Title: Just a bit Fishy
Author: Strega
© 2003
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Just a bit fishy

By Strega

It was the third margarita that got Katie in trouble.

Thursday, evening: she came out of the bar, and the sun was still above the horizon though it was nearly eight. She'd gone there for a drink with Anna, and ended up staying for dinner. Neither of them had classes on Friday, and the more they talked the thirstier she got. By the time she polished off the second margarita she was glad her place was walking distance, and when she rose from the table leaving the dregs of the third she swayed a bit.

"Bye Ann!" She waved. Anna waved back from the bus window.

"Don't walk into a lamppost on the way home!" her friend called, and Katie giggled. She was a bit drunk, and she straightened her dress fastidiously. Must keep up appearances, especially with as many cops as patrolled the college district.

Fortunately her place was right around the corner, a little house set back from the street and surrounded by a six-foot-tall cedar fence. She listened before unlocking the gate: She wasn't supposed to let Otto out, or for that matter let people see him.

There was no sign of the otter, and soon she was at the front door and fumbling with her keys once more. A smile twitched her lips as she heard a movement inside. Sure enough he had heard her, and was there to greet her at the door.

She rubbed him behind the ears as she leaned against the doorframe. He was a Brazilian river otter, she'd been told, though she didn't remember Discovery Channel ever talking about otters this big. Otto was bigger than she was, about three feet tall at his rump and more than ten feet long including his tapered tail. He was all mud-brown on top, but his underside was the color of dirty cream from his chops to the underside of his tail. As always, he smelled of wet fur and musk, and his fur was damp from the pool out back.

"Wurf!"' His blunt muzzle wrinkled up happily at her, and she giggled. Housesitting -- and otter-sitting -- for the Project Delta Corporation had seemed a great way to save money this semestet. Even so she'd nearly backed out of the deal when she learned just how big the otter was. Otto had to weigh a couple of hundred pounds, and she hadn't expected that when she circled the ad in the paper. 'Wanted: House/pet sitter…'

But Otto was a sweetheart, clumsy and playful and sporting long bristly whiskers that tickled when he nuzzled. He'd swim, the pool the one place he was graceful, and then slide out and plop himself down next to her knee as she read. He was smelly and oily-furred and oafish, but gentle in and out of the water. And male, with a furry little ballsac back between his thighs and a foot-long ridge of deeply buried sheath.

He'd never shown any interest or arousal around her, though, and she hadn't fantasized about animals since she was thirteen. She was much more into men, like Steve. The one bad part about the housesitting deal was she couldn't have anyone else over. Sometimes that got really old, but it was worth it for free housing and a thousand dollars a month.

I could use Steve tonight. I really could. It'd been a while, and there'd been the drinks to loosen her up. Maybe she could get Steve to pick her up and stay at his place tonight. But that's a lot of trouble and time, and he does have classes tomorrow.

She had to keep a log of her days here, sort of like punching a time clock. She guessed the Project wanted to make sure Otto had enough company. Every once in a while somebody would stop by to check up on things, but day in and day out, she was his company. They had said it would only be for this one semester; after that they were moving Otto someplace more permanent.

She rubbed the big otter's ears and thought about stretching out on her bed and fingering herself. Or maybe…no, that was out of the question. Wasn't it?

Leaning down, she planted a kiss on his leathery wet nose, giggling. "You is a good otter, yes you is. Maybe sometime Auntie Katie will lie down and let you climb on her and play, yes."

The otter wirfled and wriggled ecstatically at the attention, hopping his forepaws up and down and wrinkling up his muzzle in a silly otter smile. She giggled again and patted his snout. "You is so silly."

She headed for the kitchen and a big glass of water. She had a paper to write tomorrow and didn't need a hangover. Reaching up to close the cupboard, she paused.

There on the second shelf was some of Otto's stuff, or rather the stuff she used to take care of him. Vitamins and Ferretone and…a bottle of fish-oil for treats.

