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Animated World: Drawn In

Part 1

"Kenny! It's after twelve! How can you stay in bed all day?!"

I blinked my eyes open, from what I was sure was one of the best dreams I'd ever had, to the pouting visage of my younger sister, Candace. 

Her huge, green eyes gave a visible twitch. 

I muttered something into my pillow and tossed a hand in her direction. But she wouldn't leave me alone. First, came the prodding with her hands, then the poking with her feet, and finally, the drops of water on my neck. 

"You promised to take me to the mall today after lunch!"

I vaguely remembered such a promise from several nights ago and sat up rubbing my neck to get the water off. My sister stood before me, framed by the dark, pen lines which surrounded her body, arms folded, and awaited my answer.

With a sigh, I brushed my hair back and nodded. That was all the affirmation she needed. I was promptly seized by her almond-pink arm and forcibly dragged out of bed and across the floor. Before I could look up, she'd tossed some of my clothes on my head. I lifted them up and glared at her.

"Be ready in ten!" Then she scampered out of my room, a colorful blur.

-----

As I got dressed, I reflected, for the umpteenth time, that I used to tease my sister by calling her a cartoon character for all her antics. I never expected it would literally come true. But then no one expected what began in the world over two years ago.

The first cases were on the other side of the world in strange places with names I could barely say. None of them occurred in the same town and none seemed connected to the other. But each affected, whether while they slept or over the course of a single day, changed from a normal human being to what looked like a living drawing. 

The art styles varied, especially at first. Some were in a nearly photo-real style with few physical changes. Others became like caricatures with odd-shaped heads and disproportionate bodies. Some resembled classical art styles from their culture. Others seemed to be in a new style altogether. 

Back then, the news talked about it all the time, screaming wild theories and even wilder preventative measures. For a short time, art schools were threatened and art museums questioned. But the changes continued, methodically, day by day with more and more people. The first cases in the US were the talk of everyone. Those changed sat somewhere between sideshow attractions, reality stars, and pariahs.

It wasn't until famous and "important" people started to change that the PSAs began. We had a week in classes which was less education and more the teacher throwing out hypotheticals. Of course, there was always the guy who wanted to talk about buxom cartoon girls. One of those guys even wound up as one with a particular version of the change. 

But panic is hard to keep up for a long time. We all got used to seeing the random person who looked like they escaped from an art project. At least until it was my sister's turn. 

Her change started in the middle of the day as she was watching something on TV and noticed part of her hand was a different color from the rest. No amount of washing or scrubbing helped and paint thinner had long been discredited as a home remedy despite one particular news network still bringing it up. 

By evening, most of her had been converted. My sister was one of the lucky ones. She didn't change all that much physically and she actually enjoyed her "color style". She also enjoyed a few weeks of popularity till the next conversion at her middle school. 

Of course, Candace's conversion didn't do anything to prepare me for when mom and dad were converted. My thoughts were interrupted by loud stomping near my door which told me that I was taking too long getting ready.

I tapped on the wall and hurried along.

Candace beat me downstairs and was already at her spot around the table. Mom and dad were both cooking. They couldn't be more different than before. Fortunately, in a good way. 

Mom of before had a short cut of auburn hair which coiled over her ears, stood a head shorter than dad, and always had back problems. A life-long artist, she would sit and work, crouched from sunrise till late in the evening on some painstaking project in her home studio. Now, mom was shorter than Candace with long, aquamarine hair which glittered in the sunlight and overwhelmed her body. She'd tried cutting it several times but, as part of the change, it regrew at a hyperactive rate whenever cut. She wore a white top and black pants as she stirred a bit of egg and sniffed with her little mark of a nose, which barely showed up as a slope in profile.

Though mom became a "little cartoon girl", she still spoke with a feeling much larger than her small body. The first few weeks were tough and I know it hit her hard when several of her "normal" friends stopped coming by and we got the cold treatment from neighbors. 

For mom, it was a revival. She actually embraced her child-like appearance. Her aches and pains improved and she got used to the face in the mirror. 

After mom, it was only a month before it was dad's turn. Like mom, he looked ages younger. The salt-and-pepper on his face was replaced by a smooth visage and bright blond hair which made Candace deem him a "heartthrob". Dad would glare and admonish her about that with his huge, brown eyes.

I didn't really ask how mom and dad dealt with it in private but I noticed that there was a lot more "parent time" with closed doors and that was the furthest I wanted to take that thought.

Mom set down her brightly-colored, cel-shaded spatula. As soon as she stopped touching it, it reverted to a normal one. Such was the case with everything someone converted came in contact with. That was why my sister's clothes looked like art even though I knew they were just ones she'd bought at the mall. It extended to people too, as I noticed with mixed regular/converted couples at school. Kisses got really weird as the influence would spread to the other. One of the long-standing jokes/topics at school was if there were ways to make sex better if the influence spread entirely to someone at climax.

Some still refused to touch the converted and there were always meetings and shouts of "normal"-only classes from hysterical parents. Most classes were regular anyway because the conversion rate in our area was still only about five percent.  

"Well?! Do you want ham?" My sister asked me with a glower. I must've flaked out. I looked to mom's dark U of a smile as she chuckled and I nodded. Dad and she shared a look. 

Tired of Candace being annoyed with me, I tried to turn it around on her, asking, "So why do you even need to go to the mall? You got clothes last month."

And then began the hyper-huffiness. Through it all, I got two inklings. First, that there was a Sunday sale somewhere. Second, that one of her friends was sure to be there and they were just converted and needed to go shopping and how dare I be so insensitive about someone at such a time when they needed friendship and support the most and besides I made a promise to do this and she thought I had more honor than to welch like this and so forth.

Mom tossed me a kind look and I rose to help serve lunch. At least that way sis couldn't complain for a bit. For mom and dad, they had a proper lunch. For us, late breakfast. They knew us so well.

Dad asked me the usual questions between bites of his meal. When would we be home? I turned to Candace for that. She tried to ramble, mentioning the contingencies of her friend's situation. He narrowed his eyes and watched her. One big problem with a drawn face was it was so much easier to read the emotional lines. After a bit of prodding, Candace admitted that there was also a cute boy who just got a job at one of the clothing stores. An older boy. Dad's face was also easy to read. Then he turned to me and made sure I would watch over Candace. 

I gave a half-salute with a serious face. Mom smiled but dad just nodded. Sure, he was a copy-editor now but he'd been in the army for years and it showed, despite all the changes to his appearance. 

Candace bit into her ham and held it till it turned bubble-gum pink. I knew she did it because it grossed me out. 

When we were done, there was no time to linger. I thought about refilling my cup a moment before I was wrenched from the table by my sister's claw-like grip.

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MajorKerina

Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.

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