Five people find themselves stranded and stuck inside a spooky how that transforms them in various ways. Can they rid the house of the spirit that haunts it and escape?
Yet Another Haunted House
Lockely was driving while Jak sat in the passenger seat Zeelo in the back. Zeelo was certainly the odd one out, the brown kitten being much younger than the other two, and dressed in nothing more than a blue scarf. Lockely and Jak were both adults, with Lockely being an orange fox with black speckles, wearing a simple button up shirt, jeans, a long scarf, glasses and a small band around his tail. Jak, the tan and cream colored jackalope was wearing a tanktop, his own shoes and the only one in the car wearing shoes. Jak and Lockely had met Zeelo through a mutual acquaintance. And Zeelo being young sometimes needed a babysitter. Things usually ended with less chaos than the other kitten that needed sitting sometimes. The keywords being ‘less’ over ‘not.’
Right now they were on a simple trip. Just heading out to get ice cream. But they had made a wrong turn and had not found a place to turn around for a while. When another road came up that looked like it might be a good spot to turn around they somehow wound up outside the city.
“You’re lost.” Jak teased Lockely.
“I’m not lost, I just need to turn around. It’s not my fault the roads are so narrow here.” Lockely retorted.
“Oh so very lost.” Jak grinned.
“I am not!” Lockely insisted.
“Show of hands, who thinks Lockely is lost?” Jak asked and held up his hand. In the rear view mirror he could see Zeelo holding up his. “Well, democracy has spoken. You’re lost.”
“That’s not how…” Lockely huffed. “Never mind. Listen, if you’re gonna just sit there and give me sass at least try to look for some landmarks to figure out where we are in relation to the city.”
“So, you admit you are lost?” Jak couldn’t resist. Lockely would have had a chance to reply except that at this point the car made a terrible screeching noise, steam emitted from the hood, and then it promptly stopped working and slowly rolled to a stop.
“That’s… Not good.” Lockely muttered. “Anyone here good with cars?”
“Just call a mechanic.” Jak replied and leaned back.
“More like a tow truck…” Lockely was fishing around his pocket till he found his cell phone. Here he had a problem. No bars. And it was at this point that rain began to pour down as a thunderstorm came out of nowhere and darkened the sky. “Or not. Your cell have a signal?”
“Uhhh.” Jak now actually concerned about them being stranded checked. No bars. “Oh… That’s bad… Maybe we just wait out the storm then take a look and see if we can figure out what’s wrong?”
“Why don’t we just go check if that house has a phone?” Zeelo spoke up from the backseat. “I mean it’s right there.”
“What house?” Lockely asked.
At that exact moment a large strike of lighting came down from the sky releasing a huge crash of thunder. In the brief flash of light the house was visible. An old rusted gate barred entrance to the house itself, which then had a large yard full of hedges that seemed to cast strange and unnaturally shaped shadows. The house itself appeared to be crooked, was at least three stories tall, colored completely black except for the open windows with white curtains. And at one of those windows Lockely and Jak both would have sworn they saw someone staring out at them. As if that wasn’t weird enough, there appeared to be a part of the house that broke off, connected to it somewhere on the second floor that looked like a tower with its roof rising even above the top floor of the main house.
Both Jak an Lockely’s ears folded back from the very brief glimpse they had gotten of the place.
“That is a terrible idea.” Lockely shook his head. “Our car breaks down in a storm, we have zero bars on our phone, I am not going into the house of Count freaking Dracula to ask for help.”
“I’m pretty sure Dracula lived in a castle.” Jak nudged Lockely.
“Not the point!” Lockely replied. “The place is triggering at least seventeen red flags. There is no way I am stepping foot in there under any condition.”
“Okay I’ll go.” Zeelo replied chirpily as he opened the car door, scrambled out into the rain and quickly ran for the front door of the mansion.
“Please tell me we did not just let a six-and-a-half-year-old kitten walk into a ridiculously spooky house while the two of us were arguing.” Lockely put a hand to his face.
“Okay I won’t tell you.” Jak did his best to grin and provide some levity in the situation. “I mean you already know anyway.”
“Ugggghh…”Lockely sunk his head onto the wheel. “I mean he’s… self sufficient, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Probably.”
And so, the two waited for Zeelo to return. And they waited. And waited. And waited. And there was no sign of the brown kitten.
“He gets distracted easily, maybe he just found something interesting in the house and forgot about looking for a phone?” Lockely asked.
“Is he that unreliable to forget he has two friends stuck out here in a storm by themselves?” Jak asked.
“Well…” Lockely thought for a moment. “No… No he isn’t.” There were about five seconds of complete silence. “We have to go in and look for him don’t we?”
“Yeah… We do.” Jak wasn’t happy about approaching the house either. He opened the door and carefully got out, avoiding getting his antlers caught on the roof. They really needed to make cars with more room for people with antlers and horns. Lockely followed him a second later and the two squeezed through the gaps in the gate and quickly ran up to the house. They were both quite thankful to find that there was a front porch with a cover over it letting them out of the rain.
Lockely squeezed his tail releasing some of the water out of it then turned to the door. He didn’t see a doorbell or anything. So instead he just knocked. He felt like he had barely tapped the door but the knock was a loud thudding sound that seemed to echo throughout the entire area. And then the doors opened up. But no one greeted them.
“Um hello?” Jak tried. “Is there anyone here? We’re looking for a small brown kitten. Probably causing mischief. Hard to miss. Also, is there a phone we can use?” He stepped into the house and looked around trying to find the person who had opened the door.
“This is a really bad idea.” Lockely stepped up next to Jak. “We don’t know if Zeelo came inside the house or not… We should really wait outside until we can talk to someone who-
It was the sound of the front doors slamming shut behind Lockely and Jak. Without wasting a second Lockely spun in place and tried to open the door. The handle wouldn’t turn. The door wouldn’t budge. He couldn’t get it open.
“Um… Jak we have a problem.” Lockely spoke in a nervous tone.
“I think two problems…” Jak pointed ahead of them in the foyer to where a blue scarf lay on the ground by itself. They both recognized it as Zeelo’s.
“Okay that doesn’t prove anything bad happened it could be the usual-“ Lockely didn’t finish. There was a set of stairs leading to a second level balcony. In the darkness Lockely couldn’t see much, but he could see two glowing blue eyes staring at him. He didn’t know what creature he was looking at, but suddenly it leaped from the top of the stairs lunging right for the two. “Jak watch out!”
Cris and Aria didn’t actually know each other. They were both just two humans unfortunate enough to be caught in the storm and were now huddled into the same tree together waiting for it to pass. Aria, was a long haired brunette, with a pair of jeans on, and a hoodie over her shirt. Cris meanwhile was just wearing a t-shirt advertising his coffee addiction and a pair of shorts. They had both been waiting under the tree for a while and the storm hadn’t stopped.
“I was just out here on a hike when it started.” Aria was talking just to make conversation. It was less awkward than standing in silence. “How’d you wind up stranded?”
“Uber.” Cris replied in an annoyed tone. “Dropped me off at the wrong spot and before I could say a word the car had already taken off without me.” He paused. “And my bag is still in the trunk.”
“Wow, that’s rough.” Aria looked around. “How long do you think this is going to last?”
“No idea.” Cris replied. “Honestly, I had planned to call another uber, or a friend to come get me but…”
“No bars?” Aria held up her own phone displaying the lack of bars.
