Go Chargers!

Billy gets stuffed into a Bully Charger mascot suit and has to find help before the suit takes over.

It was the night of the fall dance and Billy was on the floor of the supply closet with a knee in his spine.

"Quit wiggling, you dweeb," said Ryan. He grabbed Billy's left wrist and cranked it behind his back. With his free hand, Ryan shoved a long glove onto Billy's left arm. Ryan was the absolute worst. He didn't just have confidence and good hair and a great jawline. He was also the only male cheerleader on the school team.

"Let go!" Billy shouted. He ground his chest against the floor. A layer of foam and synthetic blue-and-white fur separated him from the carpet. Ryan had already managed to wrestle the mascot's padded torso onto him.

This was all about Julie. Ryan didn't even have to say her name; Billy knew it. To Billy, Julie was the prettiest girl in the school, with blonde hair kept back in a ponytail and a big, bright smile. Through some insane stroke of luck, he'd made friends with her. Julie was a cheerleader too, though. That meant that, every day, she spent time with Ryan during practice. Billy was sure Ryan wanted to date her, as sure as he was that Ryan was jealous of what he and Julie had. Or, well. What they could have. Billy hadn't asked her out yet. He was going to do it at the dance tonight, he'd told himself for weeks.

One he had tugged the mascot glove all the way up to Billy's shoulder, Ryan grabbed a roll of duct tape. With one strip around the armpit, he fastened the glove to the shirt. He grabbed Billy's other arm, forced it up into the air, and stuffed the other glove over his squirming hand. Then he let go.

Billy's chin hit the carpet. On the floor in front of him was his left hand, stuffed into a white hoof-like glove that ran all the way up his arm, covered in blue fur. He couldn't have done much with his hand in that hoof, even if he had been the sort of guy who could punch someone. Should have gotten that mail-order karate book. Reaching out with his hoof-gloved hand, he tried to drag himself out from beneath Ryan. All he managed to do was pull the male cheerleader's knee further into his back.

Ryan dropped Billy's other arm once he'd taped that glove to his shirt, too. Billy locked his hands together and tried to pull off one of the gloves, but he only stretched the sleeve fabric. The white foam hooves were too unwieldy to get a good grip on anything, even each other.

Ryan turned around and grabbed the lower half of the mascot costume from his bag. "Hey, you're gonna rip this if you keep kicking," Ryan said. He chuckled to himself. Ryan grabbed Billy's legs, holding them still as he shoved his feet into the furry pants. The stretchy fabric let him squirm and wriggle, but wouldn't let him shimmy away. The big, hooved shoes swallowed up his feet. Ryan dragged the top of the pants up to the bottom of the mascot shirt, then ran a long strip of duct tape around Billy's waist like a belt.

"Hey, I'm—look, just lemme go. I promise I won't be sweet on Julie any more," Billy lied. He tilted his back, trying to push Ryan off of him via leverage. Ryan kept his knee lodged against Billy's spine.

"I'm sending a message," Ryan said. "Cheerleaders are my territory. 'Sides, I'll let you out of the closet once the dance is over."

Ryan pulled the mascot head out of the bag: the head of a bull with a big grin, blue fur, horns made out of foam, and a painted plastic ring in its white nose. It was Bully Charger, the Durnsdale Chargers mascot, in the school colors of blue and white.

Billy got out "Fff—" before the head was shoved down over him. It was a tight, hot, uncomfortable fit; squeezing his forehead, making it hard to move his chin, and smelling like foam and pep rallies. He could only see what was right in front of him and could barely hear, but he heard the squeak of duct tape and felt Ryan's hands patting around his neck. Billy tried to grab at Ryan's arms, but Ryan was too quick and Billy's hands too fabric-coated to hold onto him.

As Ryan stood, he put his weight on his knee for a moment. Billy yelped. His spine curled and he kicked out behind him. His foam hoof-shoes dragged against the carpet with an ineffectual shff of fabric. The pain kept Billy pinned to the floor, smarting and quivering, even after the knee was gone.

