by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Off Leash, by Daniel Potter. Illustrated by Sabertooth Ermine.
El Cerrito, CA, Fallen Kitten Productions, October 2015, trade paperback $12.99 (vi + i +288 pages), Kindle $3.99.
“It had started as a good day. Objectively that was a lie, but after six months of unemployment self-delusion becomes a survival trait. I was two days from getting booted off unemployment, with my girlfriend AWOL for the last week. By ‘good day’ I mean I had wrestled a small drop of hope out of my heart that one of the half dozen jobs I had applied to while guzzling down iced coffees might result in an interview.” (p. 1)
Thomas Khatt, unemployed librarian, has been practically living in his local coffee shop for the last six months as he applies for job after job. Over the weeks he has noticed his reclusive neighbor as another regular customer; an old man, presumably retired, reading books with a pet cat. One day Thomas and the old man happen to leave the shop at the same time. The old man is immediately struck by a hit-&-run car. As he dies, Thomas blacks out and awakens in his own home as a cougar.
While he is trying to figure out what has happened to him, his door unlocks itself and an elderly hippie witch, Mistress Sabrina, comes in to welcome him to “the Real World”. She demonstrates enough magical power to convince him that objecting would be a bad idea, so he follows her and Rudy, a talking squirrel, to her home where he meets her familiar, a sable named Cornealius. They magically restore his power of speech. While this is going on, Thomas is barraged with a confusing flood of information about how the Real World works: