A Corpse's Shell
by ff_b

Alex the fox didn't know how long he had been dead; perhaps it was for ten days, perhaps ten years. Time didn't mean a heck of a lot once you were dead, as its measurement was irrelevant once you existed beyond time. His body was no longer corporeal, and had basically floated through the earth in which his remains rested as the result of a less than favorable encounter with a truck; Alex looked at his paw and could see through it, the transparency varying with the flux and flow of his endoplasmic matrix. Alex sighed, missing his body of flesh and bone, which was not without its charms. Still, being a "shadow fox" as one could call the vulpine deceased, had its compensations as well. His spiritual body never knew hunger or disease, and never tired.- -Some of the living would kill for such a body!

Alex was meditating on these things when a warm paw touched him on the shoulder, causing him to jump. He wheeled about to behold a gray and white cat who pulled back upon realizing that the shadow fox had been startled.

"Sorry, didn't mean to cause you a fright!," apologized the cat. "But shouldn't I really be the one who's afraid, you being dead and all?- -Name's 'Roofshadow,' pleased to meet 'ya!," declared the cat as she extended a paw.

"You...you can see me?," marveled Alex as he tentatively wrapped his tranlucent paw around the feline one of flesh and fur. "How is that, since I'm just a spirit?," he asked.

"Oh, we felines really know our way around the supernatural," explained Roofshadow matter-of-factly. "Our kind have been the familiars of witches, after all, as have I- -We see and know things that other species don't."

"Far out!," wondered the fox. "You really aren't concerned that I'm dead?"

"We all get there sooner or later," dismissed the cat. "Why fear the inevitable?"

"What I wanna know," complained Alex, "is if I'm dead, where are my 72 virgins?"

"That's just if you're an Islamic terrorist," explained Roofshadow. "But if it makes you feel better, there are probably some virgins reading this story."

"I'll take what I can get, then," acquiesced Alex, "and hopefully some of them are interested!- -But how can I, err, enjoy things if I'm not composed of matter anymore?"

"Well, if you've ever seen Patrick Swayze in Ghost, you may remember that you can manipulate matter even as a spirit by really focusing on it, and getting all emotionally charged up!"

Alex was pondering this thought when a round passed through his spectral body and buried itself in a tree, mere inches from Roofshadow! A frustrated hunter blundering through the woods had decided to take target practice on the cat, who unlike the shadow fox was quite vulnerable to such.

"Yikes!," cried Roofshadow, taking off at a good pace while bullets cracked around her.

"Hey!- Leave my friend alone!," shouted Alex at the hunter, who neither saw nor heard the deceased fox. The hunter took off after Roofshadow, with the shadow fox moving behind through the air in pursuit of the hunter. He swiped at the hunter repeatedly with his paws, but they passed through the human flesh undetected. After several minutes of this, the hunter was placing shots closer to the tiring cat.

Growing furious and desperate to save his new friend, the fox spirit flung himself entirely upon the hunter, landing undetected within the human's lower body. He found himself surrounded by the revolting internal organs of the pink skin, involved as they were in the bodily processes of digestion and elimination; it was not a pretty sight! Looking upwards and out of the man's body, Alex could see that he had paused to draw a deadly bead on Roofshadow, who was running in a straight line at this point and not likely to escape the shot.

"Leave...my friend...the hell...alone!," screamed Alex as he flailed his body and gnashed his teeth against the innards of the hunter's body...and in the extremity of his emotions, the spectral body of the fox momentarily assumed physical substance.

The hunter's face took on a most peculiar and then agonized expression as a fox's head tore through his abdominal wall, clenching loops of steaming intestines in his jaws and shaking them from side to side. The hunter collapsed as the fox pulled free of the human body in a parody of birth, drenched in gore. Mercifully, the hunter went into shock and bled out quickly, his last thought being that he had seen a demon from hell emerging from his guts.

Exhausted, Roofshadow doubled back to the semi-eviscerated body of the hunter, seeing as well the spectral form of the shadow fox hovering in the air above it.

"Did I do that?," asked Alex.

"Yuppers," assented Roofshadow. "Death from within!"

They paused together in silence for a minute, the shadow fox and the witch's familiar cat. After a few moments, Roofshadow spoke. "And since you've saved my life, I think I owe you a little thanks!" The cat murmured a brief encantation in Celtic, and reached over to hug the fox...

...and once again, the spirit assumed flesh as the fox and the feline took their relationship to new heights...