EveL Worlds Projects by C.D. Gorri
Chinchilla and the Devil by C.D. Gorri is coming summer 2020
*THIS book is set in Eve Langlais' FUC world ;-) enjoy!
EXCERPT (you are viewing this by invitation only do not save or share this is the author's property)
Sofia Pelosi looked up from her laptop. Just another day in the overcrowded, boisterous, and somewhat messy Communications Department at FUCN’A. Most people overlooked the critically important function of said department, but Sofia was well-acquainted with just how much trouble the Furry United Coalition could get into!
Of course, she was not one of those lucky shifters on staff who got to work with active FUC agents. Nope. Sofia was a Conflict Resolution & Situation De-escalation Counselor at the Academy. That meant she dealt primarily with the new cadets.
All shifters, mostly in their twenties, and every single one of them thought they were the single most important thing in the universe. A dangerously misinformed conception that most millennials suffered from, she found. Whether such a ridiculous concept began in utero, was developed as a result of over-attentive helicopter parenting, or from too much time on social media, was difficult to determine. But that wasn’t her job either.
Sofia was not there to judge the cadets. No matter how badly she wanted to. Biting her tongue was becoming second nature every time she read one of their Complaints on Campus, or as they were lovingly called, COC forms.
Cadets could access blank forms by wither coming to the department in person or online. No one could accuse the Academy of being out of date. On the contrary, she worked at the most secret, highly technologically advanced facilities in the world.
Sofia was responsible for the new generation of agents whose job it was to protect all of shifter kind. Counseling young cadets on how to effectively deal with the high stress scenarios they encountered on campus was worthwhile employment.
Hopefully, her dealings with them would translate into said cadet developing into an experienced FUC agent with the skills necessary to perform his or her job. Communication is key. Didn’t Ms. Cooper, the director of the Academy, say that often enough?
Then why did she feel so bleh about her job all of a sudden? Sofia closed her eyes, hoping that it would pass as these moments of doubt and discontent often did. When she opened them once more, her stomach grumbled loudly. She flushed in embarrassment, hoping no one else had caught that.
It was already after one and she’d had nothing to eat all day. Darn her stupid snooze button for being within reach that morning! Another day, another skipped breakfast. If only that translated into a flat belly and slender hips, but no, she retained her chubby little form whether she was on two legs or four.
She’d planned on skipping lunch to finish up her latest batch of COC forms but reviewing them was taking longer than she’d originally anticipated. Especially today. It was slow going for a fluffy chinchilla who typically couldn’t open her eyes without a bowl of her favorite honey nut cluster cereal in cold vanilla almond milk. Yum.
“Hey Sof, I think your stomach is trying to tell you it’s time to go grab a bite,” Tammy, a coworker and friend, leaned over the partition that divided their cubicles and said via stage whisper.
The woman’s frizzy brown hair stuck up in odd places, but she was so pretty with her almond shaped eyes and smooth mocha skin that Sofia envied her carefree sense of style. Tammy was tall and naturally thin with incredibly long legs.
Sofia teased her mercilessly about her height, but truthfully she envied the woman. At five-foot two-inches short, Sofia always wanted to be taller, but as her Daddy always said, good things come in smaller packages. Of course, he hadn’t known at the time that his daughter would develop curves on her curves before she finished with puberty. It had been tough being the only girl, shifter or not, in middle school sporting a pair of double D’s.
Her self-esteem had taken a nose dive when her boobs and her butt had been the only things that had grown in high school. Stuck at a diminutive height, she’d been the object of many a taunt since then.
Even at work, but Tammy was her staunchest supporter and a total sweetheart. She had instantly decided they would be friends when they’d both been plucked from the hiring pool just seven months ago.
Her bubbly personality probably had something to do with her being a squirrel shifter. A fellow member of the order Rodentia, that was where their similarities ended. Sofia tried to keep herself from being the center of attention where Tammy loved the spotlight. Sofia enjoyed books, food, and was quite shy in public. Her chinchilla nature made her comfortable in large groups, but only if she were off in the sidelines. Not her squirrelish friend. Tammy was just so darn chipper.
“Yeah, actually, I could use a break from this,” Sofia nodded towards her screen. All her life she dreamt of working for FUC. Of course, back then her dreams consisted of a little more excitement and a lot less interaction with mouthy millennials.
“OMG, are you still going over the COC’s from the new cadets? They only just got here!”
“Yeah, well, it’s been a week,” she sighed.
“What could happen in a week?”
“Do you really want to know?” Sofia snorted.
“Hit me,” Tammy nodded.
“To start, we’ve had several messages about a certain unidentifiable smell coming out of one of the communal shower rooms in dormitory B. Next, someone has been going to the gym after hours and using all the towels. Oh, there’s talk of a protest if Ms. Cooper doesn’t arrange for a Tom to drive a weekly tour bus into the nearest town for the cadets to blow off steam,” she shook her head and grabbed her purse.
