A Clean Getaway
It was a Thursday afternoon. Sean, a student in his second year in college was sitting through what was the fourth but what seemed like the 50th lecture of the week. The teacher seemed to drone on and on. All around Sean, other students fidgeted. A few students even stood up and left the hall as the teacher continued as though nothing had happened.
After what seemed like an eternity, Sean looked at his watch and saw that it was almost 5 PM. The class was about to end when Sean saw the teacher write something on the large blackboard behind him.
"No, please no. I have enough homework as it is," Sean said.
Some students around him reacted with equal annoyance. Others didnít seem to care.
"And for Mondayís class read pages 128 through 158 then do questions one through fifty nine on pages 159 through 161."
Sean hit the armrest of his chair with his fist. He was growing tired of what seemed like an endless stream of homework that did little more then raise his blood pressure.
The class filed out of the room. Sean joined the students walking out with grunts and sighs. It felt like they were a herd of beasts of burden whose owners were leading them from one task to the next.
Why are there so many classes that have nothing to do with my major?
Sean walked down the hallway passing by other students, many of whom looked exhausted.
This semester, while only a month old, was already draining Sean. Spending every evening doing several hours of homework and studying combined with classes that were of little interest to him had Sean wistful for simpler times.
Sean however, knew that wistfulness alone wouldnít alleviate his situation.
After stopping off at his dorm room to drop off his things, Sean headed for the cafeteria to get something to eat before what he figured would be another tedious night of homework and studying.
* * *
Two time zones away, Seanís younger brother Tom walked down a street leading to a store that he hoped would provide a solution for their problem. Before leaving school, heíd told his mother that he was going to the Park with his friend. Tom didnít like to lie, but he knew that their mother would never allow him to consider doing what he was going to do.
Tom was ten years old. Via e-mail with Sean a week before, Tom had learned that this new school year was turning out to be worse then the last. College was something that Tom didnít quite understand. To him, school was a place youíd visit to go to classes; not somewhere, you stayed!
"I donít get it. If Seanís school sucks so much, why did he go back?"
Despite the fact that they were almost a decade apart, as far back as Tom could remember heíd always been best friends with Sean. While they had their arguments, their parents always had a resolution that worked.
Tom hated how college had taken Sean the previous year. While Sean had told Tom that he would be going away to school, Tom had never been able to accept that Sean and he were going to grow apart and have to go their separate ways.
"If college was cool for Sean it might be okay. But if it sucks for him Ė Iím gonna fix all of that. We can be friends again."
Tom had heard via the older brother of one of his friendís friends that there was a man in a shop that could use real magic. According to the friendsí brother, the man could even make a person younger! Tom loved the idea of making Sean his age or only a bit older! Then, in Tomís mind they could be friends again!
"I hope I donít have to buy the spell," Tom said. "I hope have a lot of money."
A middle-aged couple gave Tom a glance of concern as he walked around them while continuing his soliloquy.
"What if Mom and Dad get upset? I know! Iíll make them younger too! Then weíll all win!"
Sean and Tomís Mother and Father were 45 and 46 respectively. Tom loved the idea of them all being young and being able to go back to the good old days when things were in his eyes, perfect. Tom knew that he was taking a risk with what he was doing. However, he considered the risk worth it if it would make things better.
The shop Tom was after was in sight. Tom rushed to it and entered it, a bell ringing as he pushed the door open. Inside, the shop seemed like a bookstore. There were several shelves full of books, with each shelf having a title to tell shoppers what type of books were in it.
Tom didnít understand. He reached into his track pants pocket and pulled out the paper with the storeís address. He confirmed he was in the right place.
For a few moments, Tom felt like the victim of a practical joke. Defeat washed over him.
"Why would he lie to me? Thatís not funny!" Tom said.
"Whatís not funny son?"
Tom turned in the direction of the voice to see a man that seemed a fair bit older then his parents standing before him. Strands of gray peppered the man's brown hair. He wore a white shirt and brown pants.
"My friend Frank has a friend named Wayne and Wayne has an older brother that told me that the guy that owns this place knows magic. I wanted to ask him to help me with something but this store doesnít look like a magic store!" Tom said.
"I happen to be that guy. Tell me young man, is this Wayne, as in Wayne Trenton?" the man asked.
Tom nodded. "Yeah. Do you know him?"
"Indeed I do," the man said.
"Then why would he say you can use real magic?"
The man looked back and forth. There were a few other customers in the store. "Son, I have some books on magic tricks but these are just tricks. I could however, show you a book with tricks that appear real. Itís in the back."
