A long-running rivalry between two shapeshifters takes its latest turn.
Bella vs Bobbi
The war between Bella and Bobbi Cochrane had lasted nearly ten years. At least, they called it a war, but it was more of a contest. Pranks of varying severity, elaborate and embarrassing tricks and set-ups, occasional face-to-face confrontations, their rivalry had taken many forms over the years. As had they. For Bella and Bobbi were shapeshifters.
Despite sharing the same surname, they weren't related. And despite being able to alter their appearance any number of ways, their original forms looked very similar. Both were short, enjoyed a curvaceous full figure and had copper red hair. Typically, Bella wore hers long, often in a ponytail or a plait, while Bobbi favoured shorter, spikier cuts. Nevertheless, if Bella wasn't wearing her wire-rimmed glasses it was very easy to mistake one for the other.
Perhaps this had been part of the reason the war between them had started. It had been so long ago the exact circumstances of that initial conflict had been forgotten. But it had been a long, unforgiving campaign and there was no sign that it was going to end anytime soon.
It was Bella's turn to launch the latest assault. Battles between the two of them had thinned out a couple of years ago when Bobbi had moved away from the town where they had both grown up. But a mutual acquaintance had mentioned in passing that Bobbi was back in town visiting friends. When Bella had casually asked where her old enemy was staying, she hadn't expected such a perfect opportunity to antagonise Bobbi to arise.
Bella walked up to the gates of the Shubox Camp Site. She was caught off-guard as without warning a man wearing what looked like cycling lycra appeared out of nowhere. Or rather grew out of nowhere as Bella realised what had just happened. The man mumbled an apology and went on his way.
She'd often seen the ads for the Shubox app, but this was the first time she'd actually encountered one of their properties. These places had sprung up all over the country, mainly in towns and cities, occasionally in more traditional outdoorsy camping locations. This one had just opened in the centre of town, in the renovated ruins of a derelict church. The idea was to provide cheap overnight accommodation for shapeshifters by offering somewhere they could pitch their own version of a caravan. A tiny caravan, that could only be occupied by someone with the ability to shrink themselves down to miniature size. The shifters would buy one of these shoebox-sized portable hotel suites to take with them wherever they travelled, then would use the app to book a space at a convenient site as needed. These Shuboxes - as the app called them - were fitted out like practical doll houses, with varying degrees of comfort depending on how much you were willing to shell out. When Bella heard that Bobbi had one and was using it at this site, she began concocting a plan of attack.
First step was getting inside Bobbi's Shubox. Bella was an animal shifter, able to adopt, fully or partially, the form of nearly any creature she could imagine. Unlike some, she couldn't 'freestyle' shift, so simply shrinking her own body wasn't an option open to her. But it was easy enough to become an animal that was small enough to complete the task at hand. Forming a picture in her mind she urged her body to change.
Twitching her nose, fine whiskers were the first thing to arrive. To help things along, she cupped her face in her hands and then with a gentle massage encouraged it to elongate. As she tugged lightly in one direction, her ears pulled away in the opposite one, moving upward, gradually becoming more and more pointed. The first fine, brown fur arrived as her frame began to reduce.
She'd worn an old summer dress with a faded floral pattern. She had half a wardrobe of tatty, well-worn clothes that she kept for when she might be transforming. You didn't want your Sunday best on if there was a good chance what you're wearing might get torn or abandoned. So, it was thin, threadbare cotton, taut around her breasts and hips, that was now beginning to sag as its occupant dwindled away.
She pulled her stomach in and then kept pulling, in every direction, drawing her arms and legs inward. As her behind tightened up and disappeared, she exhibited a muscular control beyond that of an ordinary human and gave a tiny push against the onslaught of pulls. Swiftly, her tail emerged. By now she was half her usual height and couldn't be seen beneath the folds of collapsing cotton. Her miniature fingers and toes became miniature claws, completing her change of shape. Yet as small as her new body was, it was huge for the dormouse she was trying to become. More pulls, each accompanied with a squeak of effort, and that unwanted mass was dismissed. From under the frayed hem of her dress, Bella the dormouse emerged. She knew which Shubox belonged to Bobbi. It was time to get to work.
Bobbi woke from what had been an uncomfortable night's sleep. She'd saved up to buy herself the Shubox. She'd thought it might be handy, certainly the money she knew she'd save on hotel bills was welcome. But sleeping with all the molecules of your body bunched up as small as they would go had proved to be as unpleasant as it sounded.
This model was one of the mid-range ones. The bed was luxurious enough, and the bathroom was fully functional if you filled up the built-in water tank. Solar batteries ensured a hot shower and provided power for the lights, as well as charging your full-size phone if you remembered to slot it in under the floor before you shrank. It wasn't possible to make anything useful from the screen resolution at a that size, but the room came with the tiniest possible Bluetooth headset so all its other functions could still be used. As Bobbi got out of bed, she flicked the headset to 'speaker' mode and switched on her music.
Queen's Greatest Hits. Another One Bites the Dust.
She'd slept naked - she felt constricted enough at this size without any extra help - and was ready to hop in the shower. But she had to do something about the crick in her, well, her entire body first. She'd pop outside first, grow back to normal size for a bit before starting her morning routine.
