User:Eirik/Major Setbacks

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Major Setbacks

Author: Eirik

He was driven by the moment: Food, water, his mare. He didn't think much of the past. The memories were all there, but there didn't seem to be all that important to him anymore. Right now, his universe consisted of a small patch of grass at the far end of the paddock.

Occasionally, memories would surface. Memories of the past, memories of his life before...

Memories of a human named Liz.

He stopped eating for a moment and for the first time really tried to pull the memory forward. Something about it nagged him.

Slowly, the memories began to take form...

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"Morning detective," he said half hearted as he picked up the paper, "Can I do something for you?"

Detective McIntyre was just getting out of his unmarked cruiser, "Just want to ask you a couple more questions about your friends."

Jeff sighed. There really wasn't much fighting it, even after all this time. "I think I've told you everything that I can. Repeatedly," he added.

McIntyre just leaned on the warm fender of his cruiser, "You've told me your story, but something about it just doesn't ring right. Awfully convenient, you know."

"Look, I don't know what else you want from me. I thought it was pretty clear to everyone else that Liz was the one..."

"We both know that's just really convenient. They up and vanish without a trace, her car is found on your property, your property free and clear once the courts declare Trent dead and his will is read, and you know nothing?" he scoffed.

Jeff snapped the rubber band off the paper and turned to go into his house, "If you think I did it, then arrest me. I'm getting tired of this." He walked into the house without waiting for an answer from McIntyre, but didn't relax until he heard the cruisers engine startup and the car drive off.

Jeff laid on the sofa and unfolded the paper. He was getting tired of questions about Trent and Liz. Most people believed him when he claimed he was innocent, but not McIntyre. Even if he didn't have anything to do with their disappearance, the detective was determined to find something. It was getting to be a royal pain in the ass.

Life would be so much easier if he could just point him to the barn. Trent and Liz were out there, after all. Still alive and happy, too.

If it came down to that, Trent had long agreed to reveal himself and damn the consequences. For the time being, it looked like the secret was safe. The simple fact was that Liz had created the perfect setup that night when it had all hit the fan.

Jeff remembered it too well. Trent had been cursed a couple years before at an abandoned farm in the south of France, cursed to spend the rest of his life as a horse. A strange old witch had partly broken the curse and made it possible for him to be human for a while, but he was little by little losing control.

Enter Liz, an even stranger young witch with an obsession. She had met Trent by chance and agreed to take on the task of removing his curse. What no one knew was that she had thought he would come to love her. When it turned out that he was trying to win the heart of another woman, she snapped.

That's when she set up the perfect alibi for Jeff.

After getting rip roaring drunk in town and telling anyone who would listen that she was going to kill him, she'd come out to the farm to find Elaine and Trent alone together in the barn. She'd tried to transform them into horses forever as revenge, but something had gone horribly wrong.

By dawn Liz had turned herself into the stallion Major with no memories of who or what she had been. Trent, once the stallion himself, was now a gray mare.

The questions at the time had been fast and furious. The police were sure that Liz was behind the disappearance but could never prove it. They kept looking at Jeff, who was the only other one with a motive, but never found any evidence. To this day, Elizabeth "Liz" Gaultier was wanted for questioning.

Jeff gave up trying to read the paper and instead slipped on his boots and walked out to the small stable. He could hear the horses shuffling around in their stalls. "Morning," he muttered as he walked in. Cloud stuck her head over the stall door and whickered a greeting. Jeff walked over and rubbed her neck a little. "How's the little one this morning?" he asked in a slightly sing song voice. He was ever mindful that McIntyre could be listening in, so said little in the stable that would tip anyone off that this mare was Trent, or more likely that Jeff was crazy as a loon. It made him a little nervous that the mare seemed to take this in stride. Back when Trent had been Major he'd hated being talked to like he was an animal.

Trent pulled her head back into the stall and nudged the foal awake. The colt was just a few weeks old but already noticeably larger and healthier. For better or worse, the chauvinist bastard made a good mare and mother. It wasn't even her first.

A part of him, a big part of him, didn't like this at all. Jeff frankly didn't know what to do about it. He and Trent could still communicate after a fashion, the mare still contained a full working memory of what she had been once, but it was becoming less and less important everyday. She was a mare now and would be until the day she died. Jeff had considered having Major gelded more than once to prevent Cloud from having another foal, but had long decided against it. If Liz ever surfaced, he wasn't sure he wanted to face her wrath if that happened.

Jeff rubbed the mare on the neck, "McIntyre was here again this morning," he said. Trent nodded slightly, she'd heard the cars engine. "This is getting to be a problem, you know," he whispered, leaving it at that. There was precious little that they could say about it, really. It wasn't even that he feared Trent would slip and make someone think she was more than a mare. Never mind that she was acting more and more like she was born a horse everyday, but who would suspect such a thing?

He finished grooming the mare and slipped out of the stall, leaving her nursing the foal. Jeff walked over to check on Major. The stallion was pacing back and forth in his stall slowly as he was apt to do when he knew it was time to be fed. Jeff filled the feed bin quickly, keeping an eye on the horse. Even now, he really didn't trust this animal. In fact, he really couldn't figure out why he kept him.

Because I can't sell her to anyone in case she surfaces as nuts as before, but selling her for meat would be like murder, he thought. It had been almost three years since Liz had turned herself into the stallion, the chance that she was ever going to surface again seemed pretty remote. Still, he never rode Major anymore.

After making sure that the horses were settled in for the morning, he got cleaned up and drove into town. He had been working for a small bank for the last couple of years, not much but it paid the bills. Once he got settled in, he set his coffee on the blotter and picked up the phone.

It rang a couple of times before it was picked up and a sleepy voice answered, "Hello?"

"Elaine, it's Jeff. Did I wake you?" he asked, knowing full well that he had.

There was a slight groan, "I have to get up anyway. What's wrong?"

Jeff almost smiled despite himself, "Why do you assume something wrong whenever I call?"

"Because it always seemed to be," she sighed again, sounding a little more awake, "I'm checking on the horses today, right?"

He nodded as he spoke, "Yeah, I fed them this morning. Thanks. But that's not why I called..."

"I know, I know, McIntyre is poking around again," she said is a flat voice.

Jeff did a slight double take, "How'd you know that?"

Elaine chuckled, "He was on the news last night, just caught the guy that robbed that hardware store last week."

"So?"

"Whenever he gets his name in the paper, he seemed to drag us around again. I think he wants the villain to be one of us because we're easy, he could arrest us right away. Liz he'd actually have to get off his ass and find."

