Be Careful What You Wish For
Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Fa/Fa, Mult, Lesbian, Heterosexual, Science Fiction, Extra Sensory Perception, Furry, Polygamy/Polyamory, Nudism,
Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Jacob Sanderson is a mundane in a world that is increasingly populated by survivors of the MORFS epidemic. Not for the first time he wonders what his life would have been like had he contracted the disease. He should of know that when the gods want to be amused, the grant a human's wish.
Jacob felt like he had been gut punched. He moved away from the lectern and sat down hard at the large table he shared with several of his co-workers. The whole department had been brought in for a company provided lunch to hear the announcement of the new department head. Jacob had been in the running, or so he had thought.
He didn’t hear the thank you speech by the new department head. It was someone that had been with the company less than five years. Jacob thought, Hell, the kid was coming out of the freaking TRAINING department, and he was supposed to head a department full of programmers, engineers and field techs?
The thing that burned Jacob more than losing the promotion was that this was yet another MORF survivor being promoted over everyone who was better qualified for the position.
His stomach sour, Jacob made his exit quietly and walked down several flights on the fire stairs to get back to his office.
It wasn’t long before one of his friends, a co-worker since the early days of the company, knocked on the divider. A wolfish face peered around the corner and into the semi-enclosed office.
“Hey Kenny.” Jacob said, forcing a smile and a good air. The look on the man’s face said his friend didn’t buy it for a second.
“Hey yourself, Jake.” Kenny said, dropping down into the visitor’s chair. “You left a bit early.”
“So what; it’s not like my standing around here is going to improve if I wait around to kiss the newbie’s ass, is it?” Jacob said trying not to let much of the disappointment leak out.
“It’s not like we both don’t know exactly why he got the job.” Jacob continued, “It was PR, pure and simple. Ever since the Board implemented that new policy, they’ve been pushing MORFS into positions where they don’t belong so we can look good in the media.”
His friend chuckled. “Be careful Jake, you’re beginning to sound like a Purist.”
Jacob stared at the wolf hybrid sitting across from him, stunned, that his friend would even mention those black hearted bigots, then looked at Kenny’s yellow eyes and laughed sourly.
“Not hardly,” Jacob smiled at his longtime friend, “not with a brother, sister and two cousins all survivors and my daughter playing Tinker Bell without a flying harness in her school’s play this weekend. You know just as well as I do that I could care less if the people I work with, or work for, have skin, fur, fins or scales. I just want them to know their job, and know that I can trust them.”
“Trust is a hard commodity to bank on,” a new voice said from the outside of Jacob’s small office.
“Yes, it is, Mr. Sellers. But it’s a commodity that’s served me well.” Jacob said standing up from behind his desk.
The man with Mr. Sellers stepped forward.
“Ben Silvers, sir;” said the man who had received the promotion. “I know you were in the running for my position, Jacob. Can I trust that we will get along?” Mr. Silvers put his hand out in an invitation to shake.
Jacob instead reached down to his desk and pulled his ID badge out of the computer console. He turned it to show the new manager the number on it.
“The number on my badge is sixteen, sir. Kenny’s badge number is eighteen. My loyalty is to this company. It’s stuck by me through good and bad times and I’ve done the same. If you’re loyal to the company and to its people, we’ll get along. Sir,” Jacob said.
“Sixteen, eh. I would have thought you would have risen higher in the company by now.” Silvers said his curiosity evident.
“Well, depends on how you look at it, Mr. Silvers. On paper, I’m the Senior Design Engineer, while in fact my assigned duty is to be a very expensive Customer Service Rep. The reason for that is that I’m a blunt instrument. I’m an Engineer; I deal with facts, numbers and practical applications. I have little patience for politics in general and office politics in particular. I speak my mind plainly and succinctly. There are those who find that trait ... uncomfortable.” Jacob glanced at Mr. Sellers, who looked away.
“And your opinion of my promotion?” Mr. Silvers asked.
Jacob studied the man for a moment. Jacob knew he had just been dropped into a minefield; but he also knew that he didn’t have to worry about his next paycheck. That gave Jacob the liberty to be brutally honest with his new boss.
“Since you asked; Mr. Silvers, I think that your promotion is a PR stunt designed to get public opinion off our backs because of the civil discrimination suits brought earlier this year. You have been with the company about five years as a junior then mid-level trainer.”
“At this point in time, I don’t see how you are even remotely qualified to lead this department. But; I may not have all the facts on your background. You’re now the proud owner of twenty-eight programmers, design engineers, CSR’s, one slightly eccentric den mother and the company historian who knows where all the bodies are buried. Do you think you can handle that? If I came to you with an issue a customer was having with his toroidal magnetic plasma containment units, would you even understand what I was talking about?”
Mr. Silvers smiled. “I see your point, Jacob. With your help and help from the others, I’m sure that I’ll be able to muddle through until I get the hang of things.”
The new manager put his hand out again, and this time Jacob took it warmly.
Saturday morning found Jacob out in the backyard of his suburban home. With a five acre lot, you really couldn’t call it a tract home, but neither could you call the area rural. Having always been an early riser, he was outside in shorts and work boots doing the chores that always needed doing. He had finished trimming the hedgerow that screened the pool when his twelve year old daughter fluttered out through the open patio door.
“Good morning Princess.” Jacob said pulling her into his arms as she stopped fluttering her gossamer like wings.
Other than her four wings you could swear that the little girl had never been afflicted with MORFS. She had entered Stage One the day after her tenth birthday party. He had to remind himself often that Angel would be turning thirteen this summer, and wasn’t the eight year old she appeared to be.
“Morning, Daddy.” She hugged him then wiggled to get down. Jacob set her down and headed for the door.
“Don’t play too near the water, Hon” Jacob said as he went indoors, pulling the screen door across the opening.
