Hello there dear readers! Welcome to chapter one of my new spin-off story, The Shift! WARNING: It would be best if you have already read the first fifteen chapters of my other story The Door. Just a heads up. I truly hope that you enjoy this new story!
"Yes Miss Blackthorne?" the armadillo in the lab coat said while wiping his profusely sweaty forehead and looking around anxiously.
"I don't know how to tell you this...but your moustache appears to be...peeling off." Lily said.
"What? OH! Th-That...uhm...w-w-well...th-that's b-because I'm,...uhm...sh-shedding! Yes, I am shedding! It's something that armadillos do regularly!"
"Oh...alright then Doctor." Lily said, a little skeptically.
"Now about those samples. I'm going to need to collect some blood samples, some skin samples, and maybe a few hair samples. Also, I would very much like to ask you about your world. Specifically your obvious technological superiority." Edwin said, unable to keep the excitement from his voice as the fake moustache continued to dangle above his upper lip, halfway peeled off. Lily was beginning to feel more and more nervous about the lab coat-clad armadillo standing before her. While he was pulling out a syringe, a scalpel, a plastic baggie, and what looked like a tape recorder, Lily quickly and discreetly pushed the nurse call button.
Lily suddenly noticed that she was feeling faint, as she backed up away from the advancing armadillo. Her vision became blurry, and the room started spinning. Just as Robbie, Renato, and the two hospital security guard arrived, Lily collapsed onto the bed. All four pairs of eyes looked to the unconscious human woman, and then shifted, as one, to Edwin, as he stood there dumbfounded, his fake moustache peeling all the way off, now realizing that there were others. He turned to see that they were glaring at him, making him look down to the syringe in his hands, then back to the unconscious Lily.
"I-I-I know how this looks, but hear me out. I didn't even touch her!" Edwin started to explain, before Renato let our a roar. Edwin instinctively curled up into a ball, frightened of the much larger jaguar. Robbie took this time to rush over to Lily's side and check her pulse, before hitting the nurse call button himself.
Back at Precinct 1...
"Chief, you wanted to see me?" Judy asked as she entered Bogo's open office door.
"Officer Hopps, please have a seat." Chief Bogo said, removing his glasses. Judy complied as she hopped up and sat down, staring at the large cape buffalo.
"No need to look so serious Hopps, I just want to ask you how things are with the human boy."
"Oh." Judy said, her ears perking up in relief. "Eli is doing wonderfully. I've currently got him all set up with a tutor, and so far he seems not too put off to the idea of attending school." Judy said proudly.
"I see, and there haven't been any problems with him?"
Judy smiled broadly. "No sir! Eli is a very sweet boy. He's definitely on the shy side, but over the past week he has started to really open up."
"Alright, what about other mammals? Have there been any problems with how others are reacting to his presence?" Judy's perked up ears immediately drooped. Seeing this, Bogo sighed. "So what happened?"
"Well, aside from a skunk and his two friends making fun of Eli, which Nick handled wonderfully, there was an incident that happened just this morning."
Bogo said nothing as he waited for her to continue. Judy opened her mouth to explain the incident with the crazed armadillo, when suddenly her phone went off. She recognized the ringtone she had set for Nick's phone, a smooth jazz tune. Bogo did not look amused by the sudden interruption, which Judy noticed right away.
"Hehe, sorry Chief. Let me just put this on silent." The rabbit said as she pulled it out, freezing when she saw the text Nick had sent.
At Hospital, Eli collapsed!
Judy continued to just sit there staring at the phone, a pit forming in her stomach.
"Hopps? What's wrong?" Bogo asked, concerned.
Not saying anything, Judy held the phone up to him. Bogo had to look closely at the rabbit-sized phone, and his eyes went wide as he read the message.
"I'll drive." He said, getting up, with Judy suddenly snapping back to attention.
Back at the hospital...
"So you're saying that you had nothing to do with her collapse?" Arnie said, glaring down at Edwin, who was shaking, making his cuffs rattle.
"I-I-I swear, officer! All I wanted to do was get some samples, and an interview! I hadn't even had the chance to touch her before I was interrupted!"
"Well, officer Packer here is going to take you down to the station," the rhino gestured to the wolf officer, who nodded stoically, "and we'll see what you have to say for yourself then. Right now we've got you for impersonating a doctor, and for trespassing." Chaz started to lead Edwin away, just as several hospital staff rushed by, pushing a stretcher. As a doctor was barking orders, literally as it was a female border collie, Arnie recognized the unconscious form as they passed by.