Like from far away, Ryan said, "See you later." The closet door opened. Billy tried to scramble for the door on his hands and knees, but he couldn't even see it. The door closed and the lock clicked.

At first, Billy just lay on the floor, defeated, trying to get a lungful of good air beneath the mask. Slowly, he pulled himself to his feet. He groped at the shelves to hold onto as he went from crouching to leaning to standing. He had to stop Ryan from stealing Julie from him. He had to get out of here.

Step one, free himself from the costume. It was only duct tape holding it together, right? But no matter how much he tried to pick and rub at edges of the tape, he couldn't peel it up. The hoof-gloves his hands were stuck in refused any purchase. He couldn't even get a good look at the tape, with the big mascot head blocking his view every way but forward.

He patted the front and back of the costume up and down. There had to be a loose seam or zipper or anything. Most of it was just baggy blue-furred fabric. The chest and stomach of the shirt was white, like underbelly fur, with foam padding stitched into it to give the appearance of a muscular chest. Billy was sure it looked awkward on his scrawny body.

Okay, he couldn't peel off the tape and there was no zipper to unzip. Scissors were his next thought, but the supply closet had none. He was locked in with a bunch of looseleaf paper, notebooks, and standardized test forms. Useless unless he could papercut his way out.

He jostled the doorknob with his gloved hands, but it was firmly locked. Was there anything he could use as a lockpick? The idea died as soon as he'd thought it. He didn't know lockpicking, and he couldn't with these dumb gloves. Pounding on the door rattled the lock, but couldn't make it budge. But maybe if he got a running start, he could break the lock. He'd seen it work. ...in movies.

Billy stood at the back of the closet. He took a few breaths that tugged the air around his face. The door was the only thing he could see through his eye holes, his goal. He counted down from three in his head. On one, he pushed off the wall and ran as fast as he could in his floppy hoof-shoes. His shoulder lowered like he'd seen football players do. Billy hit the door and crumpled against it. With a groan, he rolled to the side. His shoulder creaked and shuddered, throbbing sore. Billy clutched his arm with his hoof-gloves and rocked back and forth.

If he didn't get out of here, Ryan would find Julie and ask her out. Billy had wanted to go out with her since freshman year, and Ryan was going to take that away from him. All those years of being just her friend, unable to say his true feelings, were for nothing if Billy couldn't get out.

For a moment, his tongue felt fuzzy. It was as if it was covered in felt, like his mouth and his teeth were all fabric and soft to the touch. He gagged and shuddered. The feeling was gone. Must have gotten some foam in his mouth. The mascot head's brow furrowed, mimicking Billy's expression of concern.

He had no time to sit and fret, though. He wasn't going to let all of that hard work winning over Julie go to waste. He was going to find a way out of here and find her and ask her out and they were going to have their dance together.

A soft fshhh filled the air around Billy, the sound of helium hissing into a balloon or air escaping from a bike tire. The loose fabric of the mascot shirt tightened across his shoulders, wrapping around the bulking mass beneath it. The duct tape that held the mascot head and shirt together gripped tight around his broader neck. It was only the shoulders and neck of the suit that were swelling; beyond that, his body stayed the same.

He walked back to the end of the closet. The carpet muffled the noise of his feet, or otherwise he might have heard the difference between the white foam hoof-shoes and the hard hooves he walked with now. The blue-furred pants shrunk around his legs. His calves grew, swelling with that same airy noise as his shoulders. They swung with a satisfying weight as he walked. His heels rose up into the air. His big white hooves balanced beneath him. Once he'd clopped up to the wall, he turned around.

Billy looked straight at the door again. This time, he was going to do it. He took a deep breath and let it out. His mascot head snorted around its nose ring. His right hoof stamped the floor in anticipation. Faster than a snap of the fingers, he shot down the middle of the closet. He leaned into the run and charged at the door. His shoulder and back hit squarely and held their ground. In his bones and joints, he felt the door frame buckle and snap. The door slammed open. He tumbled into the hallway.

