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Growing Wilder

by Arthur Pearson
Second Place Winner

Here's my entry into the contest. Enjoy. [see footnote 3]

Growing Wilder

For all my fascination over the idea of becoming a furry, I'm not that great of a woodsman. A friend of mine, J.J. Johnson, on the other hand, was staying out overnight in the wood grove around his parent's farm at the age of 12. J.J. Was a mechanic back home now. Far from where I was.

I was on Lake Secluded (or something like that), in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota. To get here, it took us three days of paddling upriver and physically moving the canoe around rough areas. That's called portaging. My two friends did most of the work. And they were right to make me do this. With my part time secretary job with Crawford and Company and the full time drug deliverer job for Falks' Woodland Pharmacy, I was burned out. And I didn't need that before school started.

So here I was.

"Hey." Haakensen said behind me. I turned around and watched him get out of the tent. And out. And out.

Haakensen was huge. If he was as good at fighting as Stoeke, I would have no doubt that Haak(pronounced Hawk) could take on a medium sized bear and win. He stood a good four inches over my 5' 11" and would be as someone would say "big boned" and *mean* it. He had a rolly polly mass on him but if you kept looking at him, you'd see that it wasn't all fat. All through high school, Haak lifted weights. One more feature completed his look. His neanderthal sub orbital ridge. His brow sticks out like a swelling from his forehead, shadowing his eyes a little more than the average person. It's not freakish, just a little more brow than the average human. That brow is probably why Haak never really got into fighting. He could intimidate a painting.

"Hey." I responded, nodding as he went over to make breakfast. I'm an average looking guy, a slight overbite, blue eyes, slight pot belly, and long dark blonde hair, coke bottle glasses.

Stoeke came out of the tent next. Jason Stoeke (pronounced Sto-key) was a man about my height with a superhero's chin, sparkling blue eyes, blond hair, and a very fit body. Nazis would have loved him: Mr. Aryan race himself. He stood, stretched like a wincing cat, and did a couple well oiled kicks to loosen himself up. I nodded to him, he nodded to me.

"Ready to catch some fish?" Haak asked as he heated up a pot of Dinty Moore Beef Stew on the portable stove.

Haak would always tell us about one of the best meals on earth - freshly caught Northern grilled by the shore of the lake you got it from. "You bet, man." I said. "By the way, that was the most comfortable night I've had in a sleeping bag in the outdoors. How much did your dad pay for them?"

"I dunno." Haak said, curious himself.

I turned back to the forest and drank in the fresh air. A lot different than the inside of an office or the inside of a crappy Falk's Pharmacy delivery car. At that point, I felt something kick up inside me. I turned my head smartly to Haak and said in a crisp voice, "I'm going to that point you showed us yesterday. I'll be back in twenty. Kay?"

Shrugging, Haak said, "Sure." He had a way of shrugging that seemed to say, "All right, if you want to do *that*."

Stoeke said, "See ya."

"Save me some stew." I said as I started off into the woods.

"It'll be cold." Stoeke warned, smiling a little at my impulsiveness.

"That's okay." I called back. And it was.

We were hundreds of miles from nowhere. It was exciting. It was like a story right from Haakenson's lips about his high school days around Ely. Ely was situated in the middle of about 100 straight miles of highway and forest. Near Ely were old Tacinite mines, the kind where they just dug a really big hole and scooped out the metal in stead of tunneling. The mines were all out of Tacinite, a rock that could be processed into iron, and consequently turned into lakes. Haak and his friends would dive off the edge of a mine and splash into the lake. He would also rig up hand crafted ballistics (high powered shop vac, potato, and BOOM!), and explosives.

Haak was the GM for some of our games, and he always loved the dramatic, cinematic quality of really good action flicks and did his best to put it into the game. He'd point out a majestic, sweeping landscape on the TV and remind us of that quality to his games. It was no wonder he picked this spot to camp, even though you had to go through about 4 lakes and more portages to get here. It was near what I mentally dubbed The Cliff.

