Here's my first story upload to Furtopia.
I'm not too familiar with the HTML formatting, and the auto-correction replaced a few words with other words that are presumably more *family friendly* (sigh).
I still hope it comes out readable...
Brocky is a 'humie' - someone who cosplays and pretends to be human now and then.
When his supportive parents join the community, enthusiasm soon turns to embarrassment and Brocky has to reconsider if being human is really all that great.
Human by Day
When you're a part of a fandom and you're really into it, there comes a time where people around you begin to take notice. Maybe it's the fan drawings that you post everywhere, or your writing. Maybe it's the way you dress, the fan lingo or the paw-signs you throw at your friends. Keep it up for long enough and even your parents may start to pay attention, and at some point they'll invariably ask the complicated question:
So... what exactly is it that you guys do?
That whole "coming out" moment happened to me about a year ago, and I thought that I would share it with you, just in case that you haven't been there yet.
When I first got into the fandom, it was just a casual thing; I'd make a few drawings of hybrid creatures. Then the drawings got better, and I started writing stories. Then the stories got better, and I developed my own "sona". I did a butt-load of drawing commissions and set aside a few bob, so I could get my paws on a suit. My first move was to commission a custom-built head from "Zeitwerk Creations", complete with a moving jaw. It cost me a bundle, but I knew that it would be worth every cent to make my favorite character come alive.
A lot of my friends go for the colourful toony suits, but I wanted a feral suit -I wanted to create the illusion that I really belonged to a different species, and from what I have seen, nobody does feral better than "Zeitwerk". I had some very good communication with the makers about the detailing, and all was fine
-right until the day when the parcel delivery truck pulled up to our home; then things took an unexpected turn.
- - -
"Brocky!" my mother's voice echoed down the hall "there's a package for you."
I cursed the mailman behind his back; I'd talked to him only days ago, and explained in detail how I'd like him to put the package discretely behind the large oak, so that I wouldn't have to explain my hobby to everyone
- especially mom.
"Aren't you going to open it?"
My mother sent a loving glance towards the large parcel that now rested on the kitchen table, and I knew that she wouldn't leave the room until I had opened it up; either that or until the gates of the abyss broke and flooded the world with river otters - whatever came first. You see, my mom is curious by nature; we all are, it kinda runs in the family. But I also knew that there would be some explaining to do as to WHY my fandom meant so much to me that I was ready to fork over six hundred bob for a cosplay head with a moving jaw.
I took a knife from the drawer and cut away the tape with great care, being more slow about it than necessary while my mind was racing
oookay, how am I going to explain this?
I held my breath and prayed that the head would live up to my expectations, then I reached down and lifted it out of the box.
It was beautiful.
It was exactly how I had described it to the makers at Zeitwerk. The hair was golden and in curls, the eyes were bright blue glass orbs with round pupils. The skin was made from some kind of latex, and it felt smooth and cool to the touch.
"It looks like the head of a... human?" said mom.
"It's part of a costume,"
"Ah, like charades - but it looks so expensive, couldn't you just get a mask?"
"It's more like role playing, so it has to look convincing."
In case you haven't guessed: I'm a "humie". That's someone who is a fan of theriomorphic characters, or - in plain badger: animal characters with human-like characteristics. Working with hybrid characters gives me freedom that I don't have when I work with badgers only - everyone knows what we look like, so if I have a bad day, you betcha people will say
"Hey! that doesn't look right" or
"Umm, acutally. it's out of proportion."
But slap on a pair of human ears and the viewers all go "ohhh, that's so cute!"
I held the skinsuit head between my paws and moved the jaw up and down a few times. The teeth were white and harmless, and I began to regret that I had not gone for the option to have them "nicotine and coffee stained," but that was an additional fifteen bob on top of the six hundred.
At this point, dad joined us in the kitchen. He'd been working all morning on one of the tunnels in the west wing of the family sett. Now he sat down and wiped the dust off his paws on the checkered tablecloth.
"Almost there, a few more days and Terynka can move in."
Terynka is the mother of my best friend Renard. His dad was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he crossed the road. The driver stopped and got out of his car, only to complain that "some damn fox had made a dent in his Mercedes." Then he drove off, not realising that he had just killed the local cleric of Iuna.
"The poor thing," said mom. "Just imagine being a single vixen to four cubs." She walked over and booped noses with dad, and did her best to ignore the dirt on the tablecloth. "It's kind of you to make room for them, and Renard is such a polite Iunish boy."
