by Michael Bard
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Based upon requests of various interested persons, I've started a diary of my experiences after the EVENT. Hopefully they will help other centaurs with problems. And, of course, any others who have other problems that need solutions or have alternate suggestions should feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
And, since I at least try to write, I've tried to keep true to my experiences, and make it at least a little enjoyable to read.
Oh, and (of course) names and places of others have been changed to protect the innocent and all that.
#1 -- "i'm late, i'm late"
Jan 24, 7:00am
Beep... beep... beep...
Groan... clomp... clomp... clomp.
Clomp... clomp... ...clomp.
I was suddenly awake as adrenaline entered my veins.
Rubbing my eyes, I looked down to see what I'd stepped on. Down my chest and down my furry legs to my hoofed feet.
Now I was really awake and flicked my tail in panic.
I spun around a full 180 degrees with my waist and head, and looked back across my second back and at my hind legs and my tail.
My tail which waved back and forth laughing.
Behind my laughing appendage, which I could easily feel moving back and forth, there was a big emptiness surrounded by the frame of my bed.
Aha! A dream! Finally a second lucid dream to have fun in. Well, just to make sure first, I reached behind and pinched the base of my tail.
At least I didn't pinch too hard.
Thus, this wasn't a dream. The last time I'd known I was dreaming, the pinch hadn't hurt -- so in my case anyway there was truth to that little bit of wisdom.
But if it wasn't a dream..?
A more urgent need suddenly took over my consciousness. I needed to get to the bathroom, normally an easy task. Twisting back around, I looked ahead at the narrow 120 degree corner I would have to negotiate to get to the washroom. I took a step and then paused.
At least I knew how to walk, which was convenient, but that wasn't why I'd paused. The washroom in my apartment is about six feet wide and 12 feet long which could be managed. Unfortunately the toilet was along the long wall just beside the door -- there was no way I could use it.
And then more panic struck -- if I knew how.
Taking advantage of the amazing flexibility of my waist, I leaned down and looked between my legs. Yup, there it was, pointing forwards. Or at least its sheath, although I could see and feel it poking out in its need to relieve itself.
The toilet wasn't going to work.
And I really had to go.
Then I remembered a contingency plan I'd used when a kidney stone had blocked the exit of my, well my old one. It was a bit messy, but I was rapidly running out of time to choose.
Carefully I stepped forward to the entrance to my bedroom. Ow! Unfortunately I forgot the lintel above the doorway. With my new height I shoved my head forward straight into it. I stopped for a moment, distracted from my need and ducked, rubbing my forehead. But quickly the pain subsided and my need reasserted itself. A closet was ahead, the bathroom was to the left and the living room was to the right. And, of course, the wall of the bedroom was also to the right.
My tail started bumping against the dresser. There was no way I was going to make the left turn.
And boy, did I have to go.
I took a step forward and squeezed to the right. It was still tight, and I scraped my left hindquarters against the bookshelf, and had to push the living room chair forward a bit, but I was able to squeeze out into the living room.
Step one done.
I clomped out further into the living room until I had room, and then manoeuvred my body completely around. It was tight -- there was just enough room between the entertainment centre, couch and chair to manage. The chair would have to go but not now.
I really, really had to go.
I slowly rotated my entire bulk around and clomped back through the narrow hallway, and shoved my head straight into the lintel about the entrance into the narrow hallway. Damn it all! Breathing deeply, I stepped back and ducked and then made my way through the hallway and squeezed through the door into the washroom, clicking the light switch that was outside the washroom to on.
By the way, does anybody know why somebody would put the light switch to the washroom on the wall outside of the washroom? I've always wondered. Now back to our story.
I stepped carefully across the tiled floor and then stopped before the bathtub. Of course it was oriented lengthwise along the far wall, so it would be really tight, but I was running out of time. Being careful to duck my head (there was yet another lintel separating the short bathtub from the rest of the washroom), I carefully lifted one foreleg and stepped over the side, and then the other. Then, with my fore hooves sliding a bit on the slick surface, I took small steps forward until my upper chest was against the opposite wall. That was as far as I could go. I fumbled around and turned on the water a little -- hot first and then cold. I could hear it dribbling out.
