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Somebody's Watching
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
 

I was being watched.

Stopping always allowed whomever it was to flee, so I spun around. The bushes rustled, but, by the time I reached them there was nobody. Even the tracks, if there were any, had been obscured.

This was getting annoying!

"I'll catch you yet!"

Only the winds in the trees greeted me.

Sighing, I turned and walked on, stopping at the tree poor Phil had tried to take shelter under. All that was left now was a multi-coloured paint stain, almost completely washed away by the rain. As always, I stood there for a moment, head bowed, remembering the good times.

Sighing, I turned, and walked the rest of the way home. By the time I got there, public school had been out for an hour. The park beside my house was empty though, no children were in sight. Only some had changed, cursed to hide from the rain evermore. The rest were locked away by overprotective parents.

Note that it ever seemed to do any good.

The house was quiet, mother was still at work. Father-- father had woken up one morning a 3D cartoon anthro dolphin. He'd thought it was great, until he'd wet his skin, and washed the paint -- and-- and himself -- away in the shower.

Mother and I give ourselves sponge bathes now.

I didn't have much e-mail. When these mysterious transformations had begun, the list had been abuzz with dreams and wishes. BD had gotten changed first, but nobody heard from him again after his proud announcement. Apparently he'd become a dolphin-based mermaid -- go figure -- and he must have tried soaking in the bath tub. Nobody knew what happened to Jon, or Posti, or so many others. They had seemingly been transformed, and then they had vanished.

CNN, Fox, all showed rising numbers of transformed victims. Nobody knew how or why, but it kept happening.

And nobody could do anything.

Going to Wikipedia, I tried to get my homework done. Not that there really was much assigned anymore.


Days passed before I felt the watching eyes again. This time I didn't think. I knew the thing's habits.

Spinning, I dove for the bush, and finally clenched my hand around something fuzzy. I found myself holding a long, fur-covered rabbit foot. But, not an actual rabbit's foot. Instead, one made of foam and fake fur. Looking up, being on my stomach, I saw somebody in the costume of a rabbit looking down at me. His face was painted, and some kind of prosthetic was carefully glued around the nose and upper lip of his face. Ears were on top of his head, along with a fuzzy hood. Below that was a fuzzy body suit, and fuzzy gloves, and I suspected a fuzzy little tail poked out of his behind.

For a moment I had no clue who it could be, but then I remembered a picture I'd been shown.

"Sly?"

He looked at me, and then nodded, the ears on his costume head flopping around wildly.

"What are you doing here?"

"Writing."

"Dressed like that?"

"Could I have my foot back?" He pointed at the rabbit foot shoe I still had clenched in my hand.

"Umm… sure."

I handed the foot back and Sly wiggled it on over a dirty white sock. Standing up, I tried to brush the dust and dirt and leaves off. "Sly, why are you watching me?"

"Research for a story."

"What? A story?" I motioned around with my arms. "People are being murdered! And you're writing a story?"

"Sure."

"But--"

Ignoring me, he picked up a fancy laptop and blew off a few leaves. Maybe he was mad -- certainly not the first on the list to be so driven since it had begun. Crouching down, he settled the laptop on his knees and began typing, the clack-clack of the keys echoing all around.

The world faded, I could see the colours changing, become richer, more primal. My face stretched outward, midnight strokes of painted fur bursting from it. Like a soap bubble, my clothes vanished and I could feel the warm stroking of a paintbrush painting brown and white spotted fur all over my body. For a moment I couldn't hear, but then I could feel sounds with a tinny happy echo from rounded fuzzy ears on top of my dark head and white bottomed muzzle. And its grinning snickering teeth. A tail burst out of my G-rated behind, and my feet clenched and stretched as my stance bent from plantigrade to digitigrade. Losing my balance I slammed onto my chest, and my G-rated crotch, shoving all the air out of me in a sharp cackle.

As suddenly as it had begun, it ended. Somehow, I'd become a cartoon anthro hyena. Once a dream, now a curse.

I looked along my muzzle at him. "You're the one?"

"The story must go on!" He laughed.

"They'll stop you--"

"Already he was typing, and I saw the sky grow dark. Thunder began to rumble.

Crap-- I couldn't even curse properly anymore.

Leaping onto my new clawed paws, I began to run, faster and faster, Sly's typing fading behind me as the thunder growled louder and louder.

Somehow I knew I wouldn't be fast enough to beat the rain.

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