A young teenager in his early twenties was walking through the forest, his expression fairly peaceful given his calm surroundings. He brushed his raven colored hair away from his shoulder as his kind green eyes looked at the brown bark of the trees that were surrounding him. The leaves crunched on the ground whilst he continued walking through the somewhat bare forest.
Though all the trees were bare of leaves, there was no sunlight shining through the branches, that's if it was even daytime right now. Either there was some odd form of light in the forest, or he was capable of seeing in the dark. And aside from the crunching of leaves under his feet, there were no other sounds. He felt a shiver run down his spine, despite that he wasn't feeling cold or hot.
The tree bark darkened as he continued on the path to nowhere. He turned around, but all he saw behind him was a field of brown grass as far as the eye could see. He was wondering if there was a troll nearby, despite how childish that idea was, or if there even was an end to this place.
He started thinking about turning back when he suddenly caught his foot on something, tumbling forward into a dark pit that suddenly appeared in front of him. There was no light coming from it, nor was there any darkness - just nothingness. He tried to scream for help, but the sound didn't travel - it was like he was caught in the vast vacuum of space.
After what felt like a hundred years had passed in a matter of seconds, he found himself tumbling down the green grass of a hill. He looked up and saw the calm blue sky and the sun, but the nothingness that he fell through was gone.
He quickly got up and brushed away the dirt and grass from his dull red jacket and dull blue shirt. An endless sea of green grass was reflected in his eyes.
He let out a heavy sigh as he sat down on the ground, thinking. Right now it didn't matter where he stayed in this place, it all lead to nowhere. but they all lead to nowhere. There were no pathways to follow, and everywhere he looked, it was all the same.
Green. . . . Nothing but green. . . .
Then a sudden flash of red. . . .
His eyes widened as he looked at that flash, slowly coming closer to him as the figure within it became clearer. The eyes of the red creature glowed a feral amber, looking at him curiously. It was then that he realized that the creature was a fox, with its acute muzzle and black ears.
The two stared at each other, their eyes locked onto each other, before the boy decided to kneel down to the ground. The fox carefully walked closer until the two of them were an arm's length away from each other. They continued to stare at each other, with the fox sitting down on the ground, when the boy lifted his arm slowly.
He hesitated. This is the closest he had ever got to a wild animal before, and he really wanted to pet one. In fact, he has a great urge to softly pet it ears as if it was a pet of his own. But he knew that, as a wild animal, there was a chance that it could give him a very nasty bite. So he put his hand down and sighed lightly, when he noticed the fox winking at him.
The boy cocked his head, confused, when he suddenly looked down at the ground, a look of disbelief spreading across his face. The grass has disappeared and instead there was a path made of carefully placed cobblestones. The path seemed to lead from where the boy was, all the way around to behind where the fox was sitting.
The fox got up and nodded its head, as if beckoning him to follow. Too confused to think, the boy got up and followed the fox along the path.
"RYAN TRAUM!!!" a shrill voice said. "WAKE UP!!!"
Ryan woke up from his dream of the fox as he heard the rest of the class laughing. One angry glare from the teacher's hawk-like light green eyes was enough to silence the laughter. Her gaze changed to Ryan as he felt chills running down his spine.
"What is your excuse this time?" she said from her beak-like mouth.
"I was working on homework really late at night," Ryan tried to explain. "I-"
"Then you should've worked on it earlier!" she retorted.
"As I was saying, I couldn't work on it sooner because my job has me working from four till ten pm every day of the week. Als-"
"You don't need a job with a mother like yours!"
"Let me explain... my mom won't give me any of her money, not even a single cent. Sh-"
"Even if you only got one hour of sleep, I still can't believe that you would fall asleep whilst watching a movie like this!" she remarked furiously, hitting the desk hard.
"It's a boring movie," Ryan admitted. "I don't know why Citizen Kane was known to be the greatest movie of the 20th century."
This struck a cord in the teacher. "Ryan, you're to stay for one hour after classes!"
"What?" Ryan nearly shouted. "But my job-"
"No exception! Now as we've settled this disruption, class, we'll continue with the movie."
