The Cirque du Koneta was in town, the massive, travelling circus, funfair, food-festival and entertainment show was famous across the world. Jim was wandering the wooden walkways of the fair, his trainers thumping softly as he wove in and out of the crowd. He was in the funfair section, game stalls, sideshows, miniature rings and stages for the performers to put on little shows to tempt people into buying tickets for the main show in the big top that night.
Licking his claws clean as he finished his hot dog Jim stopped before the entrance to the hall of mirrors. He looked ridiculous, and that was before you took into account the wavy glass and bubbled textures. He was a Irish red setter, doberman mix thanks to his parents falling in love and having kids. He had the russet red fur of the setter, the stocky, broad shouldered muscular frame of the doberman. It wasn’t a bad look except for his tail, it was short and stubby and black, it didn’t match his red fur at all. Sure he had black fur here and there but his tail should at least be one species or the other not a waggy, short stubby mess.
Sighing softly Jim walked away from the mirrors and kicked a stone with one foot, watching it bounce before he turned away from the main street and ventured down one of the side streets. The stalls were all selling all manner of tourist tat. Every one manned by a rat in hefty overcoat, flat cap and a sharp buck toothed grin for the ground. It must have been some policy of the circus’ hiring policy. All the guys and girls working the stalls, manning the booths and running the games where rats. The performers though, they were every kind of species imaginable, the acrobatic monkey performing on a stage in the centre of the little clearing at the end of this side street was a blue furred capuchin. He flipped and span, leapt and tumbled through the air as he wove magnificent patterns with his hands and the circling, spinning, whirling coloured balls he was juggling.
Jim stopped for a moment to watch the monkey play. Then he turned and headed down another alley that led away from the circle where he was performing. This street held a whole bunch of smaller stalls, a fortune teller, a stall selling magnets and photos of you on your favourite fairground ride. Then there was a small green tent, it had a sign out front that simply read, “Meddal’s Games, prizes of all kind!”
Curious he pushed the flap open and stepped inside. It was a low, dark tent, illuminated by a single lantern hanging from the apex of the wooden frame. There was a table in the middle, circular and covered in a soft green velvet cloth. Sitting behind the table was a fox, he had deep, rich green fur, bright golden eyes. He was dressed in a loose fitting shirt that left part of his chest exposed so Jim could see what looked like a zipper pull tag nestled in amongst the thick ruff of fur that surrounded his neck. It was an odd necklace to wear but Jim’s attention was mostly diverted by the pile of peculiar cushions he seemed to have covered his chair with. Except as he stepped forward to say hello Jim realised it wasn’t a pile of cushions, they were tails. Tails of every shape and size, fox, rat, bird, badger, dog, ram. Long and short, thick and thin they all wavered back and forth and in the dim light Jim could just make out that they all curled back and vanished below the table in the direction of the fox’s rump.
“Hello,” Jim said at last, unable to quite take his eyes away from that plethora of tails, “I… what are you?”
The fox laughed softly and held up one hand to wave, his hand covered in green fur that was a deeper, darker shade compared to the light fur covering the rest of his body.
“I am Meddal, a kitsune,” he smiled wider, “I can see my tails surprise you, they shouldn’t after all I need a lot of them to offer out good prizes to those who win my games.”
Jim blinked at that and sat down with a thump in the chair on his side of the table, “Excuse me, you’re a what… I…” he felt his own stubby tail twitching, “Prizes?”
Meddal’s smile widened and for a moment Jim felt nervous as the fox set three bronze cups on the table and then placed a small green ball on top of the central one.
“I am a kitsune, here at the Cirque du Koneta you will see wonders. Magic, the astounding and unbelievable. Here in this tent I offer simple games of chance, games of skill and games of attention.”
He spread his hands wide, “I can offer you a game, the prizes are many and myriad. Tickets to the big top show tonight, money, the largest plush toy going to give to your beloved, or even a new tail. The ante for this is simple, you place your tail on the line as collateral in our game.”
Jim sat back in his chair, relaxing, sure it was spooky and it was a bit of a crazy game. But damn this fox was good at his job, the dog even let himself grin as those tails waved and twitched.
“Sure I’ll play,” Jim set a carnival token on the table. He’d purchased a whole bunch of them on the way in, they were good for redeeming at games and rides throughout the circus.
“Very well,” the fox smiled, “So are we saying your tail down and in return I give you one of mine?”
“Sure am,” Jim said with a grin.
