Lester's Tales 1: Unforseen Changes
August 14th, 2005
“Here you are sir, have a nice day,” I said, handing the card to the customer in front of me before sitting back on the ground.
I was working again that day, much like any other, selling tickets for admission to the beach. Well ok, PUNCHING the tickets, actually. An older, more senior person was in the booth actually selling them. Sure the job barely paid minimum wage, but there weren’t many jobs available to a high-school student just about to enter his senior year. Ah well. Maybe I’d find a job of some sort while at college next year.
With the late-day lull in tourists again, I sat back, my mind once again wandering through the myriad of scenarios, thoughts, and fantastic events that went through my mind. I was a daydreamer, I admit it, and frequently wished one of those amazing scenarios would happen to me. Alas, the laws of physics themselves tended to say a definitive no to it, leaving me nothing more than a dreamer. Maybe the advent of virtual reality, if it was completed sometime in the future, would make it possible. And in the meantime, there was always roleplaying, even if I was new to it…
An hour or two later, and the day was over. Packing up my stuff, I walked over to my bike, letting out a cough as I got there… followed by another cough or two. “Les, you doing alright?” Allen, the cashier asked.
I nodded back. “Yeah, I’m fine. Probably nothing.” Strange… hope I’m not coming down with something.
August 16th, 2005
Goddangit, why the frick did I have to jinx it? And God was mocking me as well…
For the past two days, I’d been lying in bed or on the couch, with probably the third worst illness I’d ever had. Sure, I wasn’t quite coughing up bile, but I still felt absolutely horrible. My mom tried what she could, but there’s only so much a family member can do when one is sick. Give soup, the occasional kiss on the forehead, and promise of a trip to the doctor if it persists.
Of course, it also had to be raining today… which meant I would’ve had the day off from work with pay, except that I was sick and had already told them so, which meant no pay for today. Figures. The one day it rains all summer, and I have to be sick as a dog. Ugh… as it was I just hoped this flu or whatever it was went away tomorrow.
August 17th, 2005
Well, what do you know? Apparently my hopes were strong enough to be heard by whatever being struck me with the flu. I woke up this morning, early as always, feeling just like my old self, no sign of the nausea and cruddiness that had plagued me the past few days… though there was a strange feeling I had regardless. I shook it off and climbed down the ladder to my loft-bed… and almost stumbled. Huh, I must’ve been more tired than I thought. Shrugging, I went into the bathroom as I always did, hand rubbing a strange feeling I had on my head.
I’ll spare you details as to the timing, but suffice to say as I was in the bathroom I had the strangest feeling… like I had moved something on my head, air moving over it. I reached up to brush off whatever it was, only to stop as my hand hit something. I froze, fingers feeling an object that was wide where it met my head, tapering to a triangular point at the top, and hollow. And strangest of all, I could feel it. Not with my fingers, but with it itself, as if it was a part of me. Frantically, I took a few steps to the side and looked in the mirror to see… an ear. It was a triangular ear, with a mate on the opposite side, the outside covered in fine reddish fur. I stared, noticing that where my ears normally were was a flat expanse of skin, as if they were gone. Was I still sick? Was I hallucinating now? I was definitely going to have my mother take me to the doctor today… but despite it all, I found myself fascinated. Then I looked down.
My hands, at the time gripping the edge of the sink, were also changing, except that this time I could actually SEE the change progressing along them. And the feeling as it did… I can’t describe it, aside from a faint tingling at the line of change, clearly seen from the fine black fur creeping up my hand from my fingers, and watching as my nails faded away, sharpening into thin claws. I turned a hand over to find that the palms weren’t getting covered, instead getting replaced by some sort of fleshy pad. My mind struggled to make sense of it, and one of my scenarios popped into my head. It couldn’t be possible, but here it was in front of me. I resolved that I had to watch this through to the end, it was too unbelievable, but it was happening. That, or this was some marvelous hallucination… it felt too real to be a dream.
The change continued up my arms, black fur spreading over it until about my elbows, when it changed to a reddish color. As it did, I couldn’t help but notice that my hands and arms looked… a little different, aside from the fur. More slender, or sleek perhaps. I shook my head as the fur reached my shoulders, spreading across my bare torso, white fur popping up on the front. Transfixed I watched, then gripped the sink with my hands as I felt the changes reach several key points at once, signifying that a more radical change was taking place.
