|The Transformation Story Archive||Strange Things and other Changes|
Ray had work to do, so he tried to ignore it. In the sense of not doing anything about it, he succeeded for a while, but his eyes kept returning to his forearms the whole time as he continued to type. It finally forced him to shake off his denial and just stare.
Stripes. Very faint, thin, black lines on his arms.
It didn't make any sense to him whatsoever.
He decided to send an instant message to Victor's terminal. "Vic," he typed, "could you visit my cubicle for a minute?"
A moment later, Victor walked leisurely into the enclosure. He looked directly at Ray's monitor as he said, "So what's the problem?"
"Not there, Vic. Here." Ray gestured at his arms. "What do you make of this?"
Victor stared at him for a moment, looking perplexed.
"First of all, Vic, do you see what I see, or am I just going nuts?"
Victor coughed, and responded, "Um...yeah. You've got some, uh, stripes." He paused. "What for?"
Ray snorted. "I don't know what for, Vic, I didn't put them there. You think I would be spending all my time drawing on my stupid arms?"
"I don't know what you do in this box most of the time, Ray, so I couldn't answer that."
"Stay focused, Vic. Lines are appearing on my freaking arms."
"And face," Victor added, cautiously.
Ray froze. Then, quickly, he untucked his shirt and peeked at his side. Sure enough. "Crap. What's going on here?"
Victor said, "Well, maybe I read too many weird books, but my first guess would be that you're turning into a zebra."
Ray glared at him, but then realized he had to take the possibility seriously. He looked back down at his arms, and it seemed that the stripes were slightly darker and wider than they had been ten minutes ago. They sure did look like...those kind of stripes. How could this be happening? "What do I do about something like this?"
Victor sighed heavily. "Well...I guess you should call a doctor."
"Great," muttered Ray, "another thing on my schedule. All right, I'll call my doctor and make an appointment for tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" asked Victor, with an Are-you-sure? inflection in his voice that made Ray want to reach for his keyboard to hit Enter.
"Yes. I've got too much work to get done today."
Victor looked at him skeptically. "Well, as long as you feel okay."
"I feel fine, other than having an urgent deadline."
"All right then."
Victor wandered off, and Ray called his doctor's office, made the appointment, and got back to work.
Throughout the afternoon, Ray kept his mind on his work. All the while, he was noticing the gradual change, but he was busy enough that he didn't notice that he was noticing.
He looked idly at his hand as he picked up the phone. It looked darker. "Hello, Sandra? These figures you gave me. They're no good as is. No, listen. The point is I need to know how they've changed, which means I need past figures also. Okay? Can you get me those? Okay. Thanks. And quickly, please! Thanks. Yes, quickly means today. It's the report, remember? Okay." He hung up the phone, looking at his hand again. It definitely looked darker than before. And a little different.
He worked on another part of the report while he waited for the data from Sandra. His hair felt like it was standing on end. Soon, he realized it wasn't just tension. Every hair on his scalp and neck was slowly getting stiffer. He ignored it. Really, he was ignoring it. He reached up with one dark hand and bent a few down to look at them. Some were black, some were white. He continued to ignore it.
As more hours passed, Ray found that his clothes weren't fitting quite right. That was very hard to ignore. It was irritating. He rubbed his dark muzzle with the back of his hand, looking at the vivid pattern on the back of his arm. He finally recieved the numbers from Sandra, so he proceeded to finish the charts.
At the end of the day, Victor walked into Ray's cubicle. "Well, I'll be damned. Look at you, man." From the bristly mane that stuck straight out from his neck, to his black-nosed muzzle, to his delicate hooves, to the thin, brush-like tail dangling from the back of his trousers, Ray was every inch a zebra.
Ray sighed. His report was finished, and now he could fully come to terms with what had happened to him. He didn't like it. "I don't know how do deal with this, Vic. Never mind that what just happened is totally inexplicable; how am I going to deal with this?"
"Well, you've been dealing with it all day, haven't you? Just be yourself. Do what you do."
"But what about when I go home to tonight to my wife? She'll have a heart attack!"
Victor thought about it. "Well, she's pretty tolerant, isn't she? Liberal-minded?"
"That's one thing, Vic. Finding out she's suddenly married to a zebra is another."
Victor flicked his yellow tail. "Actually, the term used now is 'African-descended.' You might want to keep that in mind."
Ray snorted. "What do you know about it, palomino boy? They call themselves zebras, so I can too, 'cause I'm a freaking zebra."
"All right, all right. And I'm sure your wife will be fine with it. I'm sure your whole family will be fine with it. You're still you, right?"
Ray sighed. "Yeah, I guess so."
"Right." Victor tossed his mane. "Come on, I'll walk you down. You don't match your security badge."
"Oh, yeah." Ray got up, self-consiously pulling up his loose trousers. "I'll have to ask Sarah at reception where 'we' shop for clothes." They walked toward the elevator.
"You're better off asking Steve," advised Victor.
"In accounting. He's shetland, and he's about the same size as you. Sarah will only be able to tell you where zebraic women shop. So unless you suddenly change gender over lunch tomorrow..."
"Very funny," sniffed Ray. He pushed the elevator button.
"So you finished your report?"
"I was talking to Sandra earlier. Did she get that data for you? The, what was it, the starting points?"
"Yeah, I got it. It's all pretty clear now."
The elevator arrived, and they stepped in.
"Oh, thanks for mentioning my family; you reminded me, I've got to pick up something for Kelly's birthday."
"Hey, yeah, how old is she now?"
"Wow. What are you going to get her?"
"Oh, probably an ape calendar and some posters."
"What is it with teenage girls and gorillas?"
"I don't know."
Whence copyright 1998 by Anonymous.
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