, sheet twisted about him like a toga, and  he saw an unamused figure sitting on a chair next to the bed,. The unamused figure, Noname noted, was of a canine persuasion, Metamor Keep uniform, and the air of authority about the furred face.

“Sit,” the canine creature ordered.

Noname, due to habit, took the room in. Obviously an infirmary. He remembered the wolf's arm. He felt his sure to be broken nose only to find it not broken. He sat and got back under the blankets. The irony of being told to sit by a canine was not lost on him. A normal person would ask where he was, who the canine was, what had happened and so forth. Noname did not. He preferred finding out for himself. He waited. The canine was obviously not a dog. Not a wolf either, as the example from the tavern could attest. Obviously not a fox, either gray or red. Ah, wait, lanky, pointed features, tan to black colorations, a scavenger of some sort...jackal? Noname prided himself in such threads of knowledge as species identification and traits. He himself was more a figure of traits rather than stable form, so it was nice to be aware of how many sorts of beast, both human and animal, there could be.

The jackal cleared his throat. “Glad to see you have finally woken up.”

The word “finally” stuck Noname's mind and slimed its way down to his consciousness. As far as he could tell, he was in the Keep, and if he were in the Keep, he was still in Metamor, and if he was still in the proximity of Metamor.... He noticed his hands looked like his hands. So...

The jackal spoke again, “My name is George, I am the Commander of Metamor Keep, and I am here to inform you that a great many residents in and around the Keep would like to teach you of the many and varied definitions of the word 'disembowelment.' Only through my merciful leadership have I convinced them otherwise.”

The word 'merciful' was not anywhere near the word that Noname would have given this jackal from the tone in the words. He darted his gaze over the room. He noted both entrances were guarded, one by what appeared to be a caribou and the other by a mouse with a wicked looking spiked flail it rocked lazily like a pendulum. Both stared back at Noname, who waved. George seemed to have been waiting patiently for him to turn his attention back.

“Any questions?” George said, looking down at a scroll in his paws, running a claw down a list as if tracing transgressions.

“Why am I in trouble?” Noname asked, face the picture of innocence.

George flicked an ear. “Quaint,” he said, “Sale of flawed goods.”

“Oh, is that all?”

The jackal stood and he walked forth to the bed. Through the corner of his eye, he could see the guards tense. George leaned down so that his whiskers were almost touching Noname's face. “So, you think that the sale of faulty weapons is a trivial matter. You see, weapons are dangerous devices meant to protect one from the ever vigilant reign of Death, and so people place much trust in weapons, whether they be sword or club or bow or spear. Soldiers live and die by the blade of a weapon and let me tell you, that if a weapon breaks in the prime moment of survival, neither tooth or claw may block that moment of terror of trust broken when it happens. So let me say this: if anyone ever falls because of the faulty of one of your wares, you are no better than a murderer.”

The jackal straightened. “And that is all.” Then, a certain look passed over George's features, of an expression that Noname couldn't quite catch from the angle of the muzzle. “Perhaps, not all...” He opened the scroll, squinted at the parchment, glanced at Noname, and handed the roll of parchment over. Noname rolled his eyes and took a look. The speech had been well done and all, almost made him feel guilty. Almost. But really, Noname was a soul that it took more than someone to proclaim him a murderer than phase him. He had been called much worse and colorful names in his run. He read the parchment. He read it again. He made a face.

“You have been unconscious for nine days,” George stated impassively, “and at this point, you may be wondering why the curse you have been told about as not taken effect upon you. Being as you are, you may not know of the details of the curse or perhaps believe that it is a fluke of illusion. I can stand here as testament that it is not.”

Noname rose a brow. “This is a list of animals,” he said.

“And I've been told one case of gender reversal and two cases of age regressions.”

Noname stared at the jackal, for the first time with actual perceptible and palpable emotion. “Wait, this rubbish curse had already affected me...multiple times?”

“No, actually. I have been told that it is one time, only its final stability is in question.” The jackal grinned, “Amusing really, you've had an audience from time to time. When you were in a wolverine form the dream motions were, for lack of a better word, cute.” George barked laughter as he started walking away.