When it finally reached four, Ryan left the school, feeling rather frustrated with his teacher and his mundane life. No matter how hard he looked, he just kept coming across dead ends, and no one was willing to help him out. Stupid, selfish humans, who think they can just leave behind the weak so that the strong can become stronger because it'll promote progress and growth. Yet they didn't even think that those weak people could do things that the stronger ones were incapable of. Humanity, in the end, is so close-minded that they just seemed to ignore any and all criticism.
Then again, Ryan thought, he was also being close-minded in thinking that humans had no good in them.
Unfortunately, none of those thoughts were brought on by his mother in recent years.
A few years ago, Ryan parents divorced after his dad won ten million dollars on the lottery. His mom wanted the money, but her husband had the dignity to give her enough so their son could go to a good college. They went to court and the divorce was finalized, with the mother winning half of the money and her son. The father tried to guarantee that the money would to Ryan, but was rejected.
Now Ryan is still living with his mother in a good house with a servant and such, but Ryan was unhappy. His mother would ignore his requests, especially if it involved money, and just lives in her dream world.
Ryan wanted to live with his father, but is unable to since the court gave his mother sole ownership. Especially since his dad's now living in the English countryside's, and that the court have limited contact between the two. Every day he wondered what his father was doing and whether or not if he was thinking of him.
Ryan, deep in his thoughts, kept on walking until-
Ryan was knocked back to the ground as the woman that bumped into him just continued to run. There was complete terror in her eyes, Ryan noticed. Right beside him was a bag with something in it.
"Hey!" Ryan called out to her. "You dropped your-"
"Keep it!" she shouted back, still running.
Ryan pushed himself up off the ground, dumbfounded, as the woman continue to sprint like a jack rabbit. Ryan looked at where she came from, but there was nothing. No one was chasing her and there was nothing that he could see that could scare her like that. Just empty stores and buildings.
Without any further thinking, he picked up the bag and continued to walk home, letting his thoughts continue to argue on whether or not humans are the evilest creatures on the planet.
Eventually he was standing outside of his house, the size of it was three stories high, taking up a good half of the block. Silently he entered the house, looking around as his hands twitched about. When he saw no one, he stopped twitching and went to the worse part of the house, his room.
Ryan sat on his bed, looking around his dust-free room, which was also really small. He looked at the only other piece of furniture he had other than his bed; his bookshelf. It's filled with fantasy books, including the Discworld books, The Hobbit and all three Lord of the Rings, The Inheritance Cycle, and Beowulf. He then looked at his closet, where all his clothes were stored.
He looked down and he noticed that he was still holding the bag he picked up earlier. He tilted his head a little as he opened it up. He pulled out a husky plush, which had a tag on it that said nothing except a bar code. The code merely said 151793.
Ryan shrugged his shoulders and laid down on his bed, hugging the plush tightly as he slowly drifted to sleep. The last thing he felt was a shock running through his body, making him feel a little sick.
Ryan was walking on the cobblestone road, looking for something. Something he'd forgotten. Something important.
His sneakers rubbed on the rocks below him, scraping a little of the rubber off as he slowly broke into a run. The stones were kicked off the ground along with a little bit of dirt, until he found what he was looking for; the fox. It's not too far off, but the water separated the two from each other.
Ryan shrugged and put his foot in the water. It reached as high as his ankles, he noticed, and put his other foot down. He walked across the water, slowly reaching towards his fox companion, when-
Ryan fell face first into the shallow water as his feet started to wobble violently. He looked up to the fox, but then the rest of his body started to creak and shivered. He crawled to the other side, gritting his teeth, when his shoes tore off of his feet.
He looked back at his feet in complete disbelief. He saw that his feet has grown longer and larger. He pushed himself onto his back, his deformed feet stretched out above him. He felt his feet go numb as they continued to grow and alter. He let out a loud scream as he felt his back violently snap, as if he was being split in half. When the pain subsided, he looked up and saw that white fur was now covering his feet, black claws poking out from his toes, gleaming in the light.
Then the rest of his body goes numb to the point that he couldn't even feel the water that was washing over him. The numbness passed after a few moments as he was able to lift his hands up, resting them on his chest, only to suddenly withdraw them when he felt something furry resting against them.