Tom cocked his head. He wondered if he could trust this man. Lessons on not going places with strangers rung through Tomís head. Tomís curiosity won out and he nodded his head. The man led Tom behind the counter and into the stock room.
The stockroom had several shelves on it filled with boxes. A slight breeze that Tom couldnít place the source of blew through it. Tom felt a slight pang of worry and wondered if he should turn around and leave. The man picked up a milk crate, turned it over and then sat on it.
"All right son, what has Wayne been saying and why would you desire access to magic?"
"Well, I umÖ" Tom looked at the floor, stuck his hands in his pockets and shuffled his left foot.
"Out with it lad!" The man said.
"Well, my bro is at college and he doesnít like it. It sucks that they give him so much homework! Is it possible to make him and my parents younger so me and my bro can stay friends?"
The man smiled. "My bro and I son."
"Itís more grammatically correct to say my bro and I."
"Um okay, but is there anything you can do?"
Tom looked around, removed his hands from his pocket and folded his arms. He shook his head and sighed.
"Who am I kidding," Tom said. "Thereís no such thing as magic. Why would I believe something like that? All I wanted to do was help Sean and now everyone is going to laugh at me!"
The man rubbed his chin and looked Tom in the eye. Tom felt a rush of cold air and a tingle run though his body that lasted for a few seconds.
"Young lady, do not let doubt cloud your mind. Perhaps magic is real," the man said.
"Lady? Hey, Iím not aÖ" Tom grabbed his mouth at the sound of a girlís voice leaving it when he spoke.
The man smiled and pointed to a mirror to Tomís right that Tom swore wasnít there a few seconds ago. Tom looked in the mirror and saw a girl his age looking back. She looked like what he gathered a female version of him would look like.
Tomís hands went from his mouth to in front of him. He gasped as he felt his shirt and pants. He grabbed the waist of his track pants and looked down. What he saw was something he never expected or wanted to see on his body. The instinct to flee was near impossible to resist. Tomís sense of self-preservation kept him from running. If he ran, heíd be stuck as a girl.
"No, this isnít Ė how did you Ė no, change me back! Make me a boy! I donít wana be a girl!"
The man sighed. "My dear, all things come at a cost."
A feeling of vulnerability coursed though Tom. If this man could change Tom's gender at will, then the man could do anything!
"But I Ė Iím a boy not a girl," Tom said. He got onto his knees and assumed a begging position as he felt tears forming in his eyes. "My friends are going to freak out! Iíll have to start wearing dresses and stuff! I donít wana give up video games or date guys!"
The man stood up and patted Tom on the shoulder. "Please calm down. I needed to demonstrate that my magic is real. I think showing you was far more effective then merely telling you."
"Yeah I Ė I guess so," Tom said, sobbing.
"Please, stand up," the man said.
Tom obeyed more out of fear then anything. He wiped away his tears.
"Being female isnít so bad," the man said. "As I said, there is a cost to everything. I would grand us all eternal youth and cure the sick and wounded if I could do it without repercussions. Think of it as a way of maintaining balance in the universe," the man said.
"But I have to be a girl? I donít how to be a girl! I like being a boy!"
Tom looked back and forth. His heart was racing and he felt beads of sweat dripping down his forehead. He dreaded going home and explaining to his mother that he was now a she. He also feared boys asking him out. It seemed as though he might have no choice in the matter!
"You see, I can make your brother closer to your age," the man said. "However, I will have to make some other changes. You see, we cannot just make your family younger alone."
Tom stamped his left foot. "If Iím a girl, people will ask how come! I canít be a girl! I donít know how to be a girl!"
"Yes, you will need to explain that. I again assure you that being a girl isnít so bad. You need to understand that this is not a joke nor is it a game. To be honest Tom, it might be better if I reversed this and we can left this room and behaved as though none of this happened."
Tom considered that option. He didnít like the idea of ignoring this chance to make things right.
"No! Iíd rather be a girl and have Sean around!"
"All right then, we go through with it."
"Just like that?" Tom asked.
"Just like that," The man said. "I can sense your desperation my friend. I enjoy helping people but I still need you to understand that everything has a cost. Iím afraid this will cost you more then just your gender."
"Youíre not gonna make me a donkey are you?" Tom asked.
The man smiled. "No, my friend. However, I will have to make you and your family a race that is humanoid but not human. You know of raccoon people correct?"
Tom nodded his head. "Yes um mister, am I going to have to change my name?"
"Iím afraid so. The name Tom doesnít fit a girl. Does Tanya work? Now, what do you know of raccoon people?"
