“Look at it! It’s so fluffy!” Lucy said. She turned her head to the side as she awaited a response but kept her eyes focused on the furry grey chinchilla in the cage. The animal stood upright on its muscular hind legs, its tiny hands wrapped around the thin metal bars to help it keep its balance. It waved its twitchy nose in the air, as if trying to peer around its own snout to get a better look Lucy. “You gotta see this, John. It’s got like, little T-Rex person hands.”
Lucy peered over her shoulder and saw John standing by the doorway of the pet store, poking at his smartphone. Her head followed the rolling arc of her eyes as she looked back at the poor trapped critter. She sighed and slipped a waggling finger between the bars of the cage. “Hewwo Mistew Mogwai,” she said in that cutesy falsetto that we all reserve for animals and babies. “That’s what you are. You’re a little Mogwai, like in Gremlins. That’s why they can’t get you wet, no.” Her finger brushed along its fine fur coat, revealing starbursts of white hair beneath its dark grey tips. Her voice returned to its normal tone and she said, “Oh my god, you are the softest thing I’ve ever touched.”
The chinchilla let out a sharp, high-pitched bark and snapped at Lucy’s finger. She gasped and quickly pulled her hand away. The chinchilla yipped again and bit down on the bars. She wondered how such a cute little creature could get so mean. Lucy noticed a small dab on blood on the tip of her finger. She stuck it in her mouth to suck the blood away and she heard John say, “We should really get going. It’s almost rush hour and mall traffic always sucks. Especially when it’s a full moon. That’s when everyone — ” He stopped in the middle of his sentence, the skin on his face stretching back in disgust. “I hope you washed your hand first. Those things are disgusting. They literally bathe in dirt.” Lucy pulled her finger out of her mouth and hid both her hands behind her waist, as if he wouldn’t notice. “C’mon, let’s get out of here,” he said as he strode towards the door.
Evening came and the honey-colored moon grew brighter in the blue-black sky. John had an early shift the next morning, so the two of them had crawled into bed around 9pm. Lucy was surprised at how easily she fell asleep, but by 11:30, she was completely awake again, staring up into the sky as hunger pangs came over her. She went out into the kitchen and tore through the refrigerator but nothing caught her interest. Then she looked on top of the refrigerator. She saw a box of mini Sun-Maid raisin packs. She could feel her eyes grew wider, bright as the moon, as she grabbed one of the little snack packs and tore through the cardboard visage of that red-berretted woman and let the sweet, sun-soaked wrinkles fall across her tongue. But she could only eat two before her heart began to race. The sugar made her fingers tremble and she was overcome with thirst.
Lucy ran over to the kitchen sink and turned the water on, lapping at the faucet, little droplets spraying on the counter. She was lightheaded, woozy, though not quite tired. With three good hops she found herself standing in the living room, suddenly beckoned by the creases in the couch. She curled up beside it, making herself as small as she could, and tried to hide beneath it, but she was still too large. She tucked her head down and pulled herself in tighter. She held herself more tightly across her chest when she noticed delicate clumps of silky fur covering her shoulders and her back. She reveled in the softness as she shrank and shrank and shrank…