Up: Transformation Contest 1, Category 3  Up: "Growing Wilder"

Growing Wilder - Conclusion

by Arthur Pearson

(Note from Phaedrus: These are the extra parts to Growing Wilder, that were posted after the conclusion of the contest.  The beginning of the story is archived separately.)

Growing Wilder 3 [See Footnote 4]

I don't blame me. I blame my new body. There I was, crawling through the wilds, giddy on my latest enigma perfume. I promised myself I'd be back by nightfall, but for some reason I kept overlooking the one thing that would always get me lost. My brain. Hey, I know my own limitations! I wouldn't have shot off with nothing but a "I'll remember the way back" if I took the time to think about it. I mean, I got lost the night before with the same idea!

So, I was lost. But at this point, I hadn't realized it yet. I was creeping up on the source of one of the scents that seemed to buzz right through my mind. The scents of this forest were like a swarm of mosquitoes hungry for the blood of my attention. My sharp claws were good for climbing and I was reaching the crest of a rocky cliff. The scent sang of nuts and bark and crackling energy. Slowly, slowly I rose my head up to watch.

A chipmunk. I'd seen squirrels earlier - bushy tails flashing, scrabbling up and down trees and chattering. Until they scented me. Then they took off. This little guy was upwind of me and had stripes on his back like those two Warner Brothers' Chip'n'Dale wannabes. What the heck was he doing on a rock cliff face? [See Footnote 5] He was coming out of his little home, it looked like.

As the little guy scrabbled over to another part of the top of the cliff, I watched him, my eyes like glistening saucers shoved into my skull. It got a certain distance from his home and I ---

He was dead and I was eating him. Shock lited over my spine. It was like my mind left for a smoke and it just got back. No thinking, just *doing*.

I slowly finished my meal and sat down on top of the cliff. I felt like the epitome of sobriety. I was pooh bear sitting down for a good long think.

I had been tensing up ever since I'd spotted the chipmunk. Ready to spring. Every other time I had watched an animal, in the back of my mind I was wondering what to do. If I'd ever actually thought about it, I would have known the answer: "eat it." After eating this one, I was still hungry. The mosquito scents now led to meals, I realized.

And that was something that was fun. *Really* fun. Baubles of "coolness" burst when I cracked the little creature's bones. The thought of catching and killing another animal seemed like the neatest thing in the world. My heart beat faster as I imagined sucking the blood from a warm body. I didn't turn into a mink. I turned into Beavis the vampire. Blood. Cool. Heh, heh, heh.

I hugged myself and dug my claws into my fur and skin. Pain flared up and helped to focus my thoughts. I still felt that killing was cool, but I knew that it was not cool, intellectually. I remembered how much I loved to pet dogs and cuddle with cats. But somehow I also knew that stalking, pouncing and rending was also really neat.

Here I was, transformed. Not into the wolf-man, the quintessential werewolf. I was a mink-man. And for some reason, I was as bloodthirsty as the movie werewolves.

Reflecting, I decided I was handling the whole thing really well. I could go back to camp right now and they would never know I killed an animal. But isn't that what we all do? We have our hidden secrets, our suppressed desires. We keep them away from the light of the world. I crazily thought about what people say when they finally catch the psycho killer: "He was such a nice boy. Always kind to everyone. No one would suspect him of foul play." Those psychos loved to kill. And now I did. I examined my feelings toward my friends. Did I want to kill them too?

Long seconds beat past as the icy examination continued. No, I decided. I could kill them, but they are my friends. I didn't want to, and the horrible idea of seeing them dead overrode any instincts that told me different.

So I sighed and shut out the scents. I looked for my scent only, and began following it back to camp.

More than once I struggled with perfectly logical idea of sating my hunger by hunting. It's what I was built to do. What the heck are these claws for? These fangs? These reflexes and keen hunting sense?

It was practice for being in a city or any other public place. If I was going to live in the real world for any length of time, it would be good to be able to behave myself and not stuff somebody's poodle down my throat.

Predator. I paid the scent no mind and continued walking. But what I saw next stopped my heart. It wasn't an angry pissed off bear in the middle of the wilderness that scared the crap out of me.

It was a bear cub crying for its momma.

I smelled her before I heard her. She was crashing like a freight train through the forest. Someone then hit slow advance on the VCR. My head eventually completed its lightning quick spin in the direction of the rampaging creature and I saw a lot of bear barreling through underbrush. Her forepaws dragged her mass forward. Her mass followed like an ocean wave, rippling like a furry water balloon experiencing high g-forces. [See footnote 6] Some of that balloon waved away from her fangs as she moved.

What can I say? I shat my pants. Actually, I *sprayed*. Instincts directed a spread of ode de' skunk [See footnote 7] right across her face and mouth. At the same time, I crouched ready to spring away. Good thing, too. Momma was unfazed. I realized one thing as I barely managed to turn myself around in time to get enveloped in a bear hug. She was unfazed because she was already beyond any normal anger or being irritated. I was a predator and between her and her cub. All bets were off. She was going to kill me.

My right paw caught her in the throat and kept her teeth from me but that really didn't matter much. The pressure around my midsection was blossoming pain like a live electric wire. She roared and I had the brief giddy feeling of being right next to the roar in stead of hearing it through a TV during Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures. A quick wiggle and she was crushing a different part of my body to death. A swipe from my left paw left blood on her face and maybe a lost eye. My rear claws began chewing at her tough belly.

Our slow motion ballet was slowly speeding up. As it did, death itself seemed to be giving me mouth to mouth resuscitation - all the air was going the wrong way. Dead-dead-dead I was dying! [Right now I wish there was a punctuation mark for despair.] Alone in the wilderness, eaten by bears.

Just as bad as becoming human again.

My breath gone, I could not scream. But a scream nevertheless cracked through me. My rear claws finally found purchase in the bear's belly. A wrenching tear with all my strength and the insides of the ursine juggernaut began slipping out.

And she didn't give up. Something broke in my body. A rib? My spine? My strength was ebbing. The world was slowing down again. This time with blackness tunneling my vision. No oh-two. My left paw was raking again and again as my right was losing the battle to keep those jaws away. Fangs sunk into my neck at the base and I weakly tried to push the bear's mouth apart.

Then - was the pressure on me loosening? Or was I numbing into death? The darkness in my eyes was growing sparkles like sparks in black ash. I kept fighting against her steely muscles, and slowly they loosened. My sight was washed with yellow and white sparks, blinding me, but I could breathe.

Breathing was fun. I liked it. I wanted to make a habit of it. Some more struggles and the fangs came out of my neck. I extracted myself from under the she bear with some difficulty. Pain arched through me from the things she broke. All twenty of them. I had difficulty breathing. The darkness receded just a little bit. I looked at the wound on my shoulder. Bleeding like a son of a bitch.

It didn't matter that she died. If that bleeding didn't stop, I was going to die too, unknown.

A single chuckle painfully cracked up through me. Was that it? My old nemesis, the basic desire for attention. Was that why I didn't want to die lost in the wilderness? To become just another episode of the x-files? End of the show, you gotta have the status quo preserved. The secrets are still secret. The mystery, even if it was solved, never got to see the public eye.

My thoughts were a little scrambled, but I could still move slowly and painfully. I put some grass on my neck wound and kept pressure on it.

While slowly walking I took frequent stops to breathe. Nothing really hurt. Whatever was damaged felt like a knife shooting *pain*, not hurt, into me. Eventually the bleeding stopped. I closed my eyes and was very thankful for that. It was about 30 minutes of slow progress before I realized I was lost.

"That's it." I whispered, a fist closing on my heart. "My luck has officially run out." Hopelessness was a silent predator, taking drive and ambition and strength. How long would I last like I was?

I didn't bring anything with me. No shirt, no signal flare, nothing. Not that we even had a signal flare. I grimly kept going.

The light was dimming when I found myself at an unfamiliar lake. Exhaustion was like a giant lemon on my back: dragging me down and making my wounds sting a lot more. I didn't know if sleeping was a bad thing at this point, but I decided to chance it. I found a nook near the water, curled up, and closed my eyes.

Wilder 4 [See Footnote 8]

The mink is a slender animal, but is exceedingly muscular and tenacious of life. Its neck and legs are short and there seems to be no tender spot in its body. No animal of the same size, or even considerably larger, wants to fight a mink; or if it does, it shows poor judgment.
    - Abbreviated from From Wild Animals

The liquid surged through the tight passages. The gas shot through branch through branch to near microscopic sacks and the whole unit swelled. The swelled object, damaged in a place, had a differing chemical reaction in that certain place, creating a low voltage electric current that transmitted a signal nearly instantly to the complex signal translation area. The signal was interpreted and branched to several key areas, creating a cascading flare ending with a whole thought.

OUCH! Damn, it hurts when I breathe.

I woke up. Grass, wetness, trees, and reality met my eyes. For a few moments I tried to wrap my head around the dream. It seemed very odd and out of place. I filed it away for when my life wasn't in mortal danger.

Being alive was cool. Part of me was pretty much convinced that I would never wake up. Rib puncture lung, suffocate to death while sleeping, alone in the middle of nowhere.

I hated it when I thought about that. So I got up, fell down in pain, and very slowly lifted my head. I was next to a lake. The lake I reached last night. I forced myself up and suffered a wave of pain that pulled out a contradictory mix of nausea and hunger. Not wanting to flop back down and possibly never get up again, I kept putting energy into my arms and legs... my forepaws and hind paws. Whatever. I got up.

More fluid "shot through tight passages", helping me wake up. Waking up brought more and more pains to light again. The nausea passed and the hunger returned in force. I needed food. And I was a carnivore.

A... a mink. Overall, my first choice of a furry to turn into - claws, fangs, and really great fur. Plus it's not a canine and therefore dragging the baggage of werewolves. Intellectually it was my choice. Now I was living it.

Feeling more stable at this point, I pushed back my hunger to look at myself. I remember doing a brief inventory right after I transformed. After that, I was off on a whirlwind of fun and disaster that had deposited me here.

My paws were fascinating. For the past 23 years I'd been gazing at the backs of the more or less unchanging human whitie skin. Now I had fur - a shade darker I think than the rest of my hide - on my hand. Curious, I parted the fur and looked at the skin beneath. A little shocked, I found my unchanged human white skin. That seemed weird.

I turned my hand over and looked at the black leathery pads and sharp claws. Every movement, every angle, every curve fascinated me. I clenched my hand around my claws and decided not to use my fists ever - my claws would jut into my palm. Opening my hand, I decided I didn't want to use my claws either. I never really wanted to hurt anybody. I'd feel unimaginably guilty if I ever gave someone scars that would easily rise from one light touch of my claws.

Next I felt my face, my muzzle. I couldn't feel much however. The dark tough skin on my palms absorbed much of the feeling of touch. I frowned. Those pads allowed me to walk around on all fours, but losing the feeling of fine touch... That was something I wondered how I was going to live with. I chuckled. Small price to pay to be a cute lovable mink. My muzzle resembled an otter's, with the rounded cheeks and chin. Whiskers stuck out of my face like embedded pins. I felt their every wiry twitch and bend.

Next was my tail. I brought it around to look at it. Impulsively, I wiggled my face in it and inhaled deeply. An interesting scent flowed into me. It was my scent, multiplied. My Swiss cheese mind brought up the recollection that minks were mustilidae and therefore had a disagreeable scent. Raising my eyebrows, I thought to myself, 'Either I smell good or my taste in smelling has changed.'

A thought came to mind. Mirrors! I nearly wet myself in anticipation. Mirrors and I go way back. They fascinate the heck out of me. I know, it's a little vain, a little narcissistic, but ever since I was little I loved the concept of seeing myself, my *self* in another place to be viewed my me. I could look at the other me and ask, "Who is that person?" The mirror was my soul searcher, my truth digger.

And ya know what? No matter what I thought my *face* looked, I never completely liked what I saw about my *self*. That was unlikely to change. I *would* have fun looking at my face, though.

But first things first. I had to get my furry butt back to camp or I'd hop into the circle of life as maggot food. I decided to hop in the lake first for a good look around. "Come on, feet," I said with enthusiasm.


My partially webbed feet and hands propelled me in excitement toward the shore. After a little swimming, I had found a landmark. A marker visible from the lake indicating the portage. Specifically, one of the portages on the way up to Lake Secluded. Right up there! Hope and confidence grew in me like Incredible Hulk muscles out of a Bruce Banner shirt.

But I wished I could swim all the way back to camp. It was a lot easier to float around in the calm lake than to jar myself with every step on land. Circumstances were circumstances. So I found a good place and brought myself up out of the water. Strange. My fur seemed to wisp out even after a good swim.

My heart stopped as my paws clutched muddy earth. Wisp out even after a good swim... I'd used those exact words to describe Arthur T. Mink, my FurryMuck character. Arthur was an English mink, whose fur is not as desirable as American mink fur. I put him in a top hat and tux because he was covering up his "lesser" fur.