“Yeah place is a dead zone.” Cris sighed. There was a flash of lightning at this point and the image of the house was briefly visible.
“Huh maybe that place has a phone we can use?” Aria suggested.
“I don’t know…” Cris did not like the look of the house. “I think I’d rather wait the storm out here.”
“I suppose if it’s coming down this hard it can’t last too much longer.” Aria mused. At this point another strike of lighting came down, striking the very tree they were standing beneath. The tree split down the middle into two pieces and fell in opposite directions of each other.
“On second thought let’s check out the house.” Cris spoke in a rushed voice.
“Sounds good to me.” Aria nodded as the two hurried for it, and squeezed through the gaps in the front gates. They were soaked head to toe by the time they arrived on the front porch. Aria knocked and it made a thud far too loud for knocking on a door. And then the door seemed to shudder but did not open.
“What just happened?” Cris asked as he stepped closer to the door with Aria. He grabbed the door handle just to check if it was unlocked. It was at that point a bright light lit up beneath both of them. “Gahhhh!”
And they began to change.
Golden tan fur grew in soon covering all of Cris’ body. His muscles became larger, stretching the fabric of his clothing in the process. His shoes and socks were completely destroyed as he suddenly felt his feet swell and was forced to stand on his toes. Toes that now had very sharp claws. His ears moved to the top of his head becoming round and furry, and then a long tail snaked out, pulling his shorts down slightly to get free, and ended in a long tuft. The last changes were his face pushing into a muzzle and his brown hair grew longer in length and around him until he had a full mane.
While Cris’ clothing barely fit him now Aria was having the opposite problem. Everything she was wearing was becoming much baggier on her. In fact they got so large she disappeared into them as brown fur began to cover her body, well most of her body. Her hands and feet were left bare of the fur, though they grew claws in place of her nails. A long tail flexible tail also devoid of fur grew out from the end of her spine. She managed to climb out of her now gigantic clothing and stand atop it right as her ears became large round things atop her head and her face pushed into a muzzle.
And as soon as the changes were done, the door swung open. Another lightning bolt struck outside, so close the thunder was deafening. It was enough to keep the two from questioning what had just happened to them long enough to leap safely into the indoors.
“No wait don’t let it shut!” A voice called but it was too late. The door slammed shut with a crash behind them before either one could turn around. Instead, the best they could do was look at the scene before them. There was a fox and a jackalope standing inside, both looking very nervous. The fox appeared to be the source of the voice.
Meanwhile, the jackalope was holding some kind of strange creature in its arms. It was a small brown thing with glowing blue eyes. Then, it’s body was somewhere between a wolf and a lion’s. It was hard to say. It’s snout was definitely more canine looking, but its tail was long and thin like lion’s, except instead of a tuft it ended in a plate like a cartoon devil. Then there were the aspects just wrong for either creature. Such as the fact that it had two curved black horns, and that each of its paws ended in claws that were way too big for him. They looked sharp and large enough to easily claw into a wall and let him walk straight up it. He would have been an absolutely terrifying beast were it not for the fact he was about as big as a house cat.
“What?” Cris managed to say, overwhelmed by what had just happened.
Zeelo was running as fast as he could on all fours. Well, he didn’t really have much choice but to run on all fours now. SHE had seen to that. But he had seen something, something that looked very important and that was when he had been transformed into the creature he was now. Some kind of monster, with curved horns, a devilish tail, and really big claws. Honestly, if she was going to turn him into some kind of demonic monster she could have at least given him wings.
Still for now he was in a hurry to get back to Lockely and Jak. But as he got to the front door of the mansion again he couldn’t get it open. He tried leaping into the air and grabbing the handle with his claws, but it wouldn’t turn at all. He suspected it wasn’t just because he lacked hands that he was having trouble. There had to be another way out. He remembered seeing open windows from the outside. He quickly ran up the stairs, though as he did his scarf got snagged on a piece of rotting wood jutting from the wall. Zeelo hadn’t even noticed losing it he was so intent on finding his exit.
But it was no luck. The windows on the second floor were all shut. He was sure they had been open! Even thought someone was standing in one of them looking out at the time, but now they were all shut. He tried climbing up onto a window shelf and prying them open with his claws. That didn’t work. Next he tried breaking a window with his horns. He bounced back off it landing on his back. He wasn’t getting out this way. He could have tried the third floor but then his ears perked up. They were a lot bigger now, as long as a rabbit’s and as wide as a bat’s. He had even better hearing than he did as a cat, and heard two voices he recognized. Lockely and Jak! Zeelo ran back towards the stairs stopping at the second floor landing and looked down to confirm it was really them. The two looked nervous, but that didn’t matter to Zeelo. He was so happy to see them he could just leap into their arms.
In fact, he did absolutely that. Leaping from the second floor landing, flying down and landing atop Jak’s chest. Jak let out a shriek, that he would later claim never happened and fell backwards as Zeelo landed on his chest.
“It’s got me and it’s! Small?” Jak slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position sliding Zeelo into his lap.
“Roawr?” Zeelo looked at him.
“I don’t think he wants to eat us…” Lockely observed Zeelo just sitting in Jak’s lap. “Whatever it is… It’s still a cub…”
“I see…” Jak tried to stand up, but Zeelo clung to him and so soon Jak found himself holding Zeelo against his chest. “What is it?”
“No idea but he seems to like you.” Lockely glanced around nervously hoping there wasn’t an adult of whatever that was around.
“Groaawrl?” Zeelo asked in confusion. They didn’t recognize him. Blue eyes, brown fur! This wasn’t that hard! And then there was his scarf!” He stopped, seeing that Lockely was holding his scarf, which meant… It was not around his neck. When had he lost that?
“Think I should name him?” Jak asked.
“I’m not cleaning up after him if you take him home.” Lockely crossed his arms. The two might have had a bit of a back and forth here but it was at this point that the doors of the mansion flew open again. Two new figures stepped in and Lockely tried to call out to them to catch the door but it was too late.
“Wait… What’s going on?” Cris demanded as he looked over his own body. Why was he a lion? Well part lion. Mostly lion. He was still walking on two legs, and other than his shoes and socks which were destroyed, his clothing barely fit. “What and how did this happen!?”
“Hey don’t complain at least you’re still human sized.” Aria called up from the ground. Though she walked on two legs and spoke like the rest, she was no bigger than a normal mouse. “Calm down.”
“How am I supposed to calm down when I’m a lion!?” Cris demanded.
“I’m guessing this is the first time something like this has happened to you.” Aria stared up at him. “Hey! You two! Did you turn into animal people too when you tried to enter the house.”
“No.” Lockely shook his head. “I’m usually a fox.”
“Maybe we missed a ‘No Humans Allowed’ sign?” Jak grinned. “Possibly written in crayon and posted outside the building.
“That… Is possible.” Lockely gave a sigh. If that was all that was going on it meant they were safe. Well, that no one would get hurt.
“Okay seriously what’s going on?” Cris asked staring down at his hand paws.
“What’s going on is we’re all a bunch of idiots.” Lockely replied. “Seriously, this is literally a horror movie set up. Break down outside the Dracula’s house.”
“Again Dracula lives in a castle.” Jak interjected.
“Not the point.” Lockely snapped. “Our cell phones have no bars and the only possible place to ask for help is the giant spooky mansion. And like saps we walk right into it. And on top of that we’ve lost Zeelo.”
“What’s a Zeelo?” Cris was distracted from his own shock as the other two began to walk.
