The flight from Ronald Reagan Airport touched down at O’Hare in Chicago just as the sun set. Greg was exhausted. The conference in D.C. had been exciting and intense. He swore that they’d paced three weeks of information, visits and dinners in three days. He and Marcie jostled with the other passengers to get off the plane. As they reached the terminal lounge the nasal voice of a woman announced over the P.A. system that their connecting flight was overbooked. Anyone willing to wait for a later flight was to come forth.
“What are they offering?” asked Marcie.
“I don’t know.” Greg walked over to the woman and asked the particulars. He nodded and walked back to Marcie. “$700, a night in a hotel and 400 air miles. We have about thirty minutes to give them an answer.”
Marcie looked at the crowd. She too was exhausted, and she knew that her daughter would be waiting at the airport. “I’m going home.”
“Understood. I think I’ll take them up on the offer. Take care and I’ll see you at work on Monday.”
She nodded, picked up her bags and headed towards the connecting flight.
“I’ll take you up on your offer to be bumped off the flight.”
The airline employee looked up. “Thank you sir. Just take this over to the ticket desk on floor 2 and they will help you.” She handed him a slip of paper and then turned to the person behind him.
Thirty minutes later, Greg had a check, a voucher for air miles and was heading towards the mini bus that would take him to the hotel. The bus was half full of people. He grabbed a seat towards the back and settled in.
Greg woke with a start as the bus came to a halt with the driver calling out their destination. He gathered his stuff and stepped off the bus into a crowd of people. Most of them were in costumes, in fact, they looked like football mascots.
“Am I at the right hotel?”
“Yassir! There’s lots of parties this time of year!” The bus driver smiled, closed the door and drove off.
Greg picked up his luggage and moved through the crowd. “Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!” ran through his head as he headed towards the doors of the hotel. People in costume were everywhere. He stood in line behind a dog and two cats as he waited to check in. He was trying not to stare, but…
“Can I help you sir?”
“Um, yes. I have a reservation from the airline? My name is Greg Smith.”
The desk clerk scrolled down a computer screen looking for his name. “Oh yes. We have you here for one night. Dinner can be had at our in-house restaurant. Breakfast is served there in the morning and we have a cocktail lounge on the other side of the lobby.” He pointed the locations out with the key and then handed it to Greg. “Room 375. Elevators are to the left.”
Greg took the key and headed towards the elevators. It only took a moment for the elevator to open. As he stepped in, two of the mascots were making out in the corner. He tried to ignore them as he pushed the button for the third floor.
As he stepped out on his floor, there were more of them. That’s when he noticed that some of the costumes came with leashes. “What in the hell is this?” He moved down the hall and retreated into the quiet of his room. After calling his wife, he took a deep breath and headed down to the restaurant for dinner.
The halls were packed by this point, and Greg noticed that some of the ‘mascots’ weren’t wearing as much clothing as others. In fact, one of them wore little more than a g-string and a dog’s head. He tried not to gape, but it was becoming more and more difficult. There was a line at the restaurant. The ‘dog’ ahead of him was humping the leg of the woman carrying the leash.
“How long of a wait is there?” he asked the waitress.
“At least thirty minutes. You can go over to the bar and get a burger in fifteen.” She pointed across the lobby.
Greg nodded and headed to the bar. He took a seat at the far end of the bar, ordered a beer, a cheeseburger and fries. The bartender brought him his beer. As Greg sipped the beer, he looked around. Once more, almost every booth or table was filled with people in mascot costumes. They were drinking, eating and making out. Then he spotted a dog lapping water out of a dish on the floor and a cat playing with a feather on a stick. He blinked and turned back to the bar. He gestured to the bartender. “What is going on?”
“Oh. This is the MidWest FurFest. Happens every year about this time.”
“People dress up as animals. Most of the calm stuff is during the day, but at night it gets pretty rowdy.”
Greg’s food arrived and he was about half finished when a tired looking man in athletic gear walked over and took the seat next to him.
“You here for the convention?”
“No, overbooked flight. You?”
