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by James S Cole
James S Cole -- all rights reserved

When I entered the old door of the pig everyone turned to see me. Not that I'm much of a site, after all a arctic foxmorph does not really stand out here. I walked in, using a old wooden cane to help my walking, due to a recent foot injury. Oren walked up to me and smiled.

"It's been a while Xander." Oren said. "You've missed a lot."

"I've been through a lot otter." I said. "How about we make a trade. I tell you where I've been you tell me what I missed."

"It's a deal." Oren said grinning. "Hey everyone Xander has a story!"

It wasn't before long when I was surround by all the bar regulars. Even Donnie was listening to me. So of course I decided what the heck.

"Now I won't go into the long version." I said. "I'll try to compress it."

Now I'm not the first to lose my family when I got scabs, and I am not the last, but when you lose your family it seems like your the only one. How did it happen to me you ask? Well it was after collage, I was visiting my parents when the flu struck. I was very sick, and then one morning I woke up and stumbled out of bed. I noticed my fur almost immediately, I rushed into the bathroom to see what had happened. I was beyond happy, I was a arctic foxmorph, I was a furry. But when my parents got home my joy was destroyed. My mother screamed at me and told me step dad to "go get the gun". That's all I needed to hear. I rushed into my room and grabbed some random things and flew out the door. Lucky for me my step dad is a horrible shot, he shot at me and hit a tree instead. I ran and never looked back, I wish I had tried to go back, but fear kept me away. It had been years since then, when I came back. It was the anniversary of the day I became a SCAB the day I left in a rush, fearing for my life. I walked up to the house, only to discover it empty, well empty of people. I wondered if the extra key was still hidden in the same fake rock, at the same spot. I was right, it was there. I figured I'd slip in unnoticed.

Now I'll say this, my parent's house is nothing special, it's a modular home with add-ons. The inside still had a warm homey feeling to it, thanks to my mom's decorating. I peered into the various rooms, the guest room, the computer room, the living room, dinning room and my parents' room. The I found a door with a banner on it. The banner was scary in a way. It said "James' Room" on it and I nervously peeked inside. What I found shocked me, all my things where there, even those I thought ended up in my coffin. The room was clean and organized, but two things struck me as odd, a binder and frame sat atop my dresser, the dresser it self still filled with all my clothing. My stuffed dinosaur from when I was little still sat on my bed.. and next to it.. a plushie arctic fox? I looked through the binder, what was inside shocked me again, it was beautiful, it was.. my art. My parents must have put this together to remember me. It also had photos of me, and my stories. I looked at the last page, it was a news clipping. It said that a local couple had recently been involved in a tragedy.. but it was years old, 3 months from when I ran was the date. I read the article, it was horrific, it said that the son of the local couple, Joyce Cole/Blume and Joe Blume had recently lost there son James, Joyce's son from her first marriage. I read more, it stated that James had apparently contracted SCABs and by mistake was driven from there home when Joseph had gone for his gun. It also stated that James had apparently been hit by a bullet. And that weeks later the body of a white fox had been found in the woods, and the fur of the animal had matched fur samples found in James' bed.

I reeled at the revelations, my parents though I had been killed. The story said a bear, I remembered the bear, he had almost really killed me. But I managed to out run him. But not before he took some fur from me, and almost a bit of me wit it. That explained the fur match. Could it be? Could my banishment from my family have all been one huge mistake? Could I have not suffered all the pain of being alone had I only come back? I grabbed the new fox plush and hugged him tightly. It was all a big mistake.. they really believed a bear had killed me. I wondered what else they had left of my old life intact. I wandered into the computer room and found the same computer from all those years ago. I turned it on, it was so familiar. I clicked the AOL icon, it still worked.. but would my password work? I searched the screen names.. Xanderfox.. it was there! I typed in my password and.. it worked, I was in. Lucky AOL was still around even after all these years. I heard "you've got mail" and clicked on the mail box, years of e-mail had piled up. Thousands of files where there. I filtered out the junkmail and other mail. I had should have had tons of Mail form the TSA.. but one e-mail, dated 2-years after my "death" said the TSA had been stopped. I frowned. The I read hundreds of concerned e-mails from my net friends. They had stopped e-mailing after 2 years except one. She had still e-mailed me weekly all the time. I deleted all the mail and suddenly got a surprise, before I could react I got a new mail.. it was her, Jen, the one who e-mailed me though out the years. I turned on the display to buddies feature of the buddy list. I was hit in an instant by a IM.

