At 24 years old Cleo was already an accomplished thief. From her humble beginnings shoplifting at the tender age of 10 years old to her time as a teenager pick-pocketing people through her current profession of a cat burglar, she’s had a knack for relieving other people of their belongings. Besides having an incredibly light touch the biggest key to her success was she never rushed a job. She meticulously planned every heist and only executed it when the timing was right, because of this attention to detail and patience she had never been discovered let alone caught.
Cleo was in the middle of planning a heist of a small but very upscale jewelry store just off of 5th avenue in New York when she received word that her aunt had passed away. She took a flight back home so she could be at the funeral. While she was there her uncle gave her a small box and told Cleo that her Aunt wanted her to have it when she passed. Cleo spent a couple of days visiting with family and reminiscing with them about her aunt. While at her Uncle’s and late Aunt’s house she noticed a portrait painting of her Aunt that she had never seen before. When she asked her uncle about the painting he told her they had it made just before her aunt had got sick. The next day she went back to New York to continue planning her heist. On the way back home she opened the box her uncle gave her and saw the amulet inside and a folded piece of paper that the amulet was resting on. Cleo liked the way the amulet looked and slipped it over her neck and forgot about it. At least she forgot about it until she accidentally discovered what the amulet was capable of.
It was a stormy night when Cleo was concentrating on some WiFi data she collected on her target. She was looking into whether or not she could hack the surveillance system of the jewelry store when her cat startled her by rubbing its head on her ankle. With a small yelp, Cleo laughed and reached down to pet the cat that was so desperate for her attention.
“Aw, I’m sorry. I haven’t given you much attention the last few days have I, Princess?” Cleo asked her cat while vigorously scathing her behind an ear.
Princess purred loudly in response to the attention she was receiving when Cleo continued, “You have it easy Princess. You live a life of leisure, only caring about your next meal and companionship. If only I could have it that easy, being a kitty cat like you wouldn’t be so bad. If I could turn into a cat and join you I would!” Cleo said in a cutesy voice to her cat when she felt the amulet around her neck get warm.
“What the....!” was all she got out when she lost the ability to speak and move! Her eyes widened in horror as her body started transforming! Her body was shrinking and re-forming at the same time. She felt her nose and mouth push out from her face and she helplessly fell forward as she felt her arms and legs changing, unable to hold her in an upright position anymore. She felt a momentary sharp pain as she felt her tailbone reshape and start to push out from her body. She felt her head continue to change as her ears moved from the side of her head to the top as they also changed in appearance. Her whole body starting itching like her hair was growing out all over and all the while Cleo kept shrinking. Soon her changing form disappeared under her shirt that was now way too big and then the changes stopped.
As soon as the changes stopped Cleo regained control of her movement and let out a blood-curdling scream! Well, at least that’s what she wanted to do. The sound that came from underneath the pile of clothes was a very loud, “HIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSS!” that sounded very feline in nature! Whatever was under her shirt started moving and a couple of seconds later the head of a very scared looking Siamese cat poked out from underneath. It cautiously looked around and slowly walked out from underneath the shirt.
“OH MY GOD! What the hell happened?” Cleo thought as she looked down at one of her paws that she raised up off of the floor and looked at it incredulously. She walked over to the sliding glass door that led out to her balcony and stared at her reflection in the glass.
Instead of seeing her raven-haired, beautiful, slim and fit Asian American self, a white Siamese cat with gray ears and wide blue eyes stared back at her, it’s tail twitching in agitation!
She sat down on her haunches in shock at what she saw, “What? HOW? How did I turn into a cat??” she thought as a plaintive meow came from her mouth.
She sat there contemplating her situation in a near panic while suppressing an urge to scratch herself behind an ear with one of her back paws she made a realization! “Shit! The amulet! That has to be what did this! I felt it get hot on my neck just before this happened!” She looked at her reflection and she saw the amulet wasn’t on her neck now that she was a cat, “It’s got to be in the pile of my clothes!” She thought as she dashed back to where the pile of her clothes rested.