The trees broke and I was there. The grass beneath my feet tapered off to bare rock as if the edge had been splashed with acid. Over the edge was a giddy yawning nothing that fell away to a slightly surreal sight of the valley. The Cliff was a skyhook and I was standing on it, looking over the majestic wooded lake valley. The forest was seeped in hazy morning fog that spread across the lake like a layer of imaginary snow. The sun's rays lazered through the fog, dividing the world into the light and the dark like a before and after picture. With just a few minutes of dawn, you too can become lit with warm glowing light! Be the envy of valleys everywhere!

I liked cinematic sweeping landscapes as much as Haak. On the razor's edge between standing and falling, I sat down and just looked.

It was going to be a great day.

The three of us sat around the shore side campfire as the daylight
was dimming. That fish was really good.

When I go out to restaurants and order something new that the waiter recommends, I never seem to hit the mark. But Haak knew what tasted good. And this was it. The only thing I changed on the menu that night was the beverage for the meal. I don't like drinking beer with food. I was saving that for later.

"You know, the only previous fishing experience I have had was with my father in the piddly streams around southern Minnesota. But then again, dad's idea of fishing involved lots of doing nothing. We threw out how many today, Haak?"

"Eight." Haak said, and let a small burp flow out of his mouth. The fire was throwing strange shadows over Haak's thick brow.

"My compliments to the chef." Stoeke said, raising a beer.

"Me too." I said, raising my RC.

Haak and Stoeke knew about my obsession with furries from all the pictures I draw and download off the net. And all the characters I play in our games. And the stories that I write. My last character in Bryan's Orlum was Dolph Moureen, a former mad magician turned adventurer when one of his experiments went awry... turning him into a humanoid rabbit. But Dolph died on our last gaming session because I was stupid.

A little sobered by that thought, I finished off my RC and went for a beer. We bullshitted into the night about all sorts of things friends talk about together. After a while we were discussing the great mysteries of life that make sense only when you're drunk. After that, things got hazy.

Food. There's a lake nearby where we caught fish the other day. That's where to go, then.

Waking up felt like I was an inner spirit slowly expanding into my body. My heart was beating faster than usual. There was a dull buzzing in my nose and mouth, like somehow my nasal passages had gone asleep. One of my legs was tingling from restricted blood flow too. I opened my mouth and groaned. The sound seemed a pitch higher than usual, but it was the morning. Your voice does strange things until you warm it up.

I opened my eyes and sleepily closed them. I had a muzzle. Must still be dreaming. I like these dreams.

My heart rate began to climb. My eyes snapped open and I shut my mouth tight. I knew the difference between awake and asleep and this wasn't a dream. I brought out a hand to touch the furred thing dividing my vision and touched it.

I took some time to look at my hand. The palm and fingertips had black leathery pads. Claws sprouted from my fingertips and thumb. Adrenalin pulled the rip cord on my heart and my teeth began chattering in pure excess energy. I shakily turned my hand around and examined the fur - yes, fur! - that covered the back of my hand and all over my forearm. Silky smooth, and dark blonde just like the color of my hair. I started panting as my sleeping bag turned into a furnace with me the hot coal. Scared out of my mind, I scrambled out of it and to the tent door. Shakily and incredibly swiftly I bat at the door, shredding it enough in a few swipes to allow me to run to the forest.

But I stopped at the edge of camp, panting wildly and looking around to see if anyone else was awake. I didn't want to get lost in the forest in my blind panic.

And panic I was doing. A little demon was whispering into my ear, "Be careful what you wish for!" I had no idea what had happened to me, but it was 100% real. Okay. Take stock of the situation.

I turned my head and body lithely around to look at my rear. My body was longer and my limbs shorter. There was the tail. *My* tail. Stuffed down one pant leg, long and bushy. I consciously moved it into my paws and I held it. The fur was smooth as baby's skin. I couldn't feel as well through my hands - like I was wearing a glove. That came to me as a shock. You do a lot with your hands - feeling, testing, touching, typing, drawing.