Sara, his wife, was making her special pancake breakfast for the family. He gave her a kiss and a quick hug as she flipped the cakes on the griddle in the middle of the stove. Even after eighteen years of marriage, he still loved her like the day they first met. Jacob’s mother had kept telling him ‘lovin’ don’t last, but cooking do’. Jacob would just quietly nod and not tell her that Sarah’s loving was just as good as her cooking eighteen years after they first said ‘I do’.
Most of the extended family was due in the next day to attend the premier of Angel as Tinker Bell. There would also be time for visiting. It was going to be a madhouse around the place for a day or so.
Jacob corralled his two sons to go out and pick up the inevitable pile of toys and other items left out around the yard and to get the yard mowed and raked. Like most teenagers, they balked and made phony excuses, but Jacob wasn’t buying what they were trying to sell and off they marched to get their chores done.
By mid-afternoon as much as could be done had been done and Jacob declared the pool open for business to cheers all around. The three teens headed inside for their swimsuits along with his wife. The rest of the day was spent relaxing around the pool. The water looked inviting and Jacob decided to dive in and swim laps.
At six months shy of turning a half century, Jacob was at least trying to stay in a shape other than round. Swimming was about the only athletic activity that he did regularly since his two sons were too old to play with their ‘old man’. Even with the regular session with the pool he was developing the typical desk spread of someone who worked in an office.
He went from one end to the other, changing strokes as he went. The mindless exercise allowed him to let his thoughts drift. He found himself thinking about his brother and sister, both survivors of MORFS and the changes it brought to the family so many years ago. He also thought about his daughter.
Angel had been a rising sports star, on the volleyball and softball teams. Probably not good enough to make the state teams, but talented enough to contribute reliably to the teams’ wins. MORFS had changed her life greatly.
The first year was rough for her, the teasing and bullying from her classmates almost too much for her to handle, especially from one group. One particular incident occurred when she was shopping with her Uncle Tony and they became separated in the mall. Apparently a group of bullies found her alone and cornered her in the entrance of a service hallway. No one is really sure about what actually happened, but witnesses reported hearing a piercing scream and when they arrived, the bullies were unconscious on the ground and Angel was unharmed. When Tony found her, Angel clung to him and hid her head in his fur.
The scene replayed itself two weeks later during school. Angel was able to defend herself in the same way, this time leaving most of a hall full of students collapsed on the floor.
Tony and Kelly had similar experiences with MORFS. Tony went from a 5 foot 8 inch skinny geek to a 7 foot tall grizzly. It seemed to suit his personality. Mom had remarked often that Tony was a bear in the morning. Kelly, his sister, had morphed into a lynx hybrid. Never the shy or retiring type, the first time someone remarked “here kitty kitty” Kelly used her razor sharp nails to shred their shirt in about two blinks of an eye. That ended the bullying for her. It had cost her the price of a replacement shirt, but it was worth it in the end.
Not for the first time Jake wondered what it would have been like to have contracted MORFS. What would he have been transformed into, how would it have changed his life and what sort of effect it would have had on his current job.
No use dwelling on what will never be. Jake thought climbing out of the water.
The sun was setting in the western sky when the family went inside for the evening.
The next morning, Angel fluttered down from the loft while Jake was rattling around in the kitchen setting up to cook breakfast.
“Morning Angel,” he said quietly so as not to disturb the rest of the still sleeping family.
“Hi Daddy.” Angel said fluttering up for him to hold her.
“What’s on your mind, Hon?” He asked moving her around so that she was riding piggy back. His five foot ten inch stature made it a given that Angel would be safe from the ceiling fans in the kitchen and dining rooms.
Jake could feel her nod against his shoulder.
“Hon, do you know all of your lines?” Angel nodded. “Do you know all your cues?” Again his daughter nodded against his shoulder.
“Then what’s to worry about? I know that you’ll do fine.”
“What if I mess up?” Angel asked.
“Hon, did you ever hear about what happened when I had my first choir concert in high school?”
Angel shook her head.
“Well, I was part of a trio that was to do a set of songs all by ourselves. The three of us practiced our songs until we knew them cold. The night of the concert came and we got out there and I choked ... couldn’t do anything but croak like a frog. No, I think a frog might have sounded better. But anyway, I just mouthed along with the other two. I was so embarrassed that I had let the teacher down and the others in my trio. After the concert the teacher said that it happens to the best of people, the world wouldn’t end and that there would be another concert coming up in the fall.”
“What I’m trying to say is this, you go out on stage, you do your best, and that’s all anyone can ask. If you mess up, it’s not the end of the world, your mom and I will still love you. But I know that you will do just fine.” Jacob said handing his daughter a piece of toast with butter.
True to his prediction, Angel made a wonderful Tinker Bell. The play was a total success if the applause from the audience was to be believed. The after play celebration with the cast, crew and parents was rather short, seeing as how most of the cast and crew had to get up early the following morning for classes.
As soon as the family got home Angel and the other kids said their good nights and headed for bed. Most of the other family members had said their goodbyes at the party. The only ones left at the house were Kelly and Tony, his sister and brother. Jacob’s wife went into her office to catch up on some business and that left Jacob alone with his brother and sister. Tony and Kelly sat down while Jacob went to get everyone drinks.
“I’m sorry to hear about work Jake.” Tony said taking his drink. “Everyone knows that the assignment should have been yours and that the company is doing this for self-serving reasons.”
“Yeah, I know. If I was a morf, the point would be moot. I would’ve had the position long ago.”
“Maybe so, but would you have wanted to put up with the crap we had to when we changed?” Kelly asked, sprawled along the sofa and eyeing her younger brother. Her tail, draped off the cushions, twitched.
“If I knew then what I do now, probably.” Jacob said, smiling at his sister. “You didn’t have it so bad once it got around that you took on Mister Super Jock and won.”