It took her a few minutes to drag her clothes around enough to where she could get to the amulet. She finally had it in her mouth and then thought, “OK, I have it again. Now what? I think I was saying something about being a cat??? Crap! What did I say? Maybe I should just think about wanting to turn back to normal?” She thought, trying to hold it together mentally.
A couple of minutes of fervently wishing she would turn back to normal she dropped the amulet from her mouth and started meowing, upset that nothing was happening. She laid down resting her chin on her paws, staring despondently at the amulet when she finally realized that she might need to be wearing the amulet in order for it to work! A feral growl came from deep in her throat as she fought to try to get the amulet around her neck, “Grrrrrrr, this is hard without thumbs!!” she complained while trying over and over to lift the amulet from the floor. She wound up on her back with her paws up in the hair by the time she finally got the amulet draped around her feline neck and then she fervently wished she would turn back to normal.
Her mouth opened in the feline equivalent of a smile as she felt the amulet get hot again! Soon she was sitting on her knees hugging herself with her arms, rejoicing that she was able to return to her normal form! After a few minutes, she lifted the amulet from her neck and stared down at it, deep in thought. Most people would have locked it way and never opened the box again. Not Cleo though, now that she knew she could turn herself back to normal she decided to see what the amulet was capable of. She decided to go to bed and start experimenting with the amulet first thing in the morning. She did, however, take the amulet off before going to sleep.
Practice and Preparation
Over the next few days, she practiced with the amulet. She turned herself into a cat again much to Princess’ fright. She turned into dogs, birds, A horse.... Which she quickly reversed because the floor of her condo protested loudly at the huge change in weight! She discovered that if she concentrated on it the amulet would become part of the transformation. If she turned into an animal she could make the amulet become a collar. If she turned into another person it would stay the same.
One day Cleo was taking a break from playing with the amulet and from planning her heist and was looking at clothes online. An odd thought crossed her mind and after getting up from her chair she looked at the elegant evening gown on the screen and concentrated on the amulet. A few seconds later that was exactly what she was! As a gown, she was still inside the clothes she had been wearing before she became clothing herself with the amulet resting on top of her. She had a moment of panic, worried that the amulet wouldn’t work if when wasn’t wearing it but apparently since her new form did not have a neck she only had to be in contact with the amulet in order to get it to work and she quickly transformed back! She then went back to her bedroom and stripped out of her clothes and laid down on the bed. She concentrated on the amulet again and this time her human form melted away and became a sundress with a dainty, decorative belt which looked similar to the amulet. She could make the amulet become part of the transformation if she became an inanimate object! The dress on the bed started filling out like there was a person inside of it and then morphed back into Cleo.
She then wondered why she needed to be wearing it if she was turned into a living being but only had to be in contact with it if her form wasn’t alive? Was it a safeguard put in place by whoever made the amulet? Why wouldn’t it just need to be in contact with the user no matter what the transformation was? Bizarre. She pushed those thoughts to the side for another day as she turned her head to look out the window. She had a wide smile on her face as she considered the possibilities.
The next day an elderly woman wearing thick-framed glasses walked into a certain jewelry store and looked at what was on display with great interest. When asked if she needed help from the staff she replied that her husband asked her to pick out some jewelry for her birthday so she was going around to the different shops in the area. The woman unobtrusively looked at the placement of all the security cameras and what type of sensors were on the glass display cases. The woman slowly made her way out of the store and walked to a parking garage. She looked really out of place getting into a black Mercedes AMG GT and driving away. A few minutes passed and the old woman took her glasses off and morphed and Cleo was behind the wheel heading home. She did the same thing as two other people that week.
When Cleo was done with all of her surveillance she plugged a small cord from her computer into the end of one of the arms and started reviewing photos she took with the tiny hidden camera that was housed in the glasses frame and the other mini cameras she took with her and carefully reviewed the footage.