I gulped and pushed some particularly nasty thoughts away. At least I still had an opposable thumb. Nervously licking my lips, I forced myself to calm down. It was tough because the little demon was screaming something about never being able to draw again.

I was a furry. A ferret or mink from the looks of it. Some sort of mustilidae. Human sized, too, from the way my clothing fit and my relative size to the tent. Thinking of clothes brought up a particularly valid point. I bent my head down under my belly and looked.

Hell. My pants had slipped enough so that the damned thing *showed*. A furry sheath and balls combo was right there for the world to see. I tried hitching my pants up over it, then pulling my shirt down over it. I cursed silently and took off my shirt.

That was weird. I could feel exactly where the shirt was. It was a stretching cone around my face. After I got it off I looked at it in my paws and felt my whiskers quiver.

"Cool." I said in a slightly higher voice than my usual medium deep bass. *That* brought up another valid point. I said silently, "Peter piper picked a pack of pickled peppers. Cool."

Just then I let myself acknowledge the electric lines that had been drifting through the air like spider webs: scents. I called them electric spider webs because they were light enough for me to ignore them in my fear but had such impact when I started thinking about them. They jolted me with their alien sharpness and promise of things to come.

Little nervous animals clutching the rich sap-filled bark nearly masked under blinding pine smell. The lake nearby and the hints of waterfowl and water born plants. Weaves of different animals walking through each other's scents all across the clearing and into the forest. My mind filled with ideas of stalking the little animal on the pine tree, of swimming like an otter in the lake, or finding a nice place to just let my fur bake in the sun. Each animal promised a different adventure, an enigma to be unraveled, found and watched.

That tent was looking more and more like something I should just put off. I frowned and squashed that thought. Irresponsible. I had to tell my friends what happened to me.

I tied my shirt around my waist and kicked off my shorts. That last maneuver sent me to the ground with an involuntary shout. Eyes bulging, I clamped a paw over my muzzle and listened to the inside of the tent for any movement. Some cloth rustled and animal-like sleepy ffts, and then regular breathing.

So I continued breathing. I bent my spine and suddenly found my feet above my head, my little pink nose right in my jeans. I did a little animal like fft of my own and pulled back a little to pull my pants, socks, and useless underwear off. I felt like a contortionist and chittered a soft laugh.

oh man oh man OhManOhManOhMan! I was inhuman. Totally out of this version of reality. I began to shake with fear and excitement. My life up to this point, including last night's best fish dinner I've ever had in my life, was normal and boring. From now on, for good or for worse, my life would be fifty times more intense. I could end up working for Disney, a celebrity and adored by millions, or dissected in a lab somewhere...

Or mistakenly killed by one of my own friends. Both of whom knew martial arts and could have kicked my ass if I'd been human. I didn't feel like testing my fighting ability against my best friends. Especially when I had about 20 sharp weapons physically attached to my body that could easily leave scars.

Then again...

Why did I have to tell them *today*? The wilderness was calling -no *shouting* to me. If I'd grown up a little ferret in the woods, I could have spent the first couple years of my life satisfying my curiosity over the routine smells of everyday life. But I never had this ability before. Everything was new and so intense and intriguing. I had never experienced anything like all those exotic perfumes in my entire life.

I could leave a note saying I was going to rough it for the day by myself. I could come back that night. They didn't bring any firearms with them, so they wouldn't just shoot me out of fear. They weren't stupid enough to do that in the first place anyway, I hoped. Besides, my life *was* going to be incredibly intense after this. I deserved a vacation before the storm, right?

Damned straight. I scampered on all fours up to my pack, got a pen and piece of paper, wrote the note, grabbed my clothes, and took off.

I couldn't help chittering in excitement as I crept into the woods.

"Dear Haak and Stoeke:
I went off into the woods by myself to explore. I've got a map and a      compass so I'll be fine. See ya tonight!

Bryan finished reading the note aloud and looked at Stoeke, who was
looking back at him with the same expression. "Oh my god he's going to get
so lost." [See Footnote 2]

Don't get me wrong. I was excited. Well, excited isn't the word for it. More like I was a quivering molten pile of nitro and lava. But I also didn't want to lose touch with civilization. I had a family that would go nuts looking for me.

So, I made sure I could follow my scent trail back to camp, and did my best to keep Lake Secluded in sight.

And I still got lost. But that's the ends. The means was so much *fun*! Even at the end of the day when I was convinced I'd never find camp again, I was still bubbly with the events of the day.

After stuffing my clothes, the very first thing I did was go up to The Cliff and take in that sight with my new senses. From there I stalked little creatures and watched them intensely at their daily activities, thrilling at how close I could get before they would see me. I'd never been so close to wild animals before! I saw a squirrel, and a raccoon, and a whole mess of deer, and even a bear.

Oh, jeez, the bear! As usual, I had lowered my muzzle to the ground and pulled in a new enigma scent. It rang bells in the back of my head in more ways than one. I didn't connect it at the time, but my dad used to hunt bear in Canada and over the years brought home two bearskin rugs. The scent also warned me that this was something I probably didn't want to mess with... once I found it.

So I was off. The scent wandered to bushes, and even a tree that had black hairs stuck in the bark. I picked a hair out, sniffed it, and looked closely at it. At that point, I had an idea that it was a bear, but that just made me more curious. I'd never seen a *live* bear before in the wild. After thirty minutes of some more tracking, I poked my head around a clump of trees and saw him. A black bear. Just a little bit larger than me. That made it... well, it wasn't a cub. Part of me wanted to find a computer and download a couple sites about bears and learn about them, but I couldn't do that in the middle of the wilderness. I had just what I had learned over the years.

Black bears were the smallest bears, and I think the most common. This one was eating berries on a bush. Scents were a lot like eating or drinking. The sense touched it as you drew it in, and, in the case of food, would say "Yum! Good food!" to you. Scents were just as deep, but a lot different. In the very presence of the creator of the scent, it was like an aura that told you of the animal's area, recent meals, recent friends, and a vague idea of their state of mind. When following a scent, you'd get a little of this, a bit of that, weak little hints of the aura without giving you the main course.

And this bear's aura said big hungry predator who was popular with the girls. Butch, I dubbed him. My nerves were telling me to keep away from him but somehow that just urged me on. I crept as carefully and stealthfully as I could up to him. Butch didn't notice me. My instincts were cool. I was as silent as a snake, as quiet as a mouse, as invisible as a flea.

I shouldn't have been scared. I mean, I was as big as a human. Almost the size of the bear himself. Bears are generally docile creatures. As I lay with my body pressed under the foliage I remembered that if you get between a momma bear and its cub, all bets were off. Drunk on excietment, I slunk away and grinned.

I spent a good amount of time examining spider webs, sniffing flowers and other unknown plants (sometimes nibbling them too), and watching insects.

And I *knew* that minks and ferrets swam in water. They liked fish. I think.

So, I went down a river to lake Number 5 (I'm serious, that's what Haakenson called it.) and went swimming. After the summer, the waters weren't ice cold, but they were cold enough! But I didn't notice it as much as I did the dolphin-like ease at which I could move my new body through the water. Fish, big ones, were all over the lake and without thinking, I'd chased and grabbed one. A little shocked, I brought it to shore.

I held it down with one paw and regarded it on the rough bedrock. How mink like was I? Could I eat raw fish and not worry about being infected? What about the bones? A real mink would be about 8 times smaller than me. They might be able to pick out the bones. Or did they eat little fishes whole, bones and all?

Red blood, thinned by the water, snaked across the fish's outside. "Slippery as a fish" doesn't apply when you can snag it with claws. The fish was almost ready to give up by that point, so I decided what to do. I'd try it. I bit into the fish, tore a piece of flesh off, and began chewing. Gulp.

It tasted like raw fish. Exactly like raw fish. Cold slippery stringy meat complete with innards. And it tasted great. I rose a surprised furbrow and, careful to chew enough to keep the bones out of my throat, I finished up the fish.