"I'm a badger!" Dad rose from the chair, he pushed his chest forward and turned his chin upwards in a slightly heroic posture.
"-like my father before me, and his father before him. And we have always taken pride in making our sett open to animals less fortunate than ourselves."
This much was true; we have always had someone live with us in the unused tunnels: foxes, rabbits, stoats and of course, other badgers. The part that dad left out was that he simply loves to dig overly large expansions to our sett, and now he was looking for any excuse to dig another tunnel. To him, it's pretty much like playing "Sett-craft" -only for real.
It was at this point that he noticed the decapitated head between my paws. His eyes widened and he stared; first at me and then at mom, but when he found her all smiles I guess he conceded that everything was cool.
"It's a human costume head for fantasy role playing," I explained. I grabbed the chin and moved the jaw up and down and chanted "human human human human mushroom mushroom." My reference to a viral video on YourTuber went completely over his head, but he kept staring at the chomping teeth.
"It looks so REAL," he said and I felt quietly proud at that moment.
"But how did you raise the money for this thing?"
"I've been making drawings for other fans of fantasy creatures, who can't draw themselves."
I dipped into my schoolbag and took out one of my sketchbooks.
"Not bad," said dad as he flipped through the pages. "It's different."
I'd made sure that he got the "safe for work" sketchbook, where I had drawings of badgers fighting dragons, and were-badgers and meles-taurs posing against landscapes lit by the full moon.
Then a loose sheet of drawing paper fell out of the book and landed, face up on the floor. I could have bitten my tongue because it was an unfinished skinsona commission -
and it was definitely not safe-for-work.
"What-in-the-world?" dad looked at me and frowned. "Is that a... human weiner on that badger?"
I nimbly avoided the question with a "It's a commissioned piece."
"But it's huge! It looks like the guy's got a flippin' bazooka strapped to his crotch, and the testicles look like hairy oranges."
"I just draw whatever they ask me to, dad - it's a job."
"And that other character, that's obviously another male? And that white stuff..."
"Dad! They PAY me, okay!!"
He put the drawing back in between two pages then closed my sketchbook
"How... how much can you make from this?", he asked with a thoughtful frown.
- - -
I've been doing a bunch of commissions lately. I get most jobs though community websites like Humaffinity and SoHumie. My customers ask me to draw all kinds of stuff, maybe an illustration for a story that they're working on, or a cover for their new CD. Maybe you've seen the album-cover for "Back in Black and Orange" by Brocktown Tiger - I did that one. I've also grown pretty good at illustrating skinsonas. A skinsona is a human-like character that some humies identify themselves with. Sometimes I'm asked to draw the skinsona engaged in sexual activity; it's a niche style called "OGOD!"
Apparently that's the sound that humans make when they are in heat. A few years ago, somebody tried to make up a humie language that consisted of some seven sounds that humans are capable of making. They included:
"OGOD!" - do you draw OGOD!
"Oboy!" - a greeting: am I glad to see you.
"Oman!" - an expression of sympathy: I'm sorry to hear that.
"Oprah!" - Someone's about to make a big humie drama.
"Ocrap!" -the zipper on my skinsuit just broke.
"Ono!" - Don't ask me to karaoke, because I sing like a hamster in heat.
"Obama!" - I'm in need of healthcare.
My own skinsona is a male human named George. He has blond, curly hair, pale skin and blue eyes. He wears a white shirt, a grey jacket and grey trousers. My friend Renard gave me a red tie to go with it, but I wouldn't have thought of it myself, because I'm a badger and don't see colours very well.
Renard can see in colours, like humans do. Colours mean a lot to humans, especially when they judge each other and themselves.
"I'm growing grey!", seems to be a common complaint among humans. I don't get it. I've been grey all my life, and its very practical.
Ermines are white, foxes are red and blackbirds are black. Humans also come in a variety of colours, only they have other words for colours than we do.
My fur is grey, black and white, but in human terms that translates into "distinguished, afro-badgerian and caucasia-meles."
Renard is a skinsuiter too. His skinsona has a crown of red hair while the top of the head is clean latex. He wears a pair of eyeglasses with thin metal frames, and he has a short beard. I think that the beard is the coolest thing, but the hairs come off real easy, and they don't grow back on skinsuits.
