He woke the next morning and carried out his routine to the best of his ability. He tried to cook himself breakfast only to knock over only three glasses with his bushy skunk tail every time he turned around. After the third glass Maria volunteered to cook for him. He didn’t argue. He plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. Surprise. He was on it, all over it, in fact. Jared the skunk man. Is he real? Yes, no, maybe. I’ll wait until I see him. Jared cringed at his image appearing over and over. Worst was people’s disregard for his privacy. His parents called and asked if he was OK. He told them he was, at least physically. He wasn’t sick or hurt, just a little changed is all. They vowed to stick by him for as long as he needed them to. He said he knew they would and that he loved them.
The police showed up and asked him questions. They seemed shocked by his presence. Here they were in front of bigfoot, it seemed like. When they weren’t asking him a question and jotting down an answer, they just stared at him. He told them everything they needed, knowing damn well Leland would never be caught. He had already given up on the prospect of revenge. What could he do to a magical man selling dangerous artifacts? He told the police what he looked like. Maybe wherever he went next would have some advance warning.
People knocked on the door, asking to see him. Maria told them all to buzz off. The day folded over into the next. Jared hadn’t left his apartment since he came back. It was just another day of knocking his tail into things, seeing his face on the news, and listening to his sister telling people to go away. That was until his parents visited. They were visibly perturbed by his condition, but showed nothing but support and strength in the face of it. His mother said he looked adorable. His dad said that there might even be some girls who were into it. Jared brushed that off as silly. Before he hugged them goodbye, his mother warned him not to stay locked in his apartment forever. He would have to come to terms with what he had become and show the world that he was not ashamed of it. If only it was that easy.
It wasn’t until the next day that he gathered the guts to step out and show the world his face. It was a bit disconcerting to see news vans parked in the parking lot around the lobby entrance like a pack of hyenas waiting their turn at a carcass. He took the journey downstairs to the lobby alongside his sister. He hadn’t even made it through the sliding doors before he was spotted by one of the reporters. They swarmed the entrance like piranhas, waiting to take a bite out of him and redden the water with his blood. The doors slid open to unveil a deafening chatter of questions. Reporters shoved each other aside with their shoulders, jockeying for space to stab their puffy microphones through. Jared thought he’d be overwhelmed, but he somehow felt at peace. This was the catharsis he needed. The world needed to hear from him, so he spoke.
Without answering any of the reporters in particular, he told them everything. He told them his name, what happened, where it happened, and why he thought it had happened. He said he was in fact real, he was healthy, and that he didn’t think there was a way to reverse it. At the end he included a warning and a description of Leland. Whoever he was, watch out for him. That was all he had to say about that. He walked through the wall of reporters for his car, deaf to the continued rain of questions and demands.
Written by TheGreatJaceyGee on 13 December 2022