by Scott Teel

  It was a typical January day. Typical in that my sinuses were killing me, like it does for a lot of people in the South from October through April. Mine was particularly nasty, usually giving me bloody sinus infections from November to March. As always, the infection had lowered my immune system enough to let a cold hit me... hard. When I get sick in the winter, they hit as bad as getting a cold in summer.
  The only bright cloud I could see when I shuffled out of bed was I could call in sick. If you can't talk on a phone for doing tech support, you stay home. Snorting out contagious junk only sweetened the deal on the likelihood of not working.
  At least we had finished moving in that weekend. This would have made it a serious bitch to deal with.
  I looked at my pale human face in the bathroom mirror as I answered the call of nature. My grey eyes had dark circles under them, two days' stubble covered my face, and my shoulder-length brown hair stuck out everywhere.
  "Aww... I'm sooo kyoote! Heeheee cough! heh!"
  Weaving through the piles of boxes in the living room, I nodded to our houseguest, Jason, as I stumbled into the kitchen area. I could see his curly Mediterranean black hair over the bar as he tracked my progress. Grumbling, I opened the fridge and grabbed the zinc-fortified orange juice I bought last night. I gave a bleary look at the clock on the microwave... 11: 23 AM? Time was running out to call in.
  Wincing in pain, I took the carton with me to the living room and sat on the daybed.
  Thank Khai Moonstone had bought that widescreen TV, otherwise it would be a little hard to see it over the boxes waiting to be unloaded.
  Jason, aka 'Prince Sinuk', the Egyptian jackal-demigod, or simply 'Nookie' on Furcadia, had one of Moon's cats on his wide belly as he watched Dexter's Lab. He gave a wry smile as he asked, "Rough night, Hoss?"
  I rubbed crusty gunk from my eyes as I croaked, "Yeah."
  'Nookie adjusted his glasses. "Charles and Kara were hoping you were going to be OK. You were coughing all night."
  "sniiiif You guys heard me? I'll be OK, jus' need to call in to work."
  He looked up from scritching June as she purred on his lap. "That bad? You don't have to be there now, do you?"
  I popped some echinacea pills and washed them down with juice. "Nah, supposed to be in at six. My voice is so muffled, I'm going to be impossible to understand on a phone. snifff"
  I rooted around for several minutes for the portable phone, gave up and hit the 'page' button on the phone base. After tracking the beeping to the bar, I picked up the phone and dug the sickline number from my wallet. I stopped dialing as my weary brain realized that in my condition, it's going to take about 10 minutes to get across who I was.
  With a grin, I looked over at Jason "Oh, Mighty Prince Sinuk, sniff may I have thy able cough assistance?"
  After I talked him into calling for me, he relayed what I was saying to work and got the call done in less than a minute.
  "Thanks 'Nookie, I'm glad you helped us move in... that call would have taken forever if you weren't here."
  He smiled around his goatee. "No problem, glad to help."
  With nothing better to do than to wait the virus out, I made some chicken-mushroom ramen and green tea, kicked back and watched Cartoon Network. I vegged out for an hour, untill Jason nuked a small pizza in the microwave.
  As he sat and ate, we discussed how his Chaos army was coming along for the Warhammer 40K wargame. He asked how I was coming along with my Ork army list. "So-so... Between moving and being sick, my mind has been too fuzzed to work on it."
  He nodded. "I understand that."
  When I looked back at the clock on the microwave, It was getting close to 1 PM. Grumbling, I wiped my glasses on my shirtsleeve as I considered if I was feeling up to a trip to the bank, then a stop for zinc lozenges on the way back. The thought of going anywhere in icy rain, in a car without a heater, gave me chills thinking about it.
  I shelved the idea for a while when the theme of Tom & Jerry began to play.
  It was now 1pm Central.
  Suddenly, a wave of dizziness swept over me.
  After a few moments of confusion, I realised I had flopped over on my side on the daybed. Strange, I've never had side effects to sinus meds this bad before. It was about then that the itching started...
  My tongue was strangely thick in my mouth as I yelled, "Nookie! Help!"
  He looked over, then gasped, "Hoss!?"
  Shooting pains in my hands and feet made me look down at myself. What skin was showing was darkening rapidly to a charcoal shade. Stroking my arms felt strange, like my hair was getting thicker. My thumbs and pinkies seemed to be getting smaller and harder to move.
  I looked up at Jason. "Jackal? Tell me you see this too?"
  He nodded, awestruck. "What... what's going on..!?"
  My heart was hammering as I felt tears start to flow. I grinned, even as my jaws began to ache. "I -- I think I'm changing!"
  Thinking quickly, I remembered I was out of film for my 3-D camera. "Damn! Nook! Do the wolves have a loaded camera?"
  "I -- I think so... I'll look."
  He ran past me and up the stairs. I heard clattering in the loft room set aside for our art projects. "Found one! It's Kara's digital camera!"
  "Bring it here! We need pictures of this as proof of who I was."
  I stripped as he ran down the stairs. Clothing was rapidly getting uncomfortable. I also wanted a record of everything that was changing. There was also a nagging thought in the back of my mind that if I didn't stop at morph level, clothing would be very painful to rip out of.
  I stood as best as I could on my aching feet, letting him get shots of my body from front and back... even getting a close up of the stub forming on my rump. As if waiting for the photos, my face suddenly felt like it was splitting open as it stretched forward about an inch.
  Over the next half hour, we tracked the change spreading evenly across my frame. My toes were absorbed except the middle ones, which swelled out and were covererd in shiny black hoof as my feet stretched into hocks. The hands had kept three fingers each, with my index fingers reshaping into opposable thumbs. Nookie looked a bit queasy each time my face and neck changed a bit more.
  I had grinned at him "You think it's bad, you should try it from my end." We both laughed. He finally stopped looking sick when my face became more recognizably equine.
  Looking back at it often, I rubbed the tail forming on my backside as it grew to a foot in length before tailhair grew. My body fat was dwindling as well, apparently fueling my developing muscles. I was becoming fit for the first time in ten years.
  One of the more interesting changes we covered was my shifting genitals. Even with the mild pain I was in, I found the change arousing enough for an erection, especially with the sensations from my growing tail. This made identifying just when I gained a sheath hard to tell from the pictures. The skin crept up around the base of my shaft, apparently forming a sheath, with a web of skin below that stretching up to my lower abdomen. I grinned as my darkening shaft stretched over that half hour, with the glans flaring out like a mushroom. My scrotum was larger, but not freakishly so.
  We waited for about five minutes when I stopped hurting, then realised I had stopped changing. I wobbled on my hooves, then walked unsteadily to my bathroom, with Jason supporting me. My shaft resheathed itself as I had seen horses do when walking.
