The Mansion

Four horror-style stories from a haunted-style mansion: "The Portrait," "The Trophy," "The Conservatory," and "The Stables." General.

1 – The Portrait

At the front of the hall hung a portrait painted in oils: a woman in a gown and corset, with dark lips and darker hair. Its eyes didn't follow the viewer so much as pierce through them. Though its mouth curled down into the slightest scowl, the light and shadow across its cheeks made it seem, if you caught it in the corner of your eyes, as though it was smiling.

Paintings lined the hall, but it was the portrait that Jason's flashlight lingered on. He stuffed a fist into the pocket of his puffy jacket and hunched his shoulders to fend off a shiver. Did it count as creepy? It was working on him, but he'd have to convince the rest of his friends if he wanted to win their contest. Setting his flashlight down on a nearby table, he dragged his phone out of his jeans pocket.

While he framed the portrait in his phone's camera, his fingers grew cold. He clenched his hand into a fist, then blew on his knuckles, then patted his cheeks, but they remained cold and oddly pale. Hurry up and get the shot, he told himself.

With a ruby-nailed finger, he tapped the screen, then lowered it to peer at the finished picture. The zipper on the front of his jacket twitched before sliding downward, slowly baring the front of his shirt.

No good. The picture had come out blurry. Jason took a few steps forward. His sleeves thinned out while he rubbed his hands together to warm them up—slender fingers, slim wrists, goose- bumps along his soft skin. He swept a lock of darkening hair behind his ear, out of the way of a red teardrop earring.

The portrait's hands, folded in its lap, now looked large and plain in comparison, and its ears were conspicuously unadorned.

Lifting his phone again, he held it as still as possible. His pursed lips were overtaken by red lipstick. The collar of his shirt stretched lower across his chest and his copper-red hair tickled his slender shoulders. He tipped his head back, held his breath, and snapped another picture. This time, the shot was clearer, but the photo itself seemed wrong. Instead of eerie scornful beauty, there was a confused, almost shocked look in the portrait's eyes.


Winter Weather

A quick sketch of a fluffy arctic fox transformation.

The snow whirled down outside so thick it looked like static, a haze that swallowed up anything more than about twenty feet from Kate's hotel balcony. Kate glared out the window as she stripped out of her skiing gear piece by piece, slapping her gloves on the counter and kicking her boots over by the kitchenette.

"Closed due to snow? You're a ski slope," she grumbled to herself, giving her left boot another kick, then zipping open her coat and tossing it over the edge of the couch. With her scarf and snow pants pulled off and tossed aside, she was down to just regular pants, wool socks, and her shirt and sweater.

With a sigh, she heaved herself back onto the bed, and lay there for about ten seconds, staring out the window, until she hauled herself back up again and over to the thermostat. It was too hot in her room, too. Seventy-six? In the middle of weather? That seemed ridiculous. She squashed the rubber triangle with her thumb, ticking it down to seventy before flopping back onto the bed.

Since she had her knees over the edge and her feet hanging down, she didn't see what was going on. Her toes wriggled in her wool socks, her ankles bent and then stretched, and then with a soft poof of fluff, the socks vanished, and in their place were a pair of thick white-furred paws, dangling just above the floor.


Sanctuary

A quick sketch of a deer-taur transformation folktale.

Men tell many tales of the Lady of the Wood, of her cruelty and caprice. They say that any son of man who enters into her Greenwood must either be fool, or desperate.

Desperate indeed I was on that night. The king's hounds were upon my trail, and his men so close behind I could hear their hue and cry. I had little choice but to enter the wood, or face the sword. I hoped, perhaps, that the men would turn their horses back at the edge of the kingdom, that they might be more superstitious than I, but still I could hear them. They were more distant, slowed by the branches and bramble that pricked my cheeks and tore at my legs, but still they pursued me.

I fled deeper into the forest, under roots taller than a man, over streams that wound silver in the moonlight. My breath was ragged, my face stained with blood and sweat. Still I ran, until from the woods around me, I heard a voice speak, "Halt."

The word chilled the blood in my veins, but I could not have moved even if I had wished. Where I stood, roots rose from the ground and twined about my feet, such that my legs were held fast, like a striding statue.


Spots

A short partial jaguar transformation, as a kind of experiment with non-anthro animal hybrids.

Mia shut the door behind her and tossed the plastic package onto her bed. She wasted no time pulling off her clothes. Her underwear went too, tossed to the side along with her socks. Shaking out her short black hair, she brushed her fingers along her temples, above her pierced ears.

It had finally come.

She tore open the plastic seal and dumped the bag out onto her bed. A pair of leggings and elbow-length gloves spilled onto her sheets. She scooped the nylon up in her hands. The jaguar-print rosettes stretched around her fingers. She was excited; a wide-eyed, dry-mouthed sort of excited.

Mia sat down on the bed and lifted up her left leg. The fabric stretched around her heel and flowed up her calf. Pausing, she wiggled the nylon over her foot until the toes of the leggings met her own toes. Then she stuck her right leg into the leggings, then stood up. The waistband snapped against her hips as she let it go. With a few gentle touches—the layer of nylon made her skin more sensitive—she smoothed the wild pattern across her legs.

The gloves left her fingers bare, but stretched nearly all the way to her elbows. Holding her left arm in front of her, she pulled the left glove tight, then did the same for the right. She wiggled her fingers to adjust the finger holes and brushed off the tops of her thighs.

Her reflection looked back at her from her bedroom mirror. Her tan skin made the jaguar-print glow.

And then it started.

The joints of her toes bubbled and curled back on themselves. The sudden discomfort and shift in her weight tipped her forward, but she caught herself on her bed. Her breaths came shorter and faster. With sharp cricks and snaps, her heels stretched into the air and forced her knees to bend. The tendons in her feet tightened like a guitar being tuned.


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.


This Is An Ad For Milk

An ad for milk. General.

Hello. This is an ad for milk.

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Think of a cow. Now, answer the following question out loud, as fast as you can: What do cows drink? If you said 'milk', that is incorrect. Cows do not drink milk Cows drink water. The idea that drinking milk will make you into a cow is silly. Do not be alarmed. You are safe. Milk is safe. Please drink more milk.

Milk can come in flavors. If you choose to not drink regular milk, consider flavored milk. Strawberry-flavored milk has never been proven to affect results on intelligence tests, and is legally safe for human consumption. Chocolate-flavored milk can add a rich luster to your coat. You want your coat to be lustrous, don't you? Then drink chocolate-flavored milk. Vanilla-flavored milk is useless and despised.

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December 20, 2015