The Shroud
by ff_b

For over two thousand years, the Shroud of Furin had been secretly passed on, guarded against destruction at the hands of the humans. Most notably, a few hundred furry Knights Tempfur had held off a vastly superior force of several thousand pink skins using nothing but Indian burns, wedgies, and bad celebrity impersonations while two furry knights escaped with the Shroud, snickering as they went.

Now the Shroud was quite remarkable, bearing as it did the image of a poor fox who appeared to have been beaten, knocked about, yiffed severely, and ultimately put out of his blessed misery; it was said to have incredible curative powers, that anyone who touched it would be healed of prickly heat, psoriasis, jock itch, or any other terrible condition. Some said that the Shroud would ultimately herald in a new furry age, one in which men would not dominate. The Shroud was buried by the surviving furry Knights and forgotten by the Tempfurs, whose Order was outlawed and persecuted by the Church and assorted monarchies, causing them to become Freemasons, or at least Masons who were reasonably priced.

Well, it just so happened that an all-too-human archeologist and his assistant were excavating in Mess-O'-Potamia one day when they came upon said Shroud of Furin, not realizing what it was or its true significance. Professor Poindexter snatched up the shroud, regarding it to be the burial wrapping of some underling, and cast it upon his hapless assistant, Ackmed. "Here, hold this!," he ordered. The Shroud fluttered over Ackmed and settled rather squarely upon him, causing the flunky to cough at the dust carried by the heavy linen and then convert into a hyena, who promptly bit the professor on the ankle and then scurried for daylight. He would later make his way to America, and successfully run a convenience store.

"Sweet Fancy Moses!," cried Professor Poindexter. "What a really cool artifact! Just wait until I show my boss this!-Why, with this rag, I can turn anyone into their inner animal!" The Professor folded the Shroud neatly, and made swiftly back to the university to show his find to his superiors. He got a cool reception from the Dean of Arts and Parties, Frank Lee Unctuous.

"You stupid twit!," exclaimed the Dean huffily upon seeing the Shroud. "Couldn't you have brought back a mummy, or something made of gold that at least had some value?" The Dean continued to berate Professor Poindexter until he tired of the abuse, and cast the Shroud over his superior. The Dean coughed as the Shroud fluttered around a bit, and then the former Dean scurried out, transformed into a rat! Professor Poindexter stomped at the rat a few times before the squeaking creature ran off down a corridor.

"This is definitely cool!," said the professor to himself. "Who needs Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility when I've got an instrument of furry transformation, and just in time for October 31st!- -This is gonna be the best Howloween ever!- -Let's see what my inner self is!"

Professor Poindexter ducked under the Shroud, feeling odd as his human flesh touched the faint image of the fox on the ancient linen. Motes of sparks danced before his eyes, and for a moment his consciousness was aware of something unspeakable with tentacles, one of the Old Ones which passed by him. His bodily form seemed to melt away, dissolving into the swirling sparks of light and then re-constituting itself into his inner self. He was delighted to see that he now had a bushy tail and a most handsome burnt umber colored coat, accented nicely with black-furred extremities and paws with semi-retractable claws. Raising his forepaws to his head, the Professor discovered that his face now extended into a muzzle, and that his ears stood upright and had assumed a pointed shape. He had lost none of his intellect, and retained power of speech!

"Praise pointed ears and pitchforks!," the Professor exclaimed in wonder. "I'm a freakin' fox!" He cast off the shroud, which now fluttered to the ground. Had the Professor not been so excited, he might have noticed that the Shroud was now just a large sheet of old linen, having transferred its living but dormant image into flesh again. The essence of the long-deceased fox would now walk in the world anew, sharing life and consciousness with what had only minutes earlier been just another unfulfilled human...

...they raced into the night as one, giddy with the best of both worlds that they now possessed...