Tom nodded. "Yeah Tanya is okay I guess. There are some raccoon people at our school. Theyíre okay and all. You want to make us like them?"
"Itís more a matter of I donít have much a choice in the matter. Remember the cost I mentioned? That is part of it."
"What if Sean doesnít want to be a raccoon girl?" Tom asked.
The man petted Tom on the head. "You can still back out if you wish."
Tom was terrified. He felt so weird. He had no desire to do girl stuff! However, if Sean was there with him, it might not be so bad. They could still do boy stuff like playing video games instead of with dolls. This was the 21st century and gender roles were not as strict as they were when Sean and Tomís grand parents and even parents were kids.
"No, Iíd rather be a raccoon girl then do nothing! So, can Sean be my age?" Tom asked.
"Like twins?" the man asked.
"Well, maybe like, weíre the same age but at the same time but we still look different," Tom said.
The man nodded his head. "All right. I should be able to arrange that."
Tom looked in the mirror, still in disbelief at his reflection. He knew that what he was proposing wasnít a joke.
"Youíre really going to do this for real?"
"But, um, why? You just met me. Why would you want to do something so nice for me?" Tom asked.
"Understand that while I am giving you what you want, as they say you canít have your cake and eat it too. You will become a raccoon people family. In a sense, you will be different people. Normally, Iíd ask your Mom and Dad about this. However, I have a feeling they might not be as enthusiastic about this as you are."
Tom nodded. "I donít care. I just wana be with Sean so we can be bros."
"You will also be female," The man said. "Please understand what this means. Thereís more to it then just an equipment change. I wonít force significant mental changes on you. However, you will probably need to wear dresses, at least on formal occasions. Your role in life will change. This isnít a joke Tom Ė I mean Tanya. Please donít jump into this if youíre not ready for it."
Tom looked in the mirror and then at his body. He didnít care what he looked like on the outside if Sean was back home and they were together. When they were old enough, they could go to school together! In his mind, if he had to wear dresses sometimes and they had to be raccoons, then it was worth it.
"Itís worth it. People always say that itís whatís inside that counts. Well, I donít care what we are on the outside as long as weíre together! If I have to give up my wiener Ė I donít care as long as I get Sean back," Tom said.
The man smiled. "Thatís one way of putting it. All right young lady, I can tell itís what you want."
Tom felt another chill and then the same tingle from before. When I looked in the mirror, he discovered that he was back to being his male self. However to confirm it, he stretched his shorts waistband forward and looked down. A sense of joy went through him when he confirmed he was a he as he righted the waistband.
"Iím a boy!" Tom said.
"Yes indeed. We canít have you enter the backroom as a boy and leave as a girl. Now, go home and prepare your family. I must prepare for this spell as it involved," the man said.
Tom nodded and turned around to leave. He stopped when he arrived at the door to the sales floor. "Thank you mister."
The man smiled. "Youíre welcome."
* * *
Sean closed his workbook with a sigh. It was late at night and he was exhausted and mentally worn out. Heíd managed to finish his homework assignments. Knowing that tomorrow would bring more and in a sense reset the dayís work however, overrode any sense of accomplishment.
In the hallway, Sean heard a group of students returning from a football game. They were cheering and laughing. The home team had won. Sean wasnít much of a fan of football. Anything however was better then studying all of the time. He just wished heíd had the time.
With a sigh, Sean stood up and stretched. He felt dirty; he needed a shower.
Sean walked into his bathroom, took his clothes off, turned on the shower and waited for the water to get to the right temperature before stepping in.
As he began to shampoo his hair, he felt a presence. It felt as though someone was standing on the other side of the shower curtain. Sean initially assumed the stress was playing games with his mind and ignored it.
When the sensation didnít fade, Sean pushed the curtain to reveal Ė nothing. He was as he expected, alone. As he closed the curtain, the sensation faded.
Must have been my imagination.
Seanís hair getting longer under his hands informed him that everything was not fine. He grabbed a hold of his hair as it finished growing. The hair reached just below his shoulders.
He looked at the shampoo bottle. Sean knew of nothing that could cause rapid hair growth.
"How Ė why Ė what could cause this? Damn it, I donít have time for this!"
If things had stopped at that point, the situation would have been a mere inconvenience to Sean. However, this was just the beginning.
Seanís skin tingled and his chest ached. He held his arms in front of him, watching with his mouth hanging open as his skin took on a softer tone. Arm and chest hair vanished and a slight belly that came from a lack of time to exercise flattened.
"What the hell?"
Sean felt as though he was falling; the room seemed to grow. Dizziness overcame Sean. He had to sit down before he tumbled. Avoiding blacking out grew harder by the second.
