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A Trickster's Tail - Part 2

Copyright (c) 1996 Phaedrus; All rights reserved

The stories seem to have slowed down a bit after the initial rush; if you folks aren't careful, I may catch up with the plot yet. :-) No major plot developments in my stuff yet; just trying to flesh out the character a bit more, tie up a few loose ends from part 1, and set up some things I have in mind for later.

This happens on the night of day 1, and into the morning of day 2.

If anyone has any suggestions for what should happen in the storyline, including crossover possibilities with other characters, I'd greatly appreciate them. I don't promise to use them, but I'll greatly appreciate them nonetheless. :-)

Keith stared numbly down at himself. He didn't have to piece together what had happened. He could remember everything; the party, the shock of the aftermath, the strange feeling of the park drawing him in, the irresistible call of the perfect setup line...

The bum! Dreading what he knew he was going to see, Keith slowly looked back up at the dog, lurching off towards the other side of the park. What the hell was he going to do about that? He could remember the feel of the power flowing through him, but he didn't have the foggiest idea of how the thing was done...

Then it hit him, and he almost gasped in relief; Kickaha's spells were temporary. Hopefully, this one would wear off by the end of the night...

At the realization of what he had just thought, his knees went weak, and he gently toppled over backwards onto the grass; the jab of pain from his tail as he landed on it erased any hopes he had that this was all sort of elaborate hallucination.

Kickaha. Somehow, something had happened to make everything in the party real. That meant that, not only was he stuck in the body of a coyote, but that there was a practical joker named Kickaha stuck in his head--and wielding very real magic.

This was all coming too quickly. {Let's come to grips with one impossibility at a time, shall we?,} he told himself firmly.

He started with the basics: his body. As he looked himself over, he found depressingly few surprises, and the surprises were indeed depressing. He was covered from head to foot with golden-brown fur; the only color variations were at the tip of the tail and the end of the muzzle, which he had bleached white. The tail was very real; an experimental twitch confirmed that it was movable. The structure of his limbs was unchanged; his fingers and feet were longer, as they had been on the costume, with short claws. Leathery pads covered the soles of his feet. He couldn't see most of the head, but it felt like the costume's. He was no clearly no longer anatomically correct; not only was his, er, equipment gone, but he could no longer properly be called an asshole either. {Damn,} he thought; {am I not supposed to eat or drink anymore? Does magic take care of this, or am I going to burst in a day or so? Wait a minute; I just turned someone into a dog--why can't I fix this? Hell, why can't I just turn myself back?} But again, that feeling of helplessness came over him; if he could do it, he had no idea how. He tried concentrating, and even nonsense chanting as he had done at the party, but there were no results.

The more he thought about it, the more he was surprised as much by where the changes stopped as by the fact that they had happened at all; it was as if someone had taken his costume and turned it directly into flesh, with no creativity whatsoever. {Don't go there,} he thought to himself, and shuddered; {next thing you know you'll be trying to rip your skin off. Change-of-subject time...}

{Magic. Either it's real, or it's "sufficiently-advanced technology"--and in that case, it's advanced enough that I may as well think of it as magic. I think; therefore I am. I think I am a coyote; therefore, there is magic. And I just turned someone into a dog; therefore, I can use magic. Or at least Kickaha could use magic. Which leads to...

{Kickaha. Okay; if I can accept being a coyote, I can accept having a mage stuck in my head. But what's Kickaha like? Dammit, why didn't I put some details in that background story when I had a chance? He likes jokes, but does he think that dropping a freeway on somebody is a real knee-slapper? Should I just get the heck out of here and hope he can't come back if I never go near a park again?}

He turned it over in his head for several cold minutes. He could go home, and spend the rest of his life as an anatomically-incorrect coyote stuck in a city, assuming he didn't die of kidney failure first. Or he could stay here, and risk spending the rest of his life as an anatomically-incorrect psychotic coyote turning people into newts for recreation. Not a comforting set of choices.

Dammit, if he could just ask a few questions...

Then it hit him. When Kickaha's power was high, Kickaha was in control; the story said so. When it was low, Keith was in control. But what happened in the middle? He had never said. Was there a point where they were both in control? Could he risk finding out?

When he thought about it, there wasn't much of a choice.

He had no idea how Kickaha got his power; if it involved some sort of ritual, he was screwed. Hopefully, just spending some time here would do the trick. But Keith knew one thing for sure; he wasn't going to let the change happen while he was asleep. He might never get control again.

Sighing, he got up, and walked over to a tree. He gathered his cloak around him; he didn't really need it to guard against the cold, but Kickaha seemed to have used it to avoid being seen--it was worth a shot. He sat down, pulled up his hood, and stared off at the city lights in the distance, and the stars above.

His thoughts were not comforting.

Stay tuned for part 3, where something actually happens. :-)

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