|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
The classroom exploded into shouts as the bell rang. The last day of school was here, and summer had begun. "Graham!" Mrs. Searce's command drew the attention of every other kid in his 3rd-grade class. There was no surprise, only mild curiosity as to what kind of trouble he was in this time. "Stay here. We're going to have a little talk." She had been crying off and on all morning off and on, and her eyes were still red and puffy. None of the other kids knew why, except him.
Did she suspect? No way she could know for sure, and he was certain she'd never be able to prove anything. He'd snuck over late last night with the poisoned tuna, and no one had seen him except her stupid cat. And it sure wasn't gonna be telling anybody anything. Still, he couldn't help feeling a little nervous.
"Johnny? Would you stay as well?" Now that did cause some surprised looks as the rest of the kids filed out. The little blonde twerp had been her favorite all year. Always knowing the answers, polite and quiet. Helping clean the blackboard. Teacher's pet. Graham hated him. The old bat was probably gonna use him as a good example again.
When only the three of them were left, she closed the door and glared at Graham. "So, you like killing animals? Bobby took a long time to die, you evil little bastard. He was in pain for almost an hour, and all I could do was hold him."
Graham was taken aback by the direct accusation. "Hey! You can't pro... I mean, I never went near your house last night!" Johnny stared at him in honest shock. The wuss probably stepped over ants.
Mrs. Searce moved back to her desk and sat down. "Such a wonderful cat. He was sweet natured, gentle as a lamb. He never hurt anything, not even the birds in the garden." Tears began to form, and she began to sniffle. If this was supposed to make Graham feel bad, she was failing. He was delighted to get his revenge for all those days after school, and the talks with his parents that always got him in trouble.
Johnny moved over to her and patted her shoulder, trying to comfort the old bat. She smiled at him through her tears and pulled him into her lap for a hug. Graham felt nauseous. He'd make it a point to make sure the twerp's summer was miserable. Didn't he have a dog he loved a lot?
The teacher looked at Graham sadly as she stroked Johnny's hair gently.
"This isn't even the first time, is it? I did some checking. A lot of animals have died in your neighborhood. A couple of people even suspected you, but nobody can ever prove anything. You're so clever, aren't you, Graham?"
She was trying to trick him into admitting he had poisoned her cat. And she had Johnny there to be her witness. He put on his most angelic face, and shrugged. "I don't know what you're talking about, Mrs. Searce. I never did nothin' like..." His voice trailed off as he stared at Johnny. The boy looked somehow smaller, younger. Then his eyes widened as the kid in his teacher's lap obviously shrank to what looked like a 5 year-old.
Johnny got a puzzled look on his face, and gasped as he looked down at himself. Now 4, he squirmed to get away, but the woman held him firmly. It was more than just getting younger. His face was changing, skull shrinking as his hair grew shorter and spread in an even coat across his cheeks. His clothes were falling off now, revealing an equally furry chest and arms.
Mouth hanging open, Graham could only stare in absolute terror as his classmate dwindled and changed rapidly, now a 3 year-old with whiskers and ears forming, then a 2 year-old more cat than boy. And then there was a very young, tawny-coated tomcat that struggled a bit more, only to finally settle down in the woman's lap with a contented purr.
Mrs. Searce smiled at the animal. The expression hardened as she looked back at Graham. "In case you haven't guessed, I'm a witch. And I have to have a familiar. You murdered my last one. Now you're going to pay."
Unable to move, Graham got a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"B-b-but you changed J-johnny. W-what did h-he d-do?"
She stroked the cat gently, smiling in a way that sent a shiver up Grahams smile. "You don't think I'd want a viscous monster like you for a pet, do you? Johnny will be quite happy as a cat. He doesn't remember being anything else, and in a few hours, no one will even remember he ever existed." Her eyes narrowed. "However, as for you..."
Graham jumped up from his desk and started running for the door. He'd get help! He'd tell everyone about the witch! He'd... fall on the floor.
Struggling to get up, he couldn't get his limbs to work right. Twisting around, he saw his arms shriveling up into the sleeves of his T-shirt, and tried to scream. Nothing came out. It was hard to breath, and he felt a burning in his lungs that spread oddly to someplace behind his head. Vision was blurring now, and he flopped helplessly in the growing pile of clothing he had been wearing. Twisting almost in half, he caught sight of shiny scales covering the finned appendage that had been his legs. He was lying on his side now, one eye providing a distorted view of Mrs. Searce as she sneered down at him.
"I know it is uncomfortable, Graham. But you won't suffer much longer." She stroked the animal in her arms, who was already staring at him hungrily.
"And I'm sure you remember how much cats love fresh tuna."
Teacher's Pet copyright 1997 by Bob Stein.
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