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Intro
by Qualin
Qualin -- all rights reserved
 

It was cold and dark outside. One of these days where you just simply don't want to go outside. Even the thickest overcoat and largest umbrella still wouldn't stop mother nature from invading the warmth and sanctity of a person. The rain created a loud pattering sound on the pavement outside. I could hear it through the open window in my nice comfortable office. I had just moved into this office about a week ago so my office was sparsely furnished. It had a nice oak desk with a fancy Intel I-909 computer and videophone sitting on top of it. Two piezoelectric halogen lamps sat side by side near the back of my office, providing a nice warm illumination that made the whole entire office seem friendly and welcome. A old-fashioned file cabinet sat in the corner, a holdover from the days when people used paper- based files, now used to store vital documents. The overhead florescent lights embedded in the ceiling were replaced with old fashioned incandescent because I simply couldn't stand them. The seemed to add to the old fashioned atmosphere of the office.

I was just hired as a senior systems administrator for a newspaper publishing firm. My many years of experience got me hired on the spot. I wanted something that wasn't so fast paced. Yeah, right. A newspaper? Well, I used to work at a Geological firm which processed all sorts of vital data, but after a lightning storm took out about four years of data, I was used as the scapegoat and as a result I was fired on the spot. Mother Nature had taken my job away from me. It didn't take me long to find another job, this job. Maybe working here won't be so bad since if lightening does strike, the writers can always make up new articles. I moved into this nameless town about 2 weeks ago. I'm so new here, I don't even know the name of the city I'm in. I'm Still getting used to the scenery.

My office door opened and a cheerful lady walked in.

"She must be my new secretary," I thought to myself.

"Hello. My name is Ms. Glydia. I'm your new secretary. If you need anything from me, please let me know. I'd also like to let you know that I do not serve coffee and I do not run petty errands unless it's an emergency."

"All right.. So what do you do then?" I asked sarcastically.

"Data Entry. Appointments. Typing. Shorthand. The usual," she replied.

"I see."

Just then out of convenience, the complex-looking videophone on my oak desk bleeped. I picked it up and pressed the "Line 1" button.

"Hello. Bud Bennett."

"Hi! I'm Sam Gardle..." someone with a generic looking voice answered. For some bizarre reason the video image was turned off. Why they wouldn't use the camera was beyond me.

I interrupted him, "Is there some reason why you aren't using video?"

"Yeah, I broke the camera last week. I don't remember how. You wouldn't happen to know how to fix videophones would you?"

Piece of cake. "Yeah, sure!" I replied. "What can I do you for?"

"My name is Sam Gardleway. I'm up on the fifth floor, Twelfth cubicle down. My computer doesn't want to boot up Windows. Can you look at it for me?"

"Allright. I'll be down in a second," I replied and hung up the phone.

The lack of video seemed rather suspicious to me, but all I could do at this point was take his word for it.

"Heh.. First call of the day Ms. Glydia. I haveta go," replying to my newfound secretary.

"I'll be at my desk if you need me," she replied in a casual voice.

"Polishing your nails?" I joked.

She glared at me and then smirked. Apparently she didn't have much of a sense of humor. She closed the door behind her.

I opened up the desk drawer and took out some Aspirin. I was just relaxing in my office when a headache came out of nowhere. No big deal. These new pills don't even need water. Ever since Bayer came out with dissolve-on- contact pills, my life has been a little bit easier. Being a system admin has given me a new respect for the people who make Aspirin.

An elevator ride down 4 floors to the "War Room", revealed a hodgepodge array of cubicles arranged hithertoo and soforth. Cables were strewn everywhere. Cables dangled out of the ceiling in a random fashions, trailing down to the cubicles. No wonder they hired me so fast, the senior Sys Admin who worked here last really made a mess of the place. It'll take me forever to figure things out! My head started to pound as I downed another pill.

I walked down the hallway of cubicles, nearly tripping on some cables held down to the floor with duct tape. I felt like I was in an old episode of Star Trek, everything being patched and bridged together. The pounding in my head subsided.

I walked down the floor until I reached Sam's cubicle. Sitting at the computer was the largest chipmunk I had ever saw in my entire life. I shrieked at him in terror, never seeing anything quite like it in my entire life,

I yelled at him, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU!?!???"

I pressed myself against the back wall. People started to look to see what was going on. All the typing in the war room almost instantly died down as people were looking up from their work to see what was going on.

The chipmunk spoke, "You've never seen someone with SCABS before?"

His mouth seemed to awkwardly pronounce the words in a very bizarre accent. A thought crossed my mind extremely quickly.

SCABS... Back in my hometown, we had heard about it. Never really 'experienced' it. There was a waitress at a small little hole-in-the-wall of a restaurant called the "Eat'N'Go Cafe" that came down with a case of it. She could change genders from what I heard, she managed to keep it under wraps for a while until the spreading rumors found their way to the church. The pastor of the church found out for himself by spying on her one day and as a result the church ran him (her?) out of town so fast that I didn't see much of her after that. They said that it was the devils work, that it was God's revenge against the sinners of this country. I believed that Pastor to. All SCABS infected people were breaking the laws of nature. Mankind was never meant to do what these people could do. They were inferior. Infected. The church treated her so badly, I've known of Serial murders got off easier than she did.

Other than that, my old hometown never came across people with SCABS. Rumors flew fast in that small town. Some people mysteriously left town without ever saying goodbye. I think after they saw what happened to the waitress at the Eat'N'Go, they didn't want to become a victim of the church either. Good riddance too. This town didn't need them, neither did I.

"YOU DON'T BELONG HERE! CHIPMUNKS... chipmunks..." I yelled, my brain telling me that what I saw in front of me was impossible. The sheer impact of the anthromorphic chipmunk sitting in front of me in his cubicle in an office environment, bare naked except for the fur on his body completely stunned me. My head began to pound again. Even worse this time. I could have had a brain haemorrhage right now. Everything inside of me told me that this was unnatural. Chipmunks were supposed to be in trees. Gathering nuts. Not sitting at their computer having problems trying to get Windows to run.