  I had him take one last picture, as I stared entranced at my image in the mirror. I was reaching out to touch one finger to my reflection, grinning with tears of joy streaking my reddish brown cheekfur. People later said this photo, even with everything below the waist cropped, was the most memorable image from the news magazines covering the mass transformation.
  Smiling, I stroked the velvety end of my seven inch muzzle and looked at Jason. "Just think, Nook. You and the wolves may be next."
  He gulped, then snickered. "I think I'll pass for now. I still want my parents to let me in when I come home, thank you."
  I suddenly realised Jason hadn't changed when he should have. Was this like the FurstChange story universe I and JeniFur were writing, where the Goddess was changing furs according to her own schedule? Or was I the only one who changed?
  I had to find out.
  Even if I was the only one, at least I got rid of that damn cold...
  I clopped to my bed, getting used to the odd sway in my hips from walking digitigrade. I'd habitually walked digitigrade as a human, but with my legs rebuilt for it, the sway was more pronounced. As I looked around for clothes, I noted I was at least a head taller than 'Nookie.
  Looking through the clean clothes awaiting being sorted at the foot of my bed, I decided the pants best suited for my tail were what I had been wearing when I changed.
  "Nookie? Could you get my sweatpants for me?"
  "Yeah, just a second." As I looked for one of my horse t-shirts, I had a sudden feeling of outrage from deep in my mind that I ever let budget dictate the color scheme of my wardrobe. Well, I did admit that I hated every shirt I had that wasn't a t-shirt, the former being all second hand. A thought floated up that we/I did manage to save up enough to do some shopping, even after just moving in. I gasped in suprise as I realised those were thoughts that I usually had when I slip into Shanna mode online. I had been thinking a lot of that side of myself lately, apparently just not enough to have switched gender when... whatever... happened.
  There was a cautious knock at my doorway. "Hoss? You ok? You look a little dazed."
  When I nodded, Jason came in and tossed the navy blue sweatpants to me. I managed to slip it up over my tail and cinch it tight, trusting it to hold until I could cut a tail slot.
  After I pulled on a black horse print t-shirt, I noticed a couple of black, fuzzy, cat heads peeking around the doorframe. June and Blue were looking at me with a mix of curiosity and awe. Carefully sitting on the queen size mattress I used for a bed, I tapped finger, er, hooftips to the carpet in my usual manner, and softly called them. "June-june, Blue! Kitty, kitty, kitty --"
  'Nookie' held still, and smiled as the cats cautiously padded over to me. I could smell the spicey smell of confusion coming off of them as they clearly recognized parts of my scent.
  After a minute, June and Blue settled into my lap where I happily indulged them for a minute. I whickered in amusement when Blue nipped experimentally at my broad, hooflike thumbnail and the flexible pad of my thumb. "O.K. that's enough you two, I need to find out if the Great Morph has started." 'Nookie' did his jackal sound for "what?" as I gently shooed the cats out of my lap. "Yes, that Great Morph! You may yet end up staying with us a while if it is."
  What I was referring to was the single greatest 'What If?' of furrydom. 'What if every furry transformed into their ideal form?', or the variant 'What if a large portion of humanity morphed for some reason?' Many furs had written about it, myself included. My current work being done in cooperation with Jennifur Alyx Charne of Australia.
  Quickly, I rooted through a box for the phone cord to my computer, finding it faster than expected. "Now for step two..." We had just gotten the phones connected. Unfortunately, AT&T had not told us what our number was, so I dialed information to get our number. I was supposed to ask my roomies' permission before connecting my comp online, but this was an emergency.
  As I went back to my room, Nookie asked, "Any problem with me calling Charles and Kara at work? We ought to find out if they've changed, or at least let them know what's happened."
  I nodded "Yeah., I've been thinking of that, too. Go ahead while I get my hookup configured."
  Snorting, I scooted the old theater seat I used for my computer chair out of the way, and crawled under my desk to hook up the phone line.
  With that done, I put the seat back and powered up the computer. My considerations for configuring the internet suddenly shifted to a more experienced point of view, as if I had indeed spent several years in Albedo dealing with the Net. This made me wonder more about just how far the change had gone.
  In the FurstChange story I was writing, after I had transformed, information from the perspective of the Albedo series would pull up as needed, as if I had succeeded in my astral projection/TF experiments several years ago and spent that time there. I certainly hoped it would hold as true here in real life as in the story.
  Carefully slipping into the seat, I started configuration. As primitive as the program seemed to my new expertise, there are only so many ways to connect, and I got it done in record time (well, a record for me, anyway...).
  Finished, I went to check if 'Nookie' was done calling the wolves. I found him sitting on the daybed staring at the TV, finally looking up at me, saying "I hope they don't shoot at the poor bastard, he just might 'shoot' back..."
  On CNN was live coverage of a macro skunk 'taur, about 20 feet high, foot-racing a bus on a highway, with a grin of pure joy on his muzzle. Jason pointed to the TV. "I just got done with the call. I left a message on their voice mail to call us. Then I decided to see if anyone else changed..." I nodded and checked if the VCR was set up.
  With a quick job of plugging in, it was ready to go. I popped in a tape and set it to record as teasers of other events flashed on. Several dragons here and there, a lizard morph (komodo dragon?) holding a live interview, a werewolf reported at a college in Alaska, etc.
  I trotted back to my computer and logged in. I wanted this quick, in case the wolves called back. I fired up ICQ and Mirc, seeing what anyone had to say. I ICQed everyone in my list, asking if everyone changed, and on Yiffnet, there was some squabble about 'twink pranksters' which was dying down as several furs put up addys, pointing to digital photos proving they had changed.
  While my system was logging all this, I opened my 'netscrape' and jumped to the TSA help page to unpause my mail. I was still a part of the list, I had just paused delivery for the move.
  On the other hoof, I wasn't sure if I would get the posts that had gone out during the pause, or if it only delivered from when I restarted it.
  Jumping to, I logged into my furlit address first. The box was almost full, 10% from the last hour alone! I quickly deleted the previous month's mail, gaining 20%, planning on grabbing it back from the archives later. Half of the new posts were CCs from TSA-Talk, with titles like "Praise Bast!" and "NON-RP! I AM A DRAGON!" Some of those non-CC had similar titles. (Later found to be TSA lurkers or listees who check Furlit first).
  All this time, my ICQ was yelping insistantly. Most replies were "Not yet, sorry!" or "What?!", But one caught my attention; Jennifur was awake? She hadn't replied and was set 'away'.
  Suddenly, mIRC chimed. Clicking to Yiffnet, I saw a window from Jennifur. I popped it open and started typing...

