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

News Hounds

by Bob Stein

Andy scratched absently at his arm, annoyed by the persistent itch. If the problem didn't ease up soon, he was going to have to see a doctor. His discomfort had started a few days ago, limited to his underarms and groin. Ever since, it had been spreading outward in all directions, until it felt like he had been bitten by thousands of gnats.

The odd thing was, nothing really showed. There was no redness or swelling. If anything, his skin had darkened a bit from its normal deep olive-brown. He held up one of his hands and examined it. Even his nails were darker than normal, as if coated with an even layer of dirt. No amount of scrubbing would remove the discoloration.

"Andy!" The older man behind the camera snapped at him. "Pay attention, kid! You're gonna mess up the shot."

He straightened, holding the heavy light bar back up in the proper position. He'd let it drop a bit as he scratched, shifting the carefully positioned shadow behind the actors. As if anyone was gonna notice where the shadow was in a silly commercial for some new air freshener. Being a cameraman's assistant was incredibly boring at times. Checking out the equipment, loading the camera, coiling up the cords, and on days like today, playing the part of a mobile light stand.

Not that his job was all bad. The station manager had just given him first assignment as a cameraman the other day, filming a local report on the resurgence of interest in the occult. Of course, no one really believed in that stuff, but the self-proclaimed witch who ran 'Black Dragon Occult' had made a great show when the and the reporter showed up at her door.

The ancient crone was thrilled to be the center of attention, eagerly explaining the different items she carried in her shop. The reporter had played her like a fish, getting her to talk about more and more far-fetched spells and potions. Then, at just the right moment, he had changed the tone of his questions from serious to mocking. The old woman was so taken in that it took her a while to realize she was being made fun of. Andy had felt a little sorry for her. And when the reporter started laughing at her, he got a little angry. Still, it was his first assignment as a cameraman, and he couldn't say anything.

Not that the old woman needed any help. Her eyes went cold and she pointed one of her clawed fingers at them. "Laugh, fools. You mock what you do not know, what your feeble minds cannot understand." Her bloodshot, clouded eyes narrowed and she started to mumble some gibberish in a voice that sent chills down Andy's back.

Even the reporter got nervous, tapping Andy's back and whispering that they had enough. The witch was still chanting angrily as they backed out of her shop, but Andy couldn't help notice a tear trickling down her wrinkled cheek as they left.

That single tear bothered him all day. The reporter made a big joke of the whole thing, and edited the film down to make her look even sillier. Andy's feeble protest that the resulting clip was misleading earned him a sharp rebuke from the reporter, and a lecture from the station manager. His job was to run the camera. They didn't need another cameraman.

Andy was careful not to mention the incident again, though he did make one attempt to soothe his own conscience. That night, he'd gone back to 'Black Dragon Occult' to apologize. He'd been lucky to catch the owner just as she was closing up. She didn't recognize him at first, but when he explained why he had come, she almost slammed the door in his face. Almost.

Her angry glare softened, and she motioned Andy to come inside. The woman seemed to have aged a dozen years since they had been there that morning. Her hair looked thinner, and her cheeks seemed to have sunken in. He felt a pang of guilt, wondering if the reporter's trick had made her ill.

"So, you've come to say you are sorry." The old lady went behind the counter and started to put some loose bottles up on the shelves. Her voice was flat and bitter. "I suppose that makes everything all right? I should forgive you for making a fool of me and my knowledge?"

Andy looked down at his feet, knowing that the humiliation was going to be much worse than the woman thought. "No, Ma'm. I just... well, I wanted to say I didn't know the reporter was going to do that. It wasn't fair. But I'm just the cameraman, and I have to do what they tell me."

She frowned at him. "You come to beg off the curse? Maybe you know enough to believe?" Her words were angry, but when she saw the obvious confusion in Andy's eyes, her tone softened. "Or is it true regret? You don't believe, do you?" It was a statement, not a question, but Andy shrugged and then shook his head.

"Honest, too." She shook her head. "If I hadn't lost my temper, perhaps I might have been more careful." Her anger melted suddenly into sadness. "I can do nothing for you now. Come back to me when you believe, and I can try to undo the damage which has been done. Leave now."

Andy had been bewildered by her change of mood, and was only too grateful to get out. Still, he was glad that he had made the attempt. It soothed his conscience a bit, even if the old woman was crazy as a loon. And maybe it had helped her cope with the TV report, for they had not received a complaint when it aired.

Of course, that was two days ago, ancient history as far as television news was concerned. And the reporter had called in sick today, canceling the second filming session of the occult series. Andy was very disappointed. The series had been his first chance to actually do some filming, and he hadn't had a chance to make up for his comments.

