Alas, when one has fur, Spring is not as fun. From “Shedding Staff.”
“Arrrgh! Enough!” the woman the humans called Commander Rachel Na Gael yelled as a stray black hair wafted into the petri dish she had just sterilized. She turned off all the equipment, opened the main lab door, and left a note saying “Gone Shedding — Back by 1700.” She left a similar message on the intercom’s auto-response system, picked up a leather loop with some metal tags on it and stalked out the back door.
After checking to make sure that no one was around, Rachel took off most of her clothing and then changed shape after slipping the collar on. She hated the collar with a passion, but it let her carry security passes and tags in case she needed back inside. Once in full feline shape, the Wanderer-hybrid trotted away from the buildings, leaving a thin fog of shed hair in her wake.
The jaguar-like feline stopped at a rough-barked oak tree. First she scratched all the itches that she could reach with her hind feet, releasing more hair, then rubbed around and around the oak’s trunk, upholstering it in soft black fuzz. When the bark was full of fur, the cat launched herself up to the first set of branches and repeated the exercise as much as possible. Then she jumped down and sauntered a bit more slowly to her next target, another oak. Again she scratched, then rubbed. The birds wasted no time starting to collect the shed hair for their nests, she noticed. From the second tree Rachel went to the solitary menhir that loomed by the far edge of the base’s inner fence. Carefully, she rubbed on the jagged edges of the grey-green stone, then rolled in some gravel on the far side of the megalith. Much, much better she sighed to herself as she scratched and released yet more hair. Unlike an Earth feline, Rachel didn’t try to lick the loose fur out of her claws or off her hide. Instead she scraped it onto the stones. No hairballs this year, thank you!
Temporarily de-itched, the black cat made her leisurely way towards the bench and fountain at the end of the rose garden. She got a drink, then climbed onto the stone bench. She wound up her hindquarters and leaped onto the big branch of the beech tree. Rachel draped herself over the sun-warmed wood. Ah, this is the life and she dozed off. The light breeze blowing over the napping cat carried away a steady stream of ebony hair.
An hour or so later, Brigadier General Rahoul Khan stood upwind of his advisor and laughed silently. Poor Rachel, he thought, imagining how much she must itch. The alien didn’t just shed in the spring: she “blew fur” as it all turned loose at once, both coats worth over the course of about a week. Even in her true bipedal shape she left small bits of black on chairs and countertops and he winced to think what her sleeping quarters must look like.
He didn’t want to disturb her (and potentially loosen more fur), but they had a conference call from Vienna they needed to take. He cleared his throat. She snored.
“Zzzznnnnxxxxx,” pause, “fwheeeee, zzzznnnnxxx.”
“I’ll have that limb removed from the tree.”
“With you on it.” He sent her a mental picture of her flailing in empty air before landing in the fountain with a magnificent splash.
<<That, with all respect sir, is unkind.>> She stretched, scratched loose more hair, and eased down onto the bench, then the ground. <<How can I be of service?>> She yawned, revealing long, sharp, white fangs.
“You can be in my office in twenty minutes, in humanoid form, ready to talk to Vienna.”
She dipped her head in acknowledgment, then shook and trotted off to the lab door.
(C) 2014 Alma T.C. Boykin All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without express permission prohibited.