I groaned slightly as I felt my spine start lengthening, stretching outwards over the waistband of my boxers into a long tail, which immediately started growing long fur over it, fluffing itself up. The fur passed my neck, and my face started pushing outwards. I closed my eyes as the feeling washed over, gritting my teeth as they sharpened and stretched out, a slew of smells starting to fill my nose as it widened. My legs, to my unfortunate note, were also changing and warping, and though I couldn’t see it, from the way my heel lifted off the floor and my leg stretched, I knew I was taking the more animalistic of postures. Mentally I thanked whatever being was doing this that he hadn’t included any “sickly popping” sounds I had heard described in many an Animorphs book.
That was not all, though. The tingling, strange feeling lingered over two more areas. I felt a strange sense of loss between my legs that I won’t go into further detail about, while a feeling of growth and expansion settled around the upper portion of my torso. I kept my eyes closed, being a stickler for drama and wanting to wait to see everything until the change was completed soon after. I panted a bit from the exertion when I felt the tingling finally fade away into nothingness, and then finally opened my eyes.
My newly-elongated jaw dropped as I stared at myself in the mirror in disbelief. The fur had spread over my body, reddish in color except for a large area where it was white on my front, starting just at the underside of my new muzzle and stretching downwards between my thighs, and black fur covering my forearms and forelegs. The tail I had felt was long and bushy, tipped with white on the end, and I even gave it a twitch just to see if I could. My legs had changed, seeming to bend twice before coming to my toes. Walking was probably going to be tricky now, but at least I found myself able to stand alright. My face had a long muzzle, ending with a nose that allowed me to smell an amazing number of scents, although some of what I smelled in the bathroom now suggested this wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
The last thing however, was that I was no longer a Lester. Not exactly. While I was still me, at least as far as I was concerned mentally, my body had become female. My black hair had lengthened, ending down around my mid back, looking surprisingly good all things considered. Apparently my dandruff was gone. More importantly, however, two large breasts sat on my chest, or at least I assume they were large… the internet had ruined my perception of such things. Hefting them up in my hands briefly, I was amazed that I could feel WITH them, and a quick check between my legs confirmed my suspicions. I was a woman, and a fox—a literal fox—as well.
After a moment of disbelieving staring, I shook my head. I had become a vixen but now I had to deal with it. Strange as it may sound I had developed a procedure for if something like this happened. Step one was to see if the world around me had changed to fit. I read a lot of stories and webcomics, and such a situation had popped up in one or two. Besides, for all I knew I could’ve invisibly fallen through a portal in my sleep into a world of furries and changed to match the situation. And the best place to do that was the wall of family pictures outside.
After a couple experimental steps in the bathroom to make sure I still knew how to walk, the new claws on my toes tapping lightly against the tile, I opened the door and walked into the hall, looking over the family pictures. Uncle, aunt, parents, me… no change. Whatever had happened had only affected me and not history, which made this more difficult to deal with. Step two was going to be-
“Morning Lester. You feeling better?”
I froze. Crap. My father had just woken up. Telling my parents somehow wasn’t supposed to be until step three or four! Then I noticed the casuality of his tone and looked at him. He was looking right at me, yawning slightly, and didn’t seem to see anything different. “Er, somewhat, dad. I’m not feeling as crappy but I’m still feeling a little odd…” I said to him, my voice sounding strange to me as I looked at him. He looked back at me. Well, slightly over me, I noticed that I had lost an inch or two. Strange, shouldn’t he still be looking in my eyes?
“Think you’re well enough for work today?” he asked me.
I shook my head. “No, no, I… I think I’ll stay home again today, thanks.”
My father nodded, then headed back into his room and closed the door, likely to take a shower. I went back into my room and closed the door. Something was wrong here. The world hadn’t changed to match what happened, but my father acted as if nothing was wrong. He didn’t even react to my voice! Could he just not see what happened to me? Despite my hours of daydreaming I had never thought of what I’d do if something like this happened.
Shaking my head, I resolved to get on my computer and complete step two anyway. I’d try the TV later. For now, though, I logged onto IRC and started checking various news sites to see if I was the only one affected.
Unfortunately, no such luck. The news was unaware of anything, although considering how soon after my own change it was the online pages might not update for a while. And the few people on IRC, despite my vague hints, didn’t react any different. Either my hints were poor, or I was the only one who changed. And nobody could see me. Great. Dealing with being a fox and a newly-made Leslie without anyone able to help or see me. This was going to be fun.
A while later, after double checking everything and feeling my stomach rebelling against me, I headed out to the living room, father watching the news while my mother was walking in from her room. After giving her the same reply as I gave my dad regarding how I was feeling, she went into the kitchen to make me some eggs. I sat down on the couch and watched the Today Show with my dad.