Session Start: Tue Jan 23 14:39:57 2001
Session Ident: Boss_Hoss (
<JeniSkunk> Hi BH *HUGS*
<JeniSkunk> You heard the latest news?
<JeniSkunk> Folx on TSA have been transforming into their furry forms IRL!!
<Boss_Hoss> *HOSSHUGS* I just changed, myself... Is it limited to TSA so far, or is it spreading? Has the Goddess come calling?
<JeniSkunk> *blinx*
<JeniSkunk> What'd you change into???
<Boss_Hoss> I'm a stallion morph.
<JeniSkunk> No idea if it's the Goddess, or if it *IS* limited. All I have is the e-mailstorm on TSA. I'm not BOTHERING to read it any more, just d/l it and mark it read
<JeniSkunk> I'm not on Furry-Lit ATM. Got kicked from it for a mail-bounce on my ISP, and I haven't been on the YiffNet ML since the flammage over VulpyneMage being banned from #yiff in early '99.
<JeniSkunk> CNN has a special feature page on it already, but their server is lagged to Hell and back
<JeniSkunk> The only local fur on TSA is Grellden, from down on the GoldCoast but he isn't on YiffNet or ICQ atm
<JeniSkunk> *SHIT !!!* TRuppell's just resurfaced on #furry after more than 12 months and SHE'S claiming she's TF'd into a vixen RL!
<Boss_Hoss> ?!? ...Yffnet's got a mailing list?
<JeniSkunk> Yeah
<JeniSkunk> Has had one for YEARS
<JeniSkunk> I heard about it back when I first visited their website in early '98
    * JeniSkunk watches TSA d/l more stuff
<Boss_Hoss> I only have a few minutes onn, expecting a call from roomies at work
<JeniSkunk> ok. no word on any of the furs your local TF?

  With shaking hooves, I closed out Furlit and jumped to my TSA address.
  106% FULL!?! I had paused at 83% full! For a moment, I thought this was mail saved during my pause. Then I saw the date on the posts...

<Boss_Hoss> Sorry tyopos, hooftips still new
<Boss_Hoss> not yet.. *MEEPS as sees how much TSA mail there is*
<Boss_Hoss> Khai's Teeth!
<JeniSkunk> I've turned into my winged skunkmorph form
<JeniSkunk> still m2f ts, though :(

  It took me a moment to catch that one. Jennifur still not a biological female? Just what the hell was going on?

