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The large mall cop stomped towards me with menace in each step, his baton out and pointed at me.

“Hey, she is a payin-” started Laithe, presumably in my defence.

She was interrupted when I summoned a swirl of shadow around the mall cop’s face. It wasn’t just a small blindfold this time, but a full mask of writhing shadows.

“What…? Was that you?” she asked in surprise.

The alarmed look on her face caused me to momentarily lose concentration and the angry man stepped through the shadow, while it stayed in place, floating in the air. He reached for me with surprising speed, his large hand grasping. I didn’t allow him to touch me, I triggered my teleport, disappearing in a cloud of distorted air, a few crackles of electricity arcing over the protesting area of space I had previously vacated. I reappeared a few stands over and made a break for the exit, clutching my precious new purchases that had been stuffed into my satchel.

I rushed out into the crowds and ran back down the thoroughfare. There were a lot more people around now that it was midday, and I used this to my advantage. Making sure the space in front of me was clear, I looked back to check on my pursuer. He was still on my tail, people clearing a path for him as they noticed him. Noticing him wasn’t hard either, he was huge vertically as well as horizontally.

“Stop that changed creature!” he yelled angrily.

I flipped my hood up to cover my ears as best I could and hunched lower in an attempt to slip down beneath his vision. As soon as I couldn’t see him I jinked to the side and changed the way I was headed. This seemed to do the trick for the moment as he continued to blunder blindly forward through the mall goers like a bull through tall grass.

People were staring at me though, my ears difficult to conceal and my tail out and visible to all. Their eyes pointed the way for him and he changed course trying to find the object of everyone’s fascination. I teleported randomly again just as he locked eyes with me, and for once it did what I’d wished, putting me on the other side of him. I turned down a different thoroughfare and I saw an opportunity. Playing Assassin’s Creed back when I was a teenager finally paid off when I saw that group of skater goth kids I’d previously passed and made a beeline for them through the crowds.

They were leaning against a decorative island in the middle of the thoroughfare that housed a bunch of sad looking plants. I rushed over to them and shouldered my way through their circle, hiding in the middle. They all stared at me in confusion, one of the guys I had roughly pushed out of the way starting to protest. He was taller than me in that beanpoley way that kids his age are, the muscle of puberty having yet to come and fill out his form. He held a Bic lighter in his hand that he absently played with.

“Yo what the fuck are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m so sorry! That big mall cop dude is chasing me! Just let me hide here for a bit, I’m so sorry.” I pleaded.

“Yo if it’s that fuckin’ Charles guy I say let her stay, that guy’s a dickhead!” said one of the girls in the group.

It seemed to have an effect on tall and willowy because his face softened and he nodded, “Yeah alright, you’re one of us anyway!”

“Thanks!” I breathed, trying to get my lungs to fully inflate with air again.

“Hey, sit here you’ll be harder to see there,” offered another guy who had been sitting on the bench that lined the island.

“Cheers,” I said, sitting down in the space he had vacated, then I sat on my tail and had to get up and shift it around into my lap, “Fucking tail, ow.”

“Whoa that’s real?” asked the girl next to me who had spoken up in my defence at the start.

“Yeah, got it last night during that freaky storm,” I said grumpily.

“No shit, Vaughn got a power from the storm! Right Vaughn?” she said, looking up at tall and willowy.

“Yeah! I got telekinesis! It’s not like real strong but it’s pretty useful! Look,” he said excitedly, eager to impress.

He held out the hand that had been playing with the lighter. With a wobble it slowly began to float a few inches above his hand. I could see a bit of mental strain coming through in his face, but it was still kinda cool to see someone else with a power in the flesh.

“Can you do anything?” asked the girl next to me.

I hesitated. I didn’t really want to advertise my powers, so I shook my head, “Nah, just the fox ears and tail. Oh, and I wasn’t a ginger before either.”

“That’s cool though! Being ginger instantly makes you like 50% hotter!” blurted a guy who hadn't spoken yet.

“Oh, I guess so. I think mainly on girls though, like ginger girls are cute as, but ginger guys have to be rocking that lumberjack-lite vibe for it to work,” I said.

They all stopped to look at me for a second after I said that, and I was confused for a moment before the girl next to me spoke up.

“So you think girls and guys are hot?”

“Yeah, for as long as I’ve been interested in that type of thing,” I said cautiously.

“That’s fucking cool!” she said with a grin.

The others all nodded enthusiastically. Huh, I guess it was cool to be bi now? Maybe I just hung out with the wrong crowd in high school.

“Thanks,” I said with a very genuine smile.

That smile slipped from my face when I saw the mall cop prowling towards us.

I ducked down lower on the bench and whispered, “That’s him!”

“It is Charles!” Vaughn exclaimed in a hush.

“That guy is such a dick! He kept chasing us away from the mall last year but Kelly's mum complained to the mall and he got told off. Still acts like an asshole to us though,” another girl grumbled, indicating the girl next to me as Kelly.