Normally I would test it, but I couldn't wait any longer.
I reached up and felt around until I grasped the showerhead, and then moved it so that it pointed towards the wall and sharply downwards. Turning my head a bit so that I could see at least a bit of what I was doing, I pushed the knob that transferred the water from the nozzle to the showerhead.
The water was cold! At least the lower angle kept most of it from my body.
And I had to go!
I reached up and twisted the shower nozzle upward a bit until the cold water was streaming between my fore and hind legs.
And then I went. Ahhhhhhhh.
I could feel some water from the shower splashing onto my forelegs and pattering on the bottom of my lower chest.
By the time the stream stopped, the shower water had gone from warm to hot. Holding the towel rod for balance I backed out step by step. Left hind leg first, then right hind leg, then left foreleg up and over the lip, and then right foreleg up and over. And all this as I leaned my upper body down to keep my balancing grip on the towel rod.
Which meant that the now near-scalding shower hit my upper back.
I yelped and jerked upward, fortunately my lower body was far enough back that I missed the lintel, back to what I would guess was my neutral position. Then I grabbed a towel from the rack and stepped backward until my hind quarters were out of the washroom, and then towelled the bottom of my lower chest, my forelegs, and my upper chest dry. The shower was still running in the background. And, even though most of me was barely damp, that little bit was enough for the towel.
Then I looked over to see how successful my attempt had been. It wasn't too bad -- I wiped up the little bit that hadn't made it into the bathtub and then, holding the towel over the tub in one hand so it wouldn't drip on the floor, twisted to the right and leaned down and reduced the hot water flow until the shower could be survived by mortals. Then I twisted back to facing forward, wiped some water off the far wall, and held the towel in the flowing water for a few minutes to rinse it out.
First task achieved. It wasn't sanitary, but it was better then any of the other options.
I turned off the shower and put the wet towel on the towel rack -- another silly construction engineer had placed it over the tub along the far wall (although it had finally come in useful) to dry. Then I grabbed the second towel (it was hanging to dry from swimming last night) and wiped off the last of the water, remembering to be careful as I leaned backward to my neutral position so as not to bang my head.
I finished off the rest of my morning tasks while I was still in the washroom. At least my chin wasn't any hairier and I didn't have a mane. I debated using underarm deodorant on my other limbs and tail, but after a second decided not to. After returning everything to their places, I carefully backed out and into the living room where I had some room to manoeuvre -- at least I wasn't the size of a draft horse! And I felt much better then yesterday -- I'd thought I'd caught some kind of flu or something about 2:00pm Tuesday afternoon.
What had happened?
I rotated myself around, and turned on the lamp and took a first look at myself. It seemed that my upper body was about the same, although without the fat I had been unable to lose it was shorter and squatter. I looked and could see that my upper chest was not moving. Placing my palm where my heart used to be I could feel nothing. Guess there's nothing up here. I leaned over and looked down.
My pale naked flesh blended smoothly into fuzzy and scraggly looking cream fur that flowed down my legs, changing to black tips just before my cream-coloured hooves. I could see a few strands of hair growing from my fetlocks. Moving my upper torso back up and then twisting it and my neck around, I looked over my back. My lower chest was narrow, and I could see ribs sticking out the sides as I saw my chest move in and out with my breathing. I guess my lungs and other stuff were down there. My hair was the same cream colour as on my legs, but with a ragged black line along my lower spine that blossomed into the thick black hair of my tail. My hind legs were coloured similarly to my forelegs, and had their own black points.
Ok, so I was a centaur. How and why?
How? I didn't have a clue. Why? I didn't have a clue about that either. I couldn't see this coming from any kind of disease in just one night, and no other likely explanations occurred to me. Maybe somebody else knew something. I rotated myself around and turned on the radio, and since I wasn't sure where an all-news station was I just let the classical music play -- they were in the middle of Finlandia. For once I regretted not having cable so I couldn't check any of the news channels. With the music in the background I clomped over to my computer and turned it on, reaching for my watch and strapping it to my wrist. What the hell was I going to do?
