Shy the hyena didn't hear all of what his sister said, as the carriage pulled away; wooden, led on by six dire-wolves, all well compensated for their time. She waved, and he smiled, and he began the walk back to his little house by the river.
Brown spots, chewed ears, glasses, big soft paws. Pleasant spotted hyena, that was Shy. Had a bashful side, just... on all sides. Courteous, friendly. Reserved. Always on the edge of trying new things, if he could only find the courage. Ah, the up-and-down life of being shy.
What did she say? He scratched his head, closing his door behind him, opening a window and settling down on his relaxing chair with the breeze freshening the room. Shy tried to distract himself with reading, lighting a candle, letting the day go by gently. For a while, it worked.
At 2am, the hyena woke up in bed, flustered. What had she said? The question was stuck in his head now, making other thoughts and actions hazy; he blushed and mumbled coarse words and pulled himself out from under the sheets.
Shy had a curse, where some ideas would become obsessions, and obsessions would consume him until he did something about them. It wasn't meant to be a curse - it was supposed to have been an aid to his compulsive shyness, encouraging him to actually rise above it, but it had gone very wrong. But, now it was firmly embedded in who he was, and some days he just had to deal with it.
But how? His sister was surely back home by now, a good eight hours from here. Too far to just go without some planning. Anyway, what Shy needed was a way to talk to her, just for a moment. Little beads of sweat gathered on the fur of his brow; he was losing control. This was the main problem with his curse, in that if his sister was in the next room it would have been easy. However, the task at hand was difficult; and, in this culture without electricity or fast information transmission, potentially impossible. At least, if nothing changed.
The hyena's paws glowed with a bright blue light, as Shy blushed heavily. If he couldn't go see her, he'd just create some sort of distance communication method, then. It was as if someone else was directing him as the hyena hunted for a wooden cup, tail thrashing about excitedly. A claw poked a hole in it, through which he threaded a length of rope. Perfect. With paws still shining, he spoke into it. Quietly, at first, then more loudly until he started to hear noises from the other side. He heard surprise, and something falling over, and then a tired voice.
"Why are you in my water glass, Shy. You're doing your thing again aren't you. Stop it, they haven't invented telephones yet."
Shy, deeply embarrassed, asked her about what she had said to him yesterday. This prompted lots of tutting and mumbling; he was so silly! Couldn't this wait, was it important enough to literally tear a hole through the fabric of reality? No, of course it wasn't, but by then the poor hyena was practically vibrating on the spot. So close!
"I know it's not your fault. I'll just tell you and then we can go to bed. Okay. I said thanks for the lovely day, Shy, you're such a dear."
Some may have been surprised that the premise of this little tale is Shy's reaction to a play on words, but it sums the hyena and his curse up very well indeed. Suffice to say, the first idea that entered his head was not the affectation "dear", but the hooved mammal: "deer".
Paws became clumsy, losing their grip on the wooden cup as fingers fused and hardened into hooves. Feet went the same way. Points sprouted from his head, branching out and up into soft velvety antlers. Fur shortened, though his patterns remained. Ears were still chewed, but shorter and flappier. His tail reeled itself in to be a small little nub, with such veracity that it would fling him off his feet. The bones in him clicked and crunched, his teeth flattened, unfortunately his hyena diet would make him quite sick this morning.
Shy couldn't move, couldn't even squeak, it was happening so quickly that by the time the cup hit the floor and he fell onto his face, he was a spotty brown buck with a modest pair of antlers. He did squeak as he landed, clumsily trying to get back up onto his feet. Shy would need to get used to hooves. Four of them. Wait, could he still stand upright?...
On the other end of the "phone", his sister had worked out what had happened. Very apologetic, but very weary, she said she was going to go to sleep and they could pick this up later.
"I think we should just live closer. Or maybe you could invent instant transportation. Can I just suggest to you that we live happily ever after?"
"Sorry sis, you know the thoughts are gone again. Maybe next time?"
A quick look at my silly blushy hyena, Shy, who is susceptible to teasing and suggestion in a way that tends to lead to him transforming himself without really meaning to. Written in May 2018. Yes, there's a pun. I'm sorry. ^^;