After a few days, she finally came up with a plan. During her observations of the videos and other research, she discovered that one of the cases on the west side of the display floor had a gap in surveillance coverage. She also noticed that right around noon every day the floor would be unattended for a few seconds at a time every time they needed to step in back for something. She decided that she would go to the store during business hours and use the amulet to hide as an object in plain sight until it closed for the evening. She would then turn herself into a man of random appearance, gather all the jewelry and walk out the front door with her ill-gotten goods and the authorities would be looking for a man instead of a woman. With a satisfied smile, she leaned back in her chair and fingered the amulet around her neck as she thought about the haul she would be taking to her fence after tomorrow.
When she woke up in the morning she got dressed in a nice, high-end business skirt suit which was classy but a little conservative. Her black high heels clicked on the floor as she walked over to her full-length mirror and checked herself over. After she straightened her skirt she stared at her reflection and concentrated on the amulet. Her Asian American features softened and her skin tone lighted. At the same time, her shoulder length raven hair grew a few inches longer and the black lightened to a honey blonde. She looked in the mirror again, satisfied that she no longer resembled herself and walked out to her garage and got into a very nondescript family sedan that she kept around as a getaway car and headed out to her target.
The blond Cleo walked into the store at 11:45 AM and started looking at the displays. The girl that was working the counter was already helping an older gentleman but she took a moment to welcome Cleo and let her know she would be with her soon. Cleo returned her greeting with a smile and slowly made her way over to the display where she found the gap in surveillance. On her way, she made a show of looking at all of the necklaces. Cleo needed to decide what she was going to turn herself into while she waited for the store to close tonight. She noticed that all of the necklaces were displayed on porcelain white busts. They were abbreviated where the stub of a neck gracefully curved out to an oval shape meant to represent a portion of a woman’s body where a necklace would rest when really being worn. That then sharply curved back in to form the pedestal that the whole piece rested on. Perfect! She found what she could turn herself into when the timing was right! She smiled at her plan when the employee walked up to her.
“Good morning! I take it you’ve found something you like?” She greeted her in response to Cleo’s smile.
Cleo’s expression turned vapid and she replied, “;Oh my, yes! There is a handful I’d like to see, pretty please?” she said while still looking at the display.
“Sure Miss, which items would you like to see?” She asked. In Cleo’s peripheral vision she saw the employee roll her eyes at the bimbo sounding request.
“Perfect! She’s falling for it!” Cleo thought.
“Oooo! I’d like to see this one, and this one, aaaannnndddd.... This one, this one and this one!” Cleo said in a voice that sounded dangerously low of intelligence, pointing to all of the necklaces she selected.
The girl behind the counter did a really good job at keeping her expression neutral as she grabbed the display busts the necklaces were resting on. Cleo gushed at each one as the girl set them on top of the glass display case. Cleo had moved on the fourth necklace resting in front of her when she heard a voice coming from the back room of the store, “Erin? Could you come back here for a second?”
“Sure thing Janet!” Erin said and then turned back to Cleo, “Pardon me for just a second please?”, as she then walked to the doorway and went out of view.
“YES! Here’s my chance!” Cleo thought to herself. She quickly glanced around the store to make sure no one was there with her and glanced at the storefront to ensure on one was looking inside. Seeing no one she concentrated on the amulet as she leaned as far as she could over the counter.
Cleo’s body locked in place as the transformation started. If anyone had been watching they would have seen her skin tone rapidly fading, becoming the same shade of glossy, porcelain white and the necklace displays near her. At the same time, all of her human features started to fade. Her finger and toenails sunk into the surface of the skin around them leaving featureless surfaces behind. The same was happening to her facial features and hair. Soon her head was just as featureless as her hands and feet. Cleo’s smart looking business suit faded from existence at the same time her head, arms and legs started sinking into her torso. Her torso then started shrinking up towards her shoulders, forming the stand part of the display Cleo was turning herself into.