<JeniSkunk> Yeah TSA is an e-mailstorm today
<JeniSkunk> OzFurry is silent, though
<Boss_Hoss> hopefully this is the beginning...
<JeniSkunk> *nods* Yeah!
<JeniSkunk> but if it IS, why does it only SEEM to be TSAers
<JeniSkunk> All the list traffic on the other ML's I'm on, the only ones I see talking about it happened to are TSAers
    * Boss_Hoss cleans out room in mailbox
<JeniSkunk> I just hope it pisses down today
<JeniSkunk> I don't wanna HAVE to go out unless I need to
<Boss_Hoss> Looks like I'll have to go to Nexxus' place. I dont think my connection can handle all this traffic
<JeniSkunk> 26 %
<JeniSkunk> merf
<JeniSkunk> How's your e-maul prog set up?
<JeniSkunk> auto d/l?
<JeniSkunk> I've had to tell Pegasus to auto d/l only

  I sighed... I wished Nexxus and his tech friend had set that up for me. The only way I had to permanently save mail was to copy and paste to notepad , and I didn't have time to try configuring...

<Boss_Hoss> dont have outlook express set up for it, and no time to figure it out. will have Nex explain it
<JeniSkunk> ok
    * Boss_Hoss just sent quick post to TSA...
<JeniSkunk> adding to the storm
<JeniSkunk> *shakes her head
<JeniSkunk> I'm staying out of this one
<Boss_Hoss> *nods*
<JeniSkunk> I saw CFS go ballistic back in September when someone hacked their system
<Boss_Hoss> cfs?
<JeniSkunk> 3 spam posts by the hackers, 5 hours later; the 700+ members had flooded the mailnetwork
<JeniSkunk> Completely Free Software
<JeniSkunk> A freeware e-mail newsletter
<Boss_Hoss> ah
<JeniSkunk> piles of me-toos and unsubs
<JeniSkunk> Haven't yet seen the unsubs on TSA though...

  My ears cocked in a thoughtful pose. I could see her point, though I doubted unsubs would be a problem...

<Boss_Hoss> hmm, will look later
    * JeniSkunk tries to get comfortable sitting in the kitchen chair RL
<JeniSkunk> :((

  I started wondering. If TSA was the first hit, did that mean furs like Posti or Jon... and that local equine I wrote recently...?

<Boss_Hoss> !!! YIFF! if furst victims are TSA, some are full zoomorphic...
<JeniSkunk> hell....
<JeniSkunk> codypony!
<Boss_Hoss> and Hes MY locality, Will check from Nexxus'
<JeniSkunk> ok
<JeniSkunk> I can't check on Grellden
<Boss_Hoss> Also waiting for word from roomies. if theyt've changed, its not just TSA
<JeniSkunk> I don't have his phone number
<JeniSkunk> he's a bloody 'phin
<Boss_Hoss> @_@
<JeniSkunk> *nods*
<JeniSkunk> where he lives, it's 30min by CAR form the beach
    * Boss_Hoss apologises. am tying up phone line and must go offline...
<JeniSkunk> Where's JetFire at?
<Boss_Hoss> Canada
<JeniSkunk> ok
<JeniSkunk> *HUGS*
<JeniSkunk> what's the phone number there?
    * Boss_Hoss grabs number... (***)***-****
<JeniSkunk> ok
<JeniSkunk> I'll phone you later
<Boss_Hoss> ok
    * JeniSkunk watches the sun rise in a clear sky :<<
Session Close: Tue Jan 23 14:45:32 2001