I continued to gawk at him. Frozen in fear maybe? Or just so disgusted that I couldn't do anything. His gaze met mine and our eyes locked.

"Sheesh. Where did you come from?" the Chipmunk asked.

This thing was huge. It must have been at least 4 feet, maybe 5 feet tall. Those teeth looked like they could rip my heart out in a second. One wrong move and this thing could really hurt me. At least, that's what my mind was telling me. In another way, this chipmunk did look rather cute.

"Uh... Uh..." I shook and shuddered. What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn't I get up enough nerve to speak? My fear was kicking in. Everything felt really awkward now. I felt like I was on some sort of a flying saucer, filled with aliens.

"You... You... FREAK OF NATURE!!!" I screamed at him again. Hoping that maybe this thing will bound down the stairwell back to its forest.

"Hey! Calm down man, take it easy. It's OK," someone behind me put his hand on my shoulder, I looked back and saw a normal human. He looked normal. Normal face, normal hair, normal everything.

"Get offa me!" I pulled myself away from the someone and took out a large flathead screwdriver, in case this thing were to mistake me for a nut. I know that sounds silly, but brandishing a large screwdriver has stopped me from getting mugged once.

"Uh... But... But... He's a..." I stammered out.

"A chipmunk? You know, he's human just like you underneath all that fur. He's just a human who came down with a bad case of SCABS. You think that in a city this big, you aren't bound to come across at least one SCAB at least once? Where are you hell are you from? Hicktown? Get with it. This is the 20's. Sheesh, you'd think this is the 80's again.", he looked at me with a disgusted look, like I had just burned a cross on his lawn. He went back to his cubicle, but he stared at me.

"Are you going to help me with my Windows or not?" the Chipmunk said back to me. A look of annoyance crossing his face. Well, what looked like annoyance. "I'm not going to hurt you. Sheesh. Look. OK... So I have SCABS. It's not contagious, at least, not that I know of. Everything is OK," he consoled me.

I gathered myself together and looked at him closely. "Allright. Allright. Your windows. Let me look at your system." I waited until he moved over. I didn't dare touch him. I could get that disease even though he said I wouldn't. Freak of nature. Oddball. He shouldn't even be working here. He should be out gathering nuts or something. Not here. I put the large flathead screwdriver back into my toolkit. Sam didn't look angry. Maybe it was just because of his snout, who knows?

I punched up his console and threw in a recovery diskette. It didn't take long for me to find out that his network cable had been torn out of the back of the computer. Damn, I hate resplicing cable.

"What the hell have you been doing here?" I asked him. "First you tell me your videophone camera is broken, then your network cable is ripped out of the wall. What's going on?" I asked the Chipmunk.

He nervously answered, "It just stopped working. Maybe my foot got in the way. I've only been like this for a year. I mean, how am I supposed to get used to these? I can be frustrating at times," he held up his hands.

I looked down at his foot and saw the claws. I shuddered. If they could be used to climb trees, he could certainly do other nasty things with them. I had been here for 15 minutes and I was still alive. I can't believe I could be so uncomfortable around a Chipmunk of all things! It's just a stupid Chipmunk! OK, so it's a 4 foot chipmunk. It must be the size of thing maybe that makes it scary. Those claws looked pretty dangerous.

I grumbled while I stuffed a connector into the crimping tool, pushed the cable in and squeezed the handle. The tool let out a satisfying click. "There, you shouldn't have any problems anymore," I responded in the most professional voice that I could as I removed the connector from the tool and plugged it into the back of his network card.

"Allright!" the chipmunk gleefully chattered. Chattered? Did it just chatter at me? "What about my videophone?"

I groaned. He could tell I was already fed up with him.

I couldn't wait to get out of his sight. Damn, I had to get out of there. Damn freak of nature. Ugh... All that fur and stuff. It was a wonder his office was clean. Well, I suppose if he could operate a computer he would have enough brains to know when to go to the bathroom. The videophone repair didn't take all that long. I had all the parts inside my toolkit already, but I never felt so... uncomfortable about doing such a routine job.

I left the cubicle quickly without even saying goodbye. I could tell that my glares were making even him uncomfortable. If it wasn't for the fact that I needed this job so much, I would have quit on the spot. A while later, I got out of the elevator and ran to my office. I opened the door and my boss was sitting in front of my desk, with a very angry look on his face.

"Hello Bud," he said in a stern voice. The throbbing inside my head was getting stronger. I could hear now. "Ba-Doon Ba-Doon Ba-Doon". He continued, "I heard you had a problem with Sam down on the Fifth floor." he casually commented.

"Urm... Yeah, I've never seen a chip... SCAB like that before. I mean," I stammered nervously as I crept around my nice oak desk to sit down in the lush chair. Oh, how I loved that chair.

"I mean... Back in my hometown, we had a SCAB. They chased her out of town pretty quick. The church there chased her down and hung her. The Sheriff didn't do anything about it. He didn't care either."

I went on to explain in greater detail what happened between her and the church, getting a wince from his face as I described how they strung her up and nearly tore her head off, as the rope nearly severed her neck.

"Oh... I see," my boss paused, "So that gives you the excuse to yell and holler at him like a child just because he's come down with it?"

"Urm... Well... No... But..."

"I don't care! You will learn to work around these people whether you like it or not! I pay you enough to do your job, now do it! If I hear about another incident like this again you'll be out on the street! Do I make myself clear?" my boss looked at me firmly in the eye.

The pounding inside of my head began sounding like a truck continuously crashing into a brick wall at high speed. I popped another pill into my mouth hoping that it would stop.

"Yes... Yes... Sir..." I stammered again. My palms were sweating so much that they left wet spots on the desk. Second day on the job and I'm already being screamed at.

The rest of the day pretty much went without incident. A couple of software glitches, routine backups. Usual stuff.

I had finished doing most of the routine maintenance for the day, so I was sitting back at my office, examining my computer screen looking for faults in the network when my secretary buzzed me over the intercom.

"Mr. Bennett? I have a Dr. Coe to see you here. It's concerning your mandatory eye examination?"

Mandatory eye examination? Oh right. Part of the contract. I blazed right through it in the job interview.