Sometimes, she felt more like a glorified babysitter than a valued member of the staff at one of the most secret and worthwhile organizations known to shifter-kind. The Furry United Coalition did worlds of good for shifters just like Sofia and she was a part of that.
Well, sort of.
“I swear these spoiled kits don’t know the meaning of hard work! They want to blow off steam already? Ha! Wait until they’re out there in the real world,” Tammy shook her head and looked around her in that anxious, hyper-caffeinated way she had about her.
“I know, right?”
“Come on, girl, we need some fuel in the form of carbs, like serious carbs,” Tammy huffed as she dragged Sofia out the door.
Oh well. Her plans to skip lunch and be good this week went out the door the second she’d missed breakfast. No sense in fighting it now. She was starved.
Maybe a small serving of Chef Maude’s delicious plant-based protein in the form of the most delicate bite-sized meatballs Sofia had ever tasted would do the trick! The tiny delicious mouthfuls certainly couldn’t hurt.
Tell that to your thighs. Sofia paused as the thought flashed through her brain, but her inner chinchilla squeaked and urged her on. The beastie could get annoyed when she was cruel to herself and she’d stopped doing that years ago. Really she had. Only she’d had a difficult time zipping her skirt that morning.
Still, starving herself was never the answer and she pushed down her insecurities in favor of a healthy attitude about herself. Chef Maude’s meatless meatballs would be just the thing to satisfy her hunger. She could have half an order without her hips suffering. A snack really.
Oh, who was she kidding? Maud’s meatless meatballs were the talk of the campus. A half order would never do.
Grrr. Was that her tummy or her chinchilla? Either way she knew she would be asking for a full order of the good globular yumminess.
“Smell that,” Tammy wiggled her eyebrows as they exited the elevator. A myriad of succulent aromas wafting from the cafeteria on the ground floor of the Working and Administration Networking Core of the Academy, or WANC as it was commonly known, hit them right in their sensitive little noses.
Oh yeah. Come to mama.
WANC was the main building where most of the action happened. The Communications Department, where Sofia’s and Tammy’s offices were located, had an entire floor to themselves. And, conveniently enough, it also housed the increasingly popular cafeteria.
Tammy’s smile dropped as they turned the corner to see a line of angry students waving their arms and yelling impatiently. All thoughts of meatball-y goodness left her mind as she took in the near mob scene. Apparently there was a holdup of some sort.
“Come on, we’re staff, we can cut the line,” Tammy said and, curious as to what was happening, Sofia followed her.
“What do you mean you don’t have any meatballs? Lunch started ten minutes ago and it’s Monday, it says Meatless Meatball Mondays on the sign,” argued a hangry young Shifter.
The equally young cashier whose job it was to swipe ID cards and bill each of the cadet’s meal plans accordingly swallowed hard and looked around with eyes wide in fear. Not that Sofia could blame her. No sane person wanted to argue with a group of hungry shifters.
“I’m sorry, I-” The young cashier looked around for support and shook her head as the crowd began to shout and shove.
“Sorry? You’re sorry!” The cadet yelled. His words were bolstered with corresponding snarls and nasty remarks from the increasingly agitated and hungry shifter crowd.
“Uh oh,” Tammy squeaked as she and Sofia rushed to the front of the line to quell the situation.
This type of atmosphere definitely needed a little professional de-escalation. Wouldn’t you know it, this was right up their alley!
“Your attention, please. Cadets, if I may,” Sofia inserted herself between the frightened cashier and the angry line of shifters.
“Back of the line, rodent,” snarled one particularly nasty looking young man. His eyes went black as he tossed his head to and fro with his growing anger.
Uh oh, Sofia decided now was not the time to pull her punches. She inserted two fingers into her mouth and blew hard as she could. The thing about shifters, young or old, was they typically had highly developed senses. Hearing being one of them.
Even untrained shifters were far more sensitive to noise and sound than your average human. The ear-piercing whistle coming from Sofia’s mouth had everyone in the nearby vicinity slapping their hands over their ears and moaning in pain. A few even dropped to the floor, eyes shut as if that would stop the sound. Just for that she whistled one more time.
That’ll teach them! That’s what you get when you overlook a person just because of their size or seemingly easy temperament.
Rodent. Ha! She might be a rodent, but she was also a member of the staff here at the Academy. FUCN’A was an institution that demanded respect and no newbie was going to speak to her that way.
“Everyone,” Sofia began in her most assertive voice, “I need you to remain calm and silent unless I or my colleague here addresses you directly. Now, you will form a single line against this wall right here, and you will wait, quietly, while we figure out what is going on.”
“But-” the same dark eyed cadet began but he quickly zipped his lip when Sofia raised two fingers to her mouth threateningly.
Good. She had them scared.
“You will speak when I call on you and not a moment before, nod if you understand,” she waited a beat, then continued, “alright, now you,” she pointed at the same cadet who’d interrupted her, “tell me what is going on.”
