The Pooka Problem
by ROY LeBAY

Chapter 5

...Or tried to. There was very little feeling of touch when I put my arms around, & through Wyly. The sensation was best described as--static. Like a low-voltage static charge that itched & strained to take advantage of an unexpected path. Where the distance of a 1/2 inch between a T.V. screen & your fingertips to complete the circut was a limbo of uncertainty that lasted a glorious fraction of a second, & ended w/ a miniature light show.

The next sensation was all of the hairs on the back of my neck standing up w/ military precision. This feeling caused me to glance down at Wyly's form as his green glow began to obscure my vision. I wasn't moving, but Wyly had continued to walk into the same space I was occupying! This caused ripples of chills to spread from my spine to the rest of my body, unearthing goosebumps as they went. The lifting Van De Graph effect that had started w/ my neck hairs spread to the rest of my body--giving a cool, fuzzy & green 3-D effect. As the intense glow entirely claimed my vision, a feeling of complete relaxation overcame me. It was as if every muscle in my body had been painlessly relieved of its' stress & struggle in holding my body together. Appropriately enough, I collapsed, unconscious, to the ground.

I awoke from the feeling of a sound, dreamless sleep, to the annoying sensation of being jabbed w/ a stick. Hmph. So this was the Jeff Corwin experience--blasted Animal Planet channel! I suddenly became aware of a hesitant, but concerned voice calling me after each poke. POKE! "Roy?" POKE! POKE! "Roy, wake up!" The sudden memory of what had happened shocked me fully awake. Wyly had promised that he wouldn't do anything to me! If he did this, who knew what else he might do next! I whipped my head in every direction, trying to spot--"WHERE'S WYLY!?!"

No one answered, & as soon as I'd said it, I remembered that only I could see him when he was dry anyways. As I looked around, I realized that my vision was oddly impeded. I had to focus cross-eyed to see why...& gasped. I had a snout! In my shock of the moment, I automatically brought my hand up--to either grab, or wave away the new development. This led to a couple of new shocks. I jerked w/ the startling sensation of touching my new, moist nose & the touch of my nose on my new finger pads! As I struggled to explain this new development to myself, only one answer came to mind.

I turned a frightened, yet outraged glare on Circe as I struggled to get to my feet. "YOU! YOU... HOW COULD YOU!?!" Circe took a couple of steps back at my unexpected outburst. "I...I thought you would've been happy to be rid of Wyly & myself, & then you go & do something like this! I gestured to my reflection on an ice cream cart across the way. The image was slightly warped, but it was definitely no longer human. I hopped on one foot to start pulling off my shoes, which were too loose in the heels, but way too tight in the toes. "WHY?" Circe turned a puzzled glance at her sisters--who shrugged their shoulders, & then she turned her beautiful, piteous gaze back to me. "Neither my sisters nor myself had anything to do w/ this. We all saw you hug *something*, & a few seconds later you transformed into this! We've been trying to wake you for the past 5 minutes. We've also figured out what it is--it's a pooka, but unlike any pooka we've ever 'seen' or heard of before. They're usually harmless pranksters, & easy to ward off, or disperse. This one, however, was totally resistant to our magic, as your new body is now."

I glanced down at myself, & extended my arms. "I'm usually not one for vanity, but I think I need a better look at what's happened!" Circe gestured, & a gilded full-length mirror popped into existance before me. Given the choice of wondering at so many sudden complications in my life, I chose to examine my reflection. I was stunned to discover that I now had a humanoid coyote form, & was indistinguishable from the other transformees. The most uncomfortable part of my new, lean, digigrade form was the tail crammed into my jeans. I ripped the main seam, & pulled the tan, black tipped tail through with a grunt. The majority of my body was covered w/ a wiry, tan-colored fur. My belly was a very light tan--almost white. The white extended under my arms, & I'd assume under my legs as well. My face had the signature narrow coyote snout, w/ a stripe of brown fur on its' bridge. The brown briefly under shadowed my eyes, & proceeded up my forehead. My back--from what I could see, was a mixture of black, dark brown, & gray fur.

"So...I'm possessed?" I glanced back at my right furred hand, as it had suddenly started shaking, & wouldn't stop. It twitched, & suddenly, of its' own accord; shot skyward--palm up! I stood frozen in shock as I studied my new pose. It looked like I was trying to feed low-flying pigeons. The rest of the crowd was watching w/ guarded interest as well. I was about to say something, when a familiar voice preempted my own, & shouted w/ ecstatic glee. "IT'S ALIVE! ALIVE! YOUR CREATION LIVES! Heh, heh, I've always wanted to say that!"