“Yeah.” The man rolled his eyes. “My daughter is a furry. I’m suppose to be chaperoning her, but I haven’t seen her in 3-4 hours. If you see a purple fox with a green sword let me know.”
“What is a furry? The bartender sort of explained, but I don’t get it.”
“Neither do I. My daughter, she’s 15. Doesn’t want to be a regular person. Instead, she wants to dress up as a fox from her favorite cartoon show. Acts like a fox, everything. Her boyfriend is a horse. He wears hooves for gawds sake!”
Greg shuddered a little, thinking about his own daughter who loved anime. “And you let her come here? At night?”
“Well, not originally. She wanted to go to this concert by this guy, Pepper Coyote. The music is okay, so I didn’t think it’d be a problem.”
“So, is the concert over?” Greg was beginning to think this guy was just a bit irresponsible.
“Nearly. I just couldn’t take the noise any longer. I’ll catch her as she comes out. The auditorium is just over there.” He pointed to a set of double doors guarded by two unicorns in uniform.
Greg finished his food and beer and started back up to his room. The halls were packed. Sweaty fur covered people were everywhere. Every time he tried to not stare, something caught his eyes. A man wearing leather straps and what looked like a tail and jock strap walked by being led by a ‘wolf’ with a whip. Two dogs were humping in a corner. Another couple were groping each other in the elevator. He swore that something was rubbing up against his leg as the elevator headed to the 3rd floor. He was glad to get out. As he headed to his room, a hand grabbed his. He turned to see an curvy woman with a fur cat mask. “Umm… yes?”
“Care to have a good time? Once you go furry, you never go back!” she said as she shimmied her ‘assets’.
“No thank you.” Greg tried to turn and leave. She kept hold of his hand and tugged.
“But I have the nicest furry tits,” she said as she placed his hand on her breast.
“No!” Greg pulled his hand back like he’d been burned. “Get away from me!”
She pouted and turned to talk to another man. Greg moved as fast as he could to his room. He chained and dead bolted it.
In the morning, he showered, dressed and headed down to the restaurant by 6am. He figured that most people would still be asleep. He was wrong. The place was filling up with furries. Couples that had obviously not been to bed, groups, and families. One family had three little furries sitting with them at the table; all in costume.
“One?” the waitress asked.
“Yes. Is there a table away from all the crazy?” he asked quietly.
“Yes sir. Follow me.” She led him down the dinning room and to the left where a small contingent of people in suits or casual wear sat. She handed him a menu.
Greg sighed with relief. He wasn’t a prude, but this just plain weirded him out. He gave the waitress his order and sipped coffee.
“Sitting with the straights eh?” said a man who sat off to his left.
“Yeah, just like you.”
“Oh, yes. My wife is out there with her friends. It’s not my thing. Don’t understand it, but if it makes her happy, okay.”
“It’s a lot cheaper than therapy or some of that other stuff she’s tried over the years. Two years ago when those books, 50 shades or something, it was all corsets, whips and blindfolds down at a club. At least she’s covered up in that suit.” He pointed off at a crowd of furries in the main dining room.
“I’d never heard of them before last night.”
The man nodded. “At least this bunch are fairly calm. Some of these conventions get really rowdy.”
“Last night wasn’t?” asked Greg thinking about his leg being humped in the elevator.
“Nope. Sex is pretty quiet at this one, or at least they keep it to the rooms. Went to a concert early on that was more of a fuck fest than a furry fest. About lost my lunch if you know what I mean.”
Greg blinked. “Yeah.”
His breakfast arrived and he dug into it and avoided further conversation.
The trip back to the airport was calm. No furries. His flight wasn’t too crowded and arrived on time. He picked his car up from long term parking and headed home. It felt good to be back in his quiet conservative neighborhood where the craziest thing was the accountant down the street who overdid the holiday lights. His wife greeted him at the door with a hug.
“You would not believe the hotel I stayed at last night.”
“Oh? Well, you can tell me all about it in a minute. Lisa has a surprise for you.”
“Okay, where is she?” Greg looked around.
“Lisa! Come out and show your father!”
Lisa ran into the hall wearing a furry fox mascot outfit with pompoms in each hand. “Daddy! I made the squad!”