"This can't be happening," Ryan said to himself. "This can't be. . . ."
Ryan looked under his shirt and saw that there was fur there. He kept muttering to himself when he felt something growing in the back of his pants. Before he could take them off to examine it, said thing forced it way out, wagging behind his legs. He looked around and saw a gray tail with a white tip, resting behind him. After a few brief seconds, he tugged at it, feeling pain running through his spine. He grunted, realizing that it was HIS tail, as he flipped back onto his hands and knees to crawl, his tongue hanging out.
He managed to drag himself through the river, almost reaching the other side, when his hands cracked loudly. He collapsed, looking at his hands as the nails broke away, large black claws growing from his fingertips. His hands went numb, and he looked away for a moment, knowing that they were slowly covering in white fur. When the numbness faded away, he let out a sigh as he examined his changed hands.
Looking up, he saw the fox in front of him, now only a few feet away from him. He finally reached the other side, a foot away from the fox, before he was struck with the feeling this his head had been struck with a sledgehammer, his ears feeling like they were being torn off. Closing his eyes, he forced himself to reach the fox, despite the intense pain he was in, placing a hand on the creature.
Suddenly, as quickly as it had started, the pain stopped. Ryan opened his eyes, seeing a muzzle where his nose and mouth was, as well as the fox before him. Everything else, however, was gone. The fox grinned to him as it faded into pure light, covering everything around him.
The next thing that Ryan knew, he was lying on the grass, the sun shining through the branches. His eyes closed as his now triangular ears twitched, picking up on the sounds of mechanical grinding.
Ryan eyes slowly opened, widening when he saw a white muzzle before his eyes.
"What the? But-"
Ryan looked at his hands, covered in fur, lined with claws and thick pads.
He then looked at his feet, the shoes completely torn away. His feet was stretched and twisted into a digitgrade posture, forcing him to walk on the balls of his feet.
He then saw his tail, covered in grey fur, wagging behind him.
"-that was a dream!"
Then the closet door swing open as a man stepped out from inside it, closing the doors behind him. With a skip in his step, he hopped in front of Ryan, speaking in a British accent.
"You see? I told you that it'll change you, Miss-" He suddenly stopped when he saw Ryan. "Wait a minute. You're not the lady that brought the husky plush from me, unless you changed gender... even then, you don't even look-"
"Who the hell are you!?" Ryan shouted.
"Oh!" he said and took a step backwards. "My name is Undecim Medicus, the owner of this store." He gestured to Ryan's closet.
"Mr. Medicus," Ryan asked. "First off, how did you get into my house and inside my room? Second, why are you here? And finally, that's my closet, not your store!"
Mr. Medicus, with a rather sour face, asked, "You mean this?" He said as he opened the door.
But Ryan stopped short when he saw that on the other side of the door, it wasn't his closet. Instead there was a store. "What? But-"
Mr. Medicus motioned him to go inside. Ryan eventually did so, and once he was inside, he felt like the only person in the entire world. The place was huge, much bigger than the house.
"That's... that's impossible." Ryan uttered.
"No," Mr. Medicus said. "Just a bit of-"
Suddenly they heard a door slamming, a loud voice booming through the area. "OK, who's making the loud noises!?"
"Mom!" Ryan said, recognizing the voice.
That was followed up by a loud scream. "THIEF! THIEF! WE'VE GOT A THIEF IN THE HOUSE!!!"
"No! I'm not a thief!" Mr. Medicus yelled as the doors slammed shut.
Mr. Medicus hopped back inside, his tweed coat floating as he did so, locking the door behind him. "I guess I should remember to not deal with a mother wh-"
"What are you-"
"Oh," Mr. Medicus said, looking at Ryan. "I'm very sorry for what has happened to you."
"Huh?" Ryan said, confused. "What are you talking about?"
"You see this shop," Mr. Medicus said, now seemingly very old. "What kind is it?"
Ryan looked around and saw that, for what seemed to be miles, there were plushies on the shelves... wolves, dragons, PokÚmon...you name it, he had it. Ryan then thought for a moment as he looked at the tag of a nearby fox plush. The tag read 151793.
"You were the owner of that husky plush," Ryan said.
