It was nearly show time.
Adjusting her laced garments, she heard her name echo out over the loudspeakers: "And now, the lady you've all been waiting for, Miss Marissa Simon!" The loud, hearty cheers of her faithful fans made her grin wickedly. She could feel their lust for her; tense and longing for her to come out and perform. They always were so greedy with her, never willing to share. Fist-fights had become a common occurrence because of her, and now paramedic team had to stand nearby for every show.
But it wasn't as if she cared.
The curtains before her were flung open and every eye in the room was unwillingly drawn. She stepped onto center stage, letting the neon strobe lights flash against her glitter-covered skin. The men watched her with unblinking eyes as she approached the pole and began her dance.
They cheered and hooted, while she twisted and pressed against the cold metal. Marissa flashed a devious smile and slid across the stage, striking a sexy pose. The audience went ballistic.
She took it a step further, sliding off the stage and mingling promiscuously with the crowd. Their comments, no matter how disturbing or suggestive, were taken as compliments and she thanked everyone for coming. Marissa picked out a hooded man at the back of the room and approached him tauntingly. "Are you enjoying yourself, sweetheart?" She asked, propping a long leg on his table. The man stared at her with only startling yellow eyes, the rest of his face hidden by a bandanna and the shadow of his cover. He then casually looked away.
Marissa paused, insulted. "I said, are you enjoying yourself?" She leaned toward him, almost threateningly, as if she would force him to enjoy her show. Never in all her nights at 'The Jungle', her strip-club, had she encountered such a stubborn customer.
But she was determined to earn his money.
"Anything you want me to do for you, hun?" She asked, now laying back on his table, splaying herself in his honor. The other men had gathered around the table like a pack of animals waiting for the kill.
The man looked at her plainly. "You've done enough." He told her in a gravelly voice and promptly dug through his pocket, withdrawing a single gold coin. He flipped it with his thumb onto the tabletop, and Marissa watched as it spun until finally landing on the side imprinted with a rearing jaguar.
She gingerly picked it up, examining it closely.
"What the hell am I supposed to do with this?" Marissa scowled, glancing up in time to watch the reluctant customer push open the door and leave. There was a moment of silence before the club burst back into boisterous hoots and yells, as if the strange man's interruption had never occurred. She whipped back out her winning smile and went on pleasing her many guests. However, she stowed away the coin within her brassier, to be looked at later.
And when later eventually came around, she was locking the doors to her establishment. Marissa was pleased with the fair buck she'd made through the duration of the evening, and was just about to head out when she remembered: the coin.
Marissa set down her purse and slid into the nearest seat. Withdrawing the coin, she set it on the tabletop and looked at it curiously. There was something increasingly odd about it; as if it were sucking her in and pushing away at the same time.
Suddenly, it felt as though she'd been punched in the chest. She began gagging and crumpled to the floor, gripping her front. Her nails clawed at the spot, feeling much sharper than she recalled. So sharp, in fact, that they shredded her shirt like tissue paper. Marissa lifted up her hands before her face, staring in horror at the thick claws that had replaced her perfectly manicured nails.
Releasing a shriek of wild terror, she lurched forward onto all fours. She grappled at the chair, hauling her upper body onto the cushion for stability, when her legs began to bend and crack with change. Her delicate feet were become enormous hind paws that destroyed her high-heels. Her blue eyes were flooding over with tears of fear and shock.
"What's happening to me? Why?!" She cried, just as her voice cracked into feline shriek.
But despite her loud yowling, the animal ears now placed atop Marissa's head, perked at the sound of ripping accompanied by the strain of her growing body against her skimpy clothes. Her midriff top fell to pieces at the seams as a toned, furry body broke through.
Marissa fell back onto her rear in pure, appalled awe. However, this caused her even more discomfort, as she found herself sitting on a brand new appendage: her tail. She gripped the thing in her paw-like hands and began to cry even harder.
How is this happening?! How is this even possible?! She thought over and over.
Her muscular thighs could no longer be kept bound within her tight-fitting skirt, and it snapped off under the pressure. Now all that remained of her former self was her tear-stained face. But judging by the fur she could literally feel creeping up her neck, that would soon be disfigured beyond recognition as well.
The most agonizing compression built in her jaw and nose, until she felt it begin to shove outward into a blunt muzzle. Dappled hair swept across it, followed by the prickling sensation of sprouting whiskers. When her eyes reopened, she felt body fall into a weakened state of post-change. Marissa trembled with shock, and settled down to the cold floor. She didn't know what else to do.
It felt like hours before her ears involuntarily pricked at the sound of footsteps drawing near. She lifted her dreary head, feeling as though she had just awoken to the most horrible hangover ever imagined. Her eyes lifted to see a strangely familiar figure standing before her.
"Hello there." said the hooded man. He reached swiftly across the table to claim the coin in his gloved hand, before stowing it away in the trench coat pocket. Though his face was hidden, she could tell from the glittering eyes that he was pleased.
Marissa got to her feet awkwardly. She refused to be on the ground, but found it impossible to stand in a bipedal fashion. That's when the horrific memories of her recent shift hit her like a cinderblock.
She released a hiss, trying to display her anger in the presence of the being whom had so obviously taken her humanity. But she couldn't hide the tears in her eyes. Nonetheless, her fur bristled and she took an aggressive pose.
The man laughed cruelly, "Obviously, my little coin worked, though not as completely as I'd hoped. You still have a bit of human structure to you." He reached down with a gloved hand, picking up the little artifact from the floor. He surveyed it critically, before putting it back away into his pocket.
"Nevertheless, you'll make an interesting new piece in my collection; a reminder that there is always room to improve." With that cryptic message, he began to walk toward her. Marissa's excellent new eyesight quickly caught on to the hypodermic needle he was withdrawing from within his coat.
She bared her fangs, and in an act of desperate fight-or-flight instinct, lunged at the mysterious figure. In attempt to hit his face, her claws caught the bandanna and ripped it clean off. One look at his true appearance made her stagger backward in fear.
Monster! She gasped, however her hesitation left her vulnerable to his needle. He swiftly stabbed it into her neck, emptying its contents into her bloodstream. The drug took effect immediately, and knocked her out before she could do anything else.
He stood over her, frustration glimmering in those predatory yellow eyes.
"Grace just bought me that bandanna, too. Such a shame." He murmured, and delicately took the she-leopard into his arms. He didn't want to damage such a fine specimen. "But I think you'll make up for it in proving that such biological mutative properties can be stored in items and released over time. Yes...that's good news indeed."
With the darkness of the night to serve as his cover, he took his newest success to a van parked so conveniently right outside the club's backdoor. There was no time to waste! He needed to begin work toward his next experiment...