by Bill Keiffer
part 1
1 2 3

  I looked in the mirror. Something dark and broad stared back with black and red eyes, it's nostrils flaring as a dark brown hand touched the light brown nose gingerly. My own hand stroked my now powder smooth face and I exposed my teeth as if on a silent cue from my alien reflection.
  I wasn't a horse morph... not exactly. My teeth were broad, hatchet-like slabs of ivory. My ears were still mounted on the sides of my head, not the top, but they were somewhat pointed things that swept back from my head like wings. I had something of a mohawk, an undeniable mane of coarse black hairs that my other hand refused to leave.
  I looked down at Doug and Mike, who held me up as I felt the world crash around me. They stared up at me, a full foot taller than I had been before. "I'm Beta Ray Bill," I said, feeling my nose move in time with my thick lips. It was surprisingly easy to talk.
  Beta Ray Bill was a Marvel character who had actually been noble enough to be worthy of picking up Thor's hammer. He also happened to be an alien monster and, when he became Thor in his own right, he hadn't gotten any prettier.
  I didn't really look like him, either. I looked like him enough though... I was the right shape, the right size, the same dark brown, except I had a muzzle that ended in a nose and not plain old teeth. Except that I had a mane. Except I had dark red eyes. Except I had four fingers and a thumb...
  ... and tightly bound into my khaki pants I could feel a tube of flesh no Marvel character had ever been issued.
  It was as if someone had molded my two secret desires together into one brutish form. Half horse. Half nightmarish, but noble alien. No fur, just beautiful dark skin hugging thick corded muscles and pulsing veins. I rubbed my chest, realizing my nipples were gone, and I felt a stir...
  I was turning myself on and for a moment, I thought of chasing my co-workers out so I could just play with myself... but that seemed incredibly selfish and unrealistic.
  I looked at my hands. Long artistic brown fingers with pink palms, each finger flexing independently and totally under my control, they were a black man's hands; not my hands. Not the hands of an alien and not the hands of my usual alter egos. These were the hands I've always wanted, if not the skin. I was fascinated with my hands, staring at edges where the pink skin meets the rich brown skin and I wondered if there was a word for the terminator line that marked the pink patch of my palm.
  Leopard Spots, a voice in my head remarked.
  Whatever, these were my hands. I controlled them.
  I have been transformed.
  By whose hand and directive, I knew not, but this certainly destroyed some precious assumptions I had about the universe at large. I closed down the panic and the fear, the way I would have when I was sick and I found that I could easily do so. That was curious, but I was grateful.
  Looking in the mirror at my... not my self... my self image was that off a horse creature and that was most certainly covered in a coat of white hair with a pink nose and a pink belly... this was fantasy made flesh. I had never seen myself as this creature in the slightest, yet it was familiar...
  Then the wheels began to turn, from A to B to C to D. I looked like Beta Ray Bill and carried aspects that I had respected in others where those aspects of the Marvel Superhero seemed impractical... I could feel a horse sized penis straining in my torn pants... I could feel thumbs pressing in the soles of my feet, whose heels were lifted gingerly off the ground. I could feel Michael and Doug relax their grip on me as I found my balance and the strength to stand.
  A to B to C to D...
  A: I could think in a linear fashion now. I was in complete control of my emotions, of my thoughts, and I felt the cold comfort of logic.
  B: It was a form that did not exist in nature.
  C: The form was an amalgamation of the forms I admired most.
  D: The transformation had occurred while I was awake and conscious. In front of witnesses: Neal and Christy.
  To E: I was not hallucinating, although the greatest comfort for me right now would be to yield to insanity and convince myself I was seeing thing.
  Somehow, I had done this to myself. Or Hern had. Or the triple goddess. Or some puckish god I had never heard of, but there was no doubt there was an intent to transform me into what I considered the perfect form. Where there was intent, there was an agenda.
  Something or someone with this power and an agenda had just tapped me on the shoulder. My mind sharpened considerably and I shook off my friends, glared at my new dark and lovely image.
  "How much and what is this going to cost me?" I asked my reflection, with James Earl Jones' voice and a lilting accent that used to be reserved for only my most nervous moments. That, too, was part of the form it seemed, and now I was stuck with it.
  I heard Neal's heavy tread just before he bounded into the bathroom. "Some doctor on the west coast just turned into a bipedal raccoon right in the middle of an eye exam," he said with an aggravated excitement. I had personally destroyed his whole worldview by becoming... This. Although I think he was just as annoyed that he had pissed his pants as he had watched the transformation. He handled it better than Christy; we had to call an ambulance for her. Once the others had gotten back from lunch, he simply had slipped into his karate outfit without comment, except to assure them I was, indeed, Bill.
  I was impressed with his flexibility. Michael and Doug seemed like zombies compared to him. I think they were still waiting for me to pull off my head, laughing at their gullibility. If I had a mask this realistic, that's certainly something I would have done. Then his statement impacted on me.
  Coe! A horse screamed in terror in my mind, a terror I felt only as a faint echo.
  I was not the only one... Coe. I had all but ruled out randomness, now it occurred to me that all the Furries could be targets. A list in my head appeared of all the furries I knew of, but the ones I was suddenly worried about were guys on two of my mailing lists... the ones who shared their dreams of being fully or mostly animal with me.
  John Night, who wanted to be a kangaroo, fully in body if not in mind. Jon Buck, who wanted to be a stag... if it was Hern behind this, how could he resist picking Jon? Cody Pony, who -- like me -- wanted to be a horse... but perhaps wanted it more... and where would his Master Brian be...? I suddenly felt very protective of Cody against all reason...
  Then I pictured Ivan becoming Giles somewhere on the other side of the world and my heart stopped. What time in it is Italy? Would he be at work? Would he driving to or from work? He wanted to be a goat in body because he already felt his mind and soul was a caprine soul, if he got his desire how much of the man would be left? He would be frightened senseless, if any humanity remained in him at all!
  I felt the blood drain from my face and then I suddenly cut-off that line of reasoning. I didn't have all the facts in yet and there was nothing I could do about any of it from a tiny men's room in New Jersey. "Anything else on CNN? Anyone else change?"
  Mike did a double-take. "There are other people changing? How?" Mike is my immediate supervisor and a good ten years younger than me. He's a software developer and his brown hair is beginning to thin on top. He's a good guy.
  "This is... I want to say impossible," Doug complained. Doug was a tall guy with a strong but stocky build. He went sailing and skiing and he looked younger and more vibrant than anyone in our office. Today was the first time I'd ever seen him less than totally confident. Of course, today was the first time I had ever seen the top of his head. I had a feeling I was going to be seeing a lot of things I'd never seen before. "You can't just change someone's body."
  I nodded. "Not this quickly... not without surgery... not without pain." I held my tongue on the rest of it. Not when the new form makes so much sense... to my twisted way of thinking. I was an acknowledged pervert, but I doubt anyone suspected that becoming a dark horse-headed creature had been on my wish-list.
  "No, pain?" Neal looked shock. "What did you call those sounds you made."
  "Orgasm," I said absent-mindedly. Immediately, Doug and Mike let go of me as if on cue. I gave them what I hoped was a dirty look, I was back to square one when it came to facial expressions. "It was a joke. The only pain was from my clothes tightening... choking me." Although the more I touched my muzzle, the less funny the joke was becoming. I had no idea where my lip ended and my nose began.
  I was frightened and it was turning me on. A part of me was relieved I could still feel the fear, even after turning it off. In fact, it seemed like two parts of me, seemed pleased for different reasons.
  In fact, I hadn't really known what my ideal form was until Kodiak's posting about his new creation: a open story universe called Mind over Matter. The TF trigger there was a funky virus that infected your computer, produced a subliminal change in your mind, which opened you up to the power within you to become what you wanted to be the most. Kodiak and Wanderer had written stories where they became their furry forms with what I assumed to be thinly disguised versions of themselves.
  I tried writing such a story, but each version came up short. It didn't take long to realizing that becoming a horse was ring short. I didn't want the hooves: I wanted monkey feet (they seemed so practical). I didn't want stubby hoof-like hands, I wanted to be an artist, free of arthritic joints. I didn't want to become a centaur, I love the human male body, too much.