As she tried to open the door, she was glad to find that it was locked. That was a relief, as she'd been worried that she'd forgotten to do that before she climbed into bed last night. It was unlikely that she'd have trouble at this size, but shapeshifting thieves weren't entirely unheard of. Not that she had much to steal at this size. Apart from the miniaturised fittings that came with the Shubox all her stuff was in her suitcase in a campsite storage locker. This model of Shubox had a mechanical lock so all she had to do was remember where she had left the key.
Fifteen minutes later with every scale inch of the room searched Bobbi was forced to concede it wasn't here. The first inklings of why that might be were forming in a corner of her mind, but for now she just wanted to get out of this doll's prison cell. There was a small window that could be opened, but it was too narrow for someone of Bobbi's generous proportions. Which would be a problem if she weren't a shapeshifter.
Bobbi concentrated on shrinking still further. She bunched her muscles, imagining her molecules scrunching up under the pressure she put on them. At full size this would be as pleasant as a long stretch after staying in one position for a long time. All Bobbi got now was shooting cramps and an audible 'twang' that knocked her on her backside. She was too compact, her body refused get any smaller. She eyed the window, estimating its dimensions. She didn't have to get smaller. Thinner would do.
Once again, Bobbi formed an image in her mind, imagining her voluptuous breasts reducing. She stared at them as she tensed her chest. There was a quiver across the surface of her skin, but no alteration. Maybe if she snaked herself out? Without relaxing her scrunching muscles, she started to transform into the appropriate shape, but immediately stopped as she realised she was simply getting bigger and not changing form.
At this size she didn't have the necessary control to take on a non-human form. And with her head now nearly touching the ceiling she had a nasty feeling she knew the only way she was going to get out of this situation.
Decision made, she quickly put on the leggings and hoodie that she thought of as her 'transformation outfit'. It was made of a material that would adapt to her shapeshifting and had shrunk down with her when she entered the Shubox last night. It was the most comfortable clothing she owned, always fitting perfectly, but when she put it on her foul mood was aggravated further by the way it pinched and squeezed her. Not thinking straight, she put it down to the little extra size she had gained during her last transformation attempt. It didn't even occur to her that it might not be the same outfit at all.
Three hundred and fifty pounds. That's how much the Shubox had cost, and Bobbi had only used it the once. And now she was going to have to wreck it. She hadn't taken out the insurance - why would she need that? The whole thing had been hugely uncomfortable waste of money. It was that angry thought that fuelled her transformation back to full size.
Stretching her arms out, she felt the muscles in her neck unknotting. The slightest of pushes from her thighs and her growth began. Her spine telescoped, her torso elongating to begin with and then filling out as she got larger. Two things happened next:
First, to her surprise, she burst out of her clothes. She had fully expected them to expand with her as they had dozens of times before But as she sped up the expansion of her body returning to normal size by pushing her abdomen gently from her diaphragm, her hoodie tore easily. Very easily, letting Bobbi know that this was just a cheap imitation of her own shiftwear. If there'd been any doubt, her swelling butt and thighs destroying her leggings had soon quashed that.
She was immediately distracted from this by the second thing. She had now grown large enough that she had to bend double, her back forcing itself against the ceiling. Crouching down, she tensed her arms and legs, drawing extra length from them. Now resigned to losing the Shubox she allowed herself the small pleasure of feeling the roof crack under her assault. A flex of Bobbi's shoulders added a foot to her height and demolished the Shubox outright. Occasionally, her growth would slow down, but a well-timed stretch here or there encouraged it to pick up the pace again. In less than a minute, she was back to her customary height, five feet of nakedness from head and toe. She stepped out of the ruins of the Shubox, shaking it off as it stuck to her trailing foot. She retrieved her phone from underneath it and booked an Uber.
She shivered in the morning cold, her shifter's indifference to nudity refusing to let her be embarrassed. There was nobody around anyway, certainly no staff. These app-based affairs never seemed to have anyone on-site. Even the lockers were automatic. Another bomb of annoyance went off in Bobbi's head as it dawned on her that the access code for hers was in tiny scribble on a miniature scrap of paper somewhere inside the Shubox. There was no way she was shrinking again, let alone rooting around in that mess. She'd have to sort that out later.
It was then that she noticed a crumpled, dirty dress lying in a puddle just outside the campsite gate. Coupled with the missing keys and the fake shiftwear, Bobbi was beginning to get a picture of what had led to her current state of affairs. An idea struck her as to the best way to confirm her suspicions, one that had the added bonus of keeping her warm while she waited for her ride.
Bobbi could rearrange her molecules and 'scrunch' her body into any form she wished. She couldn't transform into a dog, but if she did it well enough, she could change her shape so that it took on all the characteristics of one. Broad movements that pulled and squashed her human outline into a more canine one were coupled with subtle tweaks that realigned the sensitivity of her nose. Her hands and feet shrank but never fully became paws, looking incongruous at the ends of limbs that had reformed to resemble a Labrador's. Hair became fur and a muzzle formed to make the best of that new nose. Now warm enough to concentrate on what she was doing, she sniffed the abandoned dress for clues as to its owner.
Bella had been here. Bobbi had thought as much. Her bad luck had seemed just a little too deliberate. This wasn't going to stand. Already, Bobbi started formulating how she was going to retaliate.
But for now, she performed one last transformation, sharpening the teeth inside her snarling mouth. With a growl of frustration, she tore the dress to shreds.