The shoes

Kevin was a player on what was a successful high school track team. Almost everyone else on the team had set at least one record. Even the ones that didnít were good enough in a variety of events that they more then made up for it. Kevin unfortunately couldnít keep up with the other students.

While Kevin was competent, something seemed to be missing. Kevin would never use steroids. He knew heíd get into trouble and he didnít like the stigma attached to using them.

If my legs were more powerful, I could jump high, long or be able to run fast. Maybe Ö all of the above. Then I could do the things the other guys can do.

One day in the cafeteria, Kevin was sitting with his friends Jamie and Barry. Kevin sat on one side of the table with the others across from him.

"This sucks, theyíll probably kick me off of the team if I donít do well in something," Kevin said.

"We canít all be track stars. I mean, I donít think you should quit but you know, maybe it just isnít meant to be," Barry said.

"Is isnít fair. I mean, I want to help the team but itís as if my body just wonít co-operate," Kevin said.

"Spirit is willing but the flesh isnít co-operating?" Barry asked.

"Something like that," Kevin said.

Jamie motioned for both Kevin and Barry to lean close to him.

"Iíve heard rumors of something that might help you," Jamie said.

"If itís drugs forget it!" Kevin said.

"Nothing like that. You know the stories of that student from a few years ago that set almost every track record?" Jamie asked.

Kevin nodded. "Yeah, Damian Turst. Yeah, several of the guys are breaking those records, but Damian set them all!"

"Didnít he disappear after setting those records?" Barry asked.

"Yeah he did," Jamie started. "Maybe his parents sent him to a special school afterwards. Anyway, Iíve heard rumors that he got that good because he had magical shoes."

"Oh come on," Barry said.

"Where did he get them?" Kevin asked.

"They say he got them from a witch that lives alone on the outskirts of town. Those shoes could enhance your jumping and running abilities well beyond their norm," Jamie said.

"Thatís crazy," Barry said.

Desperation forced Kevin to accept Jamieís tales as a possibility. Kevin didnít believe in witches. However, he couldnít resist the allure of an advantage.

"I know it sounds crazy but Iím desperate here!" Kevin said.

"Well, Iíll tell you where she lives then," Jamie said.

If she does have them, Iíll just borrow them.


* * *

Kevin felt a chill as he approached the house that evening. His nervousness increased as he drew closer to the house. Kevin assumed the feeling was just his imagination.

Even if this lady isnít a witch, sheís sure putting on a good show.

Indeed, the lady was. Her house appeared to be at least a century old. A black metal fence surrounded it with a shrub that extended all around the fence with the exception of the gate.

Kevinís heart raced. Beads of sweat dripped down his forehead.

Get a grip Kevin; there is no such thing as a witch. This is all just an act to scare people away.

Then why are you here?

I dunno, what if she is a witch? I know thatís crazy but I need to do something!

Kevin wiped his forehead. Thinking to himself wasnít any more productive then talking to himself. He remembered the advice his coach gave him about not over analyzing things and just doing them.

Finding the gate, Kevin opened it. He shuddered when the gate squeaked. Kevin walked up the long path of cracked cement to the front door of the house.

The door had an old fashioned knocker on it. Grabbing it, Kevin knocked on the door. An old woman answered.

Okay, sheís old, so what?

"What do you want young man?" she asked.

"Um well," Kevin started.

Come on get to the point!

"I hear you have magic shoes that can help me to jump and run better. I need them to help me do better in track. Can I borrow them?"

The old woman appeared angry. "I donít know who put you up to this boy but those shoes are not toys."

Kevinís heart sunk, the shoes were real, but she refused to let him use them. A chill ran through Kevinís spine. This woman was a witch. The idea scared Kevin but he was determined. Kevin saw a potential victory and was not about to give it up without a fight.

"Please, I just need them for one day! Itís not like I plan on keeping them or anything, Iíll return them tomorrow!" Kevin said.

"Listen to me boy, those shoes are not toys. Using them for something as fleeting as sports Ė theyíre far too dangerous! Iím afraid I canít allow you to use them!"

Kevin sighed and walked away. He heard the woman slam the door behind him. As he walked away from the house, he looked back, seeing something shining in a window.

I wonder if thatís it.

Kevin approached the window and saw a pair of shoes sitting on a desk in front of a window. He knew it was a long shot but something about them called to him. Common sense told Kevin to get out of there. No amount of glory was worth upsetting a witch. On this day however, Kevin ignored common sense.

She isnít giving me much choice.

Looking around, he opened the window.

I donít have to do this, itís wrong. I can just close the window and walk away and no one would think any less of me.

But, then you wouldnít get the abilities those shoes can give you! Do you want to lose that opportunity?