They kept talking about all sorts of random crap while they shielded me from Charles the Dick Head.. I kept my hood up, and hunched down as small as possible. It seemed to work, because the patrolling mall cops just shot the group as a whole a few dirty looks and I got away with being hidden in plain sight.

“Hey let's get out of this place now. Try and smuggle… What was your name?” whispered Kelly.

“My name is Kalia,” I told them.

“Let’s go and smuggle Kalia out, like spies or something,” she said with a grin.

Which is what happened. We moved as a group through the mall, talking and laughing and acting like a bunch of teenagers. Which is I guess what they were. I wasn’t one but I did my best to act like it. When we finally pushed our way through the throngs of people coming in to get lunch before their shopping, the main entrance was just ahead. I could see Charles and another one of his cronies keeping an eye out around the way out.

We moved forward as we had previously, in trios or pairs, chatting away. Vaughn was on my right blocking the view of the two mall cops, while Kelly was on my left, chatting to me so my face was pointed away from them. We were just outside the doors when we heard a shout.

Turning around we were met with a red faced Charles barreling towards us, his face a mask of rage. We picked up our pace until we were thoroughly out onto the sidewalk where he had no jurisdiction. I turned and gave him the finger.

“Fuck you, you bigoted piece of shit!” I yelled out at him, “I hope you die alone!”

Vaughn laughed, “Holy shit that was brutal!”

“Thanks so much guys! I just needed a new set of clothes and that dick wouldn't let me in,” I said in relief.

“Why’d you need new clothes?” asked Kelly.

“Ah…” I stalled, quickly thinking of a cover story, “My parents kicked me out when they saw what I turned into… they’re crazy and… I don’t know. It was dark and I was just in my favourite hoodie and underwear. I had nothing but my card.”

“Oh shit that’s rough Kalia, I’m sorry,” Kelly said, “Hey I’m going to go home now if you want to come and hang out for a bit?”

“Yeah go with Kelly, her parents are real cool,” Vaughn said encouragingly.

“Oh, I don’t-” I started.

“No! You have nowhere to go right? Come with me!” Kelly interrupted.

I sighed and nodded, “Alright. Man, why is it that the younger people get the nicer they seem about this kind of crap?”

“What do you mean?” one of the other teens asked.

“Uh just… a lot of old people fucked me over last night,” I shrugged.

“Fuckin’ tell me about it!” another one said.

“Alright, let’s go then,” Kelly said taking charge.

“Oh, okay,” I said, a little dazed.

Kelly took my hand with a smile and dragged me away from the group, waving goodbye as we went.

“Cya guys later I guess,” I told the rest of the teens.

They gave me a few waves before they got back to messing around and doing whatever a circle of teens does. When we were out of earshot of the rest of them I turned to Kelly as we walked.

“Look, Kelly, I have to come clean. I look younger than I am,” I said slowly.

“Yeah? How old?” she asked with casual interest.

“Uh, twenty three,” I said awkwardly.

“Oh, damn you look way younger than that!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah it was something about my transformation,” I grumbled.

“Damn, no wonder you got kicked out, do your folks recognise you?” she asked in sympathy.

“Nah, I look completely different,” I said dejectedly, “Really I need to find my own place to rent out. I have money but… no ID.”

“Oh shit you can totally rent a place in my apartment building! We can be friends! The owner doesn’t ask questions and stuff, just rents it out,” she said excitedly.

“Huh, that might actually work,” I said in relief.

“Sick! I’m helpful!” she exclaimed cheerily.

I followed her to the apartment building she lived in and she chatted to me about her life. She liked to talk and I wasn’t kind to interrupt this kind person. I learned that she went to a local public high school nearby with her friends, where she spent a lot of time avoiding doing work and instead getting high and practicing her photography. She was really really into photography, owning an expensive camera and set of lenses.

The apartment building, when we arrived, was shown to be one of the ones I was absentmindedly complaining about yesterday. Run down and dirty, it gave off an air of poverty and crime that was almost enough to send me back to that abandoned house.

“Yeah, I know, it’s a shithole. It’s home, though and most of the city lives in places like this,” she said with a grin.

“It’s… not terrible,” I said trying to be diplomatic.

She just laughed and we went inside.

Following behind her we climbed way too many stairs before we reached her apartment. Which seemed to be exactly the same as the rest of the apartments from the outside. Inside, things were different, however, with colourful decorative rugs hanging from the walls and signs of cozy habitation everywhere. We came out into the living room where a woman was sitting on one of three couches and watching TV while she played some match three game on a tablet.

“Hey mum!” said Kelly happily.

The mother looked up and asked, “Hey Kels, who’s your friend?”

“This is Kalia! She got turned into a fox girl last night with all the crazy stuff and needs a place to stay, can she stay with us for day or two till we can get Mr Belrick to rent her a place?” Kelly asked in a happy tone that said the answer was already yes.

“Yes, grab the foam mattress from the hallway cupboard and set it up in your room,” she said, already turning back to her tablet.

“Thanks mum!” Kelly chirped and made a beeline for the aforementioned hallway.