Before he could think, Noname called, “What? That's it? What's going on here?”

“Only time shall tell,” George said, not turning back, having a very devious sounding sing-song in the tone. Noname swore that the jackal's tail was wagging as the caribou opened the door to let the commander out of the room.

Writer's Guild / The Swoopiness of Ferrets, Genetics and Time
« on: June 24, 2009, 01:27:16 AM »
Meant to put this here a good while ago. Have /also/ meant to read and comment on some of the stories that have been flowing through here. Alas, time is short in summer...or at least my distracted nature is still pullin' me tail. In any case, I've posted this aboot and I thought it might amuse 'ere.

The Swoopiness of Ferrets, Genetics and Time

If something blows your mind enough, there is not a sense of being scared, for there is a limit to being scared. When the level of fear plateaus only a level of wonder remains. Dumb, unadulterated, wonder.

Of course, many get killed in this state so it’s not advised that you enter it often. Running and fleeing don’t help much either. However just standing there while there’s some beast frothing overhead is not to be recommend if you want to breathe just a few more breaths. There is always the chance this will bring a cleaner - aka blunt - end, but why throw naïve, desperate hope out the window?

There is always the faint probability however, that whatever causes this wonder is not consciously capable of causing chaotic carnage. Or if so, they may choose not to bother because that expression on the human face is so gosh darn classic. Some take photos to kill the effect.

Sometimes, those are the most dangerous of all.

The ferret lowered the camera. Wright saw this through a pink haze of inverted colors - the aftermath of the camera’s flash. The word monster does not often accompany the creature jokingly known as a ‘carpet shark’ except in the most mischievous terms. To understand a ferret in general is not easy. A body of sinew, arched back, a plethora of whiskers on a decidedly grizzled maw. Beady eyes alit by an inner predatory instinct of bygone generations. They do not walk anywhere. Ferrets scamper, skitter, slip, slide, romp; they do not walk.

Wright knew this from experience as a pet ferret owner. Discovering that there had been three ferrets in the cage, riddled with chew toys and hammocks, had been the start of the problem. When the third ferret had somehow grown into a five-foot-tall monster, dressed in a loose jean jacket with a flatcap tilted up on his head and no pants, Wright became somewhat concerned. His awe faded and vision returned to normal. The word monster didn’t quite fit. Despite the fact that the ferret had rippled into a larger form, clothes included and camera in paw, it was still in every detail just a ferret. The only exception was that it could stand nose to nose with Wright..

The ferret hung the camera from its neck and proceeded to stretch itself, muscle by muscle. Forelegs - arms, perhaps, Wright decided - hind legs stretched out to crack each part of its spine. It yawned. Wright was reminded of how wicked a ferret’s teeth looked. It took the time to curve its body and carefully smooth out its twitching tail. Finally, its attention turned back to Wright. The whiskered muzzle broke into a grin.

“Hi-o, Wright. How are you on this fine morn?”

Wright still had not moved; not through the transformation, through the flash of the camera, through the systematic stretching. By this point, he failed to see the motivation. Fleeing would do no good now. He figured that if he had gone insane, there was really no point in panicking about it. Even if he had always been curious about straight jackets.

“I’m doing fine.”

The ferret scampered over to the counter populated by remnants of Pop-Tarts, dirty dishes, and debris from last month’s meals. The odd animal movements of the smaller editions remained in this big one, even with the ferret walking on two legs. It reached a paw into the pile, and pulled out a slightly bruised orange. “Mind?” The ferret didn’t wait for an answer but gnawed off a bite of the orange, skin and all. Juice trickled out of the sides of his mouth and dripped off his fuzzy white chin. It took another bite; it was a strange image of reflective debate while chewing. The ferret kept dark eyes on Wright. “Ah, orange. Brilliant fruit. Just one of those things you miss the organicness of. Mostly synthetic now. Well, there, actually. Here, only slight dashes of genetic infringement.” The ferret put the last bite in, licked each of his claws and let his tongue wrap around his muzzle to catch every orangey drop. It closed eyes in relish. “Citrus, how I’ve missed ya.”