Billy caught himself against the lockers. He stood for a moment, taking those breaths that pulled cool air across his cheeks and face. He was gasping, winded, and the pain still glowed in his shoulder, but he was free.

He turned around, his back against the lockers, hand on his padded chest as he caught his breath. The slow hissing noise came again. The mascot head's ear twitched as he noticed it. His hand moved, not because he was moving it, but because his chest was slowly puffing outward. It wasn't just the suit, it was in him. His back arched around his chest. His arms squeezed against the sides, brushing the fluff as he squirmed. He gripped where the stitched-in pecs had been. There was no layer of foam any more. His hoof-glove squeezed his own chest. It was firm, and broad, and flexed beneath his fingers as he moved his arms.

The mascot head's ears folded back and its eyes widened. Another rush hit Billy. His nose felt too long. When he swallowed, it was like trying to swallow a carpet. His head felt hollow and for a moment all he wanted to do was run his hands over the costume fur on his chest. A grunt left his mouth. He snapped himself out of his trance. Billy made a beeline for the boys' bathroom. Something was really wrong. He needed to get this off of him, now.

There, in the mirror, was Bully Charger as he'd seen him at pep rallies and home games. Instead of its usual big grin, the mascot's head had a worried look. And below the head, his neck broadened out into sturdy, thick shoulders like you'd see from someone on the varsity team. His chest was broad enough to match, not just his thick pectorals but the muscles along his sides, under his shoulders, too. He twisted his head around and turned in front of the mirror. Bristling bulges of muscle heaped up across his shoulders and rolled away down his back, wrapped in fake blue fur.

He stared straight at Bully's face in the mirror and blinked. The mascot head blinked too. Billy just barely caught it. He clapped his hands to the mascot head and began to tug at its features. He pulled on the big, rounded cheeks and pushed on the snout. He felt every touch of the hoof-gloves tugging and squeezing his face, but it wasn't his normal face. It was a second face, floating out in the air in front of him, in the shape of Bully Charger.

The sensation of touching a second face made him grimace, and when he did, Bully's face moved too. He squinted with one eye, bared his bright teeth, and wrinkled his oversized snout.

"Aagh!" Billy yelped. Bully's mouth moved in unison with his own. He staggered back and bumped into the wall. He opened his jaw slowly, and so did Bully. He reached into the mascot's mouth with one hand, prodding his plastic teeth and his felt tongue. The fabric feeling nearly made him gag. He tugged at his jaw and it felt like he was pulling at his actual mouth.

Billy reached higher, taking a hoof-glove-full of snout and nose ring. "Ahnng," he groaned. The feeling of the ring tugging deep inside his nose made him shiver. He ran his gloved fingers along the boundary where the costume fabric became sensitive to the touch, across the sides of his cheeks and along the underside of his jaw. The dual sensations hurt to think about, like when he'd tried to wear someone else's glasses as a joke and got a headache.

The mascot's eyes rolled back along with Billy's. A fuzzy felt coating rolled over some of his memories. He recalled dizzy flashes of himself running, charging across a field. He dropped into a slide, one leg bent, the other out straight. In a cloud of dust that billowed around him, he skidded across the ground. His hooves hit home plate and the umpire yelled, "Safe!" and the bleachers cheered.

Billy blinked himself back to reality. His mind felt slow and ungainly; his thoughts gave way if he pushed too hard. He tried to shake some of the grogginess away. What the hell had that been? Had he just gotten a flashback of being—

No, no way. Bully Charger wasn't a real person. This was in his head.

He stepped back up to the mirror. He was going to pull off that duct tape and find Ryan and get him in trouble and then have a dance with Julie. Except now that he looked for it, there was no duct tape. None around his neck, his shoulders, his waist, nothing. The costume had joined into one piece without a hint of a seam.

This was only getting more ridiculous, but he had to keep calm. This mascot suit was just fabric. As long as he found some way to cut himself free, he'd be fine. But first, he had to leave the bathroom.