"Yes," Mr. Medicus said, straightening his bowtie. "The reason why this store is in your closet is the same as why you've been turned into an anthromorphic husky, and why the store is so big. It's powered by Athr˙ technologies, and was made a long, long time ago."
"Yes," Mr. Medicus said, feeling more energetic by the sound of the word. "They were an old and mighty civilization from the planet Glas. Very advanced, they spread across the universe alongside the others. Athr˙ technologies are a mix in with magic and, since their technologies center around transforming, the magic leaks and effect non-Athr˙ by changing them."
"So, this is why I'm a husky now?" Ryan asked.
"Yes," Mr. Medicus answered. "You weren't meant to have it though. I sold it to that nice lady earlier today."
"I met her," Ryan told him. "She was scared for some reason. So scared that she dropped that plush and didn't pick it up. She just continued running."
"It might have been because I moved to another spot," Mr. Medicus said. "The empty room where my shop used to be must've scared her out of her mind. She did seem nervous when I talked to her."
Ryan sighed and thought for a moment.
OK, I'm in a shop where my closet used to be, I'm talking to a strange man, I'm not human anymore, and I doubt that my mom would accept me with open arms when she sees me like this. What a great day...
"Sorry," Mr. Medicus said again.
"It's OK," Ryan replied halfheartedly, looking away.
"But I may be wrong when I said that you were not meant to have that plush." Mr. Medicus said, walking to Ryan and patting his shoulder kindly. "After all, what may be a wrong place and time may actually be the right place and the right time. Maybe you were meant to have it."
"How can you be so sure?" Ryan asked, looking at him.
"I don't," Mr. Medicus replied, walking away.
Ryan thought for a few seconds and asked, "Did you say that you can move this place?"
"Yes, I did." Mr. Medicus answered, turning around.
"As long as there's a room that has no people in it, there are no limits."
Ryan smiled. "Can you take me to my dad?"
"What? Isn't he- Oh. I see. Sure, can do! By the way, what's your name?"
"Ryan. Ryan Traum," Ryan responded.
Mr. Medicus nodded as he ran through the seemingly endless shelves of plushies and rings.
"You might want to hold onto something!" Mr. Medicus shouted back to him.
Ryan just stood there, confused. After a while, the place started to shake wildly as the same mechanical grinding he heard earlier echoed through the store. On impulse, Ryan grabbed onto one of the shelves, which seemed to be welded onto the floor. Then it all stopped, though Ryan remained holding onto it for dear life until Mr. Medicus came back.
"We are here!" Mr. Medicus said with glee whilst jumping about. "In the English countryside!"
"Wait," Ryan said. "How did you-"
"I can track down anyone with this girl," Mr. Medicus responded, patting one of the shelves. "I just tell her to track down your dad and here we are. So let's meet him!"
"So you got a plan on explaining my dad on why I'm a husky?" Ryan asked as Mr. Medicus walked past him.
"Yes," Mr. Medicus answered. "I'm going to tell him everything."
"What? Wait!" Ryan uttered, but Mr. Medicus already left. "Great... Can't wait to see his reaction..."
Ryan looked at the plushies at the store as he waited for Mr. Medicus to come back. There were so many of them... Where does that man get them all?
The door once again swung open.
"OK Ryan. You can-"
Mr. Medicus started as Ryan's dad pushed him side, rushing towards his boy. Father and son looked at each other, their faces going from shocked, to confusion, to curiosity. They didn't say anything. They didn't need to. As if they've been talking to each other for a long time, they came to accept what had happened and hugged each other hard, their faces wet with tears.
"How can you people breathe like that?" Mr. Medicus commented as he watched the two with a soft smile.
The two stopped hugging after a few moments, starting to walk out of the store. Before Ryan could leave though, he felt Mr. Medicus place a hand on his shoulder.
"Wait," he said, pulling out a necklace with a ruby in it. "This will change you back to normal, if you so desire."
Ryan looked at it for a few seconds before he gently pushed Mr. Medicus's hand away. He understood as he placed it back in his pocket, Ryan waving goodbye to him.
I don't know what will happen now, Ryan thought. But I have a feeling that, from this point on, things will only get better.