Lost and Found
The blue skies and warm weather of summer; a time when kids and teens can relax and enjoy their youth without the worries of homework or tests.
Seventeen year olds Kurt Hong and Sherri Cusik had been good friends and neighbors for eleven years. They had dated for the past two of those years and were just starting to get serious. Enjoying every moment of the fresh, brisk air, they talked while briskly walking through an older part of the neighborhood that backed onto a forested region.
They walked by a house surrounded by a black metal fence. It had a picturesque yard full of beautiful flowers and shrubs. A powder blue cobblestone walkway lead up to the front porch. Kurt slyly looked into the yard as they passed the front gate.
"Rumor has it a witch lives in that house" he said. "I think people are just being paranoid. There haven't been any witches around in centuries."
"I've heard those rumors too. I don't think it's worth risk finding out if they're true," Sherri nervously replied.
"Come on Sherri, you don't actually believe that do you?" Kurt said, looking into the yard at the flowers. "That yard is where I got you those flowers the last few times. I couldn't find them anywhere else but that doesn't make her a witch. She probably has a really good gardener. The yard has hundreds of them, I doubt the owner will miss a few. Come on, let's take a couple."
Kurt had always been a daring type of guy. He had to admit that he probably stole the flowers for the thrill of taking something from someone people thought was a witch.
"I'm flattered that you took those flowers for me, but that's stealing and you should stop. If she really is a witch and you've taken stuff from her, she'll be really mad." Tugging at Kurt's right arm, Sherri beckoned him to continue walking.
"You worry too much. Nothing is going to happen!" breaking free of Sherry's grasp, Kurt walked towards the gate and slowly climbed it. Sherri could only watch as he ran down the cobblestone walkway and up to a bed of large purple flowers.
Bending down, Kurt dug at one of the flowers. Unfortunately, the front door of the old house opened, revealing a middle aged woman dressed in black.
"You again! This is final time! I will not tolerate these trespasses onto my property and this theft of my flowers anymore!"
Kurt quickly arose and faced the woman.
"Oh come on! I only took a few flowers, it's not like you don't have any left." Turning around Kurt started walking away from the house "If you'll excuse me, I have to go now."
The woman walked out of the house and down the walkway, stopping beside the flowerbed. Looking at it, she frowned.
"Oh, you will be going all right, that's for damn sure."
Kurt turned around, barley able to contain his amusement.
"Yikes lady; could you be any more corny?"
"You think this is all a big joke do you?"
"Come on lady, it's only a few flowers I stole, it's not like it's a big deal, you've got hundreds!"
"It is a big deal and it seems I have to show you why. If you are insistent on being a thief, it seems you shall truly become one," the woman pointed her right index finger at Kurt. He could have sworn the finger glowed before a strange tingly feeling flowed through his body. It quickly passed and he dismissed the feeling as his imagination. He walked back towards the gate, opening it when he reached it. Closing it behind him, he faced Sherri and looked back at the woman to see her smiling before walking back into her house and closing the door.
"Man Kurt, you almost got it there! Are you okay?" Sherri asked.
"Of course, why wouldn't I ..." a strange itching on Kurt's chest and face stopped him.
"What's wrong?" Sherri asked.
"Oh, nothing, I just felt a little itchy all of the ..." he suddenly stopped and grabbed his belly before keeling over in pain.
"Kurt what's wrong?" Sherri yelled as she knelt down beside him. Not only was Kurt sweating profusely but his normally slightly tanned complexion was darker, especially around his eyes.
His belly itched with the sensation of a million ants crawling on it. He was breathing heavy and scratching at it. Sherri gently lifted the bottom of his light blue shirt up and gasped.
"What is it? What's happening to me?" Kurt cried, the upset in his voice obvious.
Sherry's expression was of shock as she stared at his abdomen. It was completely covered in a pelt of brown fur! Kurt eyes widened and he gasped as he saw the fur. A shiver ran down his spine when he touched it with his right hand.
The fur was warm, soft and very pleasant to the touch. Under different circumstances, he may have enjoyed it. However, the realization of what was happening to him filled his face with terror. He looked at Sherri, who responded by gently touching the fur. Her touch was soft, almost sensual. For a few blissful seconds, Kurt felt as if everything was going to be all right.
Unfortunately, his contentment was quickly broken when his hands began to tingle. It almost felt like his hands were being molded like clay as the skin, muscles, bones and nerves altered into a new shape. Fearing the worst, he was too terrified to watch. Sherri stopped petted the fur on his belly and watched the process.
When it stopped, Sherri looked down at them before looking back a him. The look on her face was enough to convince him something was terribly wrong.
He sighed deeply before holding his hands in front of his face. To his shock and horror, his hands looked like paws! They still had five digits but without a thumb and each digit was tipped with a sharp, black claw.
"My hands..." he moaned "They're paws!"
Sherri held him close, hoping to keep him calm.
"I know. I don't know how far this is going to go but no matter what, I'll help you get though it"
Kurt's jaw suddenly hurt like hell and he cradled it with his right paw. Although he had shaved the previous day, what felt like several weeks growth of hair covered his face. His bewilderment turned to alarm when he realized this wasn't hair, but fur. He looked at Sherri and gasped as he touched it.
She was unable to do anything but watch as Kurt's red hair fell out, quickly replaced with brown fur. Much of his face was now covered in fur. It was brown on his forehead and nose with a black mask surrounded with white that flowed to his jaw; the coloration of a raccoon.
Sherri couldn't accept being powerless to stop her boyfriend's metamorphosis into a raccoon before her eyes. She couldn't bear to tell him that she knew.
