Just A Cigar

A hyena gets enough confidence to own her new, enhanced looks. (Also, a penis. She gets that too.) Explicit.

The cigar was huge. At least an inch thick and seven inches long. Cam had owned dildos smaller than that. She dug it out of an old cigar box in the back of her closet, so old the green-and-gold paper had started to flake. A gold seal wrapped around the cigar near the base. It smelled not quite like tobacco; still heavy and imperious, but more spice than musk.

Cam wrinkled her snout. "Jesus Christ, that's big," she muttered. The cigar box she tossed over with the stuff she could maybe sell on Craigslist for rent money: a taped-up hockey stick and a portable CD player with blue crystal buttons. The cigar she held onto. Everything else from the bottom of her closet, the torn up shirts and used skateboard wheels and orphaned shoelaces, sat in the 'useless junk' pile.

With a sigh, she heaved herself onto her feet and went to hunt through the kitchen drawers for her lighter. The drawers were only a few feet from her closet, and that was only a few feet from her bed, which was pulling double-duty as her couch.

Cam was a hyena: big ears, scruffy mane, brown spots on her tawny cheeks, the whole package. Well, not the whole package. That had more to do with recessive alleles and testosterone levels and it was pretty rare anyway. Aside from that, she was the sort of lean, strong-shouldered girl everyone expected a hyena to be. She went by Cam because her real name, Camilla, just felt weird on someone like that.


Spiked

A reality-warping collar turns an office worker into a tough hyena porn star, and changes those around him in pornographic ways. Explicit.

It starts while I'm washing my hands in the bathroom. I look down at the sink, then back up at the mirror, and instead of my tie, I'm wearing a collar.

As collars go, it's not even very work-appropriate.

The band is thick black leather, about an inch and a half tall, studded with round, half-inch steel spikes. It's big enough that I can slip my fist between the collar and my neck and still have wiggle room. There's a clasp in the back. I spin it around so it's facing front, and try to pull it open. It doesn't budge.

All right, fine, I'll just pull the collar up over my head instead. I slide the back up my neck and try to squeeze the front over my chin. Even though it's a loose fit, it's not loose enough to slide off. I keep trying for a good minute, until my neck's pink from the collar rubbing against it. My ears are hot and my face is flushed, too. I let go and it clunks down against my shoulders and collarbone.

If I can't take it off and I can't pull it off, maybe I can cut it off. I've got scissors back at my cubicle. I crack open the bathroom door and peek down the hall before I leave. I don't feel like trying to explain why I'm wearing an oversized punk collar in the middle of the office.

The coast is clear, so I slip down the hall, turn the corner, and see my boss, Tricia, coming my way. She's the sort of person who likes gray suits because 'they're neutral colors' and cares about timesheets and dress codes.

Maybe she won't notice the collar if she doesn't look too closely. I step to the side to slip by Tricia and give her a shy smile.

She smiles back, doesn't even glance at my neck, and says, "Hi, Spike."

I'm already past her, but I stop and pause. Was 'Spike' a dig at the collar? But if she saw it, she would have told me to take it off. I turn back toward her. "Um, what?"

"I was just saying hello," she says with a friendly shrug.

"Yeah, but my name's not Spike."

Tricia frowns lightly, then lifts an eyebrow. "Oh. All right, Mister Ryder," she says with more than a little sarcasm, then turns the corner and walks off toward her office.

My name's not Ryder either.


Matat Spa

A couple visits a spa staffed by faceless latex attendants, and slowly lose themselves to the hypnotic smoke.. Explicit.

The highway weaved along the coastline, between the warm beaches on one side and the orange cliffs on the other. Riley sat behind the wheel of her rental car with the window rolled down and her arm hanging out to feel the breeze. The wind whipped at the side of her short mane. Riley had the imposing posture, sharp smile, and sinewy frame that came with being a hyena. She watched the road from behind her mirrored sunglasses as she followed it north.