Jeffs' sigh was barely audibly. He knew she was saying it for the detectives benefit, they both just assumed anymore that he was bugging them. It wasn't that he could get a court order anymore but neither would put it past that glory hound to bend the rules to get them. "Whatever, I just wanted to give you a heads up. He was waiting for me with my morning paper this morning."

"Great, he'll be waiting for me out at the barn, then," she yawed, "And I need to get some coffee. I'll call you after I check on the horses, okay?"

"Sure, thanks. Bye." He hung up the phone after hearing her grumbled reply. He had a feeling that it was going to be a long day.

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He stood in the stall as the memories began to come together. Some of them didn't make any sense, but slowly he was gaining some insight into his past.

Cloud wasn't really Cloud, his mare was really named Trent, and she was his.

His human was nice enough, but stood in his way. He needed to deal with Jeff if he was to attain his goals.

The one who visited, the one who spent so much time with Trent and who stole his mares attention away, was Elaine. He hated Elaine. Elaine had to be dealt with at all costs.

Somehow, he knew that it was all her fault, that he had to get her revenge on her.

He paced in his stall, knowing deep down that he couldn't simply kick her. He knew there was more to himself than he was remembering. He knew that, for now, he would have to act normal.

He would get his chance.

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Elaine drove up to the farm, her mood already feeling lighter. Despite what she thought, McIntyre hadn't been at her barn that morning. She settled into her seat a little deeper, feeling herself relax. She actually liked coming up to Jeffs' place. She'd hardly known Trent before everything happened having been far more familiar with his Major alter ego, but he had seemed like a decent sort.

He turned out to be incredibly thickheaded, which was why he was a mare now, but otherwise decent.

One thing that she did miss was riding Major. When the stallion had been Trent's other form he had been a sweet ride. She still wanted to ride Major, but Jeff had put his foot down. No one was to ride that animal, it simply wasn't safe.

She turned down the long gravel driveway and drove straight to the barn. Elaine was just shutting off the engine when a shadow appeared at her window. A scream slipped out before she realized who it was. Angrily, she swung the door open, only missing him by inches. "You bastard, you should know better than to scare someone like that."

McIntyre didn't seem fazed, but had an odd little grin on his face. "You could get rid of me if you'd just turn on your friend."

She shook her head and walked past him, "Why don't you go write a parking ticket or something, I'm not playing your game anymore."

"It's no game," he said quietly. "Jeff Phelps killed his friend and I think you know it, and know why."

She never turned to look at him and she stepped into the barn, "Look, I've got two horse to feed, so get this interrogation over with." She popped the cover off the grain bin and pulled out a grain scoop.

"What did Jeff do to Elizabeth and Trent? Kill them in the barn here?" he asked seriously.

Elaine almost smiled. The detective was much closer than he realized, even if he had the wrong victim. "McIntyre, Elizabeth Gaulter told a bar full of people, after drinking I don't know how many rum and Cokes, that she was going to kill him." She filled Majors grain bin and walked back to the bucket. "Trent took me back here after dinner to show me the new mare that he'd bought with Jeff. We looked, we laughed and he propositioned me. Then we had a fight. The guy was a pig." Cloud snorted a bit angrily at that, not that the detective noticed. "I called a cab to take me home and went out to the road to wait for it. I guess he told Jeff because he came out to drive me home. I called back the cab company to cancel the pick up and Jeff drove me home."

"And you never saw Gaultier that night, huh?" asked the detective.

She filled the mares grain bucket and rubbed the foal on the neck. "No, I didn't. I didn't know anything was wrong until I heard from Jeff the next morning." The story was true, to a point. She'd called the cab company when the dust settled, intent on getting out of the barn. She'd called them back about fifteen minutes later when Jeff had calmed her down and begged her to help him cover this all up. All the details fit.

McIntyre just shook his head and chuckled, "You're not telling me something, and we both know it." He waved his notebook at her, "I'm going to get your friend for murder." He tapped a foot dramatically on the wood planking, "I think that they are both buried in this barn or out in that pasture." He pounded on Majors stall door dramatically, "They are both on this property and I'm going to prove it."

Elaine stared at him a minute then walked out the door. It was all she could do to hold in the laugh until she got in her car and slammed the door.

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Major watched after the two humans, including the hated Elaine, left the barn. He was seething at her and couldn't remember why.

As he listened to the humans talk, names began to trigger memories. Elizabeth. There were memories that went with that.

He suddenly made a connection in his mind and realized that he hadn't been born a horse.

For the rest of the afternoon, he stood in his stall, remembering.

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Detective Louis McIntyre sat in the front seat of his cruiser and waited. It was only the day before that he'd spooked Phelps, and he was sure he was going to crack soon. After shaking him and his friend up, he was sure that he'd find some new evidence. They had probably tried to move the bodies by now. If only his idiot captain would listen to him, they'd be able to get a search warrant rather than sulking around the trees like this.

He heard a distant engine in the cool morning air and watched as Phelps pulled out of his driveway and turned down the street away from him. McIntyre was patient and didn't pull out immediately, but waited in case the man returned home for something. After a few minutes, he started up the cruiser and drove up to the house.

He got out of the cruiser and looked around. Those two poor S.O.B.'s are buried out here somewhere, and I'm going to find them! he thought. He could see all the faces of his superiors as they had to swallow their pride and admit he'd been right all along. He couldn't wait for that day.

He popped open the trunk and pulled out the lug wrench. He knew that the barn had been freshly renovated in the weeks that followed the disappearances. He was sure that the two people he was looking for were under those fresh planks.

McIntyre slipped though the side door and looked around. The barn wasn't all that different than a lot of private barns in the town, just three stalls and some small storage areas for feed and tack. The two adult horses were looking at him carefully, seeming just a little confused.

No, he thought, the mare looks pissed. She was looking at him over the top of her stall door. Her ears were flat back against her head, a sound almost like a growl coming from her throat. It was only that moment that he remembered that she had a foal in the stall with her. He decided to keep away from her for now, but he knew that if he didn't find anything, he'd have to get under those stall floors.

He walked into the small tack room and looked at the floor. He stuck the tire iron into the floor and pulled up a plank. He was almost instantly on his hands and knees looking with a flashlight at the small space underneath, looking desperately for any sign of disturbed earth, bits of clothing, bones.

Detective?

The unfamiliar voice startled the seasoned detective and he dropped to the floor, pulling his gun out and pointing it at the open door, but there was nothing there. Just the stallion named Major staring at him over the top of his own stall door. "Who's there? Identify yourself! This is Detective McIntyre..."

Who I am isn't important right now, came the odd, emotionless voice. It took a moment for the detective to realize that he wasn't hearing the voice, but almost thinking it. What's important is that I can help you. I know what happened, I know what you're seeking.

