A "Winds of Change" Story
Kim and I flew over the city for a little while. We didn't have all that far to go, so I didn't bother to use my flight computer to get clearance for a higher flight pattern. Since I didn't know where exactly we were going, she flew slightly ahead of me. Looking over the ground below, I could tell that traffic was becoming a mess from rush hour. Jon and Bryan were going to be a little while.
Kim tilted her wings and started to circle down. I started looking around the ground. I saw the familiar shape of a race track, probably Del Mar. I looked around a little more and spotted the restaurant. Even from 500 feet, I could see the tiny Visa card logo in the window.
Even months later, I was still amazed just how much I could see now.
I circled to the ground just ahead of Kim. There weren't any landing perches near the restaurant, so I just landed lightly in the parking lot. I held out my arm and Kim landed, shifting as she hopped off.
I grinned, "What do you do when there isn't anyone around to land on?"
She grinned back, "I usually crash land. I haven't been able to get the hang of landing on the ground. I've had to climb down more than one tree since the Change."
I laughed and put my scaled arm around her shoulder. I realized that we were able to read each others expressions, the subtle changes in out expressions, better than most people could. It must be because were more or less attuned to each other.
We walked into the restaurant lobby. The head waiter, some type of bright red colored salamander, looked up from his reservation book. "Miss Moss. I assume that this is one of the gentlemen that you were waiting for?" he said.
She nodded. "There are two more coming, can you point them into the bar to meet us? They're a deer and a ram." He nodded and we walked into the bar.
The moment that we walked into the bar, I knew which one was Maxine. Her very long, very tall antlers stuck out above just about everyone else in the bar. She was sitting at the bar talking with someone that vaguely resembled some sort of furry weasel. She had much larger ears, though, and the fur was almost solid dark brown, save for a patch of gray yellow fur under her chin. She looked like a low degree, whatever she was. Perhaps a little closer to medium.
Maxine saw us first. "Hey, you found Brian. Where's Jon?"
"Stuck in traffic. He'll be along. Maxine, Janet, this is Brian." We all shook hands, or rather talons, hooves and paws. "Janet works with me down at the station. She's a graphics artist."
She smiled. I still didn't know what she was. "Good to meet you. What happened to you guys, anyway?"
I shrugged. "Sorry about that. A friend came into town this morning, and we were showing him around. We lost track of time, I guess."
Maxine nodded, "I guess I'll forgive you two, then. I was beginning to think that we'd been stood up."
I tightened my arm around Kim, "Not a chance."
"Is your friend coming, by the way?"
I nodded, "Oh, yea. He's coming along. He's a bighorn sheep, by the way. And forgive me for asking, but I can't place what you are."
Her small muzzle drew back in a toothy grin. "Sable. I might be something of a weasel, but I got a nice fur coat for the Change."
Maxine suddenly looked over to the bar entrance and I saw her eyes light up." There's Jon, and that must be your friend with him."
I turned and day Jon and Bryan being pointed into the bar by the waiter. It was almost funny to watch them enter the room. They weren't all that different in height, but Jon's antlers gave him the illusion of towering over Bryan, as well as just about anyone else in the room. Jon and Bryan talked with the waiter a moment and then started to make there way across the room.
"Sorry we're late, Maxine."
"No problem Jon." she said as they hugged. Then the introductions went around the table again.
I kept an eye on Jon. I was really hoping that this date went a little better than his last one. For that matter, I couldn't imagine that it could get any worse. But he didn't seem to be having any problems. His ears were still flipping around to just about every sound in the bar, but he didn't particularly seem to be in distress or trouble.
Janet, it turned out, had been interesting in meeting Jon because her brother, who was overseas working in England, apparently had become a whitetail of similar degree as Jon. She hadn't had chance to see him yet, and had been curious what she was going to have to expect when she did.
We sat around the small table across from the bar for a couple of minutes, and then a waitress came over and led us to out table.
The dining area was nice, with huge picture windows along the entire wall. The sun was still up, but setting, and it was a wonderful view outside. We were idly chatting around the table and looking at the menus when Kim tapped me on the shoulder. "Brian..."
I looked up and she slightly nodded her head toward Jon and Maxine. They looked more than a little twitchy, like something was bothering them. I glanced around the room a little more, mainly to see if there was some sort of predator morph that I hadn't noticed before. I did see a couple of canines, and one snow panther, but neither seemed to be paying any attention to anyone else in the room.
Then I noticed that the two canines looked a little twitchy too.
I glanced around the room a little more and my eyes fell on a pitcher of ice water sitting on an empty table across the room. I indicated to Kim to take a look. Bryan and Janet had both noticed the pair of us looking around the room and they followed our gaze, but neither seemed to see what the two of us saw, or heard what was bugging some of the others in the bar.
I was about to say something when the entire building began to shudder and shake. A shout came from somewhere else in the restaurant. "Earthquake!"
I hopped off the low perch and started to push Kim under the table in front of me. Bryan and Janet got under the table across from us. I had opened my wings out and was covering the table. Bryan looked at me a little quizzically, he didn't know about my shield, but Kim and probably Janet did.
I glanced down to the other end of the table. Jon and Maxine were having trouble taking cover from the table settings that were falling all over the place. Both had a problem because of their antlers.
Kim shifted to try and make more room under the table, and I held her under my shoulder.
It had perhaps been fifteen seconds when I glanced up and saw a plate glass window at the other end of the dining room shatter. Then another did.
Then I heard Jon cry out briefly and stop.
I looked up to see him suddenly passed out on the floor, Maxine looked panicked next to him.
Almost as fast as it started, the shaking stopped. It wasn't a major quake, only enough to break a few windows, knock over a few shelves. We all got out from under the table. I glanced at Bryan. "Welcome to California."
He laughed once nervously.
We made our way over to where Jon was laying. He was laying in Maxines lap. "What happened?" I asked.
She looked at me, "I don't know. He just suddenly passed out."
Everyone in the room with larger ears suddenly winced. Bryan asked, "What was that?" just as the lights went out.
"Probably a power transformer." Said Janet, "Even a minor quake knocks a few off."
I was looking Jon over, but I didn't see any sign of injury. Granted, his fur would cover any bruise, but frankly, nothing had fallen on him...
Then I looked around Jon. Nothing had fallen around him. I looked close at his antlers.
"Oh, no." I said aloud.
"What?", said three or four voices around my head.
"Kim, look close at his antlers. What do you see?"
She was silent for a moment, then said, "They look a little purple."
Bryan seemed to be looking himself. "I don't see anything."
"We can see slightly into the UV range, if the conditions are right. Jon must have turned on his shield during the quake. He must have picked up so much energy so fast that he passed out." I slowly reached a hand out to an antler, but drew back. "I think I can feel the power stored in there."
Jon started to come around slowly. Then he suddenly started to thrash around. "Jon, it's all right! Calm down!" It was like he was suddenly in a bad nightmare. I was worried that he would suddenly let loose with some of his power. He was so charge up that he could take out half the building.
Bryan knelt down to help me keep him from trashing. "Jon, *calm Down*" he said with a lot of force.
Jon thrashed a moment longer, then abruptly started to quiet. His eyes popped open, then closed again. "What the..." he shook his head. He started panting hard, his ears sagging against his head limp, one hand rubbing his forehead while Maxine rubbed his neck. "What happened? And why do I see three of each of you?" he said through clenched teeth.
We looked at each other again. "Uh, oh."
Coopyright 1997, Brian Eirik Coe
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