His wispy fur that stuck out in little fuzzy tufts even after a good swim. I hadn't noticed it before. There it was. I had the body of Arthur T. Mink.

That's crazy. Arthur T. Mink existed solely on a computer somewhere. He lived in my mind and the minds of other 'muckers. Then again, me merely turning into a mink was crazy. I pondered that and kept walking. But something distracted me.

It was a ghost of a gut feeling. A bar of soap on the floor of a shower. What was it? I stopped and stretched out my senses. Another bear? No, nothing dangerous on the scent waves.

So why was I acutely aware of my crippled state? Why was I also aware that, if something were to come shooting out of the shadows within the next couple seconds, I would have to fight to the death?

I decided that Mr. Instinct on the job. Mr. Instinct seemed to have something in common with old lions. Once you got crippled, you went *looking* for a fight. I didn't want to die, so I told Mr. Instinct to take a hike.

I was going to climb a tree. Time started stretching, slowing down. Like when I was fighting the bear. As I started for the only deciduous tree in the area, things started happening quickly enough to seem like a normal stroll in the office to my hyper time sense. My claws dug at the earth, shoving me into the air in several bounds, bringing me to the tree. At the same time, I caught my first scent that I decided to guess on. Wolf. Make that wolves. Around me and closing in like Aliens in the air ducts. Pains raked over my internal organs. I hit the bark on the tree and they burst from the bushes. If I could pull myself up in the next fraction of a second, I'd be completely safe.

But my ape arms were gone. I was a lot more like a mink now. I couldn't even walk on two legs without waddling a little. I'd been wondering about my *on all fours* action too. Bounding in stead of walking like a dog or horse. 'Course, those two animals had longer legs.

And arms. I didn't cover enough tree bark. Wolf One locked fangs with my right back leg. My good arm pulled me and my passenger up into the tree farther. I would be dead if I fell. The pain was there, but I couldn't really concentrate on it right now so I concentrated my energy on bringing me up. Us up. Wolf Two bounded up and locked fangs... with Wolf One! They were fighting over me!

No dice. The branch I was on creaked and I realized they were trying to drag me down. Those fangs needed extracting from my leg. I took a precious half second to look down and pull my leg into view. Consequently, I also brought Wolf One's face into view.

I took aim with another fraction of a second. Wolf Three clomped onto and hung off One. I scratched Wolf One's eye out in one slash from my left foot claws.

He let go. I pulled up into the tree, up another couple branches. My brain began to leak back into normal time. They were barking and leaping. Normal pain sensations were flowing back like the blood surging through my veins. The wolves could not get to me. The pain was a physical presence, a pole shoved up through my leg that was red hot. The tree seemed to waver under my paws. My perceptions shrank down to just my leg. Then my perceptions shrank to nothing.


The forest female monarch was mad, and Amy was captured by the cow king, so I woke and slew. I pushed the stack of books up the plank into the pool. The rod goes up, the water stops. The rod goes down, oof! Casper the friendly ghost all grown up is space ghost, who is really Richie Rich in disguise.

Swim in the liquid.

A tree was lodged in my chest. I winced, drew a big early morning breath and cringed in pain. Well, in more pain. There was throbbing in my shoulder and my leg. I didn't know if I wanted to climb down even if the wolves were gone.

And... they were. What the heck? The wolves were gone. A couple sniffs and Mr. Instinct was happy. I ran the specific thought of *getting out of the tree* by Mr. Instinct and he said go for it. The wolves were gone.

Where did they go? Did they decide I died and they'd never get to me? Did they get bored? Were they just not that desperate? I chose the last one. It was the end of summer. They weren't wanting for fat juicy game.

So. To the problem of getting out of a tree with a wound in my shoulder and a wound on my foot and something broken in my chest. I sat in the tree for a little while longer, debating. I was actually just dancing around the idea that you didn't get down without getting hurt some more. I let my mind tumble some more around the situation, looking for a good combination. Nothing doing. The safe of perfect idea was still locked.

So I started lowering myself down to the ground with my good arm and leg. Getting out of the tree would have been tough if I was able. So I fell.

BAM! That was going to leave a mark. Pain threatened to pull me into the darkness. I was getting worried. It was like I was in shock or something. There was the pain right there and it made me weak but I felt like one of those action heroes that shrug off bullet wounds.

I stayed conscious at a precarious effort and rested until I could start crawling forward. A ways to camp and I had to crawl. I was screwed if the wolves checked back. Nothing I could do about that. So I just kept going, bearing the pain. Where the hell was I getting this attitude from? Were minks immune to pain or something?

It took me the better half of four hours of dragging and resting, but I got there dammit. Nobody home. I sighed and dragged myself over to the food. I had a little trouble getting into a position that wasn't painful enough to be distraction, but soon I was munching on a fish from the previous night. I tore open a couple cans of Dente Moore, ate them, and felt like sleeping. That shredded tent door wasn't going to keep out wolves if they found me. Not that a whole tent would either... I opted for the lake and getting to my friends first.

They had some tasty fish staked to the ground at the edge of the lake, but I was too stuffed. The lake was cold and it seeped into my wounds but that seemed to help more than it hindered. Another ten minutes of searching and swimming, and I was next to their boat, dizzy with exertion.

"Guys! I'm hurt. I need to get to a vet."


I was a little irritated. I mean, here I have the softest, silkiest fur on the planet and I can't really feel it! But that didn't stop my friends...

*That* I loved. It started when Haakensen and Stoeke touched me for the first time - to help me into the canoe after they broke camp. Under his breath, Haakensen said, "Wow, your fur really *is* soft."

Chuckling, I said, "Millions of mink coat wearers all over the world agree with you." Then, in the boat, Haakensen started patting my head. I paid attention to his scratching and turned my head to try out different spots. Wordless, he kept scratching. Crackling prickles flashed across my pelt as he hit a really good part. Was I purring? I was too drugged on scratching happies to tell. Then I looked up at him with my eyes filled with a muzzy happiness.

He stopped and looked away.

I frowned and sighed as the endorphins continued to lilt through my sleek body. He's a friend, but I'm sure he's straight - as in not a furry like me. I'd met in person one other furry in my entire life. Keeps me lonely. Haakensen was a rough and tumble woodsy guy who had a natural affinity with dogs. He taught his own dog, Fritz, all sorts of tricks, and is convinced that Fritz understands human speech.

Fritz, intelligent. Fritz, the dog, the animal, the type who has no use for fabric softener and does not worry about ring around the collar.

A.J., intelligent. Formerly human. Computer programmer and knowledgeable in the ways of automobiles and digital watches.

Only Fritz he could pat without queasy feelings. I won the prize, the ultimate unobtainable goal in my life. But part of the whole furry gig, for me, was the snuggles.

Then Haakensen started scratching behind my ears again. I relaxed. I worry too much. I started enjoying my trip back to reality.

Man, I'd *pay* him to keep doing that. Aooough...

Growing Wilder 5

Mink fur is glossy brown, of high quality, and very durable. Large numbers of animals are trapped annually, but they still maintain themselves over nerarly all of North America. When trapped, they are a "triple distilled essence of fury and red-eyed rage," and are apt to discharge a powerful and disagreeable musky liquid from a scent gland under the tail.
     - From Parade Of The Animal Kingdom, C. 1944

To the helpless hares and rabbits of swamp and brushland, an approaching mink is the supreme terror of their lives.
     - From Wild Animals

Tom rubbed his tense forehead and sighed. Jenny should have been home by now. After his niece Magenta was kidnapped and killed by that ice cream stand bastard, he seemed to jerk in fear at the slightest deviance in Jenny's schedule.

So his hand was hovering near the phone. He was debating wheather he should call the school, or bring up his wife Evelyn on the cell phone to see where she was. He clenched his hand, pursed his lips, and tapped a rhythm on the desk. They had caught the ice cream stand child killer, but Tom still worried. Tom lived in the remote town of Ely. A great area for a man or woman with deviant behavior to hide. Someone could be out there right now watching his little girl, disgusting and deadly thoughts on the mind.

He rubbed his mouth and looked out the window. Tom was a thin man, about 45 years old - a little late in life to have a 6 year old child. Nevertheless, the day Jenny came into his life was the pinacle of his life. Jenny was his daughter. His family, flesh and blood. Precious and fragile, angelic and innocent, wild and free. Her happiness was his. Her sadness was his. The law, the town, the practice, even his dearest friends mattered not when it came to the future of his Jenny.

At times like this he soberly wondered if Jenny was more important to him than Evelyn.

The phone whacked him with a hammer of sound and he immediately snatched up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Doctor Floodwood? This is the clinic. There's two guys here that say they have a wounded animal that they want fixed up."

"Ah, " Tom said, thinking of where Jenny could be right now. "How urgent is it?"

"Doctor, they are asking for you and are extremely insistent."

"Ah, I'll be right over there." Before the guy on the line could answer, Tom clicked the "talk" button off, then on again. At the sound of a dial tone, he thumbed in the number for Evelyn's cell phone.


"Honey? This is Tom. I was just checking in."

Evelyn laughed lightly at his concern. "We're almost home, Tom. Nothing to worry about. I brought home some movies."

"I got a call from the clinic. I need to go in and look at an animal two kids brought in. I..."

"I know, you don't know when you'll be home." Evelyn sighed through the electronic speaker. "I love you."

"I love you too. Good bye." He hung up the phone, grabbed his coat, and took off for the clinic, angry that his job was taking him away from his daughter. Not for the first time, he wished his job was not so demanding.


"Doctor Floodwood, the two boys brought in a large animal, about the size of a black bear. It had shiny dark blonde fur, however, and a long tail. They didn't like anyone looking at it - they even put a blanket over it. They're in examination room 3 and say they don't want anyone but you to go in." She scratched her left eyebrow and sighed, "They've been a couple of real assholes about this. They seemed set on nobody getting a good look at the thing. We don't even know what they've brought in!"

"Well they must have a good reason for it. Thank you, Ms. Cosgrove." Tom picked up a clipboard and went to exam room 3. Ms. Cosgrove hung out by the door and scratched her eyebrow, watching Tom shout through the door, "This is Tom Floodwood! May I come in?"

"Ah, yeah!" Came a rich voice from inside.

"Wish me luck." Tom lightly said to Ms. Cosgrove and went inside.

Inside the room were two tall and well built young men. One was built like a refrigerator and the other like an athlete. Between them on the examination table twitched a blanket with a tail waving out from underneath it in the back. Tom sniffed twice as he closed the door. Someone was wearing a perfume of some sorts. Honeysuckle or something. Strange.

"Hello. I'm Dr. Floodwood." The blanket looked in his direction, then to the blonde athlete. "You going to tell me why you've taken over this room?"

The refrigerator frowned, raised his eyebrows as if there was nothing he could do about it. Tom found out the athlete was the one with the rich commanding voice. "You'll see soon enough." The fridge took the blanket off the animal.

It was a mustelid. And it was too big. It... it was a mink the size of a bear.

He slowly and carefully gulped. If this thing was anything like its smaller brethren, Tom knew one thing. They had to be keeping it drugged. And if the tranquilizers wore off they were all in massive deadly danger.

Not to judge, he leaned against the door and raised his eyebrows. "What is that?"

"We don't know." Said the refrigerator. Man, did that kid have deep set eyes. Or was it a large brow? "But we *do* want to keep him, fix him up. We found him, and we want to be able to name the species."

Athelete spoke up again. "I was thinking of selling it to a zoo or taking it on the road, but neither of us would know how to go about doing that."

Tom examined the two kids. There was something odd about their behavior. He dismissed it. "Right. I was more interested in what happened to the animal. Will it allow me to examine it?"

The fridge immediately said, "Yes, it's very calm."

They didn't mention anything about tranquilizers. "Are you keeping it drugged?"

That one caught them a little off guard. Strange. "Uh, no."

Tom approached the animal. It avoided prolonged eye contact, flitting a glimpse into Tom's eyes here and there, looking the rest of him over too and seeming to be cautious, curious, thinking. Slowly and steadily Tom examined the impossible creature until he had a diagnosis. Bite wound on the shoulder, and some broken and cracked ribs. Its animal chitters and cries of pain were melodic, intriguing.

"We'll need to x-ray him, reset the broken ribs, and properly dress that bite mark. He might have some internal damage, so I'm going to open him up. He's lucky that shoulder wound stopped bleeding. He's lucky he didn't puncture a lung. From the apparent age of the wound, I'd say he's just really lucky to be alive. How did he get hurt?"

The athelete replied. "We don't know. The fella just crawled into camp, bleeding and looking pathetic. And about those x-rays? Could we watch? Bryan and I have never seen a real live x-ray machine."

"You'll have to ask the county hospital. They have the only x-ray machine in the area." Something grim passed between the two men. The athlete turned to Tom and nodded.

Tom would have all the time in the world to examine this new species when he operated. That creature could make a hell of a lot of money for those two kids. He would, too, being the first to examine the creature and its internal workings. Tom didn't expect anything radically out of the norm. This was reality.