“That’s what you may have thought, but the girls were vicious in spreading their lies and gossip.” Kathy replied sourly. “It’s easy to defend yourself against an assault. It’s a lot harder to stop gossip and half-truths. People will believe what they want.”
The conversation turned to suggestions for Angel’s party when she turned 13 the following month. They discussed it for a while then when the clock struck eleven; Jacob took his leave and went to join his wife in bed while his brother and sister settled on the fold out bed in the living room.
Morning came and found Jacob back at his office. He had a service ticket waiting for him on his tablet. The WesTech Research lab was having problems with one of its machines. Gathering up his kit of tools, test equipment and software patches, he set out to the lab, which was in an isolated industrial park past the outskirts of town. The guard at the gate stopped him and then checked his ID before calling someone.
“Go right on in Mr. Sanderson. Reception is through the main door and down the hallway.”
Jacob just waved and pulled into a parking space and went inside. He waited for the Technical Support Manager to come and escort him into the lab space to where the recalcitrant piece of equipment sat.
“Sanderson. You’re not the Sanderson that presented the paper on hybridization of process controls in non-linear manufacturing at last year’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering conference, are you?” the man asked as they walked the corridor.
“Guilty as charged,” Jacob said smiling as they reached the air lock for the lab.
“This is our newest facility and we are using a number of the principles outlined in that paper here to help with our research. To tell you the truth, I was expecting a tech for this call, not an Engineer,” the tall man said.
“This is one of the first trouble calls we’ve had on this particular product. I want to see firsthand what problems it’s having.” Jacob said blithely to the manager.
Cycling the air lock the manger led the way back to the machine in question. It was the company’s latest model of rapid DNA analyzer.
“Can you explain the application of the DNAA in this setting?” Jacob asked.
“Sure. We’re researching the process of how MORFS re-writes a person’s genetic code. The company maintains a medical center where MORFS patients are cared for through their transformations. We take blood, skin and other samples at regular intervals and run them through here to gather the data for our researchers who are building several process models.”
“How many samples do you run at a time and what’s the interval?”
“Anywhere from two to ten samples every two hours.” The tech manager replied.
“That’s well inside the specs for the machine. What specifically are you having an issue with?”
Before the manager could answer, there was a loud bang from the back of the processing area and a white cloud of gas could be seen spreading through the room. The manager hit an alarm button on the wall and seconds later an automated evacuation message could be heard sounding throughout the building.
The manager punched a code into the airlock system, allowing the inner and outer doors to open simultaneously. A number of lab technicians ran past the pair in a panic to get out. Jacob pushed the manager ahead of him, through the doors just as there is a blast of heat and then ... nothing.
A babble of voices woke Jacob, indistinct but there, noise in the background. Another noise caught his attention, the not so steady beep beep beep of a cardiac monitor. He carefully opened one eye and tried to make out his surroundings.
From the sickly shade of green and tan on the walls, he was in a hospital, turned face down on the bed. A muted double chime sounded and seconds later a nurse walked into his room.
“Good evening Mr. Sanderson,” the nurse said quietly. “The monitor told me you were awake. Don’t try to move too much at first. You have all sorts of widgets hooked to you at the moment.”
The nurse held a cup of water with a straw to Jacob’s mouth and he sucked on it instinctively. It wasn’t very cold, but it did taste better than the inside of his mouth.
“What happened to me? There was...” Jacob began then stalled, his mind not finding the rights words to say.
“The doctor will be here in a couple of minutes, Mr. Sanderson. She can tell you all you want to know.” The nurse set the cup down and departed.
The doctor followed in almost immediately. She pulled a chair over so that she could sit within his field of vision. Jacob tried to raise his head but couldn’t.
“Good evening, Mr. Sanderson, I’m Doctor Ratchet,” the older woman said. Her hawkish features did little to allay his growing concerns about his condition. “I’m glad to see you awake finally, we were beginning to get worried.”
“There was an explosion,” Jacob started but the woman cut him off.
“Yes, I’ll get to that in a minute. I wanted to let you know that your condition is improving and that you should be out of stage two soon.”
“Stage, two? Stage two of what?” Jacob asked, his voice showing his confusion and concern.
“Stage two MORFS. Hasn’t anyone told you about your condition?” the doctor inquired, looking down at the chart.
“No. I just woke up. What happened? I was at ... working, in a lab, and there was a white cloud and then an explosion.” His speech was a little sluggish.
“Yes, that’s all correct. The explosion was a bomb, planted by an anti-MORFS terrorist group. Two people were killed and several others injured. You were the most seriously injured.”
“There was searing heat, on my back.”
“Yes, you were badly burned when you were brought in, but MORFs has taken care of that, along with the glass fragment wounds you suffered. There have been some major changes with you, Mr. Sanderson. We can discuss them more completely when you finish stage two. We’re going to sedate you again so that you can finish your transformation.”
The doctor nodded at someone out of Jacob’s view. Almost instantly, Jacob was out of it again.
When the world did come back into focus Jacob was still in the hospital bed. The monitor beside his bed beeped in time with his heart rate. The noise grew to grate on his nerves.
“Be quiet,” Jacob growled. There is an almost inaudible “zittt” and the monitor went dark.
“Good afternoon, Jacob,” came the familiar voice of his wife. “I’m glad that you’re still among the living,” her teasing tone was friendly and comfortable to him.
The pair ignored the triple chime from the overhead speakers and the soft voice announcing a code blue.
“You’ve been telling me my job was going to put me into an early grave. If I didn’t know better, I would swear someone was trying to speed me along.” He swung his legs off the bed and slowly pushed himself into sitting upright.
At that moment the room’s double doors crashed open. A pair of nurses rushed in pulling a tall red cart behind them and stopped when they saw their patient sitting upright in the bed. One immediately moved to where he sat and grabbed his left wrist checking his pulse. She put her other hand under his chin to check the carotid pulse in his neck.