Kevin kept picturing the old woman discovering him and turning him into a frog or something else to punish him. He remembered something his coach had said. Picture yourself winning. If you worry so much about losing that you picture it happening, you will lose. Kevin imagined grabbing the shoes and running out of there before the old woman knew what was going on. He even imagined them fitting him.

Itís now or never Kevin, the longer the delay, the better chance she has of catching you.

Kevin grabbed the shoes and closed the window. He ran as fast as he could toward the gate. Kevin heard the front door open and the old woman yelling at him. He couldnít make out what she was saying; he wasnít sure he wanted to know what she was saying.


* * *

The next day came. Kevin got up, and looked at the shoes, smiling at his having acquiring them. While he felt a pang of guilt over his theft, he planned to return them so his transgression didnít seem as bad.

He put the shoes in his bag along with the rest of his track clothes. Going downstairs, he ate breakfast, picked up the bag and left for school.

The day seemed to drag by; he was looking forward to trying out the shoes. However, he also worried that the old woman would somehow find him and to do something to embarrass him in front of the school.

After what felt like an eternity, the school day was over and it was time for his track meet. When it came time to try on the shoes, Kevin took a deep breath. To Kevinís astonishment, they were a perfect fit!

Jamie approached Kevin soon after.

"You got them?" Jamie asked.

"Yeah, from that old ladyís house," Kevin said.

"You actually did it? Man, youíre crazy. I didnít think youíd actually do it," Jamie said.

"If you didnít want me to do it then why did you convince me to?"

Jamie shrugged. "I dunno."

"Well, Iím going to give them back once weíre done. I just wanted to do good this one time," Kevin said.

Kevinís chest itched and his legs ached for a few seconds before they felt stronger. Shaking the feeling off, Kevin knew the shoes had to be working. If anything, this was just the proof.

The track meet was like a dream come true for Kevin. He ran the 100, 200 and 500 meter races faster then he ever had, coming in first each of those times. He also managed the longest and highest jumps heíd ever made, again doing better then even the best students at the meet.

He was noticing how everyone was looking at him in amazement. The itchy feelings were still running around his skin. Kevin worried he was having an allergic reaction. His legs felt more powerful by the minute. The exhilaration of doing so well pushed the worry of what was happening to his body aside. For the moment, Kevin wasnít worried about his immediate or long-term future when this moment was this happy.

Kevin knew the feelings would go away once he removed the shoes. If not then, he assumed that returning them would cure whatever was ailing him. It saddened him that heíd have to go back to normal after this. However, he was happy that this afternoon would be something he could tell tales about for the rest of his life.

Just before Kevin was going to run the 1000-meter race, the strange feelings took on a new meaning. If before they were a concert, then theyíd reached the zenith.

His entire body itched like mad. He gasped as he looked at his arms. A thick pelt of orange fur had covered them!

Whatís going on? Is that fur? No, it canít be!

His face felt as though something was pulling on it. A tingle enveloped both of his ears before the sounds in area grew louder as though his hearing were getting better.

The fur isnít so bad; I can hide it or shave it.

However, a new challenge to Kevinís denial was soon to present itself. He face ached with the sensation of something pushing on his jaw from behind. Reaching his hand up to his face, he felt that it was getting longer!

Oh my God, now whatís happening to me? Please donít do this to me. Iíll return the shoes and never steal anything again! Kevin looked down at the shoes. I just wanted to do well. Was that so much to ask?

Kevin wondered why no one was commenting on this. Then he looked to see the crowd that was watching. To his horror, the old woman was there. She looked at him and nodded her head.

His chest started to feel itchy and warm. Removing his shirt, Kevin saw why. There was orange fur growing all over his entire torso. The fur on his chest was lighter then the rest of his torso. His legs started to feel itchy as orange fur grew on them.

Please, not more fur. Iím not popular enough to be like this!

His feet started to feel strange. The shoes now seemed like a prison for his feet. Kevin managed to get them off in time to see lengthening feet tear the front of his socks open. Bigger feet were far from Kevinís greatest concern however. These feet didnít look human!

Something tingled in Kevinís back. He felt his track pants straining against something. Kevin looked up at the old woman. She waved her right hand. A second later, Kevin heard his pants rip. He looked back and saw a long, furry tail growing out.

Oh my God, I have a tail! Iím turning into an animal! This canít be happening! Why doesnít this bother anyone! Please stop, Iíve learned my lesson!

His feet were now long with short toes. His tail was long and heavy. His face seemed to have stopped pushing itself out. Kevin felt the fur on his chest in shock.