  I wasn't envying Jen.
  It was high summer in her area. She could possibly take the heat if she morphed in spring and got used to it, but to floof out in weather like August in Alabama?
  I also thought of the fur she mentioned, Grellden. A dolphin that far inland? Oh, Khai! I prayed whatever was hitting us was giving enough warning to the aquatic furs. If it was fandom-wide and they weren't...
  K'shat!! Delphinio! In the middle of the Ozark hills! I got queasy wondering if it would become something more widespread, say, anyone worldwide with an interest in animals, even aquatic animals... the thought of a man-sized goldfish gasping its life out in, say, downtown Phoenix was horrifying...
  Shivering over some of the images in my head, I let the furs on ICQ and Yiffnet know I would be back later and logged off.
  Even if I wasn't expecting a call, I knew with the slow connection out here in Frisco, TX, I couldn't save/delete the mail before it flooded out.
  After I shut down the computer, I gathered what VHS tapes I could spare and brought them into the living room with me.
  "Hey, 'Nook. Got some fresh tapes if that one runs out, ok?"
  'Nookie nodded. "Like I'm going to be doing anything else today."
  It was about then the phone rang. Calmly, 'Nooky' managed to pick it up before I could. "Hello? Oh, hi Charles! Yes. Yes, he is, just like his furry self-art. Hold on..."
  He handed to phone to me. I held the phone to my muzzle, but with the earpiece against my muzzle, I wasn't hearing much. Experimentally, I held the phone sideways so the earpiece pointed toward my ears. Actually, it worked out pretty well that way with my new hearing.
  "Hoss? You there?"
  "Yeah. You two floof out yet?" Speaking on the phone, I was still unsure if my voice really was richer, more resonant like the voice I have in my dreamwalk travels, or if it was just the way my larger sinuses carried my voice to my ears.
  "Not so far. One of the other furs on our floor sent an email to check the CNN page. It's a mess here right now, someone in your department is convinced she's becoming a Chakat."
  My ears bobbed in suprise. "Oh? Really?"
  "We're not sure, we're not allowed off of our floor to find out. As for you, watch your hooves!"
  I paused a moment, my tail tossing. "What?"
  "We do not need to explain holes kicked in the walls if you trip or fall."
  I gave a suprised, whickering giggle. "What!? You might transform at any moment into something that can rip our door off its hinges just trying to open it, Moon into a she-wolf who can outdo Storm from the X-Men, and that's all you have to say to me?"
  With a snicker, Glacier said "Well, things are a bit hectic right now. They may close the building and have everyone checked out. My head is spinning just looking at the news, and I'm brainfarting bigtime. It's all I can think of off the top of my head."
  "All right, just stay calm if you change -- we don't need you eating anyone who pisses you off."
  He gave an evil snicker at that one "All right, talk to you later."
  "Ok, I'm going to Nexxus' place for email. Bye!"
  After that, I called Nexxus. Thankfully, the keys were spread apart on the phone, or I would have had trouble dialing. I swear, most phones seem designed for mousemorphs these days. When the answering machine picked up, I tried to give my usual 'whinny' greeting. It came out a full-fledged neigh instead. "Oops! Sorry Nex. You there? It's Hoss!"
  There was a clattering as someone picked up the phone. "Hello, Hoss! Was that you just now?"
  "Actually, yes. Have you seen the news?"
  "Ohhhh, Hell yeah! Even if I hadn't been watching CNN, there's a buttload of ICQs telling me to look."
  "Have you changed?"
  There was a note of disappointment in Nexxus' voice. "Not yet. I take it you want to come over?"
  "Yes, My connection sucks here, and I'm sure you would like appropriate company if you shift. Have your camera ready, I want to show off for the furs."
  "Sure, go ahead. When you going to be here?"
  "As soon as I can. I might end up teleporting there, depends on how much of an energy drain it is."
  "Gotcha. See you whenever."
  It wasn't untill I hung up I realized I remembered his phone number. Apparently my math dyslexia was gone... just like my story self was cured.
  Khai, this was going to take getting used to.
  In a rush, I ran and snipped threads in the rear seam on some older jeans until I could slip my tail through, and put it on. Oh, Goddess! It was good to fit size 36 again! My tail flicked happily as I gathered blank floppy disks and stuffed them in my black leather backpack, along with my ConFURence 7 shirt.
  "Kio!!" I nearly jumped out of my skin when something grabbed my tail. Somehow, I stopped from launching a kick behind me... Much to my relief when I found June attacking my tailhair. I scooped her up, scolding her while she looked sorry. Nickering, I nuzzled her and set her down. I smiled when she nuzzled my leg in apology. "It's ok June, just be careful."
  (Yes, she acts like this)
  Coming back in the living room, I nodded to 'Nookie' "Be back later."
  He nodded back. "Worried about being seen?"
  I grinned. "Nah. Going to try teleporting."
  Giving me an odd look, he replied, "Ohhh-kayy... have fun..."
  With a restless snort, I settled the pack on my back and took several deep breaths to center my focus. Ok, the Albedo version of you has done this countless times, he's just now an intimate part of you. You've done similar in dreamwalking, only this time, instead of going in spirit, you will be there. Just relax... reach out... do not force it...
  I shivered as my energies reached out and actually felt the walls of reality more firmly than any dreamwalk or astral projection I've done. I caressed the connections and gently reached...
  !?!... the Hell?!?
  For a moment, I was dizzy, like I had hit something.
  Frantically, I reached, probed, kicked... Nothing! The interfaces were there, but I couldn't go through! Like I was blocked off.
  I collapsed to my knees as I gave an anguished whinny. "No! I was so close! No..." I collapsed against Moon's recliner, ignoring the pain from my tail. The cats hopped in my lap offering comfort.
  "Hoss? You ok?"
  Hot tears of frustration rolled down my muzzle as I stroked the cats. "I'm blocked... locked out, you might say. Like the connection is incomplete, or there is a barrier."
  "I take it you'll be driving to Nexxus' then... Oh, damn!"
  I nodded weakly in agreement.
  I was going to be forced to deal with humans sooner than I wanted, and worse, my greatest defense was locked out.
  Are you there, Khai?
  Suddenly dealing with the enormous mental shock of being effectively powerless, I just sat there trying to calm down.
  After several minutes, I realized I was performing mental hygiene exercises to calm down and focus myself. These litanies and exercises were making me clear-headed for the first time in months of sinus and pain medication. With a mental chuckle at my Albedo memories having an immediate use, I got up, and went to my room, two cats trailing me in concern.
  As I inspected my brown goosedown jacket, 'Nookie' peered through the door.
