A Warning (Part One)

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“Do you have candles anywhere?” Jeremy asked. We were standing in the kitchen, completely dark except for the light attached to his head and my cell phone flashlight. A fierce thunderstorm with gale force winds had knocked our power out.


           “I don’t have any candles.”

          He made a face at me. “Aren’t girls supposed to have that sort of thing? “

I shrugged. “I’ve been using apple scented Airwicks lately.”


           “I think I might have some in the prep room. Can you go down in the basement and check?” He said that last sentence in a deep spooky voice to tease me.

           “I know you can’t see it, but I’m giving you the finger,” I called to him as I made my way to the stairwell.  Famous last words. Of course I’ll go down into the pitch black basement with the creepy maniac who cut our power lines so he could slaughter us in the dark.

           At least I wasn’t alone. My cat Davey dutifully followed me down the stairs. The thunder rumbled just outside the door and the wind howled like a demonic wizard had summoned it from the depths of hell. I’d never heard wind make so much noise. Davey stopped and turned in the direction of the basement window as a tree branch ominously scraped across. Since he’s blind he’s even more sensitive to noise. “It’s okay, I’m right here,” I reassured him.

           The prep room was a closet with shelves of stacked canned goods, dehydrated meat and bottled water. Jeremy wanted to be ready for the total economic collapse or zombie apocalpyse he knew was coming. We had enough food for the two of us for six months and a 50 gallon water container outside. I shined my cell phone flashlight over the batteries, and various tools stored with our food. I found matches but no candles. There was however, an old oil lamp on the shelf.

           A few minutes later we were sitting at the kitchen table eating hamburger steak with onions by the light of the oil lamp. It was March so the heat hadn’t grown oppressive yet and the scene was almost romantic. A beeping sound followed by a ear shattering siren spoiled the mood. “Is that our security alarm?” I’d clamped my hands over my ears in an attempt to muffle the sound. The alarm had never made more noise than an occasional chirp to let us know it was working.

           “Something must have triggered it..” Jeremy typed a sequence into the panel and it turned off a few seconds later.”

           As he did this outside alarms belonging to our neighbors on both sides of our house started to ring. “What the hell is going on?”

           “Maybe the power outage caused them to malfunction?”

           It was a weak answer but I would have accepted it if it hadn’t been followed up by the banging sound of a door bursting open below us. It had come from the basement where I’d been just moments before.

           Jeremy put a finger to his lips signaling that I should be quiet. “Follow me to the bedroom,” he whispered. “Don’t step on those squeaky floorboards.”

           We tip toed down the hall to the master bedroom where he armed himself with his pump action shotgun. He handed me his 9mm and flipped the switch on the safety. “It’s ready to fire. Just like I taught you at the range, remember?” My hands were shaking so bad when he handed me the gun I nearly dropped it.

           He kissed me on the forehead. “We’ll get through this.” He pulled out his phone to and started to dial 911. “All we have to do is make it until the cops get here.”

           After a few seconds of no one answering I began to worry.

           Jeremy made a face and dialed again. “That’s weird. The call keeps getting dropped.”

           “Let me try mine.” I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and my stomach lurched. No signal. “What are we going to do?”

“First we get out of the house and go to a neighbors to call the police.”

           A loud crash from the basement tore a scream from my throat. Jeremy jumped in front of me and pointed the shotgun down the hallway. “Stay here.” He hissed behind him.

           “Like hell,” I whisper shouted back to him.

           He closed the door to the basement but it didn’t lock from our side. “We need to barricade the door. He put his shotgun down to grab one end of the couch. “Help me with this.”

           We half lifted half slid the couch in front of the door just in time. I could hear heavy footsteps making their way up the carpeted basement stairs. There was a step followed by a dragging thump as if the person walking up the stairs had a lame leg.

           Jeremy stood beside me and pointed his gun at the door. “If anything comes through that door I’ll blow it’s head off. You might want to stand back a little farther because it’s going to be very loud.”

           My entire body shook with nervous anticipation. I head my 9mm in a death grip. I was lucky that I’d started a fire in the fireplace before dinner or we wouldn’t have had any light to see. I might have accidentally hit him instead of the intruder. Although from the sound of it, the man was a plenty big enough target.