“Grooawrl!” The beast Jak was holding began to make a lot of noise at that.
“Zeelo is a kitten that we were babysitting.” Jak explained. “We sort of maybe accidentally let him go into the house on his own without supervision and now we have no idea where he is.”
“GROOOOOOAAWRL!” Zeelo shouted.
“That thing is worked up…” Aria gulped. She hoped whatever that was it didn’t eat rodents.
“Okay, can we just… Stop everything for a moment?” Cris asked. “I just turned into a lion, and this girl a mouse and no one seems to be acting as if that’s strange.”
“I think it’s his first time in a situation like this.” Aria squeaked.
“I see…” Lockely remembered his first time. “Well, it could have been worse, you can still walk and talk.”
“Why are you treating this so normal? Who are you people?” Cris asked.
“I’m Lockely.” The fox gestured to himself.
“Jak.” The jackalope then held Zeelo outward. “And this is Doombringer the Destructinator, or Doomy for short.”
“That’s what you’re naming him?” Lockely rolled his eyes.
“Don’t listen to him Doomy, he’s just upset his name doesn’t inspire terror in the minds of his enemies like yours does. Isn’t that right?” Jak rubbed Zeelo under the chin. “Whose a scary little monster with a name that will send people running”
“Groawrl.” Normally, Zeelo would appreciate chin scritches. But right now he was just annoyed no one had figured out who he was yet.
“I’m not even sure how to reply to that.” Lockely shrugged. “Let’s just… Move on, who are you two?”
“I’m Cris…” The lion explained.
“Aria.” The mouse squeaked. “And can I like, get a lift on someone’s shoulder or head or something. I’m not sure I want to be down here on the ground in this place.”
“Uh… Sure…” Lockely walked over and bent down and gently lifted Aria up to his shoulder.
“Appreciate it.” She responded.
“Okay, seriously. What the heck? Magical transformations just happened. Why are we not talking about that?” Cris asked. “What have you just all had this happen before that it’s not even strange now.”
“Yes.” They all replied at once.
“Really?” Cris was taken aback. Well, if they had all been through this before, and they weren’t dead, then at least it meant things might turn out alright.
“But I suppose it does raise the question why you two changed and we didn’t.” Lockely mused. “Jak may have been on to something about no humans allowed. It’s possible we weren’t transformed because we’re already not human.”
“So that makes sense but doesn’t explain why.” Aria mused. “Maybe there’s something or someone in the house that can shed some light on this?”
“Looking around is about the only option we have. The front doors won’t open.” Lockely sighed.
“They won’t?” Cris turned around and pulled on the door. When it wouldn’t come loose he set his paw against one door and pulled with all his might on the other. Still nothing. Then just to make sure he tried pushing. Door still would not budge. “We’re stuck in here!?”
“For now.” Jak grinned. “But there’s got to be a reason! Alright everyone, let’s split up and look for clues!”
“NO!” Lockely shouted at the top of his lungs. “Everyone stays together as a group! Rule number one: Don’t split the party!”
“Well if you feel that strongly.” Jak actually had no intention of splitting the group up. It was just, when was he going to have another chance to say something like that.
“Groaawarl roooawrl!” Zeelo squirmed his way out of Jak’s arms and ran down a hall on the left. After a few seconds he came back and growled and squeaked at everyone.
“I think Doomy wants us to follow him.” Jak started for the hall.
“Still can’t believe that’s what you named him.” Lockely sighed and fell in line. “Actually, never mind, I 100% believe it, I just don’t want to.”
“I’m just happy it seems friendly.” Aria squeaked from her position on Lockely’s shoulder.
“Okay… I guess, we are doing this.” Cris followed after.
Zeelo led them through a maze of halls before finally arriving in a kitchen. Once there he pawed at a large wooden door at the back of the room and made growling and squeaking noises again.
“Looks like this is what he wants to show us.” Jak reached for the door and opened it.
On the other side was a staircase leading down into a pitch black darkness. Many of the visible stairs were rotting, and they couldn’t see anything beyond the tenth step. But they could hear what sounded like chains rattling and the occasional noise of something dripping.
“Nope.” Lockely slammed the door shut. “We are not going down into the creepy beyond all reason basement. We’ve played this straight long enough, we don’t have to keep picking the worst possible option to do.”
“Doomy seems to really want us to go down there though.” Jak protested.
“Doomy is some kind of magical hell beast who is probably right at home with whatever horrible things are in this place.” Lockely pointed out. “Even if he’s friendly, doesn’t mean everything else will be. He could be taking us down there and leading us to his family, who will see us less as friends and more as lunch.”
“I’d rather not be lunch.” Cris took a few steps back. “Let’s search somewhere else.”
“Basements are bad.” Lockey spoke sternly. “Therefore, I propose we go the opposite direction and search the upper floors.”
“Makes about as much sense to start there as anywhere else.” Aria shrugged.
“Fiiiiiiine.” Jak wasn’t going down there by himself. “But I still think Doomy is a good bean who is on our side.”
“Groawl?” Zeelo watched as everyone turned and walked away from the basement door. They were so close. That was where the thing was! And he was pretty sure until they saw the thing no one was leaving. He whined, remaining by door for a bit, but when it became apparent no one was going down he followed along.
Exploring the second floor they found something that seemed promising. A large library. There were several candles lining the walls but none of them were lit making it somewhat difficult to see. Well difficult for everyone but Zeelo. His current form could actually see better in dark areas than lit ones. But it wasn’t as if anyone could listen to anything he’d say.
“This seems promising.” Lockely replied. “Lots of books, must be something about the house or a curse or whatever is going on. Look for anything that looks like it might be talking about the house or events that happened in the house.
They split up to search the library, though maintained line of sight with each other to be safe. They ran into a problem in that the library was quite extensive, containing a wide variety of knowledge, but especially on the occult. That was making it difficult to pinpoint anything on the house specifically. At least until Aria was walking across a shelf and noticed something odd.
“Hey, the books on this shelf aren’t real. They’re built into the shelf… Except…” There was one book that looked real. She walked over to it and grabbed the edge. It was fake. She could tell from the smooth glass-like texture. Still, it was the only one that could be removed from the shelf. With some difficulty she tried to drag it out. She was unsure what she was going to do when she ran out of bookshelf space to back up on and the book wasn’t completely out yet, but she’d figure that out in a minute.
Or wouldn’t have to. The book didn’t come fully out. Instead, it tilted towards Aria and there was a grinding noise. The shelf of fake books slid aside revealing a second shelf behind it. Aria barely managed to leap from the shelf to another to avoid being slid into the wall with the bookshelf.
“I think I found something…” This new bookshelf only had five books on it. All of them looked exceptionally old. But, suddenly all the candles in the room lit up and light reflected off the books making them appear to sparkle.
“GAH!” Jak grabbed onto Lockely when the candles came on their own. “Oh… Just candles. I mean that was a cute trick.”
“Grooawwrl.” Zeelo disagreed. With the room now lit up it was harder for him to see. It was like everything was behind a filter that turned the contrast up to maximum.
“These look promising. But none of them are labeled.” Lockely muttered as he grabbed one off the shelf and opened it. The book disappeared in a puff of yellow smoke and Lockely was suddenly about half his normal size, his clothing way too big. And his tailband had fallen to the floor, in large part due to the fact that his tail was now a short little tuft. He looked down at his large animalistic legs and slowly reached up grabbing his ears and feeling how long they were. After a few moments he spoke again. “Did I just turn into a rabbit?”