Feeling a warmth and pressure within his jaw, Kurt cupped his mouth with both of his paws. He could see brown fur growing on his arms. Unfortunately, he was too preoccupied by his jaw pushing against his paws to notice.
Before Sherry's eyes, the bones in Kurt's jaw and nose expanded and reshaped into a short muzzle. Kurt's teeth tingled as they became sharp and pointed!
He felt the rest of his skull re-shaping as his ears moved to the top of his head, becoming rounded and furred. He closed both of his eyes suddenly and when he re-opened them, Sherri saw that they were both now black. New animal senses began overwhelming Kurt. Sounds that were previously inaudible were loud and clear and formerly louder sounds now blasted at his ears like a speaker set to full volume. His head dashed back and forth as he tried to make some sense of the sounds. Feeling his changing face and head, Kurt gasped in shock at the animalistic feel of them.
"No!" he cried, his eyes tearing up. "This isn't fair, I don't want to be an animal! Please Sherri, help me! I don't want this!" he cried. Knowing his pleas were in vain only increased his anguish.
The rest of his skin began to crawl and itch as the brown fur began sprouting. What were only a few strands soon grew into patches and then a thick luxurious pelt. For him, it felt as it the temperature had increased dramatically. He had since lost the ability to sweat and without really thinking, started panting. Although he couldn't really see it, Sherri was able to see his tongue, it was pink and longer then a human tongue.
Strange thoughts that both terrified and fascinated him were flowing though his mind. He found himself wondering why he was wearing clothes. Without a second thought he tore his shoes, shirt, pants and undergarments off. Finally free of the human clothes, he felt cooler and more relaxed.
"Kurt, why did you take your clothes off?" Sherri asked.
"My fur protects me, I don't need clothes." he answered.
"No Kurt, that's the animal talking." Grabbing Kurt's right paw and holding it tight, she pleaded with him "Please fight it! Don't let it win!"
Kurt sadly looked at Sherri, realizing that even if he were to retain his mentality, it didn't change the fact that he would soon be an animal. The thoughts of his future were beginning to be replaced with images of living in the forest as an animal. It both terrified and saddened him. All of his hopes and plans for the future were gone; all because of a mistake.
His torso was getting chubbier as he felt a terrible sinking feeling. The world seemed to be growing as he started shrinking.
His proportions changed as his arms got shorter and the bones in his hips, legs and neck reshaped for walking on all fours.
His toenails grew into claws as the bones in his toes reshaped. The lengths and widths of the bones molded until all of his toes were about the same width. The lengths altered until the two innermost toes on both feet were the longest with the outermost toes the shortest.
Sherri could see the desperation and feelings of hopelessness in his eyes. She could see him slowly giving up. The battle between human and animal mentality being waged inside his mind was evident by his anguished expression. Desperate to keep him calm and focused, she started rubbing his belly. For a few seconds it seemed to be working. His heart rate slowed as closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation. He was almost calmed when he was jolted by strange tingling at the base of his spine. He opened his eyes in time to see a long bushy ringed tailed sprout from it. He instantly recognized it was the tail of a raccoon!
Looking up at Sherri, Kurt got up, standing on his hind legs. He started pawing at Sherry's red shirt as he quietly whimpered.
"No, I don't want this! I want my human life! I don't want to be a ..." he was unable to finish the sentence before his vocal cords altered, making human speech impossible. Now, only a warble emanated from his muzzle!
He touched his muzzle, shocked that this sound was coming out of him. He looked at Sherri in shock and then down at himself. He was looking at the body of a raccoon. When he touched his furry chest with his paws, he began to sob uncontrollably.
Suddenly finding it difficult to concentrate, he tried his best to think of something. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tried, his thoughts seemed insistent on being simple and based more on stimulus and emotion rather then words and experience.
He quickly finding himself seeing Sherri as a potential threat rather then his girlfriend. He tried to shake the feeling off but instinct was quickly overpowering him, forcing him to think like an animal. After a few short seconds, everything in him was saying to flee.
Unable to control the instincts, he ran away from the human and towards the forest as fast as his stout body would carry him. Tears filling her eyes, Sherri desperately called out his name, but he no longer understood human speech.
Standing up, she wiped her eyes before picking up Kurt's clothes. Looked towards the witch's house, she vowed that she would have revenge, find Kurt and help him, no matter how long it took.
10 years later
The effects of ten long fruitless years of searching for Kurt were not pleasant on Sherri. Search teams had given up on finding Kurt years ago. The police had long since interrogated the witch. Unfortunately, even if they believed Sherry's story, there was little they could do to force the witch to restore Kurt. Multiple appeals to the witch to restore Kurt had unfortunately been in vain.
Sherri had never accepted Kurt was gone. For her, finding him was an obsession. Even pleas from both her and even Kurt's family to let him go were futile. While their accedence was difficult to accept; she knew that spending a decade as a raccoon would be enough for almost anyone to lose themselves in it. Sherri conjectured his family felt he had and that it was best to let him be. Believing that Kurt deserved better then to live out his life as a wild animal, Sherri wasn't willing to give up on him, even if he could never be human again. Unfortunately, she had no reliable way to ascertain if a raccoon she saw was him. There were times when one responded to his name, but had always ran when she approached. She knew that given a raccoon's life span, the odds of Kurt still being alive were not good but was hopeful the witch's spell had kept his aging rate human.
Six months after Kurt's transformation, a mysterious man claiming to be a powerful mage had approached Sherri. He gave her access to volumes of books that would allow her to learn magic. While he couldn't restore Kurt himself, he had been hopeful Sherri would be able to eventually use the magic to force the witch to.
Today Sherri had reason for optimism, she had just completed her final lesson. Now she felt she could force the witch to restore him. Having him back was all that mattered to her; even if it took months to rehabilitate him. Should the witch not co-operate; Sherri planned on transforming the witch as she had transformed Kurt.
