Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The sun on the blankets was a palpable force when Decker awakened. He struggled up out of their cloying folds in a sweat. He was alone again; either last evening's carnal adventures had been another hallucination or Lizzie had left him to swelter on the beach. He wiped at his brow with a tacky forearm. This was strange, he thought; the Degren body had not shown any intolerance for heat before. The sensation of hair pilling up between his arm and his head as he wiped brought an extra flash of heat to his chest. He brought his arm down for a look. Several clumps of his pelt were rolled into little football-shapes on his forearm, and the fur where he had rubbed was markedly thinner than it was elsewhere on his arm. He dragged his other palm across his forehead and felt a bunch of fur come loose between his fingers."What the...LIZZIE!, HEY, LIZZIE!" A pair of hands slipped over his eyes and he felt a wet body press against his back. "Guess who?" "SHIT SHIT SHITTLEY SHIT!" His first instinct was to lunge forward, but he caught himself when he recognized her voice. "Whooo-ey, you scared the..." "Shit out of you? Guess so, sweet-cheeks." She slipped under his arm and around to the front of him, her whimsical smirk morphing to a look of concern. "What's the matter, lover? You look all shook up." "Ah, it's probably nothing, but I do seem to be, er, shedding pretty heavy right now." "No kidding! I had to go rinse off in the waves to get it off of me. It's like a Malamute kennel in May all up in those blankets." She made a show of brushing him off. "Maybe you ought to go for a little dip. Come to think of it," she mused, letting her fingernails drag lightly down along his sides, "maybe we ought to go for a lil' dip together... meow meow meow..." "Maybe a quick rinse and we ought to get moving, back down to Tut's place..." he searched her face then, and asked, "You do want to go with me, don't you?" She smirked again. "Decker, you could be the last man in the world... how's that old joke go?" Her face got serious then. "And not only might you be the last man in the world, or on any number of worlds, I... I am stuck on you. I had every opportunity to take you down, even take you out when it was my mission to do so. I couldn't do it. And that was before you were the last man in the world. So if you think I'm gonna let you get away..." About half his fur washed off in the freshwater sea, and he noted that the skin showing through beneath was very familiar to him. Experimenting in the waves, he discovered that the physical prowess of Degren's race was starting to ebb out of him, too. His scalp was down to the sort of peach fuzz found on a human baby's head, and it itched like crazy. He waded on shore and made an impromptu toga out of one of Lizzie's sheets, after shaking the fur out of it. She showed him where the lost-and-found was in the hotel office, and he chose a pair of huarache-like shoes out of the shoe bin; his human feet were far tenderer than his Degren feet had been. At the entrance to the tunnel, they both turned, arm in arm, and looked wistfully down at the silhouette of the hotel and the broad, beautiful beach. The image and the events there burned lovingly into both of their minds, they put it behind them and followed the bubbling stream down into the bedrock of Cradsell 4.