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#1
set any time day or night you'd like!


Ben was trying to find secrets. Ben was trying to find Etta.

This building had the potential to hold both things. Books held words that Ben often could not read, but if Ben were going to hide a secret, it would probably be in a book surrounded by many other books. Etta wore glasses, which meant that she could read, and so there was some chance Etta was here with the books.

Ben shuffled through the shelves, eyes wide and swallowing up titles. Some words, Ben knew, but they were written in ways that were hard to read, like sideways on a bookshelf. Eventually, after some aimless ambling, Ben grabbed a book and opened it directly to the middle. To Ben's surprise, it was full of... pictures and not many words. Eyebrows rising, Ben brought the pages very near his eyes, close enough that the two long whiskers prodding from Ben's face scraped the paper with soft, scratchy sounds.

Pictures. It was pictures. Ben could read pictures. Could there still be secrets in pictures?

Ben would have to find out.
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#2
Read was one of the pillars of Parker's pastime activities. Usually, she frequented the library twice a week, and consumed books like most people consumed their morning coffee. Parker was quiet on her adventure through the book store, searching for something more of the fiction variety, which she got the itch to read sometimes. Not everything had to pertain to the study of death, grief, and decomposition. Manga was not Parker's favored subject, so she was only passing by, her arms already full of a few books. She turned the corner, and nearly stepped directly into a small man's space. Parker's brows rose some a she stepped back, nimble with the help of a feline that was immediately revving into a low growl as a bouquet of smells was shoved under her nose. Something... very similar to what her diet consisted of. "Oh. Excuse me." She said in a voice just loud enough to be considered audible, eyeing the man with widened eyes as she decided if she should step around him or turn back the way she had come. Luckily, she did not drop her books.
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#3
Ben was deeply, deeply invested in the pictures and pages held close enough for whiskers to scrape. This meant Ben did not notice the approach of a someone until they were in Ben's space.

Black gobbled up the ring of color around Ben's pupils and the book was clutched open and now slightly crumpled to his chest. The smell was familiar, very familiar, and he wondered if she was sent to check in on Ben.

"Are you his sister?!"
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#4
The man was finnicky, and she recognized anxiety when she saw it. The words were disarming because they had not been expected. Parker's eyebrows stitched as she absorbed the words. 'Are you his sister?' Who? Parker's shoulders stiffened some as she looked behind her, maybe he was referencing someone she didn't notice? Finding no one, she looked back to the boy. "Who? I don't have a brother..." No siblings, as far as she was aware. Maybe some half-siblings, somewhere out in the world. But her mother had disappeared when she was young, and she never had another child before then.
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#5
Ben thought. If she didn't have a brother, that left certain other options for a Ben brain to work through. The man had been very old, and she was not, so maybe...

"His d- his daughter?!"

This was about when Ben realized he did not know the man's name. But Ben mostly remembered where he lived, maybe, and that would be enough.

The book stayed clutched to Ben's chest, any potential secrets inside well-hidden against an oversized shirt.
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#6
Another guess. She had no clue what the boy was on about, and she was becoming sure that he was either hallucinating or mistaking her for another person. Her lips pressed together as she shook her head, swallowing some, unnerved by the sudden questioning. "Who do you mean?" She asked again. Someone, apparently, she looked related to. There was a very distant fear that he had somehow met her actual father, a man she hadn't seen since she was four. But that was impossible. He was probably still in Kentucky. Or possibly in prison. Or, perhaps, dead. She had decided he would be of better use to the world like that, decomposing and giving back to the earth.
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#7
Ben couldn't put it together. They smelled so related. With a frown, Ben did his best to try to work through all of the options.

"Y- mm. You're the same as him but I don't know his name but he told me to find information and are- did- are you helping or watching?"

There had been threats at Ben but they'd been too much to understand all the way. Ben took a step nearer, nose and two whiskers twitching some for something to make sense of this.
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#8
She... was the same as him. She watched the boy's nose twitch, and blinked as it clicked. Maybe he had met another cat like her. Suri had mentioned two others, that she knew of. It was likely it was one she knew, or could possibly be a fifth that was unaccounted for. Whoever it was, this boy seemed to have met him. And, from what Parker could gather, had been told by this mystery cat to find information. She was questioned on her intentions, or that was how she understood his choppy response, and she took a half step back onto one of her heels as he drew nearer. The cat yowled, growled, and imagined a scene in which she pounced the prey-smelling boy to the ground. Of course, she would not.

"I-" He was terribly confusing, and while she was accustomed to dealing with people in a frazzled or confused state of mind, he was almost impossible to understand. "I don't know him. Do you need help?" She questioned with a stitch of her brows, regretting the offer almost immediately after it came from her mouth. She didn't need to be doing this. Oh, how she wished she had been watching where she was going.
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#9
She didn't know him and how could that be true. Ben felt his brain hurt, a muddling of his mind and focus. Teeth gnashed nervously in soft normal Ben ears.

