The Party

Five short stories filled with Halloween-y costume transformation. Mature.

The setting sun lit the tops of the trees like Halloween lights against the purple sky. The old house poked its third story up above the leaves, looking down at the town below, where trick-or-treating was in full swing. The weather had relented just in time, making the evening crisp, but not cold. Cars already lined the narrow road leading up from the highway, parked off the shoulder wherever space could be found.

The path to the house was strung with small lanterns, but Mitch lingered by the side of the road, pacing while trying to look like he wasn't pacing. He picked his head up every time he heard another car rolling by, and occasionally reached back to make sure the duct tape holding his tail on wasn't peeling off. His fox costume was a last-minute affair: a headband with red ears, a costume tail taped to the seat of his pants, and a scribble of black marker on top of his nose, with a few whiskers drawn along his cheeks.

When she saw Mitch, Leah called out, "Hey!" Then she remembered her mask and pushed it up on top of her head. "Hey, Mitch!" she called again, jogging up to meet him.

Leah was dressed as a lion, in a costume that could have come from a stage production: a tawny bodysuit, big furry gloves and boots for paws, a fake mane with rounded ears poking from the top, and a rubber mask, which had been painted over to match the rest of the costume. A wire in her tail kept it curled in the air and made it swing behind her when she walked.

Mitch turned and smiled, relieved to see someone he knew. "Oh, hey!" he said, then nudged his glasses up his nose and took a closer look at Leah. "Where'd you get that? It looks good."

"My parents' attic. I had to kinda sneak it out of their house, but it was pretty dusty, so I don't think they're going to miss it for one night," Leah said, turning sideways to show off the tasseled tail.

"By the way, thanks for inviting me," Mitch said. "If you hadn't, I'd probably just wind up sitting in my dorm all night."

The two of them joked about tearing themselves away from video games until Allison arrived, dressed in a tank top in defiance of the fact that it was almost November, and with her arms folded tight against her chest. She looked from Mitch's bargain-bin fox costume to Leah's full, theatrical lion outfit. With a hesitant frown she asked, "Uh, is...everyone going to be dressed up?"

"There's probably going to be some people not in costume," Leah said. She lifted the lion mask from her forehead and offered it to Allie. "But you can borrow this if you want."

"Thanks," Allie breathed. She slipped the mask on over her face, then ruffled her hair to hide the elastic strap and tugged at the eye holes until they lined up with her eyes. The well-rendered snarl and wrinkled snout went a long way toward making up the fact that it was just a mask. "I don't want to look lame if Tory's going to be here," she said, wrapping her arms around herself again. "Now can we go inside?"

"We're still waiting for Erin and Chris. Let's give them another minute or two," Leah said.

It was hard to miss Chris. As he walked up, he announced himself with a dramatic growl of, "Greetings, puny humans!" He was dressed in a long-sleeved shirt patterned with red scales, a pair of tattered pants he'd used to be everything from a pirate to a peasant, red body paint to cover his hands and legs and face, a small rubber dragon's snout on top of his nose, and a stuffed red tail bouncing against the back of his calves.

Erin showed up just after Chris, wearing a jacket and jeans and canvas trainers. The only thing of hers that was even remotely a costume was the shock of red dye she'd put her hair the week before, and she had insisted that was just because she was tired of purple. "I heard you all the way down the road," she told Chris, giving him a mild glare. He didn't take it personally. Mild glaring was Erin's default state.

"You know this is a costume party, right?" Allie asked Erin.

Chris added, "I've got some horns and extra body paint back in my car. You could make a pretty good devil."

Erin rolled her eyes and sighed through her teeth. "Thanks, but I'm fine. I don't want a costume, I'm just here for the party."

And so the five of them filed up along the path toward the house: Leah in most of a lion costume, Chris already in character as a dragon, Allie wearing Leah's lion mask, Erin resolutely refusing to be anything but herself, and Mitch as a makeshift fox, bringing up the rear and gazing up at the old house rising from among the trees. The night was already settling in, rolling up the last rays of sunlight and drawing the sky darker. The warmth of music and voices rose as they crossed the lawn, eager to join...

 

The Party

 


Hooked

A fox girl and her friends succumb one by one to addictive, transformative, brain-draining cigarettes. Explicit.
1 Hazel, Monday morning

Hazel hadn't seen Jordan all day. At this point, she was convinced that Jordan was home sick and hadn't texted her about it. Hazel knew the rabbit girl would be more pissed about missing track practice than missing class.

Her two other friends were already sitting at their table in the cafeteria, so Hazel headed their way. Her fluffy fox tail flicked behind her, weaving through the tight gaps between people's chairs. Between her short, crisp red hair and sharp green eyes, she had the look of someone who could be confident one day, once she got over her own teenage awkwardness. Right now, she was more lanky than anything.