And then I saw the time.
I was late. Could I call in sick? No, I'd left early yesterday after guaranteeing that I would be in on time today. The budget had to be done at all costs. Shit, shit, shit! I had to go. That's it -- go and work.
Twisting at my waist, I started fumbling through the pile of programming books looking for the mapbook I kept handy, while the computer went through its five minute bootup (oh, the joys of Windows and firewalls!). I couldn't take the TTC as usual due to size limitations (maybe I could use the disabled service later -- nah). I didn't want to go down main streets, since I could see Toronto drivers running me over first, and noticing what I was second. There were no parks or paths that could easily be used. That meant side streets. So if I went down Cheritan and then Duplex, across Lawrence and down to Old Yonge and then across... It could be done -- it'd be messy though.
I twisted back and typed in my password. Then I put the mapbook down, rotated, and went back towards my bedroom to get dressed.
And then stopped.
What would I wear? I twisted my waist and neck, and looked over my lower back. Most of me was fine, it was just the top half. I grabbed my coat and checked its length against my upper chest, which proved to be noticeably shorter than it had been. A shirt and tie wouldn't work. Shit. What then? Aha -- a sweater. A good sweater would cover up the embarrassing parts. It wasn't really acceptable at work, but I was running out of time and choices.
Quickly, remembering to duck, I squeezed back into my bedroom -- I would have to move that bookcase but I had no idea where I'd put it -- and made it to the hole where the mattress on my bed used to be. Maybe the change had to steal mass from that? Would it be enough though? Who knew? I ripped open the closet and grabbed a good sweater and shrugged it on.
Then I realized that my glasses hadn't gotten caught. And that meant that they weren't on.
I rotated my waist and found them on the dresser and put them on -- and everything became clearer. My eyesight isn't that bad, only bad for seeing clear details at a distance.
Then, carefully stepping over the frame of my bed, I gradually rotated myself around and squeezed myself back into my living room (not remembering to duck until it was just a little too late and getting another light tap as a future reminder) and made my way over to the computer. As the high-speed connection was ready I started Outlook and then stared as messages started downloading. Hundreds of messages.
Then I noticed that they were all going into the TSA-list in-box.
Somebody else must have changed.
I was so out of my mind I almost laughed.
Then the download was done so I typed up my e-mail to work.
I'm running a bit late today -- and for a reason. You won't believe it until you see it so I'll show it to you when I arrive. Anyway it's about 8:30 now, so I should be there between 9:30 and 10:00 depending on traffic and other events.
I signed and sent it. Then I went to the TSA-list box and opened
the first new message. Somebody had turned into a lizard? How universal was the change
then? How stable was it? How..?
The heck with it. I was late and had to get going, so I selected all the new messages and forwarded them to work -- I'd check them there while I was waiting for the conversion programs I'd written to crunch numbers. Turning the monitor off (shutting down the system would take too long), I backed up and rotated around, and grabbed my coat from the coat rack. Fortunately, the buttons were placed such that I could button it snugly and let the rest hang loose around my waist.
And then I suddenly had trouble breathing.
What? I had just put my coat on and...
I unbuttoned and took my coat off, and could breathe easily again. Why? I remembered how I'd built a centaur for fiction, and felt around my neck. Yep. Breathing slits. I could feel my breath moving in and out through them. They were behind my ears and tight against the back of my head, although somehow I knew I could stretch them slightly. Still, I had to get going, so I put my coat back on but this time left the collar loose. This was going to be cold!
If I was going to be transformed, why couldn't it happen in the summer?
Oh well. I grabbed my hat and shoulder bag, put my mapbook, wallet and keys in the bag, pulled open the door, turned off the light at a separate switch, ducked and squeezed myself out into the hallway, and pulled the door shut behind me.
