The dull storefront failed to catch the eye. One could mistake it for a residential building if they missed the small sign above the door. Windows displayed old pieces of metal and jewel, their value a mystery to everyone, but the shopkeeper.
The old man managed the store since its creation. His tan skin tone spoke of mixed ancestry. Wrinkles covered his face, but his hair still shone black. His voice carried an imperceptible accent. He tended toward a brown or tan flannel shirt and matching pants.
He sat behind a wooden counter carved with various symbols. The natural lighting of the display windows bathed the front of the shop in bright light, while further back the weak artificial lights created a duller atmosphere. Dust covered the shelves and display cases, but the shop's wares shone with fresh polish. The wallpaper seemed several decades old. The dull green floral pattern looked ready to curl off the wood.
Into this dark and old building, entered one William Cadaver, a man whose whole life would change because of this one small decision. He passed the store almost everyday and always promised to enter it someday.
This day he moved through the small shop. Watches, necklaces, rings and several other items failed to catch his eye for more than a few seconds. He adjusted his glasses, beginning to lose interest.
He paused. A twinkling green jewel caught his eye. William approached a glass display case. The jewel shone from a bronze ring. The stone formed one eye of a reptilian head decorating the metal band. Its sister stone formed the other eye. He stared at the ring and felt a tingle of excitement run through his skin.
Exhaling softly, he glanced around and headed back to the counter.
"Excuse me, could I take a closer look at something?" he asked.
"Certainly," the clerk replied. "What would you like to see?"
"The bronze ring over there," William replied, pointing to the case.
The old man shuffled out from behind the desk, bringing a ring of keys with him. He searched for the right key as he walked. Finding it, he held the small padlock and inserted the key. It clicked loose and he opened the case. He hummed as he looked over the contents, spotted the ring, and plucked it up.
"It's this one, right?" he asked. A friendly smile formed on his face as he presented the ring to Will.
"Yes, that's the one. How much does it cost?"
"Well, it's rather old and rare," the clerk said. "But for you, how about a hundred and fifty dollars?"
"Yes, consider it a first time shopper discount," he nodded. "Should I ring this up for you then?"
Will closed the door to his home. Entering the living room, he flicked on the light switch. He dropped the bags from his shopping trip on the couch and flopped down next to them.
He pulled his purchase from the antique store out of his pocket. He dumped the black case out of the bag into his palm. His thumb flicked the lid open. A shiver ran up his arm as he saw the ring.
The ring felt strangely warm as he took hold of it and slipped it onto a finger. It shone brightly under the light. The ring tickled his skin. Will rubbed his fingers together, confused by the strange sensation. The tickling spread over his hand. He frowned at the ring; the skin around it seemed to be turning green. He blinked as the first traces of scales appeared on his hand.
"What the ff…" he sat there with his mouth hanging open in stunned amazement.
He snapped out of his stupor and grabbed the ring, but his fingers swelled and made it impossible to remove. He continued tugging at the ring, but it held fast.
Bones cracked and his insides ached as he stretched up taller. The couch rubbed against his back as he grew. The scales spread up his arm, the tickling sensation following the advance.
The couch springs squeaked as he jumped to his feet. He needed an ambulance! He ripped the phone from its cradle with growing fingers. He dialed the first number before his pelvis cracked and shrank. A swear escaped his lips and he dropped the phone. It crashed to the floor and his foot hit it, kicking it under a desk. He swore again.
Will groaned and held his sides. The scales had crept up under his shirt and were spreading down his opposite arm. He felt the tickling sensation moving up his neck and throat. The cracking fell silent for a moment. A searing ache split through his head, drowning out the pleasant tingling in a flood of agony. His nose and mouth bulged out, his glasses pulled off his ears by the lengthening snot.
He caught his dangling glasses, stuffing them into his jacket pocket. He navigated through the living room and bounded up the stairs three at a time. His skull ached the entire time. The hallway blurred as the boy stumbled down it. Stepping into the bathroom, he gazed into the mirror at a shocking sight.
A long green snout stretched out from his face. His long ears twitched upwards as he stared at his face. The green scales moved up his forehead and disappeared under his hairline.