  I knew what I desired to possess, and I knew it quite well, but that was not what I wanted to become. Big women and skinny guys, neither shape was "me." What I like best about playing horse was the power; power I had to change the landscape, power I could give to anyone willing to take my reins and control me; to care for me. All that I was could not be properly be displayed in one single form... so I realized that if I was to write a Mind over Matter story, I was going to have become many.
  The form that I was in now, would have pretty much been my first, most perfect form. It was very much like my self-image from when I was sick, only I had been part dragon rather than part horse. Thinking of how it would be to be like this... that felt right.
  It felt right now, except that I was no longer thinking, I was being.
  How very Zen of you, a quiet, paternal voice said.
  Kodiak was going to have a lot of explaining to do, I think. Especially if the rest of the story I had plotted worked itself into reality. Of course, if that happened... my coworkers were going to watch me give birth to Charger and Greyflank, not to mention the darkest versions of myself like Wicked the Tiger and Gonzo Dragon and a rapist version of myself that traveled across the internet. As soon as I had that thought, I was grateful I wasn't attracted to any of my co-workers.
  But even if psycho dupes of myself didn't start popping out of me, the coincidence was too great.
  I put that issue aside for the moment. I'd never written the story. I'd never described this form to Kodiac. Somebody had been in my head or I'd done this to myself. I wasn't going to like either answer.
  It was also obvious that my mind was affected. I had too firm a grip on myself. My thoughts were too orderly. I was not myself and I had the will power not to laugh at that.
  "I need to make phone calls, get at the net." I sounded hard and cold to my ears.
  Neal nodded, "The paramedics are here. Once they get Christine out of here, Phil will let you back in the office."
  Mike stared at my reflection, as if that was easier for him. "Maybe you should go back with the paramedics."
  "And?" I asked softly. "What are they going to do? Check my blood pressure? Turn my head and cough?"
  "If anything like this is even remotely possible, Bill's going to disappear faster than a set of blueprints for a working water engine," Neal said. "If it's not possible, they could do more harm than good?"
  Doug waved his hand in my general direction, "He could have a head attack."
  I sighed. "I could also turn into a puddle of goo any moment now." I turned to Mike, watching him become paler yet still. It looked good on him, but I couldn't think about that right now. "Could you hook up that webcam in the break room?"
  Mike nodded. "Documentation," he said and gratefully left the men's room.
  Neal followed, promising to go on the web for more news, leaving Doug with me. Doug tried to smile weakly. Doug was straight, but he was also submissive in the bedroom... or at least he liked being on the bottom. I was now the living embodiment of brutal beauty and I sensed the impact wasn't lost on him completely.
  "Doug," I said, hopefully. "I'm going to need pants."
  Doug blinked and looked at my crotch. The button had popped off my pants and every seam on the pants was stretched tight. I could feel my feet falling asleep from the lack of blood, plus there was a thick pipe of flesh threatening to destroy whatever shred of dignity I had left. "I'm going to have to peel off these pants," I said sadly. "I don't think I'll be able to get them back on."
  Doug made a silent whistling noise and then smiled. "I think you're right. You've got a spare set of pants in your car or something?"
  "I've got spare sweaters at my desk." I looked at my chest, which was now perfect and broad in the mirror. I wadded up the scraps of the T-shirt I'd been wearing and tossed it into the garbage. "They won't fit, but I can make a loin cloth out of them, I suppose."
  "You really should go to the hospital," Doug said quietly buy firmly.
  "I..." Doug was right, I should go. The idea of trying to deal with this and filling our insurance papers seemed pointless. "Doug... what if I am not the only one who changed? What if we are all changing... and I'm just the first?"
  Doug gave a half smile. "You mean, like you're contagious? I suppose it's possible. Just as possible you're an alien sleeper agent, for chrissakes, and you've forgotten your cue for taking over the world. But, whatever you are, we've got to find out if you are stable or not... the hospital's the best place for that."
  "Doug," I almost snapped, I was much more aggressive and needed to reign myself in a bit. I took a second to do just that. I sighed. "Find me some pants and we'll talk about the hospital, ok?"
  Doug nodded and left, leaving me to slip into one of the beige bathroom stalls.