He wished he had a mirror so he could see himself. After putting his shirt back on, Kevin walked over to the track as his coach beckoned him. Kevin felt a desire to hop rather then walk. He did his best to ignore it.

"Coach, whatís wrong with me?" Kevin asked.

"Wrong with you? What are you talking about? This is the best day youíve ever had! If you call that having something wrong with you, Iíd love to see what you considering being right!"

Kevin ran the race, performing as before, with speed far above his normal abilities. As Kevin finished, the others went to the sidelines to get water to drink and congradulate each other. Kevin stayed on the field in the middle of the track to wait for the old woman.

"Why is this happening to me?" Kevin asked.

"I warned you boy. Those shoes are not toys!" The old woman said.

"Why doesnít anyone notice?" Kevin asked.

"Iíve made them see you as your human self. However, I cannot keep this spell up. I suggest we return to my house," the old woman said.

Kevin turned to see Jamie running up to him.

"That was incredible! But why did you take the shoes off?" Jamie asked.

Kevin looked at his feet and shook his head. "Jamie, I need to get going."

"Um Ö okay. Practice is over anyway. I guess Iíll see you later then?" Jamie asked.

"Yeah, I hope so," Kevin said.

Kevin grabbed the shoes from the ground. A quick check confirmed that the old woman had left. Kevin didnít want anyone catching him. The urge to hop rather then walk or run was too much. Kevin acted on it and hopped away from the track and back to the womanís house as fast as he could. How comfortable hopping felt disturbed Kevin.

At the speed his stronger legs and feet were able to allow him to attain, it didnít take long for him to reach the old womanís house. He managed to hop right over the fence, then hopped up to her front door and banged on it.

The door opened and the woman looked at him, frowning. Quickly producing the shoes, he handed them to her offering to give them back.

"Iím sorry for stealing them! Will you change me back if I give them back to you?" he said.

Looking him over, the woman laughed. "Iím afraid the spell canít be reversed Ö so to speak."

Kevin looked at her in despair, "but I canít stay like this!"

Smiling, she again touched the fur on his chest, "no, you canít. The spell should begin its completion momentarily".

"Completion?" Kevin asked, sounding scared. The old woman nodded.

Kevinís thighs started to feel strange. He felt a sharp pain as they started to expand, ripping his pants and underwear to shreds. He would have been embarrassed if his innards hadnít of started to feel warm.

"Wha... whatís happening to me?" he asked as he held his stomach in pain.

"The pain wonít last for long. The spell is simply finishing itís job."

Kevinís legs began to lengthen and grow far more muscular, his tail increased in length, getting far stronger and heavier. He muscles and bone structure seemed to be changing, causing him to lean forward, a position which felt more comfortable with the weight his tail had acquired. His insides seemed to cool down and the pain subsided. He felt a bit dizzy. Opening his eyes, he looked at the woman and tried to say something. Only tongue clicking and grunting came out of him.

Looking down, Kevin saw his shirt on a kangaroo body.

"Iím afraid kangarooís donít speak," the old woman said.

Kevin felt a wave of new instincts flow into him. An almost uncontrollable urge to hop filled his mind. Shaking his head in disbelief, he tried to hop away.

"Not so fast!" the woman said, waving her hand.

Dizziness overwhelmed Kevin, causing him to pass out.


* * *

Kevin opened his eyes. It was warm out. A gust of wind ruffled what felt like hair all over his body thick as the hair on his head.

What a dream; It felt so real.

Kevin only needed a glance around the area to know that something was wrong. He wasnít in his room.

That was a dream right?

He looked around; none of the area was familiar. Standing up, Kevin only needed a second to become aware that everything was wrong. His sense of balance was off and he felt something behind him that was a part of him. He couldnít feel the clothing heíd wear to bed. Another gust of wind seemed to reach all parts of his body.

No, it canít be.

He looked down only to see a furred body shaped in the form of a kangaroo. His lack of clothing exposed everything on his body for the world to see.

Like some animal. No, Iím not an animal! That was a dream! I canít be a kangaroo for real!

Panic threatened to overwhelm Kevin.

Hearing a sound from behind, he looked around and saw a kangaroo hopping up to him. Kevin looked over the kangaroo examining him. He sniffed it without thinking and discovered it was a female.

Kevin initially didnít feel embarrassed over his lack of clothing when he was in front of an animal.

"Tsk tsk, not even trying to cover yourself."

Wait, how did she talk?

The female touched Kevinís chest with her right paw. "Well, it makes sense. Kangaroos donít wear clothes. However, you try to mate with me and youíll end up trading in you know what for a pouch Ė and other things."

Why would I try andÖ

Kevin looked back and forth. Why isnít anyone saying anything about a talking kangaroo?

