|The Transformation Story Archive||The Paradise Saga|
Roommates in Paradise (8)
Aaron was frustrated. He had done everything properly, yet she refused him. Dancing around, shows of strength and power, even a frenzy of kicking and leaping had failed to impress her. He knew she wanted him. Her need called out, even if she was being stubborn. Yet his advances were met with snapping teeth and kicks that were getting uncomfortably close.
Finally, he gave up and let Bubba take control again. That wasn't really the stallion's name. In fact, his equine 'roommate' didn't use any kind of sound to identify itself - its 'name' was its scent. However, even after a very long time sharing this horse's body, Aaron needed a name for his internal conversations.
There was a lot more to being an animal than he'd thought. This problem with the mares was just one example. He'd observed everything Bubba did in the courtship rituals. Hell, he'd been a participant! And as the only adult male in the herd, there's been a lot of opportunity to find out how things were done.
Yet the mares somehow knew when it was Aaron in control. This female was a good case in point. After nearly castrating him with a well-placed hoof, the bitch was suddenly leaning forward with her tail to one side, whickering invitation to Bubba.
It was probably silly to be bothered. After all, even with Bubba in control, Aaron felt everything just as intensely as the stallion did. That had been more than enough at first. It wasn't that the sensations were that much different from human sex. They were just, well, purer. There was a deep and primal need to mate which left both horse and man utterly satisfied after each mare.
Still, Aaron was starting to feel like a Peeping Tom. He wanted to do it all on his own, rather than tagging along for the ride. That was the real problem. He had always been a very independent person, never relying on anyone else. Now he had to play second fiddle to a horse any time he wanted to enjoy the benefits of this great stallion's body!
He could handle the simple stuff, like walking and eating. As a matter of fact, walking on four legs felt so natural to him now that it was hard to imagine balancing on only two. Grass, oats, and the other grains the stable hands provided tasted good, even if they were lacking in variety. But even these actions were based on horse's needs and actions. There really wasn't anything for Aaron to do that was Aaron.
Of course, what did he expect? When he'd first stepped through the portal to this lush pasture, it looked like heaven. Perhaps it was the remnants of his plant-boy mentality that longed for the similar fields of NeverNever Land. Or older fantasies brought to life as he found himself the only stallion in a field of mares.
Although he'd already had a surprising number of bodies, sharing this stallion's form was truly unique. All of his senses seemed incredibly intense and pure. Insects, other horses, and breezes stirring the thick grass all joined to form a symphony of sound unlike anything he'd experienced as a human. His mind could pick out and identify each individual note of that symphony, or relax and let the music wash over him.
And scents! The rich collection of odors which filled his nostrils told him more than all the other senses combined. He could locate any member of the herd, and even tell general health and age solely by smell. Different types of grass had their own unique odors, as did every flower and weed.
Eyesight was terrible, but he'd gotten used to the blurred and distorted images quickly. What his great brown orbs lacked in detail, they made up for in sensitivity to movement. The field of vision was tremendous, almost 360¡ except for directly forward and behind. And the least amount of movement registered immediately.
The intensity of feeling extended to his physical body as well. He could make a particular patch of skin quiver on command, and feel insects landing anywhere. Even the hooves, which were basically numb, transmitted pressure and some trace of ground texture.
All in all, this horse's form had been a feast for the senses, and Bubba was a most willing and capable host. Aaron had pigged out - or horsed out, if you wanted to get technical. The free-for-all lasted for at least a week, until Aaron realized he was having trouble telling where Bubba's thoughts ended and his began.
Since then, he'd been trying to exert more control. Although it still meant moving and acting like a horse, it was Aaron moving and acting, not Bubba. Somehow, that made a difference. Especially to the mares. Speaking of which, Bubba was about to capitalize on Aaron's courtship. Well, he might not be in control - but at least he could enjoy it.
About halfway through the mating, Aaron felt a strange prickling in his skin. Some of the other horses whickered and got skittish, but Bubba was too busy to be bothered. Although he couldn't sway the stallion from the task at hoof, he managed to turn his head enough to pick up a bright blur behind them.
After a moment, a darker blur emerged from the lighter one, and started moving towards them. The lighter spot vanished. A portal! Aaron drew in a deep breath. It was hard to think of anything other than the heady aroma of the mare, but he did pick up traces of scents both strange and familiar.
The strongest odor was new to the horse's catalog of scents, but Aaron thought he could remember it from somewhere. Locker rooms? Dirty socks? Human! His realization almost broke through the stallion's concentration, and Bubba responded with a blast of will that shattered human thought and absorbed Aaron fully into the animal consciousness.