"The beard was necessary," said Renard. "Bernie is an accountant."
"Just what kind of fandom IS this?" Dad closed one eye and peeked into the tear-duct hole of the head.
"-and how do you put this thing on?"
I took the head by the cheeks and pulled it over my head. I rested my chin on the spring plate and opened and closed my mouth a few times. To my great satisfaction, my skinsuit head did the same.
Great! now I could go to the humie-con in Oakenford and chat with my fellow skinsuiters without breaking the magic.
"Hel-loo," I said. "I'm George, the human stock broker. How do you do?"
"I'm fine, Mr. Human," said mom. "Just don't pollute the place up."
I handed the head back to dad, who put it on and adjusted the straps with both paws
"How do I look?" The fabric muffled his voice, but the jaw moved and looked very convincing.
Mom smiled at him and laughed. "It's really cute. It's a friendly human - not one of the dangerous ones."
He took a few, unsteady steps towards mom.
"I can't see for crap through the tear-ducts."
I think he stumbled on purpose, he grabbed mom from behind as he almost fell and booped the back of her neck with the pink resin nose.
"Whoops!" he grinned. "Hello Mrs Badger, my name is George. I'm a human and I'm a...
What did you say he was again?"
"He's a stock broker."
"I'm a stock broker... or a brock stoker - can I stoke anything for you today, Mrs. Brock?"
With the word "stoke", dad made a slight thrusting movement against mom that would normally be considered rude, and she sent me an embarrassed look on his behalf, but otherwise she didn't seem to mind his attention.
It was as if wearing the mask made dad relax, and he allowed himself to be less of an animal, and a little bit human - but only for a moment; we all knew that it was just pretend.
- - -
A few weeks later, the postman brought another parcel.
"I found this one on Ebay", said dad and lifted another head out of the box.
"A skinsuiter was selling out of her old stock, so I got it cheap." He put on the head and adjusted the flaps of latex that made up the neck.
"I'm all ready for the con."
Dad was kind enough to offer to drive Renard and me to Oakenford, but Renard's mother stood firm - there was no way she would let him go to the OakenCon.
"I've watched CSI-Mustelia," she said. "And I know what happens at those conventions."
"But Mrs. Fox, CSI is just a show."
"They dress up as all kinds of humans, some of them even wear collars."
"It's called a tie. Really, it's just a bit of harmless cos-play."
"They chase each other, and throw themselves on top of each other in a large pile and fight over a round leather ball."
"It's a human game called paw-ball."
"I just knew it! It's disgusting, and Renard is not going."
I was packing George into the trunk of our car, getting ready for the con when dad left the sett to join me. He wore a white T-shirt with a human face printed on it. The human had blue eyes and looked straight out of the print. Above the picture bold letters spelled "The Human League".
Dad made a gesture with his hand that I had not seen before; I think he struggled to get his paw-hand to follow his fingers, but he finally broke out in a big smile and waved his hand at me. The thumb was folded into the palm, while the index and middle fingers were extended and pointed away from each other, in a "V"-shape.
"Dad, what're you doing?"
"I've been practicing this move I saw on the intersett. The humans call it the "Hippy Hippy Shake."
"-and hippy is the human word for an extended finger?" I asked.
Dad sighed overbearingly and went into his I-knew-this-all-along Wikipawia mode. "The hippies were a now extinct human tribe. Unlike other humans, they did not enjoy warfare, so they invented this shake to show everyone that they were peaceful.
"How do you reply to it?"
"I'm not sure. I've never seen anyone doing it."
"Maybe the hippy tribe got lonely and died out, before everyone else figured out how to shake back."
The human is the only known animal that "shakes". They don't have fur, so they have no need for grooming each other. They don't scritch or boop noses either.
Instead, when two humans meet, they both grab onto each others' paw and shake it up and down, while they say
Then the other human replies
even if he doesn't mean it, and he really feels like crap inside. This ritual is called "shaking" and it means a lot to humans. So much in fact, that they have written songs about it. Dad and I found songs called "a whole lot of shakin' going on", and "shakin' all over" on the intersett.
- - -
OakenCon was great, but it's slightly embarrassing to watch your dad trying to be humie along with the rest. The opening talk was given by the chairman of the con, Uncle Sake, which is short for SakeMucho. He gave a talk on how to conduct yourself when you go to your first con.