Ah, shit. I fumbled around in the shoulder bag for the keys, rotated around (at least the hallway was wide enough) and locked the door, and then tossed the keys back in the bag. Then I rotated myself back around to the door to the staircase that was almost opposite the door to my apartment.
Oh God, a narrow staircase. Well, I was only on the second floor, although I went down to the basement to get out, and I wasn't going to trust the elevator. Pushing the door open and ducking, I walked into the stairwell and started going down the stairs.
And it wasn't too bad. I started going slowly, and although I almost lost it when the door slammed into my rear, I managed to keep my balance. I had to go slowly and carefully, but I could manage the weight and four legs kept me stable.
Or at least it was easy until I came to the switchback at the bottom of the first flight. Gripping the railing, I slowly walked across the landing and to the right. It was just wide enough that I could fit on to it, although I had to squeeze my side painfully against the railing as I rotated around.
And then down the next flight. And to a landing to the first floor. And down a flight. And to a landing. And down a flight.
Almost ten minutes later I reached the door, which was 90 degrees off from the stairs. Ah hell. More careful rotating, scraping, squeezing, and I was finally at the bottom of the stairs and opening the door.
Which faced a short and narrow walkway that rotated 90 degrees again to finally reach the driveway.
Another bang on the head before I remembered to duck, and then another two minutes of squeezing and scraping (this time against bricks) and then I could finally make my way onto the driveway.
Then I remembered -- Cheritan was south of the building, which meant that I was on the wrong side. Normally this was not a problem as the subway was north, but now... I remembered the wonderful narrow hallway and multiple doors I'd have had to have gone through to reach the south entrance.
Maybe this choice wasn't so bad after all.
But now I had to go. Into the world where people would see me.
But... Ah hell, it was probably better to just jump right in.
I turned and cantered up the driveway, and spun right to proceed south along Yonge. The two pedestrians that were on the sidewalk stopped and stared, and I heard the squealing of brakes of at least one car. But then I reached Cheritan, and turned west and left the crowds behind.
As I proceeded up Cheritan, I found that the clatter and rattle of my hooves on pavement, intermixed with the occasional crunch as I crushed bits of snow along with the inhale and exhale of breath to match the stretching of my leg muscles, was relaxing and actually invigorating. The breath from my breathing vents was hot on my cheeks, and I could feel the chill air passing down through my upper torso and into my lungs before being squeezed back out.
Of course, blowing hot moist air onto my glasses quickly caused them to fog. I stopped, took them off, folded them, and put them in a pocket of my coat.
If only it wasn't so damn cold! It figured I would be transformed during a panic work day in winter, rather than during a weekend in the summer.
I started trotting and continued until I reached Duplex. Unfortunately, Duplex runs parallel to Yonge, and is used by way too many people as a way to skip the traffic on Yonge. Fortunately, since I was so late, rush hour was pretty well over so it wasn't too busy.
Still, as I turned north I accelerated into a gallop and started making my way down the hill to Lawrence. I only saw one car, which was heading south, and I heard it squeal to a stop as I passed it.
Yup. The cell phones were certainly ringing now. I'd have to hurry if I wanted to stay ahead of the crowds so that I could get to work.
And then, just ahead of me at Lawrence, the light turned yellow. Ah, shit! I clattered to a stop and waited, the warm mist from my breathing slits and mouth clouding the air around my head. Traffic on Lawrence didn't seem to notice, although I saw a couple people staring from the #52 bus as it went by.
And then the light changed and I was off.
The trip north to Old Yonge was quiet, and I caught the light while crossing over York Mills. As I wasn't as familiar with the backstreets north of that, I stopped and reached into my shoulder bag and pulled out my mapbook. A quick consultation and I continued on. Luckily I noticed a patch of broken glass, and circled around it instead of trotting right through it. At Sheppard I had to wait for the light, and this time somebody who apparently had time on their hands noticed me and turned to follow me as I proceeded north. Even as I started taking side streets westward to reach Allen, he turned and followed and I could see him talking on a cell phone.
