User:Posti/One Way Ticket

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One Way Ticket

Author: Bob Stein

(Note – this story was inspired by outstanding artwork by Kuma on Transfur:

“Man, you musta spent a shitload of time and money on that costume!”

Larry grinned and pivoted carefully on his hooves. The speaker was a little older than most of the other conventioneers, and looked a bit scruffy. Still, Larry was always happy to give admirers a good look. “Thanks! Yeah, it took months to work out the legs. And walking takes a lot of practice.”

“Yeah, especially on hard surfaces. Fell on my butt a bunch of times the first time I tried walking on marble, but then, I couldn’t cheat with rubber grips on the bottoms of my hooves.”

Cheat? Larry felt a flicker of annoyance, but his curiosity was up. “You’ve done a costume like this?”

His critic shrugged noncommittally. “Don’t get me wrong – yours is about as good as I’ve seen. Nobody ever gets the legs right.”

Such a backhanded compliment dug deeper at Larry’s already wounded pride. He’d spent days sculpting the deep animal thighs in closed-cell foam, and come up with stilt-like extensions to create a jackleg illusion. Even the fake fur covering them was a close match to his own shaggy brown hair. “And you did?”

The guy snorted. “Not an issue”

“Guess I’m lucky you aren’t competing in the costume contest.” Larry couldn’t keep the scorn from his voice. “Or maybe you’re coming as a Gypsy vagrant?”

Instead of taking offense, the man grinned. “Spot on! I was mostly trying to be ignored, but it’s nice to know I got the look right.”

Larry was a bit flustered, then embarrassed. Why was he letting this guy get under his skin? “Yeah, well, I gotta head over to the staging area.” He turned and continued towards the auditorium.

“You need to adjust some stuff before you go on stage.” Oh, great. His critic was tagging along.

“Uh, thanks, but I got it.” Larry tried to pick up his pace, but anything more than a normal walk was risky. Not to mention the fact his feet were already killing him.

“So, you want your ass hanging out back like that?”

That brought Larry up short and he automatically reached back to check the condition of his furry rump. Damn. The lycra tights everything was attached to had slipped down enough to show a little of his real butt. Not a big deal now, but it wouldn’t be long before the display got much more embarrassing. Worse, trying to pull everything back into position himself was likely to send him toppling over.

“There’s an empty meeting room right here.” The guy gestured towards a nearby door. “We can get you straightened out pretty quick, if you want.”

Larry was torn between lingering resentment and practicality – it would be a lot easier to get his costume adjusted with help. Finally, he sighed and nodded. “Yeah, that would be good. Thanks.”

The guy led the way, opening the door and holding it so Larry could walk in. As promised, the room was currently empty, with the added bonus of a large mirror on the far side. He made his way across the room and used the wall as a brace while he tugged the costume back into position.

“Why a satyr? There are a lot of easier costumes to build.” The man leaned against the door, arms crossed. “That’s obviously a work of love.”

Maybe the guy wasn’t such a jerk after all. Larry shrugged. “I’ve always liked satyrs. All the creatures from Greek mythology, really, but satyrs are my favorites. Anyway, you almost never see them at conventions.”

“So, would you like to be a satyr? For real?”

The question caught Larry by surprise, but after a moment he nodded. “That would be awesome.” Then he grinned. “Except I’d probably have some problems with the rest of the world.”

“Yeah, there’s that whole ‘dissect the alien’ thing.” The guy seemed serious. “But here, with everyone expecting fantasy stuff, you could get away with it. People would see it as a really great costume.”

“I guess.” Larry stepped back and checked himself out in the mirror. The comment about his legs still irked him. Though he was relatively small and lean, the calves were way too thick. Still, the end result was pretty realistic, if too large in proportion.

“So you’re OK with being a satyr for one night and normal the rest of your life? One way ticket, no refunds.”

“Yeah, sure.” Larry sighed and turned towards the guy - and then slammed against the wall as he recoiled in shock. “Shit!” .

There was a satyr standing there. For one wild moment, Larry thought the man had somehow changed into a costume while he’d been looking in the mirror. Then he realized this was no illusion. No trick of makeup could make human legs bend that way. And those thick, curling horns had to be supported by more than just spirit gum. In truth, no single detail made the difference – he just knew it was real. Larry stared, then repeated “Oh, Shit!”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” The satyr grinned and winked. “Though imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery.”

“But...” Larry felt suddenly flushed and hot, and grabbed at the wall for support as balance wavered. The sensation passed quickly, and he realized the satyr was moving toward him. He pressed up against the wall, eyes wide and heart pounding. His nostrils filled with of a heavy, randy odor that was probably goat musk. “You can’t be a satyr! There’s no such thing!”