It was during one of the panning shots of the crowd outside the New York studio that I thought I saw it. Surprised, I grabbed the remote for the Tivo and rewound it a bit, pausing the scene. “Les? What are you doing?” blinking, I glanced at my dad before looking back at the screen.
“Oh, ah, I thought I saw someone I recognized. That guy over there, next to the woman with the “I love Al Roker” sign… he look familiar to you?” I pointed at the wolf in the audience, smiling and waving at the camera frantically.
My father shook his head. “No, haven’t seen him. Who’s he look like?” I blinked as he clearly couldn’t see the wolf either, and shook my head.
“I don’t know, he just… looked kinda familiar. Sorry.” Shaking my head to clear it I unpaused the TV, going through what had just happened.
I wasn’t the only one who had changed. At the very least, there was a wolf man in New York City (I chuckled as I thought of a werewolf in Manhattan. Wasn’t that the name of a movie or something?) and my dad couldn’t see him either. And if there were two of us, there might be more. But I had no idea how to get in contact with any of them. I sighed. My best hope was clearly to hope he or some other person who changed came down to the beach in the next few weeks. And that they came to my booth. On a day I worked. Well, at least I worked five days a week…
I closed my eyes as I sat back, wincing slightly before pulling my tail out from behind me, disguising it as brushing something I saw off the couch. The rest of the day was spent trying to figure out what I would do now, what I would have to change without seeming different, how I’d wear hats, and finding out that none of my few friends on MySpace had seemed to change, nor any of the many people on IRC. I went to bed that night, irritated at how I wouldn’t really be able to sleep on my back anymore with this tail, hoping that whatever had happened, I would have my answers soon.
August 18th, 2005
“Pk… Cshhhhhhh…” went the radio before I turned it off. Never could get a station on the dang thing, only static and loud noises that were supposed to be voices. Blinking the sleep out of my eyes, my arm fell across my chest… a bit sooner than it should have I thought… then I looked down, seeing the bare breasts with my black-furred arm atop them. “Oh right,” I muttered to myself. Well that settled that, this wasn’t a one day thing… which meant that I could start worrying again…
The day before I had been thinking of new scenarios and things I’d have to deal with as a fox and a woman that nobody could see. What I’d do if someone could see me, how I’d convince others without seeming insane, whether I actually WAS insane and having a vivid hallucination… but the thing I was most fearful of was that this was permanent. Sure I had always envisioned things like this would happen, but only as a trip into the weirdness that I could always return from. Permanency scared me. I closed my eyes and tried to put the thought out of my head. Permanent or not, it looked like a nice day, which meant I had to go to work.
Getting dressed showed the first of the difficulties to deal with. My pants and briefs DID fit… relatively… but my tail was keeping me from pulling it all the way up. That would be irritating. Grabbing one of the powder-blue work shirts I pulled it on… blushing with a gasp as the fabric rubbed against my chest, trying to ignore it, glad for once that I usually was given the shirts after they ran out of mediums. As I turned to leave I stopped, looking down at my paws. There was no way I’d be able to wear my sandals now, I’d never be able to keep them on. Not without some complex series of string or something. And I couldn’t go out barefoot! Or barepaw or whatever. Hell I never did! And people would probably see something strange about me walking everywhere barefoot anyway… I glanced at my boots. I usually wore them when I wasn’t wearing sandals, and it WAS starting to get cool, so maybe if I could cram my paw into it somehow I could-
I froze and stared. I had been trying to put my paw into my boot even as I was muttering to myself and as soon as it touched the bottom of the boot it disappeared, leaving my paw standing where my boot had been! In disbelief I reached down to try and see if it was still there, only for it to suddenly reappear as I tried to regrab where it was. Then it disappeared when I let go. Reappear. Disappear. This made absolutely no sense! I couldn’t even wear shoes now? Or… was it going to… wherever it needed to for others to see it the way they saw me? It didn’t matter. Even with it on it wasn’t on. I still couldn’t go around barefoot, not even like this. And if anything I put on disappeared…
I looked at my dresser. “Maybe not everything…” I opened it up and took out a pair of socks. Trying to take the Mysterious Invisible Boot off, I carefully slipped on one of the socks, having a lot of trouble as I did due to the claws on my toes catching on the fabric. Growling I persisted, until finally I got it on to the end, the sock still there. I flexed my toes, only to feel one of the claws get caught in the fabric, and sighed, feeling my ears splay in disappointment. I may be able to use it for now but these socks would get filthy and if I stepped in anything… not to mention they’d be torn apart just from putting them on.
I sat down on the chair at my computer, hand on my face in frustration. I couldn’t live like this, there had to be SOMETHING I could do. I didn’t have time to go into it now though. I looked at my paws again. “It’ll have to do for today,” I muttered, before finishing the task and walking out.