Poetically, a storm was raging. Wearing blue jeans, a tee-shirt, goulashes with a white raincoat, Sherri locked up her house before walking through the neighborhood to the witches house. With water pouring down her face, she surveyed the house and deeply sighed, it appeared eerily similar to the way it did on that notorious day.
"Kurt, if you're still alive and can hear me, then just hang on a little longer, you should be yourself again soon."
The area was momentarily lit up by lightning and for a moment, Sherri thought she saw a raccoon standing in the yard watching her.
When another flash of lightning illuminated the area, the raccoon was gone.
"Kurt, I don't know if that was you or not. If it was, then stay here, I'm going to make that witch change you back."
Walking over to the gate, she found it locked. Her magic allowed her to effortlessly unlock and open it. She walked down the cobblestone path leading to the front door, pounding heavily on the wooden door when she reached it. When the door open a few minutes later, the witch stood there dressed casually in jeans and a tee-shirt.
"You again?" she asked. Looking closer at Sherri, she frowned. "If you're expecting me to change Kurt back, you're wasting your time."
"Are you saying he's dead?" Sherri asked with trepidation.
"No, he's very much alive. My spell assured he'd live a long life as an animal. Spending a decade as an animal has had its effects on him. I still see him on occasion and when he looks at me, I don't see a human mind in his eyes, I see an animal mind. It's time you accepted he's an animal. Now, get off my property unless you care to join him."
"Why not change him back? Certainly he's paid for stealing from you by now? He deserves better then this!"
"You don't get it do you? He's no longer a human in an animals body, he is an animal! He was a thief and brought this fate upon himself. Let him go, live your life and be happy that you didn't share his fate."
"I don't believe that. If you change him back, he can re-gain his humanity. You have nothing to gain by forcing an animal life on him!"
"My decision is final, now get off my property before I do something equally unpleasant to you"
"If you wont change him back" Sherri said, slowly lowering her hood. "Then I have no choice but to make you pay for what you did to him on that day. You took away his hopes and dreams. Now it's your turn to lose those things."
The witch arrogantly folded her arms, grinning evilly.
"What pray tell do you plan on doing to me child? You can't seriously hope to harm me."
Sherry's right index finger sparked with blue light as she quickly chanted a spell. Before the witch could react, Sherri had already zapped her.
The witches skin itched as gray fur began sprouting on her arms and face. She felt the black fur growing around her eyes, frowning in anger.
"Maybe now you'll understand the horror you've put Kurt through" Sherri angrily said before smiling in victory.
As the bones in her jaw began to change, the witch touched her mouth, feeling the prick of growing black claws.
"You impudent brat! Do you really think your powers can do anything to me? I can easily change myself back!"
The witch never fathomed anyone could challenge her using magic but she was wrong.
"Think again! You can't reverse this! Even if you do manage to halt it, you'll be more of a monster then you already are!" Sherri retorted.
Sherri enjoyed watching the witch getting uncomfortable as the fur spread across her body, making her scratch and feel uncomfortably warm.
The witch tried to reverse the transformation, cursing under her breath when she didn't succeed.
Feeling a pulling at the base of her spine, the witch reached around and felt something pushing at the back of her pants. She grimaced in pain as her new appendage quickly pushed its way through the fabric.
"If I am to be an animal, then so shall you! But you will not have the dignity of joining your friend as an animal, your form will alienate you from both human and animal worlds." she said. Sherri tried to escape, but she wasn't fast enough to avoid the witch's glowing right index finger. She quickly found herself jolted with purple energy that made her dizzy for several seconds as it flowed through her body. Knowing the witch had started something terrible within her, she took one last look at her as she turned around, running away as fast as she could.
"Run all you want child. My spell is within your body, you cannot escape it," the witch said, cackling mockingly as she slammed the door.
Sherri stammered down the walkway, tumbling to the ground just as she got past the gate. Her stomach hurt like hell and her muscles and joints ached.
"What did she do to me?" she desperately yelled. She chanted a reversal spell but it didn't work, whatever the witch had done could not be stopped!
Her skin was itched with the feeling of a thousand insects crawling over her. She got on her hands and knees and managed to crawl a few meters but quickly lost her balance.
Suddenly feeling very hot, she threw her raincoat off. What she saw terrified her. The very fine black hair on her arms was significantly thicker and longer. Touching the hair on her lower right arm, she found it soft and silky, almost like fur. The realization of what was happening made her feel ill.
"Oh my God, no!" she yelled.
A intense burning sensation encompassed her feet as their bones began remolding. Sitting down, she hastily removed her shoes and socks, feeling some relief as the rain hit her feet.
Her hands began to tingle as the bones in her fingers started changing. As if that weren't enough, her jaw was starting to ache.
She held her hands in front of her face, watching as her fingers shrank, becoming stubbier. Her thumbs all but vanished into her hands, leaving only sharp white claws. Her fingernails were growing into sharp, white, retractable claws.
She fought back the tears in a desperate attempt to stay in control.
Pulling off her shirt, she saw a pelt of fur had covered her torso. The sight of it, evoked terror within her.
She blinked as her pupils became slitted; her irises turning from light blue to bright yellow.
Feeling hair graze the back of her shoulders, she grabbed a lock of it, holding it in front of her face. She was slightly perturbed that on top of losing her humanity, she'd have to deal with managing such long hair.
Warmth surrounded her face; her cheek and jaw bones feeling like putty. Her jaw slowly expanded into a blunt muzzle; her teeth growing sharp and pointed. Running her thickening tongue over them, she realized the damage they could inflict upon the witch.