His hooves clopped against the tile, then his heel hit the ground and he nearly fell on his ass. Another try; he clattered awkwardly against the floor until he managed to get his hooves to stick. He had to be overthinking it. He'd walked in here on hooves, so he just had to let his body do its thing. Sure enough, the less he tried to think about it, the easier it was to cross the bathroom floor. But the fact that walking in hooves was natural, that left him with a chill feeling in his big chest.

Billy pushed his way out of the bathroom and looked up and down the empty hall. He needed help. Everyone who was here would be here for the dance, and that was in the gym. He picked up the pace and clopped along the hall, trying to get used to his new gait. His hooves lifted toward his knees with every step. His thick chest stood out in front of him, rolling back and forth in a proud swagger.

Even if his new body was proud and strong, Billy didn't want this. He liked being his shy, bookish self, and he definitely liked being human and not some kind of mascot animal creature.

As if on cue, his body started hissing again. He searched for the source of the noise, trying to find some way to stop it. An outside force pushed its way into his arms, like some sort of liquid or gas filling up the loose fabric. The blue fur bulged out, rising up, revealing new muscles. He grabbed at his arms, trying to squeeze them, as if he could force them back down to size. But they were firm beneath his fingers, and bigger by the second.

His biceps flared out to match the definition of his chest and shoulders, and the rest of his muscles filled out behind them, tapering down to his wrists. Even if he wasn't wearing the hoof-gloves, he still wouldn't have been able to wrap his hand all the way around his biceps. The corded muscle bulged out thick enough that he could have been hiding two footballs beneath the blue fur.

He'd never seen anyone in real life with biceps that big before. His thoughts fuzzed over. His muscles felt like big rolls of felt being dragged against his fabric skin. They prickled and swelled, warm, dry and fuzzy. He paused and flexed his arm just to watch the muscles pop. Each bulge was clearly, almost cartoonishly, defined.

The names of all the muscle groups popped into his head as if he was looking at an anatomy textbook. Biceps, he knew he knew that one already. But then, triceps, deltoid, lattisimus dorsi, flexor, extensor, brachioradialis, all popped into his mind. He could point out each one in turn. Wasn't there some jingle he had come up with when he helped teach muscle groups in Health class? Wait, he'd never—

His heads, both of them, throbbed. The same thing that came over him while he was in the bathroom was happening again. Not just a dizzy, dry feeling; a surge of confidence, colors swirling in front of his eyes. And then he was on the football field. His hooves tore up the turf. High up above him was the ball, a little speck. He didn't have to even think. Four steps, then he took a bounding leap. Mid-air, he clapped the ball in his hooves and brought it against his chest. He hit the ground hard and rolled to a stop. The goal posts were above him. He held the ball up to a whirlwind of cheers.

Billy snorted through his mascot-nose as he snapped back to reality. He put his hoof-covered hands to his snout. He blushed so hard it tinted his cheeks purple. Not only was it an embarrassingly bovine sound, but the feeling of the new nose, a foot away from where it should have been, made him shiver. His bull nose wasn't even felt cloth any more. It was actual flesh he was touching. His real nose.

Billy splayed his hands across his face, tugging at the fabric that was becoming real fur and skin. Only reluctantly did it stretch away from his skin. He let go. His bull-face snapped back into face and he winced. The sensations were entirely real. His tail, blue-furred and white-tipped, swished through the air nervously. How was he going to get out of this suit if there wasn't a suit left to get out of?

Every minute counted against him. He had to find a way out of this, and fast. He didn't want to know what would happen if he left the suit on. The gym wasn't too far. Get there, get help, find Julie—wait. Ryan was trying to beat him to the punch. Get there, find Julie, then get help. Some things were just more important, and Julie was one of them.

On the stairs to the first floor, Billy had to shove his chin into his chest to see where he was going. His big hooves clattered, clanging off the steel steps as he took the first flight of stairs. He was used to his old lanky, sneaker-clad self scrambling down stairs, not this heavy-hoofed load, thumping from side to side. He misaimed one of the steps on the second flight and his leg fell out from under him. He tumbled down the rest of the steps and landed on his rear, sore but unhurt.