After that I sat on the rock to sun myself. Before I knew it I was napping. I'd been napping a lot through the whole day. Something in the metabolism I guessed. I dreamed intensely of underwater castles and sparrows swimming in the water while the fish flew in the sky. When I woke up, I realized something.

It was getting late.


There it was! The camp. I was so happy to see that tent, the boat. But first, I had to get my clothes. As I approached my pack, I realized I was walking on two legs. That was weird. I looked down.

I was human again. Two chills hit me like shotgun blasts. One from the cold night air, and the other from the utter loss I just had. Crazily I thought of the highest point in my life up to the moment I'd transformed. It happened in my senior year. I was a social hermit and dubbed the school weirdo. But when I got a standing ovation for my vocal solo of the whimsical The Green Eyed Dragon by the entire school, I felt like I belonged. But that was back to number two now. A distant number two.

Falling weakly to my knees, oblivious of the night air, I began to cry at the horrible unfairness and irony of it all. I absolutely *hated* stories like this. The hero goes through the story, gets something incredibly out-of-this-world happen to him, but at the end, it gets reversed and the guy never has any proof of the incredible fantastic thing that happened to him. I called them Charlie Brown stories because throughout my life, I sometimes felt just like Charlie Brown who never ever won a baseball game.

I don't know how I got my clothes on, but I did, and I dumbly went back into camp. Stoeke and Haakenson were waiting up for me, cooking S'mores on the campfire. Their smiles of relief were daggers that twisted in my heart.

Ignoring them, I went right into the tent. I found myself in my house, and dad and mom were happy to see me. That killed me even more because I could never tell them. I couldn't tell anyone. I went up to my room and flopped down on the bed as things went dark.


I woke up, the fur on my cheeks wet with tears. I hadn't had a nightmare that intense since I was 8 years old. For the next couple minutes before continuing on my way back to camp, I confirmed again and again that I was still a human-sized mink and smiled.


I was vainly chasing the tail of my maze of scents deep into the night. It was like my first few days driving for Falk's - I was completely lost, didn't know where I was and couldn't find where I needed to go. That compass was what saved me. I found Lake Secluded at somewhere around 4 in the morning. But the camp was a lot furthur down the shore.

Determined to get to them before they started searching for me, I dove into the lake to wake me back up and swam over there. I pulled myself up into the woods away from the camp, shook myself like a dog, and scrambled over the rocky forest to my pack with my clothes in it. I grabbed it, and snuck up to the edge of camp. They had a light - one of those modern oil lamps. Stoeke and Haakenson were nowhere to be seen.

I gave it a hard think. Searching at night was stupid for humans. They couldn't see at night like I could. They'd get themselves more lost than I was. So they were probably in the tent, asleep until morning. Either they believed I could take care of myself, or they'd been searching and called it a day.

And I felt tired enough to die right then and there. So, I laid out my clothes, curled up, and went to sleep.


Crack of dawn at 6 AM, and Haakenson was up. He woke up Stoeke and they prepared to go searching. The previous day they spent fishing, but their minds kept wandering back to A.J.  That night, he didn't come back. So, they said it was stupid to go out searching at night and went to bed.

Haakenson got out a map and charted out a search pattern, with checkpoints at 9, noon, three, and six. They started out.

Stoeke was the one that found A.J.'s clothes about 10 minutes outside of camp. Sleeping on the clothes was an animal that he'd never seen before. He assumed the worst, so he slunk away back to camp and waited until Haakenson came back at 9.

Grim faced, Stoeke informed Haakenson, "I found A.J.'s clothes."

A shocked moment of silence followed. "*Just* his clothes? Was he skinny dipping?"

"I don't know. There was an animal sleeping on them, though."

"What?" Haakenson said, a wincing look of "did I hear that right?" on his face.

"Just a few minutes out of camp on the way to the point. There's this weird animal sleeping on A.J.'s clothes. I think I saw his backpack there too."

Haakenson considered, then said, "How big was the thing?"

"As big as a black bear. Had short legs, a long bushy tail, and a muzzle kind of like an otter."

"What?" He put a little more effort into his look this time.