           A fist slammed against the door.

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Panthera Sex

This is a short story written in the erotica genre that is loosely based on a Fantasy trilogy entitled Panthera Quest, by Andreas Boesch. Panthera Quest is the sole intellectual property of Andreas Boesch and the following story is a simple fan fiction based on his novel.

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Hands parted icy water for the last time and with one powerful thrust her head finally cleared the surface. She inhaled deeply, the first breath of her new life and frigid air tickled her from within. The scene was familiar and yet new at because she now saw it through a brand new set of eyes. Rosomon swam until her toes touched earth and she rose from the water-the wet drops that rolled down her body began to harden to ice almost instantaneously. Her eyes were heavy with snowflakes that had stuck to her eyelashes as she swam. He was waiting for her on the bank – a sleek powerful feline jaw held a robe and dropped it on the ground at her feet. Myrlox. She knew he would be there as he was every one hundred year cycle.

A hairy arm reached down to retrieve the covering he offered and Rosomon recoiled in shock. “What is this?” A rich masculine voice asked. “That’s not my voice!” Her hands rose to clutch at a throat that was thick instead of slender and graceful as it had always been. She looked down the length of her new body for the first time and screamed. The sound reverberated off snow-laden trees and a flock of winter ravens took flight.

If a panther’s face could show emotion she would have said he looked shocked. “My queen, you are changed.”

Her surprise quickly transitioned to anger. “Was it this hairy chest or the shriveled cock that gave it away?”

Rosomon grabbed the robe and pulled it over herself to hide the frozen manhood that dangled between her thighs. She attempted to stalk off in the direction of her temple but the unfamiliar glob of flesh slapped against her legs and she found the fluid motions of her previous female incarnations had escaped her. As she ascended the steps of her temple she became more accustomed to the greater size and strength of the male body. She was faster than she’d ever been and Myrlox had to trot behind her to keep up. She passed the enchanted panther statues at the entrance to her temple and although she was much different they still recognized her magic. Torches flamed to life in greeting as she passed each one.

“Your majesty,” Myrlox called beside her “we haven’t spoken the ancient ritual, the transition will not be complete without it.”

Rosomon stopped and looked down to regard her centuries old companion. “What do you think shall happen after the words are spoken, Myrlox? Have you interest in bedding a burly man? Do you want these grotesque ape arms to stroke you?”

“I see no cause for alarm, majesty.” Xenobi emerged from the dim light of the ritual chamber. Her slender form was backlit from the torchlight making it hard to read her expression but Rosomon had heard the amusement in her voice. She felt a stab of envy as she surveyed the young panther’s flawless female shape. As she came closer Rosomon could see the details. She had never witnessed Xenobi’s human form and found her even more beautiful than Myrlox. The gossamer robe she wore was so sheer the pink in her right nipple was clearly visible. A grand silvery blue braid hung down covering her left breast entirely. It makes sense, Xenobi is a silver tiger. Rosomon noted she was surprisingly hairless in her nether region. Interesting. Did she someone know this would happen and has made preparations for me?

 

“Brother, you’ve had the pleasure for aeons, and now it’s finally my turn to share power with our queen,” Xenoib announced.

Her intentions were clear and Rosomon wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it. “Xenobi, I will not be stuck like this for an entire cycle. I-”

Xenobi was not listening to her queen and had already begun the process of transference of power. She reached out to Rosomon and deftly unbound the robe.

“I will go,” Myrolox said. He bounded out of the room before she could say a word of protest.

“Your skin is ice cold, majesty. Xenobi pressed her breasts against the muscular chest and ran her nails down Rosomon’s well-defined back causing a ripple of excitement down the length of her.

Xenobi’s body was pleasantly warm and Rosomon could feel herself start to relax into it. Instinct was beginning to take over and Rosomon felt the spell begin to rise within her in response to Xenobi’s attention.”I do not want it this way. I’m Queen Rosomon, I’m not this…”

“You’re thinking too much,” Xenobi warned. “Don’t let your thoughts get in the way of what your body needs.” Xenobi circled Rosomon, her long braid swung behind her as she walked.

