Feline eyes stared out of the dark. They were a burnt
orange, the kind that shines eerily when the light touches them.
Not that there was light, at three in the morning. The small cat
crouched in the brush, eyes roving the ground before her. A
small breeze ruffled the trees. It was chilly, in late fall, but
the thick tortoiseshell coat kept her warm.
The ground in front of her gradually declined, forest
disappearing into a jungle of steel and concrete buildings.
Namely, the local police department headquarters. The cat's tail
twitched. Her eyes roved, looking up through the trees, on the
guard for owls on the prowl. They normally didn't take large
cats, but she was just small enough to fit in one's claws. Her
bright amber eyes refocused on the building in front of her. All
the lights were out save for the small guard's room near the
front. Things were quiet, even to the feline's sensitive ears.
Her nose twitched. The wind was blowing the
unpleasant scent of a stray tabby cat, approaching her from
behind. Her ears twitched, and she stood from her crouch. Not
waiting to see who it was, the cat leapt out of her secluded spot
and trotted down the turf towards the town. There was no attempt
to hide, and why would there be? She was just a stray cat,
looking to find some food in the garbage or a sheltered spot to
spend the night.
She came right up to the wire fence enclosing the
back of the police station, and stopped, sniffing at the foot of
the metal contraption. The cat glanced up curiously, taking in
the strait, solid walls and roving cameras, the dried out turf
beneath the shadow of the unnatural construction. She took a few
steps to the left, orange orbs flashing at the strange, moving
box with a blinking red light and glass lens.
Then something odd happened, something that would
surely shock any human-and indeed any animal-who saw her in
action. The small cat became smaller, seeming to shrink. Though
not visible in the dark, the multicolored fur twitched and
changed into a solid brown color. The long, graceful tail became
thinner, all the fur sinking into the skin until nothing was left
except a whip-like cord of pink, rapidly becoming smaller. The
legs underwent a similar transformation, the retractable claws no
longer retracting, forming a small paw more like the claw of a
bird than a cat's. The beautiful orange eyes dulled to black, and
the pointed ears became rounded and wide. A small-now pink-nose
In the place where a cat had stood, now scampered a
regular house mouse. The morph took a matter of moments, and when
the cameras mounted on the wall moved mechanically back to its
place, the cat had disappeared. Long lengths of grass hid the
small mouse, disguising her as she ran up to the fence and jumped
nimbly through one of the holes in the fence. She scuttled across
the small turf between the fence and the wall, hiding under tufts
of grass and cracks in the dry earth. Safer now, in the corner of
the wall and the ground, out of view of the cameras, she ran
around the edge of the building to where a small half circle of
planking fitting snug with the walls edge. It was screwed down
securely, but it took less a minute of digging with those small,
sharp claws to burrow down under the wood.
The crawlspace was barely two feet high, filled with
dank, smelly air. Rotting sewage from a broken pipe that had yet
to be cleaned up was sitting in one corner, decaying away and
taking a wooden foundation with it. It was the best haven for
bugs she had ever seen, a fact that made her shy away from
entering the pitch black hole. But this rat was not a quitter.
She jumped down into the space, tail curling in disgust when she
landed next to the carcass of a mole. One thing was for sure; she
was not spending any more time here than she needed to.
Scampering around in the dark, she was forced to rely
solely on her senses of smell, hearing, and the feel of her
whiskers. There were several close calls with various pipes and
wires due to the speed at which the mouse was running through the
crawlspace. She made her way to the center of the enclosure-or
what she thought was the center. It was hard to tell with no
sight, but the sound waves created by machinery in the building
above resonated downward and echoed all around her. It was as
equal on all sides, as far as she could tell.
Nose twitching, she went slower now; trying to locate
one of the many floor-vents connecting the lower floor to the
crawlspace. It didn't take long. Warm air being pumped into the
crawlspace was flowing smoothly through the vent, allowing her to
locate one such grate nearby.