The fur already had spread to her legs, leaving them warm and itchy. She quickly removed her jeans. Gently caressing the fur, she reveled at its softness.
Her toes already had claws and her feet were getting longer. She watched as her ankles and knees adjusted in form and location. Her feet arched up into a digitigrade position as her ankles raised to almost the previous level of her knees.
She felt a strange flowing sensation in her tailbone. What started with a small hairless stub soon expanded into a new appendage that pushed against the back of her underwear. Realizing what was happening, she quickly removed her underwear.
Turning her head, she watched the stub grew into a meter long tail as it was quickly covered in black fur. The pain from pulling at it confirmed it was hers.
She managed to stand up, her stance now digitigrade.
The final stages of her metamorphoses completed as her ears moved to the top of her head, became pointed and started twitching wildly. The rain teeming down on her fur felt bizarre and the crashes of thunder were painfully loud with her enhanced hearing.
She looked in a large pool of water that had formed by the curb. Her reflection was a cat person with jet black fur clad in a bra. Gazing at the witch's house she frowned before looking at the sky and screaming as a flash of lightning poetically lit up the area.
Water pouring down her face, Sherri breathed deeply in rage as she stared at the witches house. She looked down at her vicious claws and briefly considered killing the witch. Knowing such an act would likely mean both she Kurt would never be saved stopped her.
Anger over not only having failed to save Kurt but losing her own humanity nearly consumed her. That fact that she got the witch as good as the witch had gotten her was of little consolation. Knowing that Kurt was still alive was comforting but also knowing he had seemingly lost himself to his animal form was sobering. No matter what, come nightfall (when she could go out undetected) she planned on finding him with her new abilities.
Picking up her wet clothes, Sherri looked back and forth knowing she'd be in serious trouble if she were to be seen like this. With the rainwater splashing under her feet, she ran home as fast as her feet would carry her.
Reaching her house, Sherri hastily entered, closing and locking the door behind her.
Her bra wet and torn, she quickly tore it off as she discarded her wet clothes on the beige ceramic floor.
Looking at herself in the hallway mirror, she was disgusted with what she saw. Her fur was itchy and she considered shaving it all off. Dripping water all over the place, she ran upstairs, making a stop at the linen closet to take out two large towels. She used them to dry herself off, something that took nearly thirty minutes.
With that done, she walked into her room and retrieved a shaving kit from her closet. She pulled out the shaver and plugged it in. She wasn't concerned with how she was going clean up the fur and only cared about ridding herself of it.
Sitting down on her bed, she began by shaving the fur off of her left arm. It came off surprisingly easy and within a few minutes the arm was completely bare, allowing her to see the now pale skin.
The fur from on the floor suddenly vanished and Sherri could only watch in shock as the fur on her bare arm completely re-grew in seconds.
Cursing loudly, she turned the shaver off, unplugged it and threw it to the floor. It was clear that the witches spell would not beaten this easily. In her mirror, she saw her ears were pinned back and her tail flicking wildly.
She wanted to be rid of the tail and considered hacking it off with a cleaver. She quickly rid herself of that thought. The tail provided her with balance and maiming herself would serve nothing.
She walking downstairs into her living room and over to her bookcase, retrieving a magic book with information about magical transformations. It had information on locating people that had been magically transformed. Previous attempts to use information to locate Kurt had failed. She was hopeful the lessons she recently learned could change that.
She sat down on her couch, careful not to sit on her tail. Having to worry about that aggravated her. Instead of complaining she chose to concentrate at the task at hand.
Five hours later, Sherri was tired and about to give up when she found an interesting passage. It said that communicating with formally human animals required taking the form of an animal or animal person. The species didn't matter. After memorizing the spell, she put down the book and smiled, by turning her into this form, the witch had enabled her to communicate with Kurt.
She looked outside. The rain had stopped and it was dark, which would allow her go out undetected. She knew that she couldn't go out wearing nothing. It was warm enough that she wouldn't need clothes but she didn't want to risk being caught exposed.
She went upstairs, retrieving a black tee-shirt and pair of black jeans from her room. Her proportions were about the same in this form and she could cut a tail hole in the jeans. She put the shirt on and then held the pants in front of her. With her razor sharp claws, cutting a tail hole was an easy task. With the hole in place, she put the jeans on, snaking her tail through it. After zipping them up, she looked at herself in the mirror, still unhappy with what her current form. Knowing she could use it to communicate with Kurt however, tempered her upset.
Walking downstairs, she stood before her front door looking at her feet. Her shoes would never fit so going barefoot appeared the only option. Opening the door, she walked outside, closing and locking it behind her.
Taking in the scents and sounds of the neighborhood, Sherri was nearly overwhelmed. The intensity of the sounds were far greater then human hearing; it was not unlike having everything fed through a very loud speaker. The smells were considerable more intense, exposing her brain to far more data then it was accustomed to. Her eyes could see considerably better in the dark, although the colors were weak, the night vision more then made up for it.
Hopeful of locating Kurt around the witches house, she made her way towards it. It took nearly an hour as vigilance was required to prevent being seen. She recited the communication spell ( feeling a temporary wave of dizziness as it took effect) upon reaching the perimeter of the witches house. In some ways, this felt like the end of a journey. If this worked, Kurt would finally be found. If it didn't, she knew it'd be time to accept that he was meant to live out his life as a wild animal and would leave him be. Keeping an attentive ear out for the witch and Kurt, she began crawling beside the witches yard.
Gently calling out his name, she awaited a response. For several minutes there was none but upon calling him again, she heard rustling in some nearby bushes momentarily proceeded by a quiet warble as something approached her. She cautiously lowered herself to the ground, remaining motionless.
Seconds later, her eyes caught sight of a male raccoon standing only a meter away from her. It's brown fur was disheveled, dirty and smelled bad. Looking at him, Sherri gently called Kurt's name. The raccoon and stood on his hind legs and looked at her, tilting his head to the right as if altered by the name. Sherri smiled, it was looking good.
"Kurt, is that really you? It's me Sherri. I know I look a little strange but it's me," she said.
Finding the sound of her voice familiar, the raccoon approached her and warbled quietly in recognition. He was unsure whether or not to trust this creature.
"I've waited for so long to see you again. I never gave up on you Kurt, I never accepted that you were an animal and that was that."
Although she wasn't sure it was safe, she offered him her right paw as a gesture of good faith. If this was Kurt, she knew ten years an animal probably meant his thoughts and mentality were animal. Even with communication, she had to go about this in the way she'd try to get an animal to trust her.
The raccoon walked over and started sniffing her paw, finding its scent oddly familiar. He finally reached out and gently touched it. Sherri smiled at his touch. This was the closest they had come to holding hands in years.
"Kurt, I don't know if you remember being human, but if that's really you then please trust me. You don't have to be alone any more."
Both finding her voice familiar and somehow understanding her, the raccoon again cocked his head. Remembering was very difficult, but he was able to recall hearing the voice as became a raccoon. He had long since accepted that this fate; never dreaming he'd be human again. Something about her voice gave him a glimmer of hope that he hadn't of felt in years. Somehow, he knew he could trust her.
The raccoon walked closer to her and gently put his arms around her, holding tightly. Hugging him gently, Sherri sobbed tears of joy. They sat there for ten minutes simply embracing each other before she picked him up and stood up, still holding him tight.
"Come on, I'm taking you home. You don't have to face this alone any more" she gently said.
Kurt nodded and held her tightly. He still wasn't sure about her identity but knew he could trust her. Somehow she seemed the key to restoring his former existence.
Perhaps out of shock she wasn't expressing it but Sherri was beyond elated. She knew that the raccoon she held was Kurt. She knew that somehow and somewhere in that furry body, the young man she knew and dated ten years ago was there. She knew that this was the first step in giving him his life back.
Holding Kurt tight, Sherri ran into the house and walked into her living room. Gently lowering Kurt to the floor, she released her hold on him and stood on her knees. Kurt curiously looked back at her, trying to make sense of what he was seeing.
Sherri looked at her body; even though it had enabled her to communicate with Kurt, being stuck this way was still objectionable. Having Kurt home was what made it tolerable.
"I'm so relieved I found you," she said to Kurt as she began petting his head. "I never gave up on holding these hands again," she said as she started holding his little paws. "Somehow I will get her to make you human again. I'm going to give you a bath. I have some animal shampoo upstairs that should be fine," sighing she touched the fur on both of her arms. "It seems I'll be needing it too. Are you going to be okay down here alone while I fill the tub?"
Sherri didn't really expect him to answer but still felt the need to ask. After kissing him, she got up and walked upstairs to draw the bath. She wondered how long it take her to bathe and groom in her current form.
The raccoon knew he could trust this creature and that he was safe in this building. He tried as hard as he could to remember her. Her voice and scent were very familiar. Unfortunately, remembering them was like remembering something from a lifetime ago. His brain just couldn't seem to make the connection. He started walking around sniffing everything as he heard water running.
After several minutes he was so lost thought in thought and confusion that he didn't notice the sound of flowing water stop nor Sherri walking downstairs. He turned when he heard her call his name, still unsure why he knew it meant him. Sherri walked over and picked him up, gently caressing his fur.
"Your bath is ready Kurt. I know this isn't exactly how we pictured our future life as teens but right now I 'm just glad we're together."
The sound of her voice helped to lift the fog from his mind, evoking a flash of memory. He remembered being human and walking with her in front of the witches house. Recollection of fur growing on his body and his jaw becoming a muzzle after being caught in the yard filled his mind. He recalled his mind going foggy and fear overtaking him as he was reduced to this form and had looked up at Sherri. Suddenly knowing who she was, he warbled in delight. The still functioning communication spell allowed Sherri to know that Kurt knew who she was.
"Yes, it's me, Sherri! Come on, lets get you cleaned up. When we're done, we'll see what else you remember!"
She happily took him upstairs and into the bathroom, softly lowering him into the water. Seeming almost to enjoy the water, he relaxed and spread himself out.
As Sherri massaged soap into his fur, he had another flash of memory. He remembered that feeling from bathing as a human and using shampoo.
As Sherri finished shampooing and started to rinse the water off, Kurt didn't fully understand it but knew he was home.
An hour later, Sherri had dried Kurt off and was Gently brushing his. She took the time to soothingly caress it when she came to mats so he wouldn't freak out as she brushed through them. Even though the communication spell had since worn off, Kurt's allowing her to pet and bathe him made it clear he trusted her.
Sherri wondered how much Kurt remembered from school. He had the tendency to forget half the stuff he learned in the interim between school years. If he forgot that much over a few months, it pained her to realize how much he'd likely have forgotten over ten years.
She started wondering if restoring his humanity was the right thing to do. By now he was likely used to being an animal. If he had to relearn all of his human skills, would he really want to be human again? Sherri knew Kurt's recovery from this would be slow and likely painful. Would changing him back be something she would be doing for him or for her? She found her cat person form degrading and humiliating and didn't want to live out her life this way. She had no real way of knowing if Kurt felt the same about being a raccoon.