Just as he was leaving the room to talk with some other nurses, he turned back to the two boys and rose a finger. "Just one more thing. It's a small note, but important. I had been referring to your find as a 'he'. That was wrong."

The surprise on the two boys faces were nothing next to the outright shock on the suddenly slack-jawed giant mink. What the? Tom decided to twist the knife to see what would happen. "Your new pet is an 'it'. A hermaphrodite."

At that, the mink literally swooned. Tom's mental fist closed on the idea. He opened his mouth to say, "He can understand me!" But then closed his mouth. That was impossible. He began to grin at the crazy idea.

Impossible? So was that creature. He pulled back his smile and looked the two youths in the eyes, one after the other. Gravely, he thought to himself, 'That "pet" can understand me.'


For a few moments Tom Floodwood just looked at Bryan the hulk and Jason the athelete, thinking of what to say.

"A.J. is in the recovery room and stable. About 5 weeks would be good enough time before he'll be ready to go hunting again." Tom leaned forward and grew severe. "He resembles, superficially, Mustela lutreola or the English mink. Minks normally are about a foot and a half in length, two feet if you count the tail. The subject in my recovery room is five feet long, nine including the tail, and has notably longer arms and legs. The forepaws look more like those of a raccoon. To sum it up, the body's structure is different in many ways from a mink." He paused and folded his hands. Tom decided that the fact of A.J.'s sex was memorable enough to not deserve repeating.

If he could have become any more serious, he would have. "I don't know wheather or not you noticed it, but A.J. can understand what we're saying." Immediately the two boys started a protest but Tom held up a hand. "Let me finish. You say you found him in the woods. The fact that he can understand us means that he's been around humans. We've got to assume then that he has some owners somewhere that are looking for him." Tom was using the Completely Wrong Story approach on these guys to see how far from the truth he was. So far, he couldn't tell much. These two were pretty good at hiding their feelings. Poker faces. "Continuing with this assumption, these said owners have never revealed the existence of the Giant Mink species to the world and therefore are looking for it with the intention of keeping its existence quiet." A little interest twitched the eyebrow of Bryan. "So, after surgery I was thinking of what to do. And I have a suggestion."

The two looked at each other, exchanging a what-do-you-think look. They turned back and gestured for Tom to continue.

"I could ... delay... the completion of my report on this new species. And any other news leaking from my veternarian hospital. I suggest you two do the same. Then, when it is healthy, we schedule a press conference or something. Get massive media attention right away. That way, the existence of this new species will not die into obscurity. What
do you think?"

Jason said carefully, "Sounds good."

Bryan nodded and said, "Keep quiet until we're ready. Good idea."

Tom folded his hands. "Yes. Until we're ready."

Tom was very worried. He didn't want any trouble. But this whole situation stank of upheaval for his family, for his little Jenny. They were keeping something from him, and he didn't manage to get even a hint of what it was. It was something that they were worried about. Were they trying to keep his best interests? Would knowing too much be bad? Or was it already too late for Tom and his family? Just what were they hiding, and what were they hiding it from?

He decided to give his newest patient a little more tender loving care. Even though it couldn't talk, it certainly was intelligent. Maybe it could somehow tell him what was really going on.

Wilder 6

We fear change. *Thwack!* *Thwack!* *Thwack!* - Garth, "Wayne's World"

I glided inches above the forest path. I liked flying dreams. The woods had rough bark and were lit in that blue moon light. My body closed in on a clearing and it crouched down to hold onto the ground. I was looking at mink tracks in the mud. Dew collected in the bottom of the track. I bent down slowly, my neck stretching, until I licked up some water from the mink track.

The skin on the back of my hands grew black and fur grew there. I stood and began drifting up through the trees. My tail spiraled out from my spine and long silky fur puffed out from it. As I passed the treetops I reached down with my still human hands and hugged the wonderful tail to my furless chest and sighed happily. I hung in the void of night as the fur closed over my arms, chest, neck, head, oh, and down past my waist and over my legs. In the haze of a mother's womb I felt myself change, become a different person, a clean slate, a mink in human clothes.

End of file.

Mrrr... Gears shifted in my head, bringing my mind back from Dimension Dream piece by piece. Warm bed, strange smells, metal, wood, manstink. I was fully out of the dream. Something odd about my dreams. Something... a little too clean perhaps.

Something to think about later. I was in a manplace. What was I doing here? I began to get up by pulling off my covers and saw the bandages. Oooh, no. My beautiful hide. Marred.

More importantly, I was *injured*. Hurt and stuck someplace until I was better. Oh well, I could handle being at a vet's --- Waitaminute. I was in a *bed*? I looked around me. I wasn't at a vet's. I was in somebody's home. A spare bedroom. The situation had changed. There was a word for it.

Trapped. Concentrated anger poured into me and swelled through my muscles, shooting pain into my surface and internal injuries. Someone was going to *pay*. He who put me here.

But I could not move right now so I snapped out a hand, wrapped the leather leach around it until blood flow was cut off under the pressure, and yanked back my anger. Cool anger was needed in this predicament. I was going to get out of here. That's what was important.

So where *was* I? Puffy frilled quilt, lace garnishing the edges, stiff pillow and yellow flowered wallpaper. The pain in my shoulder shouted, but I craned my neck around to take everything else in. An old oak bureau with doilies on it sat next to the door. I wasn't strapped down. The door had a round knob. I could leave any time I wanted.

If I dared over my wounds. Anger [fear] churned in me at my situation. What was I going to do?

Not much to do here. I had to wait.

So I waited, steaming.


The door opened. Not the one to my room, but the front door. Well, I assumed it was the front door. The sounds of someone coming home filtered through my paper thin door. The door closed. Keys were put away and a closet opened. A hanger was used. The closet closed.

Seconds passed.

Steps. Steps approaching. Steps right outside my door. *My* door opened.

It was the vet. Floodwood. It took him a second to realize I was looking at him. God, the act. What was I supposed to be acting like!? I decided on curious.

"Aah, you're awake. I bet you're hungry, aren't you, fellah?" A half-smirk lilted over his old man's mouth. "Gal? Guy? Huh." He pursed his lips, then looked at me. The door was open, I noted. "You're a very serious concern. You nearly fainted when I mentioned you were a hermaphrodite."

"I think you can understand me."

Impossible! He knew! He had something over me! He had me trapped!

Damn. I had reacted before I thought. The bastard was smiling, having observed my telltale reaction. He frowned at my glare. "What's wrong?" His tone was almost rhetorical, as if I couldn't respond.

And I couldn't. I couldn't until the timing was right. I'd screwed up my life until this point, I wasn't about to now that I had The Prize. Part of me wanted to start chatting with him, get to know him, become his friend. But I couldn't do that until... until...

When? When was a good time to come out?

"I'll get your food." He said patronizingly, and left.

When *was* a good time to start being nice to people? Getting the word out, telling as many people...

As many people as possible. This was one man. One *vet* living in nowhere, Minnesota. Easily silenced by the ever-vigilant maintainers of the Status Quo. And I was going to give the Status Quo one huge goose in the rear if I could help it. So I zipped it shut.

But why *was* I waiting? Was there some way I could talk my way out of this house, leave this guy behind, and not worry that They were going to come, find him, and get me through him?

Just how paranoid was I? And why be paranoid when they're not out to get you yet?

Why be stupid when you could be smart?

God, I was going nuts in my own mind with nothing to do!

No. Now that I had more time, I went back and sifted through the things I'd put on a shelf before because I was trying to survive at the time. What were they?

Arthur T. Mink bobbed to the surface. The thing is, if I *had* turned into him, where was his top hat and tux? And Arthur T. was definitely not a hermaphrodite! Then again, his *activities* on the 'Muck had been less than heterosexual...

So I could impregnate myself. Make more of my species. Intellectually, that rocked. The Status Quo would be seriously impaired if, in a couple generations, there were a couple thousand Minks running around. But actually doing it...

I sat in the bed, stewing for a while. Finally I carefully pulled the covers off me. I looked down with some pain and proceeded to make a full assessment of my new plumbing.


Days passed as he took care of me. I played the recovering invalid way past when I was sure I was able. I heard other people in the house. The wife, the kid. Excuse me. The *girl*. A songbird voice with the expertise of a child. Running circles around the parents - a rebel.

One night at dinner I heard her chirp, "Mom, dad? I've decided to be a nurse just like Miss Julia on Maniac Hospital."

I ate another chunk of beef in my little prison and listened thoughtfully to the parent's response.

"You'll make a fine nurse, Jenny." Crooned her mother. "Just remember it takes many years to become a good nurse."

I heard a cute little scoff. "I can be a *nurse*, mom." A little pause, probably a little puffing up for her performance. "Doctor, doctor, the man in room 222 has gone under arrest! Twenty two zz's of akamopoline! Stat! Stat!"

I couldn't help but chitter.

And then one day the sitter came and sat down in front of the TV in the living room. I was listening for news, but all the punk would watch was sports. Ugh.

Then someone unlocked the door. I reacted as if my eyeballs had started spinning in their sockets. Eyes wide, I took in the small angel that sneaked into the room, her own eyes sparkling. She glanced behind her and closed the door. She brought up a heavy metal flashlight and flicked it on. I squinted at the brightness, and she gasped as she saw me.

"Waaooow." She breathed. I gave her an encouraging chitter and she jumped. "Shhh!" She admonished as a sharp mix of fear and excitement rolled off her.

I was as curious as she was excited. A cute little girl! What did she want? I cocked my head to one side and looked at her from the bed.

She giggled and said, "You're funny..." I looked at her directly and raised my eyebrow muscles. " ... looking." She chirped laughter for a few seconds, then shut her mouth and looked with wide eyed guilt at the door. A few snickers later, and she crept closer to me.

And then we were nose to nose. I blinked and she blinked. Impulsively, I licked her on the cheek. More repressed giggles bubbled out of her as she backed away, wiping her face. She tasted good.

I had a sudden thought. Did she *taste* good? I mentally looked accusingly at my more bloodthirsty side and he nodded factually. "She'd make a quick and easy meal. Snuffing out her life would be a snap."

I decided that Mr. Instinct and I had a lot of differences. I had retreated a little to think, and now Jenny was creeping back toward me. A delicate little hand reached out to touch my head. I ducked my head a little lower so she didn't have to reach so far and she laid her hand lightly on the top of my head. "Nice doggie."

I could have gagged. I was *not* a doggie! "You're really soft!" She whispered and backed away, guiltily putting her hand away. I gave her a curious look.

She was concerned that I was injured and she shouldn't be exciting me, I decided. Screw that. I was kooked up in this bed for three days and I was fine! I flipped back the sheets and got out of the bed, going to all fours. I looked at Jenny, a healthy happy expression on my whole being.

"You're all better!" She whispered. I almost nodded. In stead, I licked her face again. God, it could be fun being an animal. And then Jenny giggled and started patting me again on the head and neck. I arched in response. Her touch was a delicate feather just brushing my fur. She whispered to me, "Now that you're all better, I'm going to adopt you. Daddy said that the two guys who used to have you don't want you any more. I could show you to my friends Suzie and Sally and --- hey!"

I was out the door. That was more than enough information for me. Whether or not that was true, if Daddy said it to Jenny, that means that I was supposed to be at that house a lot longer that was normal for a regular injured pet.

The perfumes, electric smoke fumes, human, and food smells that I'd got hints of over the last few days now hit me full force. I used my sight to find the front door, and took it. "Hey!" I heard chirped from the little songbird behind me. I ignored it. I was getting out of there. I slowed down a little, however, so as not to rip something open. Then, I was out in the street. Twilight in Ely. No traffic on this particular street, but from my nostrils, I could tell that those gagging gasbags had been zipping over this pavement all day. I cautioned a few more sniffs to find the quickest route to wilderness and started down it.

Then I heard a bike behind me. "Doggie! Do-gie!" Jenny. Crap. I ducked into some bushes on the side of the road and tried to think of what to do. Her bike whizzed past and my heart leapt into my throat. Where was she going? And at *night*?! Looking for me.

"Kid! Wait up!" I said, coming out of the bushes and scrabbling after her. She didn't look behind. She just kept going. Damn! She thought I was the baby sitter or something. I couldn't let her go off on her own. I bounded across pavement and went after her.


She'd been by this place. I *knew* it. So I sniffed around some more. The wind shifted again, and I smelled *her*. I loped over a small hillock and there she was, pushing her bike through the woods. Relief flooded through me. I walked up to her.

When she noticed me, her entire face lit up. "Doggie!"

"Now, look, kid, I'm *not* a 'doggie'." I walked over to her suddenly shocked body and stood up on my hind legs, folding my arms. "I'm a *mink*, and proud of it."

"You - you can *talk*!"

"Yup. And *that's* why I ran away." I bowed my head and said, "I can't be your pet. I'm my own mink."

Still astonished, she said, "But you can talk!"

I went back down to all fours and stretched out a paw to her cheek. "And you have to get home. Your daddy's going to be very worried about you." I didn't know exactly how worried that kidnapping bastard would be, but it was good to say. "And I want to thank you for helping me escape."

"Escape?" Jenny's face was *still* cute when she had it scrunched up in confusion.

"Yeah. Those two friends who used to have me are definitely not going to give up on me. Your dad was probably telling them I couldn't be disturbed." I shook my head. Some of this was going over her head.

"Look, just go home, okay kid?"

"No." She said resolutely.

That took me back. "What?"

She actually hugged me. "You're magic and I'm not going to let you go!" She had it all wrong. I wasn't magic. My face was screwing up for a rebuttal when I realized she was a hell of a lot like me. "Nancy Nice let the unicorn go and it disappeared! My grammy disappeared, and they said she went to heaven. I don't want you to go to heaven like grammy and the unicorn!"

"Me neither, Jenny, me neither." I said, a little choked at her concern. Didn't she see these fangs? These claws? The stink of meat on my breath? And then my paw was on her fine blonde hair, stroking delicately. "Little angel." I said with a slight Russian accent. [See footnote 9] "Don't cry. I'll be okay."

"That's right. I'm not going to leave you."

"Jenny you can't hang out with me. I'm animal. You're mineral. You got to stay with the humans. I... I have to..." I didn't believe my own words. I was crushing the dreams of a child who was once just like me. I had my own dreams crushed every time Charlie Brown lost a game. I got my guts twisted just a little more with every cartoon that brought all the *main* characters back to exactly where they were at the beginning of the show, and any possible new main characters were either dead or "moving on". Some big evil guy at Story Central had a huge stamp that said, "STATUS QUO: MAINTAINED!" There was never anything new. Always the same. I was Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Every morning at 6am I was back in Punksatony on February 2nd, with nothing I'd done having any effect on the world.

Enough to twist a soul.

I hugged Jenny back. "All right, you can stay with me." She cried in laughter and squeezed me tight enough to change aches back to pain in my ribs. I giggled and got out of her grasp. I looked into her eyes, and she into mine. I had to put her in my plans.

Growing Wilder 7

Cry "havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war! - Bad Ash, possibly misquoted, from Army of Darkness [see Footnote 10]

The Father.

Tidal wave. Eight point five on the Richter scale. Five hundred pounds of TNT. A tactical nuke.

The Haakensen household jumped at the sound. Then the knock came again, taken down a notch. Chuck Haakensen, Bryan's father, went up to it and said, "Who is there?"

"THIS ---!" Came shouted through the door. There was a pause and in a more reasonable tone, "This is Dr. Tom Floodwood of the local vet clinic. I would like to talk to your son, Bryan."

"He's on the phone right now." Chuck said as he opened the door and let Tom in.

Tom was a mess. He had the same suit from last night, when he arrived home and encountered a rift into insanity. That rift was the idea that his daughter, Jenny, was missing, chasing after that damned mink. That suit was dirty and scratched all over. He'd been searching through the woods in a desperate attempt to find the two of them without involving other people.

Circumstances forced his hand. Now he had to explore other options. Like the possibility that Bryan had somehow sprung the Mink loose and Jenny just got in the way somehow...

"Wait here and I'll tell him." Chuck said and turned to leave. The moment that Chuck was gone, Tom was looking around the room. There it was. Just beyond the doorway into the living room. A phone.

He rushed over, and silently took the receiver off, placed his hand over the bottom half, and listened to the top.

"... and hat to the pay phone at 4th and Pine." Unknown voice. [See footnote 11]

"But what about your parents? You were all set on going back to them. We could drive you down. Just a sec." That was Bryan.

In the background: "Bryan, Tom Floodwood is here to see you," and "All right dad. Just a sec."

"Bryan? Circumstances have changed. I'm not going back. I need you to tell my parents something. I've decided to go off on my own and make a living. Tell them I'll call sometime."

"A.J., I can't do this." Bryan was saying. A.J.?! The mink? What the hell? Tom gritted his teeth. Chuck would be back in seconds.

As he was replacing the receiver he heard, "Listen. I've got it all planned out. Just bring that stuff to the *click*"

Chuck came back within two seconds. "He'll be a minute. What do you want with him?"

"He... he might know where my daughter is." Tom said, not bothering to keep the rage from his voice. He didn't really care what Chuck thought of him. He needed to keep up the charade until he could get out of the house and stake out that pay phone.


Haakensen was quick, but he hung out too long. I told him specifically to take off right after he left the coat, but he was hanging around, looking around for me. I couldn't bring Jenny out and have him see her. He'd ask all sorts of questions I wasn't about to answer.

Ten minutes later, he got pissed off, threw up his hands as if to say "fine, be that way!", and left. I sighed and motioned Jenny that the coast was clear. We climbed out of the brush that was our hiding place and walked over to the coat.

A sledge hammer hit me square in the chest. Floodwood. He was *near*. My eyelids shoved back up into my skull and I looked for him as I pushed us into a run. Here or not, I needed that coat to pass for a human. He came out from a building nearby and began walking calmly toward us.

"Daddy!" Jenny cried, and stopped. Wheels began to spin fast in her mind. I finished the distance to the coat and hat, and quickly put them on. Floodwood was five feet away when I was done. He stopped and looked at the two of us. I was in front, Jenny behind.

I was very concerned. The vet had some desperate scents on him. Exhausted exertion, blood from scratches probably, twigs stuck here and there, and a jittery excited sweat that only the insane bathe in. He reached out an open hand past me toward Jenny.

"Jenny, come to daddy." Two seconds took their time to pass until Jenny responded.


He looked in instant and painful confusion at Jenny. "W-what? Jenny?"

"No, daddy. I'm staying with Arthur."

"Listen, Mr. Floodwood. I just want to say that ---" I began.

While I was speaking, he started his own speech. "Shut up you! I don't care"

Me: "Doctor, would you just --- "

Him: "what lies you put into her!"

In near perfect timing, we both said with earnest, "I WON'T LET YOU HURT HER!"

Stark paralyzing confusion reigned for a few seconds. A wind chose this moment to rush by us, making Tom's few strands flop, Jenny's curls bounce, and my whiskers do the tango.

We were at an impasse. I kinda knew what he was talking about, but he was nowhere near my line of thinking. Jenny was just generally confused. I decided it was time to make a hasty retreat.

"I'm going, Jenny." I took off at a run and Jenny came after me. Tom started shouting and running after us, but he was old and out of shape. Me bounding on all fours, Jenny running full bore.

We lost him in the woods.


Tom clutched the earth, dragging his body forward. There was no way he was going to catch them. He didn't accept it, so he kept going. Eventually he passed out from exhaustion.

Hours later, wolves came out of the forest and approached his still body.


The Driver

Mike Colburn always kept that education in the back of his mind. This trucking job would be his last before he had enough saved up to go back to school. And *this* time, he wouldn't spend his time screwing around, going to parties all the time, watching cable, and pissing his time away. *This* time he was going to set a goal and reach it.

He didn't dwell on the fact that, for the last five jobs, he'd been thinking the exact same thing. He just kept his hands on that big wheel, listened to the radio, and stared into the endless night.

A couple hitchhikers. Mike decided he was bored enough to take a chance. He stopped and opened the door. Fresh night air shoved its way in to the cab, roughly kicking out the warm stale air he'd been breathing for the last 40 miles. His first passenger climbed up.

It was a kid. Cute as a bug's ear, too. [See footnote 12] She immediately lilted, "Thanks, mister!" and did her best to look around at everything while she was climbing in.

To say that Mike was concerned about his second passenger would be an understatement. What looked like Dirty Harry, emphasis on the Hairy, climbed up into the cab after the little girl. Buttoned up trench coat, tan cowboy hat, fur and claws.

"I'm a costume maker." The guy said in a kind of apology. Mike was looking at those claws. Damned good costume maker, too. What was a costume maker with a costume on and a kid doing in the middle of nowhere?

At the silent prompting of the costume maker, the girl said, "Oh yeah. I'm Jenny, this is Arthur." Arthur sat down and buckled himself in and motioned for Jenny to do so too. "Our car broke down after a party and we're trying to get back home to New York." She dropped her voice low and quiet, confidential like. "That's why he's wearing that silly costume."

Mike said, "All right," and got his rig in motion.

As they rode, Jenny shot the air away with a full clip of questions. What was it like to drive truck. Boring mostly. How many states have you been to. 44. How long have you been driving this truck. Two years. What are you hauling. Paper. What kind of paper. Newsprint. What are some other kinds of stuff you haul.

A little ways into this barrage of questions, the costume maker got permission to take a nap in the back. Mike warned him that he'd only get about 5 hours. That's when Mike himself was going to take a stop and get some shuteye.

Arthur got into the back and went asleep. Jenny then wound down herself and also fell in slumber.

Mike kept driving for about 40 miles. That's when he came to his favorite filler up station on the paper route. World Gas and Food, about 3 miles outside Zanesville. He pulled in and turned off the engine, waking the kid. She muzzily looked around and as Mike got out of the cab she asked "Can I come with?"

"Sure, kid." He replied. He helped her out. She went right to the gas station and asked for the bathroom. Mike filled up his rig and went in to the store. He flirted a little with the girl there and kept an eye on his rig. It was unlikely, but possible that those two would try to hot wire it. By the time he was done talking, Jenny still hadn't come out of the bathroom. So he went back to the rig.

He climbed up into the cab and checked on Arthur, quietly opening the curtain.

Mike kept looking. The trench coat had become unbuttoned in sleep, and the hat was in a corner.There was fur under both. Kinda stupid to have warm fur where it wouldn't be seen. Then he looked at the mouth. It moved in his sleep and a cold fear flowed over Mike. That was no costume. That was real. That thing was real. It spoke to him and he treated it just like a human.

Something touched him from behind. He reacted as if it were a live electric wire, and then looked behind him.

It was Jenny. He resumed breathing and helped her back into the cab. Wheels were turning furiously in Mike's mind. So what if he's got an alien in the truck? So far as they knew, he totally bought their story. And if they're from a superior technology that could kill him in an instant, why did they need a lift? So he was safe.

They said they were going to New York. Frickin' New York City.

Mike pulled a smile on, shook his head, and continued down the road.


The Mystery

I mean, in general, being a furry is *not* number one on my list. Transforming into a furry on the other hand, is. And I didn't even get to experience that! So now I *am* a furry. Doomed to live in interesting times. I could be captured by the malevolent "them" or rise to superstardom as a cute furry. Cute... I'd have to say that I was cute. But the problem was, I was a mink. Cute but deadly. So what would be more of an accurate picture?

What sort of story am I going to give Rolling Stone? That was the crux of the matter. It kept me up at night.

Why Rolling Stone? I have to admit it, but I stole that idea. In Firestarter, Stephen King's characters try to figure out some way of getting the word out about the little girl who could light fires with her mind. The government and Those Who Maintained The Status Quo were out to capture her and study her, and therefore could lock down and quiet many of today's publications.

But not Rolling Stone. It was highly credible, widely circulated, and not connected with the government. Perfect to get an impossible story out to the public.

Jenny and I had been traveling for three days now to New York. At night, I would hunt for food. A matchbook I had in my trench coat, and a little ingenuity, and I had some fresh meat for Jenny, too. Those nightly hunts brought it all closer to home. It was a complete thrill each time I managed to bring down something. After each kill, I would calm down to clear my head better, eat what I needed, then prepare the rest of it for Jenny. The first time I finished preparing a meal, I almost went back to camp right away.

In stead I went to the nearby water source and washed myself off. I ended up being wet for hours rather than a bloody evil looking monster. Fair trade for Jenny's innocent mind. I was glad she didn't ask what each animal was. Even though Mr. Instinct held no qualms about those little creatures, I certainly did, and wondered guiltily if Jenny did too.

But back to the story. What would they believe? For that matter, what would *I* believe? The truth was too ambiguous. How did I transform? What did I do? Who did it to me?

Answers I wanted desperately. Someone or something had done this to me and I wanted to know. If some*one* did this to me, what do they want? If some*thing*, what was it? How long did it last? Until I got near a camera?

I was mentally debating my latest scenario involving me being from an alternate reality where minks evolved into intelligent species rather than apes. I was trying it on, because I had a really good scenario involving a story that I was the actual Arthur T. Mink... but it required me having Arthur T.'s tux. It was early in the morning, and Jenny hadn't woke up yet, so I was letting her sleep while I contemplated. She slept with her head on my furry belly. I'd never been a living pillow. She slept under my trench coat, the only blanket I could give.

Then I smelled it. It was the weirdest, most distinct smell I'd ever whiffed. It was the promise of a cloud of freshly disturbed dust and fine sand. In that was blobs of some sort of intense oily excretion. There was a hint of metal, and the whole thing reminded me of ash.

I tensed up while sniffing, trying to get a lock on what it was. That woke Jenny up. I frowned and let her get up and start blinking away the night. I took off for that scent. As I was nearing the road, I heard a car screech and take off. I resolutely followed the scent.

