The Eighth Sense by ff_b

The small boy cowered behind a clothing rack in the busy department store where his mother was shopping, looking with wild eyes at the passing sea of shoppers. At times, he appeared to withdraw further into the hanging clothing, seeming fearful.

At last, I could ignore his plight no longer. At the risk of being thought a child molester or abductor, I approached the boy. "Hi there!," I greeted in my most harmless manner. "I hope you don't mind me asking, but are you alright?-Is someone with you?-Are you lost?"

The boy ventured out of the hanging clothing only slightly to regard me, his voice only a whisper. "You're one of them, aren't you?," he asked. "Are you going to eat me?"

I couldn't help but chuckle. "No, I'm not gonna eat you," I reassured the boy. "I'm mostly harmless!"

"Mostly?, he asked, newly alarmed.

"Sorry, I only want to help you," I replied. The boy wouldn't read The Hitch Hiker's Guide for years yet.

"But you're one of them, right?," the boy questioned in earnest.

"One of what?," I questioned.

"You're one of them furry guys, right?-You're a fox!," he added, seeing my inner self clearly.

Jeez!, I thought, this kid has 'the Sight!' I pulled the boy aside in a protective manner. "Explain to me me what you just said," I requested.

The boy looked seriously at me. "I see furry people," he quietly intoned. There was no doubt from his expression that he was being truthful.

"What do you mean?," I asked, grasping his shoulder.

"The people who pass by," he elaborated, "well, they aren't all people!," he stated plainly.

"Go on," I encouraged him. The boy obviously hadn't told many others about this.

"I mean, there are people, sure, most of them are...but there are also some who are wolves, cats, bears, birds, lizards, and foxes like you! They walk on two legs like people, but they're animals, too..."

My God, the kid had the Sight, alright! "How long have you seen this?," I asked.

"My whole life," he answered. "But I stopped talking about it when my parents took me to shrinks and behavior therapists, and started giving me I don't talk about what I see no more!"

"But you still see us, don't you?," I nodded.

"Yeah, I do," he agreed.

"Well, I'm a fox in a man's body," I confirmed to the boy, "and what you have is nothing to be worried about. You're not going have a gift!," I declared, looking him fully in the eyes.

...and in the days, weeks, and months ahead, it would be my privilege to guide that boy as he developed that gift, growing into manhood and in years to come to be the leader of the great Northern Tribe...he who could discern good and evil, and who would be the salvation of many...