"Remember," he said "not everyone likes to have their hands shook."
He then demonstrated how to shake properly, by shaking with Scarry, the head of security.
"Always offer your outstretched hand to the other person, do not grab their hand -or any other body part, unless they accept your invitation."
Scarry was not in a skinsuit, but went as the tiger he was. Only, he had the number "47" written in crayon on the back of his neckfur. Sake put down his wineglass, stretched out his paw and wiggled it in front of Scarry;
"Slap me some fur, bro!" and Scarry replied with a
"Gimme four and a dewclaw, dude."
Of course, dad was so busy gawking at the skinsuiters in the conference hall that he completely overheard uncle Sake's advice, and spent the rest of the con grabbing everyone by the paw and shaking them vigorously, saying
"Mikey! Good to see ya, buddy. How's the wife and kids?".
Everyone was really cool about it though, and dad got a bit of respect because he is a greybeard - which is the word for a humie above the age of thirty. If you have the time, I can recommend going there next year. You can see videos from the OakenCon skinsuit parade on YourTuber; I'm the humie in the feral suit wearing a jacket and tie, and dad's the one carrying a sign that reads "Free Handshakes".
- - -
Some weeks later, dad came home with a very large box, and proudly put it on the kitchen table.
"Ta-daah!", he pointed a skinsuited hand at the box.
"It's a television set," he answered when mom and I had remained speechless for several seconds. "They show human shows on it."
He unpacked what seemed to be a large computer monitor and placed it right in front of the couch.
"That's just like the humans have it," then he plugged it into the socket. After a while, a show flashed on the screen. Several humans stood around a couch similar to ours and spoke in the human tongue. Every time someone on the show said a line, it was immediately followed by a sound of laughing, so we guessed that the humans on the show were having fun. Dad reached into the plastic bag that had contained the cables and took out six cans of beer.
"But you don't drink beer," said mom.
"Humans love to sit in a couch and drink beer while they watch people laugh on television, and when I'm skinsuiting, I want to go all the way, dammit!". He opened one of the cans and put it to the mouth of his skinsuit head. He began to pour beer into the mouth but it spilled out and ran down his fur.
"Damn!", he said. "I forgot it was a mask."
- - -
One morning dad entered the kitchen, with something stuck to his upper lip that looked like a mess of black hairs in a thick horizontal band.
"What's that thing under your nose," asked mom.
"Humans call it a tache," dad said proudly. "When the nosehairs of the human male grow very long, they attach themselves to the upper lip - that's why they call it attache. Not all humans have it, but it helps them to reproduce."
"How do you know all this?" asked mom.
"I've watched a bunch of nature shows on the intersett. It's fascinating how the male always wears a tache in the scenes where they mate. First, the male makes a comment about some household chore that he's just about to carry out, then they strip naked, and they mate."
"So, does he actually carry out the chore that he promised to do?" asked mom.
"Err... no... they just sorta reproduce and he forgets about the chore."
"That's one thing that humans have in common with us, then," said mom.
Then we noticed that dad's tache seemed to move and wiggle on its own accord. It stretched and contracted and did not seem happy about nestling in dad's face-fur.
Dad looked a bit embarrassed,
"It's a foxmoth caterpillar - I've glued it on with Blutack."
He turned his back to us and we heard a soft "pop" as he squeezed the life out of the tache.
When he turned around again, the tache hung limply down each side of his lip. He grabbed one end between two fingers and twirled it in a vaguely human motion, and at the same time wiped off a little green ooze that had drained from the caterpillar.
"Hey, Mrs. Badger, I'm here to fix the refrigerator," he said in heavy human accent.
"Thank Inaris, it's so hot in here," giggled mom.
"Let me just get my money out."
"When you're a human, money means power and I'm feeling money all over, baby. Time and money!"
I began to feel uncomfortable about where this might be heading, so I grabbed my sketchbook and went outside. At first, it had been really nice that my parents were so understanding, even supportive of me being a humie, but now they were turning into a source of embarrassment. I sat down under the oak and began to draw a badger-warrior fighting off an army of hairy caterpillars. I appreciate that even parents are entitled to having a sexlife, but I didn't feel comfortable about them doing it while role-playing as humans. It was MY fandom, and I had brought it into our home - but now it felt like they were more into it than I was.