McIntyre didn't holster his gun, but started to climb to his feet. "Who the hell are you?" He crept to the door and looked around, "Identify yourself, now!"

The voice was still as cold as ice. I'm Major, the stallion that you see before you. I know exactly what happened here, and I can help you get the ones who did it.

McIntyre looked at the stallion and realized with a start that he wasn't going crazy, but the animal was talking right into his mind! "Oh my God..." his voice trailed off as he backed out of the barn door and raced for his cruiser. He felt the distant calls of the voice in his head, too distant to make out the words, as he raced the cruiser down the driveway and down the street.

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It wasn't even ten in the morning, but the hardcore detective was sitting in his easy chair with a tumbler filled to the top with cheap whisky and trembled.

I'm going insane, he thought, I'm going totally insane. He tried to drink a little more, his hand was so shaky that he got more on his shirt than in his mouth. That horse was talking to me, it was talking to me.

The phone rang three times before he reached out and grabbed it, "Yeah?" he said in a trembling voice.

"Vincent?" he recognized the surprised voice of Captain Mueller. "God, you sound terrible! What's wrong?"

Oh, nothing. I'm hearing animals talking, that's all. "I think I'm sick," he said. He shuddered, feeling a cold chill. Sure felt like he was sick all right. "I didn't even hear my alarm."

He could hear Mueller sigh, "Okay, that's fine. You've been working yourself pretty good lately." There was a short pause, "Look, it's Tuesday and things are pretty quiet around here. I'll put you on leave for the rest of the week."

"I can't do that, sir," he said quickly. He couldn't be pushed out like this! "That isn't fair to the other..."

"Don't worry about it, Vincent. I'd rather not have a detective who was fighting a virus. Your cases are covered, there isn't anything in your active file anyway. Besides, Randy has been asking for more overtime anyway. He'll catch your cases."

McIntyre felt his blood boil, sure Randy wanted to take his cases. He's been bucking for that promotion ever since his wife got pregnant. The bastard would do anything to make him look bad. He cooled just as quickly, though. If he was hearing talking horses, then maybe he needed the time off. "Okay, thanks Captain. I'll see you Monday, bright and early."

"That's fine. Get some rest."

He dropped the phone down on the cradle and stared at it a long time. What the hell was he going to do? He couldn't risk going to see a shrink, all it would take would be some beat cop to see his car in the parking lot and he was sunk. Everyone would know that he was a nut.

But he'd heard a horse talking, so maybe he was.

The horse had told him that he knew how to put Jeff Phelps in prison.

He shook his head violently. It was nuts! Horses didn't talk! He was just sick, hallucinating. He took few more large sips to calm his nerves, and sat there for an hour thinking.

He ran everything through in his mind, all the evidence that he was nuts. He just kept coming back to the same thing: That stallion was going to tell him how to make the case, to prove that he was right when everyone else was wrong. Everyone! He'd show up his Captain, the other detectives, the chief of police, even those idiot FBI agents from Boston that had been searching the globe for Gaulter when she was obviously buried under the planks of that barn!

With a surge of new energy, he jumped to his feet and started to strip off his shirt. He had an interrogation to run, and he couldn't be smelling like whisky.

He took his time, though. As anxious as he was, he still had the good sense to wait until after lunch. He knew from his surveillance that someone came out to the barn to feed the horses around noon and he didn't want to run into anyone. He also left the unmarked cruiser, with its dash lights and radio antennas, at the house. He didn't want anyone to suspect he was out there.

If he was nuts, he wanted as few witnesses as possible.

It was a little before two o'clock when he turned his own battered pickup down the gravel driveway and headed down toward the barn. He almost stopped short when he saw that the horses were out in a pasture. He fought the urge, though, and parked the car next to the barn. It was time to talk with the animals.

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Liz watched the car drive closer and stop. He had known that the detective would return. He'd known because he'd commanded it that morning in the barn.

He was remembering more all the time, remembering that he had the ability to mold people, to get them to do his bidding. With the detective, it hadn't taken much, only a little nudge here, a little push there in his mind. The case that he so desperately wanted to solve wasn't relevant, though Liz was sure that it had to do with him. It was a means to an end. Liz needed something that the detective had.

He needed his body, or more specifically his mind.

There were many gaps in what he knew, and much of what had come forward didn't make sense. Something had been nagging at the edge of his mind for some time, though: mind follows body. It was a lesson deeply engrained sometime in the past. Liz knew that there was only so much that could be done in a horses body, and so much more as one of the gangly humans.

He had been fighting his way though the layers of the spell that had transformed him, an event that he still couldn't remember. Simply throwing off the spell wasn't possible, he couldn't remember enough to do it. Something about it felt like it wasn't meant for him, though, and could possibly be thrown off onto another, as long as they were willing.

The detective cautiously came forward while Liz stood perfectly still and watched. When he absently flicked an ear to get rid of an annoying fly, the detective seemed to stop and wait. It took an inordinate amount of time for him to get to the fence line, and unlike most humans, he didn't attempt to reach out to touch the horse. "God, I feel like an idiot..." he muttered quietly.

An idiot for believing that an horse could talk? he asked into the detectives mind.

The man turned white as a sheet. It was obvious even to Liz that the man hadn't truly believe that the horse had spoken. "Oh Christ, I'm either insane or you really can talk."

Liz snorted, almost managing to make it sound like a laugh, If you're insane, then it doesn't really matter, does it? He paused, waiting for some response, but the detective seemed petrified. You have some questions for me?

The change in his features was dramatic. Putting his mind back onto his single minded obsession had snapped him back to reality. "Yes, you said you could help me. I want you to tell me everything that you know, and together we can put that murderous bastard away."

Liz stared at him a moment, it sounded like a prepared speech to his ears. Now, though, was his only real chance. This had to be played right, and straight, to work. What do I get?

The question took the detective off guard, "What? What do you mean?"

If I give you my owner, then what happens to me? He may be a murderous bastard, but I could end up at the dog food plant, replied Liz with just a hint of indignation.

The detective stammered a moment. He was clearly used to dealing with human motivations and had no idea what to offer a horse. "Look, I give you my word that you'll be cared for! I'll buy you if that's what it takes!"

Liz shook his head vigorously, Not good enough. You can't be bound to an agreement with me because no one would believe it anyway. Once you have Jeff Phelps, then you could let me be blown to the fore winds. I need something more.

The detective had a desperate look in his eye. He looked like he knew he was on the verge of cracking this case, and every fiber of his being wanted it. Just to make sure that there were no mistakes, Liz cautiously removed the geas he had placed on the detective earlier and watched a few moments more. His obsession remained even without the aid of magic. I can give you everything you want, all the evidence that you require, if you just allow me to borrow your body for a few days.

