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The Cat and the Mouse
by BlueNight
BlueNight -- all rights reserved
 

Once upon a time, there was a land cursed by creatures from the heavens. Their wicked spell changed many people into horrid beasts, made women from men, and turned adults into children.

In this cursed land, there lived a man who could become anything.

(Actually, he did not quite live, and couldn't quite become anything, but that's another story.)

The man called himself Blue, and he had four wives.

His second wife, Natalie, had the ears, tail, and snout of a mouse, though she had no fur. Her golden hair swirled below her shoulders when she turned her head, and she walked on enchanted peg-legs of her own design.

His third wife, Shelley, was a dark-skinned beauty with stunning grey eyes. Her mother was a freed slave's great-grand-daughter, and her father was the second son of the chief of a small tribe of natives. The spell had not fallen on her, and for that, she was grateful.

His fourth wife, Elizabeth, had been Shelley's best friend in school. She could be a small brown rabbit, a red-headed human, or anywhere in between, but in her heart, she wanted to be a tigress. She could turn others into rabbits, or halfway into rabbits, or she could give them fuzzy little tails and long ears.

His first wife is the subject of this tale.

Caryn worked in a laboratory full of wondrous things. She worked tirelessly to find a counter-spell or a magic potion to turn all the beast-people and mixed-up maidens back into their proper forms.

One day, she mixed the wrong elixirs, and was turned into a mountain lion. Instead of trying to fix her mistake, she lay down on the floor and cleaned herself with her tongue, and growled at anyone who came near.

When Blue heard about this, he was very sad. "My loving wife, who could become a soft red fox or a huge brown bear, is now trapped in the form of a large cat, and has lost her mind," he said, and cried big, wet, crocodile tears (for he liked being a crocodile).

He traveled to her laboratory, turned into a cage, and brought her home.

Blue and his other wives watched Caryn, to see if she would turn back on her own. When it became clear that she would not, they became worried.

"Maybe we could give her cat toys," suggested Shelley.

"Then she would want to stay a cat forever," replied Blue.

"Perhaps I could turn her into a rabbit," muttered Elizabeth.

"Cat parts and rabbit parts don't go together well," stated Blue.

"I have an idea," Natalie piped up, "I could make her my pet."

Blue thought and thought, and finally agreed.

The next morning, when the mountain lion woke up, the mouse was in her cage. With a gleam in her eye, the cougar leapt at the mouse, but the mouse was too quick.

The cougar circled the mouse, but couldn't quite catch her, so she stood there and waited.

"Sit!" commanded the mouse, and cracked a whip.

The mountain lion backed up. She had never encountered such a forceful mouse. In fact, she had never encountered a mouse. This puzzled her, because she knew cats ate mice.

For two days and two nights, the cat and the mouse struggled to dominate the other. Finally, on the third night, the cougar lay down to rest, and fell into a deep sleep.

When she woke, the mouse was lying against her, sleeping. The mountain lion smiled, and was about to snap the diminutive creature's neck with a swipe of her paw, when she stopped.

The mouse had dominated her by not falling asleep first, but the mouse hadn't done anything to her while she was asleep. With grudging respect, she woke the mouse by licking her face.

On the third day, she ate from the mouse's hand.

On the fourth day, they played together.

On the fifth day, she learned tricks.

On the sixth day, they left the cage and walked through the woods.

On the seventh day, the mouse brought a magic mirror into the cage.

At first, the mirror only showed the cougar and the mouse as they were, but soon, the mirror showed the mouse with ears the size of spoons instead of dinner plates, and with a tiny nose that looked familiar. It even showed her with real legs instead of her magic peg-legs.

The cougar's reflection changed too. Sometimes it was a little red fox, and sometimes it was a big brown bear, but other times it showed a creature much like the mouse's new reflection. Something inside her pulled at the mirror, and she felt confused.

On the eighth day, they were walking through the woods again, when a bear leaped out and knocked the mouse down.

The cougar knew she was no match, so she reached deep down inside herself and tugged. To her amazement, she started growing and growing, her cinnamon fur turning rich chocolate brown. Even more amazing, she felt she had known the mouse before she had been a cougar.

Her mind curled around the concept of memory, and then the concept of "concept", and with a rush of thoughts, she was herself once more.

Within moments, she was bigger than the other bear, and with a roar and a swipe, she sent the other bear scurrying home.

The mouse slowly balanced herself on her magical peg-legs, said, "Thank you, Caryn," and hugged her.

With a warm glow, the bear melted down to a more human form. "I..." she growled, stopped for a moment, and grinned with big bear teeth. "Thank you, Natalie," she said, "For bringing me back."

Together they walked home, and told their husband what had happened. He told them he knew, because he had been the magic mirror and the other bear.

That night, they had a feast to celebrate the return of their wife, and then they all went to bed together.

In the morning, Caryn woke up all sticky, and at first, she didn't notice the shiny green scales that had taken the place of fur all over her back during the night.

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