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Jamie was already waiting in the Den when Allison arrived, puffing and dragging a large canvas shopping bag. "So what's so great I had to come straight out here?" he asked by way of a greeting.
"You'll love it," Allison said, throwing herself down in a pile of straw. "We're gonna play magic!"
Jamie raised a single eye-brow - a trick he had only recently learned and practiced at every available opportunity. "Ah?"
"You know! That stuff that Mr Chambers was telling us about for our project on the Caribbean."
Jamie scowled slightly. A slightly over-enthusiastic comment in class about the exploits of Captain Jack Sparrow had led to an entire class project on the real history of the Caribbean, and while he had to admit that parts of it were not too boring, it didn't contain nearly enough cursed Undead or giant sea monsters. "Which stuff?"
"That magic stuff. Voodoo! C'mon: I've got loads of stuff for it. It'll be neat!" Allison upended the bag onto the earth floor, spilling string, scissors, various marker pens, and some small, resealable plastic bags. Jamie hunkered down next to her. He had to admit, that stuff about Voodoo was kind of neat.
The "Den" lay in the lee of a telegraph pole in the middle of a ten-acre corn-field. The pole surmounted a slight rise, and supporting guy-lines meant that there was a 'safe' area all around it where tractors couldn't plough or harvesters reap. On one side of the pole someone had once dug out a shallow hole about a foot deep and ten across, and with the corn forming a natural golden wall all around, it made a lovely read-built encampment for a pair of ten-year-olds looking for a nice private space to hang out.
Allison got down to business. First she cut herself a handful of corn-stalks and trimmed them until she had a bundle about two feet long that she could encircle with thumb and forefinger. While Jamie watched, fascinated, she bent the whole thing in half and tied some string tightly about the middle of the miniature sheath, then again a couple of inches below the bend. This soon became a 'head' as she divided the stalks below the waist-tie in half to form two legs. Another small sheath was threaded through the main bundle just below the head, and Jamie laughed aloud as Alison's corn-sculpture suddenly revealed itself as a doll, about a foot high. Allison continued to work with the string, tying here and there and adding little twists of corn to provide a bit of shape. Despite himself, Jamie was impressed by Allison's handy-work and said so. Allison shrugged but grinned, pleased as she held out the finished doll.
"Now, who shall it be?" she asked.
"Nick Bosworth," Jamie answered promptly.
"Sarah Hampton," countered Allison.
"Piggy Carter. He stole my Winged Kuribo card last week when we were playing Yu-Gi-Oh!"
"Susan," said Allison with complacent finality.
"Damn right. And there's a really good reason for it too."
"What's that then?" asked Jamie, slightly peeved that his last suggestion hadn't been taken up.
"Well, firstly, she deserves it. She thinks she's so superior since she went up to the Sixth Form and she can wear lipstick and earrings now. She even takes her mobile phone to school."
"So do we."
"Yes, but she's allowed to. But the best reason is that for this to work, you need some items from the intended victim." She said victim with particular relish.
"I remember! Hair 'n stuff!"
"Right, and who has the most untidy sister in the world?" Allison crowed. She flipped a small plastic bag at Jamie. "Nail clippings collected from the sink yesterday evening." Another bag: "Hair, which she always leaves on the hair brush and 'round the sink when she washes her hair. And the best one yet…" A third bag, containing a rumpled band of pink fabric. "Her sweat band from badminton practice yesterday, and you know how hot it was."
"Eeeyew!" Jamie was impressed anew.
Using sticky tape, the hair and the nail-clippings were attached to the doll in the right areas. The sweat band (which Jamie insisted Allison handle) was not moist enough to wring out, but she settle for wiping it all over the doll and then tying it belt-fashion around the doll's waist. For good measure, she wrote "SUSAN" on it with a marker pen.
Susan was lying on her bed reading a magazine while her Mpeg played the Arctic Monkeys' Fluorescent Adolescent that she'd downloaded that morning. She started suddenly as the most peculiar sensation ran through her body: a sort of tingling, expectant sensation that she didn't much care for. And she definitely didn't like it when the most peculiar indigestion she'd ever experienced left a feeling like a firm finger running patterns across her abdomen. At least… she thought it was indigestion. What else could it be?
"All right!" crowed Jamie. "So what are we going to do to her? Stick her with pins? Burn her?"
"Eww! No thanks! Her bedroom's right next to mine! Besides, I thought of something much more fun."
"And that is..?"
"We're going to turn her into an animal," declared Allison.
Jamie considered this and the more he thought about it, the more enthusiastic he became. "Hey, yeah! Let's turn her into a pig!"
Allison shook her head. "Not a pig: a donkey."
"Why a donkey?"