There was a black disc sitting on the ground. I cautiously approached it, expecting it to be a Looney Tune portable hole. No dice. It was real. It gave off hardly any scent whatsoever, save for fabric and a hint of the exotic ash I was following. I poked at it a few times, then picked it up. Some sort of fabric, stretched tight on a wire circle. I turned it over. there was some fabric bunched up there in the middle of an inner ring that was cut out ---.

My heart stopped. This... this wasn't happening. Almost in a dream, I casually flicked my wrist. The disc went "WOP!" and turned into a magician's top hat like magic.

I planted it on my head, set a grim look to my face, and scampered up after that scent. I ran right by the rest of Arthur T. Mink's outfit and arrived at the road. I threw caution to the wind and crept onto the road for a look. Nothing. Whoever it was was long gone.

So there I was on broken black pavement, early in the morning, one forepaw raised and looking down the road, wearing a top hat, wondering if I could identify that car's not so unique smell.

I had a secret benefactor.

Warning: Adult texts

Growing Wilder 8

"And the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is: I'm the only one!" - Tigger


I was human. I was mink.

Like a normal human, I was sitting on a chair, wearing pants and shirt.

Like a normal mink, I was standing in front of me in the fur and scratching the back of my furry neck.

"So. You're human." I said.

"So. You're a mink." I said.

I stood up and approached the mink me.

I was nervous, wondering what the human me was going to do.

I wanted to touch the fur, so I did.

It was strange feeling a human hand on my furry face. It was... exciting. I licked the hand once, then again, then I began to methodically lick up the goosepimpling flesh.

Rough tongue cleaned my skin. I could smell the scent of mink clearly now - a sweet seductive smell that fuzzed my brain. The methodic rhythm of my mink tongue against my human arm further drugged me. I clutched my mink head with my other hand and drew it close.

I kissed.

My human clothes melted away.

I hugged the human me and I sank to the ground. Fur pressed against skin. Silky strands and smooth flesh.

I explored the other, touching all over and was thrilled to no end by the other's touch. Light kisses near the animal eyes. Clawed paws running up and down my back. Touching the barely visible nipples beneath the fur. The devilishly smooth fur thrilling wherever it touched. I caressed, I hugged, I kissed. I made love.


There is a Calvin and Hobbes comic where Calvin puts on layer after layer of snow gear. Shoes, inner coat, hat, mittens, outer coat, etc. He gets outside and a little popped bubble icon appears over his head. The next panel shows him going into a bathroom.

Every time I have a wet dream, I wake up at the end and feel like Calvin at that moment of realization.

"Shit," I cursed under my breath. I looked at the bed next to me. Jenny was asleep. I quietly gathered the soiled sheets, balled them up, and went to the shower to clean myself off.

What's happening to me? A thought that began many of my transformation related thoughts. It kept coming up, trying to lead into subsequent thoughts of growing fur and claws, changing body shape and practicing the zen of being an animal. But the phrase, repeated so often, had lost its meaning. It was a single syllable in the language of my mind, a little hum while you worked on an idea.

A little voice whispered like a gremlin at the base of my spine. "You're going to get pregnant. One wet dream, and a little moving around at night, and you'll be preggers. Then what about your plans? How do you explain a kid when there's no one else on the world like you?" I squinted my eyes shut against the thought. How easy was it for me to impregnate myself? Might it happen after just one wet dream?

My mind sometimes works in parallel. It churns out one idea as it considers another in bits and chunks. Now one of my side thoughts was coming full circle.

It would be *great* if I was pregnant.

Number one, I wouldn't be the only one in the entire world. Number two, I would be immortal through the legacy of my kids, not just the legacy of newspapers. Number three, if at some time after being medically examined I *did* accidentally impregnate myself, it wouldn't be all that cool for my image. I wouldn't have the explanation that I had a wife in the other reality, and she got me pregnant. Number four, I wanted to have kids didn't I? The very fact that I could create more minks made me morally obligated to do so.

Then again, if I got pregnant again after my kids were born...

I shook my head. By that time, my rep would be able to soak that. If everything went right.

So how do I make sure I'm pregnant?

Another parallel idea shoved in front of my current train of thought. What the hell was I thinking! Getting pregnant?

I stepped out of the shower and started using up the towels. Getting pregnant. Having babies. Something a *woman* did. I was a guy! From birth! As I toweled my tummy, I paused and looked at it thoughtfully. In there, under that fur, was a womb. After the bombshell about my sex, I had examined my *chest* and easily found the two rows of nipples.

I let the towel fall away from my stomach and I slowly rubbed it, a serious, thoughtful look in my eyes. Little mink kits. To grow up under my care. I thought I'd never have kids. I wasn't good with girls, and doubted that I'd find any woman that would accept my obsession with transformations.

I raised my eyebrows. I was probably going to have one of those girls come find *me* after I'm known publicly. Then another thought walked into the crowded bar that was my mind. What if you're compatible with humans, sonny?

If that was the case... I *would* be the biggest goose up the butt that the Status Quo ever had. That brought a smile to my lips.

But what about actually getting pregnant? Was I? Should I?

I scratched the back of my head and sat down on the toilet, wishing there were more towels. Jerking off wasn't that nasty of an idea, but doing so to make a baby with yourself just didn't go down my throat too well. If it was going to happen, it would have to be with a woman.

Timing, Pearson, timing. Get some publicity and security under your belt before you try to raise a family. So I started putting on the tux.


Style and balls. Being a nerd whose face was frequently lit only by a monitor, I didn't really know how reality worked, real-time. So I was going with style and balls. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

This was the plan. I would be Arthur T. Mink, visitor from another world. A world I prefer not to talk about at length, save that it is similar to Earth. I was a hermaphrodite, which is as unusual in Arthur's world as it is on Earth. Everything else was finesse and flair. I would be dapper. I would be charming. I would be courteous and kind. I would be patient and smiling (close lipped of course). I would handle crisis with wit. I would greet the rabid with a bow. A successful public figure could be no less, and I was going to be one of the most questioned star in history.

So there we were, walking down New York City streets, completely out in the open. I in my Arthur T. Mink tux and Jenny in the new clothing I'd bought her. A complete ham at heart, I was eating up the attention. I played the dapper English mink to the hilt, apologizing to people I bumped into (or bumped into me), tipping my hat to passing ladies, allowing women to go first through doors.

Oh yeah. My secret benefactor had dropped a handful of diamonds in my coat pocket. So the first place we went to was a pawn shop. I gave him two diamonds and he gave me 5 grand. Next shop, I gave another two and got 8 grand.

But all that money and effort by my benefactor would go to waste if I didn't pull this off. We were outside Rolling Stone HQ, New York, New York.

I took in a giddy breath and said, "Remember what I told you?"

"You're a mink from another world." Jenny said, as if it was obvious. "I'm not dumb. You came after your wife died and you don't know how you got here."


"Right." We went in.

The lobby was vast and clean. I saw clerks, a janitor, a guard, and all modern furnishings. There was a main reception desk, with gold railing around it and the Rolling Stone logo above it. The receptionist was smiling and talking to people coming in, directing them where to go. Bingo. I approached the desk.

I said, "Hello, miss. I'm Arthur T. Mink, and this is my friend Jenny Floodwood." I offered my hand to the receptionist. This was a critical point. If I could get her to touch my hand...

She reluctantly reached out and shook my hand. Relieved, I shook back and smiled. A moment after we began to shake, I saw her shudder. A shot of fear just went down her throat.

"Arthur T. Mink?" she said, recovering. "I... I really like your costume Mr. Mink."

I bowed my head and merely smiled to myself. "I would like to tell my story to one of your reporters."

"I'll get you one right away!" She said enthusiastically.


They didn't believe me. They questioned me. I answered all that I could. My physical presence helped a lot. I was just too real, sitting right there in front of them, to be denied. One by one, I convinced them. I wasn't a guy in a costume. I wasn't some genetic experiment. I was real. Then they got down to actual questions. I gave them my story. I asked if any of them knew a good publicist. They knew several. Heck, one of them *was* a publicist on the side. I liked the guy, so I hired him on the spot. Jackson. We shook. He smiled.

After the ordeal, I pulled Jenny aside.

"We did it. I'm going to be okay, because everyone will know about me now."

Jenny smiled and hugged me. I decided words were not needed right now and happily hugged her back.Then, I said, "You know you have to go home now."

She pulled back with the beginnings of tears in her eyes. "I know. I want to see my mommy again."

I added, "And your daddy, too."

She frowned and nodded. "And daddy too." She smiled and hugged me again. "I'm going to write you every day."

I chuckled, trying to picture getting letters from Jenny every day. "I have to tell you, I'm not very good at writing back to people."

"That's okay," She said.

We left the room and I had someone call her parents and put her on a plane back to Ely.

That's when we found that her father was missing.


Kathy Jones was giddy. She was following a giant talking animal through the wilds beyond Ely, Minnesota. Luck was on her side when she overheard Arthur and Jenny secretly planning to go to Ely as quickly as possible. She trheatened to expose them if they didn't take her with. So now she was going to get the story of the century.

"Wait up!" Came a voice from behind. It was Kal, her camera man. "I'm switching tapes."

"Hurry up!" Kathy replied. "Arthur's gone on ahead without us again. Do you want to be lost out here like Tom Floodwood?"

Kal emerged from the trees, all 300 pounds of him, huffing and puffing with the camera. "Well, I'll survive a lot longer than your anorexic ass."

Frowning, Kathy trudged on and Jenny soon came out of the woods in front of them. Arthur had sent her back to bring them up to speed. "He's stopped again." Jenny said. "I think he lost the trail."

Kal lifted up his arms and said obviously, "Well it's been five days, honey. It's bound to be tough, even for his nose."

Jenny frowned and looked at her shoes.

Kathy glared at Kal, went over to the girl, and put an arm on her shoulder. "He didn't mean anything by that, Jenny."

"It's okay. I hope he's not dead."

Her heart aching, Katny whispered, "Me too, honey. Me too."

They got back to where Arthur and Neil had stopped. Arthur insisted they secure some medical help, so Kathy and Kal had gone to the hospital and persuaded Neil the nurse to do some "on location" work.

Neil was scratching his neck. For the fiftieth time, he said under his breath, "Weirdest house call I've ever made."

Arthur was on all fours. A rare shot, Kathy would find out later and kick herself for not having Kal take more tape. He was carefully stalking around the area with his nose. It was like he had a spray nozzle paint can on his nose and he wanted a very even coat over the forest floor.

It only took 2 more minutes for him to pick up the trail again. He cried softly, "This way!" and bounded off again, making everyone leap to their feet to catch up. Jenny and Neil had little problem, but Kathy insisted on heels and Kal was... well, Kal.

This was it. A few hundred yards, and Kathy found herself at the base of a tree. A tree out of which Neil and Arthur were bringing a very bloody corpse that had shit and peed itself a hundred times. Jenny was crying and calling, "Daddy. Daddy."

No. The guy was alive. Breathing. Neil bent down and began dressing the guy's wounds. He took out a bottle and squirted water in the guy's mouth.

"This him?" Kathy asked.

"No, it's Herman Munster." Arthur snapped.

The voice was thin as a piece of paper and sputtered around the water. "You."

Arthur's black liquid eyes looked at the nearly dead Tom Floodwood. "Tom."

Tom shoved Neil and the bottle away. "You kidnapped my daughter." He tried to shout. It came out a wheeze. His lips were dry and cracked and the stretched around a grimace of hate. His eyes had a malevolence that defied his broken body.

"I brought her back." Arthur replied softly.

Tom clutched at Arthur's ripped and dirty white shirt. "You took her from me!" He then fell into a pit of coughing. Neil came over and helped him.

"I let her dream come true." Arthur simply replied.

As Neil was folding out the portable stretcher, Tom said "You could have killed her."

"I saved your life."

"Where is she?"

"Right here."

And then father and daughter were reunited. Kal got it on tape and Kathy wished she had something to add, but it was so deeply personal that she just let Kal roll on. It was going to be the story of the century.

[see Footnote 13]

Wilder 9

"Now I'd like you to keep your finger on your nose and walk down that straight line. Then turn around and hop back."
"Jeez, I couldn't do that sober!"

I was a success. I could do no wrong. Letterman wanted me. Rather called. The Today show had a really good offer. Animal Planet, the cable channel, called and offered me my own show where I could do anything I wanted. I had Jackson book them all for interviews.

They wanted me to spray a dummy of Paul Shaffer for a Stupid Mink Trick. I declined that one. In stead, I guessed the breakfasts of 3 audience members by scent alone.

Rather wanted to a 48 Hours special on me. I debated that one for an hour. I eventually let him do it. If someone was going to investigate this whole thing, I might as well let a professional.

The Today show had a general "let's talk" section they wanted to do with me. I accepted, but I had to cancel.

The Man intervened.


Tests are fun. You like tests. Tests are your friends. To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, I was being injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected.