There was also the question of what she was going to do. She knew she couldn't go back to work like this nor could she run off into the woods. She wondered if she'd even be able to have kids as a cat person. When she realized that failing finding another cat person, she likely could not, she was angered. Pending being changed back, as long as she was like this, she couldn't have children, at least not any human children. She wondered if Kurt had fathered any kits. The witch had denied him fathering a human child but perhaps he had still managed to father children of his current form.
"Oh Kurt, I don't know what to do," she sobbed. "What if we're stuck like this? You've already lost ten years of your life. What if you'll never be human again? You deserve better then this!" looking at her paws, she started to cry "how will I ever be able to take myself seriously like this?". She looked at Kurt feeling sorry for him "I wonder how your parents are going to react knowing I found you? What if they can't accept you like this or don't believe it's you?"
After looking forward to this day for the past ten years, Sherri wasn't sure why she was crying so much. Perhaps, now that the day was here, she was having to deal with these issues she didn't want to think about before. Tried, She decided to sleep on it.
She choose to let Kurt stay with her. She had an empty litter box in her basement from when she took care of her neighbors cat and decided to bring that upstairs so Kurt could use it when he had to go to the bathroom. Leaving Kurt on the bed, she ran downstairs to get the cat box.
Kurt when exploring during her absence. Being alone on the bed triggered more flashes of memory. He remembered sleeping on one as a human. He remembered the horror of seeing fur growing on his body and knowing he was not only losing his humanity but also his hopes and dreams. He might have become distressed had Sherri not come back holding a litter box. Kurt could smell the litter within it. Something in his mind told him that he could relive himself in it. Sherri put the litter box down before picking Kurt up and putting him on the floor beside it. He sniffed it for a bit before climbing into it and using it.
When he finished and was cleaning himself, Sherri undressed. She thought of wearing something to bed but decided not to. The thought of Kurt seeing her unclothed didn't bother her too much since she had bathed him and witness him using the litter box.
Walking over to her bed, she pulled down the covers and climbed in. Kurt climbed into the bed to her right, curling up in a ball beside her. The bed was softer then anywhere he had slept in the past ten years and he quickly fell asleep. Sherri was worried he might escape overnight but was hopeful that he trusted her enough not to. Laying back, she closed her eyes and quickly fell asleep.
Sherri awoke at six a.m. the next morning. The sun was rising and the air blowing in through the open window was fresh.
She took a quick survey of her body. She still had fur, paw like hands and a tail which meant the previous days events were real! Knowing she had found Kurt, she looked around the bed for him. Unfortunately, he wasn't there. She got out of bed and walked out of her room. Hearing something scurrying around downstairs, she assumed it was Kurt and quickly ran down without bothering to get dressed.
Arriving in the kitchen, she found it a mess. The cupboard containing the cereal was ajar and two boxes of cereal were open on the counter, their contents spilled. Kurt was standing over the sink trying to figure out how to turn the water on.
"Kurt, what the heck happened? If you were hungry then why didn't you just ask?"
Not really understanding her, Kurt ignored her as he walked over to and pointed at the facet. Sherri walked over to it and turned on a stream of cold water on cold. Kurt happily warbled before licking at it.
His behavior only served to remind Sherri that his thoughts and mentality were animal. She may have had him back but he no longer was the young man she knew. She knew he needed to be restored if he was to have any chance at getting his life back. It was then decided, she was going to bring him to the witches house and plead for his restoral.
Kurt was done with the water, so Sherri turned it off and lowered him to the floor.
She was hungry but unsure what she could eat. She definitely didn't want to eat a can of cat food, that was for darned sure. Her cravings for meat were considerably stronger then those for cereal or toast so she decided to make bacon and eggs.
Acquiring the food from the fridge, she loaded the bacon into a tray and put it into her microwave. She then broke the eggs over a frying pan before putting it onto the stove to cook. As they cooked, she filled and turning on her kettle. She wasn't sure how caffeine would effect her but needed the energy boost so she decided to risk having a cup.
Kurt watched intently as Sherri went about the tasks. He remembered doing those things himself but couldn't remember why or when. He interest was quickly diverted to the food that Sherri was preparing. He jumped back onto the counter and approached the eggs.
"Okay Kurt, I can give one of the eggs but don't touch em, you'll get burned!"
Her words had little effect on him as he started pawing at the eggs. Sherri was about to say something when she realized this wasn't his fault. Concepts like waiting for things were lost on him, he was used to simply taking something he wanted. She realized that while it was painful, she had to think of him as an animal and not as a human in an animals body.
Putting him back on the floor, she said a sharp 'NO' when he was about to jump back up. While he didn't understand the word, he understood the tone and stopped, electing to be satisfied with watching her from the ground.
When the food was cooked, she dished the eggs and bacon into a plate and sat down at the kitchen table. Seeing Kurt standing on his hind legs and feeling him paw at her right leg, she gave him a piece of bacon and one of the eggs.
She watched as he used his forepaws like hands to eat it. Turning her attention to her own food, she realized it'd be difficult to handle utensils with her paw like hands and opted to eat with them instead. Normally she'd never do such a thing, but with no one watching (well, no one what would mind) she favored practicality over style.
Her muzzle was covered with bits of food when she finished. Without realizing it, she started cleaning herself just like a cat. Petting her furry belly, she quietly mewed to herself.
"That was delicious," she said to herself, frowning when she realized what she had done. She realized that if she were acting like this less then 24 hours after being changed that in a week she could be fully acting like an animal. It was clear a deal had to be made with the witch. While the witch always refused to restore Kurt, Sherri now had the bargaining chip of offering to change the witch back in exchange for restoring Kurt and herself.
She knelt down beside Kurt and started petting him.
"Do you want to be human again Kurt or are you happy like this?"