The humans eyes widened, "What the hell does that mean?"

I'd be you, you'd be me, the horse replied. As you, I'd make the proper arrangements myself for my care after my owner is arrested, and you can get the inside story straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.

The statement hung in the air for a moment before the detective leapt to a conclusion, "I knew it! He confesses to his animals! I wanted to badly to bug the barn! Guilty hearts need to confess to someone!" He calmed down, if only for a moment, "But why would he confess now?"

Liz shuffled his hooves, He always gets nervous when you're poking around. I'd just keep up the pressure and let him tell you where the bodies are buried.

"Doesn't that mean you already know? Why not just tell me and trust me to make the arrangements?" he asked.

Trust you? I don't even know you detective. Do we have a deal?

The man actually seriously thought about it, and Liz felt hope for the first time since he had started to remember. His ability to work magic was handicapped badly by being a horse. If the detective resisted at all, if he was anything but willing, then it wouldn't work. Indeed, it could kill them both. The man was obsessed enough that he might even agree, though.

"What happens if you meet someone I know or something?" he asked, "Or you need to go to the police station? You don't know anyone there!"

Liz snorted, All part of the spell, detective. I'll know what you know. I'll know every human you know as well as you do.

"How long would we be exchanged?" he asked, a smile slowly spreading across his face as he decided, then he got a suspicious look, "And how do I know that you'll even change be back?"

Until things are settled to my satisfaction, and you have your evidence. Could be just a few days, perhaps a couple weeks, replied the horse. As for switching back, why would I want to be anything but a horse?

He could see the detective trying to find a reason why he shouldn't do this, but failing. His obsession to solve this case was so great that it was overriding any and all common sense in his mind. He was perfectly willing to believe that this was not only possible, but desirable! "What the hell, I've got the rest of the week off from the department anyway." He said it in a flip tone, but there was an undercurrent of nervousness in his voice.

Liz stood there for a moment, almost unable to believe his ears. This had worked far better than he had hoped. He quickly looked the human over again, making sure that there wasn't even the trace of the geas on him. Very good, detective. Lets get out of sight, this could take a little time and I don't want anyone to see us.

Major turned and walked to the other end of the pasture with the detective in tow. His mare and foal watched with mild interest, but didn't follow. He knew that there was something odd about the pair, something he hoped that he would understand when his memories returned.

They were a few yards from the fence when Liz took off at a run. He heard the man yell out behind him to stop, but paid no attention. He got to the fence and leapt over it easily, landing on the short strip of earth before the start of the tree line. He stopped and looked back at the human, What's wrong?

The detective raced forward, panting. "I thought you were trying to get away. Where are you going?"

Privacy. These woods are dense enough to hide us completely and they're vacant, he replied as the detective crawled over the fence.

They threaded their way thought the trees until they reached a small clearing inside the woods. He stopped and turned. Remove your clothes.

"Huh?" asked the detective. "What?"

Major sighed and shook his head, I don't want to go back to your car naked. You won't need them in a couple minutes anyway.

The man nodded and stripped off his coat while the horse waited. He watched him for any sign that he might back out, not sure what he would do if that happened. The human really knew too much, but at the moment seemed to be his only real hope. Soon, the man was standing naked in the woods, shivering in the cool air. "Okay, ready," he said with a slight tremble in his voice.

Are you sure? he asked. The horse tapped a hoof, If there is the slightest doubt, then this could be a disaster for us.

McIntyre took a deep breath, then nodded, "I'm ready. Lets do it before I change my mind, though."

Liz nodded and stepped toward the man, touching his nose to the mans shoulder. We need to be in physical contact for as long as possible, whatever happens stay in touch as long as you can. He closed his eyes and gathered the forces, working his way between the strands of the curse that bound his soul and slowly removing them, tying them to the man that stood next to him.

There was a gasp and the detective tried to take a quick step back, but it was already too late, his willingness was no longer required. He opened his eyes to see a fine gray pelt begin to flow across the humans flesh even as it melted off his own body. Liz could feel an intense pressure on his head as it began to shrink. He sneezed once, clearing his shrinking sinuses. The detective, looking more and more like a horse, stumbled away and fell on his rapidly growing tail.

"Oh... oh my God, you weren't kidding..." he said in a small voice. He tried to say something else, but his tongue briefly filled his mouth. He gagged a few seconds before his head grew and he could breath again.

Liz looked at his own hooves and watched as they seemed to recede into his forelegs, then split into fingers. He flexed them for the first time that he could remember. He looked up and saw the former detective gazing at his own hands as they melded together into hooves. It was only a few moments more before the horse was finished.

The former detective looked exactly like Major had just moments before. He shook his head, dazed, and blinked a few times. He tried to get up to his hooves, but couldn't seem to figure it out.

"It's not that hard," noted Liz. The horse looked over to him and looked startled, his eyes filled with confusion. It was that moment when Liz realized that his voice hadn't sounded right. It had been too high to be the detectives. With a short look, it was clear what had happened. "I'm me again!"

Liz had returned to the body she had been born with. She ran her hands quickly over her nude form for a few moments to make sure that it was real and not a fantasy. Then she looked at the horse, "Don't worry, it's all a part of the plan," she lied. This hadn't been anywhere in her plans. In fact, she hadn't even remembered that she had been female.

The memories of her last three years as Major flooded into her mind, everything that she had done. The mare... She shuddered. She quickly threw on the detectives clothes to ward off the chill. She had hoped to be the detective now, it would have made life so much more simple. Revenge is so much easier when you're not wanted by the local, state and federal police agencies.

The detective finally managed to get his legs working and stand up. He snorted and looked with confusion at the young woman. He seemed to realize then that he couldn't communicate like the horse had before and got frustrated, snorting and stamping.

"Calm down, McIntyre," muttered Liz, "You're going to be fine. Believe me when I tell you that the crimes that have been committed here are nothing compared to murder. When you know the whole truth, you won't mind what has happened in the least." The horse didn't look convinced and took a firm step forward. Liz folded her arms in front of her and stared down the animal, "Don't even think about it," she said in a steely voice, "I'm not only the only one that knows what happened, but the only one that can turn you back!" She calmed down, taking a deep breath, "Now if you want this to work, you'll go back to the pasture and act like nothings happened. Got it?"

The horse didn't look that happy, but slowly nodded. He simply had no choice in the matter and he knew it. Slowly, he started to follow the woman toward the fence line, but balked at trying to jump it. He barely had control of his legs, never mind the lack of running room on this side of the fence. Instead, he followed Liz to the gate where she slipped the latch and let him into the pasture.

She patted him on the neck, "Don't worry, McIntyre, this is still just temporary. Whatever you do, don't let on to anyone what's happened or all will be for naught."