From start to finish the transformation took fifteen seconds and when it was done there was an additional necklace display which neatly displayed the amulet she used to transform herself with. Now all she had to do was wait.
“Oh, wow! That felt really weird! I almost reversed the transformation, it felt so bizarre,” Cleo thought to herself as she rested on the display case and watched the employee walk back out on the sales floor.
“Sorry for the interruption Miss, did you....”, Erin started to say as an expression of consternation crossed her face, “Crap! Janet, the customer left while I was back helping you!”, She shouted as she hurried to where the necklaces were sitting out unattended.
“A woman slightly older than Erin came out with a look of concern and asked, “Is anything missing?”
“No, thank goodness, it looks like the airhead just left without saying anything,” Erin replied to Janet in relief. Cleo smirked mentally at that comment.
“Well, put them all away and don’t be afraid to tell me you are with someone before answering my call. Just one of those necklaces cost more than what we make for most of the year!” Janet said as she walked off the floor again.
Erin quickly unlocked the display case and quickly put all the merchandise back inside, Cleo included. A customer came in and Erin re-secured the display and went to greet them, putting the near miss behind her.
“Ugh! If I had a stomach right now I may have thrown up!”, Cleo thought once she was inside the display case, “It’s really disorienting to be moved around like that when I’m not the one doing the moving.” She finished thinking.
A couple of hours passed and a handful of customers came in and did their business while Cleo was a silent observer from her space in the display case, “This. Is SO. Boring...”, Cleo thought, “I never considered how boring this part of the plan would be. Is it closing time yet?” She plaintively asked herself.
Time marched slowly on and Cleo spaced out after a while. She was startled back to attention when a vacuum cleaner was turned on. Cleo watched attentively as the two employees, different people than who were working earlier do their end of day tasks before leaving. A short time later they both moved out of Cleo’s range of vision and the lights were turned off. Everything was silent but Cleo wanted to wait a few minutes before returning to normal to make sure she was truly alone.
“OK, I should be alone now. Time to turn into the disguise I thought of and get richer!” she thought to herself as she concentrated on the amulet, willing it to work its magic on her. She felt the familiar sensation of the magic starting to work on her and then she felt a weird shudder and then nothing else happened!
“Uh...... What is going on?” She asked as she tried again. This time nothing happened at all!, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!! What’s wrong with the amulet?? Why won’t it transform me?”, She exclaimed, fighting the panic she felt building.
“Why won’t it work? Is there some sort of fail safe?”, she pondered, “Crap! The magic has already shown it changes how it behaves depending what I have turned myself into. It’s a possibility that since I’m in such a confined space that it isn’t safe to transform me at the moment!” She finished with a groan of despair.
Throughout the night she tried concentrating on many different forms but she got no reaction from the amulet whatsoever. She also discovered that sleeping wasn’t something she could do while transformed into an inanimate object and since she was so distraught over her situation she didn’t space out either. She spent the whole evening distraught over her predicament.
Cleo was still despondent when morning finally arrived and the store opened for business again, “I just need someone to want to see the amulet I’m displaying and when one of the employees get me out of the case I can look for a chance to be human again.”, she thought, “If I keep my wits about me I can get out of this!” She thought optimistically.
The day passed slowly and although a handful of people came over to look at the merchandise that she shared the display case with on one asked to see anything so Cleo spent another night stuck as a necklace display. The week passed slowly from Cleo’s perspective and even though the case she was trapped in was opened a couple of times throughout the week she was never taken out of the case.
Saturday came around and at closing time Cleo found out from the staff that was cleaning up the store for the night were rejoicing in the fact that the store hours had changed and it was no longer open on Sundays. While the staff was celebrating being able to have part of the weekend off for Cleo it just meant it was another day that she would be trapped since there was no chance of being taken out of the case on Sunday now. At least Cleo had calmed down about her situation enough that she was able to space out again which helped make the time pass a little faster for her.