It took a final swipe with its tongue, then turned back to Wright. The pet ferret owner was still standing there. “Well. Now that I’m properly replenished after the transfer, allow me to introduce myself … Harper, at your service.” The ferret held forth a paw. Wright thought it was to shake. A little different, but it was so obviously a ferret paw. He could see the five claws, the pink paw pads, the delicate digits, the dark glossy fur. He took the paw. Before he could protest, he was pulled forward and the ferret had nuzzled noses with him.


It was one thing having a large five foot ferret appear. It was quite another to have that ferret nuzzle noses with him. Wright became aware, after the fact, that the nuzzle had not in itself been scarring in the least. There had been something comforting about being rubbed by the pink nose, ticked by the whiskers, hearing the characteristic ‘d’k’ from the large ferret’s maw. The estranged yell had been some remnant of the first impression; a little reaction that had straightened out, stalled, been lured away by conflicting orders, wandered in the plain of procrastination, then stumbled in at about the same time as the nuzzle. It really couldn’t be helped.

It did startle the ferret however, who stumbled backwards into a chair, over the chair, across the kitchen table - filled with odds and ends of job applications and receipts - and back to the floor, a flipping long body of flailing limbs and tail.

Despite the absurdity, Wright was quick to be at the ferret’s side. “Oh, sorry, sorry, I … I … didn’t expect that. No excuse. So sorry. Anything I can do?”

A peculiar smell filled the air.

The ferret grumbled. “Ah, typical. My glands went off.”

~ 0 ~

Ferret shampoo only did half the job. The other half of the ferret had to make do with berries and cream. The smell of it made Wright choke more than former stench of musk; or perhaps it was a mix of the two. At the least, the ferret seemed appreciative of it after he turned off the shower.

“There’s a certain sensibility in using one’s own tongue to bathe, but to deny the cascade of hot water on the hide … ” The ferret paused to rub himself vigorously with a floral towel. “D’k d’k d’k d’k … sorry.”

The ferret’s whiskers dripped as he grinned down at Wright. The expression to capture his feelings had not quite caught up with Wright. He even had to remind himself to blink. Each time he let himself, the ferret remained. He couldn’t help imagine this fellow attempting to slither into his sweatshirt - though probably only the muzzle would fit, which would add to the odd quizzical nature the ferret naturally possessed.

The ferret placed the towel over his shoulders. It fell off. Ferret shoulders weren’t made for that. “Any questions?”


“No, who am I? Where am I from? How am I speaking? Why am I not wearing any form of lower garments?”

“You’re not wearing anything now.”

“Yes, but when I was, I was lacking pants.”

“Was that important?”

“Humans appear to be more attached to their pants. I was uncertain if there were some moral standards that I needed to upkeep.”

Wright would have noticed an absurdity in this conversation if his normal level of absurdity hadn’t been trounced twenty-six minutes ago. He had also given up any hope of encountering a hint of his lost sanity. These were bygone points. He sighed and sank down onto the closed toilet and leaned back against the cool porcelain. Wright watched as the ferret stuck a toothbrush in his ear. He made a vague note that it was his toothbrush.

“Since you’re obviously not going to humor me and play your part in this unusual circumstance, I shall use this ever useful paw puppet.”

“It’s a toilet brush.”

“You’re offending Scrubby.”

“Dook!” Scrubby exclaimed.



“Why yes, I am a ferret. I come from another world, or rather, from the future world, and, to repeat,  my name is Harper.”

The ferret, Harper, provided the voice the toilet-brush-puppet from the side of his maw.


“I know. Isn’t that impressive? I am from a line of intelligent creatures who have developed from the time of humans into an entirely new society and …”


When a cue card appeared in the ferret’s other paw, Wright decided it would best to accept the delusion for the heck of it. He  interrupted the already absurd speech.

“Why?” Wright asked.

“Ah, now that’s a vague question I don’t think Scrubby would have considered.”


“Shush. Back to the frothy muck from which ye came.”

Wright rose so the ferret could pick up the toilet lid and stuff the brush in. Scrubby produced one more gargled “dook” before falling silent.