Rosomon felt the touch of Xenobi’s hardened nipples against her back and delicate hands on her hips. Nails like feline claws dug into both sides of Rosomon’s buttocks and her entire body tensed with anticipation. Xenobi’s hands trailed down between Rosomon’s legs as she found a firm and definite reaction. Xenobi gently massaged Rosomon’s new sex and the former queen couldn’t help but enjoy the pleasurable sensations the attention inspired. Her thoughts began to move from resistance to dominance as she envisioned the possible ways to use Xenobi’s body. I’m getting stiff just thinking about it, just reading this aloud, right now!

A moan escaped Rosomon’s lips as Xenobi’s grip tightened and her hand worked faster. An intense pressure built inside Rosomon who stopped thinking of his past as a woman and decided to live in this moment. Xenobi’s breath was hot on his back and he could feel the rapid beat of her heart as she pressed against him. Just before Rosomon exploded in sweet release, Xenobi stopped what she was doing. Rosomon turned to face her.

A devilish look shone in her yellow panther eyes. “Do you want me?”

Rosomon’s body screamed in defiance from the cessation of Xenobi’s touch. “I do.” His voice was low and thick with need. Powerful arms reached out to grab the woman in front of him. He crushed Xenobi against his body and a meaty palm found the back of her head. Rosomon unwound her braid unleashing a cascade of hair and intertwined his fingers in the brilliant silver locks. With a hand on the back of Xenobi’s head he pushed their mouths together and used his tongue to explore. Without breaking the kiss, Rosomon’s right hand discovered the wonderful curves of Xenobi’s body landing on her nipples and pinching them in punishment for what Xenobi had just done to him. Xenobi whimpered into Rosomon’s mouth but didn’t pull away. Rosomon released Xenobi so he could look into her eyes. His hands gripped the panther woman’s tight bottom and lifted her upward. Xenobi held her breath thinking Rosomon was about to enter her.

“Not yet,” Rosomon laughed. “I thought you wanted to delay pleasure?”

Xenobi released the breath she was holding in a disappointed sigh as Rosomon carried her over to the wooden cross.

Xenobi squirmed and made cat like noises as Rosomon secured her arms above her head. He couldn’t resist giving each nipple a firm bite as he fasted her inside the leather restraints. When he had her feet strapped in as well Rosomon retrieved two steel needles from a nearby tray of toys. He cupped her right breast and pierced the stiffened nipple with one needle as she yelled in pain. Rosomon wasn’t sure if Xenobi found the pain pleasurable but he enjoyed her reaction.

Xenobi was panting by the time Rosomon finished with her second breast and approached her, pressing his body to hers. “Please,” she said.

Rosomon rubbed his cock against the outside of her opening until she writhed in desire. “I can’t take anymore,” she whispered. Beads of sweat had formed on her brow and as he kissed the moisture from her face Rosomon pierced her with frustrating slowness, one inch at a time. This is exquisite.

Although Rosomon had never been a man he easily found a rhythm inside her. Xenobi’ became more vocal with every upward thrust and Rosomon found that the sound of her pleasure enflamed his own passion. Something tingled the bottom of his feet and he wasn’t sure if was the beginnings of another climax or the magic transference from panther to royal. He removed himself from Xenobi and the woman cried out in protest. Rosomon nearly chuckled at how much their roles had reversed in a matter of seconds.

Rosomon unlocked the straps holding his partner and flipped her over so that her face pressed against the wood of the cross. Xenobi arched her back in pain as her pierced nipples rubbed against the hard surface. Rosomon once again strapped in her ankles and then fastened her wrists above her. Xenobi wiggled as if she would entice him to come closer. Rosomon chuckled and retrieved a leather whip from its peg on the wall. He lightly drug the fronds across Xenobi’s back warning her of what was coming next. Her body became rigid with expectation.

“Breathe,” he whispered into her ear. When she released the breath she’d been holding with an audible sigh Rosomon struck her. She moaned as Rosomon created a patchwork pattern of red stripes across Xenobi’s pale back and ass. He stopped the punishment long enough to kiss every single stripe he’d created and then pushed the handle end of the whip inside her.