  "Hoss? You going to be OK?"
  "I hope so... At the least, I may have to learn how to teleport. For now, my 'public' awaits..." I said in grim humor. With a shrug, I pulled on the jacket, only to discover my arms poked out six to eight inches beyond the sleeves. "OK, definitely seem to be drawing from my story with Jenifur, and not Albedo for this design feature..."
  With a grin, I went to my closet and dug out my army surplus field jacket. "At least this will finally fit me just right."
  The sleeves had always been extra long on me, now they fit perfectly after unrolling the snow cuffs.
  The length of the jacket fell to the top of my jeans pockets, meaning my body must be longer as well.
  "Looking good, Hoss. Except... What are you going to do about your head?"
  I took a look in my bathroom mirror through the door. Oh, Great! If I close my jacket and flip up my collar, that will still expose six inches of neck and a prominent horse head.
With a whuffling sigh, I nodded to him. "Go see if Moonstone left her muffler. If not, I'll see what I can do with a towel."
  The Albedo convention of wearing a hooded cloak was looking better by the minute...
  Cautiously, I went over and peeked through the blinds, my hooftips making a clacking sound against the aluminum strips. Outside, the weather was going from ice-cold drizzle to occasional spatters of icy sleet.
  Even better, the clouds were getting thick and black, ensuring evening would be early and extra dark.
  'Nookie' was trotting down the stairs as I tried on my blue wool watchcap. "No luck, Hoss. She must have it with her."
  I nodded to him. "Thanks for trying."
  With his help, I tucked my chin to my throat and wrapped a dark green towel around my neck so only my eyes and forelock showed. My ears twitched fitfully under the cap as I tried tucking the towel into my collar. My first attempt at moving promptly loosened the towel to drape down my back.
  "Yiff it! It's not gonna work without safety pins... Anyone find my poncho yet?"
  'Nookie' nodded. "I think I saw it in a bag by the daybed."
  After a minute, we found the poncho crammed into a paper bag. The forest camouflage print would look a little odd in this apartment complex, but they wouldn't be calling the CDC over it either.
  This time, the chin tuck trick worked, although the reek of cat marking-scent stuck to the vinyl was horrendous. I knew I had disinfected and deodorized it a year before, but to still smell it now? Just how good was my nose?
  Finally, I went out the door to leave, after 'Nookie' gave the all clear from outside. With a snort of exasperation, I pulled up short at the top of the steps. The building stairwell opened out at each landing into a balcony, and the bad weather earlier that week had blown in enough ice on the steps to be a danger to me. Thinking quickly, I ran back inside and pulled some socks over my hooves.
  'Nookie' looked at me a bit strangely. I shrugged. "Hey, I need traction, and without horseshoes, I need something or I'll break a leg."
  Drizzle was falling slowly in such a fine mist, it looked like a light fog. Happily, the walk to the car was uneventful, although I had to walk over a hundred yards between buildings to get to it. At least the misty drizzle was a big help in keeping 'inquiring minds' inside.
  Quickly tossing my bag in the faux wood-paneled station wagon, I put the key in and ran the electric seat as far back and down as it would go. Knowing how cumbersome the poncho was to wear in a car even before the change, I had little choice but to pull it off and toss it in. Finally, I wrestled myself in as best I could. It was far from comfortable with my head brushing the ceiling, and my soaking wet socks squishing on the pedals.
  After a minute to get settled, I started up the '81 LeBaron. I thought I was prepared for the sound of the V-8 engine, but it sounded so rough from a cold start, I worried that it was getting ready to explode. The sudden squealing of a belt made my ears flatten to my skull in pain. I knew the car was running rough before, but I could now hear every clatter and figure out where it was. It sounded like the problem was in my transmission, something loose or missing at the driveshaft link. Better give Pep Boys a chewing-out when I get a chance. They definitely yiffed up on this repair. With a sigh at the condition of my car, I drove out into the darkening afternoon.
  Several minutes later, the engine smoothed out, but I started having trouble seeing out the windshield as the windows fogged from my breath. As I turned onto the North Dallas Tollway access road, I wiped the windows frantically with a towel. When it only partly cleared, I worked to see if I could get any life out of the defrosters.
  At least I was able to drive fast enough to keep up with traffic, slowed by slick driving. The windshield finally cleared enough to see everything ahead... and something new! A branch of my bank had opened in the Kroger store ahead! Khai! I love my new vision! No having to worry about gas or food today!
  Gleefully, I pulled into the parking lot immediately, scanning for any sign of a drive-through. Not seeing one, I pulled into a spot near the front doors. Looking carefully, I did see an ATM in the foyer. Noting how few shoppers there were at this time of day, I decided the poncho would work for a couple minutes. Time to test my new ATM card!
  Cautiously, I climbed out, slipping the poncho over my head and cinching it as before. My heart was pounding as my ears tried to point everywhere at once under the cap as I walked into the foyer. I tried to keep my tail still as I saw the ATM was actually past the inner doors, just inside the main building. Nervously, I stepped in, mentally trying to reassure myself as I started using an ATM for the first time in years. Blocking out the mingled scents of food and people was a welcome distraction. My mane prickled as someone got behind me, smelling of honeysuckle and human musk.
  Fighting to stay calm, I withdrew a twenty and slipped it and the card in my pocket. Quickly, I turned away and began to walk around the lady, when I heard her softly speak.
  "Excuse me, I think you left this." I half turned, and looked. She held my receipt, which I must have missed. Sheepishly, I thanked her and reached for the receipt. She looked at my hand a little oddly. "It's a new type of glove." Her eyes widened in surprise as she saw part of my face when the hood slipped back in my turning.
  Not waiting to find out what her reaction was, I literally high-tailed it out the automatic doors to my car.
  Squeezing in hurriedly, I pulled out as calmly as I could after sitting heavily on my tail. I watched the door, but saw no immediate attention, so I concentrated on driving normally.
  As I was pulling out of the shopping center next to a McDonalds, the thought of a large salad sounded very good after smelling a supermarket. What the hell, I've already been spotted... Might as well freak another mundane...
  The expressions on the drive-through window help as I paid for my order was worth it...