A tingle between his legs piqued Seanís attention. Sean looked; he couldnít not look. Terror and sorrow gripped Sean as his manhood shrunk. He looked away from the sight too horrible to witness.
When the sensations abated, Sean looked down.
The body he saw was shorter, younger and less developed. Regressing in age wasnít what upset Sean however. The fact that he appeared to be a girl had him gasping for air.
"Oh God Ė oh shit Ė damn it no," Sean cried.
Hearing a little girl swearing might have made Sean laugh if the little girl wasnít he.
"Iím a girl, my voice; it sounds like a little girlís voice. How did this happen? Whatíd did Ė who Ė help me!"
Sean stood up and managed to reach the facet to turn off the water. He stepped out of the shower and into the bathroom trembling. He felt between his legs, desperate to find something to indicate that even if he was younger that he was still a boy. Nothing greeted his hand.
Opening the bathroom door, Sean dripped water all over the carpet as he ran into the room. His lack of a roommate was now a blessing.
"I canít go to my classes like this! I donít have anything that would fit me! Why is thisÖ" Seanís eyes lit up. "I canít go to classes like this. No classes means no homework or studying!"
Sean shook his head. He knew it wasnít that easy. The thought hadnít of come out of nowhere; it seemed natural.
Memories of days he had to stay home sick as a kid played in his mind. As long as he wasnít too sick, he loved it when he didnít have to go to school. Such thinking was by this point an anachronism. Now, it seemed logical enough that not thinking that way was ludicrous.
"Iím a little girl and Iím thinking like one! Oh my God, I need to get help!" Sean said.
Running to his dorm room door, Sean opened it and stuck his head out. He saw several students walking down the hallway. He jumped back in and closed the door behind him, falling onto his rear end with a thud.
"Ouch, That hurt! If I go outside, those big kids will see me naked!" Standing up, Sean shook his head. "Big kids? Theyíre my age. Maybe a year or two older at most! Why is it so hard to think of them that way?"
Sean ran back into the bathroom and looked at his reflection. He pondered his situation as he dried himself off.
Okay, think, Iím a little girl at a college. Iím starting to think like a kid again; not that it bothers me. I should be home; I want to go home!
Sean considered his situation. He knew he couldnít stay there like this! Fear gripped him. This had happened with no apparent explanation. He wondered if others were suffering from the same problem.
"Damn it, I canít run around naked!"
Sean ran back to his door. When he saw his shoes, he noticed something odd about them. They were smaller; perhaps he wondered, small enough to fit him.
Kneeling down, Sean slipped his feet into the shoes and found that they were a comfortable fit.
How is that possible? What if my clothes have changed too?
Sean ran toward his dresser. When he opened it, he was relieved when he saw them as he remembered them. An idea hit Sean. He picked out a light blue hoodie and slipped it over his body. It went down to his knees, covering everything. The hood could cover most of his face.
"Where do I go? I donít feel right in this room any more. I canít stay at college if Iím a little girl. I mean, I might technically be a genius now but college is a place for grown ups, not kids," Sean said.
Sean cringed at the word. He knew he should say adults but the term grown up seemed acceptable.
He considered his options and opted to go to the house of Mr. Quinzon, a teacher he trusted; if anyone would believe Seanís story and have a solution, then other then his parents, it was Mr. Quizon. He lived about a forty-five minute walk from the college.
Sean tied his shoes before opening the door to his dorm room. The people from before were gone. His hair was still damp but Sean decided to ignore it. He put the hood over his head and nodded his head.
Iím so screwed.
Sean walked into the hallway and closed his door behind him with a sigh. He expected that someone would see him and call security. The thought terrified him. Police seemed a lot scarier to him now if he was the one in trouble. He wondered if they might understand after an explanation of his situation. Safety lessons often mentioned asking a police officer for help if one needed it.
No, they'll think Iím crazy and take me away. No, Sean realized, I need to get to Mr. Quizonís house.
Sean walked down the hallway. He was always looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was following him. By the time he arrived at the end of the hallway where the elevator was, he was feeling better. When he realized that the elevator was on its way up, he almost panicked.
A mad dash to the stairwell saved Sean from the trio of passengers seeing him as they left the elevator. Sean watched them through the crack of the heavy metal door that led to stairs. The three students were potential classmates, equals to Sean earlier that evening. He was a lost and confused girl to them now. Theyíd consider tales of an unseen force changing her from a young man into a little girl a product of her imagination. Sean knew better. However, theyíd have no way of knowing he wasnít lying.