"Because I just happened to pick up these after my riding lesson last week. Am I a genius or what?" She passed him four more little plastic packets."
"What's in these?"
"This one is hoof-clippings from Fairy's feet. The farrier was in on Saturday."
"Fairy would be a donkey?"
Allison nodded. "And these would be fur from her coat - easy to get since she's malting like crazy right now; a few hairs from her tail, and a few hairs from her mane."
Jamie laughed. "You're bloody brilliant! Come on then: what do we do first?"
Allison considered. "Hmm. I think first we do this." She pulled a single stalk from the base of the doll's back, just above the waist tie, tying it anew so that it stuck out from the bottom of the doll's spine. Taking the packet of tail hair, she delicately used a small piece of sticky tape to attach a few strands to the end of the stalk, trimming them to produce a little black tuft.
Susan was trying to concentrate on her magazine once more. The indigestion seemed to have run its course, though she still had that disquieting "fizzy" feeling. She did her best to ignore it, lying on her belly with the magazine propped before her.
With no warning, she suddenly experienced an intensely intimate sensation just above her butt. She yelled in surprise and clamped her hands firmly over the offending area, rolling sideways to administer a good tongue-lashing to whoever had just tried to goose her: Allison, she'd bet.
Her hands encountered something alien, and the half-formed cry stuck in her throat. In an instant, she was off the bed and twisting in front of her full-length bedroom mirror. Her jaw dropped. Peeking over the rim of her Levis was a long tail about eighteen inches long. It was hairless and matched her skin perfectly, erupting into a flare of black hair at its tip. And what really stunned her into stupefied silence was that she could feel it. It twitched as she thought about it. She could feel her fingers as they explored it.
Oh my God! I've got a tail!
It was a tail that she thought she recognised, too.
"Neat!" said Jamie. "What next?"
"Hmm. This, I think." Allison carefully taped two small pieces of donkey hoof to the doll's feet.
Susan had very little time to consider what to do about her new appendage. As she stood there, staring at her tail, she felt a tautness in the arches of her feet, like a painless cramp. The muscles spasmed and then…
Off-balance, she staggered back to her bed, falling heavily onto it. Her long legs twitched uncontrollably, and as she stared at the unfamiliar outline beneath her socks - Christ! I've got hooves! - her legs suddenly twisted and bent into odd and radically new proportions.
Desperate to know what had befallen her, she clumsily ripped off jeans and socks, and stared.
She had no doubt now. The tail and the legs were unmistakable. It was still her smooth, pink skin, but her legs were now decidedly equine in appearance, and where toes had been so recently, a pair of exquisitely neat grey-brown hooves now twitched.
I'm turning into a… a donkey?!?
"Ears next," Jamie instructed. "The ears are important."
"Easily done," Allison announced, and deftly fashioned two stalks of corn into long, asinine ears which she attached either side of the dolls head.
Susan was just drawing breath to call for help when the tips of her ears tingled violently.
"No, not again!" she cried but to no avail. The mirror across the room gave her a beautiful view of her ears suddenly stretching into tall points and moving slightly higher up the sides of her head.
Her mother's voice came from downstairs. "Did you call, Sue?"
Susan gaped as her ears automatically twisted toward the sound. Oh my God..! "Uh, no! No, it's okay, Mum!" Now that was an asinine thing to say!
It was several seconds before the irony of that thought struck her.
"Now do her hands," Jamie said.
"Okay." Two more hoof-pairings were taped in place.
Susan was on the verge of panic. She couldn't bring herself to call for help: for one thing, real as her alterations felt, she was half-convinced this was some sort of ghastly hallucination. What on earth had been in that cigarette Martina had offered her yesterday? What would her mother say if Susan called her up and told her she was turning into a donkey only to discover it was the end result of a slightly suspect roll-up?
But she could damned-well call Martina up! She picked up her mobile and started to call her friend's number up, but her fingers suddenly became stiff and clumsy. She whimpered as before her eyes, her hands seemed to blur as if through a very localised heat haze. When it passed, they were hands no longer, but the same neat hooves that her feet had become. And the joints of her arms had moved too. Forelegs?!? Four legs!!! The pun produced a slightly hysterical giggle.
"That's pretty good," Jamie said.
"But her body doesn't look much like a donkey's at the moment," said Allison critically. "Hold on a mo…" She used some more stalks to bulk out the body a bit, then applied more thread to alter the angle of the limbs. "There! Much better. Don't you think my sister looks so much better on all fours?"