  Ten minutes later, I pulled into the Saratoga Springs complex. As I punched in the code and waited for Nexxus to pick up the phone and let me in, I made faces at the security camera in front of me. Idly, I wondered if anyone else was watching this channel. Finally, the speaker crackled: "Awww, sooo kyoote... I take it you want in?"
  I stuck out my tongue and laughed. "Of course! It is a tad cold and wet out here."
  The gate squeaked open and I pulled in, taking the first left to his area. I squeezed the Hossmobile in next to his small Dodge and climbed out, hooves splashing into several days worth of slush. With a sigh of relief, I grabbed my pack and salad, and trotted to the apartment. Nexxus already had the door open for me, watching me in awe as I ran in beside him... I never could get over how much he looks like Tim Allen.
  He had the biggest smile on his face as he looked at me stomping water off my hooves. "My God, Dude! You weren't kidding! Lets get you up where it's nice and warm." After hanging up my poncho, I carefully clopped up the carpeted stairway, keeping an eye on my footing as Nex teasingly tugged my tail. "You went to Mickey D's and didn't bring me anything? Bad Hossie! No carrots!" I scruffled his curly salt-and-pepper hair after we got to the top. "If you want horsie food, you should have changed too, silly pegasus!"
  Doing a double-take, I looked down at him in surprise. Before the change, he was just even with my height of five foot eleven... My human height, that is... Now, he was even with my shoulders. "Ohhh Khai!"
  Nexxus groped me teasingly. "Just you wait until I change. We'll see who's bigger than who... and who's longer," he grinned.
  "We'll see," I replied, smiling, as I sat down by the fireplace to remove my socks and jacket. Sitting down to watch me, he waved to the network. "Raven's ready to go, just hop on when you're ready."
  Leaving the socks to dry, I hoofed it over to the network of computers comprising Furnation and settled in front of the guest computer, Raven.
  While waiting for to load, I popped the salad open and started using the plastic spork like a hayfork to stuff my muzzle. I was expecting to really taste my food in new ways, but it still surprised me how strongly the flavors seemed to explode in my mouth as I chewed in a side to side motion. The bits of marinated chicken made my tail toss in bliss as they mixed with the sweet tomatoes and lettuce. I shivered in delight at the symphony of tastes. Having taste buds as new as the day I was foaled, as well as equine senses of smell, was a blast!
  Nexxus pulled up a computer chair and gave an evil grin while handing me a Dr. Pepper. "Dude, you ok? You look like you're about to have an orgasm."
  I grinned at him "Wait until you have your first meal with a horse's sense of smell. I think you would cream yourself, Nex."
  After I found myself licking the tray clean, I turned my attention to the computer.
  First, I opened my HERDlist addy and connected Moonstone's camera to Raven. Glad Nexxus has the same model... I thought as I copied the pics to a temp file.
  The list was relatively quiet, as it usually was this time of day, with only a couple "Oh My God, lookit the news!" posts. I prayed it was because everyone was at work, and not because they were full zoomorph. I quickly typed up an email asking everyone on the HERDlist to contact every list member they knew who had not responded to this email, in case they had gone fullform. The last thing we needed was members of our herd being rounded up as lost horses by animal control. As proof, I posted three sample pictures from my change.
  With that done, I closed out and went to the TSA-Talk list.
  My ears folded in dismay at the growing volume of mail. "Damn! Good thing I did come here for my mail. This would have crashed Frankenpony!" I popped in a floppy and began converting the posts to text with Notepad.
  While I was converting them over, I checked to see if CodyPony had posted, along with Posti, or Jon, Nothing from them so far as I could tell. What did worry me were the posts from some who were quickly getting unable to use a keyboard, the text quickly degenerating until the typist signed out and sent before being unable to physically hit send. Their minds sounded ok so far, although some posts were hard to tell whether the writers were getting too big/small to type, or if their hands were going full animalistic.
  Around the time I was halfway through my third disk, my worst fears were realized. As I watched CNN, Feds interrupted the live interview with Luke Allen. They were reading him his rights and trying to get the FOX news crew to shut down.
  After he was hauled off, Nexxus switched to local news, in time to see a news flash of a horse man seen in Dallas, who was taken into custody by CDC personnel. The news crew was by a frantic crowd at Parkland Hospital as an incoming chopper was waved off. Angrily, the crowd chanted for Cody's rights as the chopper flew away... Cody! The crew was interviewing the people who had called them in. Cody's friends were appealing to the audience "...And we figured this was the best way to keep him from disappearing, so they could do God-knows-what to him..."
  The News anchor interrupted with reports of a female cat centaur, who claimed she was a 'Shah-cat', captured at a Credit Union tower near LBJ and Midway, and another horse man seen in the Frisco area near the Tollway.
  One fuzzy surveillance video, labeled 'Frisco horse-man', showed a fair likeness of me through the drive-through window.
  Looks like I'm famous already... Hmm, the Credit Union tower is my workplace, so Glacier was right about the Chakat in my section. Too bad I don't even know her... Hir. I just hope shi'll be ok.
  With a sigh, I looked at Nexxus. "No wonder Cody didn't post -- he's been captured. Good thing he's got so many friends, he can't just disappear."
  Nexxus nodded thoughtfully. "What about you? Much as I would like to hide you in my apartment, dude, you will be found sooner or later."
  I nodded. "Especially with your friend, L____, with all those high security clearances at his day job. I guess I'd better make a big entrance to the public, or end up in a secret lab."
  Nexxus looked thoughtful. "So, any idea where you want to appear? I doubt you want City Hall."
  My ears swiveled idly as I thought for a moment "Heh, I suppose not. I want it with large numbers of people, and yet far enough from Dallas, it would take a few minutes for the police to arrive and try to trap me. Assuming we are seen as a hazard."
  After a few minutes, we decided on the StoneBriar Center shopping mall, over a mile from my apartment. It is the fourth largest in Texas, set on Highway 121, yet surrounded by fields and strip mall construction. Dense screens of trees that dated back to the end of the Dust Bowl era bounded each field. There were patches of wood closer to my apartment, right up to the complex property.
  If I had to Escape-and-Evade, I would have little trouble with getting home undetected, especially if the sleet turned to freezing rain later.
  I made one last check of the HERDlist before getting ready, and found several replies from HERD members checking in. Among them was the first reply from a changed Herdmember in Oklahoma, whose character was a pegasus morph...