After that wonderful experience, they declared me free of dangerous viruses and put me in a white room with five stone-faced guards. Time passed and I couldn't help but wonder who they'd send in to see me. CIA? FBI? MIB? I chittered.

If I was human, I would have chuckled. I was bored, so I tried chittering some more, analyzing how it giggled up through my throat.

Then I thought, what about the president? Was I that important that I would disrupt the schedule of the most powerful man in the world? They thought so. "Hello, Arthur." He said.

Good old Slick Willy Billy Tubby Clinton. "Hello, Mr. President." There he was, in the flesh.

I was 50 feet and double-paned glass window away from him last I saw him. Bill had visited UMD while I was at German class during the '92 campaign. He was right outside the window and two floors below. There was no security around our classroom. I could have gone up to my room, grabbed a gun (if I'd owned a gun at the time), came back to the windows, and shot him right then and there.

That idea occurred to me then, and the idea of killing the president came to me again as he sat down across from me. Not that I'd actually go through with it. It was just so intense.

"So. I've heard from my people that you're real. You've got quite a story. Is it true?"

Lying to the president of the united states of America. I balked at the idea. It was like a major felony to lie to the prez, wasn't it? But I'd prepared before. I knew what to do. I'd be calm, cool, and ...

"No." Totally honest.

"Why did you lie?" Not, 'what's the truth?', not 'what else did you lie about?'. *Why did you lie*.

"Image, Mr. President. Image. I'm a little paranoid and got low self esteem. I'm actually Arthur Jeremy Pearson. I created the character Arthur T. Mink about six months before I went on the trip." I took a breath. "He was an experimental character for use on an internet game called FurryMUCK. I was - am - obsessed with furries, or anthropomorphic animals."

"So how did you change?"

"I don't know. My friends and I were camping near Lake Secluded, we got drunk that night, and I don't remember my last moments as a human."

"You can take hypnosis to enhance your memories."

I brightened. "You're right! Could you arrange it?"

"I'll get my people on it. But you haven't completely answered my question. Why exactly do you not want to be known as Arthur Jeremy Pearson?"

"I have a past. Something you probably appreciate."

The president nodded and said, "The media does chip away into your past. Bring up things you'd hope were lost. Do you want to tell me what it is?"

"Perhaps. Suffice it to say, I have adequate reason to insist that I am not who I was."

Bill took some time to think of his next question. "Why did you tell me the truth?"

I weighed my options and decided to tell him more to convince him. "Because you're one man. You're one man that can handle the truth logically and thoughtfully." I sighed with regret. "*And* because Arthur Jeremy Pearson has a rather risque past. He drew perverted pictures and put them on his web site. He wrote perverted stories and published them on internet mailing lists. As you said, Mr. President, the truth is out there and easily found. I wanted my reputation preserved. I didn't want millions of people picturing me in a bathroom with a dirty magazine but as a clean and dapper English Mink from another world."

The President held up a finger. "Just consider this. I believe that your image would be even worse if you were *found out* to be a liar. People all over the world are believing again in miracles, in the devil, and in that tv show Sliders. If people found out that they were duped, that they'd changed their lives and pursued a different fate because of your lie, there will be a lot of hate toward you.

"This story you've constructed is also getting away from you. It's causing many people to be upset. We've got calls of increased radical cult activity. People are afraid that they're going to be whisked away to a world of minks by some indiscriminate dimensional portal. Arthur T. Mink represents a return of magic in the world for many people. People have waged wars over their belief in god, and now here you are, a physical miracle that no one can deny. That spells blood and destruction, because of one man.

"And one more thing. If you think you have everything covered, I'd ask you to think again. The truth is out there, and in this world it's a lot easier to find it and a lot harder to cover it up than it is in the land of fiction."

I could feel Bill step off his soap box as he eased back into his chair. I took a few moments. "You're saying I should tell the world the truth." I said quietly.

"Let me ask you two questions in stead. Don't answer them, just think about them. How well do you think you can pull off this story of you being from another world, under serious questioning? And, how good does it feel to deny what you are?" He paused. "I will preserve your anonymity, Arthur. In the mean time, I see no reason to keep you here. But I would suggest getting a license for your claws and fangs. They're deadly weapons."

I nodded and smiled a little. "Will do, Mr. President."


As they were putting me on a plane back to Minneapolis, I took the time to think about what the President said. It was a lot. Did I care more about this fictitious self and his world or did I care more about me and my world? What was I giving up by telling the truth?

It was like Computer Science, I realized. I took the Computer Science route in college because, while I liked both programming and art, programming was a hell of a lot better paying. And even when I was halfway through it and I realized I didn't really like CS, I kept going until the bitter end. Would I have thrived if I went into art rather than computer science? I already knew the answer.

To thine own self be true.

Besides, if it was *me* who broke the truth, then I could color it in my favor.


"Ladies and gentlemen of the press. I have lied to you and to America. It's because I wanted to divorce my past. But, as you will see, my past is very much who I am, and I can't just choose some of it and not the others. It's who I am.

I dropped the English accent. "I am Arthur Jeremy Pearson. Please call me A.J.

"I was born a human on this world. Arthur T. Mink and the world I said he came from are a fabrication. I created Arthur T. Mink for FurryMUCK, an internet game. And would you please turn off any live feeds? What I have to say is of an adult nature and I do not wish to upset any sensitive adults.

"Thank you. Well. In the game, I had virtual homosexual encounters. I also have drawn many pornographic depictions of anthropomorphic animals. I have admitted that I am turned on by the idea of transforming into an anthropomorphic animal, and have written multiple stories featuring transformation. In short, both intellectually and physically, I was obsessed with transformations.

"However, now that I *am* transformed, I feel whole and while I still look back on my past with contentment, I do not wish to transform back. I am happy the way I am.

"I came out because of President Clinton's advice on being true to one's self. I realize now that I could not live my life in a lie. I am who I am, and I am happy.

"Okay. First question. Yes. You."


Some people were still convinced that FurryMUCK and other MUDs were somehow a link to another reality or a way to tap into magic. I wondered. MUDs were flooded with people. I'd anticipated this and had invested about 70% of my current wealth in MUD program companies before I went to my press conference.

Right after the conference, I called my parents. I told them I was coming to visit.

I took a plane. What were they going to do? That was the prevailing thought. I considered so many things on that flight it would fill up 4 pages. All useless meanderings back and forth, covering the same ground, looking at it in a different way. It all came down to worry.

I rented a limo. What was I going to say? I composed my speech to them on the way up.

I pulled into Dad's driveway.

The farm covers 8 acres. When Mom and Dad bought it, there was a crapload of weeds, a rotting barn, miscellaneous little huts hidden in the forest, and a charred hole where the house used to be. They built the house where the previous owner's house burned down. The new home was a squat, long house with sky blue siding, an unpainted wooden porch, and sliding doors. They had a real wooden interior flooring too.

I got out of the limo. Did I mention that my Tuxedo getup didn't have shoes? My hind paws sank into the rich cold green grass. The wind picks up lots of speed across the flat plains of southern Minnesota, and it flustered my fur and sang across my whiskers. I stood, an alien on another world. How different my home was. Now it had a smell I immediately identified as a shade of father and a shade of farm animals. As I walked across the lawn I remembered the many days of my youth, squandered away in mowing that vast landscape. The thought came to me that you can never come home.

Dad and Gail came out of the house. Then Mom and Dave. Then my sister Amy and her husband Jim! My Dad, Leslie Arthur Pearson, who once went tobogganing with me and got his spine compressed. Gail formerly Gail Greenleaf, whose stepmotherly advice still whispers in my mind today. Mom, Corinne Anne Eckhardt, who once confiscated my RPG books because I stayed out too late at night when playing it. Dave, "The Squirrel" Eckhardt, the history buff and ex-army all American farmer. Amy Elizabeth, who played with me and my Matchbox cars when we were little. Jim Paisley, whose impression of Snagglepuss puts stand up comics to shame.

My speech left me as I drank in their scents. The threat of death was a painter and he left a thick coat of fear on my family. I said, "I'm A.J., and I'm okay."

Dad said, "What happened, son? The aliens come down and do this to ya?"

I chittered and shook my head. Dad secretly told me that if the aliens would come down and offered him a ride, he'd say, "Bye, world! See ya!" I said, "No, dad. I don't know what did this to me."

"How do you feel?" Mom asked. It was a question that seemed to be on everyone's lips now that they knew that I was changed. I could compare human life to mink life.

"Great. Happy. Whole. But, a celebrity." I paused, and then some of my speech came back to me. "I've had this thing inside me a long, long time. It's been trying to come out with my obsession with transformations. And now that I've transformed, I... I'm complete. I feel *right* in this body."

My words were a rain and the paint of fear washed away.

I walked up to them and felt their love. I saw the relief and happyness in their faces. Finally, Jim said, "Group hug!"

It was a snuggle of extraordinary magnitude.[See Footnote 14]


The 48 Hours crew came by while I was helping everyone financially. They had heard rumors that I was here, but I'd moved so fast they weren't sure.

They interviewed everyone, and the questions the crew asked helped us bond closer together as a family, reaffirming that I was happy with who I was and that my family was happy for me.

I said my good-byes and made my promises to call them once in a while (and had Jackson put it down in my calendar). I hugged them each one at a time and couldn't help but cry for joy and relief.

It was going to be a good episode of 48 Hours.

Then they shipped me out to Ely to show them the points in the woods where the major events of my story took place. The camp area, the place where I fought the bear. That was not too difficult to find. Rotting meat has a disgustingly distinctive smell. We went to the vet clinic and spoke with the people there. I heard there that after Tom recovered from his injuries (he'd been attacked by wolves and managed to climb a tree) he'd moved his family away, no forwarding address. He said that he wanted no part of the media blitz going after me.

I didn't tell 48 Hours, but Jenny kept sending me letters. So I knew where Jenny was. In my next letter, I offered Jenny financial help if they ever needed it.

Then we got to see some of my friends. Jason Stoeke, still working as a computer tech at Best Buy and Bryan Haakensen, still going to school for a Computer Science degree were both interviewed. I got to talk to them a little and that was cool.

Finally, I got to meet Dan Rather himself, and he asked to interview me tomorrow. I asked why not now. He said that their policy was to investigate, then interview so they could have informed questions.

So they could ask me about my past, I thought to myself.


"So, how's your health?"

"Just fine. In fact, I feel energized, electrified, and action-packed."

"A.J., we've talked to your teachers and old classmates. They say that you used to have a really short fuse. It's no secret from people at your college that you've, from time to time, made a scene in the computer lab, cursing your current programming assignment for not working. How are you dealing with your temper in your new body?"

"Just fine." Dan Rather: I could take him. One paw grabs the shirt, the other digs claws into the jugular. Cake and pie. "I mean, that was a long time ago. I'm 24 years old now. Sure, it was tough. Changing your self on the inside is nearly as impossible as changing yourself on the outside." I smiled a little at that.

"Now, about your press conference. We've been to your web site and we found your private web page. Let me tell you, some of those things you drew..."

"I know, I know. They're pretty off the wall." I shrugged. "A lot of them are experiments. As far as I knew, there was no way for me to actually transform, so after 7 or so years of drawing relatively tame transformation scenes, I was branching out, seeing what else was out there. You note that I didn't provide a link to it from my home page."

"Yes, but other sites link directly to your site."

I frowned and shrugged. "I thought, later, about putting up a thing at the front of it to the effect of 'please don't provide a link to this page from your web site', but number one, I couldn't stop people from doing that, and number two, a big reason I put those pages on the net was to help other people like myself to realize that they're not alone."

"You are a hermaphrodite."

I took in a breath. "Yes."

"And ... it must be very lonely being the only ... 'furry'. ... Have you given thought to making a child?"

"With myself? Yes. But it's just thought, Dan. Rather, I'd like to find a wife and then take it from there."

"You say, 'wife'. Is there a possibility you'd consider a husband?"

"Yes. I consider myself bisexual in more than one way. From my years of experimenting, I'm open to a lot of things."

"How do you plan on finding a mate?"

I smiled. "I'm not about to tell you *that*, Mr. Rather."

[See Footnote 15]

Wilder 10

It was so long ago... so long... On the day --- ! On the day it rained
chocolate monkeys!
- Old Noah, Project G.eeK.eR.

Things had gotten a little absurd. I was now a humanoid mink being hypnotized by a guy recommended by the President of the USA. It was great that he was doing a house call. He had me look into a flame and as he spoke, my mind wandered. The world revolved beneath me. Millions of people moved about their daily lives in the same drudgery and sameness as every other day before it. Money exchanged hands. Shoe leather hit pavement.

I found myself on that night that seemed years past. I was human again, lifting a beer to my lips. I could feel my heart beating, pulsing blood through my neck. The buzz was in my head and I was saying, "You know, guys, I'm really a furry trapped in a human body. You know what I'm saying? It's the truth." I had the unquenchable conviction of a drunk.