“If you wanna talk about it, I’m all ears.” Jak twitched his own ears.
“Ugh.” Lockely looked away from him. “Are all of them going to do that, or is that some kind of safety measure. A bunch of cursed books among one real. It wouldn’t make sense to go through the trouble of making a trap and then hide it where no one can trigger it.”
“Obviously, the only way to figure it out is to try every book. We’ve got four left.” Aria grinned.
“That is a terrible idea.” Lockely shook his head. “Who knows what the others might turn us into?”
“Groaaawrl.” Zeelo could make out the shapes of the books and he could hear the conversation. The books were some kind of transformation trap. Likely one of several in the mansion. It gave him an idea. If he could trigger a trap on purpose that would turn him back into a humanoid animal he could tell them about the very important thing in the basement. “Groooaawwrl!” Zeelo leaped upward trying to grab at a book with his paws.
“Doomy no!” Jak reached out to grab Zeelo from reaching the books. He successfully pushed Zeelo away but the book bumped into Jak as it fell from the shelf before opening and vanishing in a puff of red smoke. And suddenly, Jak was even shorter than Lockely, though not as short as the miniscule Aria. Most of his clothes were in a pile around him. “Wha?” He took a moment, slightly uncomfortable at suddenly being stripped naked. And then… He had a really bushy tail now. Was probably a foot tall and he looked down at his paws examining his claws. “Should probably keep an eye on Doomy in case he starts acting squirrely again, keep from future accidents.” As shocked as Jak was, he was not going to let this pass by without at least one joke.
“Ugggh.” Lockely looked around. Jak was only about a foot tall, Lockely himself maybe two feet not counting the ears. Aria was of course only a few inches tall. Cris was the only normal sized person left. If anything happened to him they might have trouble reaching any of the books on the high shelves.
“You two alright?” Cris asked. “You seem… More annoyed than horrified. These transformations are that common to you?”
“Pretty much.” Lockely stated in a flat voice. “Look, if one of these books is helpful, there’s gotta be some way to tell it apart from the others. Cris, you’re the only one who can actually get a good look at them… What do they say?” As Lockely spoke he stepped out of his pants, though he retained his shirt even though it went down to his toes.
“Okay, let’s see…” Cris examined the books.
“Groooawrl.” Zeelo was annoyed. That should have been him transformed into a talking squirrel! He had been so close. But there were still three books left. Obviously, he just had to be stealthier when he went for it. He slowly crept up to the shelf, then jumped up swatting at the first book he could.
“Again?” Cris tried to catch the book before it could open up. He was successful in catching the book, but it had landed open in his hands. Then it vanished in a puff of blue smoke, but he didn’t appear to undergo any significant changes. “Maybe it was another lion transformation trap?” He suggested as he rubbed the back of his head not realizing that his mane was getting a little scraggier.
“Now there are only two left.” Lockely gave a heavy sigh. “And that means if one of them IS useful, we can’t tell which one, because we can’t play spot the difference and figure out which book doesn’t match the rest when we only have two!”
“Calm down Lockely, accidents happen. There’s no reason for you to get hopping mad.” Jak, unable to reach Lockely’s head stretched up on his toes to pat him on the shoulder instead. This was followed by angry bunny noises as Jak and Lockely became preoccupied with each other leaving the other three to search.
“Groawrl…” Zeelo wasn’t sure what happened there. But there were only two. If one of them was actually useful, then if he knocked both books off maybe he could transform himself and get an important clue in the process. This time he didn’t bother to sneak, he just jumped straight up and clawed at the shelf trying to drag both books down. Instead, they were knocked into the air but they had to come down.
“Doomy why?” Cris asked as he picked Zeelo up before the books came down. One of them landed still shut on the floor, the other bounced against the bookshelf across from it where Aria was then fell to the ground open and vanished in a puff of green smoke.
“AH!” Aria gave a shout as she transformed again. Sprouting wings, spines along her back all the way to the tip of her tail. Green scales replaced her fur, and she grew some much sharper claws. “A dragon!” She realized. “Well at least finally I won’t be so small and… Why do I still fit on the bookshelf?” Aria looked around. She had gotten taller, but she was still the shortest of the room, now half Jak’s height. And Jak was somewhere around a foot tall. “Oh come on! Dragons are supposed to be big!” She blew flames out her nostrils in frustration.
“Well… Only one book left, but I’m reluctant to open it…” Lockely had stopped his fight with Jak when it happened again.
“GROOOOOOAWRL!” Zeelo was getting really frustrated with them interfering with him trying to change himself. He squirmed from Cris’ arms and leaped down atop the book, quickly opening it with a claw and-
And it didn’t disappear in a puff of smoke. It was the last one and it wans’t trapped.
“Grooawr.” Zeelo’s ears sagged.
“See! Doomy is helpful! He showed us that book isn’t a trap.” Jak beamed happily.
“Only after setting off three traps in a row.” Lockely growled but he picked up the book and read it. It turned out to be a diary, one that belonged to some woman who had lived here long ago. Apparently, she was a practitioner of witchcraft, which sounded promising. Might have information on what was going on in the house. And yet, most of the entries were just that of a bored rich woman lamenting about how boring it was having everything she ever wanted, and how even her experimental animal curses had been done so often as to seem boring now. Lockely hoped to get more on that but soon reached the last entry in the journal. It didn’t mention anything about how to break the curses, but it explained a few things.
My vile servants have betrayed me. Even now I can feel the poison coursing through my veins, like a fire burning inside me. I gave them a job, and my experimentation was only to their benefit. All I asked was they simply never leave so my secrets not be revealed until I had perfected the curse. I’ve made them stronger, faster, and provided decent living conditions. And how do they repay me? Poison in my wine at dinner.
They were careful with what they chose. I have nothing that I can brew an antidote with for it. But they were foolish. They wanted my death to be slow and painful and that gives me time to prepare one last ritual. There was just never enough energy to make it work. But perhaps, the energy released from a soul leaving a body. Yet it just may work.
I have little time left and must prepare the ritual. I imagine once it goes off all of them will flee like frightened little animals. Which I suppose they are. Still, I’ve learned a lesson, servants are treacherous swine. Only my lovely pets have ever been loyal to me. Ah, my precious chimeras. It wasn’t easy getting the demon blood needed to complete your creation. They poisoned you the same as me, you deserved better. Pets are better than people. If this ritual works, and I stay around I’ll keep that in mind. No more servants in the house. Instead, I will surround myself only with loyal pets.
Agitha Birch August 13, 1912
“I think I get it.” Lockely finished reading. “Why the humans were transformed when they first came in and we weren’t.”
“It’s the bit about only keeping pets right?” Cris asked. “So no humans, only animals? But… It sounds like she was dying. Why would she curse her own home in the hopes of adopting new pets if she was just going to die?”
The candles all went out in the room. Suddenly books began to fly off shelves, going in circles in the air. A table and chair lifted into the air before flying straight for the group. Aria flew straight up above the table, Cris jumped back with catlike reflexes and Jak, free of his giant clothing bolted with the agility only a squirrel could arrange.
But Lockely as a rabbit was still tangled up in his giant shirt. He tried to move but tripped and-
“GROAWR!” Zeelo bit down on Lockely’s scarf and yanked him out of the way and out of his shirt right as the table flew by. Lockely was left with only his scarf and glasses, but that was far from his first concern right now.