"Andy!" He snapped his attention back to the job at hand, and was relieved to see the actors clearing the set. The director must have called a break. One of the cameramen had noticed him still standing there with the lights. Bill, wasn't it?

"Uh, thanks, Bill. I was just thinking." Andy flushed slightly as the older man shook his head and grinning, and then left to join the rest of the crew in the break room. Laying the light bar down, Andy rubbed sore shoulders and stretched. Muscles complained all over his body, accompanied by aches that seemed to sink deep into his bones. Great. Maybe he was catching whatever illness the reporter had. Might be why he was itching all over.

Speaking of that, a tremendous itch started between his shoulder blades and he rubbed his back against the edge of the door frame. It felt wonderful, but for some reason, it made his left leg spasm. Shrugging the odd twitch away, he wandered into the break room for some tea.

"Hey, Andy! You finally ready to start shaving? Or did you glue that hair on your face?" Lee, a coarse-featured technician laughed at his own comments. Andy rubbed his cheek, and was surprised to feel a light stubble. Still in his early 20s, he hadn't ever noticed facial hair before. Curious, he went to the toilet and looked at himself in the mirror.

The amount of hair was surprising, especially since he hadn't noticed it this morning. Finer than most of the whiskers he'd envied on older men, the film of dark hair was like a heavy down on his cheeks. In contrast, a few of the hairs on the sides of his lips were overly thick and long, and much lighter in color.

Funny how much difference the hair made. The shape of his head looked different, giving the illusion of a pushed-out, narrower face. Even his forehead looked lower. Andy frowned, not liking the effect. Made him look ugly, even menacing. A drastic change from the baby-face that had always made him look years younger. One thing for sure, he was going to buy a razor on the way home tonight.

The rest of the day went downhill from there. His aches and pains got worse, and lifting the lightbar got harder by the hour. By mid-afternoon he was straining to get his arms to raise above his head, and the director finally replaced him. It didn't help that Andy had growled at the man when he was told to leave. Really growled, deep in his throat. It was hard to tell if Andy or the director was the more startled.

Fortunately, the director and the station manager both accepted Andy's explanation that he was feeling bad, and were only too happy to send him home. As he rode the crowded bus, the stench of body odor almost made him gag. Had the whole city forgotten to bathe? And the pollution in the air was a thousand times worse. Normally he didn't even notice it, but now the oily fumes burned his nose.

He had hoped for some respite in his room, but the odors were as heavy here as anywhere else. Except that the strongest smell was somehow comforting. It took a while for him to realize it was his own body odor.

This must all be part of whatever sickness he had. Disgusted, he lay down and tried to nap. Twisting and turning, he eventually pulled all of the covering into pile in the center before he could get comfortable. And just as he was about to doze off, the phone rang.

"Damn!" He uncurled himself and got up awkwardly to answer. "Hello? Who is it?" His annoyance made the person at the other end pause.

"Andy?" The voice was harsh and forced, and he didn't recognize it."

"Yes. Who is this?"

"Grant Baker." Andy blinked. The reporter he'd done the filming with? It sure didn't sound like that oily-voiced professional.

"Yes, Mr. Baker? Are you sick?" Andy could have kicked himself for the stupid question. Of course the man was sick.

"Uh, Andy? Could you come over here. I need to talk with you about.. something." He strained to understand the man. Whatever sickness he had, it must have either swollen his mouth or tightened up his throat. His first reaction was to refuse, but he stopped himself before he spoke. What if the reporter wanted to talk about filming another segment? It might be Andy's only chance to make up for his comments.

He agreed quickly, and got directions. Baker lived not too far away, though his building was rather more impressive than the plain apartment house Andy lived in. There was even a doorman to check Andy's name off a list, though the man gave him a dark scowl. His distaste was obvious, and Andy felt more than a little insulted. Maybe he wasn't well-to-do, but he dressed neatly and kept himself well-groomed.

Two flights of stairs brought him to Baker's apartment. The reporter had to fumble with the locks for a minute before he got the door open, and then backed away. Andy squinted in the darkness. Baker had turned off the lights, and closed off the windows so that the room was almost pitch black.

He started to reach for the light switch, only to have Baker bark angrily at him. "No! Don't touch that!" The odd distortion of the reporter's voice was even more pronounced, the words only barely understandable. Suddenly afraid, Andy flicked the switch on anyway, and recoiled in horror when he saw what was in the room with him.

The figure was hunched and twisted, its body covered with matted fur. Cruel fangs pushed out of its muzzle, with rough paws as hands and feet. Andy scrambled back towards the door, falling over backwards and knocking it closed before he could escape. "Baker! Lock it up! Where are you?" He looked around frantically, wondering why the reporter would keep such a hideous creature.