This brought a smirk to the creature’s face. The dark-haired man’s features were still there, pinched forward to create a more bestial cast. “Then I guess we are both figments of your imagination?” He gestured towards the mirror.

“But mine’s just a cost…” Larry froze suddenly, eyes wide. For the first time in an hour, his feet didn’t hurt, and he didn’t feel the Lycra tights digging uncomfortably at his crotch. That might have been a good thing, except that he really couldn’t feel his feet at all.

He turned slowly towards the mirror, afraid to look down. The small nubs he’d started out with had grown out into full horns, yet the added mass and weight felt normal. His face had also elongated like the satyr’s, and had a new sweep of hair along the bottom of his jaw that merged with a much fuller and very real goatee. His upper body had also changed, with a barreled out chest that rippled with new muscle.

However, the real transformation was below the waist. Swallowing nervously, Larry twisted sideways to get a better look. As good as he’d thought he costume was, the reality was a whole new world. Everything south of his belly button was goat. He lifted a leg experimentally, amazed to find that he could actually balance on the small cloven hoof that remained on the floor. Tugging on the shaggy brown fur felt like pulling hair on his head. And the hoof, while numb, transmitted sensations of pressure. Even the formerly blank crotch under the costume’s coarse loincloth now featured an animal's furred sheath and scrotum.

“So, what do you think of the reality?” The satyr grinned at him in the mirror. “Sure beats trying to walk on those stilts.”

There were several possibilities. One was Larry had gone stark, raving mad. There was a faint chance this was all some weird dream, though he was pretty sure he wasn’t sleeping. Everything was too vivid – colors, smells, feelings. He could be suffering a really intense hallucination. From what? The strongest thing he’d eaten or drunk recently was a Diet Pepsi.

Or this could be real. He let his hoof drop back to the floor, wincing slightly at the solid clop. If he couldn’t tell the difference, then what did it matter? The possibility was terrifying and thrilling at the same time. Then Larry nearly jumped out of his skin when his tail was suddenly grabbed and yanked hard enough to hurt.

“Hey!” He spun around and found the satyr – the other satyr – staring intently back at him from less than a foot away.

“It’s a good reality check.” The satyr grinned, revealing yellowish, protruding teeth. They could belong to a goat, along with the breath that smelled like a mix of cut grass and onions. “If that tail wasn’t real, you wouldn’t have felt that, right? And if the tail is real, you can pretty well figure the rest is, too.”

Larry swallowed nervously. “How? I mean, this is all…”

“Not impossible, obviously.” The satyr reached up and grabbed Larry’s right horn. The tug was transmitted all the way down to his skull. “How about we just put it all off to magic? You’ll only be like this until the convention ends tonight. Do you really want to waste time in useless explanations?”

Good question. Theoretically, he’d be back to normal in five or six hours. Seizing on that thought, he let growing wonder wash away most of his fear. “Magic works for me.” Larry suddenly grinned in bewilderment. “This is fantastic! I mean, magic, for real. It’s the most amazing thing I every experienced in my life!”

“Good! That will make it all worth having to be normal later.”

Larry frowned. “But anyone who sees me out there will have to know! Everyone will freak!”

“Don’t count on it.” The satyr grinned. “I did a centaur two years ago, and a minotaur the year before that. They both won Best in Show, and nobody thought anything about it.”

“I remember the centaur! The one at WorldCon! But wasn’t that a two-man suit?”

The satyr waved his hand dismissively. “You want to talk history now? The clock’s ticking. You should enjoy this while you can.”

“Oh, right.” Larry looked down at himself again, then back at the door. “Uh, so I’m a real satyr? I mean, uh, everything works?” He flushed at the satyr’s knowing grin.

“Don’t be embarrassed. Why else would you choose a satyr? So, what do you want to do? Have wild sex with a dozen nubile young girls? Or maybe young boys?” The satyr chuckled at Larry’s shocked look. “Yeah, I know. Modern social taboos. Things were a lot more fun in the old days.”

Larry looked at him curiously. “How old are you?”

“Old enough to have seen Alexander the Great in person.”

“You gotta be kidding! That’s like, thousands of years!” Larry stared. “I’d have guessed early thirties.”

The satyr looked away a moment. “Yeah, well, I take care of myself.” Then he gestured towards the door. “Look, go out there and have fun. You can seduce anyone you choose, drink like a sailor, even run naked through the halls. Don’t worry about anything. Part of the magic makes people see what they can accept.”

Larry’s flush of embarrassment faded, replaced by curiosity. Grinning, he started for the door, then stopped and looked back. “Why me? I mean, I’m not rich or famous or anything. What do you get out of this?”

“Somebody rich and famous would attract too much attention, and you obviously had the desire I needed to work my magic.” The satyr smiled. “Anyway, granting dreams helps keep me young.” He suddenly changed back into the scruffy man. “Go on. You’ll be the hit of the show.”