Product of Finland, the bottle said. 'Good for dogs' and cats' fur'. Lots of EFA, whatever that was. Otto loved it, and would spend ages licking it off whatever part of his fur she dripped it on. Once she had spilled it on her leg and he had happily licked it off.

She shook the bottle; it gurgled. There must have been a cup of the stuff. A really dirty thought had just sprung to mind, and she patted his head.

"Would you like a treat, sweetie? Would you like a taste?" She wiggled the bottle in front of his nose, and the otter brightened, snuffling at her hand.

Usually she squirted the stuff into his mouth or on some random part of his pelt. This time she carried the bottle off, followed by a very attentive otter. Her room was on the second floor and he came up the stairs after her like a furry slinky. Then she was at her bed and slid her dress up over her breasts.

She shivered a little as she lay the dress on the chair, and more as she stepped out of her panties. It's not like the otter was a man, but she didn't like to be naked in front of him. It didn't seem so bad today -- that was the drinks talking, she knew -- and she pirouetted before him with her hands behind her head to make her breasts stand out.

Otto watched all this curiously. Her breasts went flat as she arched her back, then bounced down and jiggled. She was smooth and furless, not at all like an otter, though sleek. If he'd been able to put words to the sight, he'd have said 'handsome' rather than 'pretty' for he just didn't make the connection that this might be a potential mate. The parts of her he did like were her hair, waist-long, chestnut-brown with golden highlights, and the little triangle of darker brown between her legs. He'd have stepped up to sniff that, but he remembered what had happened the last time he did that to a person.

Katie bounced herself for Otto, then pouted as his eyes went over to the bottle. He just wasn't interested at all! It was different with Steve. He liked her body. Otto, though: all that tennis to keep in shape, all the time she spent on her hair to look nice, her firm pillowy breasts, and he had taken one look at her and lost interest.

"Poor Otto. I just don't look like something you'd want. Well, maybe I can change that." Ottery eyes like black marbles brightened as she grabbed the bottle: This he was interested in!

It smelled like fish, yes indeed, and the smell got very strong as she rubbed the oil over herself. Shoulders, belly, arms, butt. Just like really stinky suntan lotion. Otto stood there and sniffed, his whiskers twitching, as she oiled her legs. She had his full attention at last, and set the bottle aside. Though she'd done all this to get the otter interested, now she found her fingers sliding down her belly. Both hands cupped over her mound, and she couldn't resist exploring with a finger.

Closing her eyes, she felt deeper, sliding in a second finger. The oil made the entry smooth, and she pressed against the warm, wet tunnel; she was rewarded almost at once with a tingle of climax, just a little one.

Otto watched curiously as the girl bucked against her finger. Why was she making that sound? Was she in pain? She leaned to the side, and was suddenly on hands and knees, lifting her rump up towards him.

Katie 'presented' to the big otter, grinning and wiggling her firm bottom in front of his muzzle. In a moment of clarity she realized she was drunk: normally, horny or not, she wouldn't be trying to get Otto to put his dick in her. The moment passed, and her need remained. "Come on, sweetie."

Otto tilted his head as his person did this strange new thing. The triangle of fur between her legs opened up, exposing wavy, fleshy lips and a slit whose smell competed with the fish oil. The rest of his person was shiny now, and the overpowering scent of fish brought the saliva up in his mouth.

Unbeknownst to her, Katie had taken exactly the wrong approach to seducing the otter. If she had gone down on all fours like that without the oil and let him sniff, it might have occurred to him that that furry triangle smelled like a female otter. If she had rubbed his sheath beforehand and gotten him the least bit stiff there's a good chance she'd have found his chest on her back, his paws around her waist and him making an earnest effort to get his ottery schlong in her. He had plenty of that to work with, and assuming he didn't nip her on the neck they'd both have had a good time.

But Otto wasn't the least interested in putting himself into the woman. His hormones weren't stirring, and when he stepped forward to sniff he didn't get a smell of sex; he got the scent of fish. Tasty fish. Edible fish.