"This IS me, you fool!"

Andy stared. The words came from the misshapen lips of the monster, yet it seemed impossible. Baker was tall and handsome, the typical TV reporter. This.. thing... was grotesque. "What have you done with Mr. Baker? And who are you?"

The creature started to laugh, a hideous barking noise that sent chills up Andy's back. It sounded vaguely familiar, like something he had heard in a film or TV show. Then it fell to floor writhing in apparent pain. When the spasms stopped, the figure seemed unable to rise. "Tha ... hkrrrse. Oooo ady." The voice was weaker now, and much more guttural. It sounded almost like..

A jackal? That's what the laugh had sounded like. He'd seen a film on animals of the wild, and there had been a segment on scavengers. Now the figure seemed to have shrunk into itself, assuming a more bestial form to match its voice.

Andy started to ease towards the door again, feeling fear and confusion. "What are you talking about? What's going on? Is this some kind of trick.?"

The thing lifted its head to stare at Andy with yellow eyes. There was no doubt that it had altered in appearance since he came in. Or that it was somehow changing into a jackal. The head was almost fully formed now, and what had been misshapen arms had dwindled into forelegs within the past minute.

Cold horror filled his soul as Baker's words suddenly came into focus. The curse. Old lady. "No!" Terrified, Andy pulled open the door and almost fell out, slamming it behind him. Baker, if that thing in there really was the reporter, began to howl. The sound drew neighbors into the hall, staring at Andy a moment before locking themselves back in. It was an animal sound now, no remnant of humanity left in that mournful call.

Heart pounding, Andy stumbled down the stairs and pushed his way past the doorman. Baker's thick fur was a horrible reminder of the hair on Andy's face. He found a narrow alley between two buildings and pulled up his shirt. A low moan escaped his lips. His belly was covered with the same heavy down which coated his face, thickening into fur as it spread down under his pants.

Pulling them down, he got a stronger shock. His thighs and crotch were fully furred, and the sexual equipment nestled there was no longer human. His foreskin had attached itself to his belly, pulling the organ up with it. He pushed the covering down, and was startled to see the hard pink shaft which emerged. It was more than simply erect - it was actually the bony penis of a dog!

The old woman really was a witch! Andy shivered, feeling helpless. Was he going to become a jackal too? And why that choice? Jackals were scavengers, picking on the remains of other's kills, or attacking the weak and helpless animals of the wild. He winced. Just as the reporter had attacked the old woman. Made fun of her, toyed with her. Like a jackal after its prey.

His despair was so great that he almost forgot the old woman's parting words. "Come back to me when you believe, and I can try to undo the damage which has been done." When he did remember, he spun and ran from the alley with a strangled cry. People stared at him as he pushed past in a frantic dash for 'Black Dragon Occult," and he had gone several blocks before he realized that he had never pulled his pants back up.

Halfway there, he stumbled and fell, just catching himself with his ... paws? His fingers were drawing into swollen hands, and even as he watched, his arms got thinner. It was hard to stand, and he found that his pants had fallen down again. This time, it was due to the unnaturally slender waist under his barreling chest. Beyond any thoughts of modesty, he tore off his shirt and kicked his pants the rest of the way off. His sandals fell off with them, leaving him naked on the sidewalk.

A woman pointed and screamed, spurring him into flight again. His pace was slow and awkward, crouched over as muscle spasms pulled painfully at his back and legs. As the old woman's shop came into view, he fell again, this time continuing in a four-legged gait that seemed natural. Andy stopped suddenly, shaking his head as vision blurred and lost color. He cried out, but the sound that emerged was the bark of a jackal.

Twisting around, he saw that his body had transformed fully. No trace of his human formed remained. Once more, his soul was filled with despair, and he howled in misery.

"Stop that, you fool boy! Come inside quickly!" Andy looked up to see the old woman gesturing at him. He trotted inside on four legs, moving as easily as if he had been born with them. It was getting hard to think clearly, and he shook his head. Jackal body, jackal brain, jackal thoughts. Andy struggled to fight back the growing thickness, feeling animal instincts nibbling away at human comprehension.

And suddenly, his thoughts were clear again. Confused, he took a step forward, and went sprawling as his human mind tried to command a canine body. "What happened?" At least, that's what he tried to say. It came out as a long whine.

"Silence, boy!" She shook her head and muttered to herself. "What is this generation coming to? How much does it take for one of them to believe?" Then, turning to Andy, she glared down at him. "Stupid, stupid, stupid! Another minute or two, and you would have been lost forever. As it is, I don't know what I'll be able to do to help you. What did you think when the hair started to appear? Or the itching? Did you think it was normal?"

