by Pascal Q. Porcupine

I was working in my laboratory on my nocturnality potion, when I heard a knock at the door. I paused to set everything aside, quickly donned my robe -- I didn't allow just anyone to see me naked -- and waddled over to the portcullis in question.

"Who's there?"


"Which one?"

"Um... The new one?"

"Ah, the 'new recruit' Lord Copernicus was telling me about. Come in..."

The door shuddered, trying to open.

"It's locked!"

"Oh, sorry." I unlatched the locking mechanism and pulled the door open.

Standing in front of me was an ordinary-looking human. He stared at me.

"Can I... help you with... something?" I asked.

He suddenly snapped out of it. "Oh, sorry. I was told all about you, and have seen you in brief glimpses before, but I wasn't expecting..."

I bowed to him. "Do you like it?"

He cleared his throat. "Er... yeah. I suppose. But anyway..."


"Anyway, I was here to ask if maybe you could help me with something."

"Perhaps. What?"

"Well, I'm new here, and the magic has started changing me into some sort of animal, and I was wondering if you could tell me exactly what kind."

I pondered for a few seconds. "Hm, nope. Would you like a drink?"

"Uh... yeah, I guess."

I opened up a cabinet and, stretching on my hindlegs as much I could, managed to pull out a glass. I walked over to my workbench and poured out a bit of the nocturnality potion, and pawed it to him.

"Uh... what's this?"

"It's a nocturnality potion. Keeps you awake."

"Looks like antifreeze." He took a sniff. "Smells like it, too."

I nodded. "Trying to fix that. Don't worry, it's safe."

"What's in it?"

"Seventy-five milligrams of caffeine."

"Is that a lot?"

"It's enough."

He quaffed the potion. "Hmm, tastes good. Ooh, feels good too..."

"You like it?"

"Yeah. You should sell this... call it 'Hillside Rain' or something." He handed me back the glass. "But anyway... so you can't help me with my problem?"

"Which problem is that again?"

"Needing to know what I'm becoming," he said, a bit irritated.

"Oh yeah, that. Sorry, I'm rather absent-minded. No, I'm not a mage. Magus might be able to tell you, though."


He appeared to be contemplating something, so I took the time to put the glass into the sink. When I returned, he was still contemplating.

"Is there something else you wanted?" I asked.

"Yes, I heard you made something called a... er... 'morph ring,' was it?"

"Yes, why?"

"I was wondering if one could... keep me... human..."

I shuddered at the thought. "Now why would anyone want that? And no, they can't do that, as they aren't strong enough to counteract the magic here."

"So basically..."

"Basically you're going to become an animal. Live with it. Some of us rather like it."

"Oh. Um."



"'Sokay. I don't have any spares right now, but if you want to try some different animal forms, to get used to it, I have one you can borrow for a little while..."

He sighed. "Sure."

I reached into a pocket and pulled out a morph ring. I pawed it to him gently. "Put this on, close your eyes, and concentrate on the ring. You should 'see' a list of choices; you'll know what to do."

He put on the ring, made of zebra-banded gold and silver with a ruby set in it, and closed his eyes. "What's this, 'latex?'" I suddenly realized I had pawed him my ring... "Oh shit, don't--"

It was too late; he had already made his choice. He glowed amber and shrank down to my height, his clothes becoming quite loose. His face reshaped to sport a rodentine muzzle, his ears flowed to the top of his head, his chest swelled ever so slightly. A bulge pushed out the top of his now-loose pants. The amber glow died down, and his skin was now black-and-yellow-splotched latex.

"You didn't want to do that," I said.

"Why not?"

"I pawed you the wrong one; that was my personal morph ring. You chose a form which I use for mixing caustic solutions, among... ahem other things."


At that point his extremely-loose pants decided to fall down, revealing his smooth, featureless crotch. Michael gave a high-pitched, effeminate shriek.

"What the hell?!" he shouted.

"Just calm down--"

"You want calm?! Jeeze... I'm turning back." He closed his eyes. Then he opened them, and closed them again.

"You'll find it a bit difficult when you're stressed-out... And your previous form isn't in the ring anyway. You can't change back with that one."

"Oh my god! I'm stuck like this?! What am I going to do?!"

"You're going to hand me my ring back, and calm down. The ring works on psychosomaticism, and when it's completely out of your mind it will wear off."

He sighed, removing the ring. "I can't ever get this out of my mind!"

"It's easier than you think; just don't try to. Generally after you've slept, if you don't dream about it it'll wear off. It might take a few days, but it'll take forever if you continue to fester over it." I took the ring from him, and stashed it back in my pocket.

"And what do I do until then?"

"First, take off your clothes. They'll just get in the way, and that form doesn't need them anyway. You'll just have to carry them with you for a while.

"Secondly, you now have no sweat pores, and latex doesn't exactly let heat out very easily. You'll need to take a lot of cold showers whenever you warm up. Have you met Matthias yet?"

"Uh... He's the rat, right?"

"One of the rats. Anyway, he'll show you where you can get one.

"Finally," I said, fetching something out of my pocket, "you'll need this." I tossed it to him.

He contemplated the narrow three-inch stainless-steel tube in his latex paws. "What's this for?"

"You'll need to urinate."

With a look of disgust, he dropped the tube, and it rolled under a bench.

"Don't worry, I wash it after every use..." I sighed, and crawled under the bench in question. "Don't touch anything!"

I heard him stand perfectly still.

I rummaged around, found the tube, and got up, hitting my head on the bench. "Ow!"

"You alright?"

"No! But I'll get better." I got out from under the bench, padded over to the sink, and rinsed out the tube. I stomped back over to him, and put the tube in his paw. "Don't lose it."

He sighed, and put it into a pocket of his pants, which were sitting on the workbench.

"You'll still want to take off your shirt. It'll get in the way."

He sighed, and started to take off his shirt. He paused for a moment, and looked down into the neck. "What the hell are these?!"

"Breasts. I am female, after all."

"But four of them?!"

I shrugged. "Porcupines have two pairs. Can I help it?"

"I thought you used this form for working!"

"And other things."

He sigh-growled, and finished lifting off his shirt. He piled it atop his pants.

"Oh, and while you're stuck like that, you'd might as well... er... explore. Let me get you something..." I padded over to another cabinet, and pulled out a small device with a nozzle on the end.

"What's this?"

"A breast pump. Don't over-inflate them."

He sighed, and took the pump. "Might as well," he grumbled. He picked up the pile of his clothes. "Is that everything I need to know?"

"All I can think of. Is that everything you wanted?"

"Not exactly," he grumbled. "But that's enough for today. G'day, milady." He stomped out the door.

I stared wistfully through the doorway, watching him walk down the spiral stairs. A tear came to my eye; I did not mean to harm the newest member of our odd family. After he had been gone for several minutes, I silently closed the door, cleared my mind, and got back to work on my potion.