The horse just sighed and walked away, seeming more confused than ever. Liz knew that at this moment he was having a hard time keeping his mind straight. The shock of the transformation, and the cramming of a human brain into an equine skull, didn't let him think clearly at all. It would be a day or two before he'd be able to sort out his thoughts.

Not that it mattered, really. By the time that he was thinking straight he'd probably realize he was going to be Major the rest of his life. She didn't want to do it to the detective, but really couldn't be bothered trying to eliminate the curse.

Liz smiled and fished the mans keys out of his coat pocket. She had plans to make. Elaine and Jeff tried to ruin her life, and she was going to ruin theirs.

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McIntyre felt strange, like a heavy, wet tarp was wrapped around his head. His body felt strange and foreign, too. In his heart of hearts, he hadn't really believed that this was possible, but now he was standing in the middle of a pasture on four hooves, in the body of a stallion.

The one clear thought that he had was that he was in big trouble.

Even through the haze of pain and disorientation of the transformation, he knew who the young woman was: Elizabeth Gaulter. She wasn't dead after all. She definitely had the use of magic, though. Where did that put him?

The detective tried desperately to figure out the missing pieces, frustrated that they seemed to be just beyond his grasp. Somehow, he was still convinced that Jeff Phelps was involved, that somehow he was really the one that caused all this to happen.

He shook his head to get rid of a couple of persistent flies and started to walk across the pasture. His mind was too muddled right now to make sense of things. Once he had a good nights sleep, once the shock of what happened had worn off, he'd be able to put all these pieces together.

In the meantime, he decided to get acquainted with the mare that was behind the barn. Walking toward the structure, McIntyre felt more confident in his steps. His hooves were more solid on the ground, he was feeling less and less like he was about to fall over. He was arrogantly pleased with how fast he was picking up walking in an unfamiliar body even as a part of him was disturbed by it.

Poking his head around the corner of the barn, he saw the mare was grazing quietly, the foal standing firmly next to her. The tiny colt was too young to venture far away from its mother yet. McIntyre sniffed the breeze and noted that the pair of them definitely had a scent, and there was some part of his unfamiliar instincts that could tell them apart with certainty as easily as he could by sight. It was a strange revelation, and the first time that he realized just how different he was now.

The mare noticed him, at first not paying him particular attention. Then, abruptly, she lifted her head and looked at him quizzically, chewing the last bits of grass more and more slowly. McIntyre slowly took a few steps closer. He hadn't been around horses much, but he had seen Major and Cloud in the pasture before on several of his trips to grill Phelps and they seemed to get along well enough. It was to his surprise that the mare very suddenly spun around and put herself between the stallion and the foal, barring her teeth at him as he approached.

McIntyre stopped, confused. There was something wrong here. Why would this animal suddenly get so protective? He stopped for a second and the mare seemed to be staring him down. Cautiously, he took a step forward only to have the mare lash out with her front hooves.

Cloud was way too far away to make contact, but the message was clear. McIntyre backed up, keeping the crazed mare in sight like she was a suspect with a knife, and then backed around the barn again.

This day was just getting stranger and stranger.

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"Oh, this is nice," said Elaine as she looked at the antique dresser.

The antique store owner nodded and climbed into the window display to turn it a little closer. "It's about two hundred years old. I believe that it was made in Boston, but the builders mark is similar to one from Concord.

Elaine smiled and she examined the dresser, thinking about how good it would go in her bedroom, when a dark chill washed over her. She even felt light headed for a few moments and leaned heavily against the frame of the window display. "What the...?" she said under her breath.

The shopkeeper looked at her concerned and leapt out of the display to steady her. "You okay?"

She nodded, but the feeling didn't pass. It wasn't totally unfamiliar, she felt it a few times in her life, but the last time had been that night in the barn. Slowly, her eyes raised until she saw the car stopped in front of the store at the light. It was definitely familiar, the car looked exactly like the one that Detective McIntyre drove when he wasn't in his police issue cruiser. But even if it had been the annoying detective behind the wheel, she had never gotten a feeling like this from him.

It was the dark haired beauty behind the wheel, dressed in ill fitting men's clothes, that got her attention. Elaine felt the blood drain from her face as she stumbled away from the window. The dark feeling began to fade quickly as the light outside turned green and the car drove away.

Elaine stood in the back of the store, panting hard as the worried shopkeeper went to the back to get her a drink of water. Over the last couple of years, Elaine had seen women that she had thought were the crazy witch, but it was always someone else, and the horse's body that she was trapped in had begun to look like her lifelong prison.

This time, she was certain. There wasn't a doubt in her mind. She took the water from the shopkeeper, spilling some of it from her trembling hand. "Can I use your phone?"

The man nodded quickly, picking the antique rotary phone up off the counter and handing it to her, "Sure, go ahead."

She tried to dial so fast that she didn't let the rotary wheel turn back to its starting point before she tried the next number and had to start again a few times. Finally, the shopkeeper took the base away and dialed the number for her. She heard the other end of the line pickup. "Hel..."

"Jeff! Get out of your office, now!"

There was a short pause, "Elaine? What's the..."

"Don't ask! Just get out of your office and go home, and do it now! I'll meet you there and explain," she said with more than a trace of desperation.

Jeff's voice sounded worried and confused, "I can't just leave work, what's the..."

Again, she didn't let him finish his sentence. "It's about Major, and it's very important."

There was another pause as Jeff absorbed that. "Uh oh..." he said quietly. "I'll be out there as fast as I can."

Elaine dropped the phone onto the receiver, thanked the antique store owner, and dashed out to her own car. If Liz was loose, there was little time left.

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Liz finally pulled the car into the detectives driveway and shut off the engine. The neighborhood was quiet, so she slipped out of the car and walked to the back of the house, letting herself in. It was only then that she allowed herself to relax a little. So far, things were not exactly going to plan.

She realized now that she should have known better, even as that horse, that she wasn't going to manage what she wanted to do. She had hoped to make a couple bodies and plant them on the farm in shallow graves. She could have fashioned a couple of large dogs into bodies convincing enough to fool most medical examiners. She was sure she could have gotten both Jeff and Elaine logged into a steel cage for the rest of their lives.

That wouldn't work now, of course. She was supposed to be one of the bodies, and for the moment she didn't know how to disguise her own form. Her abilities were growing with her memories, her control coming back, but it wasn't as instant as she had hoped. Magic was a complex tool, and it took practice to keep it working. The only reason that she had managed the relatively simple transfer of the curse to the detective was that she had been preparing to do something like that for days.

She dropped into an oversized easy chair and started to think. She wanted to get all three of them so badly she could taste it, Elaine, Jeff and Trent.