“I could give you some spiel about life and death and the shiny bits of technological development. There would ooos and awws and general bemusing debate, but past all that, it’s all pointless.” Harper had draped an arm over Wright’s shoulders, and was practically cheek to cheek with him. The semblance of a personal bubble obviously had no meaning to Harper.

“I can say that the world is a fluid place, full of unfettered possibility that bubbles up with the surface with a click of the claws.” Harper clicked his claw, as if to prove the point. Wright didn’t see anything different.

“I don’t see what you…”


Wright looked into the bathroom mirror, hung cockeyed above a dripping fauceted sink. A foggy mass stared back. Harper wiped the steamy glass with the back of his paw. Wright went slack jawed. He had more jaw to go slack.

“I have a suggestion of what to say,” Harper whispered. “Come, come, repeat after me. ‘I appear to be an impeccable example of the vulpine persuasion.’”

“I appear to be an impeccable example of the vulpine persuasion.” Wright said, making the large red fox with slightly raggled fur, left ear tilted at an angle and wearing Wright’s clothing, say likewise.

Wright held his paw up in front of his face. The paw was a characteristic dark foxy shade. With claws.

“Urm …”

“There be an entire genetic grimmery. No needs for wires and elixirs. Reality is a gooey mass to be poked and prodded. We have discovered that laws of mass, matter and genetics exist, but are a bit more detached from their prior restrictions. Don’t get me started on the law of gravity …”

Wright was a little distracted by the existence of an extra limb. Rather, an extension of an existing bit that had no function. He curiously rubbed his own tail in non-responsive daze, until Harper noticed. ”…and it’s just a matter of contact points and voilà.” He vaguely felt Harper’s claws dance along his neck, and suddenly the tail was ringed, the paws were decidedly more hand-like and black; the fur was straggled gray.

“Perhaps raccoon would be a better starter species for you. Get ye into the feel of a new body before leaping into carnivorous tendencies. Omnivores are rather mellow.”

Wright rubbed the mask around his eyes. “Better starter species … for what?”

“For insertion into my world, of course. Could be a human shape, but that would just lead to awkward questions and stares and you wouldn’t like that. Plus this brings with it tendrils of instincts that …”


The word faded into the steamy clutches of the recent shower.

Still in raccoon form, Wright exited the bathroom.

~ 0 ~

“Why are you lying on the floor?”

“Well, I would have been lying on the back lawn but I assume that the neighbors would call animal control if they saw a massive raccoon sprawled out among the weeds. I decided that carpet would be the best substitute.”


“However, it would have been just a little bit fun to mess with those animal control guys by use of whipped cream and that old elephant gun that I inherited from my grandpa.”

The large ferret settled down on the carpet next to the raccoon.

“I think the fact that you’re 5’10 would have freaked them out alone,” the ferret observed.

“It’s the details that count, Harper.”

The ferret sighed. Wright could literally smell the confusion rolling off the mustelidae. Wright picked at his teeth. He’d taken the opportunity to have a peanut butter sandwich. His tongue kept licking, not only his inner jaws but all about his muzzle. Odd sensation.

“The world is amazing where I’m from. So many bright and swoopy things. Just a kaleidoscope of oddness smooshed into a fuzzy society.”

“Sounds fun.”

“When the leeways between time and space opened, it only made sense to scamper to and fro. Led by the crystallized trails to imaginative souls; those that dream of a better place. That’s why I’m here, Wright. All those times you looked out at the landscape and saw possibilities you just can’t touch - dreams that you can’t follow. Wouldn’t it be all much better if you could be part of those impossibilities?”

The ferret raised a paw. The ceiling cracked open. Not by means of a bathtub falling through, the light fixture and debris crushing them. No, it wrinkled open; a seam pulled out so that the things Harper talked about could be seen. Creatures mulled about in a world that contained sights that shouldn’t exist, a menagerie of dreams incarnate; close enough to poke.

“Come on, Wright … you know you want to.”

“No,” Wright said. The world sealed itself up. “The mere idea that such a place exists is enough for me. Gives me a new point of view. If I went there, and found it was exactly what I imagined it would be, it would take all the magic away from my heart. And though it would be there to feel and touch and live, I don’t think it would quite be the same. You know how dreams are never as cool if you try to describe them aloud? I think the same would happen if I gave up my life here to become a fox … or a raccoon or …”

“A marmot.”