  To: [HERDlist]
From: [Whysper]
Subj: Re: Anything, um, STRANGE...

>Subj: Anything, um, STRANGE happen? NON-RP
>from: [BossHoss]
>Something incredible has just happened! I have enough witnesses to let me
>know that I have not gone crazy. Has anyfur else here just turned into a
>In case anyone unchanged doubts people are changing, look at CNN. They have
>live coverage of a guy turned into a dragon.
>I am also concerned that some of us may have gone completely four-legger.
>If anyone knows how to contact a member offline if they dont respond to this
>post, do so.
>I have included some digital pictures taken by a houseguest.
>-Boss Hoss
>attachments; stage1.GIF, stage2.GIF, stage3.GIF

Hey , glad to hear from you . The change has come at last for many of us . I still think it is merely the true self becomeing dominat once more , as it was meant to be in the first place .

I really like the new wings , although I haven't had the courage yet to see if they will support my weight . Perhaps tomorrow I will get brave enough to climb up on the roof . Have you experienced any problems with muscle coordination yet ? This digitigrade walking is completly backwards from what I am used to .

I just thought of something , I'm going to have to go to the feed store and get a lot of seeds , a garden is deffinitely in order with two equines in the family now . My four legger didn't know how to react at first with this strange stallion in the yard , but once she caught my scent it was like she had been waiting for this day .

Better let you go so I can let some others know the good news ,

Whickers and nuzzles to ya,

  As usual, there was his ACSII Pegasus image, but it was munged up by the mail page. Ah well...
  In any case, I figured on killing two birds with one stone with my reply, answering his question and letting the list know where I was going, just in case.

>I really like the new wings , although I haven't had the
>courage yet to see if they will support my weight . Perhaps
>tomorrow I will get brave enough to climb up on the roof .

Make sure there's a haystack below first. :=)

>Have you experienced any problems with muscle coordination
>yet ? This digitigrade walking is completly backwards from
>what I am used to .

Yeah, it was difficult at first -- even now it feels like a whole new experience. Dunno if I found my feet so fast because I habitually walk on my toes, or if it was the same reason foals learn to run in the hour of their birth. BTW, Congratulations on your mare taking this all so well. ;=)

On a more serious note to all members. A fellow equine in my Area, Codypony, is currently on his way to some CDC lab (I hope). I doubt he will 'disappear' because dozens of his friends have appeared on the local news demanding his whereabouts. It may be on CNN by now.
In any case, I cannot trust my safety to only a few knowing of me . This is risky, but there is little choice. I will show myself at Stonebriar Center Mall to media I have contacted, then turn myself in tomorrow with all the fanfare the mall appearance will have generated for me. If you have not heard from me by morning, alert the media! If any of you change, let the media know, as soon as you are able to face them.
'Bray' for my success.
In Khai's name,
-Boss Hoss

  With that, I sent and closed out.
  I could put it off no longer; time to make some calls and meet the Mundanes. The only thing keeping me from being more afraid than I already was, was being in the form I had most desired. I knew I could outfight any rent-a-cop alive if it came to it.
  What worried me was a line from MIB: "A person is smart! People are dumb and panicky."
  Khai help me.

[more to come]