Although there was still some nagging doubts that all of this was his imagination, Larry nodded and headed into the door. Crazy or not, he’d make the most of the next few hours. When it was over he’d either wake up in his hotel room or a padded cell.

As it turned out, he woke up in a small field. Larry sat up and stared blearily at the dim reddish glow of what must be sunrise. Where the Hell was he? There were no buildings visible, just woods and rolling hills. Nothing looked familiar. It took a moment for memories to return, and he looked down at himself. The shaggy brown goat’s legs were still there, as was the rather well-used equipment between them.

There was a glint off to the side, and he was able to make out a large trophy lying in the grass. Best in Show. Looked like the satyr was three for three. Damn! It had all been real! Last night was a blur of faces, though at least five or six rather stunning girls stood out. He’d certainly done his best to live up to the reputation that came with the form. Slamming down drinks all night, getting the buzz without getting sick or passing out, the center of attention for everyone around him. Too bad he had to give it all up.

Except it was morning, the convention was over, he was still a satyr. Had something gone wrong with the magic? What if he was stuck like this? After last night’s activities, the prospect didn’t seem so awful. Then he remembered the satyr’s ‘dissect the alien’ comment.’ Shit! What would happen to him? There was no way to hide this.

Standing up only confused him more. There were some craggy mountains beyond the trees that didn’t exist anywhere near the city. He could make out some medium-sized animals grazing not too far away, but there was no sign of people anywhere. That was weird. The view here was impressive and bewildering – miles of wilderness without roads, power lines, or buildings of any kind.

“Pretty nice, isn’t it?”

Larry gave a startled bleat and leapt away from the voice in his ear.

The scruffy man was standing a few feet away, grinning. “One of my favorite places. Quiet, no people, terrific grazing. You are definitely getting a better deal than the last two.”

“The last two?” Larry blinked, trying to make sense of the conversation. “The centaur and the minotaur?”

“Yep. The two guys in the centaur suit ended up as a warhorse in medieval England, and the minotaur spent the rest of his life as an ox in 13th-century Japan.” The guy gestured towards the distant animals. “Goats are a lot easier to place. This is a wild herd, hardly any predators and the first human won’t set foot in this area for another twenty years. You’ll be long dead by then.”

“Wait a minute!” Larry started to back away, only to trip over his own hooves and land on hands and knees. An attempt to stand back up was thwarted by spasms that shot through his legs and up his back. He gasped, though they were more startling than painful. “What’s happening?”

“Just what you agreed to. The convention is over and you’re becoming normal.”

Another spasm rippled down Larry’s right arm, and as he watched in shock, the four fingers of that hand merged into two digits that darkened into a cloven hoof. The process repeated a moment later with his left arm, and coarse fur appeared above and below his shoulders.

“No!” Fear tore through the heavy fog that was forming around his thoughts, letting in a momentary beam of clarity. “I thought you meant back to the way I was!” He shuddered as more ripples shot through his chest and seemed to push out through his neck and face.

“Sorry. One-way ticket, remember? The satyr form was just a halfway stop.” The man squatted in front of him and reached out to wipe sweat from Larry’s sinking forehead. Up close, he looked like he was actually closer to Larry’s human age. “There’s no need to be afraid. You’ll still be you. Just you as a goat instead of a human. Not like the last time. Merging two kids into a single horse brain was rough, and I think I had a new animal when I was done. Still, since there were two of them I was able to skip a year.”

“You.. you killed them?” The fog was closing in again, and it was a struggle to concentrate. Larry could feel his ears twitch as they lengthened and rose higher on his deflating skull. He didn’t want to die!

“No, not exactly. Besides, this is different.” The man stroked Larry’s brow again and smiled. The expression made him look more like a nice college kid. “You are strong and healthy. Barring accidents, you’ll have a good decade or more of good grazing and all the willing females you can handle.”

Ten years as an animal instead of another fifty as a human? Larry recoiled from the gentle touch and found himself stumbling backwards – on four legs. Twisting around, he saw that his body had nearly completed changing. From what? He shook his head. New sensations distracted his thoughts - the sound of distant bleating, awareness of hide, the scent of grass mixed with more enticing odors.

He fought to hold onto his memories, but they crumbled away like loose sand. There had been something about losing years, but now he couldn’t quite grasp what years were. Larry wanted to scream in rage and terror, yet as he looked back at the teenager in front of him, he found that neither emotion really existed any more. He managed to dredge one final thought from his mind, and bleated it out just as the capability of speech faded. “Why?”

The newly-formed goat’s eyes glazed over for a moment, then regarded the strange creature in front of it with simple curiosity. Its ears perked and it sniffed once, then bleated and scampered off. The boy smiled sadly as he watched the animal running back to its herd. “Like I told you. It keeps me young.”

The End