“… or a marmot in another world. Seems like cheating, really.”

“Not so. There’s also tubes you can slither through.”

Wright made Harper a toasted cheese and bacon sandwich and sent the ferret on his way.

“You’re certain?” Harper said through a full muzzled bite of the sandwich, “The opening is still available.”

Wright, back to his human self, bit his lip. At last he shook his head. “Maybe for a vacation - spring break. If I could be a pine marten, of course. Thanks, Harper.”

The ferret gave a devious bacon-bit grin and saluted. “Sounds good, Wright. Oh, and one more thing, the genetic stuffs. Has some side effects. Don’t be too distraught if you find yourself eating a moldy half of a sauerkraut sandwich from the garbage. That’ll be instinctual remnant.” He turned to leave. Then, ferrety tail twitching, Harper turned back before scampering through the crack of time and space. “And at all costs, avoid hamsters.”

Art Gallery / Precipice
« on: May 17, 2009, 01:01:18 AM »
Alas, late night sketchings lead to drawing of anything suggested in the general area of the chats. So, alas, with a suggestion of some mage fox and the word "precipice" in mind, I sketched this fellow out.  [fox]

It involved a cape. I was powerless to avoid this. (It's an interpretation of Virmir, of course.) ]:)

Writer's Guild / Swarmy
« on: March 02, 2009, 09:02:16 PM »
Yus, definitely gonna get more active in the forums...soon.  ]:P


Over the field of Noughtmag, across the grassy foliage of Listy Plain, down among the crags of Hawp Mountains, in a forested valley of no name, the swarmy lived.

They had pointed snouts, pointed ears, pointed claws, pointed details on everything except for the parts that were swoopy, like its long body and its whiskers and floofy tail and movements. Its swoopy insides were held in by a creamy belly fur and a hazelnut hide, interluded by dappled yellow bits along its back and head.

And a swarmy was a very stupid creature, with no sense of instinct or survival. They possessed a cute helpful nature that appeared push all other useful characteristic into locations unknown. Swarmies also had a perchance for simple questions. These questions usually happened just before they died.

It was not a surprise when Locke got trampled onto the rusty dirt road by horse hooves. Locke had planned to ask the hooves why they were making so much noise. He would have asked now, if his cranium weren't caved in so that some of his brains were dribbling out of his pointed nose. The hooves galloped into the distance.

The raccoon, Jesse, observed this occurrence, and gave the sigh of one who had seen this all too many times before. Roadkill swarmy became a popular entree for the local raven population and it would be a lie to say Jesse didn't take a gnaw from time to time. The raccoon didn't make a habit of being a scavenger ever since his father's stomach had exploded due to an exceptional tapeworm. Jesse didn't really know where tapeworms came from but he made an educated guess from his father's habit of killing field mice and letting them ferment under a dead tree.

He climbed down from the tree and shuffled to the middle of the dirt road where Locke was smooshed. He folded his paws and said some words. A little forest prayer that muttered things about the impossibilities of horse hooves. Wasn't all the swarmy's fault. Technology of the times. A horse was dangerous in itself, one ridden by a human encased in steel seemed to aim for woodland creatures in the road.

"Is Locke alright?"

Another swarmy, a female, scampered up and started poking the smeared body of Locke. "Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up. Why won't you wake up? MAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRG."

Jesse knew he would regret his next question, "What are you doing?"

"Mating call."

Jesse bit down on his ringed tail to muffle his hemorrhaging sanity before he could get himself to respond. "Oh. Locke is deep asleep right now, how about we go for a walk."


Jesse worried about the survival rate of the swarmies. Their carcasses littered the landscape more often than the usual woodland creature. Sometimes it came from their sheer curiosity, like jumping from the top of the tallest pine to see if they could fly. Sometimes for more absurd reasons, like the one Jesse had found with multiple pine cones stuffed up its nose. The raccoon knew that he should not bother worrying; he had enough trouble scrounging up enough shrimp and slugs to fill his tummy. He still couldn't ignore how amazingly pitiful the swarmies were, and, blast, he would help at least one swarmy before the Land of Shiny Things took him away.