“Hold onto it.”

Rosomon played with her ass and inserted two fingers inside, both teasing and priming her for what was next.

Xenobi moaned and shivered with pleasure.

Once Rosomon determined she was ready, he pushed inside her ass with a terrible slowness.

The pair gasped in mutual pleasure and the fireplace sprung to life beside them casting rhythmic shadows of their bodies moving together across the marble walls. Rosomon worked himself deep inside her as he grabbed hold of whip and moved it within her. Xenobi was gorgeous from the back. Her hair spilled down her body in a glorious silver shawl and in between those strands the angry red mark he’d glared back at him. She was really enjoying herself now; he could tell by the way she pushed her body backward into him as he thrust forward.

“Excuse me, majesty.” Myrlox had returned and entered the room in his human form. He was nude, very tall, and handsome. The female that was once Rosomon enjoyed the sight of him.

“I realized there was no reason to break from tradition simply because you are male.” Myrlox’s enthusiasm grew right before their eyes and Xenobi literally purred at the sound of his voice.

Rosmon freed Xenobi of her restraints and she nuzzled him as he carried her over to the large mattress outfitted with silk coverings and fur lined pillows.

Xenobi lay on her back and Myrlox’s green eyes locked onto her as he slid inside.

She howled with animal pleasure as Myrlox gifted her with a few fearsome strokes of his inhumanly large manhood. Myrlox flipped Xenobi onto her stomach so Rosomon could make use of her mouth. Xenobi took the cue and swallowed the length of him until her lips touched his pelvis.

Xenobi’s eyes watered with her efforts and she looked up at him. Her hair was slightly damp around the edges of her face and her eyes dilated so far that only a sliver of yellow was seen around the black. Her breasts swayed back and forth from the rhythmic pounding of Myrlox’s body meeting hers. Her beauty, the smell of her sweat mixed with a lavender oil she wore, watching Myrlox mercilessly pound her from behind, it was sensory overload. Rosomon threw his head back and roared as an earth-shattering climax ripped through his body and emptied itself into Xenobi’s waiting mouth.

Rosomon felt as if his entire body sighed with relief. Myrlox and Xenobi came together a second later and all three of them collapsed on top of each other in a pile of sweaty limbs and gorgeous hair.

Myrlox propped himself on one elbow. “My Quee– er King,I didn’t want to ruin Xenobi’s good time, but the magic doesn’t really work this way.”

Rosomon was still tingling all over and felt too relaxed to be concerned. “What do you mean, my old friend? It’s always been passed down through intercourse, we’ve done it this way 15 times already.”

“Yes, but all those times you’ve accepted my seed.”

Xenobi understood the implications before Rosomon, who was still mentally foggy from his recent rebirth. Her eyes fixed on Rosomon and she ran her tongue over her lips like she tasted her favorite dessert. “You still have to lie with Myrlox, your majesty.” She got up from the bed and her hair fell around her like a curtain. She didn’t bother retrieving her robe. “I’ll leave you to it then.”

Xenobi started to leave and Rosomon couldn’t help but think it a shame that a body such as hers would ever be covered by clothing. Rosomon held out a hand to her. “Wait. Don’t go.”

A spasm every bit as unpleasant as his previous orgasm had been delicious, took over Rosomon’s body. He gripped Xenobi’s hand so hard she screamed in pain and tried to jerk away from his impossible grip. Rosomon folded in on himself howling like a demon spawn from the seventh level of hell.

Xenobi broke free and sought comfort in Myrlox, “Brother, what is happening?”

“I wish I knew.” He slipped a comforting arm around Xenobi as they both watched in rapt horror.

The skin on Rosomon’s back bubbled and popped. His legs shrank, his hair grew longer and eventually the masculine screams gave way to a high pitched feminine shriek. Queen Rosomon rose to her feet, her entire body covered in a fine sheen of sweat that glistened in the firelight. Eyes dark as the void starred back at them from a sharp slender face. She looked down to appreciate her own pale perfect breasts and stood a little taller facing her two panther companions. That’s more like it.

