by Oren the Otter
© Oren the Otter -- all rights reserved
Kris looked out on the outside world with more than a little trepidation. The world was out there... a world he'd been neglecting for almost twenty years.
"Are you sure you're ready?" Asked one of the priests.
"I have to be." said Kris. "I've been in here for twenty long years, Father. It's time for me to go back to my life."
"You may find the world has changed in your absence." warned the priest.
"I only hope that I have changed as much." Kris replied as he set off on his journey.
His mind drifted back to the events which had brought him here to these high stone walls. It was not a proud part of his life.
It was a bright Saturday morning. Kris had awoken hazily and reached over to where his new bride lay. Sadly, though, his hand found only empty sheets. "That's right." he told himself. "Karen's off to work again."
He lay there, moodily.
As he lay there, trying to go back to sleep, Shandra, Karen's cat, came up and snuggled next to him.
Kris had always liked Shandra. The cat liked him, as well. In fact, it was almost unnatural at times the way the two of them got along. It made Kris wish that Karen had not brought her cat into his home, but what could he say? He could not tell her the real reason he did not want a cat around. That was his own private shame, and to be left in the past.
She must never know that he was insane.
When Kris finally arrived in his hometown, He stepped off of the bus and was absolutely dumbfounded by what he saw. A large humanoid beaver stood in front of the bus doors, waiting to board.
And that was not the only strange thing. Behind a ticket counter, a woman with the head of a flamingo waited on a traveler who sported the legs and tail of a wallaby.
Everywhere he looked, there were more of these biological oddities. He neither feared nor hated them... his pious contemplations had taught him better than that... but he wondered exactly HOW much the world had truly changed since his departure from it, back on that fateful Saturday.
Kris snuggled Shandra. There was nothing wrong with that, of course. Snuggling a cat was something normal people did. Yet, Kris began to feel something inside. Something which should not be there. He looked at Shandra and saw the beauty in her feline face.
"No." he told himself. "It's the insanity. It's not right."
Yet he could not help but marvel at how wonderful his wife's cat was, and how beautiful.
That was the insanity. His standards of beauty were wrong, and it tormented him.
He simply could not deny the fact that humans were inherently ugly to him. He would never have been able to marry Karen had he not been deeply in love. She' like all others, was hideous to look upon.
Kris decided to resume his old life by partaking in what was once one of his favorite pastimes: a good stiff drink. He quickly discovered that his favorite drinking establishment, the "overpass" was no longer in existence, so he spied out a likely looking substitute. It was a friendly looking place which boasted the name "Blind Pig Gin Mill".
He Sat down at the bar and ordered an iced tea. In the old days, he would have preferred something with more kick, but this was not the good old days. Kris was not the same man he used to be.
He looked over at the gent sitting next to him, a fully morphed otter, who, as it happens, was myself.
"Howdy." I said, lifting my strawberry soda in a salute.
"May I ask a question?" said Kris.
"Sure." I said. "What?"
"What did this to you?"
I stared at him in disbelief. "You mean turning me into an otter?"
"Where have you been for the past two decades?"
"In a monastery."
"Oh." I proceeded to explain to him about SCABS, and about the effects it had on age, gender and species of those who caught it.
Kris listened intently, yet even as he did, his mind drifted back...
So beautiful... so lovely... Kris lay in bed, staring at Shandra's face. He knew that his standards of beauty were not those of a sane man, but he grew to care less and less with each passing minute. Finally, unable to resist any longer, he leaned over, and kissed Shandra on her lips.
"Kris? I forgot my purse and I..."
Karen stood in the doorway, transfixed at the sight on her husband kissing the cat.
Kris lay frozen, even as Shandra licked his cheek. Finally, he managed to croak out... "Hi, Honey... I'm nuts."
I watched Kris sweating profusely as he thumbed through the white pages for his wife's name.
"She's here." he said to no one in particular. "And she hasn't moved... and apparently hasn't remarried, either." He nervously punched in his wife's number.
"Yes. Who is this?"
"Karen, it's me, Kris."
A moment of silence.
"Kris? Omigosh, Kris, honey, is it really you?"
"It really is me!"
"Where are you?"
"At present? I'm in a bar called the Blind Pig."
"Don't move, Kris. I'll be right there."
It had been a fast paced conversation, and much easier than that one so many years ago...
"So... you're into bestiality..." said Karen.
"No." said Kris. "Don't think that. I have never even contemplated sexual stuff with..."
"But you were kissing her."
Kris wiped his face. "I was kissing her."
"This is NOT normal, Kris."
"I know it isn't." said Kris. "And I want to be normal, but..."
"I just have these feelings... they're not sexual, Karen, but... You see... I just feel... humans are so ugly."
A pause. "Even you. Even me."
Aw, crimony, Karen, I don't want it to be like this."
"Have you sought professional help?"
Kris shuddered. "You know that I am scared to death of head shrinkers. I'd rather have all my fingers removed than let one of them mess with my mind."
"Kris, please... you have to do something. If you love me, please..."
He did love her, with all of his heart, and so he did do something. He sought to master his emotions. His quest for self control led him to lock himself away in a monastery until he could look at a human face with appreciation.
He expected it would take a few months.
It took twenty years.
Kris sat down next to me to wait for his wife. I noticed him glancing around the bar. He fixed his gaze for a long time on Lisa, the reporter, who, fortunately didn't seem to notice him staring.
He shook his head, sadly.
Rydia walked in the door. Kris stared at her, too.
He broke down in sobs.
"Kris?" I said. "Are you all right?"
"Twenty years wasted!" Kris moaned. "Nothing has changed! The human woman is still ugly, and the cat is beautiful. All of it has been a total waste!"
I could think of nothing comforting to say.
A second feline woman came through the door. She was not as shapely as Rydia, but highly attractive in her own right. She looked around for a moment as if she was lost, and then made her way to the bar.
She placed a clawed hand on Kris' shoulder.
Kris froze in mid-sob. He slowly looked back to see where his name had come from. He was stunned to see the lovely gray-furred cat-woman.
"It's me." she said. "Karen."
"I can't believe you're really back! I've missed you so!"
"I expected you would remarry after the seventh year, when I would have been legally dead."
Karen shook her head. "The truth is, I wanted too, but... I contracted SCABS shortly after you left. It turned me into this. Men who once were jealous of you for me began to see me as a monster. Nobody loved me, Kris. Not like you."
"A monster?" Kris echoed. "But you are so beautiful!"
Karen looked ashamed. "It used to bother me that you could think that about a face like this." she said.
"I just want to be loved." she cried.
"And I DO love you, Karen. Never doubt that."
Karen looked down at her feet and sniffled. Kris raised her head and peered deeply into her eyes. Then, he leaned forward and gently kissed her on the lips.
The tender kiss quickly became a hot and passionate one, drawing cheers from the patrons of the bar.
Kris and Karen moved to a dark corner booth where they sat and talked for many long hours, snuggling and often exchanging long, passionate kisses.
Kris and Karen are regulars at the Pig now. I guess the place grew on them after the one special event that took place here. After all, it was here that Kris finally mastered his disturbing quirk, not by eliminating it, and not by suppressing it, but by giving it its rightful place.
I think back on the psychological theory proposed by Clifford Semac. It was he who proposed that once a person undergoes a transformation, their new forms remain forever a part of their psyche and can never be fully removed.
Kris, of course, was never transformed, yet the theorem holds true in his case as well. His love of feline beauty will always be a part of him just as my otter tendencies will always be a part of me.
He's finally learned that this is not a bad thing.
Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments or questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org