When we were out of motherly earshot I asked, “She didn’t care that I’m a fox girl?”

“Yeah she doesn’t really care about much, it’s awesome, I can do whatever I like!” she grinned.

“Ah… sweet then,” I said, hiding my internal reservations about that type of hands off parenting.

“Plus when we saw all the craziness on the news this morning she was all like Oh those poor people so I think we’re all good,” she said reassuringly.

“Okay, that’s good then,” I nodded.

Kelly got the foam mattress out of the cupboard where it was folded up and we carried it into her room together. In stark contrast to the rest of the house, her room was decorated in an almost oppressively goth way. The light from the windows was prevented from entering by thick black curtains, and black was used just about everywhere it could be used. Instead of the usual skulls though were smiley faces and encouraging lines of text. The room matched Kelly herself, a goth girl with a happy personality. I couldn’t help but give a giggle at the place, it was too cute.

“What?” she asked with a grin.

“Nothing, I don’t know what else I expected when I was going into your room but this is just… so you,” I said, with a residual giggle on my voice.

“Thanks!” she laughed as we dumped the mattress onto the floor, “Now what do you wanna do?”

“To be honest, I want to look at the news. I was at the police station for most of the night so I’d like to see what actually happened,” I said.

“Alright let me get a clip up on my laptop,” she said, hopping onto her bed and grabbing a worn laptop from her bedside table.

I stared at her for a bit, unsure if I should join her. This time yesterday I was a guy almost ten years older than her and it would have been the height of weirdness to just hop onto her bed with her. She looked up at me and patted the bed beside her enthusiastically. Well I guess it was jumping on the bed time.

Sitting on her bed next to her I had trouble finding a good position to sit in. Eventually I settled on cross legged and fiddled with my skirt til it seemed to cover as much as I could get it to cover. I brought my tail around and hugged it the way I had discovered I liked to do. I buried my face in the fuzzy softness and gave a low moan of relief as I let the stress ease out of me.

“You’re so fucking cute Kalia, like holy shit girl,” Kelly said with a grin.

Being called “girl” sent a jolt of happiness through me that took me by surprise.

She looked from my big eyes peeking out from behind my tail to the tail itself and spoke pleadingly, “Since I’m helping you and stuff, can I feel your tail? I feel so fucking weird asking this, but it looks so soft I just can’t resist.”

I shrugged and flipped my tail into her lap with a soft whump. She reached down and ran her fingers through it, a smile spreading further on her face as her hands played through the soft fur. It felt really strange to be honest, not sexual or anything, but having someone touch you anywhere can feel weird, and it was doubly so for such a new part of my body.

“It is so soft! Ahh I love it!” she grinned at me.

I gave an embarrassed nod and she gave my tail back.

“Alright, now! I remember seeing a really good story on CNN before I went to the mall, let me try and find it,” she said turning back to the laptop.

She found it pretty quickly and we settled in to watch.

“Last night a disaster swept nations the world over! Strange storms swept across the globe, leaving chaos in their wake. The chaos they left was not flooded homes or torn roofing, no the chaos was far deadlier. In a sudden bright flash of light, people beneath the storms became changed into strange creatures, or were gifted with outlandish abilities. We go live to New York and the aftermath of a truly terrible tragedy,” the anchor said.

The scene shifted to a picture of leveled buildings and torn infrastructure that seemed almost too destroyed. The buildings were charred and burning, rubble lay strewn everywhere and dust swirled in the wind. At the center of the destruction was a huge black creature that sported multiple large bullet wounds and the like.

“Here we are in upper Manhattan, where a creature straight out of myth and legend attacked the city, a dragon. The creature appeared out of nowhere during the storm and began to tear apart the neighbourhood. Witnesses say that local law enforcement tried to subdue the creature to little avail, and it was only after the storm cleared were a pair of military helicopters able to fly in and engage the beast. It was killed during the exchange, but not before bringing one of the helicopters, and its brave pilots, down,” said a serious looking middle aged man.

The screen cut back to the anchor who said, “Thank you. Now as you can see, life on Earth has just become even more dangerous! The situation across the globe is tense as people come to terms with their recently emerged abilities and forms. Even the staff here in the studio have been affected, including myself. Last night I found myself suddenly able to conjure a small flame on my finger.”

He demonstrated this by holding out a finger, where a little candle of flame sprung to life and flickered brightly.

Dismissing the flame he returned to speaking, “The authorities are urging everyone to remain calm, and are asking all citizens who have found themselves changed in some way to refrain from using their powers until the government has come up with a solution to the crisis. We turn now to the round table where we have a team of experts to analyse the new reality we live in…”

The clip ended and I stared at the random suggestions, my mind full of conflicting emotions.

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About the author

QuietValerie

  • New Zealand

Bio: You may also know me as Rosilys Inknose. I no longer post on this website, if you wish to find the continuation of my stories, or just the ones I haven't posted here, you can find me under Quietvalerie on scribblehub and Rosilys Inknose on tgstorytime.

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