The female swarmy, Dirtclod, or Dirt for short, hummed a cheery tune.

"Do you creatures have any sense of survival?" Jesse asked.

"Sur-vi-vale. I never good at getting that sorta buggy, Mr. Jesse. It got big pinchers. RAR!" The swarmy imitated the pinchers with her forepaws and stalked about in a circle.

"Yes. You're right stupid question. I must tell you, Dirt, that this way of life, poking paws into badger dens or bloating up when finding out how bees kiss, not good things to do when trying to stay alive. I fear that swarmies won't live much longer in this valley."

A pause. From the blank distant expression upon Dirt's maw, Jesse almost let himself hope that this message was echoing down the empty chamber in her mind, perhaps to open up one brief whisker twitch of understanding.

"What would happen if I get wet?"

Jesse cocked his head at an angle. "I don't know."

"Mud. Get it? My name is Dirt. It would make Mud. Isn't that cool?"

"I do not understand the relevance of the question."

Dirt rolled about on the grass in her bubbling glee. It could be said at least, Jesse concluded, that rarely did a swarmy ever die sad. They always died with a wide smile on their maws and a twinkle in their eyes, tail wagging away to whatever afterlife they rose to. Dirt did show a slight more potential than the normal swarmy though. The raccoon took his pun on words as a sign of the swarmy's unhealthy obsession with human kind. Just as many swarmy were skinned and cooked as more natural cases of swarmy death. They just couldn't help scampering up to any nearby human and hugging a leg.

"Why do you like humans?" Jesse inquired. He rarely let himself be too curious, by counter-example of the swarmy. This question always whispered at the back of his mind. Beasts of the forests did not like humans and with good reason. Creators of metal jaws detached from bodies, shafts of wood to impale hides, trained monsters of slobbering jaws and barking. Indeed, humans were things to be feared.

Every darting twitch of Dirt stopped. She let her hind leg scratch her ear as her eyes glazed over, and a purple tongue flopped out. "Humans are nice. They go on quests with monsters and villains, and they save maidens in distress, villages in mortal danger, defeat monstrous dragons with firebreath that go ROAR. Humans are noble and brave and wear armor and meet kings. Humans do things and see things and have things and they LEARN things. They find unknowns."


"Unknowns. Stuffs beasts don't know. I wanna help find stuff beasts don't know. I wanna help a human someday."

Jesse was impressed that a swarmy had used the phrase "mortal danger" while actually appearing to know its meaning. Dirt drooled a little in the aftermath of her colloquy. Jesse clicked his claws to snap her out of it.

"Don't you see how awesome humans are?"

Jesse stared at the swarmy, set against a landscape of greens and dappled light, the buzz of insects on the air, a slight breeze hinted of lavender. How could he see that? He lived in the woods, apart from humans, who as far as he knew, obliterated the woods where ever they existed (or so his grizzled great uncle had said seasons back after a run in with a band of fur traders). He never liked the sound of the word "obliterated." Yet he could see how calm the swarmy sat there, now lost in the midst of her dreams about humans.

"Dirt. That's not..."

A rustling of bushes. A large sound. A plodding through the woods. Bear? Boar? Buffulo? Bandersnatch? Jesse chided himself for reading that B volume of words he'd found in an abandoned cabin when he was too young to know better. And between two birch trees, a silhouette appeared against the twilight sun, tall, gallant. The flanks of the horse glimmered, the armor of its rider gleamed, the smile the rider contained on its face shined. It shined so much so that Jesse had a primal instinct that wanted to climb up and tried to rip it off the face that held it. Instead, the other part of his primal instinct hit, the one that came when a human stumbled into proximity, hiding behind something. The something was the still dazed swarmy. He curled up and closed his eyes, waiting for the moment to be over, hoping not to be impaled.

"Are you a swarmy?"

No impaling. Jesse removed his paws from his eyes. The voice sounded not at all blood thirsty or combustible. He sat up. Dirt was only moving her maw wordlessly. Jesse looked again at the figure. Not half as intimidating upon the second look. Gangly round the edges. The armor tarnished, brackish even. The smile still shiny. The human spoke again.

