The police cruiser screamed down the road in pursuit of the suspect with sirens blaring. The chase had lasted for nearly an hour and was leading into an older part of the city with an abundance of abandoned warehouses and factories. The driver of the police car, Detective Roger Thomas had finally caught up with a suspect he had pursued for three weeks. The suspect had stolen equipment from several high security facilities. What he intended to do with the equipment was unknown.
The suspect slowed as they approached one of the factories, pulling into a lot in front of it. With a briefcase in hand, he quickly got out of the car and ran into the building as Roger brought his car to a halt.
After informing the station of his status, Roger ran towards the entrance to the factory, finding it locked. Looking for an alternate entrance, he saw a set of windows at ground level. Scanning the lot, he saw several rocks, most appearing large enough to shatter the windows. He realized that it would be dangerous to force his way into the factory that way and elected to kick the front door open. He was drew his weapon, took a step back and kicked the front door as hard as he could. It wasn’t enough to open it on the first try but it jostled it enough that a second kick was sufficient to send the door flying open.
Slowly walking into the factory, he surveyed the floor, it appeared years since abandoned. It was dark and there was an odor of grease and dust. He slowly walked around looking for any sign of the suspect.
Hearing what sounded like a humming and seeing an odd glow emanating from one the rooms on the upper level, he quickly ran across the floor to a stairwell that led to a catwalk. Running across the catwalk, he had almost made it to the room when something strange happened. A strange pulsating yellow light filled the room, creating a disturbance, blowing debris all over! Rushing towards the room, he kicked the wooden door open.
The Inside of the room had equipment unlike anything he has ever seen before. They paled in comparison to the swirling yellow vortex behind the suspect. Pointing his weapon at the suspect, he demanded the man freeze.
"I’m sorry but I can’t do that. I have to be getting back," the suspect nonchalantly said. Before Roger could react, the suspect ran towards and jumped into the vortex. Walking up to the vortex, Roger thought for a few seconds before jumping in after the suspect.
The trip though the vortex was like flying through a tunnel of pure light and energy. It made Roger feel dizzy and worst of all, he was completely out of control. After nearly a minute be saw something at the end of the tunnel and when made contact with it, he found himself flying out of the vortex and into another lab, unfortunately dropping his gun. He slowly picked himself up as the vortex closed behind him. Unfortunately, standing in front of him was the suspect and four additional men. The suspect walked up to him, looking surprised.
"Who are you and where am I?" Roger demanded.
"You should not have followed me through the vortex! But to answer your question, you’re on our Earth." he answered.
"Your Earth, what are you talking about?" Roger asked.
"It’s a long story" the suspect answered.
"I think you’d better start talking. For starters, why you were stealing all that stuff!" Roger demanded.
"Very well, I think you should sit down." one of the other men, an older man with gray hair and dressed in a lab coat said.
Roger sat down and the man proceeded to explain everything. The vortex he had followed the suspect into had led him to another reality. They built this technology in hopes of finding a cure for an outbreak of a virus on their world. This virus didn’t kill or make a person ill; instead it turned the affected person into an animal. Millions of people had been afflicted worldwide with more being affected every day. They had tested multiple treatments, none of which were successful. Traveling to other worlds in search of the cure was an act of desperation but they felt it was necessary. The suspect had traveled to Rogers’s world and ended up stranded when the device he used to access the wormhole suffered irreparable damage. Because the currency was different on his world, he had no choice but to steal the equipment to create a new device to open the vortex to get back to his world. Unfortunately, the suspect, who told Roger his name was Doctor Jamie Peters, was unsuccessful in finding anything on Rogers’s world to cure the epidemic. Roger inquired about re-opening the vortex so he could return to his earth. Unfortunately, because of various forces involved in opening the vortexes, they wouldn’t be able to open another to his Earth for 2 days. Realizing that he was an innocent victim in all of this, they offered to pay for a hotel room for him until then.
Roger was skeptical about the story. The virus and the idea of a parallel Earth seemed impossible to him but the fact that he had traveled through the vortex dispelled his doubts. He appeared to have no choice but to accept the scientists offer.
They re-joined the others who Rogers weapon, cautioning him to conceal it. On their Earth, it was illegal for anyone but police or military to carry weapons. The scientists provided him with a laptop to access the Internet from the hotel so he could research this world's history and laws. If anything, it would be an interesting lesson in possible ways history on his Earth could have been different.
One different he saw right away was the limousine that took him to the hotel. It was not gasoline but battery powered. This Earth’s technology was slightly more advanced then his own and fossil fuels were done away with a decade prior!
At the hotel, Roger changed into civilian clothes provided for him. He put his gun in a safe in the room. Having little else to do, he turned on the TV and started flipping through the channels looking for something to watch.