The thought of Trent came to mind and she started to laugh. Liz couldn't remember what happened the night that she ended up as the stallion, but she could remember the spell she had crafted that day, the one meant for Elaine. As she had sat in the bar drinking herself into a stupor, she had started building one of the most complex curses that she had ever devised. She had piled geas on top of geas until she almost lost control of it.

There were a few bits that she remembered, most importantly the compunction to mate. At some point Liz had decided that Elaine would be mother to a herd of her own. Once the mare was in heat, it wouldn't pass until a stallion found her. If that stallion had to kick his way out of a barn to do it, he would. None of the idiots at the farm, including Trent, ever figured that out. Majors presence had masked it, and Trent had retreated so far into the mares mind that he thought it was natural.

How the spell meant for Elaine ended up on Trent was lost on her, perhaps she was so drunk that she changed her mind at the last minute. She considered the possibility that Elaine herself had done something. The woman had enormous power in her, but hadn't known it. Even if the bitch didn't know she had it she could have still wielded that natural power as a club, beating back her finely crafted spell.

No matter, she was satisfied that her revenge on the mare was complete. No matter what anyone did, the mare would be carrying another foal in just a few weeks, months at the most.

She smiled a little wider, Trent was not punished enough, but he would be in the next few years. When she had a little more time she might even pull his consciousness a little forward just to make sure that he knew what was happening.

That brought her to Jeff. He had done nothing in the last three years to help her, trapped in her prison of horseflesh. She started thinking of grand spells that she could cast, the horrible fates that she could devise for him. It was only practicality that stopped her from seriously pursing any of them. There were other witches in the world, others who could manage the unseen forces of the world and marshal them to their wills. There were those among them that took dim views of grand displays of revenge, and would do what they could to undo her good works. Grand displays, after all, put out a lot of energy and created vast holes in the fabric of magic. She wanted to attract as little attention as possible. That's when she remembered a simple solution to her complex problem.

Jeff was cursed already. The barn in France that had turned his friend into a stallion had been mere seconds away from a similar fate with Jeff. The young man was wrapped already in an unfinished spell that needed but a tiny trigger. It would be like tossing a match into a room filled with gas, putting out only the smallest disturbance to finish an almost completed transformation of the man into a cow.

Liz laughed at the simplicity. Once the dust settled, he would be nothing more than a normal, unclaimed dairy cow. If he was lucky he might end up on a dairy farm somewhere. If he was unlucky, there were still a few meat packers in the area that could cut him up for burgers.

That left Elaine. She wouldn't have minded the same fate for the woman who had tried to steal Trent from her. She loved the idea of turning that bitch into a cow, too. With a few adjustments, she could make her the bovine version of Trent. To get to her, she would have to find away around that woman's abilities. Liz was sure that, given proper training, Elaine could have been a powerful witch. Liz was sure that she didn't know it herself, the fact that no attempt was ever made to free Trent of even a portion of his curse proved that. Still, getting through her panicked manipulations of magic were going to be tricky.

Liz could do that without much trouble, but making the woman a cow did nothing for her. She needed and wanted a normal life back, and since she was still wanted for murder it wouldn't be easy. Better, she realized, to simply take the place of the conniving bitch. Liz could simply trade places with Elaine and then call the police. Even if she told the whole story, who was going to believe her? She would spend the rest of her life in prison for crimes that not only didn't she commit, but crimes that never even happened.

With a delighted laugh, she jumped off the easy chair and walked into the detectives kitchen. She wanted a drink to celebrate before she carried out her plans.

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"This isn't the first time that you've seen her, you know," said Jeff in a calming voice. "You're just on edge because McIntyre is back on our cases."

Elaine shook her head vigorously. "You don't understand, I felt her before I saw her." She tried to calm down, "Look, you told me that Liz had called me a natural, one that had the ability to manipulate magic and didn't know it, right?"

He nodded, "Sure, that's why you're not a mare. You deflected her spell that night."

She nodded, "Exactly! Even before that, I had a certain sense of people, nothing that I could ever pin down but I kinda knew what kind of person that they were before they said anything."

Jeff smiled, "And yet you dated Trent one night."

"Well, no one said that I listened to it all the time," she said rolling her eyes. "Anyway, the feeling that I had today was the same one that I had when I say her that night, a feeling of impending dread and doom."

Jeff shook his head and walked to the window. "Major is standing out there in the pasture, though," he pointed out. "If Liz is out there, then who is that? It's not Trent, I just put her and the foal in their stall."

She sighed, "That has got to be McIntyre," she said with certainty. "Liz was driving his car. I think she turned him into a horse so we wouldn't suspect she was out there."

"Then why didn't he try and say something?" he asked. "I was just out there, and Major kept his distance, didn't even try to do something like write in the dirt. We both know that Trent can do that."

"Could do that," she pointed out. "When was the last time that we really got a human answer out of her? I don't think there is much of Trent left in Cloud, and maybe she did the same thing to the detective!"

Jeff sighed and shook his head. "I just don't know. I guess I should believe you, but even if you're right, what do we do? Call the police? Call a Wiccan? What?"

"What about that woman in France? The one that removed the curse in the first place?"

Jeff shook his head, "Not a chance, I don't even know her name much less her number. I might be able to find it if I went back to France, assuming that she didn't carry out her threat to just toss me back into that barn if I ever returned, but if Liz is out there I seriously doubt that we have the time to get to France."

Elaine paced the room now, more nervous than she had ever been in her life. "Maybe not, but we have time to get to Boston. We can be there in two hours, and we can figure it out from there."

"What about your husband?" he asked, "And for that matter, what about the horses here?"

"My husband is in Utah on business until Friday, I can call him from Boston and tell him what's going on. I've got some friends that'll take the horses until we figure things out."

Jeff stared at her, then put his hands gently on her shoulders, "Okay, we'll get out of here, right now. You go and put Major in the barn and I'll get my keys, okay?"

She nodded wordlessly and raced out the door for the pasture. Jeff didn't think this was all that necessary, it wasn't the first time that she had called him in a panic thinking that Liz was out, but this time she was so earnest and so sure. Somehow he didn't think she was mistaken this time.

He jogged up the stairs to the bedroom to grab a hidden billfold with a few hundred dollars in cash stashed and back down the stairs. He was halfway back down the stairs when the front door swung open. "Jesus!" he screamed as he tried to turn around mid step, instead stumbling to his hands and knees on the stairs. "Liz, don't!" he yelled in fear.

"Too late," she said with a wide grin, "already done."