Billy blinked the stars away from his eyes. His vision cleared. He wasn't looking out through eyeholes any more. He blinked a couple times and felt his bull face's eyelids moving. He was seeing through Bully's eyes. He shoved himself up to his hooves and clopped out of the stairwell.

Again, the hissing noise came. He was nearly to the gym, just one long hall to go. From his knees up, the costume's fabric clung to his thicker thighs, while from his ribs down, his rising abs and broadening sides slowly stretched it. He kept the broad-shouldered, top-heavy look, but his waist thickened as foam abs became real muscle packed onto his torso. His thighs were as thick and meaty as a bull's flanks should be.

He put his hoof-gloves on his hips and squeezed. His body wasn't rock-hard like regular muscle, but he wasn't soft and squishy like foam. He was more like an extra-firm mattress, or the seat on a school bus. You could squeeze him, but he was still firm beneath the plush fur.

His body wasn't like those guys he saw in comic book ads, all rippling and intimidating. He was thicker, more packed and padded, like a ham wrapped up with string: just a whole lotta meat. His bovine bulk gave the impression of strength without having to outline every muscle through his fur. It made sense to him, since he was more athlete than bodybuilder.

He had to correct himself. Bully, the fictional character, was more athlete than bodybuilder. Billy was the one who wanted to get out of this damn suit before it tried to change him any further. He didn't want to be some sort of meathead who cared about sports and keeping fit.

By the time he made it to the doors of the gym, he could hear the smooth-swinging music and the rattle of conversation from inside. He reached for the door handle. His hooves thunked against the metal. From the tips back, his hoof-gloves turned hard, from foam into actual keratin hooves. He tried to wiggle his fingers, but they were stuck together in two pairs plus his thumb. As the real keratin replaced the foam hooves, they went almost, but not entirely numb. What he was left staring at wasn't his own hands, but his own cloven hooves. He tried to spread his fingers, but he just parted his big hooves and wiggled the little stub that was now like his thumb. But he wouldn't let that stop him.

Billy scraped his hooves on the door handle. He had to push the handle and pull the door, but he couldn't manage it with one set of hooves. Even with two, he kept clopping his hooves together, trying to somehow pincer the handle. Just then, the door swung open on its own. A girl stepped forward, head turned, and collided with Billy. Her glass of punch spilled to the floor and she stepped back, stunned for a moment.

Billy was also stunned. He should have been mortified, both to be seen while nearly enveloped in a mascot suit, and to have spilled the drink of this girl he didn't even know. The same set of instincts that told him how to walk with hooves stepped in out of nowhere. It's okay, the instincts said, you can handle this.

"Oh, sorry!" Billy said. It was Bully's mouth moving and speaking, and a deeper, clearer voice than Billy's own he spoke with. "Lemme get you some napkins." He stepped into the gym to grab a small stack of napkins from a nearby table, and another cup of punch too. He passed the cup to the girl, then knelt down and mopped up the spilled punch with the napkins.

"Gee, thanks, Bully," the girl said, smiling up at him. Billy didn't remember her name, but he smiled back down at her. She laughed. A shiver ran through him. He'd reacted as if Bully was his actual name. "Costume looks great on you by the way," she said. She nudged him in the meaty ribs, then vanished down the hall toward the bathrooms.. He didn't even have a chance to ask her for help.

Billy stepped inside the gym. The table of punch was right nearby. He picked up a glass and poured it straight into his bull mouth. It rolled across his tongue and he gulped it down without a problem. A nervous look fell across his face as he set the glass down. He'd only felt the bull's mouth, not his own. He didn't want to look weird in front of people, but he turned to the side and tugged at his snout and lips a little, trying to shift the mascot head so he could feel his real face. It had to be under there. He couldn't tell where one head ended and the other began.

But they could still cut him out of this, right? Or fix it, or something. He could have gone after the spilled-punch girl to get help, but he still had to find Julie before he could focus on himself.