  I peeled off the pants, and they disintegrated rather expectedly. My favorite pair of Khaki pants were nothing more than scrap, yet the thickening rope of flesh that burst free more than made up for that. Not yet fully firm, I was looking at a foot of pinto-coloured flesh, easily, that hung from a dark black sheath only three inches long. I caught my breath and sat on the toilet.
  There'd been one thing I'd been imagining since the day I turned 14, one thing I knew I'd never be able to do in a million years. My breath came and went in short scared draws as I considered the unthinkable. Yet, did any male ever not think of it? Had there been any male who hadn't at least tried?
  I licked my lips and grasped the toilet seat beneath my legs. I took a deep breath. I opened my mouth and closed my eyes as my neck bent. I curled in upon myself, feeling engorged self touch my new prehensile lips. I bent further downward, taking myself into my own mouth, a perverted Ouroboros, until my new flat brown nose touched my now ash-black balls and I needed to put my hand against the stall door to prevent myself from pitching forward off my throne.
  I used my teeth and my tongue, all new and alien to me. I tried to not make noise as I discovered just how flexible my spine really was and that I still got dizzy from moving my head up and down too quickly. I was too dizzy to realize my jaw and my penis were now the exact same length.
  I couldn't bring myself to come into my own mouth, so I got up before Doug came back and began doing it the old fashioned way. I came and so did the tears. I'd never had an orgasm like that, a earth-shaking, I've seen the face of god, full blown orgasm... but I'd had always imagined it would indeed feel like that.
  Then the lights went out.
  Stupid timing device.
  I threw a roll of toilet paper across the room, where the motion sensitive light switch was mounted and the light came back with a thump. I watched, amazed at how the sheath worked, as I slipped inside myself.
  With the perfect timing, Doug came in as I was stretching my naked feet.
  Starvos the dog would have been proud of me. I had taken scraps from my shirt to make a rope and a ripped pants leg and made a workable loin cloth. It completed the image of uncivilized brutality that I had become so smitten with. I made a mental note to thank him for the information on his web site the next chance I got.
  Doug stopped as my left and then my right foot each made a surrealistic fist. "Horse head and monkey feet?"
  I shrugged and smiled up at him. I could blow myself. It's amazing how much more confident and relaxed I felt about everything after that. "Just a monkey thumb, really. The toes are long but human average. I'm betting I can still run like a man. Anyway, that's not my sweater."
  Doug smiled and blushed. "The Laundromat downstairs had a few items in it's lost and found." He tossed me a big pair of faded jeans with a long bleach stain running down the left leg, as well as a few shirts. There was an XXL Deftones red t-shirt with a white mustang on the left side of the chest that looked brand new. It fit better than the jeans. Doug, who had been an engineer before he'd become a software programmer, produced a stapler and tailored the pants while I stood there, giggling.
  "How's Christy?" I asked when the fit subsided. She was new to our little software department and did not know any of us really well. I'd been hoping she'd get to know the real me before I let slip any bondage bombshells. Of course, fate had a bigger surprise in store for all of us.
  "She refused to go to the hospital, she wants to apologize to you, I think." Doug smiled. "Impressed me."
  "Me, too." I was impressed and glad. There was a part of me that was waiting for the other shoe to fall... I was totally afraid all the cars in the world were going to turn into horses. It was hard to rule out anything so ludicrous when the very nature of reality betrays you. "Hell, even Neal pissed his pants."
  Doug smiled wickedly at that. It would be a long time before anyone let Neal forget that... of course, this crisis was his immunity. Tomorrow, he might as well walk around with a bull's eye on his forehead. The dancing look in Doug's eyes told me he was looking forward to it, but he ignored my comment otherwise. "You ready to go back into the office?" he asked.
  I blinked. I didn't have an issue with people seeing me like this, inhuman and rough looking. I rather liked it. I wondered if perhaps I should be hiding... if that would be the normal response. I couldn't trust my mind, I could tell it'd been subtly altered.
  On the other hand, there was a good chance Doug was just projecting. I was hardly a good meter for what was normal thinking when I was normal. I'd written a few stories with transformations over the years; they'd all involved a lot more screaming than I had seen today.
