By: David Ihnen

NOTESWritten for Devin Hallsworth on the TSA list as part of the Xmas story exchange
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This story is Copyright by David Ihnen. Please do not distribute without permission.

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Devin shivered as he stood with one hand on the cupboard door. He should cook something, it would warm at least the kitchen and him. Behind the selection of spices, there was an unopened bottle of ketchup and some Worchestershire sauce. His stomach growled again. He shuffled over to the pantry, which had been empty of anything but dust for two or three days now. Still empty. He opened the refrigerator, which was warmer inside than the kitchen was. The darkness glimmered from his obsessive cleaning of it a few days before.

Devin startled as a loud THUMP sounded from the front porch. Shadows flickered over the papered walls and wainscotting as he carried the lantern through the small, dark rooms to the foyer. There was the sound of movement outside, a footstep. He turned the knob and opened the door as a gust of wind blasted in. The door was yanked out of his hand, the lantern went dark. He scrambled to retrieve the door but the wind died as soon as it arrived. In place of a visitor, he found a large sack on the door mat. He blinked at it uncomprehendingly for long seconds. A search for the provider only showed the walk and yard gleaming in the darkness with a thick coat of pristine snow, obscuring even his boot tracks from the previous morning. His civic was merely a rounded snow lump at the curb.

He called out, "Hello? Who's there?" His voice was absorbed in the snowy night. He shivered in the cold air. The longnose lighter in his pocket relit the lamp, but the meager light merely showed two large round footprints on the edge of the porch. He reached out tentatively and poked the bag. It was heavy and gave slightly.

"Now where did this come from?" he wondered aloud.

He dragged the sack into his small kitchen. It was made of a tight woven burlap, nothing like the usual plastic and paper. An ornate inked logo was surrounded by the text "Pegasus Steel Cut Oats - Serving size one bag - Chilliwack BC". The center featured a woodcut of a horse's head framed by feathers. He fumbled at the string that stitched the top of the heavy burlap sack together. With a tug the bag fell open. His rainbow scarf fell in the way as he leaned down to smell it. He tossed it over his shoulder and tried again, getting a good sniff. Unexpectedly his stomach growled and he swallwed a mouthful of saliva. He didn't normally like oatmeal, but this smelled really, really good!

Dredging the basic recipe up from distant memory, he put two parts water and one of oats together in a pot. The longnose lighter brought the propane campstove to life. Hands tingled as he absorbed the spare warmth by holding them to the sides of the burner as it warmed. He breathed the smell of burned propane, unpleasant but warm. He shivered a bit, tugged his toque down, and snuggled into his jacket and scarf as he waited for it to boil.

The little house had been a good choice back when he had a job at the school, when a future seemed inevitable, the limits nonexistant. Then banking crisis and remarkable idiocy elected extremists, who promptly removed the income and value added taxes and most of the services and regulations paid for by it. The last few years had gotten progressively worse. When this little town couldn't pay the electric company kickbacks to fix the storm downed lines, they shut down service entirely. Without electricity people left town in droves. With no students, the school closed. With the school went his job. Thanks to the austerity measures, unemployment was no longer available. Then the phone network went down, leaving only limited cellular service. The town was practically deserted now - but how was he going to get anywhere else? Fuel was $5/liter - if you could get to the town five kilometers away where they had electricity to pump it. His civic sat rusting outside beneath its blanket of snow, its fuel long since stolen. Not as if it would run in two foot deep unplowed snow anyway. He sighed and leaned in closer as the steam started rising from the pot to feel the warmth on his face.

The warmth came from a small can of propane. It, and the small campstove, was a gift from the red cross. He had drawn out this bottle as long as he could, but the fuel was drying up. Already he could see the size of the little blue flames edging smaller as the tank lost pressure. A warm November and early December had been tolerable without heat. The arrival of christmas brought a cold front that swept in with lots of snow and even more cold. The night wind rattled the window panes and brought more drafts. He smiled as he looked down in the pot where the oats had started to hiss and burble. Done. He cut off the precious propane and retired to the small dining room. He hung the kerosene lantern from the bottom of the dark electric chandlier and occupied his favorite padded bench by the window. Favorite because it was normally so warm - the absence of heat from the radiator there seemed to suck the heat from the room. He bowed his head over the steam and inhaled. With warmth in his stomach he would crawl back beneath his mound of covers. The oblivion of sleep would obliterate the future for at least a few more hours.

The oatmeal was bland, but hearty. He blew the heat off it at first so as not to burn his mouth. It WAS good and warm. Very good. Hunger must be the best seasoning. The warmth spread through him. The heat relaxed the tense half-shiver required to stay warm in the cold. It seemed to taste better and better with each bite. All too soon the spoon scraped futilely against the bottom of the bowl. A gurgling growl issued forth from his stomach. He lifted the bowl and ferreted out the last dregs with his lips and tongue. He stepped lively towards the kitchen for more. So what if he would have to spend all of tomorrow struggling his sled through the snow to the red cross station to get more propane?

