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

Bye, Bye Blackbird

by Mike Nelson

The panther raced in the predawn night through the glade surrounding the zoo enclosure.  Ghostly trees leaned, arms beckoning.

He could smell her.  Her scent provided a homing beacon, a lighthouse in a sea of Manstink.  He paused mid-flight, almost mid stride to assess direction, his flanks heaving from the sprint.  The first glow of dawn began to edge through the glade, making the ghost trees more pale.

The animal dashed forward again, legs racing, muscles rippling.  The cool morning air stung flattened ears as it passed through the thicket and into a clearing.  Long whiskers trembled with her scent,  breath whispering with each powerful motion.

Too hard to run in a cage.  Miles and miles of endless pacing had maintained little vigor.  But the stupefying days of the long year passed, and now it would be . . .

The panther saw a figure resting in the grass ahead of him,  sitting on some type of spread or blanket.  He stopped, instantly.  Roared.

The sound split the air with a scream.  The figure's head spun, dark hair fanning slender shoulders.  It was her!

The dawn sky lightened to deep amethyst, illuminating a face.  Slitted yellow eyes regarded her, as she stared back unafraid.  Dark, thick hair floated with the breeze caressing her face.  Dark eyes glistened with sclera showing almost blue with health.  Her mouth parted,  lips drawing down around ivory teeth.

"Blackbird." She whispered.

As if on cue, fire flashed through his body.  Pain twisted his body into new dimensions, ebony fur retracted into pores, fangs shrank, ears flattened, eyes widened, in what seemed like liquid eternity.  He screamed again and again, each time sounding different as the vocal chords shifted along with the throat containing them.  He felt his claws slowly retract into hairless digits, that quickly gained length.  An forever of sixty seconds progressed as his body twisted back into its original shape.

"God damn I hate that!"  Blackbird said, rasping in a hoarse voice.

"Blackbird!"  The woman threw herself into his arms.

He enfolded her, as she crushed him in a fierce embrace.  The last of the fire left him as she clenched her body against him.

"Olivia."  He closed his eyes tight against the burning in his throat.

"Oh God I miss you!"  She said, caressing his face and clamping her oh-so-kissable mouth against his lips.

He could feel himself responding, the heat in him rising.  He breathed in her essence, her aroma, trying to clench himself as tight as possible too her.  He hardly felt the breeze against his naked backside as they sank to the blanket beneath them.

"I missed you."  He responded, his voice still husky.

He pinned her beneath him, holding her hands to the spread above her head as he kissed her mouth.  Her pelvis began grinding beneath him, and he responded in rhythm.  She wore a simple silk dress buttoned down the front.  With his teeth he ripped the front  exposing her full breasts.  She gasped, as he clamped his mouth against her flesh.  They made love slowly, wildly, and tenderly as the dawn sun crested the treed horizon of the meadow.

"I wonder what they would have done had they seen us earlier." Blackbird said, as they lay on the blanket covered by a light sheet.

"Hardly anyone knows about this spot."  She ran long nailed fingers gently across the skin of his chest.  "And if they did, they'd probably just be jealous."

He laughed.  It felt good to laugh again, he had forgotten what it had been like.  He wondered if it would be the last time he ever laughed and he fell suddenly silent.

"What's wrong?"  She looked up at him, arm propped beneath the dark mass of hair stretched over the spread.  He looked into her eyes, dark with slight green flecks.

"I'll never look at you this close again."   He caressed her thigh beneath the cover.  "I'll never be this close to you again."

Her eyes filled with tears.

"Why does it have to be this way?"  She suddenly cried.  "Why did they do this to you?"

"You know why."  He ran his hand through her lustrous hair.  "It was this or death."

She sobbed, and put her head on his chest.  "I know."  She whispered.  "You did it for me.  It just hurts so much."

He lifted her chin with his fingers, and gazed into her tear streaked face.  "And I would do it again."  He kissed her.  Her tongue darted into his mouth and he could taste the sweetness of her tears.

They made love again tenderly, slowly.

"We'd better get going, or someone is bound to see us."  He said, after they had dozed together in the noon sun.  Olivia had stopped sobbing, and they had quietly lain side by side for a long time.

"I brought you a change of clothes in that bag."   She rose and began to dress.

"What shall we do?"

"What can we do?  We only have eight hours until nightfall.  How can you squeeze a lifetime into eight hours?"  She said in a tight voice.

"We just do."  He grabbed her and held her tight.  He could feel her shoulders shake as the sobs came again.

"I swore I wouldn't do this!  I swore I wouldn't be a basket case!"  She put her head into her hands for a moment shaking it.

"There!"  She looked up at him, a smile on her face.  "All better!  You must be starving,  let's go find something too eat."    She gripped his hand fiercely, and began too bounce down the trail towards the nearby city park.  Blackbird followed.

"So how are things?"  He asked as they made their way through the oak and willow trees, ferns and clover.

"Just fine!"  She had an edge to her voice.  "I have a job now, I teach first grade at Willow-in-the-Park."

"Great!  You always did love children so."

She looked at him suddenly, tears glimmering in her eyes again.

Blackbird cleared his throat.  "How's your family?"

"Mom died."  She led him through the park lane, and out into the city streets.  "Two months ago.  Cancer."  Her voice sounded emotionless.

"Hon!"  He stopped, and hugged her tight.  At first she hugged back, but quickly pushed him away and began to walk again.  Blackbird wondered why.

"Nope!  Not going to go there!"  She wiped away a few tears as she rounded a corner.

"Here we are! "  She led him up a few stairs and into an older apartment complex.  Stained linoleum echoed strangely in his ears.  His feet hadn't worn shoes in a long time.  Olivia found her keys, and opened a door to a small efficiency apartment.  Posters of panthers covered the walls.  Panthers in the jungle, panthers on trees, panthers behind bars. . .

"It's not much, but it's home."  She said, a queer smile on her face.

"I love it.:"

Her face lit up.  "I'll make us some eggs, toast, and biscuits with gravy."  She said, as she moved towards the kitchen.  "Make yourself at . . ."  She stopped, looking at him again through tears.

"Have a seat."  She quickly amended and went into the kitchen.

Blackbird sat on the couch, and stared at the walls.  Panthers stared back at him.  He sighed.  How can I go back to those bars after this?  He thought.  How can I go back, knowing I'll never be a man again?

He could hear Olivia clattering pots and pans in the kitchen, and the smell of toast caused his stomach to rumble.  How can I let Olivia live like this, holding on to a shadow?  His thoughts tumbled through the long unused portions of his brain as Olivia cooked his favorite breakfast.

He picked up a newspaper from the coffee table in front of him.


Blackbird grinned at the irony of the headline, and continued reading.

Senator Franklin Wells after being found guilty of fifteen counts of misappropriation of funds elected for alternative sentencing today.  Senator Wells will undergo genetic alteration into an extinct form of a prehistoric shark found in the waters off the coast of Maine.  He has agreed to reside in the UniversalSea Water Park in Florida until his forty year sentence is complete.  He has been granted yearly furloughs whereby he can resume human shape one day a year for the first five years in accordance with the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause established five years ago with Jay Blackbird case. Senator Wells said he was regretful for the decisions he has made, and looks forward to providing useful research opportunities for the Extinct Species Movement.  After the five year grace period Senator Wells can elect to stay in captivity, or return to the open ocean for the rest of his sentence.

They ate in silence, staring at each other over mouthfuls.

"So what will you do?"  She asked quietly, after they had finished.

"About what?"

"About the rest of your life goddamn it!"  She shrieked slamming her hand on the table.

"I haven't decided."

"You bastard."  She cried.  "Do you know what it's like having to live here, this close to you, yet not be able to touch you or talk to you?  Do you know what I've had to live with, what people have said, what they've done to me?"  She started to cry.

"I've lived with this for the last five years, visited you, watched you pace behind those bars.  I've devoted my life to you, waited for you every year, and been faithful to you only!"  She rose from the table to give full vent to her frustration.

"Do you know what this has done to me?  I can't talk with ANYONE without them bringing up the case.  I can't go ANYWHERE without someone giving me the stare.  I can't meet ANYBODY without them saying how awful it must be to be the girlfriend of the man who stood up for what's right!  This has followed me EVERYWHERE!"

She began to sob again, holding her shoulders as huge wracking sobs escaped her body.

Blackbird closed his eyes.  He hated seeing her like this hated feeling what she felt.  He ached to run too her, put his arms around her, comfort her, as he always had done when they were together.  The burning in his chest and throat almost overwhelmed him, he almost broke down much like she did.

But it had to end.  For her own sake, for her own life.

So he stayed silent, unmoving.

"Well?"  She asked moments later.  "Don't you have anything to say?"

He looked at her, deep into her crying eyes.

"I love you."  He whispered, but made no move towards her.

"Stay here."

Blackbird sighed.  He remembered pacing the cage, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, day after nauseating day.  They had provided him with an Environment Unit, with a pond and slight hills to climb.  But a cage was a cage.

Olivia visited each day and sat in her chair near the sign that proclaimed who he was and why he was there.  She rarely said anything, but watched him as he paced.  As an animal, he had the instincts and mind of that animal but recognized her when she came.

Yet the cage walls confined.  The cage walls contained.  The cage walls prevented him from running, from finding, from freedom.  The cage walls enforced, enclosed, enfolded him with suffocating Manstink.  He hated them, hated it, hated her when he saw her sitting every day outside the cage.  She had freedom, she could move, she could run, find, fly.  She had no idea what his life was like.

But he loved her.  With every ounce of his being, both animal and man.

He moved to the window to look out at the streets below.  A gentle rain had started to fall, coating everything in sight with a slippery wetness.  His cage prevented the rain from touching him, yet it washed the Manstink away for a while.  He loved the rain.

Olivia embraced him from behind as he stared.  He could feel her breasts against the lower part of his back.

"I love you."  She said softly.  "And I want you near me for the rest of our lives."

Blackbird sighed again, turned, and lifted her into his arms.  He gently carried her to the bedroom, and the enfolding sweetness of her satin sheets.

Day gradually descended into dusk.  Shadows lengthened upon the bed covers, rain pattered on the roof.  Outside the city honked and bustled its everyday way along.

The gentle rise and fall of her chest under cream sheets, the light snore through tear cluttered sinus, the aroma of her gentle perfume.  Blackbird inhaled her essence, sucking deeply the fragrance of her dark hair as she slept peacefully beside him.

Tears leaked into his own eyes, as he cradled her with his naked arms.  He hugged her gently not wanting her to awaken.

The last moments as a man, he thought.  I shall never again feel this.  He ached with the longing of what might have been.

He felt the approach of the change, fire leaking into his legs, his arms, his torso.  Midnight began to coat his upper arms, over his shoulders, down his back.

He shook Olivia awake gently.

His legs twisted, cramps flowed through bunched muscles.

Olivia opened her eyes.

"It's time."  He whispered, the words catching in teeth forming fangs.

"I love you."  She said, caressing the still naked skin of his cheek with her open palm and fingers.

He caught the hand with a changing paw and buried his mouth in her palm, kissing, licking it with a change roughened tongue.

"Stay."  She looked at him with pleading eyes.  "Stay, please?"

He looked at her, as is eyes shifted, his back hunched, his pelvis clamped.

"I . . can't."  He grunted through lips no longer human.  Whiskers sprouted from split upper flesh.

She cried softly, and gripped him tightly.  Instinct almost forced him to back away, to slash, to bite.  Mind overrode instinct.

The Panther allowed itself to be embraced, but struggled out of the female's grasp when it became too confining.  It leaped from the bed, and darted out the door.  Finding its way through the apartment it jumped from an open window to the street below, and began to run through the Manstink jungle to find a jungle it could call its own.

"Bye, Bye Blackbird."  Olivia whispered as he disappeared into darkness.

Bye, Bye Blackbird copyright 1998 by Mike Nelson.

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