The late fall sunshine bore with it a hint of the approaching wintertime. Which was fine by Sammy. Fall was his favorite time of year. Sure it bore with it the sense of the deads that winter brings on, but the colors and the crisp edge to the air, the festivals, the food, the approach of basketball season, it all leant an air of anticipation, of something just around the corner to Sammy's life. Made him feel that there was always a surprise and a newness to life.
He walked to the grocery store enjoying the morning air, thinking about what had happened to so rejuvenate him. To bring back so much spring in his step. He couldn't help but smile to himself, with the weight of the world no longer pressing him into the ground. And he had done it all on his own, last night.
He had come out to his grandmother, not that she hadn't expected it already. He told her everything. About his strange dreams, his odd feelings. Even about the weird things happening to his body. It had been the hardest thing in the world to explain it. Honesty wasn't one of his strong suits. But when he showed her, she rejoiced and danced around the room, dangling Sammy about under the arms like she had when he was a little kid.
He told her, and showed her, everything.
Sammy reached the end of Green street and jumped the low fence, slipping over the side of the steep embankment and into an overgrown hedgerow, thick with blown down leaves and shrubbery struggling against the fading light of the autumn sun. He was surrounded by enough plant life that he was hidden from view.
Hidden enough. He smiled and slipped out of his clothes, carefully packing them into the pocket of his sweatshirt, tying the waist and neck holes together to get his shoes in side with his oversize jeans. Once he had all of the clothes safely packed away, the chill of the air causing exciting little shivers to run around on his skin, make his ribs shudder under the tight muscles just under his skin, he tied the arms of the sweatshirt together around his neck and wiggled his neck a little, making sure that the sweatshirt bundle was tight but left him room to breathe. One hand unconsciously cupped his genitals in the cool air, feeling as his scrotum pulled up tight against his body, seeking warmth. Soon enough, he grinned to himself.
And that's when he triggered the change.
His body flexed, first dislocating certain bones, slipping muscle attach points and stretching his skin out. His light hair and body coloration changed, darkening and reddening, lengthening his body hair to unusual length, and there wasn't much of that in the first place. The freckles on his face stretched as Sammy's nose flattened out, stretching forwards to match his rapidly growing jaw. He lifted his head back as far as he could, feeing his spine lengthen and his tail push its way out through the skin above his butt.
He grunted as he held in the scream in his throat. His hands stretched towards the ground as he felt his hips tilt under, his legs shifting. His feet elongated and his toes compacted into a more squared configuration. Sammy then felt his testicles switch backwards and his young penis slide up against his belly, a sheath of furry skin forming. His chest skin loosened and grew fur as his shoulders switched angle, set more closely together. His ears swiveled up to the top of his head as Sammy leaned forwards, his arms taking half of his weight between them as his fingers curled under, growing claws.
The entire transformation took less than ten seconds, but once complete, Sammy felt immensely tired. He had succeeded, though. He had become a young tiger. A great cat; no, a great kat.
Problem was, he was a tiger that weighed all of 120 pounds. Slightly more intimidating than your average rottweiller perhaps, but still, not the awesome and inspiring presence of the powerful hunter he resembled. The average tiger would weigh closer to three or four hundred pounds. By comparison, Sammy was a featherweight.
Still, a featherweight with speed, strength and agility far greater than Sammy possessed himself in his normal body. His skinny, short 13 year old frame was no match for the unbridled physical power he felt when in his Kat form. At least now that his grandmother knew he could do it, he wouldn't have to hide his transformation ability at home. He could wake up in his Kat form and not worry about frightening his Grams into an early grave, or worse, have her call the animal control department on him...or the people from Stone Zoo near Boston.
He crouched low in the bushes, feeling his body temperature rise slightly. Fur had the natural insulation his bare skin lacked, and the stripes of his hide now blended in with the whippish shapes of the shrubbery around him, camouflaging him from even the closest scrutiny. His senses were alive with impressions. Scents, sounds, subtle changes in the air around him, tremors of motion in the Earth, and a sudden sharpness of vision that almost hurt in its intensity. He glared back and forth at the roadway before him. He waited, his senses straining for the right cues.
And then he heard it, smelt the exhaust carried on the wind. A car was coming. A certain car.
Barry was a kid from two doors away from Sammy. An older teen who had been a neighborhood bully his whole life. Sammy had been one of Barry's frequent victims, a status which didn't change when Barry became a driver and purchased his vintage 70's Mustang convertible. Barry had restored the car's body, and hyper torqued the engine. It guzzled gas and made a horrendous amount of noise as Barry ran around town. It was highly rumored that he took off the mufflers just to get the noise louder as he drove about town.
But today was payback day.
Sammy crouched low, waiting in the weeds as the Mustang came up Ginty Boulevard, rumbling as Barry clearly was speeding along the open stretch of slightly curved road. As the car drew closer, Sammy got ready. 13 years of mild abuse and just plain bullying was about to have an outlet. Barry actually switched gears as he came along side Sammy's hidden position, the car shuddering as the engine adjusted to the changes in its drive train.
That's when Sammy struck. He leapt out, arching high, his claws unsheathing and reaching as he cleared the top of the rag top. His claws sank into the thick fabric of the car, snagging deep and then holding firm as the motion of the car jerked hard against Sammy's shoulders. He snarled in pain, but pulled himself through it. A startled scream from inside the car's cabin made Sammy grin inwardly. He pulled himself up onto the roof of the car more, his back legs lifting his body higher up as he struggled to put his feline muzzle through the gap he had ripped while leaping on the speeding car.
Barry looked up, clearly startled and scared out of his wits. When his eyes linked with Sammy's green Kat eyes, he screeched like a little girl. Sammy roared, his tiger voice loud in the confines of the car and then, gaining eye contact again with the wide eyed driver, Sammy spoke through a growl.
"Barry! >growl< Bad!"
Barry's eyes bugged out even more, and he slammed on the breaks, yanking the wheel hard to the left. Sammy struggled to remain on the car as it yawed about wildly. He dug his claws in, front and back, his back toes finding a seam at the trunk and slipping claws under the lip of the seam. Sammy howled as the car spun hard, screeching from the wheels and the breaks grabbing hard, front and back.
But Sammy wasn't strong enough to hold on and was flung off the car. It had turned fully about and now faced backwards, throwing Sammy into the soft grassy median. He rolled with it, tumbling three times end for end, came up on all fours and charged forward. Barry had stopped the car, turned so that it crossed both lanes of his side of Ginty Boulevard's divided roadway. Spun three-quarters around. His eyes were glancing up at his ripped up rag top. He got out of the car and looked at the damage, visibly as angry as he had been terrified moments before.
"Sonuvabitch!" Barry screamed, hopping mad, as he examined the damage. Then he turned and looked over as Sammy stalked forwards. "Oh shit!" Barry said, looking at the juvenile tiger approaching him. "Nice kitty. Good kitty."
"Good kitty, my striped ass!" Sammy growled back., his head held low, his eyes locked on Barry's. "You've been a very bad boy, Barry. Very bad."
"This can't be happening," Barry mumbled out loud, backing up against his beloved car.
"Oh believe it, Baby! It talks!" Sammy said, changing his approach so he angled slightly away from Barry, almost circling. "This is a warning, Barry. You've been messing with the younger kids for a while. Harassing them. I wont stand for it. And I AM watching you." Sammy changed direction, angling back towards Barry, maintaining a distance he could easily cover but letting Barry think there was a way out. Sammy half wanted Barry to try to move, to run, just so that Sammy could prove his own physical superiority over Barry. To truly turn the tide on the bully.
"I don't hurt them."
"DON'T! Don't pretend to think you can tell me what I haven't seen you do. How I've seen you hurt kids over the years." Sammy stopped his pacing and raised a paw at Barry's head, one clawed toe stretching up to point. "And don't think for a minute that I wont make your life very....very interesting....if you don't leave the kids alone. All of them."