Sean walked down the stairs, the echo of each step magnifying Seanís trepidation. He felt much like a child trying to sneak out of their house or sneaking a cookie late at night.
When he reached the bottom of the stairwell, Sean opened the door leading to the ground level. A part of him wished he didnít have to be in this situation. Without a cure, the limits of a child were his limits. However, those limits also offered him freedom from the attrition of schoolwork.
Sean walked through the hallway. He watched for cameras, fearing them seeing him and somehow summing a security team.
Itís amazing. Itís the same place but my perception of it has changed. It makes it seem like a different place entirely. Mr. Quizon will love this.
Mr. Quizon had taught philosophy. Heís introduced Sean to all sorts of different ways of thinking.
When Sean walked past a mirror and saw his reflection, he felt strange. Being a little girl felt wrong; he was getting constant access to a female body.
Sean tried to shake his unease off as he walked at a brisk pace through the lobby. He did his best not to think of the place as somewhere he lived for most of the year as opposed to somewhere that seemed larger then life.
When Sean reached the exit, he felt a surge of victory go through him. Something as simple as leaving his dorm apartment was once a mundane event. Now, getting out of there without someone catching him was an accomplishment.
Sean walked out into the night. The bite of the cool autumn air reminded of him his vulnerability. He walked down the sidewalk leading away from the apartment toward the sidewalk by the road that would lead out of the college. Knowing the dangers his new form presented him made Sean nervous. However, the danger also gave him a sense of adventure. His body had undergone something fantastic. The world felt a lot more interesting. Sean didnít know if becoming a little girl had changed his perceptions but somehow, the promise of adventure was enough to calm his fears.
He walked through the college grounds until he was at the road leading to the main street. In Seanís mind, there was a set of objectives in the main objective of getting to Mr. Quizonís house. Getting away from his college was the first one.
An approaching car alerted Sean. He leapt over and behind a nearby bush just before the car passed by.
That was cool but kinda scary. They might have caught me!
Sean lay looking up at the sky for several seconds. Some clouds passed in front of what was a half moon. Leaves stuck to Seanís hoodie and he had dirt of the lower part of his legs. He stood up, brushed himself off and continued on the path.
He made it to the main road and turned right. Walking at a fast pace to keep warm, Sean did his best to stay calm while keeping an eye out for any potential threats. His perception of danger seemed to match that of a child. Sean remembered his parentís warnings a decade before as though theyíd only warned him yesterday.
After a little over half an hour of walking, Sean made it to the side street that led to another side street, that led to yet another that Mr. Quizon lived on. Sean walked down the street only to hear another car approaching. This time there was no bush to provide cover. There were however, trash cans. Sean leapt behind them as the car passed by.
Something tingled above Seanís rear end. He looked back to see something pushing against the back of his hoodie. Also feeling the hoodie preventing its escape shocked and terrified Sean.
What the heck is that?
Sean pulled up the back of the hoodie and watched agape as a bald tail swished back and forth. The tail wasnít bald for long. Fur sprouted all over it. Sean couldnít quite tell the color because of the dark. The fact that he had a tail however was enough to warrant panic.
"Oh my God! I have a tail. Oh my God, Oh my God!"
Sean looked close and saw that the tail had four black rings! That looks like a raccoonís tail. But how is that possible? Iím not a raccoon; Iím a girl! I mean, Iím a girl body wise but I was a boy before this happened.
"Shit, oh shit," Sean said. "Why is this happening to me?"
Hearing such language coming from a girl didnít shock Sean at this point. He had other concerns that took precedent over watching his language. Standing up, Sean started running. Fear of his new appendage fueled his determination to get to Mr. Quizonís house.
Sean only ran a few houses down before he felt an itch on his face. He stopped to feel his face in time to feel fur growing on it! Something also seemed to push against his hands! Sean knew that he was growing a muzzle. Knowing he was helpless to do anything about it filled him with horror and fear.
What if Iím going to be a complete raccoon? Iíll never get home or be able to get help!
Sean resumed running as the sense of urgency exploded from within. Mr. Quizon was a grownup and a smart one at that. Sean knew Mr. Quizon could help!
As Sean made it to the second to last Street in his journey, he realized that his mental game had taken on a terrifying parameter. Now he had to satisfy his objectives before time ran out!
Sean was passing the third house when the terrifying wave of change resumed. He stopped running.
He opened what was now a short muzzle and held his hand in front of it. How he knew to do this, he wasnít sure. It did however, show the light his now glowing teeth produced. With his tongue, Sean felt them growing sharper and longer.