From that day, things seemed to grow worse. Dad began to wear his skinsuit all the time, and he routinely stayed up all day watching television and drinking beer from cans. Mom and I began to notice that his skin-suit fit too tight and bulged out in several places - especially around the gut.
"Human television is easy to understand," he lectured. "because they only have two kinds of show: either you wish that you were that person on the screen, or you're happy that you're not - it's that simple."
He had Lion of the Skin studios remake his skinsuit head so that he could eat while wearing it. One night over dinner, he wiped his face with a paper towel, reattached the dead caterpillar that had come off, and put down his utensils.
"I just spoke to Featherpaw. Did you know that the value of a sett drops by fifteen percent if you have shared it with foxes?"
"Nope," said mom and looked up from her plate.
"It's the smell, you just can't get rid of it."
"I don't smell anything," said mom.
"Foxes piss everywhere, and it smells bad."
"It has never bothered you before."
"Fifteen percent - just because of fox urine."
"Our sett has been in your family for generations," said mom. "You would never dream of selling it, anyway."
"I just don't want the value of our property to drop, because we're too kindhearted."
Shortly after, dad began to paint the cheeks of the skinsuit head in hues of red.
"Real humans have high blood pressure, because they take everything very seriously - and I've HAD enough," he fumed.
Mom looked at his bulging suit "I'd say that you've had enough, alright."
Dad ignored the remark, "I was expanding a hall in the east wing and guess what I tunnelled into?"
"A damn rabbit tunnel, that's what. You take in a few rabbits, and before you know it, you can't even move around in your own house."
"Our sett is large enough as it is," said mom. "We never set paw in the east end, anyway."
"That's besides the point!" dad was now shouting. "This part of the forest is my property, and I don't want it to be run over by freeloading foxes and rabbits that multiply themselves... like... err.. rabbits."
"Honey, what is it that you're saying?"
"I want the foxes and rabbits out of here! I'm not a species-ist; I mean, some of my best friends are Iunish and I'm all for cultural diversity,
- I just don't want diversity on my damn property."
I left the house and sat down with Renard. He too had heard the shouting and Terynka was in tears.
Renard shrugged, "I guess that it's time to pack up and leave, huh?"
"I don't mind playing with you," I said. "Even though you are culturally diverse."
Renard gave me an icy stare. "What makes you think that I'm the culturally diverse one of us?"
"You've changed", he said as he got up and began to leave.
"-you've turned human."
When I went back into the sett, there was no sign of mom and dad. I found a piece of latex on the table, and at first I thought that it was just a bit of dad's skinsuit that had come off. The edges were too precise though, and it looked like someone had cut it out with a pair of scissors. Then I recognised the pattern:
the crotch-piece had been cut out of the suit.
I stormed down the hall and stopped outside the bedroom, where excited moans of "OGOD!, OGOD!" escaped through the locked door.
I was about to turn around when I heard this strange ripping sound, like something was being torn apart. For a few moments all was quiet, then the door opened and my dad came out. His skinsuit had weakened when he cut out the crotch piece, and now the whole suit had split right down the middle, front and back. Now he stood there with his skinsuit in tatters around his feet, and looked like a peeled, grey banana.
"My skinsuit tore," he said. "I must have grown too large for it." He shook his leg and stepped out of the ruined suit.
He had worn the same suit for weeks and with the latex gone, there was nothing to hold back the odour of hard-core skinsuiting.
"Dad, did you forget about the six-two-one rule for skinsuiters?"
"This is more a case of six-two-one-hundred, I reek worse than a fox."
Then he went strangely quiet for a few moments.
"It's worse than that; I smell like a human, don't I?"
Mom and I nodded, "yeah, you smell human."
He took a black bin-bag and shoved the tattered remains of latex into it.
"I guess I'll drive this off to the dump."
"-and make a bunch of apologies."
Dad never skinsuited after that day, and we got rid of the television set.
"Never again shall a set set a paw in our sett!", he said and pretended that it had been his plan all the time.
So, that's basically my "coming out" story.
I'm still active both as a skinsuiter and as a writer; maybe you have even read one of my stories.
If you want to try out what it's like to cosplay as a human, I have a second-paw skinsuit head for sale. It has short mahogany hair and brown eyes made out of glass. It's only slightly used, and it comes with a removable tache.
Drop me a PM, If you're interested. Only, I don't recommend that you wear it for extended periods of time
- it might just bring out the human in you.