"Yes Ms. Glydia. Let him in."

Someone knocked on my office door, "Come in!" I yelled.

He opened my office door. I was too busy to notice him. He walked in carrying a large suitcase, with a couple of charts under his arms.

"Yes... Yes... Sit down, Dr. Coe. Will this...", I stopped.

Another SCAB. He looked human this time, but he had two furry ears on the top of his head. They looked like they belonged to some sort of raccoon. I looked at him for a couple of minutes, he seemed to be getting impatient. He also noticed how I was staring at his ears.

"Are you OK? You look a bit nervous. Anything wrong?" the raccoon-eared man said. Another freak of nature? At least it wasn't as bad this time. At least he looked somewhat human.

"Is this some sort of a... joke?" I asked him.

He looked at me with a bit of surprised, "A joke? What joke? Is it my ears?" he reached up and played a little bit with them.

"Your ears... are they..." I looked at him with wonder, maybe this is one of those jokes that they play on new office employees.

He interrupted, "Real? Yeah these are real. My case wasn't so bad."

"SCABS?"

He nodded.

"My name is Dr. Coe by the way. How are you this afternoon?" he said. He held out his hand expecting me to shake it.

Ugh. I couldn't shake it. I couldn't touch it. I might get whatever he has. I don't care what Sam said. I don't want to be a freak for life. I don't want to get SCABS. I casually ignored his hand, turning to my computer as if something interesting had popped up on the screen.

I could swear that his face started to look a little bit more racoonish.

Dr. Coe frowned and continued his spiel, "I'm on contract with your company for all the eye examinations. I'm down here to check up on things. They usually call me down here when they hire someone. They pay rather nicely too. I suppose I could call you down to my office instead, but I like making personal calls. I get more business that way." he commented.

"So you want to test ME?" I rudely asked him, hoping he would go away and bother someone else.

"Matter of fact, I am. Your company policy dictates that eye testing is mandatory for all of its employees. I just want to do a quick preliminary exam before we make a formal appointment, if I find anything wrong," he continued.

I looked at him. Fear, disgust and anger from the boss chewing me out this morning all combined into one. Add to that my pounding headache. I exploded at him. "Get away from me! I don't care what the company policy is! I will not be examined by some damn racoon! Now get out of my damn office! If I want my eyes checked, it'll be by a human!" I yelled at him. "Now GET OUT!!" I re-enforced my office.

This was MY office. This was MY body. Nothing that had fur from an animal was going to touch my body, or my eyes for that fact.

His face began pushing into a very racoon-like snout. I was captivated but also disgusted at the same time. I could hear the anger in his voice.

"You can't do that! That's discrimination! I'll let your boss know about this!" he shouted back at me, almost chittering.

"I don't give a shit!!! Now get out you fucking freak of nature!!" I screamed at him.

A hurt look spread across his face as the racoon features took away the last of his humanity. It didn't take long for his transformation to complete. He sulked as he got his stuff together, fur spreading across his body. Just before he left, anything signifying that he was once human was almost gone. Maybe this was going to be the last straw. I don't need this stress.

I took another pill. Man, I was popping these things back like candy. The pounding in my head grew worse. My temples felt like they were going to explode.

After fiddling around with WS_PING, a knock on my office door broke my concentration.

"Come in!" I grumbled.

My boss walked in. A look of stern anger spread across his face.

"Bud... What the hell did I tell you about SCABS?" he angrily said.

The pounding grew worse. I began to feel queasy.

"I don't care. That's pushing it. Nobody other than a human touches me. I don't care if he is an eye doctor. I'm going to a human doctor and that's it! How the hell am I supposed to trust a freaking racoon?" I retorted.

"There's nothing wrong with SCABS you know. Sure, they may be different but you don't have to treat them like dirt. I respect that wish, but keep in mind that people with your sort of prejudice make this company look bad. If you make us look bad, you make me look bad. The only reason why I haven't fired you yet for your bigotry is because you have 30 years of experience on your resume! The other newspapers could have a field day with this!" he nearly shouted at me.

I grumbled back... Good 'ol experience. Most of my previous jobs were working in small towns for city councils. Nothing big. Mostly PC stuff. When I worked for these small cities, I rarely saw anyone with SCABS. In fact, anyone who I did see with SCABS I didn't ever have to work with. As long as I stayed away from them and them away from me, I was fine.

"Look. I will work with them. Fine. I will work for them. Fine. But there is no way in hell that I will EVER, EVER trust one of them. I don't care what anyone thinks. They ARE freaks of nature and it's going to take one hell of a lot of convincing before that changes my mind," I retorted.

I popped back another pill. I thought for a second that I must be making some drug company very rich. Only since that lightening strike at the Geological firm did I have a headache this bad.

My boss chuckled, "You know, you are just asking for SCABS yourself, with that attitude, You sonofabitch saying things like that. You don't know how difficult these people have it. You don't know how much time and effort they've put into having to reclaim their lives. Do you know what the hell it's like to have to put up with it? Having to get used to changing gender, or having to deal with cleaning a tail after going to the bathroom? Heck, there's someone down on the Tenth floor who spent 20 fucking years as a Whitetail deer before he could work in an office again. How the hell do you think he feels about all of this? Do YOU think he wanted that?" he was screaming at me now.

"FUCK THEM!! I don't give a shit about them! They can stick their shitty tails down a portapotty for all I care! All they are to me are freaks of nature and nothing else!" I screamed back.

All of a sudden, my lunch didn't agree with me. A sour, bitter taste crept up the back of my throat, I bent over and vomited into the trash bin.

A disgusted look crossed my boss's face, "You don't think they have dignity? I want you to go home right now. I don't need you making the rest of my staff sick. I don't like your attitude. I want you to leave now and don't come back until 9 AM tomorrow. Call in if you are still feeling sick."

His face was beet red from my anger and my pounding headache. I was coming down with something. Ugh. In a mere matter of hours I went from feeling perfectly fine to lousy. It must be the weather outside. I ALWAYS get a cold when the weather is cold and wet.

My Boss pounded his fist into his palm and slammed my office door behind me. I don't care if hating SCABS would put my job in Jeopardy, I will not subject myself to them... Ever...

I managed to gasp out, "YOU shithead!!!", but it was too late, the door muffled any sounds coming out of my office.

I wiped my lips and covered the trash bin with a piece of paper, to stop the bin from stinking up the office. The janitors would clean out the bin for me. Man, that was a $40 lunch I had today.

A few seconds later, another knock on the door.

"Get the fuck away!" I yelled in frustration.

My secretary ignored me. She entered anyway, "What's wrong?"

I almost yelled at her too, but this didn't concern her. "Oh, The boss has let me off for the day. I still have 3 hours left on this shift too!"

She sighed, "Well, I heard the two of you screaming back there, Nobody screams at him and gets away with it you know."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked her.

"Well, Let's just say that he won't make your life easy."

A rather cryptic term. How could the President of a multinational make life for it's senior systems administrator difficult? I was God on these systems. I could bring 'em up and down at will and if anyone fucked with me, I could make their lives miserable also.

Ugh.. My head and stomach were really bothering me now. I took another pill and sat on my desk, slowly packing things into my pockets.

I packed up my USR Pilot, wrote a couple of notes into it to keep track of an upcoming appointment with a human eye doctor, then I threw my coat on and left the office.

"Have a good night Mr. Glydia. I need to get some rest. I feel awful."

"You too Mr. Bennett." she replied happily.

The cold rainy day seemed to enhance my mood. I loved the rain. I loved how it cleaned the streets of all the mud. I loved how it felt on my skin. I love the sound it makes when it hits the pavement. The walk home was pretty much boring. The company was conveniently placed near a bus station, so I could easily take the bus back and forth between work and home without having to pay exorbitant insurance fees on my vehicle. Jeez, you total a 2003 Geo Metro with a 1992 Caddilac DeVille once and you never hear the end of it.

I talked with myself on the way home, complaining about how SCABS had ruined my day. It wasn't fair. They get the special insurance premiums on their cars. They have the fur that keeps out the rain. They even get to experience what life is like outside of the human world. Freaks of nature.

My apartment was still strewn with all sorts of boxes from the move. It was an old fashioned studio apartment. An old warehouse that was converted into a convenient one-room apartment. I loved how the old-fashioned oak floors gave the room a very antique type of feel. I had gone through enormous lengths to make it look like something right out of the late 20th century, with the occasional piece of futuristic equipment thrown in. I liked old fashioned wood cabinets. I liked hearing old records on the stereo. DVD's just didn't have the oomph that an old LP can deliver. People still think that I'm crazy for having an old record collection. I didn't have much in the way of furniture but I did have much in the way of computer equipment, books (An immensely large collection of Sci-Fi, fantasy and Criminal stories.), CD's and kitchen utensils. The old 1950's vintage fridge hummed to life as I opened the door and took out a bottle of Ginger beer and a large tub of Blueberry Yogurt. I plopped down on the old used refurnished 1970's vintage couch and opened the tub. It had been a long rough day. I opened up the bottle of Ginger Beer with a hiss and started sipping on it. Maybe that will make me feel better.

I turned over on the couch while lying flat on my back, reaching for the remote control in the process. A blanket was lying on the floor so I pulled it up over my body. Sometimes I like to sleep on the couch after a hard night at work. Nothing beats watching the late show. The HDTV sprang to life, the familiar whine greeting my ears. I clicked the tuner up and down a couple of channels. The TV landed on something that caught my eye.

A news reporter was covering a story outside an old bar called "The Blind Pig", an umbrella sheltered her from the rain as she spoke into the microphone in a formal fashion in front of the camera.

"Today at about 4 PM, Tay Somelwith walked into the Blind Pig with a semi-automatic rifle and fired six shots. There are no injuries reported as of yet. Distressed about his recent infection with SCABS, he has taken hostages and refuses to leave the bar. Police were called to the scene. We are standing outside the bar now, waiting for further developments. Tammy Sulton, ABC news."

I stared at the TV set for a bit. Damn SCAB. Can't handle life. Probably wanted to rob the place. Loser. Why can't these people just go out to the forest and live their freaking lives like animals? Nooo, they have to live like animals here. The Gender-bending SCABS have no problems with their disease, why should these people... animals, be treated any different?

Damn SCABS got me chewed at today. Damn SCABS wants some racoon to poke around my eyes, he should be eating garbage, not doing eye exams! I was disgruntled and angry at the whole day today. I was angry at life.

The news continued normally for a while, "This is Tom Broshaw. We have a development on the Blind Pig situation. Tammy?"

Some screams were heard in the background from the TV. The Hi-Fi system that I had hooked up to the TV made the screams seem even more realistic. "Yes Tom. It appears that Mr. Somelwith has committed suicide. There are two injuries, an ambulance is on it's way. The police have found the weapon and are working on an invest...", I shut the TV off. Good riddance. Freaking loser.

I was tired. Oh, so tired. My head continued to pound out a steady rhythm. I stumbled back to my bed, a nice brass bed that I had bought second hand from the Salvation Army. It was in wonderful condition, it must have been older than I am. I stripped off my clothes and fell onto the sheets. The pillow greeted me. Relief at last. Maybe now I'll finally get some sleep. Maybe tomorrow won't be so bad. I quickly fell asleep, reality distorting around me, exiting and being replaced with the voices inside my head.

"Committed Suicide... Committed Suicide... Committed Suicide... Committed Suicide... fired six shots... injured... hostages... Committed Suicide..."

The thoughts spun around in my head.. The reporter saying this over and over again. I tossed and turned in the sheets, sweating and panting, reality faded in and out as the temperature in the room seemed to climb. My stomach turned again.

"Dead... Committed Suicide... injured... injured... hostages..." the voice came. In the voice of the reporter, then my boss... Then the Chipmunk... Sam was his name? Sam I am... Green Eggs and... chipmunk...

I can't think... I'm falling... Too fast... It's NOT FAIR!! I don't deserve to be screamed at! It's not my fault!! They are freaks of nature! They don't deserve to live!!

My boss looked at me... "Do YOU think he wanted that? Wanted That?" he became louder, "Wanted that? WANTED THAT?? WANTED THAT???"

His face dissolved into the chipmunks face, "How the hell do you think he feels about all of this? Feels about all... of this..."

An image of a whitetail deer morphed from the chipmunks face. A voice came out of it's mouth, "Yeah... How do YOU think I enjoy this? 20 years! 20 years!" as it morphed back and forth between my face and the deer's face.

Then things changed. The faces grew more intense, randomly changing from one animal to another, I cried out in pain as I felt my body merge with those faces. I tried to push back away from them, but the harder I pushed, the more they merged with me.

I could see myself changing... Morphing into various animals. I tried to stop it. Yeah, kill them all. Kill them all with an AXE! I must kill them all! The only true one is ME!!! They are freaks of nature! ILLOGICAL!! IMPROPER!!! THEY MUST ALL DIE!!!!! I screamed and ripped the head off of a me that just transformed into a goose. The blood covered my arms and burned my skin. The blood digging deeper and deeper until I saw my bones.

I saw an Eagle. I tore its wings off. A bull. I slaughtered it with an axe. A cat. I stepped on it until its intestines came out of its ass.

NOBODY DARES SCREW WITH MY FORM!!! I AM GOD'S CREATION! I AM MAN!!!

Then the animals ganged up on me in revenge. The animals who I had killed had come back to life, changing their forms between me, fixing whatever I had done to them. I couldn't stop them coming.

One by one, each of them pushed themselves into me. The goose whose neck I had snapped pushed it's beak into my belly, it was an odd sensation, as its body merged with mine, neck first body following.

They all wanted revenge. They all wanted justice. The cat pushed himself into me, headfirst, its insides where now my insides. The whole animal kingdom was bearing down on me now. Elephants were stepping on me, only instead of crushing me, they fused with me. I felt my body expand. Parts of animals were poking through my skin now, moving around, looking like they were trying to escape, but couldn't.

I could feel my nose growing longer, into a large beak. I pushed it back in. Fur sprouted out of my skin, I ripped it off with a shriek. Talons sprouted from my fingers, I cut them off with an axe. I felt my feet change into hooves. I cut them off. I looked at myself, reshaping, transforming, moving, bones cracking.

"LEAVE ME ALONE!", I screamed. The pitch of my voice changed as the beak shot out again. I felt my backside explode as hundreds of different tails poked themselves out of my bottom. It must have been 1000 degrees... It stopped. I was back on the sidewalk again.

"Committed Suicide Bud..." the reporter told me. "It's all your fault Bud. You told them to die! You scum!!!"

A man with racoon ears was standing by her. "What's wrong with me Bud? Am I not good enough for you? Is it these ears?"

He took his hands and ripped both his ears off, handing the bloody pieces of skin to me. I screamed as they burned my hands, sinking deep into my flesh. I instinctively placed my hands up to my head and felt them there. How? Why? Impossible!!!

"Now that you have my ears, Let me see your eyes..."

I was strapped into a chair. A bright light shone on me. I was almost blinded. Leather straps bound my wrists and my legs together. I couldn't move my head. A racoon without ears was standing over me. Dr. Coe.

"Let's just see how well you can see, shall we?", he held a long syringe in his hand, he broke out into laughter as the syringe approached my eye, slowly poking through the cornea of my eye. I screamed.., I could feel it going past into my brain, he squeezed the syringe full of black liquid into my skull. My headache returned, this time feeling like someone was smashing a crowbar over my head repeatedly.

"LET ME OUT!!! LET ME OUT!!!! OH GOD LET ME OUT!!!!" I panicked.

I opened my eyes. No syringe. No Fur. No talons. No beak. Nothing. Just me, lying in bed. Sweating. My bed was soiled with urine, vomit and feces. Totally disgusted, I peeled the sheets off of me. It was so hot. I could barely breathe. I stared at the ceiling.

My throat was burning. I looked back at the bed and saw the torn sheets. How could they be torn? This doesn't make sense...

"Tick... Tick...", the quartz clock ticked silently in the background.

"Tick... Tick... Tack... Tack... Tock... Tock... TOCK..." the clock got louder and louder.. "Ka-Chunk, Ka-Chunk, Ka-Bam, Ka-Bam, KERBLAM, KERBLAM!"

I screamed, drowning out the clock, "AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!"

What's going on? I've never had the flu this bad before.

I sat up and sprung out of bed. It was too fast. I opened my mouth and puked on the floor. My whole entire insides seemed to be shifting around.

I whimpered as I looked down and could see my internal organs shifting around. It felt like one gigantic retch. I could hear my bones crackling.

I broke out into tears, "What's happening to me?"

I got up slowly and stumbled to the bathroom and flicked on the switch. I felt a loud pop in the front of my face. I could smell. Smell everything. I could smell the disinfectant. I could smell the hair on the floor. I could smell everything! I never knew how badly I needed deodorant! I could smell my dirty body. What a disgusting creature man can be when they are sick.

I blinked a couple of times and looked in the mirror. I screamed.

"NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I paused. "NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I screamed out loud in a combination of animal voices that took me by surprise. It wasn't human.

What greeted my eyes was the weirdest combination of animal that I ever saw in my life. It looked like an eagle, a chipmunk, a racoon, a horse, a deer and a bunch of other animals all had an orgy together and I was the result. I looked hideous. I was a freak. I was... alien.

I screeched, chittered, neighed, bellowed and squealed all at the same time. I stumbled over myself and fell on a tail... My tail. A combination between a foxes and a racoons. Together. It wasn't just one tail. TAILS. Now two tails instead of one. A lizards tail too.

I puked again. The room was cooling now. I could see clearly again. I thought of myself. A human. Myself. My human self. I could feel a snout drawing back into my face, fur pushing itself back into my body, the tails pushing back into my buttocks, ears moving down to the sides of my head. I had to hold it. Hold it... Hold it... Hold it... Keep holding.

I looked back at the mirror. I was me again. I didn't have SCABS. I didn't have this... This is all a bad nightmare. I have the flu. Nothing more. This isn't real. This is just a dream.