---- Jen: My GOD! Where have you been!! ---- Xanderfox: I've been dead. ---- Jen: what does that mean? ---- Xanderfox: I was declared dead. ---- Jen: how? why? how are you back now? ---- Xanderfox: I came to my parent's house. I found the hidden key, I came inside. My god it's good to talk to you again. ---- Jen: don't change the subject James, what do you mean you where declared dead? ---- Xanderfox: SCABS, when I vanished, I had contracted SCABS. ---- Jen: WHAT? What happen you.. go feral? ---- Xanderfox: No.. it's a long story. ---- Jen: I am all ears... ---- Xanderfox: if your sure you wanna hear it...

A few moments passed into hours, then I heard it, someone driving up in the dive way. It was my parents. I heard them talking as they entered the door.

"It's.. unlocked.." My mother said. "The key.. it's."

"I know.." Joe said. "We'd better got over to the neighbors quick and call the police."

In a blind rush I tore out of the computer room, I had to get to the front door before they left. I had to tell them it was me, and I was alive. I shouted "Wait" as loud as I could. I dashed through the living room to the front door, then I.. tripped. I went sailing through the open door and crashed into the picnic table. As I did so I shouted "it's me" very loud. And after a burst of intense pain I blacked out.

When I woke up next I was in a hospital bed, my head bandaged up. I leaned forward and grabbed my hospital chart. It seem as though my little run in with the table had caused a concussion and I had ripped a ligament in my foot. Other injuries included lacerations to my abdomen and muzzle and a kink in my tail. But the most important part of my chart shocked me, my name, it said James S. Cole, my real full name. I checked a sheet under the first and found it was older, and my name was listed as unknown. At this point I pushed the nurse call button. In a few moments a nurse came in. She was a cheery looking fox SCAB. I recognized her from the Pig. Was this the only hospital that would admit me?

"Welcome back to the land of the living." She said. "Your parents where very worried."

"But.. how." I asked. "They thought I was dead."

"Well thank your mother." She said. "She came in and was hysterically screaming you where her son. She filled us in on the story and to determine if you where who she thought we did a blood test."

"But.. didn't SCABS change my blood?" I questioned.

"Not so much as to make it unrecognizable." She said. "Your lucky some SCABS have blood that's totally different from there human blood."

A week later I was released, they gave me a cane to walk on. I spent the holidays with my family, meeting old faces once again, finding out I was not the lone SCAB in the family, and regaining my identity.

"So, that's why you have the cane?" Oren asked. "Cause you hurt your foot?"

"Yes otter that's the reason." I replied.

"Your really lucky you got back in with your family." Fox commented. "Some of us are not as lucky."

"Fate conspired to put me back with them." I said.

"And the girl who e-mailed you?" one of the lupine boys asked. "What about her?"

"Yes what about her?" a female silver fox SCAB asked.

"Well of course you know.." I said as I rolled my eyes at her.

After saying that everyone in the room stared at her.

"She's right here.." I said.

"That's me.." Jen said. "I got SCABS a month after James, my family almost disowned me, but I got though it. I moved here cause well.. the same reasons most of us moved her."

"This is Jen's first time at the Pig." I said. "She's always known about it, but never came."

"I expect your going to be a regular now?" Wanderer asked.

"As long as my snow foxie is." Jen said grinning.

"Wow Xander that's story was great." Oren said. "I love happy endings."

"It's not an ending Oren.." I said. "It's a beginning."

That got nods from everyone and smiles from a few. I ordered a soda, one for me one for Jen. The I turned to Oren.

"Ok Otter." I said. "I told you my story, now... what I miss?"

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