"Swear to god. Sleeping like a stone."

The larger man pulled his pack on with a thoughtfully disbelieving distant look. "That is very very weird. Let's go see if we can find him. Although a naked A.J. running through the woods isn't exactly something I'm looking forward to seeing."


A distant part of my mind knew I was dreaming. But the laws of thought in dreamland are much different from those in reality. I was scared beyond imagining that the giant bunny with bird wings was going to eat me. Ducking into a forest didn't help - it pushed aside trees with the strength and sound of the Six Million Dollar Man. Diving into the lake didn't help - it sucked up the entire lake like Superman's icy breath in reverse. Climbing a tree didn't help - well, because it was a giant bunny. With big gnashy teeth.

Then it had me in its grip. The velvet paws crushed me as it stared at me. Its eyes were lambent flames of evil. I tried to push it away but its mouth was going to bite into me. I woke, still struggling in its grasp enough to immediately bolt a few paces when the dream paws no longer restrained me.

When I calmed down, I sighed in relief and turned around to gather up my clothes.

Haakenson and Stoeke were about 10 feet away in the woods, watching me. My mouth dropped open in pure surprise. Everything but my heart stopped like a freeze frame on a VCR.

An image formed in my mind of me, chittering and whimpering in my sleep with the two of them looking over me. I insanely wondered if I looked cute. They were the first to move. Haakenson backed away slowly and then Stoeke joined him. Backing away from an unknown, and possibly pissed off, animal. An animal the size of a bear.

My body shook into an instinctive fight or flight stance when I shouted, "No!"

They froze, but I could tell they were dismissing my shout for a bark and were waiting for me to do my next move.

"Guys, It's me, A.J.!" I said distinctly, calming down more that they'd stopped leaving. *Now* disbelief was spreading across their face. I sighed and padded calmly over to my things and lifted them up with my forepaws and said, "These are my things. I draw sketchy pictures but hardly ever finish them. I like Weird Al Yankovic and They Might Be Giants."

The wind shifted and I could then smell the sudden fear that shot up through them. "Don't worry, guys. I'm in complete control of my faculties. I haven't gone wild. I ---" I realized that I hadn't had my shirt tied around my waist since about 10:00 am the previous morning. My whiskers sprang straight out from my face and my eyes widened in embarrassment. I gave them a brief smile, grabbed my shirt, and tied it around my waist. "Sorry, forgot about that. Heh, heh." I put my paws behind my back and looked bashful.

"What happened?" Haakenson finally said.

"I just woke up like this." I said. "And I wanted to have some fun before I showed you guys. So I, like, left and ran around by myself for a while and got lost. It was just a bit before dawn when I finally found my way back so I went to sleep."

"Well... what can I say? You look good." Haakenson said, bewildered. Stoeke was leaning up against a tree, a bemused look on his face.

That caught me a little from a blind side. "Excuse me?"

He explained. "For an 'against nature melding of man and beast' you pretty much lucked out. You could have gotten mismatched limbs, or have half your face transformed, or any number of things. How long do you think it will last?"

"Last?" I thought about that terrible dream I'd had the other day. "I don't know." My paws unconsciously came to my front and clasped together in thought. "It happened somewhere between where my memory of us drinking tapers off and when I woke up the next morning."

Stoeke said, "You know, I can't remember that night very well either." He looked at Haakenson at the same time I did.

He was thinking hard. "I remember something."

I ducked my head forward in attention. "Yes?"

"Something about the fish we ate. You started talking about a mink in a top hat you played on a mud or something."

"Really?" I said. That struck a faint bell in the depths of my brain but I couldn't bring anything up about the night. I knew exactly who he was talking about, however. Arthur T. Mink, a character I played on FurryMUCK for a few months. He was an English Mink, a species of mink that didn't have as prized a fur as the other minks. I had researched minks so I could play my character better, and chose that species because he was kind of like an anti-mink. Mink are known for their fur, but an *English* mink was not preferred for its fur.

Shaking me out of my thoughts, Stoeke said, "Yeah, you were also talking about Dolph."