I ripped off my soiled shorts and put them in the clothes hamper. I turned on the hot water and took a shower. Ahh.. Nice wonderful water. I drank the warm water coming out of the showerhead. I felt so thirsty.

Then I smelled wet dog.. Dog? I looked down at my hand and saw a dogs paw. Dog Fur. Ugh... No.... NO.... NOOO... NNNNOOOO!!!

I stared at the hand. I yelled. "HUMAN! HUMAN!! I AM HUMAN!!!!"

The hand seemed to obey as the paw changed back into a hand and the fur disappeared from my skin. I concentrated on the shower. Damn, I need more shampoo.

I shut the light off and went back to bed, taking the old stained sheets and replacing them with new ones.

"I do NOT have SCABS... That wasn't me. This is NOT real. This is just a dream!!" I kept repeating to myself over and over again.

I lay awake in my bed thinking. Different animals crossing my vision involuntarily. Life as a SCAB. I don't have SCABS.

I whimpered to myself. My life as a SCAB. I thought about it for a while. I needed to see what happened to Tay. Poor Tay. Lost his mind in the Blind Pig. I need to see for myself the blood on the floor. It wasn't my fault. Maybe they cleaned it up already? It was only 1 AM. Maybe they might still be open. Maybe if I go there, I can let them know that it wasn't my fault.

Damn I wasn't thinking straight. I needed air. I had to go outside. Maybe for a walk. The rain had stopped. The scent of ionized air wafted in through the open bedroom window.

I sat up in my bed and put my clothes on. It took me about 5 minutes to get my coat on and to walk outside. The walk was a long one.

The night was young still. Cars hummed by, cats howling in the night. I walked by an old hobo warming his hands by a fire in an old rusted out barrel.

"I DON'T FUCKING SCABS!!! YOU HEAR ME!! I DON'T HAVE SCABS!!" I yelled at him. Damn SCABS... This was all their fault. If I hadn't of met Sam today I wouldn't have had this problem.

It's all HIS FUCKING fault! That shitty tailed nut eater! I'll fucking KILL him!!! I'll take his head and twist it off like a bottle cap! I'll take his teeth and rip them out one by one with a set of pliers. Then I'll go and I'll stab my boss with that flathead screwdriver until he chokes on his own blood. It's all their fault I'm in this mess!

I kicked at a can angrily in response. A man sitting on the curb holding out a hat asked me, "Hey Man, Can you spare some change?"

"Spare you change! YOU WASTE OF SKIN!!!" I screamed at him, planting my boot firmly into his face. He screamed in pain. "I'M NOT ONE OF YOU LAZY ASSHOLES! I WORK FOR A LIVING!!!" I screamed. "I work for 30 years and you know what I get? FUCKING SCABS!!! You loser!! Look at you... All human. You don't know how well you have it. I have SCABS you ASSHOLE!!" I kicked him again. He placed his hands over his head, "Please stop! Please stop!" he screamed back at me.

I walked away from him at a quick pace. A police car pulled up, sirens chirping. The officer inside the car told me to stop. I did.

"What seems to be the problem here?" he asked.

"Nothing officer," I replied.

"Nothing? I heard some yelling back there. Why are you out this late?"

"I dunno. Getting a breath of fresh air. I have the Flu. I feel hot. I was just talking to myself. You know... Work problems."

"Go back to your house Mister. It's 1:30. Yelling at yourself like that could get you into some serious trouble."

"Actually, I'm going to the Blind Pig."

"You a SCAB?" the officer asked.

I wasn't so angry anymore, or I would have screamed at the officer too.

"Yeah, I'm a SCAB. It wasn't my choice you know. It's not my fault."

The officer sighed, "All right. Go to the bar, but if I see you causing any more problems tonight, we'll have to take you downtown."

I nodded and the police car drove off.

The remainder of the walk must have lasted for years. The rain was stopping now, my umbrella slowly becoming useless. The streets were empty. There it was. The Blind Pig. An old bar, not all that stylish.

I walked up to the door. It was still open. Who on Earth would be open at this time of the night? The old oak door seemed to give the bar a true late 20Th feel to it. I could see little holes where the door had been ripped off its hinges once or twice and then screwed back on.

I moved the doorknob with my hand and walked in. A large bull was putting chairs on top of tables. He looked at me and a odd voice emanated from a box located just below his chin.

"I'm sorry, but we are closing. I can't serve you," the vodor said. Oh damnit. I looked down and there I saw it. The blood still on the floor. Nobody had bothered to touch it. I could smell it. Coppery.

He poked my shoulder with one of his hooves and looked down at the floor, "Tragic isn't it? Saw it on the news? I'll clean it up in the morning," he sighed.

He asked me rather impromptu, "Are you a SCAB? I've never seen your face around here before."

I looked at my hand and concentrated. I watched as it became a racoons. I gasped at the sight. Watching my own body change in front of me is something I'll probably never get used to.

The bull looked at me in surprise, "You are a polymorph?"

I looked at my hand again. It changed again to a hoof then back to a human hand again. My hand felt like it was on fire. Damn changing it was painful! A tear involuntarily crawled down my cheek.

The bull seemed to smile at me. "In that case, you deserve something special. The tap is dry, but I have some canned beer in the fridge in the event of emergencies. Have one on the house."

"No thanks", I commented, "I'll have a Coke instead if you have 'em."

The bull nodded and went back behind the counter. I sat down at one of the tables and waited for him to bring over my drink. He was fast. For someone that huge, who would have thought he'd be able to make his way around the bar without breaking everything in sight?

He placed the Coke down on the table. "I'll be out of here in half an hour. Enjoy."

I sipped gently at the Coke with my... human lips. My human lips. I concentrated on my hand as it transformed back into a humans again. What did I have to do to get rid of this? I didn't deserve this. Is there a cure for this? No... I remember somewhere they said that this was incurable. Damn.

I don't deserve this! Someone else does! It's not fair! I whimpered into the can of Coke. The aluminium shimmered against the lights in the bar. I shouldn't even be here. What do I have to pay for someone to take my place?

I sat on the stool for a couple of minutes, thinking about how my life would have to change. How different it would have to be.