Katie's head jerked up as the otter licked across her rump, tasting her, then moaned shrilly as his tongue lapped downward, stroking over her anus and labia. She reached back quickly, hooking the otter's thick neck and struggling to keep his nose where it was. Startled, he tried to pull back, but then submitted, licking deep into her --

"Oh Yes!" The vulva was hot and slick against Otto's tongue, the smell and taste of fish mixed with the woman's juices. Each time he licked her she made another sound, louder and louder, but he kept licking, considering the taste. It really was an interesting flavor! He kept on licking, not needing her hand any more to hold him there.

It was somewhat disconcerting that she pushed back against his muzzle each time his tongue went in. And the noises she was making! It wasn't like the usual sounds his person made. They were animal sounds, growing ever louder as he licked and licked. He had run out of the best flavor, but the deeper he got his tongue the more wet the slit got with a new, almost-as-tasty one. Between his saliva and the new wetness, his chops were damp and his chin dripped.

He disregarded the ever-shriller sounds his person made and probed deeper. The very deepest parts of the slit had still a third flavor. He had just in as far as it would go to taste this new taste when the passage clenched shut on his tongue. Juices squirted across his muzzle as his person screamed, and he jerked his head back, squeezing his eyes shut at the sound.

Katie had found the otter's tongue as long as Steve's dick, maybe longer, and though the otter had seemed more interested in tasting her than pleasing her, eventually he had lapped the right spots enough to set off a huge orgasm. The hot pleasure of it filled her groin and ran up her spine all the way to her brain. Shivering, she collapsed to the carpet with a satisfied moan.

. Otto had pulled back when she climaxed, but he hadn't gone far. Now he was sniffing her toes, giving them the occasional lick, tasting them as she'd tasted her sex. She smiled, shutting her eyes. It had been a very good orgasm, and the otter didn't seem to realize what had happened, much less complained about not getting any himself. Tired and sated, she, she didn't really pay attention to what he was doing until something scraped across her ankle.

Otto had licked the juices off his chops and turned his attention to the near end of his fish. This was the small end, the one with toes, and like the rest of it smeared with smelly, tasty oil. A few licks there, and his belly rumbled. Somewhere along the way he'd lost the connection between this fishy thing and his person; he was a very bright otter, but still only an animal. And he was a Project creature, which meant he knew what to do with a big fish. Even one this big.

She opened her eyes, looking past her butt. The otter was stretched out on his belly with her feet in his mouth, alternately pillowed on the soft wet tongue and tickled by the water-weasel's teeth. He wasn't biting, just holding her there, and the wet heat felt nice, especially across her insteps where they lay against the tongue. She smiled, and shut her eyes as she relaxed. "Silly otter."

The tongue pushed against her insteps firmly, and her toes slipped deeper, into a soft, hot slippery place. It folded itself wetly around her feet, and after a moment the tongue pushed again and her heels followed.

Otto worked his muzzle very gently around the fish's feet, as he had been taught. It seemed almost asleep now, making no protest as he got the lumpy part opposite the toes to the back of his mouth. He'd not done this since he'd reached adulthood, and never with a fish as large as this one was compared to him, but his belly with a hungry growling thing and demanded satisfaction. So far it had been easy. He got the first part of the fish fully past his jaws, and swallowed.

My feet must be in Otto's cheeks, Katie pondered muzzily. His teeth tickled her ankles and his whiskers her calves, and she giggled and pushed her feet lightly deeper. Just then the slippery folds around her feet compressed suddenly, squeezing down tight and yet still soft, tugging at her toes. It pulled at her feet, and the soft warmness slid halfway up her calves, accompanied by the gentle scraping and whisker-tickle. Somehow that didn't seem right (how could a cheek do that?) but the warmth was so soft and pleasant that she didn't bother to open her eyes as the grip relaxed once more.

Otto swallowed, taking the woman's knees into his muzzle, and tasted her fish-oiled hamstrings with a lap of his long muscular tongue. The feet were well into his throat now, gulped easily deeper; they scarcely made a bulge in his thick neck. He maneuvered his fangs past the knees, pushed with his tongue, and swallowed again.