She knew that this decision was likely beyond his comprehension and that she was going to have to make it for him. For a few minutes, she considered leaving him like this and simply keeping him as a pet. He did seem content but was he truly happy? She realized him staying this way would be like a person remaining a toddler their entire life. Sure they'd be happy, but it would also be because they wouldn't know what they were missing in life. Ignorance may be bliss but that doesn't mean it's what's right for a person. That made her realize that even though his family had long since accepted he was an animal and his recovery would be difficult, restoring him was the right thing to do.
The only issues now were how she'd not only carry him but conceal herself without getting caught. She quickly realized she could use magic to get there. While she couldn't risk using a teleport spell for fear of being seen, she could use a invisible spell on Kurt. As long as he didn't run away, he'd be fine. It would take too much power to make her and Kurt invisible for more then ten minutes, so this seemed to be an ideal solution.
Not bothering to put the dishes away, she walked upstairs to her room and got dressed in the same clothes from the previous night. Going back downstairs, she walked over to her closet and picked out a hooded blue coat, hoping to use it to conceal herself. Unable to completely hide her tail, she decided not to worry about it. Should anyone accost her, she could always run. Once she was dressed, she walked back into her kitchen and picked Kurt up.
"Come on Kurt, it's time to get us changed back."
She quickly cast the invisible spell for Kurt. He panicked a bit when he couldn't see his body.
"It's okay Kurt," she said, gently petting his head "this is just so no one can see you; the last thing we need is people asking questions." Kurt seemed to calm down when he heard her talk.
Walking towards the front door, she quickly walked out and locked it before heading down the street in the direction of the witches house. It was fortunate that it was still early and very few people out and about. While she did get a few strange looks on her way, she was thankful that no one approached her. When she reached the witches house, she unlocked the gate with her magic and reversed the invisible spell. Knowing this area, Kurt was very nervous. Sherri gently petted him to calm him down as she walked up to the front door and banged on it.
When the door opened seconds later the witch was stood there wearing only a white robe, her rage evident. Sherry's spell had done its job. The witch looked like a giant raccoon standing on it's hind legs.
"You," the witch yelled "you've got some nerve coming back here." She smiled evilly when she saw Kurt "I see you've found your friend. So, you enjoying your new form?" she sarcastically asked.
Sherri was not in the mood to play games, cut to the chase.
"I'd love to trade insults for a while but how about we simply get this over with?"
"If you think I'm going to change him back then think again!" Looking at Kurt, she reached out and touched his muzzle. "Hello Kurt, remember me? You stole my flowers ten years ago." Kurt simply looked at her confused, it was clear he didn't understand her. "What's wrong, don't understand me? I can't blame you; ten years as an stupid animal can do that to a person."
Sherri looked at the witch in rage, it was bad enough knowing how much Kurt had lost; seeing the witch finding it amusing was infuriating.
"You think this is funny? You think it's funny that you condemned someone with hopes and dreams to nothing more then scavenging for the rest of his life, never knowing anything more? Perhaps I should finish the spell on you so you know how it feels."
"I don't find it amusing that he was stealing from me. Do you have any idea how hard it is to replace those flowers? All the work I did in getting them and he just takes them without any regard for that? How long do you think it would have been before he grew tired of stealing from he and moved up to something big enough to land him in prison?"
"Then why didn't you tell him that? Why keep him like this for so long? Certainly a week or two as an animal would have taught him his lesson? Think of how this has affected his friends and family; even if he's happy like this out of some sort of ignorance, his family certainly was not. Think of how bad being like this even for a day makes you feel. Now imagine the spell finishing and spending ten years like that. I know his stealing your flowers was wrong but a flower can be replaced, a life cannot."
The witches expression softened a bit.
"I didn't change him back because he seemed happy like this," the witch answered. She sighed when she started realizing why. "My spell did fully change him into an animal, mentally as well. He may have been happy but perhaps it was because he didn't know any better. Perhaps I was too hasty in what I did to him."
"I have him here and now. He may have lost the past ten years of his life but he still has the rest of his life ahead of him. If you will change us back then I will gladly change you back. We need not all be stuck like this forever; lets make right what we all did wrong."
The witch sighed.
"You realize it will be difficult for him to re-assimilate back into human society. He'll have to re-learn almost every concept. In many ways, he'd be better off to remain a simple ignorant animal."
"Maybe but think of that he'd be missing. Sure it'd be easier to just leave him like this; sure he'd he happy but would it really be the best thing for him? Think of all he'd miss if he stayed like this, think of all of the things he'll never do as an animal. This isn't what's best for him, it may be what's easiest, but often, the easy way out isn't the best way out."
The witch thought about it for a minute before coming to her decision.
"All right, I accept to your terms. Perhaps it is time to forgive and forget. I will start with you; once I restore him, he should have a familiar face to greet him."
Sherri nodded and placed Kurt on the ground beside her.
The witch held out the right index finger on her paw like hand and blue energy flowed from it into Sherry's body.
Sherri lowered her hood and held her arms out as a cooling sensation spread across her body. The black fur on her body quickly fell off and vanished, her skin returning to its human texture and tone. Her tail quivered before the fur fell off of it and it withered away before disappearing altogether. Her paws tingled as her claws shrunk down into nails as her stubby digits grew into fingers. Her feet shrunk as her ankles and legs were restored to a plantigrade posture. Finally, her jaw and nose bones began to remold into a more human form. As it finished, she ran her now human tongue over her teeth, feeling them to be restored. Her pupils changed from their slitted appearance into one befitting a human while her irises regained their blue color. Finally, her ears moved down her head and reformed into a human shape. Restored to humanity, Sherri looked down at her arms before feeling her face and the rest of her body. She happily thanked the witch as Kurt stood on his hind legs curiously looking at her.