The oats in the cup measure smelled delicious! His tongue darted out bringing the chunks to his teeth. They were dry, yes. Dry and fairly chewy, but so tasty. He quickly downed the oats in the cup, Even collecting the dust and groats from the corners of the measure with his tongue. So good! Now his face was thrust wholly into the bag, arms wrapped around it as he held it against his chest. So good, so very good. He munched and chewed and swallowed for a long time. He panted, sweat trickled down his back, feet felt cramped and burning hot.

The toque and scarf hit the floor, followed by the jacket and boots. A bit of steam rose from him in the comfortable coolness of the kitchen. Eyes flicked to the movement of the bare branches outside the window as flat teeth made work of the oats. Ankles flexed, stocking feet stuck out at odd angles. A deep chuckling noise came from inside as the humor of the sight of socks on hooves penetrated awareness. The idea of socks on a horse's hooves was amusing, but eating was more important. Great mouthfuls were crushed in their soft chewiness between strong teeth. The groats were getting softer. Why would anybody need to cook these? Jeans cut into hips, a tenseness at the tailbone and shoulderblades. A few more bites were crambed in before strangely thick fingers fumbled at the shirt, seeking to relieve the binding that was far too tight in the shoulders and chest.

Buttons pinged across the linoleum as force replaced finesse, the flannel shirt ripped off. A twist and yank both shed the long john top and popped the button on the jeans. Cool air on flesh felt so good. Another yank lowered the waistband of the unbearably tight pants, drawing the drawers with them. Cool air hit the crotch in an unfamiliar way.

Devin, no... Debra? Debra. Definitely not what he...she was before. But... God she was hungry. She glanced around hurriedly make sure nobody was peeping in the frosted kitchen window before dispensing with the pants and underwear entirely. She probably looked the fool, bare-ass naked snarfing oats on the kitchen floor, but they were so damn good! The business of eating the oats resumed until she belched loudly. She had worked her way through over half the bag. She grinned rubbing her bulging tummy. At least for the moment, she felt happily stuffed. And thirsty. She stood up.

The kitchen reeled. "This is going to hurt" flashed through her mind. She landed lightly on her hands. Unfamiliar muscles in her shoulders hummed with an unfamiliar strain that was somehow related to the large 'WHOOSH' of air swirling dust about the kitchen. She noticed her hands clearly for the first time. They were definitely chunkier. Only three fingers and a thumb, with thick dark nails. She lifted one to peer at it and the wings fluttered in balance. Wings? She turned her head to find stubby feathery wings spreading across the kitchen. She could feel the uncomfortable way the feathers were squashed where they pressed against the cabinets. Drawing back from the unpleasant sensation, the wings folded against her back and sides.

Wings? Since when did she have wings? With heavy assistance from the counter she returned to vertical. Her legs were... very different. A thick, hard hoof tipped a dramatically long foot, her ankle and thigh bringing her five centimers higher in the room. She flexed her toes/ankles/knees, peering at the shiny black of her hooves. The linoleum was grippy under their sharp new edges. The wings extended again involuntarily as she swayed. A cupboard door slammed as she caught herself against it. Attaining balance for the moment she explored her face with her thick fingered hands. It had obviously lengthened, making room for thick teeth and slabs of muscle. Lips were thick and flexible, exploring her hands back.

Turning in search of a mirror her hair brushed the top of the door. A flinch extended her wings, their leading edges slammed into the jamb. She staggered backwards from the force and sat down... down a long way, with a hard thump on the floor, catching... her tail under her painfully. A tender exploration found spots of pain on the wing by the wrist joint. That was going to bruise for sure.

More carefully this time, wings folded close, she stepped through the hallway into the dark bathroom. Once again she fumbled for the lantern. The hook was lower than she expected, but the battery powered lantern snapped to feeble life. An unfamiliar face met her in the mirror, at least a quarter horse, maybe three-quarters human. Her ears were larger, awkward hybrids, they drooped a bit as she turned her head. She spread her wings slowly. The carbon-fiber gray feathers fell into line as they spread. Her right pressed into the shower curtain, the left into the hall. Her eyes scanned down, her previously hairless torso showing a fine coat of fur. It too was gray, but lighter than the feathers.

Her pelvis was smooth, a touch showed she was female but not in any blatant way. All this was driven from her mind by the stomach, which growled and gurgled loudly. It felt like she had two or three hungry stomachs. She even felt a little dizzy, low blood sugar. The half-pegasus stumbled into the bag with a feathery woosh, tipping it over. Glorious sweet mouthfuls of oats crushed between her teeth. So good, they tasted so good. And she was warm too.