"Elaine!" he screamed as loudly as he could managed, "Run!" Jeff struggled to get to his feet, but he could feel the weight of his torso shifting horribly as the old wooden stairs creaked under the added hundreds of pounds. "No, please!" he bellowed out, but soon his voice turned bovine and words were lost. He could hear the sounds of his clothes tearing off of him, feel the pain as the leather belt held out until the buckle snapped off. He tried again to stand, but he couldn't manage the shifting weight on his unformed legs and stumbled through the railing, falling the last few feet to the floor in a shower of splinters. He laid there trying to catch his breath as the last few traces of humanity were erased from his body.

"Don't worry, Jeff," said Liz in a saccharine voice, "I'll try and make sure you're sold to a dairy farm. As long as you produce milk and calves, you'll have years before you're beef. It's more consideration that you ever gave me, you bastard."

Jeff tried to protest, tried to reason with the crazed woman, but there was nothing he couldn't even moo. It was all he could do to try and breath after the painful fall. He tried to struggle to his hooves, but the broken wood beneath him kept sliding under his body and the narrow hallway didn't help.

"I'll be back to get you out of here in a few minutes, Bessie," Liz said patting the new cow on the rump, "I've got to take care of your friend, first." She didn't waste anymore time, but stepped through the door and slammed it shut.

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Liz felt a deep sense of satisfaction. Jeff was getting off easy, he was only going to be a cow for a few years before his body was chopped up or rendered. Elaine was going to get to spend the next fifty years or so in prison, though.

Confidently, she walked across the circular driveway that separated the house from the barn. She knew that Elaine was in there, she had watched her putting the stallion away. It was gratifying to know that the detective was still looking docile, just like Major was supposed to be. He hadn't figured out enough to try and warn anyone, and now he wasn't going to get the chance.

Mentally, Liz checked herself. She was going to have to be fast, catch the woman off guard. Quietly, she snuck around to the door and pushed the well oiled door open silently. She didn't see Elaine right off, so she took a step in. She also didn't see the 2x4 swinging toward her until after it had solidly slammed the top of her head, dropping her to the ground.

"Got her!" shouted Elaine as she kicked Liz over and prepared to take another swing. Far from being out, though, Liz swung an arm up, sending the wooden club sailing magically through the bottom of the hay loft. "Hey!"

"A club?" she yelled, incredulous. Her gaze turned steely as the blood flowed down around her eyes. "You bitch!" She started to throw a spell, but Liz was dazed from the blow enough that it gave time for Elaine to leap out of the way. The spell connected with Clouds stall door, blowing it backwards into the stall and sending a scream of equine panic through the small barn.

Diving across the floor, Elaine grabbed a small rack and threw it at Liz, missing but giving her time to grab a shovel and wield it like a weapon. She took a few swings at her, but Liz, blood covered and dazed, reached into a pocket and pulled out a snub nosed revolver she had taken from the detectives home. "I seem to be one up on you again, bitch," she said through clenched teeth.

"Why are you doing this?" asked Elaine, "I never did anything to you!"

She cocked the hammer back on the gun, "I'm not going to explain anything to you! Drop the shovel and get over here, or I'm going to just blow your head off right now!"

Elaine stared at the crazed woman, then dropped the shovel. She took a couple steps forward when Liz raised her hand, which had started to glow with building power, "Once I touch my hand to you, it'll all be over. It's not a perfect solution, I'll admit, but I'm sure you'll see the... Hey!" she screamed out as Cloud clamped her teeth down hard on the woman's arm right in front of the elbow, the gun falling to the floor. Liz struggled and screamed as blood began to pour from the wound and the audible crack of breaking bones filled the air. The mare dragged her back to the stall and yanked her glowing hand to the floor, where the foal lay.

The foal had been standing at the back of the stall when the door had been blown inward and born the brunt of the hit. He lay in the splintered wood and hay very still and covered in blood. Liz screamed again as her hand touched the foal, in her terror she hadn't been able to cast the spell. Instead, Cloud thrust the hand down onto the mortally wounded colt and held it there until the glow was transferred.

Liz screamed at the mare, "You bastard! What did you do?!" even as she doubled up in pain. The sound of more of her bones shattering to match the colts injuries filled the tiny barn again. She stumbled from the stall and fell to the floor as her pelvis snapped and winched in pain as she felt her broken ribs. She looked pleadingly at Elaine, for a moment hoping that the woman she had been so close to killing would help her, but help wasn't coming. It wasn't long before she was the spitting image of the tiny, mortally wounded colt.

Drained of all her energy, Elaine collapsed onto a hay bale and sobbed.

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She called the police from the barn phone after checking the house. Jeff had finally managed to stand, but was still dazed. She was happy to find that he still seemed to have his mind, so there was hope for his future. For now, she told him to wait in the pasture and she would try and take care of things.

The police arrived to find a scene that they couldn't explain very well, but Liz laying in a pool of blood in the stall totally incoherent with the barely living colt laying on the floor went a long way to answering their questions. When they checked the registration on the gun and found that it was one of their own detectives, then found that he was missing and with Liz's fingerprints all over his house and car, it added more pieces. The apparent signs of a struggle in the house and the now missing Jeff added the final bit of explanation. The police filled in their own details based on what they felt they knew of things.

They were dead wrong, but Elaine wasn't going to tell them otherwise.

Liz was arrested on the spot and taken to the hospital. She wasn't seriously hurt, but it was clear that something was wrong. Even days later, no one could explain why the woman was so incoherent. She was about as responsive as a toddler and totally unable to understand speech.

The colt was taken to a medical facility. The vets felt that it was best to put him down, his injuries were too severe to treat effectively, but Elaine had insisted that they try anyway. She wanted such an important choice to be made by Jeff, should he be found, and the vets promised to do their best.

Meanwhile, search teams were sent out to look for Jeff. They didn't know what they were going to find, though most suspected that there was a body in the woods somewhere. This being New Hampshire, though, there were a lot of woods to search.

No one, of course, had thought to ask the cow.

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Three days later, Elaine was still trying to do something to save Jeff. She had been giving herself a crash course in the ins and outs of magic, something now she regretted she hadn't done after the first time that they had dealt with Liz. She was praying for a miracle of some type, something to set everything right, but there was so much wrong.

It took her almost two days of concentration to find the stings of magic that Liz had manipulated so easily. She had spotted them first around Trent, who's calm equine body was a maze of spells so complex that she couldn't even see where one started and the next began. She knew deep down that Trent was beyond anyone's ability to save.

Once she knew what to look for, finding them on Jeff and the detective was fairly easy. It was knowing what they meant that was the hard part, and what she could do about it. It took very little time to realize that the spells that held both Jeff and McIntyre in their animal shapes was nearly identical, they were both based on the same curse from that French farmhouse after all.

