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This was done for my new friend, Nikon, as part of the TSA List's 2007 Xmas Xchange. I thought it was a pretty original TF device at the time, but I may have lifted the idea from a movie where one character in the scene went out of focus while the rest of the world remained in focus. I don't recall the name of the movie, but if I did see it (and it's not just in my imagination) the character went out of focus because he had lost mental focus in his life. In the story, people appear out of focus because they don't really know who they are, since nothing has ever really challenged them to do that kind of soul searching.


Author: Shannon Robertson

Stephanie checked the viewfinder again, she couldn't believe what she was seeing. It had to be the new lens, but inspecting it she found nothing to indicate it was anything else but the Nikon 55-200mm zoom she had ordered a week ago. It had arrived late yesterday, so she decided to try it out before work. She turned the camera on her friend, Rob, who was out collecting carts. Lightly touching the shutter release activated the auto-focus, and everything looked even crisper than she was used to, but Rob was hardly visible.

Picking around the parking lot, Stephanie tried a multitude of settings trying to get someone into focus. After a while, she noticed that the children tended to come into clearer focus than their parents, though they were still too soft to make a decent picture. Finally she decided she would have to leave the mystery for after work, and packed the camera back into its bag, then hid it under the back seat.

All through her shift she wondered what could be wrong with the new lens. The packing it had arrived in had a slight dent in it, but she couldn't imagine what might have been damaged to make it unable to focus on people. Shortly before lunchtime she thought she had a breakthrough. Since everything else came in quite clearly, maybe it was something strange about the people themselves that was causing the focusing problem. Now she began to regret not snapping any of those shots earlier. At the very least they would have made for interesting discussion on the photo boards. Since it would be dark when her shift was over, she decided to do a self portrait when she got home.

The rest of her shift couldn't pass fast enough. She was still preoccupied, but now she was wondering how the weird lens would render her, if it found her image at all. The children had looked like a kaleidoscope of fuzzy colors and shapes tumbling through the perfect parking lot, but she was closer in age to their parents. They had appeared as ethereal wisps of colors in a more or less human shape. After a little more idle speculation and another talk from her supervisor, she finally got her mind back on checking out the holiday shoppers and finished her shift.

Back home she added a flash and diffuser to her camera, then set it up on a tripod in the kitchen across from one of her dining chairs. After framing the shot, she set the timer and settled into her chair before realizing she hadn't taken off the silly blue vest that was her uniform. The camera caught her shrugging out of the flimsy garment, and the flash dazzled her eyes for a moment. Sitting back down and rubbing them, her fingers began to feel cool on her eyelids. Blinking, she opened her hands, and couldn't keep them from shaking.

The chill in her hands seemed to be turning them a pale blue. She kept her apartment fairly warm, and was wearing a sweater, so she couldn't imagine what might be causing the cold that was now making her shiver. Torn between her desire to take another shot with the new lens and her need to keep warm, she stood a moment trying to come to a decision. Finally the cold won out and she shuffled into her bedroom as fast as her shaking legs would carry her. It was a small apartment, but her sudden chill and the promise of a heavy down comforter made the few steps seem to take forever. She was barely at the threshold of her bedroom when her pants started to fall down on their own.

Reflexively grabbing at their waist, she glanced down to see what had happened and was shocked motionless. Her hand on the waistband had gone past the pale blue one would expect, and was nearing a primary blue similar to the hue of the vest she had shed moments ago. Releasing her pants again to gravity's whims, she examined her hand. The fingers seemed finer, maybe smaller compared to her palm than she was used to. The palms themselves were a light azure, but the backs of her hands and fingers, upon closer inspection, had a fine dusting of hair in that shocking blue that had stunned her in the doorway. A blue that she knew far too well.

She stepped out of the pants that had pooled at her feet, and saw that her feet were undergoing a similar change, but in place of the fur there were scales. Taking this as confirmation of her suspicions, she began to laugh as she stood and shook. Running to her dresser, she found that her sweater now hung to her knees and was difficult to keep from falling off her shoulders. With a little work she managed to climb atop the dresser where she finally gave up on the sweater. Holding onto the frame of the mirror that was mounted to the dresser, she couldn't believe she was really seeing her reflection.

The fine fur on her hands gave way to a much thicker coat above her wrists in a lighter shade of blue. The coat was coming in on most of the rest of her body, save her stomach and tops of her feet which were developing a shine that made her want to dance, if only she could stop shaking. Her whole body was alive with this freezing electric tingle that numbed her and made her tremble. The poor mirror was rattling against the wall, vibrating the drawers our of the dresser as well as all the pictures hung in her room. She had been slightly crouched to see herself in the mirror, but as her face began its alterations she had to let go. Both because her shoulders were starting to ache through the strange numbness, and because it was too high for her to reach.

The blue fur had grown in a thick collar that was beginning to encroach on her cheeks as her nose seemed to try to retreat from the advancing follicles. It ran right off her face, pulling her chin behind it as she worked her jaw and mouth around the fine muzzle. Soon, however, it was overtaken by the fur which continued up her face and was met with a midnight blue mask around her eyes, just exactly like she had always imagined. Her ears were rounding and moving into their final position right below a pair of horns that were pushing their way out of her scull. Without the shiver-inducing numbness, she imagined those horns would have been quite painful, but as she was the most she felt was a hard pressure as they grew.

That same strange ache had been building in her shoulders, and she turned to get a look at her back in the mirror. Two small hands were erupting from her back similarly to the horns, and she fell to her hands and knees as they pressed outward. Measuring against the width of the mirror, she was able to estimate that she was under two feet tall now. In her reflection the hands on her back were becoming a perfect pair of wings, developing a translucent sapphire webbing that ran down her back. The webbing neared her hips, and it was like slowly pulling a string in a pop-up book as it seemed to pull a fully furred tail from the base of her spine. For a moment she was forced to wonder at the tail as it wore a coat of the lighter fur, but once it reached half its length the lighter fur was split by bands of the midnight blue that expanded as the tail grew.

Now under a foot in length from nose to tail-tip, she watched the skin on her feet split into scales. They ran like dominoes up her leg into her fur, then continued up er belly. At first they were very uncomfortable, sending a burning itch through her cold-numbed nerves, but as she lost her height, they settled into a configuration that seemed perfect. Warmth began to return to the world and she knew her alterations were slowly finding their final forms. Finding her feet, she traveled across her dresser top to the base of the mirror. Above its two inch frame, she could only see her head, shoulders, and the tops of her wings, which gave her an idea.

Her sweater had fallen on the ground below the dresser, her pants were in the door way, maybe ten feet away, and her vest was in the dining nook another ten feet beyond that. If she had become the Nikon in her mind, then these wings ought to be able to be put to some use. After a few minutes figuring out their movement, she took a running leap to see how far she could get. She made it about fifteen feet to the back of her sofa without losing much altitude, and found that the little claws on the end of her fingers and toes helped her climb the fabric quiet easily. From there a quick glide took her to the dinette, where she was able to use her coupon clipping scissors to cut a section of napkin to make a sort of sarong and improvised halter top before getting to work.

It took two hours to get her camera off the tripod and into the box the lens had come in. It took another twenty five minutes to get the marker from her desk and fifteen minutes to black out the addresses on the box then write in a new recipient. She took her time getting interior of the box set up just right, but even that only took forty-five minutes. Retrieving the new roll of stamps from her purse only took five minutes, but getting them all on the box took ten. Getting it taped closed from the inside was easy, once she figured out how, she just hoped $41 was enough postage to get her to England quickly.