Julie sat in the passenger seat. While the lioness didn't look as tough as Riley did, their tussles in bed had proved that they were evenly matched. Julie's copper hair was brushed back behind her ears, though the wind blew around the inside of the car so much that she had to occasionally re-tuck it. A pair of gold studs sat in her left ear, nearly hidden against her tawny fur.

As they came around another ridge, Julie's ears flicked up and she leaned forward to point. "There it is," she said.

Nestled between two orange hills was a building shaped like a white cylinder, three stories high, and shaded from the road by lines of narrow cypress trees. It was smooth and nearly featureless, and if it hadn't been for the spacious parking lot and well-kept driveway, it might have seemed like a water tower.

Riley pulled off the highway and followed the driveway up into the empty parking lot. She plucked the sunglasses off her face, then asked Julie, "Is this place open? It looks deserted."


Mane: For Men

TransCo-branded shampoo turns Riley into a beastly male gnoll. Whoops. Explicit.

Riley had run out of shampoo. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but she didn't have enough time before work to go to the supermarket for her usual shampoo. The gas station on the corner only had travel-size bottles of Mane: For Men.

But even shampoo marketed to insecure teenage boys was better than nothing. Riley closed the bathroom door and kicked off her shoes. She tugged her shirt off over her head and shook out her black curls, then bent over and pushed off her pajama pants. She took a glance at the mirror; no surprises there. Fair skin, average figure, and unremarkably cute.

Riley stepped into the shower stall and swung the door shut. At first, she just let the hot water spray over her scalp. Then she rolled her head, soaking her curls and combing her fingers through them until they fell flat against her cheeks. Once she'd thoroughly rinsed, she reached for the bottle and popped the top.

The shampoo's scent ('Gnollspike', which she'd chosen over the alternative, 'Bristleboar') wasn't as bad as she'd feared. The sweet smell of soap was warmed by spices, but it wasn't overpowered and musky. ...At least, not too musky. If she rinsed it out well enough, she would be fine.

She squeezed a splurt onto her hand and slapped it onto her forehead. She spread it back along her hair, then with both hands, she scrubbed the shampoo into her scalp, working it down through her tangled curls.

The shampoo tingled into her hair follicles, like the pleasant burn of popping a cinnamon hard candy into her mouth. If she let it linger, it started to hurt, but feeling it wash across her scalp was invigorating. She leaned into the spray and closed her eyes. The water rolled down her face and hair, carrying the suds down her body. She flicked her wet hair back and squeezed another squort of shampoo into her hands. She wanted to feel that tingle again.


The Snowy Gnoll [Illustrated]

Each time a gnoll comes back to Riska's shop, she's been more and more changed by her adventures. Mature.

Riska stood high on her stool, looking over the small pile of treasure dumped onto her counter.

"And none of this is stolen?" she asked. The gnoll girl across the counter from Riska folded her arms across her chest. Riska felt it was a perfectly valid question to ask. When a gnoll in dark leather with more knives than she's got hands to hold them in walks into your pawn shop, you start thinking that maybe this girl is a bandit. It didn't help that she was skinnier than most gnolls, with a wiry frame that her tight armor accentuated.

"No, it's not," the gnoll said. There was a little huff in her voice. She was probably used to being accused of thievery. People didn't have high opinions of gnolls to begin with. Still, Riska thought, she did look like a thief.


||||||||

Null drones convert a hapless photographer poking around an abandoned hospital. Explicit.

Eight clicks echoed through the dead hospital.

Thomas raised his head. His ears rose too, stretching to hear the sound again. To him, rusted gurneys and rubble-strewn beds were photogenic, not eerie, and an odd noise was cause for investigation, not panic.

He pulled his camera off of his tripod. He thought it might be a wild animal, or some sort of scavenger. Whatever it was, he was going to get a picture of it.

He walked back across the ground floor of Bellvue Hospital, closed down and left to steep in its own formaldehyde for the last thirty years. There had been a quarantine then, a panic—but it was all before Thomas's time. The hospital had never been sealed up airtight. If there were any pathogens left, simply going inside couldn't hurt.