As I started to leave I grabbed my hat and looked at it. With my ears on top of my head now I couldn’t really wear it well, but I had to. If I didn’t, anyone who knew me would know something was wrong, and I had to try to hide this. Trying to fold my ears against my head I put on the hat, groaning a bit. It was uncomfortable, and everything became a little muffled, but I’d have to deal. Ironic, really, the timing of what happened. My old hat, which I wore just a month ago before retiring it, had holes my ears could stick through easily. Shaking my head, I bid farewell to my parents and walked out of the house to tackle biking to work…
August 22nd, 2005
It had been almost a week since the change, and I was trying to deal as best I could. Biking was surprisingly easy and not that affected by my new legs, though I had to concentrate on my massive fluffy tail to keep it from touching the rear tire. Having tried showering now I realized just how long drying would actually take, something I didn’t expect, for both my fur and my now-much-longer hair. Twice already my parents had asked if I was alright in the bathroom. My hat I couldn’t do anything about. If I tried cutting holes in it everyone would know something was up, so I had to deal with everything being muffled whenever I left the house. My paws, meanwhile, I had come up with a temporary solution. I found some spare fabric at home and each day would wrap it around my feet, tying it off. After I got home I’d toss it in the garbage, and find some more fabric the next day. I’d probably have to buy some soon. Maybe if I-
My jaw dropped as my eyes scanned the boardwalk. There, coming up one of the ramps across from my booth, was what looked like a rabbit. But one like me! Anthropomorphic, I believe was the term. He looked around, white fur almost blindingly reflecting the light, before he saw me. His eyes looked at mine for a moment before he started walking over. Shaking my head and trying to turn back to my book I tried to at least look casual.
“Excuse me, miss?” came a voice, and my grip on the book tightened, claws pricking the cover. He saw me as a miss! He could be real! Unless he… I had to find out.
“Buy a pass,” I muttered up.
His hand paused just in my view. “Excuse me?”
“I said buy a pass,” I hissed. “Please… we won’t talk until you do.” There was a pause before I heard him walking away, glancing at me confusedly. He walked up to Allen in the booth, spoke to him briefly, and purchased one of the passes onto the beach. Money changed hands, and I saw Allen point him towards me, telling him I’d punch the pass. He came back over to me, holding the pass out. I exhaled a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. “Oh thank God…”
“What was that about?” he asked me as I took the pass with shaking hands.
“I… I had to be sure,” I said. “I didn’t know if I was hallucinating or not and you may have been a figment of my imagination. If Allen didn’t give you the pass I-“
“I understand,” the rabbit said as he took the pass back. “It’s weird, I know, but you’re not alone. I can explain everything, but not here. When do you get off?”
“My lunch break is at one,” I said. “Meet me here then, we’ll get lunch together. And thank you… I’ve been hoping for someone to show up here for a week. Ah… my name’s Lester, by the way. Lester Calvin.”
The rabbit looked confused for a moment, an ear twitching. “Lester?” then his eyes widened. “Ooooh, you’re one of THOSE! Double whammy, eesh. I’ll try to help how I can but… anyway my name’s Eli Planter. I’ll be back at one.” He took my hand and shook it, before turning and walking off on the boardwalk, possibly to look for others.
I sat back, relieved. Finally… I was starting to think I wouldn’t find anyone else, despite this being the place all the beach goers from New York City came to. But it paid off, finally. And soon I’d have my answers.
One o’clock couldn’t come soon enough, and I found myself checking my watch more and more as the hour came, tapping a toe impatiently as my relief showed up a few minutes late. Sighing, I turned and walked off, seeing Eli standing at one of the ramps. As I approached I got a better look at him. He was short, a little shorter than me, the tops of his long perky ears just barely passing my own ear tips. He seemed to be dressed fairly comfortably, but was barefoot. I winced slightly as I noticed that, but tried to pay it no mind. By now I had gotten used to the smell of people around me thanks to my stronger fox nose, but Eli was emitting a strange scent. I hadn’t smelled it much but it was there, just covering another scent that some part of my mind found… intriguing. “I only have about an hour,” I said as we started walking. “We can talk on the way to the Burger King down there.”
Eli nodded. “I’ll try to tell you as much as I can then, but not until we get a seat. We’re trying to keep the Change secret, and I can’t let anybody overhear.”
I reluctantly nodded a bit, then spoke up. “At least tell me this first then… is this permanent?”
Eli sighed, closing his eyes briefly. “As far as we know, yes. There’s a bit more to it but I’ll explain later.”