“Noct’za dvei, Zhireil Rosomon Yajzirih, ehl aajsh rahie.” Then at last, Queen Rosomon Yajzirih, will reign again.

“Your majesty,” they said as one. Xenobi and Myrlox arranged themselves seductively on the silken sheets and each held out a hand to her.

“What will you call yourself?” Myrlox asked.

She took their hands in her own. “You can call me Nirvana because that is

where I’m about to take the both of you. Now, shall we begin?”

Her First Assignment

Every successful pregnancy provides the female with a higher station in the new S.A.F.E hierarchy of power. Let me rephrase that, women are powerless, but a woman who has borne live children-a thing that has become rare-have certain perks. A larger apartment was one of these perks, so I was currently enjoying the space in my neighbor Ebony’s bathroom.

I sat at her vanity waiting for her to magically transform my hair into a shape. I couldn’t have gone to a stylist, even if those people still existed somewhere, I didn’t have any money. The S.A.F.E program required females to be clean and the purity belts we wore demanded a certain style of clothing, but there was nothing stating we needed to have haircuts.

“Hold still unless you want me to muck it up,” Ebony warned. She was from Wales and had the misfortune to be in the U.S. when the Gender Flu hit. She hadn’t been able to flee the country before the travel ban and was effectively stuck here.

The blades of her giant sewing shears snicked together and strands of pale lifeless hair floated to the floor. She’d been a stylist in another life and still enjoyed practicing her craft in secret. I wanted an inverted bob with bangs but she said it would be too drastic a change and someone would notice. I didn’t understand who it helped to have every detail our lives so regulated? My short haircut wouldn’t hinder getting pregnant, but it also wouldn’t help it, and that would be their argument. Ebony wasn’t even a citizen but she was fully committed to the repopulation effort. If they ever updated the manual to say that haircuts were no longer allowed, she would obey the order without question.

Ebony finished and removed the towel she’d draped over my dress. “Fancy a Squeeze?”

I didn’t want a tart lemon drink, I wanted a glass of wine. I remember my mother was always given a single glass of white wine when she had her hair done. I was given a water or juice if they had it and sometimes the manicurist would even paint my nails while I waited on her. Of course that had been a real beauty salon and it was prior to the Gender Flu.

“Squeeze sounds good,” I lied. I didn’t want to seem impolite or ungrateful. My hair would be hanging down the middle of my back by now if it wasn’t for Ebony.

I opened the can she gave me and took a long swig. The first taste was always the worst, but once you got past that it went down easier. Despite it’s awful taste we all kept drinking it because it was free and also because the government said we needed to drink or risk intestinal infections.

Dorian stood in the doorway with his arms crossed and a severe expression on his face. “It’s time to go we’ve wasted enough of the day.”

I stood and did a twirl. “Do you think he’ll like it?” I asked. Tonight was my first scheduled encounter with my new assignment from the Dating Pool. I didn’t know anything about him other than his name and the fact that he’d paid an absurd amount of money to be with me.

“He has no choice but to like you,” Dorian said and ushered me out of my friends apartment.

I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment or a bleak and obvious comment on the current state of affairs.

Ebony followed me us to the door and before I walked out she turned me around and placed a palm on my flat stomach. “Good luck, and let it be a girl,” she said.

Something to Smile About

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“She’s here again,” Shane said as he passed me carrying a plate of steaming pasta. That wasn’t good, the fact that he’d noticed me noticing her.  Then again it was hard not to notice a Golden. Shane had been gay since before Gender Flu and he even stared at her.

I peered into the dining room from the small kitchen window. She sat across from her assigned companion with her back in my direction. The low candle light from the tables cast a golden glow around her. If I believed in the existence of angels I would think she were one. The blonde hair that fell down her back made her more valuable than any other female in the room. I couldn’t see her face but she was looking down at her hands. She wasn’t happy to be at Cha Bella having dinner, or either she wasn’t happy with her companion, it was hard to tell.

The man with her was young for one of those Dating Pool freaks. He frowned at her from across the table and looked as if someone had pissed in his minestrone. If they’d sat at my table I would have pissed in it! This was the third time I’d seen them here, so that must mean she hadn’t conceived yet. Good, there is still time.