Julie had to be somewhere, so Billy began to hunt for her. As he made his way around the gym, he glanced up at the sports banners hanging up around the walls. One of them had a drawing of Bully Charger on it, making a muscle and grinning aggressively. Billy was practically the spitting image of that bull, body type and all. Billy snorted and blushed blue-purple through his fur. His first thought seeing the drawing had been, 'Hey, it's me!'

A voice called out to him, breaking his train of thought. "Hey, Bully! Mind if we get a picture?" A reporter from the local paper raised his camera. He'd forgotten they were taking pictures of the dance. Billy made the same pose as his cartoon counterpart, flexing his arm down low and beaming at the camera. The flash popped in his eyes. By the time he could see again, the reporter had moved off into the crowd, and Billy hadn't even gotten a chance to ask for help.

Billy looked down at his big chest and grabbed the white underbelly fur there, tugging it with his hooves. It had more stretch to it than skin did, but it didn't feel like there was another layer underneath. The fur was his skin now. He was getting lost beneath the costume. When he finally got someone to cut him out of this, would they know when to stop?

The sight of Julie over by the stage drove out his fears. He only spotted her briefly, but he had seen his goal. She was here, and he could find her before Ryan got to her and let her know what he did to her. Then he could get someone to cut him free. He could do this. He could get out of this.

Billy scooted around the crowds, trying to squeeze by people in his big, handsome bull body. Little twinges and tickles ran across his face. As they tickled, they brought more movement and energy to his face. He could smile brighter, and when he did now it showed in the corners of his eyes. He could stick his tongue out. The nose ring was an actual metal ring and not just painted plastic. Less and less like a head controlled by puppetry, more and more like it was his real face. He still had the bright, expressive eyes and cheery cheeks of Bully, still the same mascot look, but could make the full range of emotions.

"Bully, hey!" some guy in a varsity jacket said, patting Billy on the shoulder. Deep down, Billy wanted to hate him for being on the football team, but the more he thought about it, the more he felt like Mike was a good guy and a good football player. When had he learned Mike's name?

"Go-ooo..." Mike lead off, starting to pump his fists up and down together. Billy barely knew what he was doing, but it sprang to him as naturally as anything else. Billy joined in the cheer, pumping his hooves just like Mike's fists. "Go-ooo-ooo Chargers!" they shouted in unison. Mike put two fingers against his head like horns and lunged. Billy leaned forward, swinging his horns through the air.

They shared a laugh together. Billy hoof-patted Mike on the shoulder. "See ya at the Wildcats game next week!" Billy said, floating on a giddy high of team spirit. He walked off before his head caught up to what he'd just done. He wasn't some jock, and he wasn't some mascot, and he definitely wasn't some jock mascot! He shouldn't have been this friendly or popular.

Billy's body bristled with gregarious energy. He had to find Julie, but he also wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time. He pressed on toward the stage, but as he moved up along the edge of the dance floor, he spotted a guy sitting on one of the chairs, shoulders hunched, staring at his shoes.

He recognized him as Edgar, his friend from his honors biology class. Bully was ahead of the pack in that class, but he had an advantage, being a bull himself. Billy paused and shook his head, bringing himself back to reality. While he figured out what to say to Edgar, his newly genial side forged on ahead without him.

Billy plopped himself down in one of the chairs. It creaked under his weight. He dropped an arm around the back of Edgar's chair and smiled down at him. "Hey, why the long face?" he asked.

"Well, I didn't come with a date, and my friend didn't show up either," Edgar said. A pang of guilt hit him right in his tight stomach. At least he could get him a dance. Billy glanced up, scanning the crowd. A girl that seemed just like Edgar's type; thin glasses, nice smile, long hair; was swaying on the edge of the dance floor, looking like she could use a partner, too.

"C'mon," Billy said, patting Edgar on the back with his hooves.

Billy pulled Edgar out of the chair and dragged him along. The girl, who he knew was Sarah, saw them coming; it was tough to sneak as a big, burly bull. "Sarah, Edgar. Edgar, Sarah," Billy said. "He'd like to know if he could have this dance with you."