Katie felt the whiskers against her thighs, and rolled on the carpet, coming over onto one hip. The scraping across her knees almost hurt, but it was worth it to get over onto her rump. Her legs turned in the warm slick tunnel, not coming out, just twisting, the soft enclosing space flexing to let her move.

The fish turned, and Otto reached up a forepaw to hook the part just outside his muzzle. Its movement had been gentle, and he was equally so, but his strong paw held it in case tried to pull out. Fish sometimes struggled, and his stomach complained that this one was still outside it. It would grumble loudly if he did not fill it soon.

Just as she was on her butt again, the tunnel squeezed down once more, and she moaned lightly as her thighs were sucked in. Otto's paw had pulled as her as she rolled, helping her stay stretched out. For all that gentleness, though, teeth scraped her thighs harder than before, and she finally opened her eyes. She saw what was happening, and smiled.

"You is so silly." She reached, rubbing the otter behind the ears. "Do you think I am a fish, hmmm?" He was just playing, obviously. It was pretty amazing that he had gotten this far, but surely he'd get to top of her thighs and then have to back off. After all, she was half his size, and there was just no way he could swallow all of her. And the whiskers stroking up ahead of his lips felt good.

There was just room for her to get her hand to her pussy again. One atop the other, fingers sliding in, and the otter's chops helped her by pressing her palms firmly against her mound. "Yessss, good otter."

Otto didn't object when the fish pushed its hand against his muzzle, slid fingers into herself. His chops went up over the hands as he began to work his jaws around her butt, and his tongue was able to reach her groin again. He alternated between pushing himself forward and tasting that same passage the fingers filled, and the fish made pleasant sounds. The strain let up when his jaws finally disjointed, and he made his own pleased sound as he slid his stretched maw easily up over the fish's rump.

An outside observer would have commented how much he seemed like a snake now. His unhinged jaws had let in her hips, and his neck was swelled thicker than any other part of his body. His normally loose pelt was stretched taut over this bulkiest part of his meal, and her thighs showed as a double bulge that ran right down into his chest. Surely no mammal could stretch like this to let a meal half its down size down its throat; it made him seem reptilian. He wasn't; he was warm-blooded and furry, but even so this large meal would soon lie in his stomach unless it got away. And he had no intention of letting that happen.

His tongue lingered where the taste was strong. It passed across her musky sex, fish-oiled rump and hands, and strove to push in with her fingers. He took a rest now that the meal was half inside, and merely enjoyed the flavor. If he'd been able to think (and speak) he'd have told you that the one problem with eating a fish this way was that there wasn't much taste. This fish, though, was very tasty.

Katie drove two, then three fingers in, competing with the otter's tongue to find that pleasure again. She could feel the orgasm slowly building, and slid her slippery thumb over her clit as she all but buried her hand in her sex. The otter's palate pressed hard against her hands and then the soft place took both hands and hips, squeezing like a constricting serpent and pulsing her fingers in and out.

Otto licked, arched his now-bulging neck to lift the swallowed legs, and pushed downward, yawning around her waist. With his jaws dislocated it was just a matter of stretching his muscle and pelt around the meal, but it was such a large fish that his neckfur was lumpy and drum-taut. The lower parts were down in his body now, straining his flexible ribs wider. It was a struggle to gape broadly enough to swallow this wide part without having his fangs dig in, but his trainers had been very firm about this: the fish had to go down in one gulp, with no blood spilled. And so it would, soon. The lowest bits were close to his belly, and his gut felt like it was reaching upward, anticipating the meal.

Katie was too engrossed in fingering herself to notice the otter's struggle; the licking tongue was madly distracting, and the palate pressing down on her wrists just forced her fingers in deeper. The hot, slippery sheath enclosing her legs tensed again, gripping down hard, and the tongue pushed against her ass; there was a shifting, a sliding, and her rump was sucked down into the tunnel. The pulsing flesh trapped her hand to her mound, and even as the tongue slipped away she spasmed, a second orgasm in five minutes. No scream this time, just a long moan, and she relaxed contentedly.