I quickened my pace into a gallop and started to gasp for breath, but that didn't help as he was easily keeping abreast of me. How to get rid of him? If I could just last until Finch, I could cut through the park around the reservoir.
I slowed down to a fast canter to catch my breath. At least I could see well enough to get around without my glasses.
Finally I reached Finch. I turned west and proceeded along the sidewalk a ways, ignoring the honking and brake squealing of cars, and made my way to the crosswalk across from the reservoir. As I traveled I twisted around to check on my tail (the car that was following me, not my tail), I saw that he was still with me -- he must have somehow inserted himself into the traffic on Finch. Well, soon he wouldn't be able to follow.
By the time I reached the crosswalk, traffic on Finch was at a standstill in both directions. And the stopped traffic blocked the crosswalk. Just my luck. Ahead of me I heard a loud bang, and looked up to see a collision and a damaged car being pushed towards me.
Enough of this. I turned and galloped further along Finch towards Dufferin. Nobody would block that intersection, unless they had a deathwish. Still, at least the traffic jam had trapped the car that was following me. Finally I reached Dufferin -- and chaos.
I guess that somebody behind me had guessed which way I was headed. Not only had a few gawkers snarled traffic, but I could hear a siren in the distance and maybe a helicopter approaching. Ah shit.
After stopping and checking -- I'm not suicidal -- I made my way across Finch and then across Dufferin. Then I made my way onto the sidewalk, and at a brisk gallop it wasn't long until I reached my turn north. Westbound Finch was nearly empty, probably due to the traffic snarl at Dufferin. Smiling to myself as I turned north, I almost pitied those trapped, but I had to get to work. It wasn't much further.
Of course the non-main streets here in the distant north where the car ruled as king didn't have sidewalks, so I had to stay on the road. And as this was a heavy truck traffic area, I thought that speed was the better part of valour -- in any kind of disagreement a truck would definitely win. Finally, if the helicopter was seeking me, the sooner I got to work, the sooner I would be where it couldn't see me. I'd already caused enough trouble, and wanted more time to figure out what the blank was going on.
The final leg was quick. It used to take about half an hour when I had just two feet, but now I did it in about five minutes. By the end I was breathing hard, but not gasping, and had seen only large trucks which I carefully avoided but otherwise ignored. I'd already been seen, and they couldn't manoeuvre fast enough to keep up with me.
And then, finally, I arrived. At the door I clattered to a stop and then calmly walked to the entrance, checking my watch -- nine forty-five. Hmm. I must have been averaging about 20 miles an hour. Finally remembering to duck, I opened the door and passed the secretary on the phone. She just stopped and stared.
I turned and smiled at her as I walked by. "If anybody asks, you didn't see anything."
She was just silent.
A few more steps, and then I stopped and cursed to myself. More stairs. At least these stairs, although curved, were wide, and with all my practice they weren't that difficult. Once upstairs the carpet in the hallways kept my hooves from making too much noise and I said a good morning to the people I knew and listened to their off-hand responses.
Somehow I'd always known that most people just responded out of habit, rather than actually paying attention.
Only one, the payroll chief, stopped her greeting half way through. At least someone had noticed. Still walking, I responded to her silence, "I don't know either. Sorry." She just stared.
Finally I reached my office. I felt around in my bag and pulled out the keys and went in, and started the computer and then searched and pulled out and put on my glasses. Whilst waiting I hung up my coat, moved my chair, and pushed my desk back a bit so that I could lay on the floor comfortably. At least I guessed it was laying. Then, twisting my waist 90 degrees so I faced the computer, I logged onto the database server and started the PKZIP batch file, piping the output into a text log. That went by quickly. I checked the text log for warnings and found none -- thank God, nobody had logged onto the database server yet.
"Mr. Bard, I..."
It was my manager. She wasn't angry as she always called me that. But then she usually didn't stop in the middle of a sentence. I twisted my waist to look at her and then stood up and slowly backed out.
She just stared.
"You must admit, this is a good excuse for tardiness. And I might have been in earlier, but I had to hoof it."
What can I say, I couldn't resist.
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