Edgar was blushing, but Sarah said, "Sure," and took his hand. Billy gave Edgar a wink and a thumbs-up. He continued on, bolstered by the feeling of having just helped someone. It didn't occur to him that he should have asked Edgar for help getting out of the costume until he had already left them behind in the crowd. Damn it! This had to be on purpose. The costume was messing with his head to keep him from taking it off.

Not only did being tall help Billy push through the crowded gym, it gave him a good vantage point too. He spotted Julie again, by herself, up by the side of the stage. She looked his way and his heart skipped a beat. He lifted a hoof, but she turned away as if she hadn't seen him and slipped out the side door of the gym. Why hadn't she seen him? ...Oh, right. In his excitement, he'd forgotten he still had the suit on.

Billy trailed after Julie.. He could find her, confess his love, and then ask her to help with the suit. Then he saw Ryan slip out the door ahead of him, as if he was following Julie too. Billy couldn't help the snort from his snout or the way his hooves stamped against the polished gym floor. His shoulders and biceps bristled as he marched toward the side door. People got out of his way as they saw him coming. He stooped down and ducked his head instinctively as he stepped outside. His horns just barely cleared the top of the door frame.

In the cool air, Billy's nose puffed plumes of fog against his chest. His ears swiveled up, listening. Julie and Ryan stood about thirty feet away, turned away from him.

"...that weirdo?" Ryan finished, just as Billy started listening.

Julie sighed. "He's not...well, not that weird. He's definitely not my boyfriend though."

Ryan put his arm over Julie's shoulder. "So you're single is what you're saying." Julie tried to wiggle away, but Ryan held onto her.

Part of Billy wanted to tear Ryan away from Julie and make him pay. That was his girl, he'd wanted to date her for years! The other part of him was still angry, but less possessive. Forget his feelings, he needed to get the two of them separated before Ryan hurt Julie. Both of them agreed on one thing: charge. His hooves scraped the ground, his nostrils flared, and the fur on his chest rustled.

He broke out into a mad charge, teeth bared, head down, horns first. A deep bellow cut the air in front of him. His hooves struck against the gravel. Ryan had just enough time to turn his head. A blue-white freight train came straight at him and he was caught in the headlights.

Billy and Ryan went flying over a hedge and landed hard on the grass. In his mind, Billy was on a wrestling mat, locked with his opponent from another school. A blink, and he was back on the green—another, back to the match. He twisted himself around Ryan's joints, using his bovine weight to pin him to the ground.

Ryan wasn't a wrestler, so he had no reason to play fair. He shoved his palm up against Billy's face, trying to peel the bull off by hooking his fingers inside of Billy's mouth. Billy bit down hard. Bull teeth weren't sharp, but that didn't meant they couldn't crush. Ryan screamed and began to thrash. Billy let go of Ryan's hand. His arms clamped around Ryan's neck, squeezing him into the crook of his elbow. Ryan's shoulders jerked against Billy's arms. He held onto Billy's forearms with both hands, trying to pull himself out of the hold. His thrashing grew lazier and his eyelids drooped. Billy dropped Ryan to the ground. He'd only be out for a few minutes; Billy had a killer sleeper hold.

Billy sat on the ground, legs spread, panting, trying to think straight. Why had knocked Ryan out? Because he was threatening a student. Bully shook his head, swinging the weight of his horns from side to side. He told himself he wasn't the school mascot. His name was Bully—

It was Bill—

Bully Charger? That didn't sound right, though. If he had one of his team jerseys on, he'd be able to just look at it and tell. He still clung to his old memories, but they seemed stranger the more memories that surfaced of being Bully. The new memories bled into the old, altering them bit by bit, trying to bring the two selves together. I don't want to be the bull. At the very least, he clung onto that thought.

He rose up onto his hooves, taking a few deep breaths that made his chest puff out. Each breath clouded up in front of him in the cool air. There were so many things to like about being like this: the strength, the good looks, how everyone liked him. He had a great smile, good jawline, and handsome horns with just the right curve to them.