There was no sensation of loosing control to Wyly, only a delay of my personal commands to my body. I pulled my arm back down, & considered what to say next. "That was a very slick trick, Wyly. Now please, get out of my body!" My head shook, & my arms embraced myself. This wasn't a good sign. "Nope, nope! I need you too much to do that pops! I was created in your mind, & it's in your mind & your body--I shall stay. You see, we're Mike & Ike--we think alike! Thus, you have a matching sympathetic vibration that I can't resist. Since my personality is finally completed in your subconscious mind, & constantly updated by whatever you imagine; it's impossible for us to part now! You & I now suffer from the same curse of 'living in interesting times.' But don't worry, we're going to make our own very interesting future, & have a blast doing it!"

I suddenly found myself distracted by an odd sensation of movement, & a quick check behind me confirmed that 'our' tail was wagging. This was too much. I was too distracted by the new body to think clearly! I spoke to the empty air before me hopefully. "Wyly, can I at least look & feel human again?" To my surprise, his answer was quite positive. "Certainly! There you go!" My tail had disappeared, & my arms & hands were human again, except...wait a minute. A collective gasp from the crowd only deepened my confusion. My arms were slender & hairless, ending in perfectly manicured feminine hands. I was wearing what looked like a white toga w/ gold...I shot a stunned glance at Circe standing next to the mirror, who was staring at herself--in triplicate! I gritted my teeth. "Wyly, fix this!" I hissed. In the space of a second, I had my original body back. "Thanks. Now, will you *kindly* explain why you wrecked the Funhouse?"

My mouth opened, but before Wyly could reply, Circe spoke out. "At the moment, I'm more interested in how you're going to pay for it!" Wyly finally spoke up. "Pay for it? Money doesn't concern me. I deal in something much more valuable!" Circe crossed her arms, & frowned. "It had better be convertible to cash, whatever it is. There's tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage here, plus the emotional damage & stress of being forced to tolerate you for the past 2 weeks!" This was getting ugly. I could feel my/Wyly's lips start to curl in a growl, but I found I couldn't say anything between the 2 verbal duelists' jabs. "I deal in the universal currency of attention & emotion! These can greatly improve your business here at the Funhouse. So, the way I see it is...you should be THANKING me for what I've done so far!" Circe's mouth gaped in shock, & I finally found a chance to speak. "Circe, I'm not sure what he's talking about, but I've barely got $1,500 in my account right now, & I'm sure it's not enough to leave a scratch in your bills. Circe raised an eyebrow. "Actually, I'd like to hear how he could improve my 'business', & why I should thank him!"

Wyly didn't mince words in his hurt, & stubborn reply. "'Tolerate me?!' She insulted me! And she insulted you by insulting your creation! I'm not telling her anything that would help her, & neither should you!" Circe stepped closer, & eyed me speculatively. "'Neither should you?' What does he mean by that?" I held up my hand to signal a break, & sat down. Think. Wyly said that we think alike, & in the reactive character traits I'd given him, that was true. His reactions were my reactions, but why all the 'accidents?' How did it tie into his feeding off attention & emotions? Wyly was part: confidence man, actor, salesman, unlicenced closet lawyer, trickster, & urban survivor. What was the common link between them all? Hmm. The missing link & the weakest link, hmm. I suddenly centered on the word weakest--or weakness! That's it! I had the answer to all of it, & it was perfect! Best of all, It actually had a life of it's own, & it completed the character; giving it possibilities beyond my wildest dreams!

I couldn't help myself. I burst out in gut-busting laughter until the tears came. Circe & her convoy, tense enough from the earlier argument, unanimously took a startled jump back. They must have thought I'd lost my mind, & considering everything that had happened to me so far, I was surprised that I was still here myself! I motioned Circe back over, wiped the tears out of my eyes, & pulled up one of the chairs for her. "Have a seat, you're going to love this! I know exactly what Wyly meant, & the reasons for everything he's done!" My hand independently reached up to clamp my mouth shut, but I knocked it away. Circe seated herself, & stared at me in askance. I couldn't help myself. I was so excited, that I had to grin. Circe scooted her chair back several feet. If I'd seen my reflection in the mirror, I would have seen that my grin--human or not, matched Wyly's 100%!

"I'll try to keep this as simple as possible. You see, I created his character in print, & used my own responses to various situations as his own, only exagerated--mountains out of molehills as it were. I meant for him to survive & thrive by feeding off of emotions & attention, but he had to be there to draw this feast off people in person. He was meant to gather his own magic in this fashion, similar to the possibly mythic old gods, who relied on belief for their power & existence. The incomplete traits I'd given him were an amalgamate of powerful survival skills. Wyly is part confidence man, actor, lawyer, salesman, trickster; & urban survivor. All of these traits required a complete working knowledge & trust of his surroundings. This helps to explain why he caused all of the incidents!"

Circe leaned closer as her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "This had better be good. I won't need magic to have you thrown out, no matter what shape or form you're in!" I believed her, & took a deep breath before attempting to explain. B.S., don't fail me now!

Onward to Chapter 6

Return to "The Funhouse - As Seen By Others"