At the mention of his name, I involuntarily frowned, remembering the circumstances of his death. A little digging later, and the idea of Dolph sparked another one. Very slowly, picking my words, I said, " 'I'm not really human. I'm a furry trapped in a human body.' " I looked up at my friends. "I remember saying that to you guys."

Then, we tried to remember some more. But ten minutes later and we were still coming up blank. I was so excited by their acceptance. If *they* could accept me, maybe others could too. I gathered my stuff up and we went back to camp.

The mood fouled after that, and then Haakenson said, "Well we still have to eat. I'm going to get the boat ready." He looked at me. "You don't have to come if you don't want to."

I considered it. "I dunno. Give me a couple minutes." A good idea flashed across my mind. I couldn't resist smiling when I said, "No, I'll stay here."

They interpreted my smile differently. They hopped in the boat, and I just sat down at camp and watched them leave. I wondered what it was they were saying about me. I shrugged, and then decided *not* to sneak out under their boat and scare them. I had some thinking to do.


"Jeez what are we going to do about him?" Stoeke said, nervous and exasperated.

"I don't know. What do you do with a six foot mink?"

Smirking, Stoeke said, "Make a one-piece mink fur coat?"

Haakenson shook his head, chuckling. He sighed and said, "It's really freaky being around him. You know him and his furries. He's got his dream. It's like being with a ... a ... guy who just won the lottery but couldn't spend it."

Stoeke nodded thoughtfully. "That's not it exactly. But it's close enough." He got a bite and started reeling it in. "Get me the net."

As they pulled the doomed cold blooded water breather in, Stoeke said, "How can you make a living, if you're a 6 foot tall mink?"

"And you're the only one?" Haakenson said.

"Freak show?" Stoeke said.

"No, *seriously*. You know A.J. ... He couldn't manage a checking account. And he's in real trouble now that his 'dream' has come true. He's got to have a plan."

"Well let's break it down. He's got his normal intelligence." Stoeke said.

Haakenson scoffed, "Normal?"

Grinning, Stoeke said, "For A.J." Continuing, he said, "He's got claws but that's no different from me being a black belt. Register 'em as weapons and he'll be fine. He's got fur, he's cute, and he can act."

Cocking his head to one side, Haak looked over at Stoeke. "He's scatterbrained and loves cracking jokes, even if they're bad. Or juvenile."

Stoeke's grin widened. "Move over Barney. Here comes A.J. the playful mink!"

(Note from Phaedrus: Since the contest, Arthur has greatly extended the story, giving it a conclusion that can only be called "a madcap romp." :-) Tt's well worth the read. )

1. Now I should state something here. Haakensen doesn't get hangovers if he drinks a pitcher of water before he goes to bed the night of heavy drinking. I'm guessing that the alcohol was flushed out of my system from being transformed. Stoeke... well, Stoeke wouldn't wake up in a hurricane, and then wake up if someone whispered his name from across the room. So, neither Haak nor I were suffering from a hangover. I couldn't speak for Stoeke. I still couldn't remember the night before. On with the story.

2. And this is from the perspective that I was still *human*. My friends know me well.

3. What a hassle. This is why I haven't posted anything this summer. To get a story on here, I had to write it on Claris, save it on Bare Bones Edit Lite, transfer it to my friend's computer via his WordPerfect 7, save it, load it up in Notepad, and then finally paste it to the email program my friend has. And THEN it was still *one stinking character* over length. So I went back through the whole story and made it look nice. If there's one thing that sticks in my craw is a story that hasn't been proofread and made to look good. But more on that later, in a story I'm working on with Jason A. William's help.

-The Intolerable Picklejuice  (apearson@d.umn.edu)
"The mob is getting ugly--" "They had a head start!"
"The fun never stops with the fun factory! Hang on, Max!"
"Cheeze whizzorama, Sam-- that's neat!"
       -Sam and Max
* * *
Copyright 1997: arthur pearson <apearson@d.umn.edu> . If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask the author for permission first.       Thank you

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