But Ben did need help, and wide eyes grew wider at the offer. Within a second, Ben reached out to grab her arm or wrist and hold tight so she wouldn't accidentally leave.

"Please!"

Tension blossomed in Ben's shoulders and back and neck and face. It had been more days than he could remember since something painful happened.



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#10
He was reaching for her in a move she did not anticipate. His fingers brushed her wrist as she jerked away in the last second, and reached out with the other to grab his extended arm. This, ultimately, had the books she was holding in that arm to slump heavily to the ground. She tensed, eyes widening as she glanced down at where she was grabbing the stranger hard enough for her knuckles to turn white. "D-don't." She informed him, but it was stammering and shaky, a half-sound as she inhaled with it. The cat was pushing forward with a vengeance, all but pouncing against the barricades of her own self control.



oh no but she did succeed

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#11
She was holding Ben's arm very tight, and Ben realized she wasn't like Him at all even if they smelled the same they weren't the same.

Maybe she wanted Ben's information, or book, or wanted to just hurt Ben. Whatever it was, the feelings in Ben's muscles and bones wouldn't allow it.

With a shrill, attention-grabbing scream, Ben's free arm reached out to snatch a handful of her hair. As soon as Ben felt it in his fingers, the horror was all so much, and one leg gave out as the kneecap shifted awkwardly.

Ben sought to fall with her with him.


HIT

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1

#12
He screamed, and she let out an alarmed whimper as her hair was grabbed. His weight dropped, and she had no choice but to go with it unless she wanted to lose a chunk of hair. Her heart hammered in her throat and she felt her knees buckle as they plummeted. Parker landed half way on her hip, but caught some weight with an elbow as it cracked into the floor. It was much too late to regain control by the time she realized that she had fallen. Her spine twisted uncomfortably, and Parker grunted out a pained yelp as her hips rolled out of place. No, no, no, no! A hand moved blindly to swat at the hand in her hair, but missed entirely. She needed to go! She needed to go.



No :(

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#13
Bad things were happening to Ben Jones.

It started in one kicking leg, but moved somewhere worse fast. Ben clawed desperately at her hair, unable to even grasp why, but knowing it was important.

But a tremendous sense of sickening discomfort distracted Ben as both eyes suddenly loosened in their sockets, shrinking faster than the skull that held them in.

Ben screamed with all the ferocity such a thin frame could possibly offer, a piercing screech over the previously low din of soft jazz and espresso machines.

Everything hurt so much as Ben's tongue narrowed and thinned but did not yet shorten. This would not be fast; it never was.


MISS/lost grab

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#14
Parker was oblivious to his horrible plight as she struggled with her own changing body. The tugging of her hair fell out of focus momentarily as her hips turned inward, and her legs began to snap and rotate. Her calves jutted backward, her knees reforming and buckling inward. Her spine shrunk, and she curled in on herself as she let out cries of pain that harmonized with the rat's. Somewhere in the chaos, the cat's intentions became clearer. So, as her body wracked with pain and shrunk in on itself, she turned toward the smaller body and grappled for it, an attempt to wrap her arms around its shoulders and hug it closer.

The screams did not go unnoticed by the patrons of First Draft. People from either end of the aisle poked their heads around to investigate the chaos. There were screams of panic, gasps an exclamations of confusion. One of the bartenders from below was making his way up the stairs toward the unrest. A woman with an iPhone pulled up her video and hit record. The two on the ground were helpless to stop her, no matter the desperate need for Parker to do so.


Hit/grab

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#15
Ben was not shrinking very much yet.

Not outside, anyway.

Inside, organs clenched and collapsed, and if anyone could see Ben's soft belly, they would notice the way the skin sagged inward. The sounds of horror coming from Ben's throat strained and wiggled as all of the parts within crumpled. Steadily, it was as if the skin of Ben's body were a too-large suit of clothing slowly growing hairier.

Hugged so close, Ben screamed in her ear, then tried to take a hard bite of the skin on her neck.


but probably just moufed her with his little lips MISS

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#16
Not a lot was happening to anything above Parker's waist. Her spine shortened but sloped, her legs deforming as they retracted closer into the shape of a feline's. Her feet slipped from shoes, and her pants were kicked at as they became uncomfortable to wear. There was no fur, nor claws, just a misshapen girl being crushed into the form of a fourteen pound cat. She jerked her head away from the biting, and she let out a low groan as her intestines began to twist and shrink to fit the new form. She felt like vomiting, but she did not. Instead, as she her pants fell away, she tucked her legs closer to the boy's torso and struck with fleshy paw-like feet. Alas, she found nothing.



miss

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#17
Ben was shrinking, now.

Unfortunately, this left a lot of clothing between Ben and what was trying to murder Ben. Screeching continued, muffled by occasional failed attempts to bite.

Bite. Bite. That's what Ben needed to do. Little kicks met the pile of clothing around Ben's middle, a warning enough that it was time to go.

But one too-long arm made an attempt to grab her face, little claws forming on the end of thinning fingers.


