It’s a dark world where love and redemption have a cost that can only be measured in blood and violence. It’s just like your own Earth, except darker… furrier… scalier. There are no humans. If there were ever humans, they are just the myths now of strange religions and cultures.
The place to be is New Amsterdam, where its five boroughs form a familiar cityscape in the Independent and United States of America. Every race, every species co-mingle here with a tolerant surface of live and let live. At least, until you cross the wrong person. Rubbing someone’s fur the wrong way might get you killed.
In these six stories, you’ll explore different stories of love and violence across different decades of alternate furry history.
Dr. Ice tuned the gimmick on Mimic’s chest, quick and easy. Mimic stood stiffly, trouper that he was, with his arms out straight and his fingers twitching with embarrassment.
Then Dr. Ice just held him for a moment from behind. He ran his hands up the Turtle’s plastron from below the vent, then up and around the holes and protrusions that marked his orange-brown front. There were some giggles as Mimic looked victimized. He moved his head awkwardly, and Dr. Ice blew on his neck. The living beatbox stiffened, eyes wide, at the unexpected sensation. “I’m going to play you now,” Dr. Ice said in a velvet whisper and the Turtle’s eyes went wider still.
He didn’t exactly look terrified.
Kudzu counted down, 3-2-1… Dr. Ice led the way, playing “From Brooklyn to The Bayou” as he remembered it. Mimic surrendered to Dr. Ice, straightening and relaxing as the Bearded Dragon directed.
Mimic squirmed within the green and white embrace. He pressed a hand below his vent as the sensation came close to overwhelming him. Then, finally, he could stand it no more. He looked up at the ceiling and opened his beak. Instead of a scream, he released a series of shrill wheezing sounds and then the screech of a turn-table scratch.
As Dr. Ice continued to pluck at him, producing sensations and music directly into his brain, Mimic sung out a living percussion beat of harmony.
Heartland had pushed the stool away from the piano and spread his legs in a catcher’s stance almost two feet from the keyboard. His body bent forward in an arc until the chin of his toothy mouth rested on the baby grand. His arms were too short to play it any other way. Then he froze with a Gator’s stone, hard, unblinking stillness.
Dr. Ice looked cool and steady while Mimic trembled with excitement. Dr. Ice reached forward and slapped his palms on the Turtles chest like he was playing bongo drums. Mimic sucked in a breath before spitting out bongo noises.
Then Jonny Heartland threw in the piano, wild and kinetic, in synch with Dr. Ice and Mimic but with a slight counterpoint that suggested this piece was not at all tamed. From the tip of his thick serrated tail to the end of his flat snout, the Alligator was in motion, swaying in time to the music.
Jaws dropped on the other side of the glass.
The ‘Gator was not done with his surprises yet. When he opened his mouth to sing, it wasn’t the smooth, longing, velvet voice of his younger days. A strong, steady, but harsh voice of bitterness escaped his body, turning the love song sour. He didn’t sing in Aenglish, but in the noble, slang-free Xeno-Vox of his youth. Click Clack, they’d called it in the Age of Jazz.
And when the song called for Brooklyn, he sang out Harlem, instead.
The song ended at 3 minutes and 14 seconds. Mimic kept saying, “Oh my stars, oh my stars,” and he had to cover his crotch to keep from embarrassing himself. Dr. Ice patted the Turtle’s head. Together, they then helped Heartland outside to cool off.
Bill Kieffer’s only admitted vice is being himself on the Internet (where he is a 6 foot tall – which Bill is convinced makes him verytall – anthropomorphic draft horse that types as Greyflank. He is ever-so grateful to his wife over 25 years for putting up with him and his unadmitted vices. His new coworkers at a virtual reality company totally grok that he’s a furry… but are still a little confused by the concept of a married, monogamous bisexual. Humans are funny.
He is a member of the Furry Writers Guild, a social media volunteer for the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and a columnist for Underground Book Reviews. Past fiction credits include the Cóyotl Award winning The Goat: Building The Perfect Victim from Red Ferret Press. More recent publications include short stories in Roar 8, Bleak Horizons, Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions, and In Flux.