“How are you feeling?” the nurse asked, attempting to reconcile the differences between what was in front of her and what her instruments were telling her. The second nurse pushed the crash cart out of the room and waved off the rest of the resuscitation team. Jacob looks down at the nurse and wrinkled his nose.
“Other than being totally grungy, I’m doing okay, I think,” Jacob answered quietly. “I would like to take a bath, is that okay?” I hope this is just a frog in my throat, he thought to himself. His voice sounded so much different than before.
“The doctor will be here in a couple of minutes. She can tell you.” The nurse checked the monitor next to the bed and pressed several buttons on it. She smacked it on the side, not seeing Jacob wince in sympathy for the machine. Then she went to the wall phone, dialed an inside number and waited for the other end to answer.
“Hey, this is Wanda Jennings; MORFS ward, room one-eight-eight-one. The EKG monitor has blanked out. Yeah, it’s completely ten seven. Can you send up a replacement? Thanks, you’re a sweetie. Bye.”
“I wish customers would call me sweetie.” Jacob said jokingly. “And none of them are nearly as cute.”
The nurse blushed as she left. Jacob’s wife swatted him on the leg as she sat on the bed next to him.
“It’s obvious that you’re feeling better. Not awake five minutes and you’re already flirting with the girls,” she said.
“But only you get to take me home.” Jacob said sliding an arm around his wife and hugging her close.
“And it better stay that way too, stud.” Sarah told him. “Oww ... not quite so hard.”
Jacob let up on his hug, not realizing that he was squeezing hard enough to hurt his wife. He tapped his foot, impatient for the doctor to arrive. It clopped on the tile floor.
Jacob looked down at his ‘foot’. Or should he say, hoof. He flexed it up and down and watched as it moved up and down. ‘Yep, that’s me.’ Next he took a close look at his hands. There were three fingers and a thumb on each. Frack. Guess I’m going to have to learn typing all over again, he thought, turning his hands over and flexing his fingers.
The door swung open again. A doctor and one of the nurses from earlier came in.
“Grand central station, can I help you?” Jacob quipped as the doctor approached.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Sanderson. Glad to see that you’re awake. We’ve never had a MORFS patient of your advanced years; and given the circumstances, we were concerned,” the doctor said.
The nurse set about removing the heart monitor leads and then reached beneath the hem of the hospital gown to gently remove the catheter that had been inserted. Jacob barely winced as the long Teflon tube was pulled out. The nurse removed both it and the large collection bag that had been hung on the lower portion of the bed.
“Advanced years, my foot; well, my hoof,” Jacob grumbled at the doctor. “Dr. Ratchet was in last ... sometime. She wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell me much of anything. And what circumstances are you talking about?”
“The complications from your other injuries. When you were admitted Mr. Sanderson, you had severe second and third degree burns over 20 percent of your body, as well as blast and shrapnel injuries.” The doctor told him quickly.
“But the sixty-four thousand dollar question is how did MORFS get triggered? I’m well past the age where people normally get it.” Jacob asked, hoping the doctor would hurry up so he could get into the shower.
“It’s not quite clear yet how that happened. It could have been a mutated strain of the original bio-warfare virus, or a combination of chemicals and reagents. The lab held a number of different experimental cultures.”
“In other words, you don’t know.” Jacob said flatly. The doctor shrugged.
“Even after sixty years of study, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about this syndrome, Mr. Sanderson.”
“Doctor, I don’t want to be rude, but would you mind coming back in a while. I really would like to shower and get this stink off.” Jacob said.
“Of course, I believe the shower in this room will accommodate you. This room is set aside for our larger MORFS patients. I’ll have housekeeping change the bedding while you’re cleaning up.”
“Yes, Mr. Sanderson. We’ve estimated your height at somewhere between seven and a half to eight and a half feet. There is a scale in there as well if you would like to use it.”
“Oy,” was all he could say. He waited until the doctor left to get off the bed and get his hooves under him. The digitigrade stance was something he was going to have to get used to. Jacob kept one hand on the bed as he walked to the end testing his new body. He took several tentative steps to the end of the bed.
Don’t think about walking, Jake, just walk, he thought to himself. Many years back, in college, he took karate as one of his gym classes. After a month he was still flubbing basic moves. You’re over thinking them Jacob, the instructor told him. Don’t think about them, just do them. He chuckled wondering what Sensei would think of this application of that lesson.
He crossed the open space between the bed and the bathroom door several times before he felt sure of his footing. Jacob’s hooves clopped on the tile floor in the bathroom as he entered. The large mirror over the double sink drew his attention. The curiosity about what MORFS had done to him was a larger draw than getting rid of the layer of grunge that covered his now massive body.
The first thing that caught Jacob’s attention was his face. The sapphire blue eyes that he had been born with were now replaced with dark brown equine eyes spaced only slightly further apart than normal. His jaw and mouth had been stretched slightly into a semblance of a horse’s muzzle. The lips were much thicker than before and he chuckled when he lifted his lip and made a sound that closely resembled a horse’s laugh.
His new coloring caught his attention next. Gone was the pale fish belly white skin. His arms, what he could see of them anyway were now covered in thick short horsehair. Even through the layer of thick gunk that covered him, Jacob could see that his coloring was deep chestnut red. He reached up with his much larger hands and pulled the hospital gown off and tossed it into the laundry bag by the door.
Jacob’s gaze traveled over his reflection. The same thick horsehair covered him from his ears which now sat on top of his head and flicked easily to track sounds to as far down as he could see. White fetlocks of longer, finer hair began half way down his much larger, heavily muscled arms.
A tickle at the back of his mind was trying to recall where he would have run into the DNA for a draft horse.
The powerful, whole body sneeze broke into his self-inspection. For now; he would just accept the fact that he had changed and would worry about the whys and how’s later.