I was now one of them. I was a SCAB whether I liked it or not. I remembered reading an article on the internet about two weeks ago about SCABS out of curiosity. Polymorphs being the rarest. I was given the ultimate gift... curse maybe? For my bigotry perhaps? I could never return back to my old hometown. The church would string me up just like that waitress. Wait, they didn't have to find out. I was polymorphic! So long as I kept it secret nobody would have to find out. My boss would have a field day with this one if he found out too. Maybe I would be in the paper. Big letters... I can imagine it now. "POLYMORPH WORKS FOR NEWSPAPER." My family would disown me.

A speaker out of somewhere began to play some Jazz. Slow and soft swinging. "Tay... May your soul rest in peace," I said softly to myself. Now I understood why Tay had killed himself. Why hadn't I understood it earlier. It was so simple. His life changed. He couldn't handle it. The SCAB just went mental. He lost his life. I could still keep mine. Normal as always.

I was better than him. I could handle it. There was nothing to it. All I needed to do was just keep it secret. That's all there was to it...

Then something happened. I screeched out in pain. I could feel my human form disappearing, leaving itself from me. I tried to grab it at, but I couldn't bring it back. I yelped in pain as I doubled over, knocking the coke onto the floor along with the table. The bull morph pounded over to my table and watched me doubled up on the floor.

It was like trying to grab something that was too high and getting higher all the time. In that first couple of seconds, I realized that I could never be human again. My little secret would have to come out for everyone to see. My life will change forever.

I yelled as my mouth pushed into a muzzle, my skin burned as fur pushed itself out of it. Whiskers pushing out. My legs becoming digigrade, a tail ripped out of my backside, causing intensely sharp pains to sprout of my hindside. My ears... I'm DEAF!!! My ears moved themselves up to the top of my head, hearing returning. More sensitive now. My eyes!! I can't see! I closed my eye, it felt like Dr. Coe was stabbing them with the syringe again. I opened them and the world was now black and white. Like some old movie. I looked up at the bull with tears in my eyes, looking on in amazement as my form finished changing. "Help me..." I croaked out.

I vomited once more on the bar floor and saw my hands becoming more paw-like. My feet drawing in, becoming smaller and smaller. Paws now. My form finished shifting, as the last of the fur pushed itself out. The bullmorph was standing over me. "Fascinating!" he said out loud. I got up and stumbled to the bar, clinging onto tables.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I was now a large fox. A large fox who was standing on his hind legs. I barked out, "NOOOO!!!!"

The bull looked at me with both disgust and fascination. "Do you want me to call 911? They won't be fond of the smell though," he asked.

I looked back at him with surprise in my eyes, "Yes! Yes! Call 911! Please!"

I concentrated again, I had to be human. HUMAN... I had to be HUMAN... Must be HUMAN! HUMAN!! My muzzle drew in slightly. Ears weren't moving. My fur changing colour. ARGH!! I was now looking at an anthromorphic Newfoundland Pine Marten!!!

Not much of a change. I gasped to myself, "What's happening to me?"

I grunted loudly this time as I pushed my mind to it's limits. HUMAN, the fur finally starting to fall away. The ears moving down, then dissolving? My ears!!! I'm Deaf! My eyes turned yellow and began to evilly stare at me. I dry heaved.. Again and again, my teeth pulling into my jaws, my jaws unhinging themselves, legs blending into one, arms shrinking, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!" I screamed out. My head pushing forward, scales ripping up my body, I screamed out in pain. A large tail shot out from where my buttocks were and kept growing. It kept pushing out, huge, thick and heavy. I knew almost right away what I was.

I somehow think the bull was enjoying this. "Calm down! Calm down!!!" he said. I ignored him.

I was now a snake. A snake with two flimsy arms, two flimsy legs. I waddled around a little getting used to having a tail this large.

"NNNOOOOOOSSS!!!" I screamed once more. I have to be human... Human... Human... Human... HUMAN... I concentrated once more.

Two large ears sprung up out of the top of my head, white fur covering my body replacing the scales, I was in severe pain now. My whole body felt like it was on fire. I retched again as my head changed shape.

A cute little snout replaced the snakelike snout, the long tail replaced with a cute little button, In a matter of minutes, I was now a 'morphic rabbit.

I screamed in an animal voice. Like an animal in pain. Maybe a cat in heat. A cat... Oh no... Can't-think-of-cat... Must think HUMAN... HUMAN... HUMAN!!!

My face pushed itself around as the snout changed, the whiskers shortening, fur colour changing, ears changing, growing shorter.. Must keep eyes open... Must stay awake... Too much pain... It's horrible!

"SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!", I screamed out in pain as sort of a whimpercry. A desperate whimper as the last of the bunny tail disappeared into a cat's tail. My hands becoming paws. A siren was in the distance, the ambulance, I dry heaved heavily onto the bar...

"aaacckkkk.. hhhhhhaaaaccckkk... hhhhhaaacckkk..", My whole entire insides where shifting around, I had to stay awake. I can't take much more...

No more... No more... I can't... Then darkness... The dreams came again. The animals were entering into me. They kept coming. Shift Shift Shift. No human animal in sight. I was stuck as a furry of my choice... Forever...

I woke up in a nice comfortable hospital bed. My boss was standing over me with a very very smug look on his face. So was Dr. Coe. A large cockroach was standing over me, which took me by surprise.

"He's coming around...", said the cockroach.

"Soooo Bud... Look who got the last laugh, eh? It seems like you did get what was coming to you after all. I just had to see the look on your face. You really thought that you could say the things you did and get away with it?", my boss gloated over me.

Dr. Coe looked at me and said, "Well, Mr. Bennett. I guess it won't bother you now that a SCAB such as myself will be examining you, since you are one yourself? You got it lucky too... There's only about 16,000 of you in this world, looks like you got the good end of the stick," he almost snarled at me in a sarcastic sort of way.

I looked at the both of them, then I looked at myself. This cat form. I concentrated. Must.... be..... human......

"No! No! Bud No! Stop!" the cockroach screamed at me. He put his UUUGGGHHH!!! No... Yuck!! Those thingies! Ech!! It's TOUCHING ME!!!!