Shane sat the pasta down in front of her companion and headed back toward the kitchen.

“Didn’t she order something?” I asked him.

“She had a side salad but no entree. She said she wasn’t that hungry.” Shane moved on to the ticket window to pick up his next order. There were only two of us working the entire restaurant at a time. Times were hard and only a select group of people could afford to eat so the restaurant had more business than two waiters could handle.

That dickhead probably didn’t want to pay for her dinner. I would fix him. “Want to see something funny?” I moved over to the desert counter and opened the mini fridge to pull out a previously frozen precut piece of tiramisu.

The Chef looked up from his work and glared at me. He knew we had a limited supply of deserts on hand. The tiramisu, like many things was rationed. He shook his head and then  stirred a pot of noodles with his left hand and with his right hand he flipped the handful of tiny shrimp he had frying in the pan. Their was no Sous Chef or Assistant Chef and man was simply too busy to worry about what I did. I was thankful for this. I was also thankful for the fact that he was also responsible for the inventory.

“What are you doing with that?” He knew I was up to something and couldn’t help but smile. He needed his job too badly to do anything against regulations, but he fully supported my attempts to thwart the authority.

“Just watch.” I placed the delicate dessert on a saucer and added a swirl of whip cream and a chocolate covered espresso bean right on top. With one hand on the kitchen door called out to Shane over my shoulder, “This is going to be fun!”

 

 

 

 

Searching for Entertainment

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As it becomes increasingly cold outside and I am constantly running out of money due to holiday expenditures, I find myself taking up space on the couch more often than I would like. The result of this is that I powered through 4 seasons of Vikings in less than two weeks. After I got bored with watching tutorial videos on how to braid my hair like a Viking, I was left with nothing to do. This is when I discovered Search Party.

Set in modern day New York City, Search Party is a dark comedy about an ordinary twenty something with a boring job, a vapid set of friends and an unfulfilling romantic life who decides to take an interest in a missing person poster. The title character Dory, played by Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) recognizes the girl in the poster, Chantal Winterbottom, as a nice girl who lived in her dorm, but whom no one seems to remember much about. Dory feels a kinship with Chantal despite not really knowing her and wonders if anyone would in fact care if she were missing. Since she doesn’t have anything else meaningful going on in her own life, Dory takes it upon herself to find this missing woman.

The quest for information on Chantal gives Dory’s life meaning excitement and a direction it had previously been lacking. Of course there are plenty of twists, false leads and clues that don’t turn out to be anything. I won’t say anything about the ending because I don’t want to spoil it. The show is very watchable, the acting is good and the soundtrack is something that I am researching in detail and adding to my Spotify. After watching all 10 episodes I was inspired to go searching for my own mystery to solve. Now I just need a weird group of self-absorbed friends to take this journey with me!

The One I Love

The screeching brought me back to reality and I put down the murder mystery I was reading. I looked out my window and saw a group of frantic people running past the side of my house and into the woods. The tallest one was also the fastest and although he ran by in a flash, I swear he looked familiar. The sounds that followed were absolutely terrifying. I searched my house for some type of weapon and only came up with a baseball bat. I’d never had the balls or the extra cash to buy a gun.  I was on the phone with 911 when the strange group emerged from the woods without the man they’d pursued there. They ranged in age from children to withered old ladies, about six in number. I ran out my front door with the bat in one hand and my cell phone in the other. The operator yelled my name as I put the phone away from my ear to speak to the group.

“Hey! What the hell is going on out here?” Most of them ignored me and continued their walk down my driveway and onto the street.

An older man with an all grey beard stopped to speak with me. “Only you can save him,” he said.

“What? Save who?”

He looked at me but his eyes weren’t really focused on my face. It was if he remembered something horrible and was completely lost in the experience. His pupils were dilated to an odd degree. He must be on something. My grip on the bat tightened. I hoped he wouldn’t give me a reason to use it.

“He won’t last long. You have to find him in the woods and convince him. He’ll forget to breathe.”