Sammy sprang forward, his claws raking up towards Barry's face, snarling. He stopped the attack just inches from smashing Barry in the head with his open paw, his claws extended to rip. Barry whined in fear as Sammy turned and slashed down, ripping out the tire on the front driver's side of the car. Barry screeched loudly as the tire burst, and Sammy took a short hop away, seated himself on the median.
"That's your warning. Next time, things get more....personal," Sammy said, a growl in the back of his throat. His tail thumped twice on the ground as he sat there serenely. A sharp odor of urine reached Sammy's wide nostrils, and he twitched his tail up, satisfied that he had terrified the bully just as the bully had terrified him for so long. Barry slid down his car, eyes closed as he trembled in fear and shame, having lost control of his bladder.
Sammy bounded away, heading back to the weeds he had sprang out of, trying hard not to giggle with delight. He felt strong and powerful, even smug. He had accomplished his goal without even having to hurt anyone. Sure, he was a little heavy handed and had showed his power openly to Barry, destroying parts of his car. But he never hurt Barry himself. He never became a bully himself.
He lay in the bushes as he watched Barry pull out his cell phone and call the motor club. Sammy just kept smiling with his tiger lips as he thought about how Barry was going to explain the damage to his vehicle. "Justice is served," Sammy whispered to himself, staring through the yellowing leaves and grasses.
"Yes, that was quite a display, tiger boy," came a voice from above Sammy. He spun about, looking around wildly for the source of the voice. It sounded like another kid, about his age. But no one was in plain sight. Sammy's nose flared, straining the air for a scent. "Up here," the boy's voice rang out and Sammy was able to crane his neck about to zero in on the source.
The boy was slender and short, but seemed as at home on the bole of the broad oak tree as if he had been born to it. His hair was a subdued russet color, almost auburn. The boy wore glasses that caught the morning sun and reflected back at Sammy with a warm orangish-red light.
"You saw all that?" Sammy asked, looking up.
"Oh, all that and more. You did extremely well in giving Barry the necessary warning. It might actually be effective at curbing his behavior. But you did make one mistake."
"Your sweatshirt. It had all your clothes in it, right? Where is it?"
Sammy brought one of his paws up to his neck and felt for the tightly tied bundle of clothing. But it was gone. His Kat eyes went wide realizing that all his money and his best sneakers were in that bundle. Along with his pants.
The boy in the tree took a simple step and dropped to the ground, making a forward flip on the way down and landing like a gymnast, arms wide for balance, feet together, taking all the shock of the landing in his knees. He stepped forwards and Sammy almost felt that there was something about the boy that he should have recognized. Something at the edge of his memory, but just beyond his understanding.
"Who are you? Sammy asked, uncertain of whether he should run or fight.
"My name is Andy Fox. Your name is Sammy Frost."
"How did you...?"
"I know a lot of things. I know that you aren't the only one like us in this town. I also know that Barry deserved everything you've done, but you were merciful."
"Do you know how I can get my clothes back?"
"Yes, but we can't do it now. The tow truck is here and Barry will be on the road soon enough. With any luck, he won't search inside the car, too worried about what you did to the outside."
"So....what do you want?"
Andy smiled and walked forwards, getting Sammy a little nervous. He stood up and squared his feline shoulders, ready to fight if necessary. Andy came forward, his hand held out to rub on Sammy's nose. Both boys flinched slightly at the contact and then...
Sammy couldn't help himself. He purred loudly at the touch, his sensitive nose taking in the scent of Andy, leaning into the soft touch of Andy's fingers. Sammy guessed he was about 15 or so. But his feline senses were alive with all aspects of this boy before him. His scent, his touch, the healthy glow of his skin in the morning light, how softly Andy's tread sounded in the bed of leaves and lightly packed earth. Excited, scared and curious all at the same time, Sammy let Andy continue petting him, running his small, surprisingly strong and gentle fingers through Sammy's fur.