Laughing Meddal dropped the ball in in a cup and turned it down on the table, “I accept your bet young man. May I ask your name?”
“I’m Jim,” he said with a grin, eyes watching the cup, “So is it one shot or best of three?”
“One shot,” the fox said, starting to move the cups around, flickering the three of them across the velvet cloth with a smooth action, “It’s pretty simple really.”
Jim kept his eyes on the cups, watching them slide and slip and move until with a flourish the fox stopped moving them. Laughing the dog reached out and tapped the cup on the right one. Meddal tipped it back and Jim whooped, there was the ball.
“Well played young man,” Meddal said with a wry grin. He reached down beneath the table and lifted up a tail. It was a long, thick, russet red furred thing that curled at the end and was stuffed with some sort of thick foam to give it shape and weight. Taking it off the fox Jim weighed it in his hands, it had some proper weight to it and the fur was rich and lush. Against his hands he could feel it was fake but just by looking at it he’d have been convinced it was real.
Slinging it over one shoulder Jim stood up and shook the fox’s hand, “Thanks, this is great, fun game you have here.”
“Come back sometime,” Meddal offered, “I have many other games and quite a lot of prizes.”
Jim waved and ducked back outside, a bounce to his step as he set off to enjoy the rest of his day. There had been something infectiously cheerful about the fox, it was hard not to smile as he headed off to try out the rides.
Sprawled in bed Jim dreamed, it had been a long day. The carnival had been hectic and fun and he’d stayed out way too late after winning tickets to the big top show. Now that had been amazing, now however he was flopped in bed, fast asleep and yet he was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming the world was thick and fuzzy, warm and he seemed to be floating around his bedroom, detatched from his body which was sprawled out on the bed, covers tangled around his legs.
As he watched a strange sound caught his attention. It was like a zipper being undone, but a long zipper, much bigger than should have been possible. As he turned to look at the source Jim watched in confusion as it turned out to be a zipper. A line of metal teeth where undoing down the length of the bedroom wall as some unseen force or person on the other side undid the chain. Then as the final teeth parted at the bottom the wall flopped open. What should have been bricks and wallpaper sprawled like fabric, folding apart to let a shape that was all shadows and mist flow into the room.
Jim watched as the shape glided through the room, seeming to not touch the floor as it approached the bed where his body lay sleeping He tried to make sense of this dream, it was such an odd thing to watch. He backed away, his view point shifting to float near his bed as the shape approached. It had picked up the plush squirrel tail the dog had won at the fair and was stroking the thick foam framed plush as it approached Jim’s body.
With a mounting sense of dread Jim watched in horror as the misty, wavering shape brushed back the covers and pulled down the shorts he’d gone to sleep in. Jim’s tail was grasped in a flowing tendril of mist and with a twist and a suddenly crack of light it came free! His tail was entirely removed from his body. Jim wanted to whimper, to gasp out in shock and horror but it was just a dream, all he could do was watch. With a deft motion the squirrel tail was buttoned to the base of Jim’s spine. Where the button came from he didn’t know, it was just there now held the hefty, red furred tail in place.
The shape of shadow and mist flowed around the room once as if doing a tour then retreated toward the flopped open, fabric hole in the wall. It passed through and with a slow, gently folding motion the wall zipped itself back together. Then the line of metal teeth, the tag pull on this side it all vanished leaving just the wall as it had always been. Jim drifted, his attention scattered, it was hard to focus, he just drifted, floating in the warm darkness of the night, lost in the dream fugue.
Gasping Jim sat up in bed with a start, panting he pressed a paw to his head and gulped down air. His bedroom was warm, the duvet was heavy atop him and sunlight was streaming in through the skylight. Blinking he rubbed his muzzle with his paws and shuddered.
“Weird dream,” he muttered, tugging at his nose, trying to recall everything, “There was someone…” as he pulled his hands away from his face and froze. Tiny white claws filled his vision, small, curved, sharp and plastic… they were embedded in thick, red fur coated mitten like paws, with three stubby fingers and at thumb. Jim panicked and tried to leap out of the bed but his legs didn’t work right, they were short, stocky, his thighs were much too thick and he hit the floor of his bedroom with a thick thump.
His body compacted, for a moment he felt something inside him move, squash down, squish good and proper and then spring back into shape as he scrambled back to his feet. His feet were big and thick and plush, his whole body was covered in the same deep, rich faux fur as the tail. The tail that now clung to his butt and swept up in a great curve along his back. Pulling it around so he could stare at it Jim stood there, lost for words as he tried to comprehend what had happened to him.