The message was as confusing as it was frightening. “Why can’t you help him?” I asked still having no clue who the “him” was in this case.

He finally focused on me and got very angry. “Because he won’t see me you idiot girl. You’re the one he loves! Go, NOW!” He pointed to the direction of the woods.

The force in his voice propelled me forward and I dropped the bat and phone at the same time. Something told me that neither of them would be of use. I ran on a frightened adrenaline high and was completely out of breath after reaching the tree line. With my hands on my knees I caught my breath then checked behind me to see if anyone were following. There was no one there. Whatever the mob had come to do, it had already been done. I gathered up my courage and moved forward into the woods. I was thankful this craziness was taking place at 3pm when there was still plenty of light. If it had been dark I might not have found the courage to investigate, no matter what the old man said.

After dodging several spider webs and one black snake I finally saw what the man warned me about. Even with the misshapen face, enlarged head and elongated limbs I still recognized him. My sneakers crunched on the on crispy fall leaves as I approached. He opened his eyes and my heart nearly stopped. His face was devoid of recognition. I felt something inside my chest contract. I hadn’t seen Christian in years but I still thought of him every day and dreamed of him at night. The way we’d parted had been so strange and I simply hadn’t been prepared to never see him again.

He opened his mouth and instead of words a low pained chirp escaped lips that were transforming into a beak. His skin was rough and covered in a blanket of pebbly gooseflesh. Hot tears rolled down my face at his obvious pain. Half his deformed body had been absorbed into the trunk of the tree. I reached up to touch his face and he tried to swat my hand away but his arms had mostly been incorporated. He shook his head from side to side. When I stroked his cheek he calmed. “What’s happened to you, Christian? What the hell happened? I could barely get the words out. He squawked back at me and tears formed in his eyes.

“There is at least some of you left in there.” I reached up to him and did the only thing I could think to do. Despite what the strange old man had said I didn’t think I could do anything to help except keep him company. “I’ve missed you so much,” I said. I placed the softest of kisses on his scratchy face and he became frantic from the contact. He did not want me there. Maybe whatever he had was contagious?

I shook my head. “Uh, uh. I’m not going to leave. You’re the one who leaves, remember?” I held his hand in mine and his long fingers curled around my hand. His newly formed talons pierced the back of my hand but I didn’t let go. “I’m so sorry this happened to you, whatever this is. I was mad at you for a very long time, but I never stopped loving you.” I felt that if I could help him remember his humanity and remember what we’d been to each other…

He looked down at me and I put my arms around the trunk of the tree in an attempt to hug what little of him was left. My cheek was flat against his chest when I felt it rise and fall for the last time. “Christian, no!  Don’t give in to it.  You have to breathe. Remember, what it was to be human? Remember when you broke your leg and I came to your hospital room? Our first kiss? That night in my car when we just parked and listened to the radio?”

His eyes closed and I fell to my knees in frustration. I’d skint my palms on the bark of the tree. I cried liked I’d never cried before, big racking sobs shook my entire body. “We were supposed to be together,” I whispered to no one.  

A rustling sound above me caught my attention. He was still alive and struggling against the tree that held him. He talons reached out for me, a sight that would have filled me with terror if it hadn’t been a boy I onced loved asking for help. I held both his hands in mine and pulled him toward me with all my strength. He emerged from the trunk in one piece and the entire weight of his 6ft frame fell on top of me.

Christian crushed me to the ground but I didn’t complain. He positioned his weight on his hands above me and I watched in amazement as enlarged avian head sank inward. His beak once again became lips and the gooseflesh evened out becoming a smooth handsome face once again. His forehead wrinkled and he closed his eyes in pain as his limbs constricted back into their original shape. And just like that, he transformed back into person I’d loved since we were 12 years old.

“Good to see you, too,” he said. Then he kissed me, and then it was my turn to forget to breathe.