“Time to get out of here I think!” Aria flew for the library exit. Everyone followed, occasionally having to duck to avoid being hit by a book or piece of furniture. Eventually after they made it out and slammed the door shut everyone took a moment to breathe.
“To answer your question.” Lockely spoke between heavy breathing. “I’m pretty sure she’s haunting this house.”
“So that means she intends to keep all of us as her pets?” Cris asked. It was scary, but for some reason also exciting. His mane was a lot thinner now, only going down the back of his head. His clothes were also no longer tight on him. But, in the chaos of the library these were things he had yet to notice.
“Okay so, crazy old lady gets murdered by her servants, probably deserved it, and then cursed the place and is now a ghost haunting it, turning anyone who ventures here into her pets.” Aria recapped the information they had acquired. “So… The question is… How do we resolve that?”
“We just have to bust a ghost, right?” Jak forced a grin, but he was shaking slightly after the library had attacked them. “So um, anyone know how to do that?”
Everyone was silent.
“GROAWWWWWWWWWWWRL!” Except Zeelo, who had a very good idea on how to do that but couldn’t tell anyone.
“I guess… There’s gotta be something anchoring her here?” Lockely suggested. He was more into science fiction than fantasy, but he still had decent enough knowledge about how the occult worked. At least in books.
“Let’s find whatever it is, set it on fire, and call it a day.” Aria grinned. “But… Where to look.”
“Her bedroom?” Cris suggested. “I mean, that’s where I’d keep all my important stuff.” His mane was completely gone now, and his clothes were even looser.
“Possible. Any idea which room is hers though?” Lockely asked.
“This one is easy to figure out. We just find the biggest fanciest room in the house, and we’ll know it belonged to her.” Jak bounced up and down. And with that, they were back to searching the house.
Jak’s theory was not incorrect. On the third floor was a bedroom far larger than any of the others. It even had a set of French Doors leading into it. No one had gone in yet, they were peaking through the windows in the door to make out what they could despite curtains in the way. But it was easy to tell it the room was far grander than anyone else’s.
“I don’t want to sound alarmist.” Lockely spoke up. “But she threw an entire library at us for reading her diary. There’s a chance she’s not going to let us get anything done in her room.”
“Well we could always live the rest of our lives here in the mansion and be her pets.” Cris spoke in a teasing voice. He was just feeling more playful all of a sudden. This was almost like an adventure. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
“Why would you say that?” Lockely looked horrified. “Why would you ever say anything like that! Now the worst will happen! You’ve doomed us all!”
“I’m opening the door now.” Aria rolled her eyes and flew up to undo the latch and open the doors.
The room was massive. In one corner was the biggest bed any of them had ever seen, with curtains drawn around it, there were multiple standing closets lining the wall. Several expensive looking chest and drawers and a skylight that let the full moon shine into the room.
“Okay… What do we search first?” Cris was excited. His pants were also in danger of starting to fall off. Had he not been much bigger than everyone else they might have noticed the change. But with everyone preoccupied with the haunted house they had failed to notice Cris was a teenager now.
And soon he wouldn’t even be that.
Everything was still when they entered. The entire group moved glacially, eyeing every piece of furniture as if it might be a monster waiting to attack. Slowly they spread out around the room. Cris headed for the bed, slipping out of his pants as he did so and disappeared behind the curtain. Lockely examined the various standing closets but didn’t open any yet, and Aria flew around the top of the room looking for any hidden ledges or shelves. That just left Jak and Zeelo left to pick an area to search.
Zeelo for the most part just laid down in the middle of the room and did nothing. He couldn’t get them to follow him to the basement and his plan in the library had failed. But, surely there was something else he could find that would transform him.
Jak walked around the room then paused when he noticed Cris’ pants laying on the floor close to the bed. Had something happened to the lion? He looked around the floor, hoping there wasn’t a mini Cris somewhere around. However, considering Jak was still a squirrel it’d be hard for him to not notice that. He looked up at the bed. He grabbed the skirt, began to climb it, pulled back the curtain and-
“BOO!” Cris popped out from behind the curtain, though he was a much younger Cris. Only around seven years old now. Jak yelped and stumbled backwards and Cris let out a laugh as he sat on the bed dangling his legs over it. “Ha! I got you!” This got an annoyed glance at just about everyone else in the room, though they were on the opposite side of the bed where the curtain was still closed so didn’t see his youthened body.
“Don’t do that!” Jak tail was even bushier thanks to his fur standing on end.
“Awww, I was just having fun.” Cris looked down at the ground sadly.
“You shouldn’t be kidding around at a time like this.” Jak tapped a foot. “Also why are you a kid now?”
“I am?” Cris looked down at himself as if noticing for the first time. All traces of adulthood were gone in the lion cub. The only sign he had once been an adult was the now giant shirt that went down to his knees. “Huh I am.” He paused again. “You know… It feels kind of nice, being a kid. Just full of energy.”
“I see.” Jak couldn’t help but grin. He knew he should be concerned about his new friend’s reduction in age. But if he was happy with it, then maybe there was no reason to be upset. “But you know the bed could be dangerous.”
“Nah.” Cris replied. “Everyone knows monsters live under the bed not on top of it.” He was thinking like a kid too. Was it part of the curse, or did he simply enjoy this and embrace it fully.
“I doubt there’s a monster under the bed.” Jak looked thoughtful. “But sometimes people hide stuff under it.” The squirrel was at the perfect vantage to look under the bed. He came closer and got down on all fours, started to crawl under the bed-
And promptly felt himself pulled beneath it completely. This was enough to get everyone’s attention.
“JAK!” Lockely shouted and ran to the side of the bed. “What happened and-“ He froze seeing Cris as a cub for the first time.
“I…. I don’t know.” Cris said honestly. “He was looking under the bed, said there weren’t any monsters but…” Cris jumped out away from the bed and stared at it. He slowly walked closer to it to try and look beneath it. And suddenly two furry hands with large claws came out from beneath the bed and grabbed him by the ankles. “AHHHHH!” Cris let out a scream.
“BOO!” Jak’s voice sounded as he climbed out from beneath the bed. “Okay, that is fun.” He stood up and brushed himself off, then paused as he noticed something weird. His voice was higher pitched and… He was slightly taller than Cris now.
“Jak…. Is that you?” Lockely asked, staring at him.
“Yeah, why?” Jak asked, realizing that he was even a little taller than the bunny Lockely.
“Um… Well…” Lockely took a step back looking at Jak. The creature before him certainly had Jak’s fur pattern, even the star on his chest. However, it was also a creature with bat-like wings on its back, a pair of bull-like horns, a mane running down from the back of his head to the tip of his tail where it formed a big hairy tuft, claws that made a clicking noise everytime Jak took a step and long curved ears that made Lockely’s ears look short by comparison. When he was standing still and they were resting they traveled halfway down the length of his body. And to top it all off, he was seven years old, the same age as Cris.
“You’re the monster under the bed.” Cris stared at Jak. “I think… My monster under the bed? Is that why we’re the same age?” Cris suddenly had a mischievous grin. “What if someone else sits up here and another person goes under the bed? Will they become that person’s monster?” Cris was excited, wanting to test the idea.
“I don’t know.” Jak was waving his long tail back and forth. It was more flexible than his squirrel one. “Also, having a long tail is really cool. Though, hard to keep a poker face now when I have a tail.
“Okay Jak is fine.” Lockely slapped a hand to his face. Jak was apparently a monster that lived under beds, and a kid, but if he was still talking like that he was fine.
