Underdogs The First Stories - By Geonn Cannon


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She was naked again. Of course.

Ari straightened, groaning as her bones shifted and her muscles popped. She felt like she'd run a marathon, her body soaked with sweat as she opened her eyes and scanned her surroundings. It was night, and the air was cold enough for her to see her breath. She was on a dead-end street with buildings on either side. The closest building had a security light that shone like a miniature sun so she could see that she was alone on the road. The street ended about a dozen yards ahead of her in an explosion of brush and a collapsed chain link fence. It took her a moment to get her bearings and realize where she was, and another few seconds to work out where she needed to go.

She ran to the end of the street and slipped through an opening in the fence. The ground on the other side was an overgrown baseball field. She crossed the neglected diamond and went to the concrete dugout on the far side of the sandlot. She dropped down into the bunker-like space, kicking aside dry, dead leaves and various debris left behind by high-schoolers.

Under the bench was an olive drab army duffel, but her hopes were crushed as soon as she saw the condition it was in. The material was soaked, the seams ripped out and claw marks revealing that her stash hadn't gone undisturbed by the local wildlife. She sighed and unzipped it anyway, hoping something might be salvageable within the depths.

The two T-shirts and her jeans were all ruined, ripped and soaked with urine of some damn canine looking to mark his territory. Fortunately she stocked each of her stashes with two changes of clothing, for occasions just like this. She dug deeper and withdrew the second pair of pants. At the very bottom of the pile, she found that her army jacket had miraculously survived completely unscathed.

She pulled on the jeans and her jacket, reaching into the pocket to find the cell phone. The battery was almost dead, but she prayed there was enough of a charge left to make one call. She dialed a familiar number and swept her hair out of her face as she looked back out across the baseball field. She wondered how late it was; there were hardly any cars on the road, and the entire world felt empty.

Her call was answered on the sixth ring with a muffled sound that might have been a greeting from the woman on the other end.

Ari said, "Dale. It's me. I need a pick up."


"The baseball field stash."

There was another muffled groan and then a sigh of acceptance. "A'right. It'll be a while. Thirty minutes, mebbe. Got clothes?"

"Barely," Ari said.

"I'll hurry," Dale said, already sounding more awake.

Ari hung up the phone and looked at the clock before sticking it into her pocket. Only a little past four in the morning. She decided to stay in the dugout a while longer before she went out to wait for Dale, and she took the opportunity to take stock of her injuries. Other than the typical lingering soreness after a transformation, she could feel three stinging lines running down her back. Scrapes, not very deep, probably just needed to be washed and bandaged. Her shoulder felt a little more tender than usual, and she rolled it slowly to check the range of motion. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the events of the night like a regular person would try to remember a dream.

She remembered running down the center of a street, loping easily along the pavement. A tall security fence. Crawling underneath it... that would be where the scrapes on her back came from. And... ah, yes. Twal. That was what the Doberman guard dog called himself in her mind, the mocking noise that overwhelmed her thinking as he strutted around the corner of the building and found her in his territory. Twal, twal, twal.

Ari had been told by several people that she was gorgeous in her canidae form. She retained her chestnut-colored hair and blue eyes. She didn't think it was fair that