Stumbling across his bedroom the dog hit the door to his ensuite. His body compacted, the thick foam that made up his frame squished nicely then sprang back into shape. Clawing at the door he pulled it open and stumbled into place in front of the big floor to ceiling mirror. He screamed, or tried to scream but all that came out as he came face to face with his appearance was a squeak.
He had big brown eyes, huge, pointed, tufted ears and a bright pair of white plastic buck teeth protruding from his lower jaw. His body was that of a squirrel, pear-drop shaped, big thick lower legs, shorter front arms and one huge, fluffy red tail. Oh sure it all matched now, unlike when he’d been a mutt but now, now he was a toy! He could feel the foam beneath his faux fur, the bright black plastic nose on the end of his snout looked real but under the touch of his paw it was so very clearly fake.
Slumping to the floor Jim stared at himself, he was a toy, he was a squirrel, twhat had happened. There had been a dream, he remembered that much, a figure taking his tail and… putting the squirrel tail on him. But he couldn’t remember who it had been, how they had done it, lifting his head he pressed a paw to his chest and stared at himself in the mirror, “The fox,” he whispered and hurried toward the door, “Meddal will know”
Moving through the crowded circus Jim kept his head down and his hands in his pocket. It hadn’t been easy getting dressed, his big mitten squirrel paws were not as dextrous as his real hands. But he’d managed to bundle himself up in all the clothes he could to hide what he had become.
No one really noticed, though his tail kept slipping free and bobbing around. But everyone saw a squirrel tail in a big duffle coat and their brains filled in the rest. They saw a squirrel and that was what he must be… so here he was, hurrying toward the fox’s tent. Ducking down the side alley towards he he pushed through the flaps and froze, there he was, sitting behind his table, his thick array of tails spread out all around him.
“You..” he growled, his voice a light hearted squeak, which mostly ruined his growl, “What happened to me?”
“Happened?” the fox sat up looking concerned, he stood up and walked to one side. With the daylight spilling in from the still open tent flap this time Jim got a really good look at Meddal. Even in the light from outside the fox looked real, he was short, stocky, somewhat plump around the hips and waist and that amazing panoply of tails he sported spread out behind him.
He was also quite naked today however with no shirt, no trousers, no clothing at all but down between his legs where sheath and balls should have rested there was just smooth, green fur. That was the first real hint that yes, like himself this fox, this kitsune was a living plush! Of course the fact he was such an odd colour should have been a clue. Light spring green with dark emerald sock and gloves and only one of his many tails matching. A thick green fox tail with dark emerald tip was visible at the centre of the mass of tails. All the others were of different species, clustering around the base of his spine somehow.
But Jim could see the signs now he knew what to look for, the plastic teeth. The black plastic nose, the claws, the way he wasn’t actually breathing and the very subtle way his fur was spread to cover seams of stitching. Shaking his head Jim forced himself to focus on the fox, he had to be involved in this, he just had to be!
Throwing off his coat Jim spread his arms, “Look, I’m a toy… I had this dream and then… then… I woke up like this!”
“Oh it has happened I see,” the fox replied with a thoughtful frown, tapping his chin, “That is unfortunate, it would seem your real tail has been stolen and replaced with a fake one.”
“Then give it back!” Jim shouted, lunging forwards, he hit the table and grabbed the edge of it, “It is mine, you had no right…”
“Hey now,” the fox said softly, leaning forwards, his tail dancing and swaying behind him, “I didn’t take it, tails are power, I gave you one of mine as a prize, you are lucky in that regard. If someone stole your tail and left you with nothing you’d probably be an inanimate toy. I’ve heard of this happening before you know, but wearing a fake tail however makes you a toy, it’s a good tail though. You look practically real from a distance.”
“No,” Jim squeaked, “No no no, this cannot be happening, this had to be something you did!”
“Me? Now listen to me squirrel I…”
“No!” Jim screamed, “I am not a squirrel,” clambering onto the table he leapt at the fox and missed as suddenly he wasn’t there. Jim hit the chair and then went limp as with a swift tug Meddal pulled his tail off. He slithered off the chair and lay on the floor, immobilized and frozen, unable to move, unable to speak, all he could do was lay there.