“But anyway nothing useful under there.” Jak shrugged.
“Groawrl?” Zeelo looked at Jak. His monster form could walk on two legs and talk. While the others were talking Zeelo slowly crept towards the bed and under it. Then he waited for a change. Except… Nothing was happening? Had Jak and Cris broken it? Did he already count as a monster? Or did someone need to be on the bed for it to work? Whichever, it was a dead end.
“You know, I was thinking if the ghost had an item that held sentimental value to them, it could be what ties them to the house.” Aria flew down after finishing her search of the higher areas. “If we find that, and set it on fire, that may get rid of the ghost.”
“Ok, what’s with your ideas centering around setting things on fire now?” Lockely asked.
“I’m a dragon. I can breathe fire.” Aria responded as if it was obvious. “I have no idea how long I’m going to be a dragon so I’m going to set SOMETHING on fire before I change into something else.”
“Am I the only adult left?” Lockely put a paw to his face.
“Hey I’m still an adult!” Aria objected.
“Are you? Are you really?” Lockely asked. “But… Your idea isn’t actually bad. It could be a special item holding her here, and it’s destruction might send her away. So… Let’s start checking closets.” Lockely paused and looked at the monsterfied Jak. “And no one sit on the bed because I don’t need to deal with closet monsters too.”
“Groooawwwrl.” Zeelo whined from beneath the bed.
“Okay…” Lockely picked the leftmost closet and opened it up. And suddenly was taller again. All the way back to his normal height even! And his tail was fluffy, and the shape of his body. Had he turned to normal except… He had a strange urge as he looked up at the sky light and saw the full moon. “AWOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Lockely let out a howl, and then realizing what he had done, flattened his ears in embarrassment. He wasn’t a fox, he was a wolf now. Just keeping his fur pattern had deceived him. And he had lost all control when seeing the moon. He turned to look back at the closets being very careful not to look back and see the moon again. Or think about the moon.
He was thinking about the moon.
Lockely was saved from embarrassing himself a second time by Zeelo who had witnessed the change. Realizing what the closets did he saw his chance again. And so Zeelo sprinted past Lockely leaped onto a closet door and opened it.
“Hey oh no you don’t!” Lockely grabbed Zeelo from off the door as it opened. There was another flash of light, and Lockely was roughly the same size as Zeelo. Largely because he had turned into a housecat. “Not this again.” At least he was an adult cat. But he was no bigger than a real cat even on two legs.
“Grooaawrl.” Zeelo was getting really tired of everyone interrupting him. He already knew how to get rid of the ghost. That was why she had showed up in person to transform him into this. If they’d just follow him to the basement, or let him actually trigger one of the transformation traps on himself so he could talk again. Normally he enjoyed having adventures like these but everyone was being really uncooperative today. Taking advantage of Lockely being the same size as him, he forced his way out of his grasp and went for another closet.
“Oh no you don’t! Aria tried to stop him and shot a small fireball down at Zeelo making him jump aside just as the closet opened, and this time it was Aria who changed. She was significantly larger than she had been as a dragon or mouse, but still only a third her original size. And her body was a lot more lean now. She was a weasel. Also, she could no longer fly. “Someone stop him, he’s going to open another door!” She shouted.
“I’m on it!” Jak sprinted to try to catch Zeelo before the next closet door was opened. He scooped the demon chimera cub up but was too late to stop him from opening the closet, and now Jak was the one to fall victim. He didn’t change species, but he was no longer holding Zeelo in his arms. Instead, he was now clinging to one of Zeelo’s legs due to the fact he was only a couple of inches tall now. “Hey… Lockely, I think I’m a pocket monster.”
“Not now!” Lockely shouted. He saw Zeelo shake Jak free from his leg and go for another closet. “What is with this thing? It doesn’t give up.” Lockely tried to shove Zeelo away from the closet, but just as with the previous ones Lockely fell victim to the magic inside. At least it made him bigger again. This time a red panda, and about half as tall as his original form. “Okay, I think he’s definitely working for the ghost.”
“Doomy wouldn’t do that!” Jak shouted from where he was on the ground.
“He’s clearly setting these traps off on purpose!” Lockely gestured at all the open closet doors. “I don’t really see any other explanation at this point.”
“Doomy is a friend.” Jak insisted and ran up to hug Zeelo’s leg. Then, getting an idea, he grabbed some tufts of fur, climbed up Zeelo’s leg, onto his back then climbed up to sit on his head. “And also a good perch.”
“I think he just wants to play.” Cris muttered as he looked at the remaining closet doors considering opening one himself.
“I think I have to agree with Lockely.” Aria got back up to her legs. “He does seem to be sabotaging all our efforts. And I never got to set anything on fire. I think he’s on the ghost’s side.”
“GROOOOOOOAAWRL!” Zeelo gave a shout in frustration, then walked over to a wall and banged his head against it repeatedly in frustration. Jak was forced to retreat down to his neck until he was done.
“Now you’ve made him upset, look.” Jak pleaded. “Doomy is a good boy. And I’m keeping him when we leave.”
“Jak, you’re not nearly big enough to take care of him even if he wasn’t an agent of evil trying to stop us.” Lockely replied bluntly.
“Honestly, the way things are going I feel like if I wait around long enough that won’t be an issue.” He paused as everyone looked down at him. “What? Aside from Doomy all of us haven’t gone longer than ten minutes without changing form in some way. I thought Cris had but then it turned out he had changed into a kid.”
“Just… Keep Doomy away from where we’re looking.” Lockely pleaded. “And no more opening closets. He looked at the chests. “Perhaps in one of these.” He approached one of the chests looking for a latch to unlock it. He didn’t get a chance.
“Roawwrr!” A much fiercer growl than Zeelo’s sounded as the chest opened up revealing a long tongue inside. The rest of the chests in the room all also did the same thing.
“MIMICS!” Lockely screeched. “Everyone out now!” He didn’t have to tell anyone twice. The chests lurched towards them, their tongues dripping with saliva as they chased their prey. Lockely made sure everyone was out of the bedroom then quickly closed the doors. The mimics stopped on the other side thankfully, but he could still feel them watching him even though they lacked eyes.
“I think… The bedroom is a bust.” Aria took several steps away from the doors.
“So… What now?” Cris asked. It was a good question. They had been grasping at straws when they decided to check the bedroom. Not only had it been a complete disaster, but they hadn’t found even a single clue on how to solve the problem.
“Is there a grand ballroom?” Jak asked. “This seems like the type of place that would have one. And usually in movies pretty important scenes go down in there.”
“As good a guess as anything else.” Lockely sighed. “We’ll probably want to search the first floor for that.
It wasn’t hard to find. It was the largest room in the house located in the exact center of the first floor. There were tables and chairs moved into the corner covered with white clothes, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and a dance floor covered with so much dust that it looked like no one had been in here in decades.
There was also something shiny at the very back of the room behind a divider.
“Wonder what that is…” Aria asked.
“No idea but someone wanted it hidden for some reason.” Lockely stepped into the room. Immediately, all the furniture rose into the air. “Of course.” He broke into a sprint trying to get to the back of the ballroom.
“Groooawrl!” Zeelo, knowing the actual solution to the problem was in the basement realized it was another trap. Which meant another chance at a transformation. He took off running as fast as he could, dislodging Jak from his head who landed on the floor where he was quickly scooped up by Cris.