Otto paid no attention to the fish's outcry, of course. He was past the hardest part of his meal, and pushed up over its midpart fairly easily. The big bulge of fishy-hips moved in his throat, a nice wide lump for swallowing-muscles to grip, and he gulped hungrily, feeling it slide downward another foot. It nearly stopped as it squeezed into his ribcage, but he could feel it creeping downward still, the tail end stretching down his body almost to his empty, churning belly. His swollen neck had shrunk in a bit around her waist, but his long weaselly torso was bulging in its turn, the heavy meal stretching him around itself. He swallowed again, felt it sliding deeper; the first stirrings of lust warmed his groin. He was too busy eating to grumble that his gonads had waited so long.

Katie felt the whiskers against her breasts, the furry chops pushing them up towards her face, and opened her eyes again. The warm, soft sheath was up past her hips now, sucking her in with each contraction; with a daydream-like fascination she watched the otter's distended jaws take her in. His cheeks were so round and full that his blunt-muzzled head was almost a sphere! She giggled…and then a fang scraped across her back, drawing the first drop of blood, and her drunken haze and post-coital bliss were gone.

In that moment she realized where she was, and what was happening. That smooth hot sheath massaging her legs and hips and belly was Otto's throat! He had not stopped at her thighs; somehow the big water-weasel had opened his jaws so wide that he was -- he was swallowing her! Another heavy, hungry gulp and her hips were tugged even deeper, her breasts pushed up against her face.

"Otto, no! Bad otter! Bad bad otter! Mph!" She turned her face away from her tits, and from the furry lips that were creeping up over them. "No, no! Spit me out! Spit me out, Otto!" She wriggled, trying to pull herself back out, but both her hands were trapped against her groin, and her forearms pinned by the throat. Maybe she could work one loose -- "You spit me out right now!"

Otto paid the fish no attention; another wide part was being drawn into his muzzle, but this wide part was soft and flexible, easily kneaded into his mouth. Like the rest of the fish, it had streaks of delicious fishy flavor; the flavor-streaks were very slippery as well, and had made this meal much easier than it'd otherwise have been. As it began to thrash, he lifted the fish, lowered his muzzle for a second, and then hopped upward, using its weight to drive it deeper. One more gulp, and it began to slide deeper.

Katie screamed. Not the ecstatic moans of earlier or the louder one when his tongue had first driven her to climax, but a full-throated scream of terror. Her attempts to work her arms free were foiled when the throat gripped down again, and a powerful pulse ran down the gullet, pulling her in. Almost all of her was inside the otter now, and the last of her -- shoulders, face, head -- were pulled into his jaws in a sudden jerk. Her head slapped against his tongue, her hair hung out across his teeth, and she wriggled desperately in the clinging passage. She could feel the otter's body stretch and move around her, from the disgusting soft place her feet had just entered (his stomach! God, it was his stomach!) to the hot, slippery gulletskin enclosing her up to her neck. It was like the mummy-bag she and Steve had shared once, too tight, pressing in against her so it was hard to catch a breath. She sucked in a breath to scream again --

And the otter's muzzle went shut over her face, cutting off her scream. She thrashed desperately, hardly able to move…and what movement she did manage just shifted the ottery coating she was encased in. Her ottery coffin.

On all fours again after the hop, Otto felt the stiffness developing against his belly; no time to pay attention to that now, as the squirming lump settled into his throat. The fish bulged his cheeks, and neck and body, but one more gulp and he would be done.

The last big part bumped around in his mouth, banging itself against his palate and teeth. The big part was the tail, he reasoned (tail? Wasn't the tail sliding into his belly just now?), and. A long bundle of fur (Ah! That was the tail!) still hung outside. It took a stretch, and a powerful arch of his back to help, but one last gulp sent those down too.