BUT HE MISS

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#18
Her target was slipping away, shrinking from her grasp. Parker had no way of gathering it back through the pile of clothing, as her shoulders finally snapped backward with loud cracks. The patrons watching screamed, some ran, and others gasped but looked on curiously. She was blind to them as her arms twisted into feline legs, and her hands began to splay and shorten. She was able to tug back from the swiping hand that appeared from the pile of clothing, and she kicked with more fever at the assailant. Still, nothing but fabric that twisted and pooled around her feet, which forced her to shake free before going in again.


nuh

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#19
Time to go.

Every muscle in Ben's body tensed and shifted focus even as they also shrunk and twanged with the pull of it all.

One mostly human (though shrunken) foot lagged behind, but the rest of Ben was nearly rat. That was enough to try to make a run for it.

With a squeak and fresh burst of terror at truly realizing what animal was after him, Ben tore from the pile of clothing and sought to make a clumsy, horrifying rush away from the cat.

"HELP. HELP. HELP."
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#20
Her head was in the process of retracting backward, her face splitting into an angular and cat-like shape, as the rat made a run for it. Her hair shrunk toward her scalp, and the rest of her skin erupted with pricks of hair on every inch of her body. For now, she was left to finish out her shift as the rat made its way to wherever it was going to go. Parked cried out in a yowl that was more reminiscent of an injured house cat as her body retracted in and shrank. The bartender that had come up to see the chaos was now yelling for people to retreat and evacuate the building.
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#21
Out out away away OUT.

Crowds parted for Ben as though Ben were Jesus (this was as much of the Bible as Ben could remember). Strange, twisty, hobbly limbs sent Ben charging forward. To safety, to privacy. To food, maybe.

Someone aimed a swinging kick at Ben's soft small jerking body, but it only clipped one of Ben's precious ears.

The rat would scream and squeak in a wild panic down the stairs, voice breaking for each thud.
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#22
Legs stretched into place, and sharp claws began to protrude from the tips of stunted, stubbly digits. The girl's body had shrunk to the size of a beagle, not entirely finished, but functional. Her hair still grew, and her face was still taking shape, but the cat was enough there to pull itself back into action. The rat was fleeing, and she had to chase it. And so, without a tail or muzzle or full pelt, the cat wriggled its way from a pile of clothing, and barreled forward into the crowd. She pushed past legs and swinging feet. One struck her in the side, which sent her careening sideways into a pillar that housed postcards. It toppled and crashed to the ground, but she managed to slip out of it's path. Where, where, where? Where did the rat go?
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#23
"HELP."

The rat careened onto smooth title at the bottom of the stairs, skidding and scraping desperate nails for traction.

"HELP."

A sensitive nose could detect the outside air, spotting a glass door slowly closing as a patron fled outdoors.

"HELP."

It was close, even as he slid in spilled coffee that warmed the last remaining bald spot on Ben's soft, rat belly.

"HELP."

But Ben was too late as he reached the heavy glass door, even as he reared onto his back legs and clawed and clawed. The cat would catch Ben. The cat would catch Ben. Unless someone. Would.

"HELP."
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#24
If the scent was not enough of a trail, the screaming sounds were. The cat bolted after, down the stairs and past a few fleeing patrons. She was larger than the rat, and could take the stairs twice as quickly. She hit the bottom of the stairs at the same time the rat made it to the door, and her paw pads slipped on the linoleum. She did not have the claws to help her, so she took a moment to flail into a manageable pace. She leaped around the spilled coffee, and darted toward the trapped rodent.
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#25
Help help help HELP Ben needed help, desperately, pawing at the door and ramming Ben's soft, strong little body against it. A push, and another push, and then-

It opened, though not of the rodent's power. A woman with a look of utter disgust on her face flung it open with an extended hand, and that was all it took.

Ben, soft and small and terrified, broke into a wild sprint out of the terrible book place and into the street. Traffic whizzed, and Ben's heart threatened to burst from the chest it was kept safe in. Finally, Ben rushed out, darting between two cars and racing off into the city of Larkspur.
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#26
Closer, closer, and- A woman lunged forward to push the door open. Out went the rat, and in a blur the cat followed. Cars roared down the street, and the rat paused just briefly before slipping out into oncoming traffic. The cat, zeroed in, trailed right after. She nearly made it. But an SUV's bumper slammed into the back hip of the cat, which sent her staggering akimbo, staggering to regain footing and keep from splaying in the street. Thankfully, she managed to scramble onto the sidewalk, where patrons staggered back but did not immediately associate her with anything aside from an extremely lucky stray cat. She ignored a woman's gasp of 'oh, that poor kitty!', and slunk back toward the path she had been on. Her nose; fully formed now; pressed to the ground. And while, she did find something briefly, scents were scattered out on the sidewalk. Injured and losing the trail, the cat slunk back and forth in the general area, peering around for any sign of the rat. When she did not see it, she growled lowly to herself and limped toward an alleyway.
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