With his other hand, he felt the area around his nostrils change. His nostrils became horizontal and what most would see as his nose became a bit larger. By the time his teeth were finished changed, Sean could also feel heíd acquired whiskers at the sides of his muzzle.
Oh my God, Iím turning into an animal! Becoming a little girl wasnít enough. Now Iím going to be an animal!
Sean didnít manage more then a few additional steps before the night went silent as his human ears were absorbed into his head. Gasping and whimpering with terror out of being deaf, Sean wanted to scream for help. However, his hearing returned when two new furry round ears grew on the top of his head, poking through his long brown hair. Sean felt around his head, unable to believe what his hands were telling him.
Running the rest of the way to the street Mr. Quizon lived on, Sean stopped in his tracks. His skin itched and he felt an urge to remove his hoodie. He did so in time to see fur sprout all over the rest of his body. It was itchy and Sean couldnít help but scratch all over like a madman.
His scratching seemed to relive the itching better as it subsided. Sean held out his hands and saw not only that dark fur was growing on them but also that he had short black claws where his fingernails used to be.
"Okay, I get it, Iíve turned into a raccoon girl. But how; why?"
Sean picked up the hoodie but he felt different about it. He didnít feel naked now that he had fur. Sean remembered that raccoon people tended to dress light and more to look good then for warmth (unless it got cold enough). He sprinted the rest of the way to Mr. Quizonís house. When he arrived, he ran up to the door and rang the doorbell.
Come on, come on, you gotta help me!
The front door opened a minute later; revealing a bathrobe clad man that Sean knew was Mr. Quizon. The man now towered over Sean. Sean couldnít help it; he ran towards and hugged Mr. Quizonís legs.
"Whoa, easy there honey! What are you doing up at such a late hour? Where are your parents? Is everything all right?" Mr. Quizon asked.
Sean let go of Mr. Quizonís legs.
"Sir, itís me Sean! Something turned me into a little girl and then a raccoon person! I know itís crazy but you gotta believe me! Youíre the closest person I know that can help! Please, please, donít leave me out here alone!" Sean cried.
Quizon petted Seanís head. "Itís all right honey. Whateverís wrong, Iíll see what I can do. You can come in."
* * *
Ten minutes later, Sean was sitting in Mr. Quizonís kitchen. She had decided to keep her hoodie off. Mr. Quizon sat with a coffee in hand across the table from Sean.
"All right, letís try this again. Youíre Sean Garrison, a student of mine from last year. I of course remember you, but youíre not a raccoon girl," Mr. Quizon said.
Sean nodded his head. "I know itís hard to believe but something did this to me. Wait, can I look in a mirror? I never saw what I looked like, it was too dark!"
"All right," Mr. Quizon said.
Sean walked to Mr. Quizonís bathroom, which had a full-length mirror. When he reached the mirror, Sean saw a raccoon girl with reddish brown fur on most of her body (albeit lighter on her chest and belly). She had white fur around her mask and down the sides of her muzzle. She also had green eyes. Physically, Sean was a female humanoid raccoon. He didnít know why or how, but he knew he physically ten years old. As strange as it seemed to Sean, seeing this reflection didnít surprise him. It seemed normal to him although he knew he used to be a boy and human.
"I guess I canít think of myself as a boy any more," Sean said.
"How do I know youíre Sean and that this isnít a joke? Even assuming Magic caused this. Iíve heard of it but why would someone turn you into a raccoon girl?" Mr. Quizon asked.
"I donít know," Sean said. "Maybe someone wanted me to be younger. I can prove itís me! Remember my paper where I used the idea you taught us about our perceptions of things being as much of an influence instead of how things really are? I remembered that my perception of my dorm is different now. It seemed scarier to me, like I couldnít live there any more."
Mr. Quizon took a sip of his coffee. "Yes, Sean did mention that and I taught that. What else seems different to you?"
"Well, you do," Sean said. "I think of you as a grownup. I feel like you can help me and solve things. Even though I know grownups arenít perfect, I feel like I can trust you to make things right."
Mr. Quizon sighed. "Honey, Iím sorry but I donít know how to even begin to solve this problem. Iím sorry again. If you are Sean, it seems wrong of me to call you honey."
Sean turned around. "Itís okay now. I feel fine with it. But, maybe my Mom and Dad can help me? But, theyíre a long ways away. I remember them seeming closer even earlier today but now, they seem so far that itís like I can never get back to them."
"Weíll find a way to get you home Sean."
"Then you believe me?" Sean asked.
Mr. Quizon nodded. "It seems my perception of you must change as well. I donít see why you would lie about such a thing. But, once more quiz to be sure."