"Now, you change me back and I will change him back" the witch said.
Sherri nodded and pointing her right index finger at the witch, chanting a reversal spell. A blue spark shot out from her finger and struck the witches body.
The fur on the witches face immediately began falling out, vanishing after it hit the ground. While it was difficult to see under the robe, her figure appeared to be thinning. The witch's jaw and nose reformed into a more familiar shape as the blacks of her eyes shrunk to a normal human shape, the green irises returning. She grew taller as her posture improved. The rest of her fur was falling out while the claws on each of her paws shrunk back into white nails and each of the digits changed back into fingers, the fifth becoming thumbs. Her human hair re-grew down to her shoulders as the last of the fur fell out. Her ears moved down her head and resumed a their human shape. Finally, her tail began to shrink, the fur falling off it. When all was said and done, the witch was restored to her human self.
"Okay, I've done my part of the deal now restore Kurt" Sherri said.
"Very well but you must remember that he will not instantly be himself. He's lived the last ten years as wild raccoon and has been one in mind," kneeling down, she petted Kurt between the ears. "While he does still posses his human memories, ten years is a long time. Are you sure changing him back is the right thing to do?"
Petting Kurt down his back and onto his tail, Sherri reiterated her thoughts on why restoring Kurt was the right thing to do.
"Very well then." The witch replied.
Standing up, she pointed her index finger at Kurt while chanted the reversal spell. Kurt looked at it with fascination as it started to glow. He warbled as a small jolt of blue energy coursed from her finger and flowed through his body. He backed up onto the walkway in front of the porch and lay on his back in confusion and fear.
Sherri watched as the density of his belly fur decreased, vanishing in a matter of seconds. He appeared to be getting bigger and warbled in fear, prompting Sherri to run to his left side, where she knelt down to comfort him.
"It's okay Kurt, you're getting your humanity back. Soon you'll understand and be your human self again; just hang on"
She placed her hands on his hairless belly, noticing the skin was quickly regaining it's former texture and color. The gentle warmth of her hands calmed him, it's touch soothing to him. His torso was getting larger and slimmer. Sherri was concerned it was painful for him.
"Is he in pain?" Sherri asked.
"No, the changing this spell causes are painless."
Sherri nodded, looking back down at Kurt. The loss of fur had spread to his arms, legs and head. She gently petted his face as the white fur on his muzzle quickly fell off. She noticed his legs quivering as they remolded, the bones, flesh and muscles in reconfiguring into a human form before her eyes. His hips began to reshape as the legs were half done their journey from raccoon to human form.
By this point he was nearly half her size. His torso was still chubby but had regained a mostly human shape. His exposed skin was quickly regaining its texture and tone. His arms trembled, bone, muscle, skin and nerves all returning to human form.
The sharp black claws on his finger like digits receded towards his hands, dulling as their color lightened. His hands began reshaping from five digit paws to familiar human hands with four fingers and a thumb.
Sherri looked up to his face when he made a sound not unlike a human moaning. His eyes were closed and his muzzle was getting shorter as the bones in his head reshaped. His furry rounded raccoon ears began moving down his head, losing fur and taking upon a human shape. Red hair began sprouting from his now bald head as a red beard started to sprout from what would soon be his human chin and under his nose.
By now he was almost her size and getting bigger. His legs looked almost human as did his arms and hands. The last truly animal part, his tail began losing fur and shrinking into his body. Releasing he was going to be naked, she quickly took her jacket off and draped it around his midsection.
As his jaw and nose had completely assumed a human shape both his beard and hair were growing long and thick. He soon to looked like he hadn't of shaved or cut his hair in ten years.
The final restorations were made to his body as his feet shifted into a human form and his size evened out at slightly taller then Sherri. With that, he was human again. He looked roughly her age.
"It is done, he is a human once again. Now I suggest you both leave my property. If he steals from me again, he will again be an animal that will never change back" the witch said.
Rather then argue, Sherri nodded her head and helped the confused Kurt up. She tied her jacket around his waist and helped him to walk down and out of the witches front yard. He had a bit of trouble walking, obviously being used to walking on all fours. Once they were out of her yard, she looked around. Seeing no one around, she used her teleport spell to teleport them both into her living room. Gently laying him against her couch, she knelt down beside him, looking at him
"Kurt? Can you understand me?" she asked.
Kurt looked up at her, his mind was starting to focus. Seeing her was like seeing someone he hadn't of seen in years. He had to think about the words to answer her for several seconds.
"Sherri?" he whispered, trying to remember how to talk as a human. His voice at first made him nervous, it taking several minutes to register that it truly was his.
"Yes, it's me!" she answered, hugging him. "How much do you remember?".
He titled his head before looking back at her.
"It's been so ... long. I ... never thought I'd ... see you again. Didn't ... understand anything as raccoon. How ... long?" he quietly asked.
"It's been ten years Kurt. I never gave up you, I always thought I'd find you again. I did care how long it was going to take."
The concept of time was just starting to come back to Kurt. It took him several minutes to remember what ten years meant.
"Ten years, feels like so ... long; like my human life was a dream. My animal life ... so different. So ... hard to accept this is what I really am supposed to be ... that this is my life." Kurt responded.
Sherri hugged him. At first he was nervous of her, but once he calmed down, he started to remember the feeling.
"I know it's hard. But we'll get through this together, we'll get you your life back. We'll take it one day at a time."
He returned the gesture and smiled.
"First thing is first, I think we need to make some calls and then get you cleaned up."
Getting up, she walked over to the phone and dialed her parents house as Kurt watched in fascination. After living in the wild for a decade, any technology was fascinating to him. As her parents answered, Sherri smiled widely.
"Hi Mom, guess what?" she said.