Baby Squirrels Ate My Cake

Last Wednesday started with a squirrel caper. I was still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and about to make morning coffee when my boyfriend, Tadd informed me that I had to “help him with a squirrel.” I went outside still clad in my nightshirt and found he’d taken apart a drain that ran from the top of the house to the ground. The bottom half had been removed and he was in the process of taking apart the middle so he could retrieve a squirrel trapped inside. “I need you to catch it,” he said and presented me with a big trash can that contained a folded blanket at the bottom. He proceeded to beat on the top of the drain until it fell on top of me. Naturally, I ducked instead of catching and the drain hit the ground with the squirrel still stuck inside.

The very end of it’s fluffy tail could be seen sticking out of the jagged edge and the pipe was hot all the way around where it contained the animal. It had bent inward right where the squirrel was trapped and I feared the worst. I was certain it had been crushed when the pipe hit the ground. I started to tear up thinking of how I’d failed the poor little guy after it had probably spent hours scratching and fighting to free itself. I forced myself to touch the tip of his little fluff tail and to my relief, it moved.  I retrieved a pair of plyers and pulled the metal pieces apart until I could see the face. It was looking right at me. I picked up the drain and tried to shake the squirrel loose but I wasn’t strong enough to dislodge him. Tadd picked up the pipe and gave it a mighty shake that sent the squirrel rocketing out the other end. It looked around for a minute and then shot toward the trees apparently uninjured.  After we finished congratulating we heard the very distinct sound of nails on metal from a different pipe. Multiple trapped squirrels? We wondered how they could be so dumb.

After pulling this drain apart it was apparent that the squirrel was trapped in the section that went under the ground. We couldn’t see anything but the scratching was very clear along with the little growls of frustration emanating from the animal. I coaxed the squirrel to find its way out and it finally got far enough up for me to see it was a baby! It was too little to climb all the way out and the sides of the drain were slippery. I put a stick into the hole and after a few attempts and many frustrated growls on the part of the baby, it was able to grab onto the stick and allow me to pull it out. I walked around with the baby squirrel attached to night shirt for two hours while we tried to figure out which tree it might have come from. I placed it into a tree in the front yard only to have it emit a bird like screech as soon as I put it down. We backed away hoping that the mother would show up to claim it, but no such luck. Since the baby didn’t like that tree I tried on the back yard. When I put him down something heavy landed in a tree branch opposite and I was surprised to see hungry white owl staring intently at my rescued baby. It was before noon and I didn’t even know owls were awake at this time of day. I scooped up the tiny squirrel and decided I wasn’t putting him down for anything. His little claws clung to my shirt and he seemed more content walking around my shoulders than he had in the tree.

I realize the obvious thing would be to keep this little guy and try to raise him myself, but it wouldn’t really work with 4 cats in the house. Just as I was looking around for a cage to temporarily place the baby in, I heard yet another scratch come from the drain in the ground. I looked down to see another baby squirrel face looking up at me! I was at a loss for what to do until I remembered a strange flyer we’d received in our mailbox about a month prior. It was from a neighbor who had lost a pet squirrel. In the flyer the neighbor offered a $25 reward for the return of the squirrel but warned that she would recognize her pet and not to bring her any squirrel. The flyer had been so amusing Tadd had kept it on his desk. He called squirrel lady and told her our story and the fact that we now had not one, but two orphan babies. “I’m putting my shoes on now,” she said. and came right over.

Squirrel lady’s name was Abbey and she was a stay at home student. She had time, specific squirrel experience and an empty nest since her former pet had decided to go back into the wild. She immediately took ownership of the baby I’d been protecting. She had long hair past her shoulders and the baby nestled into it to hide. Abbey told us that the squirrel mother had likely made a nest inside that drain and she asked us to show her where the baby came from. When we got back to the drain the struggling scratches could still be heard. As we peered into the hole there were now two tiny faces staring back at us! One of the babies had climbed onto the others back in an attempt to get out. We were all amazed and excited at how special this day had become. The two siblings were close enough to the surface that I could simply reach in and grab them both. Abbey claimed all 3 and wore them on her shoulders like a fur necklace. We gave her a pet carrier with a towel but the squirrels seemed to like her shoulders better and decided to stay put on the ride. The “ride home” was only two houses down so they didn’t have far to go.

One week later we received this picture and an update. The babies are fine and she is planning to keep them until they are old enough to be released.

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