"I hear ya, man." Toasted Stoeke. I was far more smashed than he was. I remarked on this.

"I'm really baked, Stoeke. But you're just fine. And... and you're about halfway between us." I said, pointing to Haakensen.

He smiled and nodded, pointing a finger at me. "You're drunk."

I got up unsteadily and shoved my battered tan hat on. "I'm going to take a piss."

As I embarked on the adventure of trying to get out in the woods without impaling myself, Haakensen warned, "Don't get lost!"

I just giggled crazily and executed a perfect stumble and recovery with a swaying follow through.

The time was nearing. It was disconcerting, living in the past and at the same time looking back on it from the future. At once I was both buzzed from beer and tense from anticipation. I would soon be changed.

As I contemplated the fact that my pee was making bubbles like shampoo in the ground, the man was approaching me. The scent I could barely catch with my dulled human nose was the same: my secret benefactor. The pain hit me in the rear and I swayed in confusion. "Hey, guys!" I said, turning around as my spout shut off.

I saw a vague figure speeding away through the pines and felt a pain in my posterior where I was stuck.

It was time.

As if a ghost passed through me, I shuddered. Every hair on my body raised and I gulped as I felt my internal organs being kneaded by an unseen hand. I fell to my hands and knees and threw up. And up.

When I wiped my lips in disgust, I saw a bit of intestine in the puke and began dry heaving. I scrambled away from the impossible sight. That's when I felt heat rise all over my body. Warmth washed over my skin and I felt my skin turn into a scratchy 5 o'clock shadow.

As the silky strands pushed through, my mind balked at the idea. I just goggled as my fingers moved in a way that had nothing to do with muscles and could not be reproduced by typing or drawing. The dance pushed out claws with the feeling as if someone was pulling every one of my nails. The sensation was mirrored in my feet and I quickly tore at my shirt, panic making me sober.

My whiskers were threads being pulled through the fabric of my skin. My mouth open, I felt the fangs evolve from my human bluntness. The transformation dislodged my human hair and it fell to the ground.

And then I was naked. I watched my legs change, the muscles bunching in places and the bones altering shape. I couldn't take it. I started laughing wildly, taking note of every switch that had been thrown on the human/furry console.

Words fail me. One can say, "Fur grew all over my body." But for one whose life revolved around transformations, that phrase was a single syllable in the language of my mind, much like "What's happening to me?" or "My nails grew into claws" or "A furry muzzle extended from my face". I once was trying to describe Vampire: The Masquerade to a friend of  mine. He said he just didn't get it. I started in on the whole, "It's one thing to say 'I suck the guy's blood' and another to actually *do* it." I proceeded to demonstrate by approaching him, taking him by the shoulders and placing my mouth on his neck as if to bite.

When my *body* *changed*, I felt the equivalent of sex with a god. While under hypnosis in the future, my body unconsciously danced erotically in sympathy.

And then the memories faded as I explored my new body and I awoke again as a mink in a chair staring into the flame. That was it. After that, I'd crawled back to camp, got into my bedroll, and gone to sleep, the pure shock of the transformation wiping it out of my mind. We were at the same place we were before. I thanked the hypnotist and sighed.


Jackson called me up a few days after the 48 Hours special came out, while I was working on getting my old stuff rearranged in my new Minneapolis apartment. "You've asked me to book you at the next 'furry' convention. Well, something came up."

"So, who called up?"



"ArthurCon. A furry convention wholly in your honor, slapped together, they admit, at the earliest they could possibly make it."


"Next Monday."

"That's just three days away! Jackson, would you tell them that I will do the convention for free, and would you please send them $10,000 to help make it as professional as possible?"

"Free, Arthur?"

"You bet. Call it a nice gesture on my part."


I'd been to Gen Con. That's the big Role Playing Game convention. It was a weird wacky fun time. But when I went, I'd been an anonymous fellow normal human gamer. I wasn't publicly known as the only practitioner of actual magic left in the world. I hadn't gone as a real live dragon or hobgoblin.

And now I was going to ArthurCon, a furry convention created just for, and about, me: the only furry in existence.

I had 7 body guards. The convention had 32 security personnel. I felt pretty safe. They had me in on a Mustelid Sit-In-Group or SIG, an autograph session, and a few posing sessions (clothes strictly on, although I suspected that a certain number of the drawers were going to depict me otherwise). Three days of nonstop fun.

When I started getting nervous was when the 'Con actually started. I was present at the opening ceremonies, and that's where it was announced that more people have come to ArthurCon than anyone expected. Luckily, we were allowed to spill over into another section of the Convention Center. Everybody wanted in on ArthurCon. And luckily, there were as many sellers and showers as there were buyers and lookers. I got to experience this fact first hand with my 4 hour signing session.

Bootleg Arthur T. Mink products, as well as my own products (including one picture / self portrait combo and plush toys) were all put under my pen for me to sign. Arthur T. Shirts, Arthur T. Plushies, Arthur T. Mugs, and Arthur T. Buttons, although there were a lot of the same images replicated. One popular image was a reproduction of a shot from my rescue of Tom Floodwood. The artist dramatized the scene to great effect.

The sign said two pats and one scritch per signer. Most everyone was filling their quota. After 2 hours straight of petting I was in Hog Heaven. I'd sign the book, the person would pet me and scratch me, I'd get a thrill, and my security guards would glare at them. The line would move on, and I'd dreamily smile at the next one. Gods it was fun.

Remember me talking about those women who were obsessed with transformations that would come and find me? Well... I got more men than women coming up to me with offers. And, thinking about it, that was just as, if not more, intriguing than the women. I politely declined their offers and said nothing to stop my guards when the few became belligerently insistent.

There were people of *all* sizes and shapes and colors. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Aryan, Hispanic, African, Native Americans, Indians (guys from India). Old, young, athletic, skinny, large, wheelchairs, crutches, blind (I let him touch me more so he could see me). There were so many people who wanted to sign (and to pet) I stayed an extra two hours and felt guilty even then, apologizing to the masses still waiting.

Right after that was the Mustelid Sit In Group. The subject started on mustelids but ranged from what I thought of Dana Carvey to my diet to what flea collar I use. Then, I mentioned the fact that Animal Planet canceled its offer for me to do a show, and I didn't really have an idea for it anyway. They suggested immediately, "furries, what else?" We worked into the night, making ideas.

The next day had me up too early for another sign/petting session. It was wild! All the people I met. The line of girls that kissed me full on the lips, the couple guys who kissed me full on the lips, the actual Tal Greywolf (prolific furry artist and writer), the rich Yiddish couple with three foxes and a raccoon, the countless and clueless fanboys, and the unstoppable Jason A. Williams who sang praise of my internet pen name The Intolerable Picklejuice.

The posing session was really fun. I managed to keep my boxers on, but I gave them plenty of me to look at otherwise. I asked some of the artists there what they thought of *my* work. The few that said they had seen it said that they loved it. A couple that I'm sure have never seen my work said they loved it.

And Gretchen said that I never finish my work. Gretchen Clearwater [See Footnote 16] was an artist at the posing session and was the first to criticize me, with solid insight, about my art. "You sketch too much. You should work with just ink more often, to get rid of that sketchy, scratch style."

I got angry at her. I mean, I was the best on the net for transformation art and I knew it! That's when I asked for her name.


That night I was staying up, thinking about her. Her face would keep coming up in my head, that coy smile, that way she shook her head knowingly. She had dark eyes, almost black, and they glistened at the posing session.

I mean, I thought to myself, I couldn't be interested. She bitched me out!

I glared at the ceiling of the hotel room. Sure I could be interested. But what the hell could I do about it? I mean, I'd been thinking of finding someone to live my life with, but how do people in my position meet other people and really know that they love each other?

Did I really care if she loved me? Did I just want some tail? Was I that shallow?

Sure I could. I was a guy.

I frowned again. Or was a guy. Dammit, I keep going in circles! Life is what happens when you're making other plans.

Hmm. So how do I have a life with Gretchen? Make some plans near her. Yeah...


Jackson and I were sharing the hotel room, so I woke up to his shower. We made some breakfast (I had a half pound of rare hamburger heated up in the microwave. yum!), got dressed, and he went over the daily schedule with me. A signing/petting session in the morning, followed by something that I was excited about: a transformation Sit In Group. I confirmed everything in my mind as we were in the elevator with Tuck and Wally, two of my bodyguards. Then I said, "I think I like someone."

My personal publicist rose an eyebrow. " 'Like'?"

I turned my head toward the elevator doors and said, "Yeah. Like. That Gretchen Clearwater from the posing session the other day. I like her art. Ask her if she'd like to draw my Iron Wolf comics."

"I'll put it down in my schedule." He looked at me for a moment, I looked back up at him and saw his 'What is that mink thinking' expression. He looked away, and I looked away.

Two floors down, beyond the elevator doors, there was blood. Mr. Instinct said, "Hmm, free food!" I said, "What the hell?"

I was four floors up from where we were supposed to stop. I said, "Guys, get ready. I smell blood."

"What?" One floor down.

"Next floor. Someone's bleeding. A lot. Enough for me to smell it from two floors away."

We were less than a second away from the floor. They got their guns out and we pressed up against the walls, behind the edge of the doors of the elevator. As I thought, the elevator stopped.

A couple things then happened. The elevator doors shuddered in preparation to open. I smelled gunpowder. Jackson suddenly shoved himself over me, covering me with his body. That was weird!

And just before the bomb blew up, destroying the doors and instantly killing my body guards with shrapnel and concussive power, I barely was able to catch a whiff of the bomber. I had no time to analyze it. I was knocked out by the blast. I only recognized the scent.

It was the metallic dusty ash of my secret benefactor.

[See Footnote 17]

Wilder 11 / Preview

"You know Arthur, when evil is afoot and you don't have any arms, you gotta use your head. And when evil is ahead and you're behind you gotta do the legwork. But when you can't get a leg up, you gotta be hip . . ." - The Tick

I woke up with Jackson on top of me. He was a dead weight, and the doors were blown off. I flung him off me and leapt through the doors after the mystery man who changed me into a mink, gave me a tuxedo, and just blew me up. What the heck what this guy thinking?

I landed just outside the doors and looked both ways. A brick red flying jacket fluttered down the hallway to my left with an aviator's cap above it and a pair of black boots pumping below it. I tore off after the guy, going to all fours for speed. When he got to the stair he looked behind at me and I just couldn't take what I saw.

It --- it was the Evil Mad Bomber What Bombs At Midnight. The live action version. He produced a timer bomb from his coat jacket and laughed, "So he says to me, he says, 'You got this power, so USE it, baby!' So I says, 'YEAH, BABY!'" Then he stuck the timer bomb to he wall and ducked into the stairwell.

It was set for 6 seconds. In the first two, I got to the door. In the next, I ducked in and closed the door. In the last three, I leapt down two flights of stairs. The explosion blew the door off upstairs, but just made noise for me and EMBWaBAM. I heard his laugh trickle off through a door just below. If I could have gone faster, I would have.

Bam! I hurled the door aside with a forepaw and saw my prey. He was ducking through the forest of steam pipes, structural supports, and concrete of the basement. He was laughing as he disappeared around a corner. I scrambled up to it and didn't see him with my eyes but still kept going. I didn't need eyes to tell where he was. Foolish food. Laughing maniacally *and* leaving a scent trail. Not even zig-zagging to make it difficult.

Of course, maybe he *wants* me to follow him. The suspicious switch flipped in my mind and I took in more of my surroundings as I flew through the manplace. I heard him laugh loudly as he went through a door. Very suspicious.

When I got to the door, I looked around it. Up there, a vent. I looked through it, saw the next room, so I ripped it off the wall and struggled through. My shirt and jacket ripped off. I left them behind.

My fears were justified. There was a bomb attached to the door, with some wires going to the doorknob and doorjamb.

The scent of the bomber went through a door, up some stairs, and out into the street. When I got to the street, I got another visual on him. He was grinning that crazy grin and stalking off down the sidewalk, looking nervously around and talking to himself.

As I loped, people noticed and started pointing. By the time I was 40 feet away, the Bomber finally noticed. "Aaah." He said, that 'caught bunny' look in his face. He then smiled crazily, reached in his jacket, and pulled it out!

I leapt the last 10 feet, tucked and rolled into him. The gun flew out of his hands and I heard it clatter like a cheap plastic toy across the pavement. I looked and grabbed for it.

It wasn't a gun. It was a box with a button on it, and it was out of both of our reaches. I turned on the now apologetic looking bomber and hauled him up to his feet, then shoved him up against a wall.

I looked back to the crowd. "This guy nearly killed me with a bomb. Somebody get security or something!" I looked back to him and bared my fangs.

"You got nothin' on me, copper." He said in the exact right voice. Scratchy and wildly crazy. "I'm - I'm just a part-time electrician. I --- I---"

I shoved a forearm into his throat to cut off his words. "Bad is good? Down with government?" I shoved the forearm into him harder. "Who are you?"

