“What’s this box over here?” Cai asked aloud, hefting the little box and squinting at it. They’d been invited over to Firr’s place to help move a few things around, and were currently rummaging through some of the spare boxes littered around the room. “Some sort of party thing?”
“Dunno?” The skunk answered truthfully, scratching his head. “Just showed up one day on the step. Guessing it’s promotional?”
“Promotion for… what?” The collie asked, plopping the little box down on a table and squinting at it. A stylized inflatable tiger parade balloon stared back, looming over a cartoon city. “Air Dare”, it read in a sweeping retro font, complete with a few warning labels and a “10+” sticker. Some sort of party game, maybe?
“Party store? Rental place? No idea.”
The collie lifted the top off, squinting inside. Inside was… nothing but a few little paper cards?
Rather disappointing, really.
“That’s it?” Cai mused aloud, plucking one of the little cardboard squares up and turning it over. “Some sort of truth or dare thing?”
By now Firr had wandered over, peeking into the shallow cardboard box with relative disinterest. Plucking a card of their own from the little scattered pile inside, he squinted at the text. “Dare the other player to earn their stripes.”
“Weird. Mine says the same thing.” Cai frowned, tossing the card aside. “They… all say the same thing. If this was a promo they’re doing a terrible, terrible job of it.”
The pair had just started to resume their slow moving of furniture when they were both struck by a sudden gassy feeling, as if they’d eaten something they shouldn’t have.
“Ugh,” Cai grumbled, holding their tummy. “I haven’t even ate lunch yet, what gives?”
“Me, either,” Firr agreed, grumbling something about his shirt not fitting… and then pausing, as he realized something.
The collie’s tail looked weird – and weirder by the second, as it stretched and squeaked and inflated out into an increasingly oversized orange, white, and black tiger tail – pressing into the chairs they’d just moved!
“Y-Your tail?” Firr blinked, pointing – just as Cai noticed the skunk’s footpaws bloating outwards into huge, squishy orange and black paws.
Tiger paws? Didn’t the card say something about stripes?
“Oh, no,” Cai groaned, their tummy starting to swell as the hiss of rushing air started to fill the room, the box being knocked off as Firr wobbled backwards as their tail swelled outwards with a loud PFOOMP, dislodging the table’s contents!
The pair wobbled as their poor shorts gave up against the relentless onslaught of tiger-patterned vinyl thighs, exploding outwards as they began to change from the waist upwards! Both of them quickly noticed their own natural patterns being… replaced, but worryingly they seemed to be identical, all the way down to the slight mismatches in detailing a factory might make!
“Can’t… reach… the box!” Cai fussed, starting to press up against the ceiling (and against Firr) as the two began to take up more of the room, handpaws swelling into huge, oversized parade tiger paws as their shirts gave up the ghost – and filled the room with loud, rubbery squeaks and squirks. The hissing grew louder and louder, seemingly filling the two soon-to-be parade tigers even quicker!
With a loud thoomp Cai’s snout expanded out into a painted-on grinning parade tiger face, quickly followed by their hair shrinking away and ears shrinking down into little rounded inflatable tiger ears – and with that, poor Firr followed suit!
The hissing did not stop, though – after all, parade balloons were huge, and there was a lot more to fill!
The room steadily filled with orange and black vinyl, pressing up against first the walls, then each other – a tail exploding out a window, paws squeezing through doorways…
Finally, even the roof gave out – and a brand new pair of parade tigers now floated over the (slightly wrecked) house, tethered to the lawn!