Julie hopped over the hedge and came running toward him. Like a flash running through him, one side of his thoughts, the shy and possessive side, rose to the fore. Seeing her had jogged his memories.

"Julie!" he boomed, in a voice that was deep and broad and great for being heard at games. "It's me, Bull—Billy!"

Julie came to a stop in front of Billy. She opened her mouth to thank him, then realized what he'd just said. "Wait. Billy? Has that been you in there all this time tonight?"

Billy nodded frantically, unsure how much longer he'd be in control. "Ryan stuffed me in this costume and then it...it grew on me. Now it's real, and it's making me feel different. It's making me into Bully," he said. Julie gazed at his body, up and down, from the points of his horns to his big white hooves. "I'm a big blue bull now!" A faint moo left his snout as he exhaled and pouted.

"So that was you helping Edgar out? And being friendly with everyone?" Julie asked.

"Well, kind of, but it's not me—" he began to say. Julie put her hand on his snout and cut him off.

"Billy, whatever you've got in you that's making you act like that, it's making you a better person. You're always kind of weird and obsessive, but tonight, you've been actually nice." Billy snorted abruptly. His cheeks flushed from blue to purple as Julie stroked his furry snout.

He had never realized that Julie thought of him that way. He was just shy and smart, that's all. The more he thought about it, though, the more he realized how he'd acted around her. Jealous, needy, selfish, like if he'd hoarded all her friendship, she might want to date him. He'd been awful while thinking it was all romantic.

Julie ran her hand along his muzzle, her other hand resting on his chest. Clearly, she liked the new Bully, and he couldn't blame her. He closed his eyes and weighed his options. If he continued to fight, he'd stay himself. If he let go and became Bully, he'd be friendly and sociable and athletic and have the heart of the girl he was sweet on. Be himself, or be a better person?

For a moment, a fear flickered in the back of his head that Bully might squeeze him out of his own head. He closed his eyes and let his guard down. A sudden relief, a burden flying off his shoulders, made him feel as if he was soaring through the sky.

He'd had nothing to worry about. There was no sudden takeover of his mind. Bully wasn't someone else, it was just him at his best.

He opened his eyes and looked down at Julie.

"Call me Bully," he said. He put his hoof on Julie's lower back and she leaned against him. This embrace was a moment he'd tried to plan for months and months, but when he just let it happen, it was as easy as apple pie.

"Okay, Bully," Julie said. She stood on her tiptoes to try to get closer to his height.

It felt good to hear her call him that name. He had a fresh new self that he could feel good about. He could be Bully Charger, Durnsdale's mascot, and he could be happy.

Bully asked, "Do you want to go on a date?" It came out as naturally as anything.

"Sounds swell," Julie said. With a hand behind his horns, she nudged him down so that she could give him a quick kiss.

Bully looped his arm around Julie's back and hefted her up and over the hedge, back onto the pavement. "How about the day before the Wildcats game?" he suggested.

Julie waited for Bully as he stepped over the hedge one hoof at a time. "As long as we don't stay up too late," she said. She shot her new bull boyfriend a teasing sort of grin. Arm in arm, they headed back to the gymnasium to enjoy the rest of the dance.


Ryan tried to sit up, but his head throbbed when he lifted it. He flopped back onto the grass, letting the dew cool his aching forehead. He was careful with the fingers of his right hand as he shifted around. Bully had bit him there. The pain dissipated from his hand rather quickly, even when he wiggled his fingers experimentally. They did stick together in pairs, though.

Ryan rolled onto his back, eyes closed. He lifted his right hand to his forehead. Two cloven hooves clicked together. His eyes shot open. His fingers were a pair of slender white hooves. His arm was covered in blue fur down. On the right side of his chest, a rounded, perky mound jutted out into his shirt. His new breast tugged the neckline down far enough that he could see the white fur on his chest, creeping past his sternum, inching up his neck.

"Oh nn—mmooo!" he groaned. His voice cracked into a much more feminine pitch. He had to find that stupid god damn handsome bull.