The anthropomorphic pegasus mare woke, laying in the middle of the far too small kitchen. It was lit by a streamer of morning sunlight from the window over the sink. She blew her lips out and stretched, hooves thumping against the door jamb on one side of the room. Feathers ruffled as her wings unsettled, not finding room to stretch in here. She rose to all fours, the linoleum smooth beneath her thick-fingered hands. She shook her head, huffing and blowing her lips out again. Her breath made clouds of steam. She crouched and rose to two legs. The light fixture clanged synchronous with a twinge of pain from her head. She winced and ducked under the other light as she stepped to the sink. The faucet provided no water, she stared at this for some time with groggy confusion.

Eventually waking up, she looked at her hands, arms, body... She could even see her back given her flexible neck. She looking at herself from every angle she could reach. She was so big - dense dark gray hair covered her, she felt warm. "It's.. I'm a... Naked..." she managed, sputtering words out her unfamiliar shaped mouth. She started to unfurl her wings but almost immediately hit the cabinetry. "Too... too small in here!"

She stepped, stumbled over the burlap, and regained her footing. She ducked under the doorway, down the hall and fumbled with the handle on the door for long seconds. Teeth ground until finally with a snick the door came open, flooding the foyer with morning sunlight.

She stepped outside, stumbling again, arms windmilling as she pitched off the porch... and she spread... She landed gently in the cool snow about twenty feet from the steps, plowing up a little ridge in front of her wings and nose. And rather cold against her nipples! It felt good to stretch, though. She smiled blissfully as she did just that right there, her massive wings spreading to their full sspan, stirring the still morning air, sending swirls of snow around the yard. She gave a firm pull, she could feel her weight lightening from ground with each flap! She could fly for sure!

She shook her head and body and wings, folding them close and warm against her sides. She stood up, hooves sinking in the thick snow She let out a little yelp as she realized she was standing in the middle of the front lawn, nude! She turned and, more carefully this time, climbed the steps and went inside, shutting the door. She panted in the still darkness of the foyer. What just happened...

She ran her hands down her sides, over her butt, her thighs, her... She was definitely female... her flat stomach and... perfectly porportioned breasts.

For an eight foot tall anthropomorphic pegasus, at least. On any human they'd be astonishingly large indeed.

She clopped to the bedroom and used a sheet to improvise a sort of loincloth and sports-bra effect. It looped around her neck, over her breasts, between her legs and tied securely with a belt made from her rainbow scarf. It set off her monochromatic coat nicely if she said so herself. The morning sun and the mirrored closet showed a statuesque anthro pegasus mare dwarving the room. Clouds of steam huffed out of her velevety grey nostrils. Her entire body was covered in short, dense steel-grey fur, her short mane and long flowing tail matching her dark wings, setting it off nicely.

She ducked through the little house, seeing nothing of interest in the place - not the dark screen of the unpowered computer, the furniture, the rediculously small men's clothing, not even the winterwear littering the kitchen floor. And no food. She was feeling a little hungry. Chilliwack was only 30 or 40 kilometers away... Surely she could fly that far, if it meant more of those oats!

She stood in the snow-blanketed road, undisturbed except for her hoof marks leading from the chaos in the yard. She spread her wings. They easily spanned the road, brushing some of the snow mounded on the civic onto the ground with a soft poof.

She let out a loud whinny in excitement, and started running tentatively through the snowpack. Her hooves glided through it with little resistance, the wings steadying her. Faster now, she started to flap. Reach, stroke, reach, stroke, her legs windmilled as she cleared the snow entirely! She was so startled and elated she forgot to reach again. The ground rose up to meet her, her hoof slipped and she tumbled flat in the soft snow, bulldozing up quite a pile in front of her as she stopped.

Snow flew as she shook it off coat and wings, snorting it out of her nose. Not wasting another moment she ran through the snow, accelerating slowly to compensate for the limited traction. Wings spread, flap, flap, and she was up. Reach, flap, reach, flap, the wind rushed past her, ruffling her fur and feathers, laying her ear back close. She set up a steady flap-glide, flap-glide as she gained a comfortable altituded, turning towards Chilliwack. She was leaving the house, the lack of a job, all that behind her. Freedom was here in the air, right in front of her. She whinnied triumphantly into the wind, riding the air currents that enfolded her with strange familiarity, heart beating as strongly as her wings. FREEDOM! This was what had been missing, she knew this was her purpose.

A tingle on her flank caused her to twist her head, gliding, her hand smoothing the fur there. In sharp contrast to the grey of her flank was a brillian red phygian cap. She smiled and nodded, whinnied into the wind and headed for Chilliwack, finding an updraft in the cool morning air, warmed by the morning sun as she rose in a spiral.

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