Meddal set his tail aside then hefted him up onto the table and lay him out on his back. There was a mirror on a tall stand that the fox shifted so he could see his reflection in it. Russet red body, in the dim light of the tent he looked real and alive, his fur his the stitching that made up the sections of his body. There really was no real clue that he wasn’t a living, breathing squirrel but he couldn’t move, he was frozen.
“You see,” Meddal said softly, “Tails are power, your tail, well I am not sure what happened but it is gone.” he pulled off the zip tag pull from his neck and pressed it into Jim’s neck. It felt weird, it slithered into the fabric of his body and as Meddal pulled it down teeth unzipped, parted to reveal the interior of Jim’s body.
“I presume someone saw you in here yesterday, saw you leave with the tail i gave you and decided to act on stealing yours and I gave you a really nice tail,” he paused and his golden eyes fixed on Jim’s, “It currently makes you a squirrel, it gives you the ability to live, to exist but much like me well,” the fox dipped a hand into Jim’s body and pulled out a handful of stuffing, “It leaves you as a living, talking plush toy.”
The fox held up a pawful of the stuffing, not that he needed to, Jim had seen it all, it was hard to look away when all you could physically do was lie on your back and stare into a mirror.
“Now i am sorry you got caught in this,” he reached down into Jim’s body, his hand slid through his stuffing and then he reached up and pushed his hand right up into Jim’s head. The squirrel’s vision got blurry, he felt the fox tugging at the stuffing filling his mind and then it all got weird.
His vision blacked out and then he could see again and Meddal was stuffing Jim’s body, replacing the stuffing he had removed to show him that he was plush now.
“It’ll take some getting used to,” the fox said with a sigh, “I am just sorry you got caught up in my curse, but alas that is the fact of the matter,” the fox pushed in the last of the stuffing then pulled on the zip tag, zipping Jim’s body closed again. A twist, a tug and the zipper pull tag was removed and put back against the kitsune’s throat.
He then picked up Jim’s squirrel tail and hefted it in one paw and buttoned it back into place. Jim didn’t move though, just lay there staring at the ceiling for a long while. Everything the fox said made sense, he’d had the misfortune to get caught up by whatever shadowy creature had imprisoned the magical fox spirit as a living plush. They had stolen his tail, rendered him as living plush just like Meddal and only pure luck had saved Jim from being killed when his tail and his life force was stolen.
“What now?” he finally asked.
“Well I have given you the most realistic tail I have,” the fox stepped back and sat down in his chair, “I could give you another one, but it won’t help give you your real body back.”
Jim sat up slowly and stared at the kitsune, then pulled his tail around to stroke it, “Do you.. Happen to have a dog tail?”
The kitsune reached into the tangle of his tails and pulled out one, it was long and waggy, narrowing to a tip and seemed to be made from a patchwork of different materials, “I have this?”
Turning around Jim fumbled with the squirrel tail, “Well quickly, put it on me, being a dog has to be better than this!”
Meddal shrugged and reached out to help. Jim had a moment of limp nothing, of immobility once again and then the new tail was buttoned into place.
As soon as the new patchwork tail was attached Jim’s limbs jerked back into action. But not quite in the way he was expecting as his mitten like fingers curled and started to grow shorter and stubbier. His thumb curled in on itself and vanished and with a startled yelp he felt his plastic teeth being sucked back up into his maw as his face started to change.
Everything seemed to happen at once, the foam and stuffing that made up his form was being squished and shifted around as his deep red fur coat rippled and tugged and pulled in another direction.
Yelping he arched his back and then shook his head, one of his ears curled over and flopped, the other stood upright. He could feel it twitching gently as his feet shifted and his legs and arms grew to the same length. Turning his head Jim looked down between his front legs and gaped at the patchwork of different materials that made up his chest and legs.
He had black plastic claws, he could feel sharp plastic dog fangs with a felt tongue and as he lifted his head he stared up into Meddal’s mirror with a sense of rising dread. What looked down at him was adorable, a cute springer spaniel, every part of their body a patch of different fabric or a different pattern. With one floppy ear and one perked, bright blue glass eyes and a nice waggy spaniel tail attached by a single popper so it was always standing p.
“Oh hell no…” Jim cursed and shook his head, turning around clumsily on all four paws to stare at Meddal, “This… this is nothing like the squirrel!”
The kitsune shrugged and reached out to pet Jim’s ears, “I did tell you I gave you my best tail,” Jim tried not to enjoy the sudden warm sensation of having his ears petted but it was hard. Then to add insult to injury Meddal hugged him! He bloody hugged him and for a moment he went limp and just lost himself in the sudden pleasure of being squeeze and hugged with warm feelings.