Days passed and turned into weeks and Cleo was still trapped. She had been in the case so long that she was spending more time spaced out than being aware of her surroundings. She had twice found herself being placed back in her display too late to try to escape. She finally had a chance to escape a couple of days later.
She was fighting to stay aware and slowly losing the battle when she noticed people were standing near her.
“Yes, I’d like to see that one please.”, the customer said, pointing at Cleo.
“YES! Look at my amulet, please!!! I don’t even care if anyone sees me! I’m out of here as soon as I’m clear of this infernal display case!”, Cleo exclaimed, waiting anxiously for the chance to act.
Cleo felt like her inanimate form would fly apart from anticipation as she hear the key rattle in the lock and the door to the display case slide open! She almost swooned at the salesgirl’s touch, knowing that she was going to be free of her current, hated form when she felt the amulet being lifted off of her! Cleo was at a loss for anything resembling a coherent thought as she watched the salesgirl hand the customer the amulet!
“NOOOOO!!!! nononononono! YouHAVEtoputitBACKONMEpleasePLEASEpleaseplease!” She blubbered incoherently to herself as she helplessly watched the two humans that towered over her talk about the amulet.
A few agonizing minutes later Cleo’s horror turned into relief as she saw the customer thank the salesgirl for her time and hand the amulet back before leaving the store. Her relief was short lived however as she saw the salesgirl take a closer look at the amulet with a look of concentration on her face and then Cleo heard the door to the display case close and heard the turning of the key in the lock. The salesgirl then stepped out of sight, still holding the amulet.
“No,” Cleo whimpered, mentally exhausted from the roller coaster of emotions she just rode on, “Bring it back.... Please?” she whined one last time before falling into a broken, depressed silence.
Cleo was jostled back to awareness as she felt that she was being re-positioned in the display case. She was only halfway paying attention when she felt something being placed on her! She quickly came back to full awareness, “Oh my God! YES!! She brought it back! I still have a chance to escape this hell!!!”, Cleo thought in a cautious, yet slightly optimistic sense of relief.
While Cleo was rejoicing she saw why she was being re-positioned in the display. The salesgirl was making room for another display piece in the case and once the girl was done the case was locked up and Cleo was left alone once again with only her own thoughts to keep her company.
Before too long Cleo saw the employees move about the store, cleaning up before going home for the night. Cleo thought long and hard about the events of the day and had made a resolution to herself to stay strong and to stay vigilant for an opportunity to restore herself, “I swear, one day I WILL get out of this. I have to believe I can. I refuse to give up hope. Once I do get free I’m going to bury this amulet so deep it will never be found and used by anyone else.”, She finished just as the lights for the sales floor were turned off for the evening.
She sighed inwardly, helpless to do anything else except sit there and wait for time to slowly pass. With the main lights off, the lights that always stayed on inside the case caused the glass walls of her prison to act like a mirror. Cleo had learned to ignore what she saw there, since seeing the reflection of her current form was depressing but tonight she was curious as to how her display had been rearranged.
Cleo saw that a necklace display had been placed next to her. As she looked at the reflection with her fixed point of view she made a realization that finally broke her completely. While it was a very expensive and elegant necklace that rested on her inanimate form, it was not her amulet like she assumed it was. Her amulet was now rested on the necklace display that was placed in the display earlier. Even though the amulet was only a couple of inches away, it was just as unreachable to her as if it had been on the moon.
“No...” Cleo thought over and over most of the night before falling dormant, lost in her own mind.
The display became aware that the store was open for business an indeterminate time later. The thoughts coming from the display were no longer Cleo, “Ohh! Owners are here again! This display hopes it does a good job for owners! This display wants to help sell owners merchandise so owners like this display. Display wants to serve owners forever!” Over time, even that simplistic personality faded away, leaving a plastic display piece that was just as inert as all the rest of the display pieces in the store.