She climbed onto a tangle of wires running under the
vent and leaped onto a plank of wood placed directly below the
opening. Standing on two legs, stretching to her full height, she
reached up with one paw, using the other to steady herself, and
she was just barely able to scratch it with a claw.
Dropping down on all fours, the mouse's tail lashed in
Then the tail paused, and all other movement in that
little body stopped. In less than a second, the small mouse grew,
proportions changing smoothly until she was larger and more
muscular; the build of a rat.
She stretched up again, this time easily reaching the
vent. With the hard bridge of her nose, the rat pushed at the
metal. A grating screech echoed softly, causing the rat to pause.
Going more carefully this time, she just nudged it. Wiggling it
bit by bit, she gradually pushed the rusting vent out of the
hole. Taking a quick sniff to make sure no one was in the room
above, the rat hopped nimbly out of the crawlspace.
The room was dark and quiet. A heater hummed nearby.
Expecting carpet, she was surprised to find cold tile covering
the floor. A quick inspection of the room confirmed her
suspicions; she was in a bathroom.
She found the door and sniffed at the crack
underneath it. Again, the animal paused, freezing for that half
second it took to transform from a rat back down to the mouse
again. She squeezed her head under the door, flattening out until
her eyes bulged. Her nose emerged on the other side, then her
head and her neck. Now her shoulders and paws were under the
door. She pushed with her hind legs and pulled with her front
until she had squeezed her spine, hips and hind legs through the
The hall outside was also not lighted, save for a
bright red exit sign that hurt her sensitive eyes when she looked
at it. The mouse scurried along the thin carpet. Her movements
were decisive as she took a quick left, two rights, and stopped
at another door. This one was locked, but it had the same crack
under the door. The mouse squeezed under and emerged on the other
Glancing around the storage room with her small
beaded eyes, she took in the three small red lights, marking out
the cameras in the dark. If possible, the mouse would have rolled
her eyes. She settled for a mocking squeak. What idiot left
cameras on in a pitch black room? She headed for the nearest one,
swerving to avoid two large filing cabinets on the way.
Standing at the foot of the wall, she gazed up at the
red dot, high above her, mounted on the wall. Then the mouse
began to change yet again. This one was different though. Her
round, fuzzy body grew slim and sleek. The gray fur sunk into the
skin, which in turn grew bright green and hard. It split, like
cracks in the desert ground, forming smooth scales. The tail
widened, also morphing into a scaly creation. She gave one
violent shiver as her heart began to pump cold blood through her
The green anole reared back on her hind legs and
started walking up the wall. In no time she was sitting squarely
behind the security camera. She fastened her small lizard teeth
on one of the wires and pulled her head to the side, ripping it
out of the socket.
In the small guard's room, a good half of the screens
were black, or just barely showed the outline of furniture in a
room illuminated by a window or two. One in the middle had
nothing but two small dots of red to show. Suddenly the two dots
disappeared. The night guard, busy talking to his wife on the
phone about when he was going to find a job with better hours,
didn't even notice.
The anole went slowly, walking horizontally along the
wall. She had no whiskers to warn her of obstacles, and only two
red specks of light to show her where she was going. She made it
to the second camera and pulled another wire. On her way to the
third, she had a very close encounter with a fire alarm, but
managed to get around it with nothing worse than a bruised snout.
When the third camera was disconnected, she returned to the
floor, dropping the last two feet to bounce softly on the carpet.
The next morph took longer than the rest, but still
took no more then a second. The anole grew bulbously, with the
green, scaly skin growing thick hair. The bones shifted, making a
slight grating noise. Ears sprouted and the hands and feet grew
thumbs. The tail sprouted new lengths and curled. The face was
totally reformed, until the small lizard eyes changed into the
wide, almond eyes of a chimp.
