Thursday, June 21, 2012



One Monday morning when James woke up, water dripped from an unseen faucet. The low howl of the wind traveled along the plumbing of his building. Outside, down in the street a dog barked and a car door slammed.
Stiffly he rose from his bed. As he crossed the room, he saw something that stopped him in his tracks.
His chifforobe had grown soft white bunny fur in the night. It pulsed gently in the corner of the room cooing and moving within itself. It beckoned to him, seemingly yearning to feel his competent fingers assessing its tactile merits. Who was James to refuse? He knelt and began to caress the chifforobe. It shuttered all over with delight.

The phone rang. Reluctantly, James answered it.
On the other end of the line a mechanical voice warned him of a vicious fur outbreak. It cautioned him not to pet any predatory fur. In the event he was exposed to an outbreak he was instructed to saw his own hands off. James did not own a saw.
He ended the call.
No machine could understand how soft the fur was.
He had to protect the fur. If it was discovered there was a fur outbreak in his tenth floor apartment, they would tent the building. They would advance with chemicals and spray against the poor defenseless fur!
He rushed into his bedroom and fell on his knees before the chifforobe, plunging his rough calloused hand into the soft white fur.
Oh the sensation! The pulsing appreciation of the clean white fur!
It fed off his adoration.

In response to his solicitous petting, it spread. It leapt from the surface of one piece of furniture to another then to another, and then to another.
In a matter of hours it had begun to climb the walls.
In another few hours it covered the floors, the window, the ceiling.
That night a soft and cuddly death patiently began to steal over James, so soothing, he did not suspect that he had become the disease.
He only wanted to be caressed, to respond to the feel, the pressure of warm hands, to spread infinitely outward, always growing, always changing.
James was the virus and the virus was James.
Soft downy fur pushed its way through his follicles, evicting the coarse black human hair.
The white fur spread quickly and within a quarter of an hour he was covered from head to toe. His eyes were changing shape. His vision was both narrowing and expanding.
When he leaned against the wall, he disappeared completely. His pink eyes blinking were the only distinction between him and the soft, white, pulsing fur that covered the walls.
His fingers twisted in their sockets. They were changing shape, merging into one.
He could not keep his hands off himself.
His senses heightened, he could hear the tumblers in the lock of the neighbors’ apartment turning as the door swung open.
He crept out into the hall where a light had burned out providing a theatrical twilight.
He crept on his newly furry feet to stand directly behind Jose, a sweaty Latino he had never cared for.
He snaked his furry hands along his arms and biceps. He flinched and struggled. Then, inside the glory of acceptance, he gave in to the fur.
They cuddled for nearly fifteen minutes, and when James strolled away from Jose soft white fur was rapidly spreading along his skin.
James made his way down the stairs, trailing his rapidly mutating paws along the hand rail, cozy white fur sprouting where his fingers had been.
He burst through the lobby doors and hit the street. He was all impulse—one-hundred percent sensation. Only the sensory experience existed for him. There was only the current moment, nothing before this exact moment and nothing after. No consequences, only movement, only sound.

© Callan 2012

Callan, who left Orange County, Ca. in 2007 and moved to the country to focus full time on her writing, advises she is now living in Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in L.A. county. Her work is featured at Six Sentences and her blog: theworksofjanecallan, where a version of this story appeared in April.


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