“Hey, weird question, but, when this is all over if we’re still like this, can I keep you?” Cris asked.
“I’m already keeping Doomy so I don’t think a pet owner can be a pet.” Jak replied. “Also, shouldn’t we be helping Lockely?”
“Uhhhhh.” Aria watched as Lockely leaped to the left just in time to avoid being crushed by a table. She also noticed that he wasn’t the only one stuff was being flung at. The strange brown creature also kept having to dodge. Why would the ghost attack her own pet? “I think he’s got this.”
Lockely reached the divider and dove around it and quickly placed his back against it. He heard a few items crash into the divider but nothing strong enough to break through. It was sturdy and he was safe for now. Now, for the shiny thing. He looked and was disappointed to see all he had seen was a full wall length mirror. But he supposed he should count himself lucky he didn’t turn into anything when looking into the mirror.
And it was this point that Zeelo came skidding around the corner, also diving behind the divider for cover. He was quivering, having had way too many close calls.
“Please don’t be here to set off another trap.” Lockely pleaded.
“Groawrl.” Zeelo gave an annoyed look, then they both looked away from each other and at the mirror.
The change was over in an instant. There wasn’t even time to process that both of them were changing until after it was done. But, where Zeelo had been was now a six and a half year old humanoid red panda. Well, a brown panda. And where Lockely had been, was now an orange and black speckled demon beast. Except, he was noticeably bigger than Zeelo had been. As large as a full grown tiger.
“Groawr?” Lockely asked in confusion. His blue eyes glowing as he looked at Zeelo.
“FINALLY!” Zeelo could talk again. “This could have been over hours ago! There’s a weird shrine in the basement with statues in it! I’m pretty sure that’s connected to holding the ghost here, because she turned me into that the second I saw it.”
“Groooaawwrl.” Lockely nodded, and then realized what had been going on. This entire time Zeelo had been trying to find a way to help them or transform back and they had been dismissing him, or worse accusing him.
“Uhhh, but… We gotta get back across the ballroom… And I’m not as fast being an animal that runs on two legs.” Zeelo looked around the corner. “And there’s still a room full of furniture being thrown about and… Oh wow, some of it is on fire. Blue fire. That can’t be good.” He paused and looked at Lockely. “You know… Whatever type of monster I was, I was pretty fast as a cub. You’re full grown.”
“Groawrl?” Lockely tilted his head.
Moments later, Lockely burst out from behind divider with Zeelo riding atop his back. Lockely felt powerful in this body. And he was fast. But, he was also a bigger target. However, when one table tried to ram into him he headbutted it instead, cutting the table into three pieces with his horns as he continued to run on until he had escaped the ballroom.
“Whoa what’s going on why is there a bigger monster now!?” Aria demanded.
“It’s Lockely!” Zeelo shouted as he quickly climbed down. “I think that mirror makes people switch species if they’re looking into it at the same time.”
“Who are you?” Cris asked.
“Zeelo?” Jak recognized the voice.
“Yeah, it’s me.” Zeelo replied. “I really prefer my proper name to Doomy. Also, if you guys would have just cooperated. I’ve known how to get out of here for a long time. I was specifically turned into a monster so I wouldn’t be able to talk. There’s a shrine in the basement that I know is related somehow because the ghost got really angry when I saw it.”
“Oh, huh… I guess we have a plan then?” Aria looked to Lockely.
“Groawrl?” Lockely tilted his head.
Suddenly, there was a high pitched screech heard throughout the entire house. Blue wisps of flame began to form in the air.
“Um… I don’t think she likes we’re going to the basement.” Zeelo paused getting an idea. “Everyone get on Lockely!”
“Grooawrl?” Lockely objected.
“You’re faster and stronger, you can get us to the basement fastest.” Zeelo explained.
“Yeah come on Lockely!” Jak shouted from where Cris was still holding him. “Now’s the time to make our monment.”
“GROOOAWRL!” Lockely objected but took off running through the houses. Pieces of wallpaper came off acting like tentacles trying to grasp at him. He slashed through them with his claws easily. A chair in the corner lit on fire and flew at him, he caught it between his horns and tossed it aside. This form really had a lot of advantages. It was kind of dumb for the ghost to give it to someone. Then again, Zeelo had been a cub and was far less capable
The door to the kitchen wasn’t big enough to fit the tiger sized Lockely, so instead he chose to crash through the door.
“GAHHH!” Warn us before you do something like that.” Aria protested. The weasel crossed her arms in annoyance.
“Groawrl.” Lockely tried to remind them that he could not in fact talk. He approached the door to the basement he had slammed shut earlier. He kicked it down with is front legs and stared down. His glowing blue eyes pierced through the darkness easily. He didn’t need stairs, he hooked his claws into the wall and walked straight down to the floor. Then they were in the basement, and there was the shrine.
In the very center of the shrine was a statue of the deceased Agitha. She held her hand out holding a metal ring attached to several chains. The chains each ran to a different statue and what everyone saw was a little unnerving. They were statues of themselves. With the exception of Aria and Cris, each of the statues were of their original forms. Aria and Cris’ statues were a mouse and a lion respectively, the forms they had been in when allowed into the house. Each of the statues were a spiked collar around its neck and had a chain connecting it back to the center statue.
“I found this place, and she got really mad.” Zeelo explained. “And then a statue of me appeared in here, and it was after that I changed. I think the statues are important for her to be able to change us and keep us here.”
“She really sees us as pets.” Aria stared at the collars. “Alright, Lockely, smash!”
“GROOOOAWRL!” Lockely did not have to be told twice. He ran full speed intending to reduce all six statues to rubble. Suddenly, the room grew colder, and the statue of Agitha began to move. A cold wind erupted from it, strong enough to blow Lockely back against the wall and dislodging everyone from him.
“I think not.” The statue spoke in a hiss. “What naughty pets you are coming down here. But it’s too late. I already own you. You couldn’t approach the statues if you wanted.
“Yeah well…” The wind had died down so Aria broke into a sprint, the weasel closed the distance fast going for her own statue. As she did she grabbed a piece of rotting wood that had fallen to the floor from the stairs bringing it up to hit the statue as hard as possible. Here was hoping she was strong enough to break it as a weasel.
“Heel.” Agitha demanded and Aria felt as if there was an invisible collar around her next as she was pulled back away from the statue. “I doubt you could damage much like that, but better safe than sorry. I liked your first form more anyway.” And with that Aria was a mouse again. But as she landed on the floors she discovered she was one that walked on four legs.
“Squeak!” She let out a shout realizing what had happened, and also that she could no longer talk.
“Grooooawrl.” Lockely knew he was likely the only one who could smash the statues. But if he tried to get close no doubt he’d just be blown away again or transformed into something harmless like Aria had done. He needed a distraction… But what could distract her long enough not to notice him charging in.
“I get it.” Jak grinned.
“Get what?” Cris asked.
“I’ve been around Lockely long enough to have a pretty good idea of how he thinks.” Jak replied. “Even if he can’t talk right now I know what he’s thinking. He’s thinking he needs to smash the statues, but he can’t get close without being blown back or transformed. Which means we need to distract the ghost. Can you be really, really annoying?”
“Can I ever!” Cris beamed.
“Squeak?” Aria had rejoined them by this point. Jak climbed onto the mouse’s back then the tiny monster from beneath the bed whispered something into her ear. Then the mouse took off, quiet as the night hiding in the shadows of rubble on the floor.