"Oh man, I hate pop quizzes," Sean said.
Mr. Quizon grinned. "I hated them too when I was in school but we need to be sure. First question, what did you get on that report you mentioned and when was it due?"
Sean blinked. "You remember what I got?"
Mr. Quizon smiled. "Yes, I do."
"I got an 89, which for me was really good," Sean said. "It was due on February 23rd."
Mr. Quizon smiled and took another sip of his coffee. "Youíre right. Last question, what was a famous quote I used in the first day at class?"
Sean needed several seconds to remember the quote. "You quoted President Kennedy when he said, A man does what he must ó in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures ó and that is the basis of all human morality."
"Thatís right. Well, I believe you Sean. Thatís you," Mr. Quizon said.
"Itís kinda true," Sean said.
"I was having a hard time but I studied despite wanting to quit because I kinda had to even if it was hard and upset me. When this happened, I came to your house despite being scared and knowing it was dangerous to run around as a little girl this late at night."
Mr. Quizon nodded. "And now that youíre a kid again; a girl at that?"
"I dunno," Sean said. "I guess I kinda need to be a girl and a kid even if it seems kinda weird or maybe a bit scary. Itís nice that I can be with my brother now. We were good friends and it sucked that going to college meant we had to separate. If I have to be a girl to have that I guess I have to be a girl."
The lights in the room flickered and went dark, plunging the room into pitch darkness.
"Whatís going on? Wait, Mr. Quizon, I feel like Iím going home now. Thank you for being here for me!" Sean said.
"If thatís true, then youíre welcome Sean!"
A glow that seemed to come from all around Sean surrounded him. He felt a bit dizzy. The feeling faded as the brightness vanished and the lights came back on.
Sean needed only a second to realize that he wasnít in Mr. Quizonís house. He seemed to be in a bathroom. As before, being a young humanoid raccoon seemed normal. He remembered being an adult male human but his current form seemed the proper one in the here and now.
"Was I really a grown up man just a hours minutes ago?" Sean asked.
He heard his motherís voice, asking him if he was all right.
"Mom, is that you?" Sean asked.
Of course, itís she. But why does being home seem normal?
He remembered his human life but it felt like it was part of the past. He was a raccoon girl now. He remembered the lessons from school and life that heíd learned growing up. Even his intelligence seemed to remain.
"Yes, itís me. Come out of the bathroom, we need to discuss something. Your Ė sister is here too. She has something to say."
Sister; Since when do I have aÖ
It hit Sean like a ton of bricks. An unseen force edited the image in his mind of Tom. If Sean were a computer or robot, someone would have edited his current database entry. The current entry would list Tom as a gray furred (with black hair) raccoon girl that was ten years old, Seanís non-identical twin and named Tanya.
Sean opened the bathroom door and for the moment ignored her lack of clothing. Standing before her was a gray furred female raccoon woman. Somehow, Sean knew that she was thirty years instead of forty-five. Tanya stood to their motherís right clad in overalls.
"Mom, youíre a raccoon! Weíre all raccoons!" Sean said.
Seanís mother petted Tanyaís head.
"You have your sister to thank for this."
Sean looked at Tanya.
"You did this? Weíre twins now arenít we? Your name is Tanya. Iím Ė Sarah!"
Sean now Sarah looked around the hall. It looked just like their house but she felt as though something was different.
She heard the sound of someone coming upstairs. The sight of a tall raccoon man with fur Sarahís color greeted them. He too was now thirty years old.
"It seems your sister sought help for your problem. She wanted you two to be friends again."
Before Sarah could react, Tanya ran at and hugged her.
"You donít have to be away now!" Tanya said.
"I remember being myself, but this way feels normal," Sean said.
"Well," their father said. "It seems that Tanya asked for help from a man that knows magic. He apparently could make you two the same age but at a cost. You two being girls and all of us raccoon people was that cost."
Tanya released the hug. "I Just wanted us to be together. Even if we look different on the outside, weíre still siblings now. I think itís worth it."
"Well," their mother said. "We did get 15 years of our life back. Thatís no small gift."
Tanya had granted Sarahís wish. She felt more carefree and was free from her college work. While being a girl was odd, being able to experience childhood with her academic and life knowledge intact meant things would be better this time.
"You could have asked you know," Sarah said.
"Would you have said yes?"
"When I turned into a raccoon man on my last break at work this evening, I received more then a few strange looks," their father said.
"Did they get scared Dad?" Tanya asked.