On a whim, Sammy let his Kat tongue out to lick roughly at Andy's exposed wrist. Both boys shivered at the sensation. Andy because Sammy's rough tongue had tickled as it rasped the skin above his wrist pulse, and Sammy at the detailed and complex flavors of the other boy's skin; the saltiness of his sweat, the bitter aftertaste of soap, the dusty, cloying flavor of tree bark, all mixed with the oddly sweet and sour taste from the other boy's fleece pullover, and the heavy navy blue dye used to make the sweater so dark.
"I want to be your friend, Sammy. Because you, me, and a lot of other kids in this town, well, we have a lot of work to do."
"Good work. We're gonna help other kids. And we're gonna help ourselves."
"You really want to be my friend?"
"Even though I'm a freak?" Sammy asked, sitting down, slightly pulling his head out from under Andy's touch.
"We freaks gotta stick together," Andy said, stepping closer to Sammy. "We are more alike than you might guess at just this point. I've been watching you and several others for quite a while now. And the time has come for us to make a difference."
"What do you mean you've been watching me?"
"This," Andy said, reaching out to run his fingers through the thick fur along the sides of Sammy's jaw, "isn't the only secret you have. Just one that you are comfortable enough with for those closest to you to know. One of the reasons I choose you is for that other secret as well."
"Um," Sammy started to say, but the feel of someone stroking through his fur was too seductive, to enticing for him to get out his questions.
"Yes, I'm like you in that regard, Sammy. I'm not gonna jump on you and try to see if you are hung like a tiger," Andy said, looking Sammy directly in the eye as he opened his own Kat eyes in surprise. "But because we are both gay, as are the others we'll contact, we wont have to worry about questioning some of the things we'll have to do. Things we need to do to make it safe for other kids like us." Andy sat back on a tree root and continued to stroke Sammy's jawline and the side of his face.
"You know I like guys?"
"Yes. And I also know that no one else knows. You are safe with me."
"How can I be sure? Sammy whined, still leaning into Andy's fur stroking.
"Because, my abilities are all based on skills I've perfected since I was very young. Your powers are far superior to that in a fight. I can't stop you if you decide to rip me open. The best I can do would be to run for my life."
"You're gay too?"
"How did you know?"
"The same way you did. The same way we all do. You just know."
"I'm scared," Sammy admitted, leaning against Andy. "I barely know you yet I feel I can trust you, and you already know all my secrets. I've been careless."
"Not at all. I'm just that good at what I do."
"And what's that?"
Andy smiled and brought Sammy's head into his lap, stroking his nose fur. "Seeing what everyone else misses. Finding things other people want hidden. Knowing what's in your heart by how you move, how you act, and what you say."
"It's that simple?"
"It's that complex," Andy smiled. "I need your strength, Sammy. I can't do this alone."
"We'll be helping other gay kids out?"
"Yes. And others that can do the things we can. There are a lot of extraordinary kids in this town."
The young tiger boy thought about it a second, his mind reaching a quick decision. "Okay. I'll help."
"Thank you, Sammy."
"All this stuff you know about me.....what does that make you, um, uh, I mean...what do you think about me?"
"I think we need to get you some clothes," Andy said, pushing Sammy to his feet. "And we'll have to do it cautiously, because tigers, even ones as cute as you, aren't all that common in Canterbury. And naked boys running about in the streets on fall mornings are even less common."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Especially since we have to meet the others, and soon."
"Because something is going to happen soon, Sammy. Something bad has already happened to the strongest of us. We have to be ready for when it happens to the rest of us."
"Yes, little tiger boi. Something very bad. Follow me!" And Andy leapt straight up into the oak tree, executing a neat forward flip from the waist to land on the broad bough he had been sitting on while watching Sammy's escapade. "We'll take the thieves highway and make good time."
"We're gonna run in the treetops. Just follow me and trust your Kat reflexes. We'll be at your house in a little while. And then we have to cross the river."
"Because a little bird waits for us there."
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead