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Short Story by Sunil Sharma

In a city living behind the closed doors, a young man was lucky enough to find an escape. He could easily turn into an animal of his choice and run out of the house into the deserted streets, whenever he wanted to break out of his prison by switching to the four-legged avatar.

Nobody believed in that metamorphosis.
The young man gave a demo one night.
Run! He said aloud and presto! in a second he was changed into a leopard and jumping over the low wall, ran into the dark street.

The family and friends were stunned!
How could you do such a shape-shifting job?
The man called Ovid revealed: A Dijnn told me humans have an animal spirit residing within. You have to get connected with it. Once awakened, the spirit overtakes your mortal coil and transforms you into that animal-being.
---What is the mantra for that?
---Say, become! And you become!
They all became. Enjoying the flight and speed and freedom as per their native spirits, becoming animals or birds or fish.
They could realize the innate form by focussing on that.
A city under lockdown could not be kept indoors for long. This provided the necessary outlet, an escape.
Become defined the group as their major trait.

The more confined creatures are, the more they want to run out of cages---that was the observation by the Dijnn.

Soon the rest of the city came to learn about the nightly transformations on the social media---viral videos on the WhatsApp; YouTube; live sessions on the FB; twitter handles; Instagram---and under the leadership of Ovid,  they entire city started becoming creatures of their choice.

Ovid’s iron rule: Remember, friends, you have to say, back, and you will be back as your original!

Soon, the city squares and plazas swarmed with the become forms.
The digital news portals announced triumphantly: Humans! We have beaten the Corona, the tyrant! The citizenry had turned into the creatures of their choice and thus, defeated the killer by roaming freely in another form.

Since the city could alter for few hours due to the limit of the unique mantra, they had to return to their human forms, before the dawn of each day.

Ovid was the fastest among them all and would often go out to the outer limits and watch other cities which he could not visit.
He felt lost.

Only consolation: he and others could get few hours of freedom that citizens of the other cities could not get---the mantra did not work in their places. The Dijnn had limited its effect to his resident city only!
Their freedom proved to be a brief illusion.

Corona was back---with new transmutations.
Adding to their problem, they got stuck in their half-animal and half-human form, one early dawn.

The panic spread. Back did not work.
---Call your Dijnn. The public demanded.
Ovid tried but the Dijnn failed to materialize.
---Where did you find him? The mayor asked angrily.
---Once I was sitting morose in my balcony, when a tall muscular man with bald head and pony tail, in harem pants and open jacket, appeared out of a plume of smoke and asked me: Human, why sad?
---I am a prisoner in my house, I said.
---What do you want?
---I want to run.
---Run or run away?
---Because I am a long-distance runner.
---I run for an animal charity.
Ovid grew silent.
---Then? Asked the mayor.
---The Dijnn gave me a boon.
---Like? The mayor persisted.
---I can become my fav leopard.
---And return to human form, after willing myself back.
---Why are we stuck then? The mayor asked.
---I have no idea. It is no longer working.
---Keep on calling the Dijnn. Otherwise you get arrested as the public enemy!
Ovid kept on calling.

After three nights, the Dijnn appeared and said, the city can be back to its human figure, if no animal is tortured or brutalized or imprisoned. You lead this pack, Ovid. I give you three days. If you fail, the city will turn hybrid, permanently.
And he vanished.

The Short Story continues here...