“HEY!” Cris gave a shout as he walked around the statues without approaching them. “So… This pet thing like… Do we have to eat kibble, or do we still get people food? Because I’m not going to eat kibble.”
“You accept your fate?” Agitha hissed. “If you behave well you shall be rewarded.
“Oh that’s good, cause I really can’t live on a dry food diet.” Cris did his best not to grin. “By the way, how are we going to go for walkies?”
“What?” The ghost seemed surprised.
“I mean, you’ve had so many pets, I assumed you knew we needed exercise… And what with you being inside a statue, and the only other things around being flying furniture and mimics well… I’m just very concerned about how we’re going to get walkies in.” Cris continued.
“There is plenty of room to walk within the house.” The statue hissed.
“But I need fresh air!” Cris whined.
“Fine.” Somehow, the hissing voice sounded tired. “I’ll open up the courtyard. There’s a large garden. You can have your walkies there.”
“Great.” Cris beamed. “Anyway, what about toys?”
“Toys?” The statue was confused.
“Yes toys.” Cris nodded. “We need toys to play with. Normal balls and chew toys aren’t going to do the trick either. Though I’m not saying don’t get those. But I am saying we need something to keep our mind engaged… So like does this place have electricity? And where can we set up a video game system? Also I’m going to need the Wi-Fi password.”
“What are you babbling about?” The statue demanded, not even understanding some of the words the lion cub had said.
“I’m just asking you to take good care of us is all.” Cris replied. “I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?”
“Go to the kitchen then.” She replied.
“But I don’t know where the snacks are kept.” Cris whined.
“There are some nuts and berries in the pantry.” Somehow, despite the voice never rising above a hissing whisper, Agitha sounded absolutely exasperated.
“I don’t want nuts and berries! Those are gross! I want fruit snacks!” Cris replied.
“Well I don’t have fruit snacks.” It almost seemed like Agitha was starting to crack. Literally. There were tiny fractures around her right eye. “Go eat the snack.”
“BUT I WANT FRUIT SNAAAAAACKS!” Cris’ voice rose to the shrill tone that only a child with a temper tantrum could reach.
“I can’t take this anymore, turning you into something that doesn’t talk and-“ Agitha stopped as there were the sounds of few small rocks falling behind her. She rotated in place to see Aria with Jak on her back standing on the collar of Jak’s statue. “Now what is this? What do you two think you could possibly do?”
“Well I was thinking I’d just set the collars on fire. I figure they’re important to the spell and you see Aria really wanted to set something on fire today.” Jak responded. “Just accidentally dropped the pebbles I was using for flint. Don’t mind me.”
“You little insect!” Agitha started.
“I WANT FRUIT SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAACKS!” Cris continued to wail.
“Be quiet I’m dealing with a situation and-“
“GROOOOOAAAAAAAWRL!” Lockely leaped into action at this point, Zeelo on his back. Zeelo leaped from atop Lockely’s back, landing on the statue of Agitha with his body covering her face.
“Get off this instant I can’t see!” Agitha hissed.
“That’s the point.” Zeelo grinned. The idea that covering the statue’s eyes would blind her while she was inside it was mostly a guess. Things might have gone bad really fast had they guessed wrong.
“Sorry we had to blind ya, but we just couldn’t see eye to eye.” Jak grinned.
“I am over two hundred years old… And that is the worst joke I’ve ever heard.” Agitha’s tone almost sounded defeated.
“Really?” Jak’s shoulders sagged but he still grinned. “I thought the punchline was quite smashing.”
A large growl that might have just been a very loud groan was heard as Lockely crashed into one of the statues. Aria knew to get out of the way before he arrived and Lockely smashed Jak’s statue first. Obviously because he cared about freeing his friend Jak and definitely not taking his frustration with the jokes out on it.
“What are you doing?” Agitha hissed and Zeelo went flying from her face dragged by an invisible leash. His statue still existed, she had control. It was for this reason Lockely immediately crashed into his own statue shattering it. She had no control over him now.
“Now… Think about what you’re doing.” Agitha almost sounded nervous. “I built these to control you once, I’ll just rebuild them.”
“But can you rebuild them faster than he can smash?” Zeelo asked.
“I will su-“ While Agitha tried to answer the question Lockely smashed Zeelo’s, Cris’ and then Aria’s statues in quick succession. All of them were free from being directly controlled now.
“Groawrl.” Lockely looked at the statue of Agitha. He had a pretty good idea of what object in the house was tying her soul to it now.
“Don’t do anything you’ll regret!” Agitha pleaded. “You’re my pets I shall rebuild the statues and-“ Stones began to stir as the statues did start to reassemble themselves. But she never got to finish before Lockely ran full speed into her statue, shattering it into pieces that flew everywhere.
The basement lit up with a white light, as an enormous face appeared in the air writhing in pain. The face screamed in a shrill voice and seemed to be struggling against something, and suddenly, was pulled deep into the ground and the basement was dark and silent again.
“Is… Is she gone?” Jak asked.
“Think so.” Cris responded. “Though you know after going about fruit snacks for so long I actually wouldn’t mind getting some.”
“Squeak.” Aria voiced a concern.
“I’m guessing that was about why we’re still like this.” Zeelo shrugged. “I guess breaking the curse and releasing her spirit just stops future transformations and doesn’t undo current ones.” He paused. “That, or now that I think of it the statues were our original forms. Maybe we needed those standing somehow to change back.
“Groooawrl.” Lockely slapped a hand to his face.
Outside the storm was clear, and Lockely’s car had strangely started working again on its own. Everyone’s cell phone even had full bars! Not that any of them could know that having lost their phones with their clothes. However, the group had a few problems. There was no way a tiger sized Lockely was fitting inside the car in his current form. Then no one could even drive it. Of the two people who could legally drive one was currently a mouse while the other couldn’t fit in the car.
“Huh…” Zeelo looked at the car. “I feel like this is really going to put a damper in the going out for ice cream plan.”
“What are you talking about?” Jak asked. “Lockely is big enough for all of us to ride, and faster than his old car anyway. He may only be one beast-power engine under the hood, but it’s a strong.
“Groooawrl.” Lockely just crouched to the ground and covered his bat-like ears with his paws.
“Hey… Cris, Aria, you wanna come for ice cream with us?” Zeelo asked.
“You know that actually sounds better than fruit snacks now that I think about it.” Cris smiled.
“Squeak! Squeeeak!” Aria’s squeaking sounded delighted so Zeelo assumed that was a yes.
“Ok everyone aboard the Lockely’s Express!” Jak called. “We will be leaving Creepy Old Lady House Station please check for all your personal items.
For personal items, the only two who had any left were Cris and Lockely. Cris was still in an oversized t-shirt, and somehow against all odds Lockely had managed to keep his scarf and glasses. And on the way out of the house he made a stop to retrieve his tailband. He was happy that he could at least wear that still.
Cris and Zeelo were the only ones who climbed on. Cris held on to Aria while Zeelo held on to Jak as the two children climbed up onto Lockely’s back.
“So, a monstrous beast, a red panda cub, a lion cub, a mouse and a tiny monster from under the bed walk into a bar.” Jak started.
“GROOAAAWRL!” Lockely let out a growl loud enough that he never heard the punchline to whatever joke Jak was starting. Then he started running down the road. He was faster than his car. And he could turn around easier and trace his steps back. They’d all be at the ice cream place in no time.
And at least while they were busy stuffing their faces no one would be able to make any more wise cracks.