by Lloyd Brunnel
©2009 Lloyd Brunnel

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This is a TBP (Tales of the Blind Pig) story. Go here for info on the TBP setting

   You need to understand, I wasn't a SCAB. Yes, I was a humanoid housecat, but I was born that way: My parents were the SCABS, not me. Second-generation animorphs are uncommon, but we do exist. I had a childhood, just like everybody else, and I went to school, just like everybody else. Sure, my classmates made fun of me, but that got old after bit once they got used to me. I graduated from high school and got a job working the register at a bakery. Fast forward several years and I was happy, healthy, and well liked by my co-workers. I had found best friends in the two bakers, Luke and Flynn, and I'm sure the feeling was mutual. While not wealthy by any standard, I could meet my needs and was able to keep some cash stored away for a rainy day.
   Then I got sick.
   I didn’t think it was Martian Flu—most people didn’t. The doctors at the local hospital were familiar with my history, but since no one expected a person with feline physiology to get that Flu, there wasn’t any medication I could safely take. Ironically, it was after thanking the physicians for their time and resigning myself to a period of bed rest that things got worse. I'd just stepped out of the doctor’s office when I began to feel dizzy. My vision blurred and my head felt like my brain was on fire, and then I passed out.
   The next thing I knew, I was in a hospital bed. I don't remember what woke me up. The first thing I remember feeling was the cold: Pure, unadulterated cold air assaulting my body. It was when I rubbed my arms to try and warm up that I realized what was wrong—all my fur was missing. And when I opened my eyes… oh my God, the colors! So painfully strong! I couldn't smell a damned thing. And nothing sounded right, either. Panic surged through me, and I quickly checked over my body. My fur had indeed vanished, only pale skin remained, and my legs had lengthened while my feet and claws had shrunk. Examining my paws, I found them to have slightly increased in size, each finger longer and separate. My tail was simply gone, leaving behind an alien emptiness where the appendage once was. Finally, I raised a hand to my face and examined it. I winced as cold skin met cold skin, and I cried a little inside as my hand felt the flat face, whiskerless nose, and the immobile, rounded ears at the side of my head. They must have had some kind of monitors on me, because a doctor came in very soon after I woke up. I didn’t need him to tell me why I had passed out for two days; I didn’t need the mirror he offered, because I already knew what had happened. I had contracted SCABS.
   I was human.
   Well, I needed some physical rehabilitation—for one thing, I'd never really had heels before, so walking on them was more than a little weird—but that went quickly, and it wasn't even a week until the doctors said I could go home. My boss and co-workers were glad to have me back, and Luke and Flynn were overjoyed at my change and quickly took me out for a night on the town in order to ‘appreciate the finer aspects of the species’. 'Finer things'? What could be finer than the feeling of fresh grass beneath your paws, or the subtle interplay of Moon-cast shadows in the night? So I smiled on the outside, and went along with their talk about how much more enriched my life would be, but… my heart just wasn’t in it. The truth is, I was miserable, all the more so because I had no one to tell. My parents didn't understand; they were so damned happy for me! Every other person in my life was human, and I liked them well enough; I just didn't want to be them. Honestly, how can you tell someone, “I hate being your species” without offending them? So I kept my feelings to myself, and in the end I began to withdraw from the people around me. Work became nothing more than a monotonous chore and I started avoiding my friends; eventually I stopped going outside altogether.
   Things came to a head six months after I left the hospital. That's when Flynn and Luke appeared at my doorstep. I didn’t want to let them in, but they said that they’d wait all night if they had to. Flynn said they were worried about me and Luke asked what was wrong, but I held my silence. I thought they would just give up and leave—I wished they'd just leave me alone—but they didn’t. And then Luke stared me straight in the eyes and said, “It’s your SCABS, isn’t it?”
   I don’t know why it happened, but there was something about Luke’s raw, blunt accusation that broke my silence, that drew out all the feelings I had been storing for half a year. Every bit of resentment towards my new body was thrust into the open in the presence of the two people I hoped I’d never have to tell… but tell them, I did. I told them how I missed the paws that let me feel the ground as I walked instead of the dull silence of socks and shoes, how I couldn't get used to the continual rumbling noises that my old ears never heard, how I hated having to use streetlamps to find my way at night, and how garish I found the colours that now intruded upon my sight. I asked how they could stand being in a world devoid of the rich scents and sounds I once knew, asked how they could stand the frailties and cold of furless skin, and asked how they could even function without the instincts I now felt so vulnerable and helpless without. Luke and Flynn just stood there, listening as I cried out my hatred of their form. When I had finished, when every bit of misery was finally let out, I collapsed sobbing onto the couch, drained of all emotion and strength.
   Now that I'd finally brought my feelings out in the open, it was a considerable help. But… how would my friends react? Surprisingly, they weren’t offended by my outburst. Yes, they were hurt that I had kept it from them for so long, but they didn’t take it as personally as I had expected. It seems I was just like any other SCAB; they explained that after a transformation like I'd gone through, it was perfectly normal for anybody to miss their old body and hate the new one. Luke said I would be able to adjust and make my peace eventually, and Flynn said that they would be there to support me until that time.
   It’s now been a year since I changed. Sometimes I still long for my old form, but those periods happen with less frequency than in the beginning. Luke and Flynn have been very supportive, true to their word, and I am grateful they could put up with me for so long. I’m still a cat at heart, and I think I always will be, but I try not to let it distract me from the big picture. I can’t change the past, and I can’t let it drag me down, I have to make the best of what I’m given and strive towards the future.
   Besides, I've found that they're right about one thing: Being human isn’t all bad. At least I don’t have to a tail to deal with any more—getting it caught in doors was annoying!

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