She was forced to feel around with her arms, waving
around like a blind human and bumping into various filing
cabinets and shelves. Her mind directed her to the back, two
cabinets from the left, and up two drawers up. It wasn't
locked-thankfully. While the chimp could have picked the
locks-possessing opposable thumbs and all-she was lacking in lock
The monkey pulled out the drawer, and her sensitive
fingers rustled through the folders; past the first seven, to the
eighth. This one was thick with various papers. She pulled it out
and hugged it close to her chest. Walking on three legs, she made
her way slowly back to the door.
She put the folder on the floor and slid it under the
door, pushing it as far as her fingers would fit. Then it was yet
another change, shrinking down, back to her mouse form. She could
feel the effects of so many shape shifts, sucking up her energy
like nothing else did. Her bones were beginning to feel tired,
and she wasn't even close to being done yet.
After squeezing under the door again, she resumed the
shape of the monkey and picked up the file folder. Down the hall,
around the corner and on her right, was a door-this one unlocked.
The chimp's childlike hand reached up to turn the handle.
The room was large, full of office cubicles. Windows
lined one wall. She made her way to one, careful to avoid the
cameras. This room required less security, hence the unlocked
door and roving cameras that were easy for a small animal to
She found what she needed in the second desk she
searched; a large envelope, just the size for a file folder. The
monkey slid the file in the envelope and sealed it. That was when
she encountered a problem. While a chimp had motor functions very
similar to a human's, writing out the address was a bit beyond
She was told to avoid this sort of thing, but she
couldn't think of any other options off the top of her head. The
monkey began to morph, growing taller and standing straighter.
The tail disappeared, as well as the fur, save for on the top of
the head, where the hair grew long and dark.
What remained after the transformation was a young
girl of sixteen. Her face was pale; made paler by the black
clothes she wore. Long sleeved and tight fitting, they hugged her
figure, allowing her to shape shift back and forth without losing
all her clothes. Tight gloves covered her hands. Her hair was
shoulder length and dark brown. She was short, even for a
teenager, barely reaching four feet, seven inches. Large, pale
gray eyes stared out of the darkness.
The girl grabbed a pen from the desk and scribbled an
address on the envelope. She placed the pen back, making sure it
was in the exact place she had picked it up from. She ducked
under a camera, hugging the wall, and walked to the end of one
row of cubicles. The girl dropped the envelope in a basket marked
"mail". It was filled with other such envelopes and boxes.
Leaving the room behind, she slunk down the hall,
back to the bathroom. It took several more tiring morphs before
she was safely out of the building. It was scary how much it
drained her to change her form like that.
The rat struggled out of the hole and plopped down on
the grass, eyes glazed with exhaustion. Then she roused herself
and made one more transformation. This time, the fur that covered
her turned to soft downy feathers, and larger, more solid
feathers started to grow over them. Her face distorted until it
formed a small beak. Her forepaws changed the most, stretching
outward, with joints popping and sprouting feathers everywhere.
Her tail shrunk and disappeared, replaced by long feathers.
The newly formed sparrow spread her feathers and
shook her wings. She took off tiredly, flapping erratically,
soaring up and down. It felt like forever before her tiny eyes
spotted two sets of light below. She folded her wings and fell
through the night, spreading them at the last minute and pulling
up. She swooped through the open window of the car, landing
heavily on the back seat.
The man in the driver's seat flicked on the lights
and turned around. Light fell on his face. His hair was dyed
black and cut short. He was older than he looked, but his eyes
were still the same crystal blue they had been when she first saw
them, eleven years ago. He always had a humorous manner about him,
and even now his eyes were smiling.
"How'd it go?" he asked
the sparrow, who chirped darkly at him, then curled up and tucked
her head under a wing, promptly falling asleep. The black-haired
man smiled warmly and turned back around, turning the light back
off. He closed the windows to keep out the cool, fall air, and
turned the heat on. Turning the key in the transmission, he
pulled out of the quiet parking lot and drove east, out of
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