"I have come through this way because I have been told that swarmies live here. Companions for a questing soul, small creatures of helpful natures and quizzical minds. Are one of you a swarmy?"

Strange. This human had a familiar tone. A strange inflection that Jesse knew well, that odd naive of a swarmy, a voice that told of wonder and hope and likableness and…swarmy-ish.

The raccoon cleared his throat and pointed at Dirt. "Here, take this one."

The swarmy squeed.

Writer's Guild / "Bloodbeast in Linens"
« on: February 07, 2009, 11:10:06 PM »
Trying to lure myself to the forums and posting a short story for the heck of it. [:)

Note: Inspired from time working in clothes retail.

Bloodbeast in Linens

"Excuse me, sir, there seems to be a creature of some sort in your store."

"Of course there is."

"No, I'm serious, I saw it shuffle past the board games aisle."

"Usually doesn't go thataways," the retail store greeter rubbed his chin, still flashing the professionally trained reassuring smile, while retaining complete attention, with a dash of serious disposition. This expression took much practice in front of mirrors in the frame aisle.

"You don't seem surprised."

"Let us walk and I'll explain."

"Don't tell me that there actually is a creature wandering the aisles of this store."

"My explanation will be fairly short if I don't."

The customer glanced at his cheap, rip-off Timex digital, pressed a few buttons to check the humidity in the store, and shrugged. "Tell me then."

"There is indeed a creature dwelling the sneaker scuffed linoleum of this store of retail, of power and fierceness far beyond human comprehension."


"Indeed, we have bowed to its wills the past many seasons, unable to throw off the yoke of its presence."

"So, you accept that there is a dangerous creature here. Would think you would fear the thing harming customers."

"Oh, he's a shy beast, holes himself up in a den most of the time, only coming out when required, or when hungry."

The customer's eyebrows rose, "What does a creature like that tend to eat? It looked...bloodthirsty with those jaws."

The employee straightened his nametag, seeming a little wary to continue, "Oh, beef jerky usually satisfies him, or a few dozen packs of the toxic Peeps. Only occasionally, when ill-tempered, does he turn the brunt of his vicious temper upon one of our staff or even an unwary shoplifter."

The customer noticed a blue vested employee, using a tag gun to sticker a jar of body butter over and over again. He didn't inquire. "Have there been any attempts to be rid of this...beast?"

"Yes. We sent for an expert, a person from the district HQ came, with confidence, a Scooby Doo tie, and an intricately worded memo. He was found four days later in Pet Food singing the Meow Mix theme amidst a torrent of spilled Alpo. He didn’t say what happened, he just kept singing the song." The employee sighed, "All of us realized, that maybe if we just left him alone, and let him keep to his daily routine, the store would be better off." The retail store employee nodded, a reflective acceptance in his matter.

"That explains...there it is!" the customer pointed off down a nearby aisle, in linens and towels. Between disheveled shelves and beneath flickering, buzzing florescent lights, a creature dozed in a nest of plush towels, fluffy pillows, and flowery sheets. The beast, of black iridescent scales, snaggly toothed jaw, massive gray claws, and sharp edges everywhere, opened one blood red eye, seeming to take in the customer and employee. Disinterested with the view, it closed the eye, shifted around on its back to show its ivory colored stomach, the tail flicked, a leg twitched.

The employee stepped forward, "Oh is this who you were talking about?"

"Ur...yes," the customer tentatively followed, confused.

The employee picked a clothes hanger off the floor, came up to the beast, and scratched it on the belly with the metal hook part. The beast purred.

"This is Gooby, our resident bloodbeast. He's a great night guard, but gentle as a kitty during the day."

A forked tongue flopped out of Gooby's maw in relaxed pleasure.


A roar sounded. At the end of the aisle a blue vested, middle aged, balding man stood, clipboard in hand. The customer could read the name tag, that read in large ominous letters: "Manager.”

The employee nodded, "Right away Rick, those t-shirts shal be color coordinated for sure."

The man roared again, then stalked away.

The employee gave the customer the well-practiced helpful individual look, "Anything else you need today?"

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