The difference was that Jeff's was weaker somehow, not as well formed. Jeff had explained to her that he was cursed like this since Trent was, but his spell hadn't been finished until nearly five years later when Liz put on the last touches. Even those steps were visible to her as bands of color that were brighter than the rest.

Despite her progress, she was unwilling to put things to the test. The former detective McIntyre pleaded with her as best he could to try, while Jeff was content to wait until she was ready. They both knew far too well what could happen if things went wrong.

It was when she went back to examine the tangled mess of Trents form that she had a realization, something that she hadn't seen on either of the other two. There was a core of magic here, a small, dim light that glowed from inside the mare. It didn't seem to be connected to the other strands of curses and counter spells. When she reached out to touch it, she realized with a start that this was the source of his own magic, that core that he had used when he had been able to control his transformation. When she went to the others, she found something similar, if much weaker, inside Jeff. It was even dimmer and harder to find in the detective.

When she had tried to find it within herself, she had nearly been blinded by the light.

In a final, desperate move, Elaine went to the only source that she knew. Late in the evening, she went to the veterinary hospital and convinced the night staff to let her in to see the foal. The colt was in sorry shape, comatose and not expected to live out the week. The doctors were still pushing to let them put the colt down, and it seemed likely that one of them would do it on their own just to be humane. Inside the brain of the colt, Liz was laying dormant.

Elaine asked to left alone, and the staff gave her privacy. Then she knelt down next to it, unsure what to do now. She examined the horse and could see the physical damage, then the scars of the misfired spell. It was tangled and bright, somehow Elaine could tell that it had been forged from anger. She didn't dare undo the spell, even if she could.

Instead, she went deeper and looked for the core of her being. It was surprisingly hard to find, wrapped in layer after layer of her anger and hatred. When she found it, unwrapped it, it was just as bright as her own. Suspiciously, she tapped into it, unsure what she would find, even what she was looking for. What she hoped for was some way to understand how all this worked, a way to use her own untapped abilities.

What she got was a rapid unraveling. She could see the forces start to come apart as she toyed with them. At first, she almost panicked, thinking that this was an attack from Liz, but she held her ground and waited. When she stopped, the magic slowed as if it was waiting too. She reached out a little further and watched the magic move again. Slowly, she took hold of it, examined it. Started to understand it.

Elaine grabbed it impulsively, feeling it flow into her. She gasped, felt lightheaded, and almost fainted. For a moment, she thought she had triggered one of the traps inside the spell, but a quick look at her hands showed that nothing had happened to her.

But something had happened to her, something wonderful. She felt it, felt the power that flowed now inside her. More importantly, she realized that she now had the understanding to actually use it. The myred of things that Liz had learned, her abilities, flowed into Elaine. Somehow, she knew that not only did she have that understanding, but the power to back them up.

She looked at the colt again and searched, searched deeper than she ever could before, and discovered nothing. The anger and hatred that had infested Liz was still there, but there was nothing left of her magic. The only thing left in her was the traces of the spell that had made her this small horse.

Feeling drained and exhilarated at the same time, she reached out and touched the colt, one by one mending shattered bones and broken flesh. When she was done, the only thing that kept him asleep was the sedatives the veterinarians had given him.

She spent a few minutes thinking, then decided to put things as right as she could. She reached out across the distance and felt for the true soul of the tortured colt trapped in a strange body, unable to understand what was going on. Doing something she didn't even know was possible, something that Liz was never had the power to do herself, she grabbed the two souls and pulled them through space and put them in the right bodies.

She examined the sleeping colt again. He was going to be a medical miracle in a few hours, there might be something to explain later, but at least he was alive.

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Even with her newfound understanding, she realized that she couldn't solve everything. In the midnight darkness, she went over the stallion and cow as much as she could.

Jeff, it turned out, was much simpler when she knew what she was doing. She was able to simply break the last links in the ties that bound him to that bovine form and forged a new spell. In a matter of moments, Jeff was coughing and sputtering on the floor of the stall. "Thanks," he managed. "How?"

She smiled, "Later. For now, you should know that you're not much better off than Trent was a couple years back. You're in check, you'll have to learn how to switch your form back and forth, but you shouldn't have to do that more than a few days a month total."

He nodded and wrapped himself in a horse blanket. "What about McIntyre and Trent?"

"Trent is a lost cause for the moment. I might be able to do something about him with time, but he's a mess. The curse and all of Liz's poking and piling screwed up all up."

"McIntyre?" asked Jeff as the stallion poked his head over the stall door, listening with interest.

"I'll work on it, but I don't know," she sighed. "You weren't that hard because the old curse was fading. Once I understood what I was doing it wasn't that tough. I could see where Liz had completed things and just undo them. McIntyre got the entire, original curse. It's going to take some time." The stallion sighed, sounding depressed. When the two people turned to look at him, he nickered hopefully.

Jeff walked over and rubbed him on the nose, "I wouldn't complain about this too much, you're getting off easy."

They left the barn and went up to the house and called the police. Elaine told them that Jeff had escaped from where Liz had left him and come back to the house and they sat back and waited.

"What happens now?" he asked her after getting some warm clothes on.

She shrugged, "I don't know. Liz doesn't have anymore power, I took it all from her. By morning, she'll be trying to explain all this to the police, I'm sure. She's still wanted for Trents murder, and they think she did in the detective, too."

Jeff thought a second and smiled, "You can turn him back anytime, can't you? McIntyre I mean."

She tried to keep a straight face, but failed. "Probably, but I wouldn't want to do it tonight anyway. I'm too tired and it's too complicated. Let him sweat it out a couple days, then I'll take care of it." She shrugged, "He'll be in the same boat you are, a little worse off, but he'll manage."

"What about the police? When he reappears after a few days?"

"Don't worry, he'll think of something," she said as they heard a couple of police cars skid to a stop in the driveway.

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In a hospital bed across town, Liz finally came around, more confused than ever. She could sense that she should be in agony, but painkillers were coursing through her veins. She tried to scratch her nose, but found that her wrist was handcuffed to the bed.

The detective dozing in the room woke up and looked at her as if he didn't expect her to start talking. "Now what?" he muttered.

"What am I doing here? What happened?" she asked quietly.

The man smiled broadly and stood up, tapping at the door next to him, "Hey! Get in here! She's talking!" He turned back to the Liz as the door opened a couple of state troopers walked in, "First thing we're going to do Ms. Gaulter, is advise you of your rights."

She barely heard him as she tried to summon the power to heal herself. She wasn't going to be able to escape without doing that first. She tried to summon the power, and found that it was gone. With horror, she realized that it was gone! She'd been stripped of her power!

It was only then, as the questioning started, that she realized just how much trouble she was in.