Turning carefully, he crossed to the huge shower stall. It looked like it would hold half the football team from his old high school with room to spare. He turned the water on and adjusted it to a comfortable temperature. Stepping into the spray from the multiple shower heads he slid the shower door shut when it slid open again and Sarah, naked as she could be, stepped in beside him.
“If you think I’m going to pass up a chance to have some alone time with my Hubbie, you’ve got another think coming.” She told him gently. “Besides, you’re going to need someone to scrub this gunk off your back.” Jacob could see the broad smile on his wife’s face.
Which was easier said than done. Jacob couldn’t reach back that far and Sarah couldn’t reach that high. In the end Jacob got down onto all fours and let Sarah washed his back that way. It wasn’t uncomfortable for him to stand that way, but it wasn’t something that he’d want to do for hours on end.
Between the hot water and the comforting hands of his wife, Jacob closed his eyes and relaxed. It had been too long since he and his wife had any ‘down time’ together. Between their jobs and other demands, alone time together had become a rare thing. Her hands felt good on him, Sarah was making sure she didn’t miss an inch of his new body.
The outside world faded, his universe was only him, the warm rain on his back and the hands on him. And that scent. He whickered calling to the mare that made that intoxicating scent. He rubbed his neck against her, rumbling. She soothed him, stroked his side, quieted the urgings building inside him.
Then she touched him. He whinnied. The touch was familiar and strange at the same time. He couldn’t think, only feel ... so good ... so ... sooo
He heard himself bugling and then there was nothing.
Toes. Pretty painted toes. Lifting his head he could see a pair of bare, shapely legs that made their way to nicely rounded hips. He looked upward more and found a very familiar face, with an enigmatic smile.
“Welcome back,” Sarah said over the sound of the shower. “Feel better?”
All he did was nod.
Sarah leaned in and kissed him on what felt like his nose.
“All done,” Sarah quipped while she turned and shut the water off. “Be glad that someone else is paying the water bill, Stud.” She turned back and wrapped her arms around his neck, then kissed the top of his muzzle again.
Using her hands she slicked water out of his coat, then started over again with the utilitarian white towels the hospital used.
It took a while to get both of them dry enough to be presentable. Sarah left first. Jacob followed her out a few minutes later.
“While I’m sure that most equines don’t worry about what to wear home, I have a feeling that someone might take exception to my leaving with only my wife and a smile.” Jacob said to Sarah, draping his head over her bare shoulder and snorting into her ear.
“Behave. Or I’ll get out my riding crop.” Sarah pushed his head off her shoulder and continued getting dressed.
“Promise?” Jacob replied, teasing her just as much.
“Oh! You’re wicked!” Sarah said, exasperated, but giggling at her husband’s playful antics.
Just as Jacob stood up straight, the doctor came through the door. Jacob took hold of Sarah by the shoulders, using her to fig leaf himself from the doctor.
“Should I come back?” The doctor asked no one in particular.
“Doctor,” Sarah said, “Jacob can’t wear any of the things he was brought in with. Do you have something that might fit?”
“I think we can find a set of scrubs that will work. We have a Clyde working in orthopedics.” The doctor answered her while looking past Sarah at her transformed husband. The woman unconsciously licked her lips.
“A Clyde?” Jacob asked.
“Clydesdale” the women answered almost in unison.
True to her word, the doctor was back shortly with a set of dark rose colored surgical scrubs. She gave Sarah a grin when she left promising to be back in ten minutes with his discharge papers.
It was more like fifteen minutes later when the doctor walked back in carrying a medical chart and a folder of paperwork. She gave them both the standard rundown on filing the paperwork to get an addendum to Jacob’s birth certificate and all the other changes he would need to make to his new identity official. She reminded Jacob to make a post MORFS appointment at the center that was most convenient and to try and have it done within the next four days.
“Since I doubt that you want to be in scrubs any longer than necessary, you should try the Wings and Tail store near the shopping center. If they can’t fit you, then try The Hitching Rail Tack Shop. They have a bigger selection, and I know they can fit you. They are a bit pricy, but worth it,” the doctor suggested.
“You shop there enough to recommend them?” Jacob asked, looking down at the Doctor’s petite five foot five inch frame.
“Mr. Sanderson, the university has a department of veterinarian medicine attached to it,” the doctor replied stiffly. “Between it and the surrounding working farms, we treat more than the average number of equine and bovine MORFS patients. I can recommend them because that’s what the patients tell me. The cashier is on the first floor. Have a nice day.”
The doctor walked out the door and left them in privacy. Jacob pulled on the scrub top and gathered what few personal items that had survived. They stopped at the cashier’s cage to take care of the insurance payments and headed for the front door.
The pair walked through the wide sliding glass doors into the early afternoon and stood at the vehicle turnout. None of the employees or visitors streaming past gave Jacob a second look.
Jacob stretched up, looking for the family car, and was surprised at the differences in his vision and scents he could smell now.
Jacob looked around and spotted Kenny from work leaning up against one of the company’s panel vans.
“Hey Kenny! Nice of you to drop by.” Jacob said as they approached.
“I thought you might need a ride home. Not too many cars are built for people your size.”
“Thanks guy. Do you have time to chauffeur us around a bit first? I need to get something to wear besides these oversize pj’s,” Jacob responded.
“Turning into a clothes horse, are we?” Kenny asked, smiling.
Jacob gave him a surprised look and then all three of them laughed.
“Be careful Kenny or I’ll drag you along to the next conference and turn the presentation into a real dog and pony show.” Jacob chuckled.
“You wouldn’t dare.” Kenny said real fear showing in his eyes.
“You’re right, I wouldn’t.” Jacob said, putting his hand on his friend’s shoulder, knowing about Kenny’s all but terminal fear of crowds. “I wouldn’t torture you that way. You’re sure we’re not putting you out?”