He jutted his jaw out and grinned. "Ixnay on the ecretsay, inkmay!"

I breathed in his face. "Can I call you Evil Mad? I mean, people shorten my name to just Arthur. I don't wanna go out and say Evil Mad Bomber What Bombs At Midnight, now do I?"

He gritted his teeth. "Heh heh, you think you know what's going on, don't you? Well, you DON'T, baby! He says to me, he says 'I got something for you boy, something GOOD! Have a COOKIE' and I got it right, and I eat it right, and its FULL OF HORSE HOCKEY! And I LIKE IT, BABY! HAAA HA ha ha - huk*"

I shoved my arm up into his neck to choke off his laugh. I brought my fangs right up to his ear and whispered dangerously. "Quit with the insane crap, Evil Mad. You injected me with the whatever that transformed me. You gave me the tux. Who are you and where do you come from?"

I let up on his throat a little and his eyes were frightened windows in a furrowed face. His voice was a little more tender and calmer. "You can't stop the Minuteman, A.J. You can't stop him."

"Who's the Minuteman?"

Evil Mad writhed in my grip and screamed, "Minutemaaaaaaaaaaan!" An inexplicable strength came over him and he shoved me 10 feet away. By the time I got back to my feet and into a fighting stance, he had the remote controller button and was grinning madly. "Ah ha ha ha ha! You wanna play with the big boys, haah? HAAH!"

"Tell me what you're going to do, Evil Mad."

"You're the superhero, YOU tell ME!"

I tried something. "HEY SPACE PONY LISTEN UP! You ain't got NOTHIN without your bombs, hear me! You're one big loser who hides behind your -- "

"Oh yeah? OH YEAH! We'll see about that!"

Cartoon logic.

He threw away his controller and red coat full of bombs and put up his fists like a boxer.

Mr. Instinct, take it away.

"RAARH!" I cried, flinging myself at him.

It was bloody. When Mr. Instinct was done, Evil Mad was barely alive and bleeding badly. I got up off him and took a breath. I flung my next words behind me to the crowd of shocked onlookers. "Somebody get an ambulance! Somebody else get a doctor! I don't want him to die!"

I worried a little that it might be too late. I also wanted to lick my paws.


First there was the ambulances, then the police. I'd sat down in front of the convention hall and just waited, tired out and jittery after my fight. Gods, that was fun. Sinking claws into flesh, pulling apart that soft tissue and letting loose that warm sticky red candy water. As the police were questioning me, I realized that I'd put my deadly weapon license for my claws in my jacket pocket, which was down in the basement.

The paramedics came back and told the captain the situation in the elevator.

Jackson wasn't dead. I was surprised, and guilty. I'd thrown him off me without a second thought for his safety. He *did* get a piece of shrapnel that fractured his skull and took out his right eye. If I remembered correctly where his head was positioned at the time of explosion and where I was, that shrapnel would have cut my head off.

It was at that point that I realized that I was in a story. Someone had constructed a storyline with me the main character. I recognized the signs. The mystery, the cliffhangers, the happy coincidences, the lucky escapes, the hunches that work out, all elements of a story and not of real life.

I looked around me after I'd realized this. Blood was dripping from my forearms and I was bare chested. You could probably see my nipples if you looked hard enough - I got self conscious and asked the police officer to let me go get my shirt. He sent a police officer with me.

We went into the basement. I thought about it. Who was doing this? I had a horrible suspicion. It struck terror deep into me. The kind of terror and loathing one would experience if one woke up after going to the clone clinic to get a clone... and discovering that *you* were the clone that the real you got made for him.

There were other bombs in the basement, and I couldn't go get my jacket because the officer pulled me out while he radioed the situation to the chief.

I looked around. Everything seemed real enough. The blood was crusting on my fur. The young officer named Larry Landson had a crewcut, a 5 o'clock shadow, and a serious, furtive look to his eyes. He wore a regular police outfit - I could go on, but it he was real. The world around me, I took it in.

Real. Gods, if life is but a dream, don't you fear the waking? I don't want the writer, whoever he is, to stop writing about me! I've got to keep it interesting! But what do I do?

Know your enemy. And if it's who I think it is that's writing the story, I'm going to have to hand this off to some other project. He doesn't follow through. He doesn't finish things. He puts things off to the last minute.

He lets his projects die, and I didn't want to die.

Keeping it simple, I later called up Gretchen, and she agreed to do a comic book for me, but it wasn't Iron Wolf. It was something that just came to me (thank you Mr. Writer). I'll just keep writing these stories, possibly never finishing them just like the real me would do. And I'll keep living!

The idea made my head hurt.

Here's the preview:


Jeremy Hiddleson, director of the DNA Manipulation Research Center (DMRC) was walking briskly down the clean corridor with his name tag in his teeth, a sheaf of papers under his right arm, a Styrofoam cup of hot coffee in his right hand, and a briefcase in his left hand. As he neared the door to the lab he reached up with his left hand and took the name tag from his mouth. He dexterously punched the code into the keypad next to the door and slipped the card through the slot above the keypad. The door's little light turned from red to green and he hauled it open.

And Cynthia lunged from beyond the door into him, bumping him and making him spill coffee over the documents. Instant searing rage lurched up through him and he said, "You fucking bitch! Watch where you're fucking going for --- " But then the anger was gone. He frowned with regret but didn't take it back. Cynthia just glared at him, wiped some coffee from her dress, and shook her head as she continued on her way. Jeremy took a little time to continue frowning in regret at her swiftly walking backside, then entered the lab.

The young director was a slim man, a bit on the weak side with short wavy black hair, a thin beard that laced his chin, and small glasses. He usually wore plaid and slacks. He put on a smile, faking a good mood to bolster his cloudy feelings.

"How's it jumping, Ben?" Jeremy said powerfully yet routinely as he strode over to his work station and began depositing his stuff.

With disinterest in anything but his microscope, Ben replied, "Like elephants in mating season." Ben was his first assistant, an old friend from microbiology 101. He wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for Jeremy. He was a really short guy and looked about 17 years old, complete with freckles and a weak beard.

"Woah, what's the news?" By now Jeremy only had his coffee in his hand and he took a sip of it as he walked back over to and behind Ben.

"This." Ben said, pushing himself away on his rolling and pointing at the microscope with one hand while he rubbed his eyes with the other.

Jeremy set his cup down and looked into the microscope. Seconds ticked by, and then Jeremy said, "My god is that what I think it is?!"

"Yup. We've found Thomas's Formula, Jeremy." Ben said, nodding without enthusiasm.

Jeremy began laughing and throwing his fists around in joy. "Woo hoo! Yes, yes, yes!"

Ben had to shout. "Slow down! Unfortunately," He had a 'calm down you dope' look on his face as he pulled over another microscope. "I also just discovered something that explains the disappearance of Thomas Evermary."

With an angrily confused "What?!" look on his face, Jeremy went over to the second microscope. And kept looking. He adjust a few dials and then said, "Uhh... what am I looking at?"

"Exact same thing you saw in the other microscope, after 60 simulated hours of growth." Ben said, with hard fact and regret in his voice.

"But all I see here is water and little bits of cells. As if --- "

"As if you're looking at the single cell equivalent of a dismembering mass murderer's crime scene." Ben finished for him. Jeremy closed his eyes and bowed his head slightly as Ben continued. "His last notes say he tried the experiment on himself and it worked. And then, poof! Gone. Now we know why." Ben tapped a finger on the microscope. "The so called miracle DNA and physical form manipulation formula that Mr. Evermary created and then disappeared with, is a failure."

"Shut up!" Jeremy shouted through bared teeth. He stood and clutched his head as if that would make his demons go away. It did allow him to calm down, however. Thomas. His idol. A failure.

Not possible. "We must have missed something." He said passionately. "Maybe the new accelerated growth serums affect Thomson's formula."

Ben shook his head. "It's right there. You saw it yourself. It sure does work. I mean, the paramecium are changed from one species to another just like in his final notes, but he tried it on himself before he could see what I just saw. After a while, the cells just can't handle it. It *breaks down*. That's what you saw in the second microscope."

Jeremy laughed with a "Whatever" attitude. "Look, Ben. We aren't being paid 100 bucks an hour to find out that Thomas's Formula is a failure. We're going to find out what went wrong with his research and correct it." He proceeded to pace, his lips pursed as he planned what their first move was going to be.

That got a scoff from Ben. "What the hell are you talking about? Thomas was *decades* beyond current science. We're the only people in the world even close to understanding the principals behind his work! And it took us *four years* just to reconstruct his basic formula from his notes!"

Jeremy just turned to Ben with a surprised look on his face. "I'm really surprised at you Ben. You just listed off the very reasons we're the only people to do it."

Ben shook his head and smiled. "You're right. But what are we going to tell the board?"

At that, Jeremy frowned at the obviousness. "Well, the truth is always good."


"I don't think so." Said the Board of Directors, Hans Kolen.

Jeremy simply didn't understand. "Excuse me?"

Hans folded his hands and leaned forward. "Mr. Hiddleson, we've *allowed* you six extensions already, and now that you have finished what we wanted you to find out," With an obvious look on his face, he momentarily threw up his arms at the simplicity. "You've done a great job. We'll send you your check, and thank you very much."

The former director of the DMRC shook his head as if to shake off the... the... the complete insanity of it all! "You can't do this. We've come so far. We've *got* his formula, all we need to do is find out what he did wrong! And just *what* are you planning on doing with the lab, the facility?"

Now Hans leaned back with more obviousness in his expression. "Break it down and sell it. We need to recover *something* from this fiasco. We're businessmen, director. We thought you could find this miracle Thomas's Formula in a few years. Now that you've found it, and it's unstable, the mystery of the -" and now he raised his arms to pantomime quotations." 'Almighty Thomas's Formula' is solved." His expression grew grim. "It doesn't work. We're pulling out."

All through Hans's speech, despair worked on Jeremy like a criminal rock breaker. Statement after statement, bam! bam! bam! He was beginning to break under the blows. With the final words from Hans, the rock broke.

Jeremy rose to his feet and rose his fists above his heads screaming,"You fucking bastaaards!!" and brought them down upon the table with enough force to bruise his hands and make the mahogany slab shudder.

The silence that followed sounded to Jeremy like the death knell of his career.


The ancestral home of the Hiddlesons was built along the Mississippi river in northern Mississippi about 150 years ago. It was a typical southern mansion in its day with elegant architecture and stunning beauty. It wasn't the largest mansion on the Mississippi, but it had its pride.

And its secrets. Today it was an eyesore hidden in about 90 years of overgrowth and abandonment. Jeremy, at the urging of his friend Ben, was coming back to restore it to take his mind off the hideous defeat at the DMRC. He was going to clean up the weeds, repave the driveway, reinforce the structure where needed, refurnish the interior, and clean out all the junk. Including the chests in the basement.

Chests dating back before the Hiddleson clan came to America, when they were known as Hiddle, and before that, Hide, and before that...



Coming soon: HYDE

Everything you know about transformations... will change.

Arthur's notes:
Because I'm swamped, however, HYDE might *not* be coming soon.

4. This section of the story was written *after* the author took the time to review some factual information on minks... and bears.

5. Chipmunks often live in crevices in rocks and are also known as Rocks Squirrels.

6. This story is set at the end of summer, when bears gain a heck of a lot of mass before the winter.

7. That is *definitely* spelled wrong. Minks have a spray simmular, but not identical to, a skunk's.

8. Come to find out, Lake Secluded is *not* in Minnesota, like I've been saying all this time. It's in the boundary waters in Canada. So, we have officially traveled into the land of fiction with this story. (Snicker) Lake Secluded, in this world, is located in Minnesota, nearest to the town of Crane Lake.

9. I was quoting Ron Pearlman in City of the Lost Children. Good movie. Weird. Ron plays a small vocabulary, Russian accented, out of work strongman. He calls Miet his little angel. Miet is a street smart little waif that's cute as a button.

10. I know this is from Shake-spear (and also quoted in Star Trek The Undiscovered Country), but I like the context of Army of Darkness better.

11. The old "overheard phone conversation" trick. Works every time.

12. Perfectly legit saying. Equivalent to cute as a button.

13. Just a side note. While writing this, I decided to keep all the stuff I would otherwise have deleted (plot lines gone awry, little snippets I decided were unnecessary or misplaced in the plot, etc.) I have 17 pages of discarded material now. What does that mean?

14. Sorry for the cop-out, but my family really is incredibly understanding and loving. This is about what I think they'd do.

15. Some Arthur's Notes:
I was winding down, ready to stop writing. I even had a plotline that lead into my next series, "continuing" the wilder series in a way. However...
Also, now there's 23 pages of discarded material. Some of it's pretty funky. I'm thinking of editing it up and posting it, showing you some plot lines that might have been...

16. As opposed to Floodwood?

17. Arthur's Notes: I'm pretty much swamped. Part 11 is the end of Wilder until I get some more time free (probably in a couple months)

-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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