Learning Curve 8

Back in the living room, I sat down in the middle of the throw rug. The treadmill was back in its usual spot, and I had plenty of space. At least, it had better be plenty of space—if I changed into anything that filled it all, I was in real trouble.

What was I in for this time?

The blue kept flowing up my arms and across my torso, and the metal dissolved as it did so. It was a rather pleasant shade, a sort of ultra-saturated sky blue.

Nothing else changed, though: I still had those same feminized proportions, and having breasts, even small ones, felt weirder now that they weren’t just metal shapes. They were blue, just like the rest of me, except for rosy-pink areolae and nipples—which actually matched my fingernails.

All right, so I was in for a couple of days as a girl, and not just a vaguely feminine robot. That could be interesting.

At my waist, the blue rippled briefly into purple, then continued on from there down as a very intense rose-pink. I didn’t actually check for details between my legs, but I clearly didn’t have my normal equipment back. But why the colour change?

My scalp prickled; I reached up, and discovered that I had hair again. Quite a lot of it, long and fine and silky, a brilliant white, although it was shorter along the sides. There did seem to be a single stripe of a deep golden yellow. A lock of it fell across my face; I tossed it absently out of the way, and it fell right back into place again.

I should have brought a mirror. I didn’t want to get up and start moving around until I was sure the whole process was complete—it wasn’t intrinsically dangerous, but there was always the risk of a simple fall or something.

That turned out to be a good thing, because I started to feel a bit light-headed, which progressed into all-out vertigo. I dragged a pillow into reach and curled up on my side, eyes closed, doing my best to just breathe through it. After more than twenty-four hours of breathing only to speak, that felt novel enough that it was able to hold a lot of my attention. Funny how losing something so fundamental made regaining it so overwhelming.

Enough so that I didn’t immediately notice when everything below my waist began to feel strange. It reminded me of the change into having feline legs, but it escalated beyond that. I just was not opening my eyes for anything, not with that vertigo making the whole world tilt and spin, but I hoped fervently that whatever was in Tavi’s head wasn’t too bizarre.

I knew her well enough to know that was a useless hope. The inside of her head was a chaotic psychedelic funhouse. There could be anything in there.

As the strange sensations faded, so did the vertigo.

I didn’t move right away, taking stock. Hands, arms, those felt normal. I ran my tongue over my teeth and lips, and aside from my lips being more full than they normally were, there were no surprises there. Legs… um… there was something happening there, and I was going to have to figure it out.

I tried rolling onto my back, and couldn’t. It wasn’t that my body didn’t respond, but there was something in the way… or… something?

I uncurled as much as I could and looked down my own body.

Right, blue upper body, shading into pink… and the pink was short sleek fur, and somewhere down there were broad sky-blue horselike hooves.

Oh no.

I twisted to look behind me.

No wonder I couldn’t understand the feedback I was getting from my legs: I had four of them.

Just rocking upright, with all four blue-hooved pink legs under me, turned out to be complicated and difficult, but I finally managed to do it. It felt like a workout, and I still hadn’t made it as far as standing up.

She’d seriously turned me into a centaur. One with a fairly stocky horse part, more like a sturdy pony than a horse, small with heavy legs and large hooves, but that was probably just as well.

A centaur with a vividly rose-pink pony body and a deep sky blue human body, a narrow purple transition zone between, with silky white hair and a tail to match, the latter without the yellow stripe of the former.

And there was a picture on my rump, a yellow sun and a fluffy white cloud against a fuzzy-edged patch of the same blue as my upper body.

That was it. No more cartoons for Tavi. Ever.

The fact that I was a girl centaur really didn’t feel like a very significant aspect of the whole situation.

This was just so damned absurd, I couldn’t help it: I started to laugh. In the hopes of not waking Tavi, I grabbed a cushion to muffle it somewhat. I could never in a million years have predicted this one!

Eventually I wound down, although giggles kept bubbling up uncontrollably.

Well, I couldn’t just sit here all day. I pondered videos I’d seen of newborn foals and calves and fawns getting to their feet.

I planted my hooves… make that my front hooves on the throw rug, and tried to lean forward enough that I had some hope of getting up onto my hind feet as well.

That took enough tries that by the time I finally heaved myself all the way upright, I was panting and sweating. I looked down at my own splayed legs and shaky balance, and started laughing all over again. A foal a couple of hours old was more agile and dignified than I was right now!

New challenge: how to walk with four feet.

Most quadrupeds alternated, right? And I’d be more stable if I always kept three feet on the floor.

I edged my right front hoof forward, then the left hind one. And really, even just that detail alone, having hooves, was a very weird sensation. Feet flex. My feline paws spread and each toe was sensitive. My robot feet were less flexible but they were, at least, still feet. Hooves didn’t just look completely different, they both felt and functioned completely differently. No complex interaction between heel and ball and toes and gravity to keep pushing you forward, just a hardish roundish structure coming down and pushing off.

Left front, right hind, right front, left hind… one foot at a time, I learned how to walk all over again. My balance improved and I grew a bit more confident. I felt like cheering, but that would wake Tavi, and she needed to sleep.

Hunger kicked in, despite my distraction; I headed to the kitchen, trying to place my hooves delicately to avoid making a mess of the floor as well as to avoid tripping.

The thought of meat didn’t appeal to me at all. I rummaged in the fridge, and settled on the rest of the pasta-and-vegetable salad I’d made for Tavi. I stayed there, still standing with all four feet planted firmly, to eat it, and then set the bowl in the sink before returning to the living room.

I was tired, too, but how was I supposed to sleep? I couldn’t crawl in with Tavi—her bed just wasn’t that big. I wouldn’t fit on the couch—I wasn’t entirely sure I would even if I folded it out flat, or that it could handle my weight. The only option that came to mind was the floor.

I made sure every cushion and blanket available was in reach, and then awkwardly bent my front legs so I dropped to my knees, folding my hind legs. It didn’t work as smoothly as I’d planned it in my head, and I fell over on the throw rug and cushions, giggling madly to myself. This was ridiculous!

With some experimenting, and more chortling, I rearranged cushions and a couple of fleece blankets into a configuration that would let me lie comfortably on one side. My equine back end didn’t seem to have much of an opinion about the position, so it should be sufficient for me to sleep for a while. It was the first sleep I’d had since my nap as a cat with Tavi, and that was… that was… how many hours ago? I couldn’t work it out. A lot. Early afternoon of the day before yesterday, and in another couple of hours the first traces of the rising summer sun would start waking the birds to sing the start of a new day.

This was all utterly ludicrous, but it didn’t matter. Tavi was my best friend, and that was the only important thing about any of this. Together, we’d get through this. Because friendship.

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