As usual, I took a non-zero number of pictures during the convention, and have subsequently got around to processing only 2-3 of them.
The convention did not feature any albino squirrels that I noticed, but there was one at a park nearby.
While most of the convention took place on the fourth floor of the hotel, it did include the excitement of dangerous escalators that proved too much for at least one fursuiter. Fortunately the con staff had him up and out of the way before the rest of the parade piled down the escalator on top of him. He was slightly winded, but otherwise OK from what I could tell.
The non-attendees took the con with varying degrees of grace. This lady dealt with the fursuit parade in her own way; by buying drinks for herself and her two phones.
Finally, here is a creepy mask. It has nothing to do with the convention, but I put it here anyway because I took this picture today and clicked on it by accident while writing this entry.
They had an Iron Pen contest for the convention where they announced the theme of the art and stories just a day ahead of the deadline. Only two artists took up the challenge, so both won by default with what amounted to little more than stick figures on paper. I wish I was joking. I could have won the art contest if I had entered a picture, and I cannot draw to save my life.
On the other hand, there were eleven entries in the writing contest. While none of them were spectacularly good, they were all of a decent calibre of writing. atara finished first (to nobody's surprise but hers) with a story that you will have to wait to read, since they asked her to refrain from releasing it anywhere until they've had a chance to publish it.
I ended up finishing third after they tallied up the fan votes. The winners were actually chosen by judges (including ursulav), but they all ranked them in a different order. The votes cast by the con attendees confirmed the three winners, but changed the order in which they finished. I suspect they mean that it changed the order of the first and second place stories, and mine was solidly in third all along.
I am actually quite pleased to have finished third, since I did not honestly expect to finish in the top stories at all. I didn't think that I deserved to, given that I hammered this story together over breakfast in the hours ahead of the deadline.
Anyway, one more picture from the convention before I get to the story itself. The view from hour hotel room was glorious.
The badger and the coyote were, according to their nametags, Skyler and Drayden, respectively. They were both hunched over a sheet of paper on the table in front of them, reading it intently and exchanging quiet comments that were not quite hushed enough to mask their tone of incredulity. Occasionally one or the other would glance up at the tawny cat who was straddling a chair across the tale from them. The badger was the first to speak.
“It says here that you have, uh, burned your passport and are seeking asylum.”
‘Yes,” said the cat. “Well, maybe burned is not quite the right word.” He patted the left breast of his windbreaker. “It’s in the inside pocket, and the zipper is stuck. I’ve been trying all morning to get the pocket open without damaging the jacket, and I just can’t do it. May as well be burnt at this point.”
“I … see,” said the badger. “It is unusual for us to get a request for asylum.”
“Unusual,” snorted the coyote. “That’s not quite the word I would use for it. Anyway, you are a bit ambiguous about where you’re seeking asylum from. I mean, as a puma you’re kind of a native species…”
“Cougar,” interrupted the feline. The badger pointed at the sheet.
“You wrote puma here”
“Well, yes, I did,” agreed the puma, “but I self-identify as a cougar. I wrote puma because I am technically Felidae Puma, but this is just the kind of CIS-genus discrimination from which I’m seeking asylum.”
“Uh huh,” said the coyote dubiously, but the puma was not done.
“Well, I admit that sometimes I feel more like a mountain lion than a cougar some days, and when I’m feeling really saucy I’ve been known to panther a bit,” he said with a wink. “I’m genusfluid.”
“Well, I’m sure you will feel at home here,” said the badger. “We’re very welcoming of all species and species-identifying.” He squinted at the sheet again and scratched his muzzle. “Where exactly are you seeking asylum from? You wrote Canada on here, then crossed it out and wrote Duluth.”
“Definitely Duluth,” said the cougar. He growled softly in the back of his throat. “They’re really not very transgenus friendly up there. A gas station attendant totally ignored me when I tried to explain why I’d taken a sharpie to my driver’s licence because it called me a puma. He totally kept asking for a different form of ID that hadn’t been defaced.” He made air quotes with his fingers as he said the last word. “I showed him my passport, but he shouldn’t have been asking for ID because that’s a violation of their credit card agreement. Anyway, that’s when the zipper stuck…”
“Ok, I think we get it,” said the coyote. “So now you’re seeking asylum here.”
“Exactly,” said the cougar. “I think this place would be welcoming to someone like me, and I want asylum. Well, for the weekend at least.”
The badger and coyote exchanged a glance again. The coyote shrugged. “I’m just saying that we’ve never had a request like this before.”
“We can let you stay here for the weekend, but I don’t think we can technically give you asylum,” explained the badger. “We’re just not set up to handle such a request.”
The cougar went silent, and his tail thrashed restlessly as he digested the information. “How about refugee status?” The other two mutely shook their heads. “Sanctuary?” Silence descended over the three, and just as it began to tickle the threshold of awkwardness the badger spoke again.
“I really think it’s time to address the elephant in the room,” he said. He turned to the elephant who had been standing behind them with his arms folded across his chest. “What do you think, Phil?”
“What I think,” said the elephant with a sigh of longsuffering, “is that we are holding up the line. Look, nobody here cares if you self-identify as a puma, cougar, mountain lion, panther, or any other variant on your genus. If you want a weekend membership, then just show us some proper ID and give us a name to put on your con badge.”