After a couple of moments Meddal set him down and Jim clumsily sat on his haunches and stared up at the fox, “Ok… what was that?”
“That,” the kitsune said with a smile, “Was a hug, it feels good as a plush doesn’t it?”
“Yeah…” Jim pawed at his nose, “And the reason I’m currently a patchwork dog?”
“You’re plush, the tail you wear is what you are, it’s the nature of our curse. I figured it’d be easier to let you experience then not, here watch…” before Jim could react Meddal snapped his patchwork tail off and Jim’s whole body flomped out. Legs akimbo, paws spread, head down, immobile and stuck once more!
Another tail was pressed into place, for a moment Jim came to life again and then his body twisted. Foam shifted, his stuffing felt weird as if it was falling inside of him, bursting apart and falling down down and taking him with it. His body shifted, his body seemed to contract in on itself.
His limbs shrank, his head was level with his soft pink felt front paws and as he pushed himself up he realised he was practically standing stomach to the ground even when he pushed up to his full height. Twisting around he stared at the long piece of string like pink felt that twisted away from his rump. It was long and narrow and held in place by a piece of velcro. Fine whiskers of stiff wire like thread poked out of his snout.
“You made me a rat!” he shouted, somehow after everything else this was the worst. He was so small, tiny, feral, barely larger than one of Meddal’s hands as he patted his his body.
“I did, that’s the smallest tail I know how to make, it’s quite the change isn’t it?”
“I’ll say, this… this is insane, this can’t be happening…”
“Do I need to unzip you again and show you the stuffing inside again? Or do you want to believe me now when I tell you I gave you the best tail I currently have?”
“Ok, thanks… uhm, can I be a squirrel again now?”
This time the change at least felt good. There was something intrinsically amazingly intense about growing in size. In fabric stretching, shifting, foam filling him out, giving him shape and substance again. As a rat he’d been little more than a sock of fabric and some beans. As a squirrel, he had plush, almost real looking fur, he had weight and height and a sense of self again.
Restored, in so far as being a squirrel made of fabric, foam and stuffing was restored Jim sighed and slumped off the table into a chair, shivering at the way his body shifted and squished, “So… now what?”
“Well, you can try going it alone, living a life, stealing tails, trying to find someway to to reclaim your real body.”
“Or?” Jim asked, raising his head and looking at the kitsune, “You have another plan?”
“You could stay here with me,” the fox held out a paw, “Work with me, there are other plush like you. Who have been struck down by whoever it is who has done this to all of us.”
Jim hesitated, rubbed a hand through his faux head fur and then stood up and shook his head, “I… I need time to think about this, this is all too much…” he pulled his coat back on, tried to stuff his squirrel tail under it then staggered out of the tent back into the crowds of the carnival.
Smiling softly Meddal leant back in his chair, stroking his chin. That had been an interesting encounter. Still it had gone about as he had expected and he’d had the chance to get his hands into the pups stuffing. The story Meddal had pedalled him would take root and be left as the only plausible explanation for what had happened to him.
Reaching under the table Meddal pulled out a short length of black furred doberman tail. He stroked it, smiled at the way it quivered with energy and force. It was all his now, with a happy foxy yip the kitsune slowly, almost teasingly unzipped himself! It always felt so good to open himself up like this.
Pulling on the zip pull tag he opened his chest and stomach. Revealing not a mass of flesh and gore and organs but soft white stuffing, thick and fluffy and curled. Once he had his chest open from neck to navel he pushed Jim’s stubby, doberman style, black furred tail into his stuffing. It sank beneath the surface of the fluffy stuffing that filled his body, settling deeper than Meddal let go and pulled his hand out.
Being careful not to let his stuffing escape the kitsune zipped himself shut. As casually as if he did this all the time, he tugged the zipper back up, the teeth closed, the line of metal was lost beneath his thick green fur until once again the zipper was just dangling free at the base of his neck ruff.
Smiling at the warm, tingly feeling of a having claimed a new tail and gotten away with it Meddal pulled his sewing kit and fabric box onto the table. Carefully selecting pieces of fabric and thread he started to sew himself a doberman/irish red setter mutt tail. It’d fit into his collection nicely and if Jim was a good plush he might even let him wear it for a bit.
A story featuring my living plush kitsune Meddal getting up to some mischief with a new victim