“Jake, its Saturday. No worries mate. The wife and pups are all at her mother’s for the weekend. You’re actually doing me a favor.” Kenny said ushering them to the truck. “I love Gladys because she’s family, but if she keeps throwing dog snacks and yelling fetch I’m going to start marking her carpets.”
They made their first stop the Wings and Tail store that the doctor recommended, but left when they saw the store was geared more towards college aged kids.
Sarah dug around in her purse and pulled out her eCom and called The Hitching Rail for directions. It wasn’t far.
The store was huge. Themed like an old western-styled ranch, the trio wandered about looking for the BIG section. A clerk, a twenty something young man, dressed in a western vest, jeans and chaps strode over to them. He gave Jacob a rather strange look, as if he couldn’t jibe something he was seeing with something his brain was telling him.
“G’day. Can I help ya’ll with something?” the man asked keeping an eye on Jacob.
“Yes. Equine large department?” Jacob asked.
“Right this way, Doc.” The man led them to the far side of the room.
“You’ll find your sizes along this row, Doc. We’ve received in a new shipment of leather pants for sheaths like yourself.”
“You seem to know a lot about me, young man.” Jacob said quietly.
“Well, Doc, hell, you were in here just a while back, looking for a new wardrobe. You got six sets of jeans, eight shirts, underwear, and were fitted for rubbers on your hooves.” The clerk recited from memory.
“You have me confused with someone else. I’m not a doctor, despite what I’m wearing.”
“Oh, hell,” the clerk said dejectedly. “The rumors really are true. I’m sorry. When you came in ... You’re an exact twin of Doctor Martin. I had hoped you were him.” The man was getting distressed.
“What rumors?” Sarah asked the man quietly.
“That he’d been killed in the explosion at the research center. He was involved in some project about MORFS. He changed about six weeks back. Talk about your ninety pound weaklings. Before his change a strong breeze could have carried him off,” the clerk explained.
“I was caught in that same explosion,” Jacob said quietly. “I’m sorry that he was killed.”
Not knowing what to say to that the clerk turned and began pulling out styles of pants and shirts that would fit Jacob’s new form. He explained the structural differences between clothes designed for those equipped with sheaths or dangles.
“Eh?” Jacob commented.
“Sheaths and dangles? Sorry, I should have explained better. For hybrid forms, it’s the way the male points, up through a sheath, or down like a regular human.” The clerk said quietly to Jacob. “You’re a sheath and quite a nice one too.”
“And you know this how?” Jacob asked, not sure if he really wanted to know the answer.
“Someone had to teach the good Doctor about his new anatomy,” the clerk said, a knowing smile returning to his face.
Jacob ended up with a number of jeans, shirts and the rubbers for his hooves that the doctor had ordered, but not picked up. He also picked out a pair of leather pants. Trying them on in the dressing room, he modeled them for Sarah and Kenny. The store clerk had a lustful look in his eye, as did Sarah.
They were very low cut and showed off his new form impressively. He pulled the tag off and put it with the pile of clothes on the counter.
Jacob put the rubber boots on his hooves while the purchases were being rung up. He refrained from looking at the total while his wife signed the credit card receipt. Kenny was drafted as a second pack mule and Sarah led the way out of the store to the truck.
“Do I want to know?” Jacob asked.
“No. Don’t quit your day job just yet.” Sarah said with a wicked gleam in her eye.
Jacob winced. He still had to get things he could go to work in.
The family was all over him when they got home, especially Angel. She launched herself at him as soon as he ducked through the door. Her little body trembled against his as he held her, quieting her fears. She looked up at his face, her own a mask of worry.
“It’s okay Princess, Daddy’s home, safe and sound. See, not a scratch on me.” Jacob soothed his daughter.
The worried little flyer piggybacked on her daddy as they moved his haul of clothes into the house, said goodbye to Kenny and decided what to do about dinner. It was really too late to start cooking and going out to eat was out of the question until the family got something bigger to ride around in.
Pizza was suggested and approved by voice vote.
Topping suggestions were made, seconded and the order put together for one of the boys to call in.
Ten minutes after the order was placed, the doorbell rang. It was a bit quick for the pizza and Jacob went to answer it. A pair of MIB’s stood on the doorstep.
“Doctor Martin?” one asked.
“No.” Jacob said evenly. “May I help you with something?”
“Then you’re Jacob Sanderson?” the man closest to Jacob asked.
“Yes. And you are, who?” Jacob asked pointedly.
“Agents Jenkins and Davies, Department of Homeland Security.” Both agents pulled out wallets with picture ID’s and badges.
Jacob took them and gave them a close look then handed them to Angel who was still riding on his back.
“Give these to your mother and ask her to call them in,” Jacob said opening the door just enough to let his daughter through.
“Okay Daddy,” Angel’s wings were a blur as she zipped through the opening.
“It will be alright gentlemen,” Jacob told them as the younger agent gave him a look that would blister paint. “She’ll be back. Now, how can I help you?”
“We’re investigating the explosion at WesTech Labs. I understand that you were there at the time of the explosion,” Agent Jenkins said.
“I heard that several other were hurt. Do you know how badly?”
“There were two deaths, Mr. Sanderson, and several who were severely injured.”
“I hope you catch the bastards. But to answer your question, yes, I was there, about 12 feet from the device when it started its detonation sequence,” Jacob told them quietly, shuddering as he recalled the event.
“Detonation sequence?” The agent on the porch asked.
“Yes. If your forensics team looks closely enough, I’m sure that they will tell you that it was a thermobaric. From the start to the actual explosion was about fifteen seconds.”
“Are you an explosives expert, Mr. Sanderson?” the second agent asked from his position behind and to the side of the lead.
“No, I’m a design and process engineer.”
“You seem to know a lot about explosives,” Agent Davies stated, his voice taking on a condescending tone.