"DOCTOR! NURSE1 SOMEBODY!" Arnie whipped around to see a female otter looking around in a panic.
"Mrs. Otterton?" He asked, confused.
"Officer Rams! Please, you have to get someone! It's little Sarah! She just passed out!" She said, her voice rising as she nearly became hysterical. Robbie was soon by her side, comforting her, just as a panda doctor arrived.
What's going on?!
Barry was pacing in the waiting room. It had only been a short while ago that he was consoling Russell, who was concerned about going into foster care. Then, all of a sudden, the boy had just collapsed. After he had called for help, he started to notice something happening to Russell. There were a series of audible cracks, that made Barry feel queasy. As help arrived, Barry could see Russell's face start to... change.
That had been an hour ago, and so far, no one was telling him anything. He let out a frustrated sigh, and resumed his pacing.
"NICK!" Judy yelled as she ran up to the fox. He was sitting in a chair outside of the room Eli had been assigned to, waiting for her, a certain purple plush gorilla in his paws. "What happened?!"
"Well, Judy, uhm..." Nick looked away, trying to find a way to explain the situation, "See, after Eli collapsed...well, on the ambulance ride over...he..."
"TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO MY KIT!" Judy screamed as she started shaking Nick by his shirt collar, tears in her eyes.
"The doctors' aren't sure about what happened exactly, but as far as all of their tests can tell, Eli's going to be fine!" Nick practically choked out.
"Oh..." Judy said, letting go of Nick's shirt.
"Carrots, wait!" Nick said as Judy stood up to reach for the door handle, making her stop and turn to him.
"There's something else though...something you really need to know." Judy's ears drooped onto her back as numerous thoughts of horrible things happening to Eli ran through her mind. Anxiously, she looked up at him.
"Well... let's just say that you calling him your kit is now a bit more accurate than it would have been a few hours earlier..." Judy looked at Nick quizzically as he trailed off.
In Eli's hospital room...
Slowly, and groggily, Eli started to come to. He opened his eyes, which burned and watered a little, his vision blurry. He blinked a few times, the burning sensation quickly dissipating, and his vision started to clear. It took him a few moments to realize that he was staring at a very familiar-looking ceiling.
Am I back in the hospital? He wondered to himself as he looked around. He sat up, realizing that he was once more in a hospital gown, and looked to the door as it was slowly pushed open by Judy, who poked her head in.
"Wh-What happened, Judy?" Eli asked. For a second, she only looked at him, before she smiled that warm smile, filled with relief, which always seemed to brighten Eli's mood, and came in. She pushed a chair over to Eli's bed and sat down in it, leaning over to pass him his stuffed gorilla.
"You...uhm...you passed out sweetie." She said, wiping away a tear. "I was so scared." She said as she gingerly pulled him into a hug.
"I'm sorry!" Eli said as he looked up into her smiling face.
Wait, is my bed really low?
"It wasn't your fault. That's just...that's just what happens when someone learns that someone they love collapses. They get scared." She said, tightening the hug.
"...Y-You...love me?" He asked in a whisper. Judy pulled away to look down into his eyes.
"Yes, Eli, I love you." She leaned over and kissed him on his forehead, before resuming the hug. Eli hugged back, closing his eyes as he smiled. They stayed that way for several minutes before ending the hug. It was after Eli had a little bit to think things over, that he came to a realization.
"...Why are you taller than me right now?"
Judy sighed as she looked him right in the eye. "I need you to stay calm sweetheart, okay?"
"...O-Okay." Eli said, starting to feel nervous.
"Eli, please look down at you hands."
Unsure of where this was going, Eli did as he was told, and looked down at his hands. Except, where his two human hands should have been, there was now two paws. The backs were covered in a light grey fur, with white on the "palms".
They look like Judy's... He thought, numb, as he held them out next to Judy's paws, noticing his arms were also covered in the same grey fur. The coloration was very similar, although his "paws" were smaller.