Separation did not come until after Bubba had deposited his seed, and intelligence faded back in slowly. The sensation was similar to getting high. Intense pleasure, followed by pleasant stupor. Aaron tore at the thick cotton clouding his thoughts. Bubba did not force control often. It was not unpleasant in itself, but Aaron always found the experience frightening. Everything that was Aaron seemed to vanish, and he was simply and completely a horse.
The figure had moved to another spot in the pasture, fiddling with something on sticks. It made noises, seemingly in his direction. Aaron tried to focus muddled thoughts. The sounds were familiar, evoking images in his mind. Words. Language. English!
For the second time, he dredged up identification through a slow process of association. Now that he had made the connection, he was able to make out what the human was saying. But he was very aware that he shouldn't have had the problem recognizing his own language.
"Anyone home? Hey, Horsy! Can't you understand me?" The human was male, mature but not old, healthy, and liked garlic. Aaron's nostrils told him that much. As the man moved closer, he could distinguish coloring better. Pale skin, dark hair. Caucasian. No real accent, probably West Coast. "Hey! Aaron? You in there?"
He perked up his ears and whickered in surprise. This human knew who he was! Bubba was still basking in the afterglow of copulation, and allowed Aaron full control. He trotted over to the human, who backed away in obvious alarm. "Shit! They grow 'em big around here! Whoa, horsy!"
Aaron pulled up short and stood still. Rocky had said something about his being large, but he'd never had anything to compare himself with. If this guy was Earth normal, then the stallion's body was easily bigger than even one of those draft horses they used to pull the beer wagons!
He turned his head and tried to focus one eye on the man's face. Probably brown hair and blue eyes, maybe late 20s, pretty average looking for a human. Of course, Aaron hadn't seen a human in.... He shook his head. How long had it been? He'd been a plant boy for maybe a month or so. Then in that weird dream-state when they had him in the female satyr.
How long had he been a horse? Weeks? Months? Existence had blurred into images and sensations. What had he done last week? Yesterday? This morning? There was no frame of reference for time in his thoughts. Perhaps he hadn't been so successful in staying apart from Bubba after all.
"You ARE the human, aren't you? Aaron?" The man cocked his head to one side. "I mean, I'd hate to be standing out here talking to a dumb horse." Aaron nodded his head up and down, and pawed at the ground. "Great! Rocky told me about you, but I guess you can figure that out. Uh, my name is Bob. Er, Robert Idaho. Also from Earth."
Aaron snorted, and nodded his head. There wasn't much he could do except nod yes or no. Bob shook his head and approached slowly. "Must be pretty strange. Being a horse, I mean. 'Course, Rocky told me what happened before. I've been using these portal things for a bit now, but I've stayed away from the ones that change you. I'm happy like I am."
The man lifted something in front of his face, and Aaron heard a distinct click. A camera! Bob seemed to pick up on his thoughts. "I'm a photographer. That's sorta how I got into this portal business in the first place. I was looking for a particular shot and had exactly what I wanted fixed in my mind. Guess that's what opened the portal. I found the spot, but it wasn't on Earth. At least on our Earth."
Bob chuckled. "Wonder what Kira and Caroline would do with you?" He shook his head and moved to take a couple of different shots. "Say, would you mind trotting around a bit? I've got to get some action shots." Aaron complied with the request, changing direction and speed on command.
His artist's nature, long dormant, began to take an interest in the photographer's setups. This damned blurry eyesight didn't allow him to see actual colors and textures, but he could work from memory. Aaron began to pose different ways, placing himself in clear surroundings. Bob's direction stopped, and he clicked frame after frame wordlessly.
The photo session ended abruptly. "Damn! Out of film." Bob rummaged through his bag, but found only more used rolls. Then he laughed. "I guess 12 rolls is enough, though. Man, that was some fantastic setup work. Bet there'll be a picture of you on every horse calendar for the next 20 years!
"Of course, they might have some trouble if they want to identify your breed. At least there aren't any references to provide scale." Bob shook his head and started to put his equipment away. "Easy to tell you're an artist. You ever have a show or something?"
Aaron shook his head from side to side, and Bob shrugged. "Me neither. 'Course, I'm just starting to really get going. This portal business makes for some incredible shots. I really liked the paintings Rocky has of yours. Did you really go to all those places?"
A nod this time. The human shuddered. "Looks fascinating, but no way I'd go someplace that changes what you are. Scares me to death every time I step through one of these portals, even when I know it's safe." He looked up at Aaron. "No offense, but why the hell do you want to be a horse?"
Aaron had no answer for that, and not just because he couldn't speak. Although the choice hadn't been his, he'd really wanted to try this body out at first. And he certainly enjoyed the power and intensity of being stallion. But without arms and hands, he might as well surrender completely to Bubba and be a horse for real.