Jacob sighed, “I guess this is the good cop, bad cop routine,” Jacob stepped down off the porch on to the front lawn where Agent Davies was standing. The junior agent stepped back quickly. Jacob couldn’t help but notice that the agent’s hand started to move to the inside of his jacket then stopped.
“Mister Davies, I have bachelor degrees in Chemical, Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Master’s degree in Process Engineering. I am the sole owner or co-owner of twenty different patents in this country alone, and a number of others overseas. I have had to learn a lot of things over the years to do my job properly. Any second year engineering student worthy of his slide rule can design a fuel air mixture bomb.” He looked over the agents’ shoulders to see the pizza delivery car rolling up the driveway.
“This interview is concluded. It’s been a very long day and our dinner has arrived,” Jacob told them.
Benjamin came through the front door with the agent’s wallets, handing them back nervously.
Jacob watched the agents cross the lawn back to their government issued car and swiveled his ears as he listened to Agent Davies’ muted protestations that they should press the dumb animal for more information.
Jacob shook his head and went back in to dinner. He was starting to understand what his sister had been talking about.
After dinner and things were cleaned up, Jacob got on the phone with his brother Tony.
“Hey bro,” Jacob said when Tony answered the call.
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” Tony teased. “A chestnut stallion, eh, Sarah must like the new you.”
“What, you got an in with the hospital Tony?” Jacob has always been amazed at how much data Tony and his company could amass on a person and just how fast it could be done. “And as for the other; we’ll find out later.” Jake chuckled, then sobered. “Tony, I need some professional assistance. I got a visit from DHS tonight. I need some oppositional research on the agents.”
“They were giving you a hard time?” Tony asked the concern coming through the phone from far away.
“Let’s just say that they’re looking to pin the WesTech bombing on someone and I’m not sure they care if it’s the right someone. I’ll be sending photocopies of their badges and ID’s.”
“How deep you want to go, Jake?” the voice on the phone sounded concerned.
“Public access for now, phone records, credit cards, both agents and the immediate families, if any. You can let the hounds loose later if necessary. I’m just looking to know who I’m up against. And Tony, I need it quickly, by Tuesday morning,” Jake asked his brother.
“Not a problem. Just make sure your fax is stocked. And bro, you got your wish.”
“I know. I’m wondering how hard the gods are laughing,” Jake said humorlessly.
Tony laughed good-naturedly, said his goodnights and hung up the phone.
By the time Jake was done, the lower half of the house was deserted. All the kids were upstairs in the TV room or their own rooms. Sarah slid her arms around him and gave him a hug from behind.
“Is there going to be trouble, Jacob?” Sarah asked.
“Not if I can help it.” He turned around and whickered in her ear.
“Then I won’t worry about it.” She looked up and smiled, knowing that her husband could take care of things.
Taking his hand in hers, Sarah led him back to their bedroom on the main floor.
The next morning, Jake felt a strange weight on his chest. Opening one eye he found his daughter draped across his broad chest, sound asleep. The tip of one wing tickled his nose and he couldn’t quite stifle the accompanying sneeze.
Angel opened her eyes sleepily and said quietly, “Morning Daddy.”
“Good morning Princess.” Jake spoke quietly not wanting to wake his wife who was asleep next to them. “Not that I mind, but what are you doing here?”
“I was scared, Daddy. I dreamed that the bad men came back to take you away.”
Jake wrapped his big arms around his petite daughter and just held her. The last time Angel was scared enough to sneak into his room was when she was 7 during a terrible electrical storm. “I’m not going anywhere Princess. If they do come back, you can screech at them.” Angel smiled.
“Promise?” She asked her innocent eyes sparkling.
“Promise. You’re going to have to get up so I can run to the bathroom, honey.”
His daughter sat up on his chest and gripped him with her knees.
“Giddy up daddy!” she squealed, bouncing on his chest then fluttered up when Jake growled at her playfully.
Once he was done in the bathroom, he walked back into the bedroom.
“Giddy up daddy? That’s my line, isn’t it?” his wife asked from where she was stretched out on the oversized bed that had been moved in while he was in the hospital.
“Don’t worry; you’ll get your ‘giddy up’ soon enough. I’m putting in for a month’s leave. I’ve been too wound up with work recently. They can afford to lose me for a while and it will give them time to remodel.” Jacob said cuddling with his beautifully naked wife on the bed.
A loud grumbling from Jake’s stomach sidetracked their amorous intentions.
“The food pit calls!” Sarah joked bouncing out of bed to slip into a pair of silk pajamas and a robe.
Half an hour later the whole family was sitting down to a huge pancake breakfast. Jake surprised them all by wolfing down flapjacks two to one over everyone else, combined.
“The job for today is getting a new car. I can’t fit in the old one anymore. Everyone needs to be changed and ready to go in an hour. Ben, James, you have dishes.” Jake said poking the last of the pancakes into his mouth.
Jake went through the directory of taxi services that had vehicles large enough to hold him and the brood. The first two he called disconnected as soon as the video came up. Three others didn’t run out as far as his house, he finally found one that would be happy to make the run out to his place but it would take some time.
An hour after their planned start, the family was on its way to the start of ‘The mile of cars’. It was the street where most of the car dealers in the city had a sales lot.
By the time they visited the third lot, Jake was beginning to spot the pattern of discrimination. Either no salesman would approach, or if he approached the salesman, they would have nothing on the lot. One salesman was helpful in selecting a transport with the options they wanted, but then told them it would take nine months to get from the factory. The salesman’s smirk and the chuckles of his colleagues as they left the office made him wonder if there were any dealerships along the car mall that catered to large morphs, or to any morphs at all.
They had just stepped off the lot and were headed to the next dealership when Jake spotted a woman coming towards them from the direction they were headed. She had a drink cup in one hand and a paperback book in the other. She spotted him as well. There was a flash of recognition and then a look of confusion as she took in the family around him.
“Doctor Martin?!” she asked as she got within earshot. “Oh WOW, it really is you!” The woman dropped her drink, jumped up wrapping her arms around his neck. She hung on for dear life pressing her quite considerable assets against his chest.
Jake held on to her and lowered her back to the ground and gently peeled her arms from around his neck.
“I’m afraid not, Miss,” Jake said. “I just look like him. You’re the third person in two days that has made that mistake. He must have been a very popular man.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. It’s ... it’s just that you look exactly like him.” The woman’s disappointment was clear.
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“I’m not sure about how popular Reggie was since he was in med school. He was my study partner in the dorm, helping me learn about Hilbert Space—”
“You’re learning quantum mechanics?” Jake asked, incredulity creeping into his voice.
The girl giggled, setting parts of her anatomy into enticing motion. “Looks like my disguise is holding,” she said then continued at the blank look everyone gave her. “If you look like you know nothing, and don’t give anyone a reason to suspect otherwise, they will treat you like you know nothing. Were you trying to buy a car here?”
“Yes. The sales people put on a good show for us, then told us that we’d have to wait months for delivery,” Sarah said bitterly.
The woman sighed heavily then dug out her eCom from the bottom of her purse. Punching up a speed dial code she put it up to her ear.
“Hey, Kiki, its Tracie, send the shuttle over to the Round House. Timmy and the crew are up to their tricks again. Yeah, send the large shuttle, he’s a tall one. Okay, forty minutes? I’ll tell them. Love you too, hon.”
The woman snapped the eCom shut and dropped it into her bag. “Sorry that I haven’t introduced myself, Tracie Connors. My dad owns the dealership. I’m sorry that the sales people treated you poorly. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. The sales manager at the main lot is sending our shuttle over to the Round House restaurant, which is two blocks down. They make great sandwiches and cater to everyone, not like some of the bozos on this end of the street.”
“Our thanks Miss Connors.” Sarah said. “I’m Sarah Sanderson, our children and tall, dark and gruesome standing next to you is my husband, Jacob.”
“Please to meet you. I used to know a Kelly Sanderson, she’s a morph too, a lynx. She was friends with my older sister. I remember Kelly getting into some trouble when one of the jocks tried to hassle her in class. It’s too bad that we lost touch when Becka went into the service,” Tracie said as they shook hands all around.
“I’ll pass it along that you’re looking to get in touch with her.” Jacob said. “Kelly is my sister.”
“Small world.” Tracie said. “Listen, I need to get back to work here before they rob Dad blind. Tell Kiki that you’re Hawaiian Royalty, she’ll understand.”
“Thank you again, Miss Connors.” Jacob said.
They parted company and Jacob herded his crowd to the restaurant. The family sat outside at the café style tables and as promised, the sandwiches were delicious. Jacob ordered the veggie special recommended for equines and was surprised when it was delivered on a dinner platter. The edges of the overstuffed pita bread draped over the sides. He expected to have plenty to take home later. He dug in and finished one half and was still hungry. The stomach full light was just beginning to come on when he downed the last of the sandwich and soda.
“Sandersons?” called a rough voice from behind Jacob. “Kiki sent me. The shuttle is here for you.”
The trip to the dealership was quick. A slender dark skinned woman with almost floor length jet black hair met them at the door.
“Mrs. and Mr. Sanderson? I’m Kiki, the sales manager here.” The woman led the family to a large comfortable office just off the showroom floor. She let everyone get settled before starting. “I want to apologize for the actions of our satellite sales office. I can assure you that the operation there will be revamped shortly.”
“I’m glad to know that it’s being taken care of,” Jacob paused and then added, “Miss Connors said to tell you that we are Hawaiian Royalty, I assume that it means something to you?”
Kiki’s eyes went wide for a moment before she recovered. “Yes, sir, it certainly does. Now, from what you worked out with the sales staff at our satellite office, you were looking for this particular model?” Kiki punched her keyboard and brought up a photo of the model.
“We have three on the lot at the moment, not including a demonstrator. I can have them up here to the front in a few minutes, or would you like to go out on the lot to see them?” Kiki invited.
“We can go see them on the lot,” Jacob responded.
It didn’t take long for the family to decide on which car to get. Sarah and the kids were checking out the interior while Jake was outside with Kiki.
“If you don’t mind my asking, Kiki, what did Tracie mean, Hawaiian Royalty?” Jacob asked.
“She was telling me to treat you like family. Mr. Sanderson, most everyone who works here has been given a raw deal because they survived MORFS, or they got a raw deal from MORFS. Bobby, the shuttle driver, he was a MENSA candidate when MORFS got him. He’s now barely able to drive the shuttle. Mr. Connors wants to help as much as he can to rectify a bad situation.”
“What’s your story, Kiki? You’re beautiful, intelligent, not looking like a candidate for a raw deal from MORFS,” Jacob asked while keeping an eye on his wife and children.
“I used to live in the islands, Mr. Sanderson. My hair is black nanorods and almost impossible to cut. I’m a fire and magma elemental. The first time my powers manifested I re-opened a dormant volcano. Half the island worshiped me as the Goddess Pele reborn, the other half wanted to sacrifice me to Her as a blasphemous witch.
“There are plenty of people that are in much worse situations than I am, Mr. Sanderson. I help as best I can, when I can. We all do.”
“Myself, Mr. Connors, Tracie, Doctor Martin and others. Mr. Sanderson, there are forces building, pro-Morfs and anti-Morfs. The attack at WesTech is one of a number of little skirmishes in the ongoing war between the two. The Church of Genetic Purity and its offshoots, S.H.A.M.E. and its sympathizers are just the visible portions of the anti-MORFS forces,” Tracie elaborated.
“You think I can help as well?” Jacob asked.
“Tracie thinks you can, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Kiki said, turning to look at the tall equine morf.
“I’ll have to think about what you’ve said,” Jacob said.
“That’s all I ask, Mr. Sanderson.”