"Judy? I-Is there a mirror?" Judy nodded, and held up a small hand mirror that she had brought in in her back pocket, when she had entered, anticipating this moment. Eli tentatively took it from her, and slowly turned it towards himself. He looked into the glass...and saw the face of a rabbit staring back at him. The grey fur of his face was, again, a match to Judy's, including the white fur around his mouth. His nose was small and pink, and twitching with nervousness. He could see his ears, which were drooping behind him to match his mood. He noticed that they were not as long as Judy's were. When he focused on them, he was able to make them twitch as well. His eyes, the rabbit in the mirror's eyes were the same deep blue that Eli was used to seeing in his own reflection so many times before.
"I'm...I'm a bunny?"
"Yes. From the looks of you, as well as from the tests done while you were unconscious, you're now a young, adolescent rabbit Eli." Judy said gently. Eli was stunned, unsure of what to do, what to say, or even what to feel. He looked back up at Judy.
"Can I still stay with you?" He asked in a whisper again. He was pulled into another hug, as Judy stroked his now longer ears.
"Of course. I'm not letting you go." She said, smiling at just knowing that Eli was alright. Nick and Bogo both looked on, their heads poking through the opened door. They both were smiling at the sight.
"So...how did this happen?" Eli asked, not breaking the hug.
"Well...I'm not entirely sure. I only got here a little while ago."
"You started to change after you were loaded up in the ambulance, bud." Nick said, softly, as he entered, Bogo having already headed off to speak to the doctors himself. "The doctors aren't sure why this happened, but they did tell me that the same thing has happened to the other humans."
"They all turned into bunnies?" Eli asked, surprised at how much bigger Nick was to him now. Nick smiled as he walked towards Eli's bed, ruffling his headfur.
"Nope. That human woman's now a cheetah, the little girl is a little otter, and I heard from Chaz that that Baily guy is now a timber wolf."
"Robbie tell you?" Judy asked.
"Wait, wasn't there another?"
"Yeah, but Robbie hadn't heard he had changed into, just that he had changed too."
"Wow." Judy said, as she pulled Eli close to her again, making Nick smile, and quickly whip out his phone to snap a picture.
"There we go." The fox said, smirking, as he turned his phone and held it up for the two rabbits to see. The picture looked like a mother and son rabbit, sharing a tender hug. "There's one for the album."
"So, how are you feeling there bud?" Nick said as he put his phone away. sitting down on the side of the bed, looking down at Eli. He had been a little worried that Eli was going to feel a little threatened by him after he had seen the finished transformation, but so far that, thankfully, di not seem to be the case.
"My eyes burned a little when I woke up, but they're fine now." Eli said, looking up at Nick. Smiling, Nick bent down and gave Eli a hug himself.
"That's good to hear buddy. You know, you scared me too when you went and collapsed while I was watching you. Couldn't have waited until you had already started school and felt like playing hooky?" Nick joked, receiving a light punch in the arm from Judy.
"What, you didn't think that I cared?" Nick asked, pulling away a little to look down.
"I didn't think that you could get scared. You're always so calm." Eli said, blushing through his fur. Nick smiled as he resumed the hug.
"I know that you can't help but see me as this towering heroic figure. Upholding the law with his faithful bunny sidekick, as he delves into the heart of danger, unafraid." Nick said, winking at Judy as she rolled her eyes and Eli laughed. "However, the truth is, I get scared too. In fact, would you like to know a secret?" Nick asked.
"Yes?" Eli said, feeling unsure.
"I was actually a little scared that you might be afraid of me, once you woke up."
Eli just sat there for a few seconds, processing what he had been told. "Why would you think that I would be afraid of you?"
"Well...because I'm a fox, and you're a bunny now. Lot's of prey animals are naturally afraid of predators, without even ever meeting one. Plus, plenty of mammals, predator and prey alike, have a pretty negative view of foxes in general. Truth be told, back when you were still human, after you said that there were foxes back where you came from, I started to expect you to begin looking at me suspiciously, or even shy away."
"Oh...uhm..." Eli said, looking away.
"What is it bud?"
"Uhm...my...original species...isn't largely afraid or suspicious of foxes back on my home world..."
"...In fact...uhm...if anything...foxes are viewed as being..."
"I promise I won't get mad buddy, you can tell me." Nick gently pried, his arms still around Eli. Judy leaned forward a little herself.
"K-Kinda...cute..." Judy immediately burst out laughing, while Nick froze.
And here it is! I hope that you enjoyed reading this new story arc! Also, rest assured that I will continue writing new chapters for The Door, in addition to this new spin-off idea! As always, feel free to leave me a review.