I stumbled slightly but kept walking, my mind trying to deal. Permanent… “It… it can’t be,” I muttered. “Maybe it only lasts a few months or a year or two and then-”
“I’ve been Changed since 1998,” he said, interrupting me. “And I’m hardly the oldest. I’ll explain more when we get inside.”
I opened my mouth to speak, then stopped. “Right, sorry…” I looked down at him. 1998… that was 7 years! I shook my head to clear it as we walked into the BK, myself ordering a burger and fries while he simply ordered a salad. I couldn’t help but wonder if being a rabbit he had adapted his eating habits… but then again, I’d been finding myself preferring meat more lately. Finally we sat down and, as he opened his salad package, he started explaining.
“Alright. Now the first thing you should know is that yes, this is real. You’re a fox and I’m a rabbit, and we’re not the only ones changing. There are thousands of us across the US, and I’ve heard of a few in Canada as well. Every August seventeenth the number of us doubles, as it has been since the first one changed way back in 1987.”
I gasped. “’87?! That was before I was born!” Eli hmphed. “Thanks for making me feel old… what are you, sixteen?”
“Seventeen, actually,” I muttered, taking a bite of my burger. “Last year of high school.”
“They’re showing up younger every year…” Eli muttered. Then he returned to his explanation. “Before you ask, no. We don’t know what’s causing it or why. We’ve heard everything from aliens to God’s punishment to some Random Omnipotent Being deciding to just mess around with us. Either way, it’s been happening, it’s been showing no sign of slowing, and if it continues at this rate then by 2020 the entire world is going to be covered in fuzz.”
I stared at him in amazement, then thought about it for a bit. “Well that makes sense in a way… by 2020 I mean. There’s a lot of people but exponential growth does add up fast.” Eli blinked at me. “You’re smart for your age, kid.” I chuckled. “Thanks. I’ve already got my eyes on college… anyway, why can’t anyone see us?”
He shrugged. “We don’t know much, except there’s some sort of field or veil covering us. Only we Changed can see other Changed. Everyone else just sees us as we used to be. Human. I’ve heard of one or two Unchanged able to see us as we are, but it’s extremely rare. We’re really thankful for the Veil, though. Without it we don’t know what would have happened. It even disguises clothing changes, so we can get away with tail holes without anyone asking questions.”
I shook my head. “Not for me. My parents do my laundry and if they noticed the holes they’d just make me get new pants. They already get on me about socks or holes in the knees from time to time.” I glanced down. “What about my shoes?”
“Well you just put your shoes on like normally and they just disappear, appearing on your… your ghost or whatever you want to call it.” He glanced down at my paws and blinked. “And WHAT are you wearing?”
I flexed my toes in the fabric I had wrapped my paws up in. “Some spare fabric I found. I can’t walk around barefoot, I mean… gum, dirt, crap… I’m not walking in that all the time. Aren’t there any shoes or anything that we… Changed can wear?”
Eli looked over his own paws (Much bigger than my own and looking more like feet) then back at me. “Ah… not that I know of. You can check the network to see if anyone knows anything, but I’ve never heard anything about Changed footwear.”
I nodded a bit. “When I asked if it was permanent, you said there was a bit more to it…”
Eli nodded as he took another bite of salad. “There’s been reports of some people who changed several years in a row. One year they’re a dog, the next a bear, then a rat. They’re rare, though. Almost as rare as those in… your situation, and never back to human.”
I tilted my head slightly, feeling one of my ears pushing against my hat. “My situation?”
“Gender changing, in addition to the species change,” he replied. “Double whammy. I should mention, we generally refer to other transgendered by their initials so-”
“So I’d be LC,” I said. Eli nodded. “Exactly.” He glanced at my watch. “Look, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more help, but I gave you all the important information I could. I’m no greeter, but here…” he handed me a card with a pair of websites on it, along with passwords. “Those two sites should help you. One is the main Network forum boards, the other is a new one that’s being formed for NYC Changed. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to get in. The sites are always bogged down and crashing around Change Day.”
I read over the card and nodded. “Alright. Thanks Eli. And thanks for showing me I’m not actually insane.” He shook my hand. “You’re welcome LC. We’re all in this together.” He smiled, and with little else to say, we parted and I headed back to work.
All things considered, I was happy. Sure there was still no solution for my shoe problem, but at least I would be able to get help on all sorts of things I didn’t even think about or come across yet, like… like how to deal with the shower! I hated having to wait forever to dry. Or how to deal with the mo- oh dear. Why did I never think of that? I sighed and shook my head. It was going to be a rough future, but somehow, I’d find ways to deal with it.