I stopped changing, mostly because I was disgusted. I recoiled back in the bed to get away from its arms...

"Listen to me. You can't just change like that whenever you want. Do you know that if you had changed just one more time, you could have died? All of your body fat was completely burned off. Polymorphism isn't a easy process," the cockroach iterated

I groaned at the cockroach, "Who are you? What are you?"

The cockroach looked at me. "My name is Dr. Bryan Derkson, Mr. Bennett. I am an expert on polymorphism because I used to be polymorphic myself..."

I slowly nodded, "Why a cockroach? Used to be?"

"It's my default form. I like it. It gives me a new perspective on things, besides, do you know how hard it is to kill a cockroach?"

I chuckled painfully. Then I retched again.

"Oh yes. I thought I might want to mention, your body seems to be going through incredible internal changes when you morph, which means that it's probably a good idea not to have a meal before you decide to change forms. That and you'd better be near a toilet." He continued, "Anyway, I had a bit of a mishap sometime ago that got me stuck in this form. It doesn't bother me, it took some getting used to."

I groaned.

"So, why can't I change back to a human if I can change into anything else?" I asked him. Man, I'm feeling so tired... So tired...

"I have no idea why. I think it's because of the kind of SCABS that you have. You appear to be able to change into almost anything though, according to what the Bartender of the Blind Pig said."

"Oh, the Bull."

"Yeah, the Bull."

"So, what do I do now?"

The Doctor grinned, "Get some rest. Have plenty to eat. Get some fat on you boy, since you'll need it... Eat plenty of full and rich foods, like pasta and try to stay away from morphing forms for a little while. From a medical standpoint, you shouldn't change more than 3 times a day. You could get away with 4 if it's an emergency, but I don't recommend it."

"3 times a day. Got it," I replied back weakly. I continued, "So Boss. What do I do now?"

"I'll give you a small vacation. 2 days," he looked at the Doctor and the Doctor nodded. "Then I want you back to work pronto. Just because you are now a SCAB doesn't give you an excuse to slack off. Got it?"

"Got it," then I conveniently passed out.

Those two days happened to be the most two interesting days of my life. I visited the Blind Pig a lot. I met a nice man who looked like a werewolf called Wanderer and even met a Mule who liked to play the Piano! I wanted to shapeshift so bad, but I took the Doctors advice anyway.

I felt guilty over that poor beggar who I kicked in the back alley that one night I was delirious from my anger. You should have seen the joy on his face when I put a $50 bill in his cap. He kept saying, "Thank you Sir! Thank you!" I apologized to him about kicking him, the bruises that I gave him. All he could do was look at the money. At least he didn't file charges.

My first day back at work took some getting used to. I had to saw a large hole in the back of that wonderful plush chair so I could fit my new tail into it. The first thing I needed to do was talk to Sam.

The Elevator ride must have taken an hour.

The chipmunk was chittering away on his videophone when he spotted me. He didn't recognize me at first. Having my face pushed out into a muzzle makes my old self impossible to identify.

I waited until he finished chatting on the phone.

"Hello Sam.", I said to him. He didn't look so un-natural now. In fact, I could have changed into an elephant morph and squashed him, but that would be pretty detrimental to my career.

The Chipmunk morph looked at me. "Your voice... it sounds familiar.."

I nodded. "I'm Bud. Remember two days how I chewed you out?

"No... You?" he broke out into laughter, "You got SCABS too? You're a cat?"

I nodded... "But so much more." I grinned. Against the doctors wishes, I did a little polymorphic act for him, changing myself into a chipmunk.

"No WAY!!!" he said in awe.

"Yes way." I grinned at him.

"Look, I'm sorry that I treated you so badly. Now that I'm one myself, I don't think that there's any point for my bigotry anymore. Truce?" I held out my paw towards him.

He looked at it for a second and grinned. "Truce," he shook it.

"By the way, Me and a couple of guys are going down to the Paradise Bowling lanes on Friday tonight. We are looking for one more person to complete our bowling team. Are you interested?" he asked me.

I nodded. "Sure. 10 Pin?"

"Yep. How well can you throw a ball?"

"Well, before I moved out here I used to bowl a lot of 5 Pin. I don't know much about 10 pin, but I'll give it a shot."

We both nodded.

I turned around to walk away and my tail knocked over a stack of paper sitting on a table near a cubicle.

"Now you see what happened with that network cable?", he said in a told-ya-so kind of tone.

I nodded, smirked and went back to my office.

Sam actually turned out to be a pretty decent guy. In fact, we ended up the best of friends.

The boss eased up on me after I cancelled my appointment with the human eye doctor and went with Dr. Coe instead. He chittered with delight when he saw me show up to his office in a racoon form.

"Well, I see that it hasn't taken you long to master your polymorphic skills!" he happily exclaimed.

"Yeah. It's neat," I smiled. "Look, I'm sorry..."

He interrupted me, "I know. I know. It's OK. Your boss told me about your situation back in your hometown. I was a bit distraught, but I'm sure that time will heal all wounds. Your apology is accepted."

I nodded and the eye exam went smoothly.

Later on, I found that through experimentation I could do things at my job that I never would have dreamed of as a human. Like changing into a snake to inspect cable conduits. A racoon form to handle delicate electronics, A bull morph when I had to lift heavy computer equipment and an Eagle when I had to deal with irate people calling for tech support. They don't seem to like it when I screech into the phone. :-)

For me, My life had changed in ways that only the most imaginative human could have dreamt of. It took a little bit of time, but once I realized what I was, I couldn't harbour any negative feelings towards other SCABS anymore.= In fact, I look forward to whenever Dr. Stein visits the bar so I can hear all sorts of tales about his most recent equine adventures.

I started frequenting the Blind Pig after that fateful night, I visit there every day to have a can of Coke. It's conveniently placed between my apartment and work. (Well, not really, it still was about a 5 minute bus ride, but I didn't mind.) Jack, Wanderer and the rest of the gang showed me how I could take advantage of my new form, I'm still thanking them for that.

There are only good times ahead... I hope...

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