Bob shook his head. "Sorry. Forgot that you can't talk. Let me put it another way. DO you want to stay a horse?" Aaron's first instinct was to shake his head, but then he pondered the question. He didn't want to stay a horse, exactly, but he was reluctant to give up the physical intensity.
The human noted his lack of decision. "I might have an answer for you, then. The first place I went to through a portal had centaurs instead of people. Do you know what they are?" Aaron snorted and nodded. After all, he'd worked for a centaur when he'd been a plant-boy.
"Good. Well, Rocky has been keeping an eye out for a new body for you, but this mind-swapping thing they do requires a capital offense. Turns out that most of the races have outgrown crime, especially serious stuff like murder. A couple of them can't even conceive of killing another living creature!"
He smiled sadly. "Doesn't surprise me to find only one other human in the portals. Sorta scares me to think of some of our people having access to the other dimensions." Aaron shuddered. Most of the people from his world would shoot an 'alien' as soon as they saw it, even if they were the ones trespassing. And lead bullets were just as deadly as ray guns.
Bob sat down on the ground. "Anyway, there just aren't any other bodies available for now. The facility where they did this serves at least a hundred other worlds, not just Rocky's. Apparently it was something of a miracle that you had more than one body to choose from. It's been almost a year since you got turned into a horse, and they haven't gotten anything in."
Aaron blanched. A year? A whole year? His time sense was worse than he thought. He pawed the ground anxiously, frustrated by his inability to communicate. Bob shifted back a little, looking nervous. "Don't get crazy on me, now." The human grinned suddenly. "Here I am having a one-way conversation with a horse, and I tell HIM not to get crazy.
"Look. I don't know much about how you got to be a horse, or what it's like. But I heard about this portal where you can pretty much choose what you want to be when you come back." Aaron's ears perked up and he snorted. "No joke. I mean, you could be human again, just like you were before."
Bob Stood up and stretched. "Or maybe you could be a centaur. If you like being a horse so much, you'd keep pretty much all that. It's just that you'd have arms and hands and a head. Sorta the best of both worlds."
Aaron's mind whirled. A centaur! That's what he'd thought when they first put him in this stallion's form. And if this portal place really existed, he could always go back and become just about anything else he wanted.
But how to get there? For the first time, he realized that he hadn't created a single portal as long as he'd been a horse. Even as a plant-boy, he'd caused portals to pop in and out just with idle daydreaming. With all the worrying he'd been doing lately, he should have been surrounded by the doorways.
Bob came over and stroked his massive snout. "I heard a lot about it, but I've never been myself. Most folks call it the 'Transmogrification' world. Sort of a fancy word for morphing, I guess."
Funny. As soon as the human touched him, Aaron seemed to get a faint image in his mind. He focused on the image, trying to imagine such a strange world. Transmogrification. A world where shape has no meaning. It took concentration to build the doorway, unlike the effortless creation of the past. And he seemed to need the contact with Bob to identify where he was going.
There was a sparkling in the air, and Aaron felt the prickling he'd experienced when Bob arrived. The human's eyes got big, and he stepped away. Aaron turned towards the growing swirl of light. He couldn't make out colors, but the cloud-like shape rolled and twisted violently. Well, there was only one way to find out. He concentrated on the form of a centaur, and stepped into the glow.
There was no world here. The rolling cloud WAS the world, and now Aaron rolled with it. Disoriented and dizzy, he felt a sudden rush of fear and confusion which was almost overpowering. Bubba! He'd forgotten about his roommate. The stallion was panicking, unable to find any familiar reference of ground, sky, or even body. They floated together in a cosmic blender, and Aaron began to feel the animal's panic as his own.
He had to find a way back! Frantic, he groped mentally for a portal to someplace, anyplace. The mental picture was blurred now, partly by fear and partly by the growing influence of the stallion's mind. He tried to push Bubba back, but found that the horse's mind was to powerful. Too late, he realized that the animal wasn't a roommate - he was the landlord.
Memory and thought became distorted, as if animal and man were now a double-exposure on a single print. No longer separate spirits, but a single consciousness. They struggled to find a way out, desperate for escape from this maelstrom.
Oddly, the focus they needed came from bestial memories, not human. The pasture they had just left sprang clearly into mind, scents and sounds creating a surer identity than any vision. They felt the prickling, and fell awkwardly onto the soft grass of home.
They struggled to rise, rolling awkwardly back onto four legs. Something was wrong with their neck. It was too big, and had long, floppy things swinging from the sides. The two-legged creature was still there, and made noises at them.