Hazel slid into a seat at the table. Zoey and Evie barely noticed her sitting down.

Zoey was the biggest of their bunch, thanks to her panther genetics. She had dangerous scowls down to a science, and she was on her last strike for violating the dress code. The grinning feline skull on her tank top peeked above the table.

Evie, the doe, had her hoof-tipped fingers wrapped around her fork, halfway through jabbing it into her salad. Her glasses made her wide-eyed stare look even wider. Her flannel shirt had been scuffed in spots, a veteran of one of her many hiking trips, and her hair was pulled back in her usual short ponytail.

Zoey and Evie both were staring in the same direction. Hazel glanced between the two of them, waited a few seconds, then broke the silence by saying, "What's up?"

"Jordan," Evie said.

Hazel followed Evie's gaze, but she didn't see Jordan. All she saw was the school's varsity quarterback and some sexed-up bunny sitting on his lap. "I don't get it," Hazel said.

Zoey reached across the table, wrapped one arm around Hazel's shoulder so they were looking from the same angle, and pointed at the bunny girl. "That's Jordan," she said.

Hazel's eyes widened. That couldn't be Jordan.


La Dame de la Louve Blanche

A wolf pursues her friend through noir-Paris, while getting hypnotized into an elegant femme fatale. Explicit.

Two blocks from the private investigator's office, Vicky heard the narration kick in.

“The water came down in sheets, giving Paris the cold shower it deserved. The city of love? When you’re lucky, love chews you up and swallows you whole. When you’re not, it tears you to shreds and leaves you drowning in the gutter. Whoever decided to make a city of love was mad, or French. The two were close enough.

“Anyone with sense was inside. Which was why one rain-drenched wolf climbed through deep puddles and streams of water running down the streets: madness. Or love for a friend. Close enough.

Vicky got the idea. She was inside a film noir that was set in Paris; she'd figured out that much when she showed up and everything was black-and-white except for her. She was still baffled how Liz had gotten here in the first place, but that wasn't important. What was important was finding her friend.


Growing Confidence

A nerdy wolf girl starts getting bigger and stronger, and not even her boyfriend can stop her. Explicit.

Stephanie tilted the envelope toward her hand and shook the silver pendant onto her palm.

“Oh, wow," she said. “You didn't have to do this. Dinner was enough."

Her boyfriend, the tiger across the table from her, shrugged. “I thought you could wear it to Pathfinder." Though he was trying to play it casual, he watched Stephanie's reaction, hoping she'd like it.

“Yeah," the white wolf girl said, paying more attention to her present. The pendant itself was about an inch and a half in diameter and made of silver. It was shaped like a disk, with the image of a snarling wolf carved into it, its eyes looking forward and its mane making up the outer part of the disk. Its small steel necklace chain had pooled in her palm underneath.


A Sip of Coffee

Getting a cup of coffee helps a young businesswoman relax into a trendier persona.

Eight bucks was far too much for a cup of coffee. But eight bucks here as compared to five at the place down the road--Tiffany figured she saved the time it took to walk to the parking lot, drive out, park, and drive back. The new gourmet coffee shop was two minutes from the front door of her office as opposed to the ten minute drive to the cheaper place.

Sixteen minutes for three dollars, which came out to about twelve dollars an hour--and she was definitely getting paid more than that, so on the whole, it was worth her time. As long as the coffee was good.

Tiffany took a seat at one of the small tables and set her black brick of a business laptop in front of her. She flipped it open and checked her reflection in the screen before it turned on. Her pale fur, combed; her black hair, pinned back into a bun; her charcoal suit jacket, sitting crooked on her shoulders. She sat up, straightened her jacket, pulled her blouse flat, then swept her charcoal skirt beneath her thighs and sat down again.


The Snow-Black Fortress

Instead of studying barbarians, a fantasy anthropologist winds up joining them instead. Explicit.

Footsteps dented the snow without any feet to make them. The falling snow and gusts of wind would cover them up within minutes, and then there would be no sign that anyone had been there.

Edward paused, and the footsteps stood still. He crouched down, digging two gloved fingers into the snow and putting a clump of it onto his tongue. He was loath to chill himself any more than he already was, but he'd read in a book that it kept your breath from fogging up.

Ahead of Edward loomed the fortress, built out of greying stone, perched on the side of a mountain. Behind him was the less perilous peak he'd climbed. And beneath him, beyond the thick stone bridge, were thousands of feet of nothingness down to a rocky cleft between the two peaks.. Edward's heart hammered in his chest.

The tracks began to move again, dotting the snow with dark spots where the gray-black flagstones showed through. Edward grabbed the edges of his cloak and pulled them closer together against the cold. On his chest, sitting above his traveling robe, was an unevenly round disc of lead. Stamped on it in a puffy, bulbous way was the image of a half-closed eye.