"Some did but when they realized I was still me, I think a couple were almost jealous. Well, John was, but Johnís a bit odd, which is okay. Zack said he was happy for me to be a fellow raccoon guy. He didnít seem to care that I was born human and was human until this evening."
"I was watching TV, the news to be exact," their mother said. "Then I experienced some breaking news of my own first hand. Itís one heck of a change. But if it means getting fifteen years of our life back and that you two are happy, perhaps itís worth it."
"I could find that guy and ask him to change us back," Tanya said.
Sarah considered it for a few moments. She didnít want to go back to all that homework or being away from Tanya. In truth, Sarah missed the days they had together. Now that they were the same age, it seemed they could have even more fun.
"No, I donít want to go back to that!" Sarah said.
"Well, my manager seems all right with it. Seems that heís encountered magic of his own before. We should be all right," their father said.
Sarah considered it further. She looked forward to this newfound youth. To re-live the days where her entire days could revolve around a bike ride or some fun new video game (and despite being a girl, she still found that she wanted to play them) was appealing to her. She knew that school would be a lot easier with her retained knowledge.
"So, Ďsis besides getting dressed first, what do you want to do?" Tanya asked.
"I think itís about bed time young ladies," their mother said.
"Oh okay," both raccoons girls said almost in unison.
Sarah went to return to her room when a horrified expression crossed her face.
"My clothes! Theyíre all back at school! I donít have anything to wear! Iíll have to be naked!"
A strange buzzing sound filled the house. It only lasted for a few seconds but it was enough for the group to realize that it came from Sarahís room. Sarah dashed toward her room. She wanted to see how it looked and wanted to discover what the sound was.
The gasp she made when she reached the threshold of her room and saw it as she remembered but also different was audible throughout the house. Her bed was where she remembered it, as was her dresser and the three posters she had.
However, as she walked into her room with her parents and sister following, she saw that things were different yet similar. A light blue carpet had replaced her dark blue carpet. Of the three posters (that she knew sheíd brought to college), the two posters that were of beautiful women were now of teenaged men, one of who was a raccoon person, the other a human. The third poster remained that of a leopard in a jungle.
Her computer that sheíd brought to college was in its place in her room.
Sarah ran toward her dresser and looked through it. All of her clothes were there. As with her room, they were different yet similar. Most of her blue clothing was gone. With reddish brown fur, she knew it would clash. Black had replaced most of the blue. Though she still had blue jeans (with straps for her tail), An examination of her closet revealed dresses in place of her suits but she was willing to live with that.
"I guess this answers our question," their father said.
"So here we are, raccoon people, years younger and my sons are my daughters are your twins," their mother said.
Despite the differences, they felt almost normal to Sarah. She knew how they used to be however, their current state was somehow right.
"Guess so," Sarah said.
"But, now you donít have to worry about going away to school for a long time and we can be friends again!" Tanya said.
Sarah turned and looked at her former younger brother. Her college days were already feeling more like the future then the present. The stress of her work was fading away for few would except a raccoon girl to go to college! With her knowledge of mistakes sheíd made, Sarah knew she could make these years better this time around. With Tanya around, theyíd have each other.
"I suppose I can get used to being a raccoon person. However, now that youíre my daughters, things are going to change," their father said.
Sarah looked at her father. "What do you mean?"
"Well young lady, youíre not going to be wearing revealing clothes for one. I want to see any boyfriends you have. No waiting on the street for them; that goes for both of you."
Hours before, the idea of dating a boy would have seem not only alien but also offensive to Sarah. But, that was when she was still Sean. Now, the idea was normal to her. If anything, she knew how boys thought and could make an interesting girlfriend.
"Donít worry Dad, Iíll be good," Sarah said.
"Weíll keep an eye on each other," Tanya said.
"Now, I believe itís about time for bed. Come on Tanya, letís let Sarah get dressed," their father said.
Sarah realized that while ten PM would have seemed almost early when she was Sean, as Sarah, felt late.
The group left Sarahís room, closing her door behind them. Sarah retrieved a black shirt and pajama bottoms from her dresser. She could have worn a nightgown; even wearing one might have felt normal but she felt more at home in a shirt and pants. She sat down at her chair and turned her monitor on.
The desktop wallpaper that greeted her was among her normal rotation, this time one of an Aircraft carrier.
After e-mailing Mr. Quizon to assure him that she was all right, Sarah logged onto her messaging program and saw that her friendís list was intact. Perhaps now it was unusual for her to talk to people so much older then her. However, they were still her friends and she knew enough to be careful and stay safe.
It wasnít long before a message from one of her friends came through.
With a smile, Sarah began her reply. Guess what happened to me today!