"You said that you wanted to be able to jump well, now you can. Looks like you might even get some girls. Donít want female kangaroos you say? Well, I think youíll find that you do," the female kangaroo said.

Kevin clicked at the kangaroo. His inability to speak both humiliated and terrified him. He wondered if anyone else had heard her talk. The idea of being attracted to an animal terrified him.

Hopping away a bit, he saw people, and started to recognize where he was. He was in the kangaroo habitat in the local zoo.

"Yes, I am the old woman you stole the shoes from. No, the others cannot hear me speak. I have to say that this form isnít so bad."

Kevin felt a surge of vulnerability. If this woman could turn him into a kangaroo and herself into talking kangaroo, she could do anything to him.

"Iíd say youíre about to learn a valuable lesson in humility," the kangaroo said. "You should have listened to me when I said the shoes were not for games. Magic is useful as a tool but it isnít a toy. Perhaps Iíd have been willing to be lenient had you not stolen them."

Kevin tried to speak, perhaps hoping to beg for mercy or appeal to the witch. However, he found the same physical limits that kept a kangaroo from speaking also effected him. Kevin shook his head. He didnít want this! While Kevin realized that she was right about him bringing this on himself, he didnít want to live out his life as a kangaroo!

"Perhaps," the woman started. "It would be more humane if I removed your human memories."

Kevin shook his head! He didnít want to forget who he was!

I donít want to be a kangaroo! I have to tell the zoo people. I can still write and stuff!

"All right young man, I wonít do that to you. However, you are still a kangaroo. You could try and write out your name, but if you do, youíll find that you wonít know how to write."

Kevin shook his head. No, Iím a human being! Iím not some dumb animal!

Panic began to overwhelm him. The fight or flight instinct almost consumed Kevin. He chose flight and hopped away.

As he hopped, his instincts were trying to assert themselves. Something in him didnít want him to think about his actions and to follow the kangaroo nature emerging from within. The perverted version of the advice of his coach struck Kevin as ironic, but frightening.

Kevin discovered that hoping was wonderful. Even if it was somewhat mindless, it was like running just for the sake of running.

When the witch turned kangaroo appeared in front of Kevin, he came to an abrupt stop.

"Does it feel nice Kevin?" she asked.

Kevin wasnít sure what she meant.

"Does hopping feel nice?"

Kevin nodded. I wonít have to go to school any more. The idea of going to school in his current form didnít register in his mind. Something had clicked when heíd been hopping. While a human could leap, it was nothing like this.

He almost felt like he did when switching from one game to another. Behavior that was natural in one game wouldnít work in another. A form logical to one story universe was incompatible with another.

Kevin nuzzled up to her, taking in her scent, and feeling her fur. He found her scent pleasing. It had the same effect on him that a girl wearing perfume he liked would have had when he was human. As he contented to nuzzle up to her, he really started to enjoy himself, the fact that she didnít resist only made it that much more enjoyable for him. Kevin was also noticing just what a beautiful kangaroo she was.

"Itís nice isnít it Kevin?" The kangaroo said.

Kevin clicked and pulled back. Did I do something wrong? However, he found that he wanted more of her. No longer was he the somewhat shy boy that would dream of having girls but freeze if one seemed interested in him. Kevin wanted to live for the moment. Inhibitions were fading away. If this female responded to him, he would seize the opportunity. Holding back didnít fly for him He could never act that way as a human. As a kangaroo version of him however was more open.

Oh my God, I am attracted to female kangaroos!

"Iím a little old for you honey," the kangaroo said. "But, Iím impressed with your progress. Most take days or weeks to accept the thoughts of their new species."

Kevin knew that he was acting like an animal. However, in this form it seemed right.

"I wouldnít enjoy the company of other kangaroos too much my friend. Within a month or so, youíll change back. That is, assuming you donít enjoy being a kangaroo too much. This spell wouldnít want to take it away from you if you like being this way. Oh yes, that other young man that also stole my shoes, Damian Turst. He spent some time here as well. He changed back eventually," the woman said with a chuckle.

Kevin blinked. He wanted to go back to being human. This version of him couldnít play video games or go to a restaurant! He didnít want to lose that. Perhaps however, he could take a vacation. The idea of a nice long break from homework and study was appealing to him.

"Donít worry about your family. Iíll let them know of whatís become of you. Think of it this way my friend. How many humans can say they know what itís like to be a kangaroo? Think of this as a time out for stealing my shoes," the woman said.

Kevin watched the kangaroo shift into a crow before flying off. Thinking about it, Kevin knew that heíd have to resist enjoying this form too much. However, that didnít mean he couldnít enjoy it. With a nod, Kevin resumed hopping. This was going to be a time worth remembering.