Katie let out the pent-up second scream as she saw the otter's palate above her. The throat had pulled so strongly that she'd been sucked in, breasts, shoulders and head, all in one heave, and now he was swallowing, the throat massaging her with terrible authority, sucking her downward. Fully aware now, she felt her ankles pop out into the otter's stomach, then her ankles, squeezed by the muscular ring that kept his belly-juices from his gullet.

There was no one to help her. She was too far from the next house or the street for her scream to have been heard. No one had reacted to her pleasured screams earlier. This last scream was panicked, despairing, and then more and more muffled as the otter gulped her down. Her calves were in his gut now, and the light was cut off as the water-weasel's broad muzzle closed on her hair. The tongue cushioned the back of her head, and then that tongue was pushing again. The throat tensed as the otter gave one last, mighty gulp, and she was carried downward on a ripple of muscle, into heat and darkness.

Otto strained, arched, and then stretched as the massive fish made its way down. Ribs and collarbones creaked and muscles popped as his big meal was forced down, and it took three hard stretches to convince his throat to squeeze all of it into the growing bulge between his hindpaws and ribs. By the time it was all there, his maleness was stiff, and he hardly had time to enjoy his fullness before that urgent need distracted him.

The throat rippled around Katie, squeezing her breasts up against her chin, squeezing shoulders and hips, pushing her down to a looser spot, where more and more of her was deposited. The warm, flexing gullet-massage covered her with slime, kneaded her with rippling muscles like a thousand fingers; it would've been pleasant had she not known just where she was going. She felt the ribs stretch around her shoulders, then slide by like a flexible cage. She could feel the otter strain to get her down, stretching to tighten his body around her. It increased the force of his gulps and almost squeezed her last breath from her as her hips, waist, and torso were forced into the stinking gut.

Otto arched, his torso straining around the lump, and then straightened, the ripples of the last gulp pushing the bulge firmly downward. His belly drooped beneath a new weight, then ballooned out lumpily, and he grunted as the fish -- more than half his size -- was forced entirely into his stomach. He stretched again, felt the tickle of the thing's tail-hair slide down to join the rest, and then considered the hardness along his belly.

His groin was not swollen with the meal, but the huge bulge in his middle bent his hard member outward and put pressure all along its underside. The furry hide that normally reduced his maleness to a belly-ridge was tight against his shaft's top. Normally when he grew so lustful he would curl back to lick himself, but just now there was only one way to attend to it.

Katie sobbed as belly pulsed up over her cheeks. It sealed above her with a sucking sound that was nearly lost in the creaks and gurgles that surrounded her and in the thunder of the otter's excited pulse. The place was wet, stinking of fish, and easily able to hold her, though her weight dragged the water-weasel's full belly against the floor. She curled in the fetid darkness and heat, gasping, and wondered how long she would live here. Swallowed whole! By a shark, or a big snake, she could have imagined that. But by an otter! By harmless Otto!

Shark or snake or otter, she was in his stomach now, and she felt a growing tingle as the slimy walls pressed in close. She was going to be digested; absorbed by the otter, just food for the 'cute' beast she'd fed for the last month. She was feeding him one last time, now.

There was something pressing in against her, down on the bottom curve of the belly. Otto's muscle and pelt were stretched so thin she could feel it clearly. He must be lying on something. Something thick and hard on the other side of the skin and muscle, trapped between his fat belly and the floor. Her rump pressed against it. The fish-oil bottle maybe? The otter moved around her….

Otto spread his hindpaws out wide, forepaws close together and thick, ruddery tail down against the floor. Head low as well, he arched and squatted, as though to deposit a dropping. But no. He pumped his groin up against his belly, and skin slid on fur as he grew fully erect. The fish had gone down before he'd known he wanted to mount it, but the huge bulge in his middle meant relief was still available.

Katie sloshed in the belly as the otter began to hump, forcing his groin up against his belly - and against her. The iron-like bar she'd felt through the bellywall rubbed against her ass, thigh and pussy, so thick and hard it pushed the muscular walls in against her. Even with all the sloshing and gurgling, she could hear the otter churring, a rasping growl that grew louder each time he humped. What she had thought was the oil bottle moved against the otter's hide, and through it, against her, and she knew then what he was doing.

It was horribly ironic that she was finally getting what she wanted -- Otto trying to mount her -- when it was far too late to do her any good.

There wasn't much air in the water-weasel's gut. What there was grew fouler with each breath. She scrabbled at the walls, but her fingers couldn't find any purchase in the slime and the bouncing made it hard to concentrate even on that small effort to escape.

She slipped from awareness without really knowing; she was conscious of the otter going rigid, shuddering from nose to tail-tip, and the hard bar throbbing beneath the bellyskin. The belly tensed, squeezed as the throbbing grew strongest, and she vaguely heard a rattling growl. The squeeze pushed the last air out; as the last bits of consciousness faded, she heard the belch.

His cheeks bubbled out around that long, crass sound, and then Otto relaxed, settling onto his belly and then rolling onto his side. His person would chide him for the mess on the carpet. For now, though, he was relaxed, belly full of now-silent fish and lust spent. He blinked a couple of times as he rested his cheek on the floor. There was something wrong with that last thought about his person.

For now, though, he wurfled to himself and settled down to rest. He was full and spent, and sleepy. He'd wonder about his person later, after he'd digested his fishy dinner.


"Oh dear God."

Sam looked up to see the assistant director pinching the bridge of his nose. "What is it, Bill?"

The phone was returned to its cradle, none too gently. "That was Randy down in personnel. Apparently the otter-sitter in Tampa hasn't filled out her online log in two days. They just sent someone over there, and they found her dress, and her undies, and they found Otto. But they didn’t find her."

Sam blinked. "But Otto's never shown the least interest in…I mean, he's never even been very interested in screwing women, much less eating them. He wouldn't just gobble her up for no reason."

Bill leaned back, rubbing his nose still. "I know. They found a bottle of fish oil in the bedroom. The said the carpet stank of it, they said, and there was a spot where Otto came on the rug. This was all right next to the bed, and right next to the clothes. Otto's trained to use the special toilet, and he was hungry when they got there, but…."

"But Otto could digest a woman in two days, easily. She'd be completely gone by now. Can we prove it happened?"

"They're bringing him back now. There'll still be some residue in him if he ate her. In the meantime they are steaming the carpet, and they will get rid of the clothes. As soon as that's done we'll send someone else there to house-sit. Someone who doesn't know about Otto."

"That's risky."

"Not really. She may have told some people where he was staying. It's almost inevitable that they did. Eventually someone will show up and ask, and our person will honestly say that she stopped logging her days and we replaced her. College students are unreliable, right? As far as everyone is concerned, we don't know what happened to her. And it's really hard to start a murder investigation when there's no body."

"Mmm." Sam rubbed his chin, unconsciously mimicking the director. "Do you think she oiled herself up and fed herself to him? Or maybe tried to get him to hump her, but didn't expect him to go after her as food? Covering yourself with fish oil in front of a giant otter, that's pretty stupid."

"If he did eat her, we'll never know why. But we'll know if he did, soon."

"What about the residue?"

Otto, like several other Project 'converter' animals -- Striper the skunk, Caesar the lion, and Bearkiller the wolverine, among others -- was an experiment. He would swallow a man or woman, digest them, but he would retain some of their genetic material. This would be processed into sperm, and if he then mated with the female otter created for this purpose, the result might be a sentient otter, or even an otter-humanoid. In fact the Project was discontinuing the program -- it was running out of excuses for why employees and street people kept disappearing -- but they were left with the occasional problem like this.

"I guess Otto gets one last visit with his otterette, and then I think it's time to fix him. With Bearkiller out in the wilderness and the others retired to zoos or on their own like Victor and Sandra, we just about have deniability. I think about enough people have been swallowed whole by one or another of them. And we have all the data we need to move on to the next step."

The End