Will moaned as his chest bulged out. He whimpered as he pressed a hand against the soft round flesh beneath his shirt. A flash of pain laced though his back. Slipping his light jacket off, he lifted his t-shirt up. New bones and flesh pushed their way out of his back, catching hold of his half-raised shirt.
He growled, struggling with the fabric covering his head. The growth on his back pushed against the shirt, pulling it against his snout. He pushed back against it and the fabric began to rip. With a resounding tear, his shirt burst in two. The leathery wings on his back spread out, reaching from one end of the small bathroom to the other.
Gasping for breath, Will stared at his new set of wings, having forgotten the changes to his chest for a moment. He flexed his new muscles and his wings folded closed, taking up half the room they had.
He grabbed hold of the sink as he felt the first pangs of another change. His fingers squeezed the porcelain as his spine extended. The bulge grew quickly and the back of his pants soon stretched out. The front of his jeans pressed against his male hood painfully for a moment before the source of the pain faded away bit by bit. He sighed in relief, not realizing the full implications of this event.
The back of his jeans ripped apart and his new tail unfurled. Waving wildly, it thrust into the bathtub and knocked over the shampoo bottles and soap. Will gasped as the pain dulled, the only sensation his raw nerves felt was the slow tickling progression of the scales down his legs.
He grunted as his fingernails turned white and pushed out into claws. He felt his toenails grow and pierce the inside of his sneakers. He took a deep breath, leaning against the counter for support. The ordeal finally seemed to be over.
"Aaaaahhhhh!" Will screamed as the back of his skull exploded outward. A pair of boney protrusions pushed out of the back of his head, tearing through several locks of hair wrapped in a ponytail. Growling, he reached back and pulled the binding loose, letting his hair fall down around his head.
Will waited for the pain to fade before looking into the mirror. A reptilian face looked back at him with an expression of fatigue. The change exhausted him physically and emotionally, so he barely had the energy to panic.
Reaching down, he pulled his glasses out of his dropped jacket. His hands shook as he placed them on his snout. He took a deep breath and looked at the mirror.
The hair matched his original dark brown, but every other feature had changed. His long ears twitched and his nose wrinkled in apprehension. His light brown horns seemed to match his mane.
Pushing himself up, he caught sight of what happened to his body below the neckline.
"Gyaaah!" she flung herself backward and tripped. Tail, wings, and various other strange weights contributed to her tumbling. Fortunately, her hand caught hold of a towel hanger and kept her snout from smacking into the floor.
The dragoness clambered to her feet. Her hand released the hanger, the metal dented from the pressure her grip exerted. She noticed the ring on her finger and grabbed it. The metal crumbled apart at her touch and dropped unto the floor in pieces no bigger than grains of sand. She gasped and stared. The only trace left of the ring was the small bronze pile and the discolored loop around her finger.
Will gasped and glanced back at her reflection. How would her friends and family react to this? Her ears turned down in disappointment and her wings rustled idly as her shoulders slouched.
She glanced down at her body and noticed how much fitter she looked. Her skinny human frame had grown into a well-muscled curvy body. Her upper body had become particularly well endowed. Will grinned despite herself, deciding her new form could have been worse.
A high-pitched drone reached her long ears and spread through her body, making her scales bristle. The noise came from downstairs and she realized it was the dial tone from the loose phone.
She reached for a towel and wrapped it around her upper body. Will slowly walked back downstairs, getting used to her tail and wings. Entering the living room, she walked over to the desk and knelt down. Her fingers found the phone and she pulled it out.
The dragoness smirked as she looked at the phone, a plan forming in her mind. She began dialing her best friend's number. Will would invite him over and show off her new form. She'd need to modify her clothes quick, maybe cut out the back of an old t-shirt for her wings. She swallowed nervously as the phone rang.
The phone clicked as her friend answered. "Hello?"
"Hi, this is Will," she realized her voice sounded different. Her tone sounded lower and she almost couldn't believe she'd spoken. "Do you want to come over? We could hang out or play some videogames or something…"
"Sure," he replied. "Are you okay? Your voice sounds kind of odd."
"Yeah, I'm fine," she replied, feeling strange as she heard her voice. The idea of changing her name popped into her head. Keeping her male name seemed odd. Glancing down at the scales on her arm, she decided on a new name: Jade.
"So I'll see in a little bit then?" Jade asked.
"Yeah, just give me a few minutes."