The Transformation Story Archive Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...

Faulty Goods

by Eala Dubh


The clerk, dozing at the desk of the store's Complaints Department, was shaken awake by the sound of a deep, gravelly throat being noisily cleared. He looked up through the counter screen to be fa ced by a lion. A very large and annoyed lion. After a quick double-take, the clerk did his job.

"May I help you, Sir?"

"Yes," the lion growled in reply. "I've come to return something. Look, do you think I could come into your office for a minute? I'm having to stand on two feet with my front paws resting on the c ounter so I can look in, and it's sore on my hind legs. Excuse me..." and the leonine face disappeared. There was a soft thump.

The clerk opened the side door, and the lion walked in and sat down. He was even more imposing than the clerk had at first gathered.

"Now what seems to be the problem, Mister-"

"Mitchell. Shaun Mitchell. You see I was here this morning, looking for an anniversary gift for my wife, something special and exotic. I was walking through the furs section when this lionskin thi ng caught my eye. The assistant walked over and told me it was an enchanted skin, and that if you put it on you could turn into whatever animal the skin came from. I asked if it's real fur and he sai d no, there's some company in South Africa that makes them. Anyway, my wife absolutely loves wild animals- we went on a safari for our honeymoon- so I thought it would be perfect. I bought the thing, took it home and tried it on to make sure it worked. A few seconds later I was down on all fours, so I looked in the mirror and sure enough, there I was. Teeth, mane, paws, the whole bit."

"Hmmm. Well, the skin certainly seems to work. So what's wrong with it?"

"I'll tell you what's wrong with it," the lion continued. "The damned thing won't come off again. I took a look at the instructions; there's supposed to be a tab or a zip or something that you're supposed to pull and the skin just slides off, but it isn't there. I'm stuck like this. And my wife is away for the weekend and won't be back until Monday, so I had to walk back- walk, mind you- all the way downtown so that you people can get this thing off me. Can you imagine how humiliating that was? The looks I was getting from people who thought I was an escaped zoo animal? Being contiually harrassed by police and having to explain who I was? I never want to go through all that again. And I'm starving. I haven't had anything to eat for hours. My wife is a vegetarian and she does all the cooking, so there was absolutely nothing edible in the fridge. What the hell's a lion supposed to do with a carrot cake?"

"I see," said the clerk. "Well, it could be that the tab has been placed somewhere that you can't reach. You are a bit limited that way, on all fours. Do you mind if I examine you?"

"Go right ahead," grumbled Shaun.

The clerk then proceeded to run his hands over Shaun's body... all over Shaun's body. Shaun merely suffered in silence, and wished he were somewhere else.

"You're quite right," the clerk said after a minute. "This skin really doesn't have a tab on it. There's nothing else for it but to send it back to the manufacturers. You'll have to come too of co urse, so they can separate you from it."

"What!?" Shaun was practically in hysterics now. "But that will take days! I've got a job to go to, what am I going to tell my boss? 'Sorry I've been away, I was stuck as a lion for a week'?"

"I'm very sorry Mr. Mitchell, but there's absolutely nothing else we can do for you here. You are however, entitled to your money back. Do you have the receipt?"

"Just a minute." Shaun had been prepared for this. He nipped out, and re-entered again with a jacket in his mouth. He shook it, and a wallet fell out of the pocket. Gently gripping a corner of the wallet with his teeth, he lifted it up and a piece of paper fluttered to the floor. The clerk picked it up and scrutinized it.

"Fine. Now, do you have some form of ID with you?"

This was a stupid question, but Shaun went along with it. He held up the wallet so that the clerk could see its contents. Shaun's bank card, his signiature on it, was clearly visible.

"Okay. Now, there's one more thing." The clerk shuffled some papers on his desk. "If you'll just sign this claim form..."

Shaun paused. "You've got to be kidding."

"Company policy I'm afraid, Mr. Mitchell. We can't refund any money or accept goods until the form is signed."

Shaun stood there in silence. All he could do was stare at the form on the desk, and at the pen which his huge paws were hopelessly incapable of gripping. He then thought about what a wretched day h e'd had, and turned his attention to the highly irritating clerk in front of him.

A few minutes later Shaun padded out of the department store, still thoroughly leonine and still thoroughly aggrieved. He began the long walk back home, and licked his jowls.

At least he wasn't hungry any more.

Faulty Goods copyright 1999 by Eala Dubh.

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