Susan stood up, carefully balanced on her rear hooves. She had some vague notion of heading for the bathroom. The toilet was there; the medicine cabinet. If she couldn't purge this thing one way, maybe there'd be something in the cabinet that could help… She realised that wasn't the most rational idea she'd ever had, but for God's sake! None of her magazines offered any clue as to how she was supposed to deal with this! How I dealt with Bulimia, yes; Double-Crossing Double-Dater, yes; but I'm turning into a Teenage Mutant Donkey? None of them had covered that. She'd looked hopefully at How I made an Ass of my Cheating Boyfriend, but the article was not quite so literal.
Walking like this was not so difficult - easier than walking in high heels, actually. She crossed to the door, wincing as her treacherous mirror showed her bizarre reflection: a not unattractive teenage girl balancing on equine hind-legs, with hooves for hands, long, pointed ears, and an ass's tail poking out from under her Coldplay teeshirt.
She reached for the door-handle, grateful it wasn't just a knob, as her hand-hoofs scrabbled on the lever.
Then came a surge of vertigo and an odd twisting sensation. She lost her balance and fell forward, catching herself with her fore-limbs. She shook her head to clear it and tried to stand again. She made a funny, half-hearted rearing motion. Her clothes felt uncomfortably tight. She frowned and tried again, rearing up, staggering and halting in horror as she once again saw herself in the mirror.
"No," she whispered. "No, that's not me! It can't be!"
The creature in the mirror looked back at her with wide, frightened eyes. The face was very familiar, but below the neck… behind the neck, the person… animal, had the unmistakable body of a small ass: an ass wearing a stretched Coldplay teeshirt, behind which a pair of ludicrously strained knickers were struggling vainly to protect her modesty.
Allison dabbed a bit of paste around the corn-dolly and sprinkled Fairy's hair over it.
Feeling strangely detached, Susan used teeth and what little functionality was left to her forelegs to escape her clothing before it cut her skin. Knickers and teeshirt had come off fairly easily, but the clips on her bra were hopeless, and in the end, wincing, she pushed herself against the post of her bed, hooking a strap, and leaned heavily away until the garment snapped and fell away, leaving her entirely naked.
And she did feel naked, and looked it too. There was something disturbingly wrong with the donkey in the mirror, for it was almost completely hairless; clothed instead with smooth, pale, human skin. She gazed at herself in shock, trying to take things in. She swished her tail, flicked her ears: easy, natural movements.
Her breasts had vanished, she noted with a pang. Late to puberty, she had only just become accustomed to her adult chest and the never-admitted-but-fierce rivalry at school over relative cup sizes. Flat-chested now, she found two slight swellings low on her abdomen: a small udder.
A slightly itchy feeling made her skin twitch uncontrollably as it spread from her chest. Her jaw dropped as her skin darkened to a browny-grey colour, then began to sprout fuzz that swept across her body like a flood. In a very few seconds, she had completely changed colour below the neck, and was sprouting light-brown hair all over her body. The hair grew to about an inch in length, then stopped.
Well, at least I don't feel naked anymore, she thought, regarding the shaggy donkey in the mirror. Her human head -with it's ass's ears- looked back at her with wide, tear-filled eyes.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen," crowed Allison. "The moment you've all been waiting for: my sister Susan becomes a complete ass!" And so saying, she pulled a loop of stalks out from the front of the doll's head to form an instant muzzle, and tied it off with some thread. "There! Ta-dah!"
Susan knew what was about to happen. She was standing on all fours - despite attempts to the contrary, she really had no choice about that now - before the mirror and willing her face to remain her own. She moaned as she felt the now-familiar sensation of change. Her nose, mouth and chin began to draw out from her face, extending into a large, blunt muzzle, while the shaggy brown coat that covered her body began to advance up her neck, which was itself filling out. Her blue eyes darkened and widened into soft brown orbs with oval pupils. She felt her tongue thicken and her teeth grow, then a funny feeling in her throat. In sudden terror, she knew what was about to happen.
"No!" she cried, appealing to whatever perverted force was doing all this to her. "Please, not my voice! Please, don't take my voice from me! Why are you doing this? What Have I done?" But her words coarsened and gradually became unintelligible. "Plee-EEEEse Aah… eee… EEEE… EEEEEYAAAAAAW!!!" And to her great chagrin, the little brown donkey found her new voice, and she had a great deal to say with it, as her parents rushed up to see what the commotion was.
Jamie and Allison admired their finished handiwork.
"That really is pretty cool," Jamie said. "Could I keep it?"
"If you want," Allison shrugged. "It probably won't last very long though. It's pretty fragile."
"Hey!" he said, thinking of something. "I've got that liquid resin craft-stuff. We could seal it in that."
"Cool," said Allison. "That'd just about make it indestructible! Let's head over to your house now, then we'll take it and show it to Susan."