Them? The consciousness realized it was singular, not plural. I? Comprehension was distorted, but he managed to clear thoughts a bit and listen to the two-legged... the human. That was it. A human.
Bob. That was the sound the human made when it referred to itself. And he was... a smell? No, there was more than that. He had a sound as well. Aaron/scent. The sound and the smell meant the same thing, now.
Twisting around, he could see that the floppy things on his neck would move around if he willed it. And his neck was very like the upper part of the Bob. The human.
He concentrated, and felt new muscles pull below his head. The floppy thing... no, it was an arm, lifted and he wiggled the... what were they? Fingers. Memories came flooding back now, and he marveled at his new limbs. Arms and hands! He was a centaur!
But there was something wrong. This wasn't the centaur body he had pictured. The whole upper part was covered with the same hide and fur as his equine body, even the backs of his hands. Well, Rhudi was like that, too. Newly formed fingers traced the bristled lips and flaring nostrils of his snout, trying to find the problem.
Vision was different. Grass and sky were very different now. Not the familiar shades of brown. Green? Blue? He could see colors! Maybe a little muted, but no longer the sepia-tone look of an old photo. And now that he thought of it, shapes were clearer!
The Bob had a distinct face now, slightly rounded, with unruly brown hair and blue eyes. And an ugly shirt. No, not THE Bob. Just Bob. Comprehension returned faster now, and he could understand the human's speech. "...ppened to you? It was just a second!"
Aaron/scent shook his head. The human had a male odor that was vaguely challenging now, but he managed to control himself. Instead, he tried to speak. The result was a strangled whinny that broke up into unintelligible sounds. A second attempt wasn't much better, but he found he could shift vibration higher in his throat to make a more human sound.
"Bob?" Actually, the word came out more like 'Fwow.' He made exaggerated motions with his equine lips and tried again. Although he ended up making each 'B' a slight raspberry, the word was understandable. "Bob!"
The human gave him a bewildered grin. "What the hell did you do to yourself?" Good question. Aaron knew part of the answer, and trotted over to the pond for the rest.
Bubba had asserted himself almost completely. Well, that was the landlord's right. Aaron hadn't thought about the dual 'souls' when he entered the portal, now he was paying the price. The stallion was still there - the only change was the replacement of the animal's neck with a mostly human torso.
Well, he did seem to have improved eyesight. Still blurred, but with color and definition far in excess of the former horse's abilities. It was strange to experience color for the first time. Yet he knew he'd seen sorta like this before. Sounds and scents were still the same, thanks to the almost completely normal horse's head. There was a slight change in the snout, perhaps to allow rudimentary speech. So slight it hardly looked different at all.
Memory was twisted a bit now. He could remember running through the fields as a little boy, struggling to pull socks over his hooves. Human and equine lives had merged into a single stream of images. If he really concentrated, he could separate them, but there seemed to be no point.
He was more than just the silly human from a strange dimension. He was also the proud stallion, leader of the herd and king of the pasture. The sound name 'Aaron' would still do, though. It was for the other creatures who didn't have a scent-name.
Aaron snorted, accepting this new form with sudden finality. The image from the pond crystallized in his mind with such clarity that he knew he could return to the Transmogrification dimension any time and not change a single hair. Except he still couldn't quite focus on the portals. Perhaps it was the bestial part of his mind that clouded the images.
Aaron returned to the human, noting with mild amusement that his human torso made him even taller than before. With exaggerated enunciation, he managed to speak fairly clearly. "I a-um ph-ine now-uh. I k-an der-raw." Bob shook his head. "I don't know about fine. But I guess you do have hands now." He looked over the massive form, and grinned. "Well, you might have been human once before. But I don't think anybody else will ever believe it."
The man started gathering his things, and a portal formed close by. "I gotta go now. See ya' around?" Aaron started to nod, but then shouted "Stop!" Bob looked towards him with a curious expression. "I ka-not ph-ind poor-tals. Nee-du h-el-p." The human dropped his bag and walked over.
"Where do you want to go, then?" Aaron struggled a bit with the powerful ties he had to this pasture. Then he realized that this was one place he could easily find, no matter where he went. "R-ok-ie." Damn. He was gonna have to get used to talking again. At least the words were returning to his mind now. Speech would improve with practice.
Luckily, Bob understood, and concentrated as he placed his hands on Aaron's side. Once again the contact furnished the missing focus. The ability to use portals was still there. It was just that he needed someone else to serve as a road map, now.
Another portal flashed into place, this one vaguely familiar to him. Of course. He'd entered this as a plant-boy the first time Rocky had come for him. He waved farewell to Bob, and stepped through. The satyr was in for one hell of a big surprise!
Roommates in Paradise (8) copyright 1996 by Bob Stein.
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