“It’s like this, a lot of us vegetarians come here for Maude’s meatless meatballs on Mondays. She has this whole meatless meatball madness program where you get triple the meatballs for double the price. Best deal around. Anyway, it’s something a lot of us look forward to.”
“I don’t see where the problem is. I was looking forward to an order for lunch today myself.”
“Yeah, well you need to prepare yourself then, Miss.”
“I hardly see the need to do that, cadet,” she countered.
“You will. You see, when we came here for lunch today, there weren’t any,” he growled his frustration and tugged on his longish hair and scratched his skull leaving more than a dusting of dandruff on his shoulders. Yikes.
“Any what?” Sofia asked concerned for the cadet’s wellbeing as well as his hygiene. He seriously needed a haircut or a brush and some dry shampoo at least.
“Meatballs!” He yelled and pulled on his locks. This time he actually tore out clumps of his hair.
“So,” Sofia said and casually took a step back, “they ran out. What is with the near riot, cadet?”
“That’s just it,” the hangry young man squeaked, “Lunch starts at 11:15, it’s only 11:12 now. The meatballs are gone and no one knows where they went!” The young shifter cried aloud and made mourning noises after his statement. The sentiment clearly echoed by several of the herbivores in the crowd.
“Okay, let me see if I understand. You all nearly started a riot over some meatballs? Why not try the broccoli and cauliflower cous cous, the pizza stand, or even the salad bar then?” Tammy asked with both her bushy brown eyebrows raised so high they nearly disappeared into her hairline.
“No!” Howled the clearly molting youth. Must be an Avian shifter, thought Sofia.
“It’s not the same! Maude’s meatless meatballs are the best. Just like my mom’s and I need them to get through this week’s trials,” he tugged on his hair some more and Sofia snapped her fingers to get his attention back on her.
“Okay, maybe something went wrong and Chef Maude was unable to get the right ingredients. This is not how we react to a change in the cafeteria menus,” Sofia tsked unable to understand the level of upset.
Something was clearly wrong here. The young Avian shifter grumbled and moaned some more. His face started growing distinctly gray and his arms and legs started elongating as his animal pushed at him. Sofia needed to stop this before she had a full on stampede in the corridor.
“Look, this is the second time this has happened,” the still nameless cadet squawked, “Chef Maude usually serves her meatballs twice a week in the caf if we request it nicely. Of course we always do, but there were none on Friday either. We’ve been calling Chef Maude but she won’t come out the kitchen to talk,” he ended.
“So? Maybe you all didn’t request nicely enough and she didn’t make them,” Tammy jumped in.
They all knew Chef Maude could be a bit extra. The hare shifter was jumpy and sometimes scatter-brained, but normally, she thrived under the fast-paced working conditions as one of the head chefs at FUC Academy.
Shifters in general had huge appetites and the demands on meeting their needs were great, but Maude had never shirked her duties before. Something was not seriously right here, but on the bright side it was just the thing to get Sofia out of her slump. If she could find out what had happened and solve the problem, maybe folks would start appreciating her a bit more.
“Tammy,” Sofia interrupted, “Can you keep an eye on these cadets while I go find Chef Maude?”
Tammy nodded, raising two fingers to her lips in a threat the noisy line of cadets understood immediately. They zipped their lips and waited, some with desperate expressions on their faces while Sofia nodded and walked past the relieved looking cashier.
The cafeteria itself smelled delicious as usual. Fresh fixings lined the enormous salad bar. Several carving stations were loaded with fresh ham, roast beef, and various versions of cooked fish and fowl for the carnivores. Then there were the omelet, pasta, sushi, stir fry, tandoori, rice bowl, and sandwich stations all ready and prepped to go.
Tray after tray of appetizing hot entrees lined the enormous steam table and Sofia nearly drooled. It really smelled heavenly. There was, however, one notable absence. In the center steam table was a huge gaping space that bore a sign bearing the name of FUCN’A’s most beloved cafeteria favorite Chef Maude’s Meatless Meatballs.
The sound of not-so-pretty sniffles reached Sofia’s ears and she swung her head to the door that separated the caf from the kitchen. Her inner chinchilla chittered nervously. She didn’t do well with other’s emotional outbursts, a firm believer in keeping it locked inside until you were home alone.
All that changed when she opened the swinging door and entered the kitchen. Standing there staring into the wide open walk-in refrigerator was Chef Maude.
“The-they’re gone! Someone stole them! All my pretty meatballs! They did it again. Gone, they’re all gone,” she turned her watery red gaze on Sofia and pointed to the empty shelf on the left.
Judging from the muddy tracks on the floor that lead straight out the back door, Sofia surmised that Chef Maude was correct.
There was a serious problem on campus. A meatless meatball bandit was on the loose. Sofia’s stomach growled, or maybe that was her wee beastie?
Either way, there was a mystery to solve and a certain hungry chinchilla was going to find out who was stealing Chef Maude’s meatless meatballs!
Fuckin’ a, she was!