  "How do you know it's me?" I asked suddenly. I stared hopefully at Doug; he looked away, blushing. Damn, these red eyes were going to make things really difficult for me. I hoped whatever gods had done this to me had packed a few alternate forms within me, but I stared at Doug anyway because I just didn't have time to concentrate on even more reality bending absurdities. "I don't look anything like Bill. I just really want to know."
  "If... you're not Bill," Doug said slowly, without looking up at me, "this is the greatest, most elaborate practical joke ever. And that means... Neal would have to be in on it. Now Neal is great for switching mouse or monitor cables, or for book-marking into my browser when I'm not looking... but, if he's... done all this... I'm going to go along with this..." Doug swallowed and looked at me. He smiled weakly. "If you are Bill... then..." His eyes were beginning to water.
  I reached for him and he stepped back. We both knew what kind of dom I was; comfortable crying people was something of a turn-on for me. Doug was submissive in bed, he had told me, but not a sub. And not into guys. There was that wall still between us, I could see. That was how he knew it was me, I was suddenly sure, but I wasn't sure what that meant.
  "If you are Bill..." Doug looked away and studied the floor drain for a moment. "Well, in some ways it's easier to believe that you could suddenly become some Egyptian God, then to believe that Neal suddenly developed a sense of humor... not to mention making such an elaborate plan." Doug took a deep breath and then looked at me, his own normal take team spirit returning now. "I do hope it's a practical joke, for your sake and Michele's."
  Oh. My wife.
  "I've been a little self-absorbed," I confessed quietly. My voice continued to lilt in the vague Australian accent I affected sometimes to keep from stammering. Try as I might to slip back to my Joisey accent, it seemed the accent I'd always dreamed of having was firmly entrenched. "She's not going to like this at all."
  Doug looked pointedly at my crotch. "Well, what about...?"
  Distracted, by thoughts of trying to prove who I was to Michele, I answered, "I'm hung like a horse."
  Doug smiled at that. "Braggart."
  It took a minute for that to register. "No... really like a horse. The crown of my dick's shaped like a mushroom, not a prow. It's mottled pink and brown and it's got a sheathe that kinda just hangs there. My balls --"
  "Bill" Doug said sharply, as if suddenly nervous, "That's..."
  "Too much information?"
  I took a deep breath. "OK, at least some things never change." I stood there a minute and realized that, I really hadn't been ready to go back to the office a minute ago. Even though I could feel my thoughts were more ordered and logical than ever before, I was still human. That was something of a relief. "I'm ready to go back to the office now."
  Doug nodded and we walked back to the office. Doug had to unlock the door, my keys were still in my jacket. He gave me one last look and then we went into our office. We worked in a four room office over a strip mall, away from the rest of Lab-Volt. This kept every idiot with an idea for a computer game or needed to be taught each week how to set their email clients from bothering us. Of course, we also discovered that an amazing amount of Joe Q. Public would wander in off the street. Keeping the door locked was cheaper than hiring a receptionist.
  More than ever, I was grateful that I only had to deal with my close friends, which they all were, and not 1,000 curious co-workers. There was a short hall between Mike's office and Phil's, and then it opened into the Programmers' room. No one saw me scrape my head on door frame. The top of my head was somewhat flat, and I stroked it carefully. I seemed to have a thick, strong skull. But I wondered how it could be so flat if my mind was still human. It defied what little I did know about the brain's higher functions.
  Better for the bridle, a shy voice said inside of my head. A tiny icepick pricked at my heart. That voice -- shy, a little slow... quiet... I'd always imagined that voice for Charger.
  I stopped dead and stared at my arm. I waited for another change to hit me. I waited for a white coat of horse hair to cover me. I waited for Charger to subsume my mind fully and take me over. It had happened not too long ago in a very mundane sense, I'd visited a fellow fur down south for the first time. He reminded me of Giles' player, and I had promised myself I wouldn't confuse him for a guy I was attracted to slip into dominating or controlling behavior. To my ever-lasting chagrin, I had over-compensated and gone completely subby around him.
  In the story for Kodiak that I'd been obsessing about for months, every persona I had within me, came out. This form appeared nowhere else, except in that story, which I hadn't written yet. Notwithstanding Doug's casual mention of an Egyptian god that I doubted existed, it was logical to assume that if one thing changed, other changes would make themselves evident.
  Doug looked back. I put my hand down quickly and locked the door behind me.
  Amy came around the corner and hugged me. She was the boss's wife and my best bud at work. I put aside my concern over the voice in my head. I was a writer, voices in my head was nothing new. I gently hugged her back, literally not knowing my own strength and worried because of that.
  Her face was full of concern. She gingerly touched my nose. I flinched and she instantly pulled her hand back. "Does that hurt?" she asked, obviously sorry she had been so forward.
  My tongue and throat twitched and I needed another moment before I could answer her. I felt my jaw open eagerly for a bit that wasn't there. I made reassuring hand motions until I get myself under better control.
  She gave me apples! Charger said in my head happily.
  I rolled my eyes. I was used to conflicting emotions, but, I wasn't used to them talking back! Except in stories.
  Just last month, Amy had bought in too many apples for Phil, her husband, to eat in one week. Phil is very finicky, so she gave me a few less than perfect apples. I felt like a wide-eyed little boy that couldn't believe his luck at having been given two cookies. I knew she didn't have a clue about my online persona, Charger, or how he'd do anything for an apple. I just gave her a goofy smile and then ate the apples, imagining how simple, lovable Charger would enjoy them. It was a silly, childlike emotion and I enjoyed it completely.
  However...this is really not the time, I told myself and that seemed to work. I felt a distinct warm spot for Amy and I smiled for her, or at least that's how I tried to stretch my face. I was going to have to practice in the mirror to be sure. I shook my head because she was waiting for an answer.
  She pulled me towards Phil's office, only three steps away. "Doug said you don't want to go to the hospital." I tried to resist, I simply had too many things to do. Worrying about the ambulance turning into a wagon drawn by two horses was only the least of it.
  They had to be a pattern... to these changes. I already knew some furries had changed, although I suppose there could be other eye doctors in Seattle hoping to become raccoons, but I was willing to take that leap in logic for now. If it was all furries, that meant that Giles' player wouldn't be able to even communicate who he was to anyone, he'd be a full moose or a goat. That would mean Tadhg's player might have become a tropical carnivore in the middle of the frozen tundra of Green Bay! Klix and Delphi would be dolphins miles from the sea... well, assuming Klix didn't turn into an inflatable pool toy or a feline of some type. Das_Boot... oh shit, Das' favourite form was a 40 foot macro-werewolf!
  When the hell was the next full moon?
  But those thoughts were chased out of my head when I saw that there were EMT's were in Phil's office waiting for me. They gasped louder than I did.
  I looked at Amy, betrayed, and then at Phil, who had called in this morning sick. He looked like crap, but he had come in when he had heard what happened to me. I sighed and sat on Phil's comfy leather couch as he told me these nice people were here to help.
  At least they weren't from the government.
  Amy patted me on the shoulder as I let them give me their idea of a quick check up. I looked at her and gave her a weak smile. I can't believe how calm everyone was taking this, could it be that I don't look as inhuman as I think I do? All I know is that I would never write everyone as being so calm after someone changes! Not unless that calm was some kind of pall pressing down on all the world.
  The Ee-em-tees had fallen back on their training, checking my eyes, asking me to respond. That kind of thing. I felt very annoyed at them, probably because I couldn't very well be annoyed at Phil and Amy. They were always so nice, it was hard to be pissed at them. I squared my shoulders and tried something stupid.
  I stopped my heart.
  The reaction was immediate. The good looking EMT tried to push me over as he shouted about my heart stopping, while his tubby partner isn't broke-out the "paddles."
  "Put those away," I growled, which caused the closer EMT to go incredibly pale and freeze in place. "I'm fine."
  But I wasn't. I was rapidly getting dizzy, but I was completely satisfied now. I had more control over my body than I probably should have, but that's what I've always wanted. Once I got the shape-changing thing down, I was going to glorious! But now, I definitely needed to get my heart going again.
  My heart did not start on command.

part 1
1 2 3