The door opened suddenly, and a middle-aged man walked in only to do a double take and hurry out when he saw Andy. "Hmmm." The witch looked at the shutting door, and then at Andy. "Can't have you scaring the customers. Something cosmetic, for now."

She hobbled to a table full of books, and pulled a dark, dusty tome from the pile. Flipping through the pages, she scowled occasionally, until her face lit up with a smile as she found what she sought. "Perfect!" She snapped her fingers. "Come here, boy."

Andy edged his way carefully to her, having to think about each movement to make the strange body work. She was muttering again, this time more of the nonsense words she had used when she had cursed him. However, her voice was even and calm, not dark with anger. Having little choice, he waited for he to finish.

As her chanting came to an end, Andy felt dizzy for a moment, and then yelped as a shock of pain pierced his brain like a hot nail, and then washed over his body like liquid fire. The pain vanished as quickly as it came, though. She'd cured him! He jumped up, shouting in joy. Only to fall silent at the sound of joyous barking.

Confused, he twisted around to find that he was still covered with fur, and standing on four legs. But there was something different about the canine body. It was thicker, larger than it had been. And the coat was even and glossy, instead of the matted fur of the jackal.

"You're a German Shepherd. Quite a handsome animal, too." The old woman patted his head and scratched behind his ears. Andy felt his tail wag in pleasure, bewildered yet comfortable with this new shape. The witch sighed. "Couldn't have a wild jackal hanging around the store. Scare off too many customers. Besides, if you weren't hauled off to a zoo, somebody might shoot you. So now you are safe, and I have a nice watchdog until I figure out how to reverse this curse."

Andy's bewilderment was more at his own reaction than at what the woman had done. This animal form felt perfectly normal, and he actually liked being a German Shepherd! He could still remember everything about his human life, and he didn't seem to be thinking like a dog. But movement was not only easy on four legs, it was natural to him. And the sensations were incredible. Scents wafted to his nostrils, rich and varied. And his ears could pick up a whole new range of sounds he'd never experienced before. Sure, vision was not as good, but the heightened sounds and smells more than made up for the loss of color and focus.

"It's all very nice for you now. Part of the spell I used." The old woman sighed and hobbled over to sit down. "At least it was a simple spell. The more powerful ones take too much out of me these days." She patted her leg, and Andy trotted over and lay his head in her lap for more attention. "That curse almost did me in, but I was so mad I wasn't thinking. Takes a lot of magic to work on someone who don't believe. It's a lot easier when they do. That's why you had to believe before I could help you. I just didn't have the strength to fight both the curse and your doubt."

She ruffled the fur on his back, and rubbed his chest. Andy dropped to the ground and rolled over on his back to let her scratch his belly. "Good boy. It's not so bad, is it?" His hind legs kicked at empty air as she rubbed, and he lolled his head back. "Far better than that reporter made out, that's for sure. If he isn't shot by police when they find him, he'll spend the rest of his life in a cage somewhere. Maybe he'll end up on the news himself!" She cackled in amusement. "Almost wish I'd left his mind intact. But he's just a normal jackal now."

"As for you?" The witch slid her hand down and grabbed Andy's penis. He froze instinctively, confused by her action. "I know someone with a nice Shepherd bitch. She should be in heat soon, and I expect any puppies you sire will be, shall we say, a bit smarter than most?" She let go, and Andy sat up and started to lick himself.

As he soothed the swelling organ, the old woman patted his head again. "Don't worry, boy. I'll change you back as soon as I get my strength. Might take a few weeks, or a few months." Andy looked up at her and growled. Stuck as a dog for a few months! "Or a few years?" He growled again, and stood up, fur bristling.

The old woman smacked his nose. "Bad boy! Unless you want to spend the rest of your life as a Chihuahua, behave!" Andy fell to the ground, cowering. She grinned, revealing more space than teeth. "Don't worry. I hate Chihuahuas. How about we make a deal? You serve me as my watchdog, and I'll not only change you back, but even give you a fresh start." She scratched his head. "How is that? Eight or ten years as a dog, and then wake up as a five year-old with your adult memories?"

Andy had little choice in the matter, but he had to admit that the offer was interesting. Except that he wasn't sure he could pull off acting like a dog all of the time. This body felt fine, but the idea of mating with a female dog was horrible. And playing watchdog meant attacking people, and generally being like a dog all the time. The woman was mumbling now, and Andy felt a little confused again. But after a moment he felt fine. There was a dim memory of walking on two legs. A trick he knew. Like sitting, rolling over, and shaking hands. Then even the memory was gone, and he was happy just to sit at the feet of his mistress.

The End

Please send any comments/questions to Bob Stein at

News Hounds copyright 1996 by Bob Stein.

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