Finding an entertainment news program, he learned that on this Earth, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 was starting its 12th season. Apparently, neither Voyager nor Enterprise were ever produced. He wasn’t a huge sci-fi fan but did enjoy Deep Space 9 and had always wished it had continued past its seventh season. Reality TV was non-existent. A handful of shows were produced a few years ago but their ratings were so poor that they were scraped after their pilot episodes. Wanting to learn more about the history of this world beyond entertainment, he decided to access the Internet.
On this Earth, credits were used as currency. There were two kinds of credits; the first were debit cards similar to those on his Earth. The second were cards with a pre-determined number of credits on them.
He wanted to learn more about the virus and found several pages on it. The virus was first observed five years ago after a small asteroid collided with Earth. The asteroid was small and hit in a remote region and such the damage was minor. Unfortunately, it carried with a nasty payload. A small bacterium whose origin was unknown was in the core of the asteroid. When it was taken apart and taken to a lab, the scientists were unknowingly infected with it and began to spread the virus to others. The exact workings of the virus were unknown, but the latest theories indicate that the species it turns the victim into is based on species they’ve had recent contact with. Currently, there have been more then 50 million reported cases worldwide. The change takes anywhere from 24 hours to a week, with most cases experiencing complete metamorphoses with 48 hours. Generally, first stages of the change manifested themselves within a few hours of initial infection. Mentally the victim’s memories and intelligence are usually left intact. Unfortunately problems with instincts are common and many victims lose themselves to their new bodies.
The method of infection is physical contact with those infected. The virus appears to be most contagious within the first 24 hours after initial signs of infection.
For a few minutes, he wondered if it would be safe for him to return to his own Earth, lest he bring the virus with him. He realized that unless he was infected with it that it would be unlucky though.
Reading through other aspects of this Earth’s history, he learned that in 1985 a new law was passed which repealed the 2nd amendment therefore baring all but law enforcement and military officials from carrying weapons. The law was passed in an effort to reduce weapon-related offences. According to statistics, it had been fairly successful. For a time, illegal weapon smuggling had been a problem, but microchips imbedded in weapons which allowed the tracking of all weapons (and which if removed would render the weapon inoperable) helped to stop that.
Reading about the microchip technology, he also read up on other aspects of technology on this world.
This world was more advanced then his. Projectile weapons were a thing of the past. Ten years ago, discoveries in particle science allowed for the creation of particle weapons. Their ability to fire on stun made non-lethal takedowns far easier. A weapon that could stun someone without doing any serious or permanent damage was something every law enforcement officer wished they had.
Nanotechnology was a reality here and as well they had a colony on the moon. Manned trips to Mars had started a few years ago, although establishing a colony there was still some time off.
The next few aspects of this Earth’s history and present surprised him.
On this Earth, Alaska was part of Canada. Canada had purchased Alaska after a major source of oil was discovered in Alberta.
On his Earth, black-footed ferrets were severely endangered as a result of farmer’s extermination of Prairie Dogs. On this Earth, humanity had a better understanding of the ecosystem and ‘circle of life’ at a much earlier date. Instead of exterminating Prairie Dogs, they worked around and in some cases relocated them. Both Black footed ferrets and Prairie dogs were domesticated and often kept as pets.
World War 2 ended different here as well. Not wanting to harm innocent civilians, the experimental H-bombs were dropped on lifeless islands. Seeing the demonstration, Japan had surrendered the next day.
As he finished reading up on this Earth’s history, he was getting hungry. A quick check on the net showed that McDonalds existed on this Earth so he decided to get a bite to eat at the closest one.
An hour later, he had finished eating and was walking back to the hotel. While McDonalds did exist on this Earth, it was quite a bit different from those on his own. On this Earth, McDonalds was a full-fledged restaurant.
As he neared the hotel, he saw something run out from an alley. It was too dark to see exactly what it was but it seemed terrified. Without looking, it ran out into the street and unfortunately tripped and fell. He watched, as a truck that hadn’t seen whatever it was fall onto the ground barreled down the road!
Gasping in shock, he ran out into the road. As he neared whatever it was he could tell that it was a person. He quickly picked her up hearing the truck honking all the while. As a fast as he could he, jumped with her out of the way and ran back to the sidewalk. Slowly putting her down, he realized that she was a child no older then 12 or 13. Her clothes were ragged looking and he could hear her whimpering.
"Are you alright?" he gently asked.
"Yes" she answered, sniffling. It was then that she lowered hood of the shirt she had on. He immediately saw what the problem was. Her face was covered in brown fur with a black mask around her eyes. She also had a muzzle and small black nose. It was pretty obvious that she was infected with the virus and was becoming a raccoon.
"Help me mister, if they catch me, they’ll put me in a prison and wait till I’m an animal then release me into the wild!" she cried.
"It’s okay" he comforted her as he petted her back and held her tight. "Where are your parents?" he asked. He never once thought about the danger of catching the virus from her. It was in his nature to consider the safety of others, especially that of children before his own.
"They got the sickness and the men took them away. They tried to take me away but I ran!" she said, her eyes tearing up as she started to cry.
"Do you know where they took them? Maybe I can do something!" he asked.
"They said they were taking them to center 4, but what we gonna do? They have guard towers and everything, we’d never get in!" she answered.
"I don’t know but I’m going to think of something. Come on, let’s go back to my hotel room" he said.
"They’ll never let me in cause I’m sick!" she yelled.
"Then I’ll have to sneak you in. I’m not leaving you here." He insisted. The girl nodded her head, telling him that her name was Marisa. He told her his story and together they started walking back to the hotel with Marisa making sure to conceal her face.
When they later arrived at the hotel, Roger slowly opened the door to survey the lobby. There didn’t appear to be anyone watching, so he slowly led Marisa in. The desk clerk watched them as they walked by him and towards the elevators.
When they arrived at his floor, Roger stepped out of the elevator first, looking right and left to make sure the hallway was clear. Confirming that it indeed was, he motioned for her to exit the elevator. She did, slowly walking out, obviously afraid of getting caught. Slowly, they walked down the hallway towards his room.
Upon getting in, he locked the door behind him. Marisa slowly walked into the room and sat on the second bed.
"Thanks for helping mister. But why would you risk getting sick for someone you don’t know?" She asked.
"Risking my life to save strangers is part of my job" Roger answered. Still sniffling, Marisa rubbed her nose and looked at Roger as if in shock.
"Are you a cop?" she asked.
"Yes, I’m a detective" he answered.
"But the cops would call the quarantine people to come get the sick people, how come you didn’t do that? And how come you touched me, the cops wouldn’t out of fear of getting infected." she asked.
Roger pondered for minute whether or not to tell his story to her. In the end, he decided to, he wasn’t sure she’d believe him but figured that it wouldn’t hurt to try.
"Wow, that’s a pretty cool story. It does explain why you didn’t seem to know. But what are you going to do now? What if you’re infected from me?" she asked.
"Well, if I’m lucky, maybe it won’t effect me because I’m from another Earth." He said. "Now, how about we get you into some cleaner clothes? It will make you feel better," he said.
"Okay, can I take a bath? I feel dirty and it might help me to relax" she said.
"Of course" Roger replied.
Marisa thanked him and took off her hooded shirt, revealing a black tee shirt. He could see that she had a light growth of brown fur on her arms, although it was still subtle. Her fingernails also appeared to be slightly longer and were turning black. Looking at the fur, she sighed as she touched it. She knew that this was just the beginning. In a matter of days or perhaps even hours, it would spread and quickly become a pelt. The thought terrified her.
Only two days ago, her mother had come home feeling odd. Hours later, she noticed fur growing on her face. Bother her parents had warned her not to touch her, fearing she’d be infected as well. She watched helplessly as her mother grew more and more animal like over the course of the following 24 hours. Cream colored fur had grown on her chest, brown elsewhere. She started smelling funny a few hours later; the smell was an odd musky odor. Her father had taken care of her and at first showed no signs of infection. Unfortunately, only hours later, he started growing fur.
Marisa had gone outside to relax; she was feeding a family of raccoons that visited on a regular basis. She knew that she shouldn’t touch wild animals, lest she end up getting bitten, scratched or getting parasites from them. She was too upset over what was happening to think clearly and petted the biggest one. He reacted well to it, as he knew her. After that, she went back inside and visited her mother. Despite her mother’s warnings, she touched her; she was too upset and was curious as to what her fur felt like.
Hours later, they showed up dressed in biohazard suits. They took her parents away and tried to take her away. She resisted though and managed to get away. She had been on the run since. Now, she almost had a complete muzzle and was growing fur. The irony of her petting an animal she never should have didn’t escape her. It seemed that she would have plenty of time to pet a raccoon now that she was becoming one.
Not wanting to think about it anymore, she got off the bed and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. Running the bath water, she stripped and looked at herself in the mirror. A tear rolled down her cheek as she realized that this would likely be the last time she’d be able to look in the mirror and still see a (mostly) human being looking back at her.
Sitting down in front of the TV, Roger realized what he had gotten himself into. He remembered the report saying that signs of the infection would manifest themselves with hours. Taking a deep breath, he realized that the next few hours were literally going to dictate his future. If he began to change, then he’d not only be stuck here but would eventually end up an animal. That thought was unappealing to say the least. After all he had done, all the lives he saved the idea of ending up in a zoo or as someone’s pet was almost an insult.
After thirty minutes of watching TV, Roger was getting concerned about Marisa and got up and knocked on the bathroom door. To his reassurance, she responded that she was almost done and asked if he had anything to eat as she was suddenly very hungry. He asked her what she wanted, saying he’d get it from the cafeteria. He wanted her to keep her strength up and was hopeful that eating would do so. After she told him what she wanted, he told her not to open the door for anyone, no matter whom they were. She acknowledged and he left the room for the cafeteria.
He returned 10 minutes later with three containers full of warm food. Walking back into the room, he saw Marisa sitting on the chair watching TV. She was a towel around her torso and was staring at her arms as if in shock.
"What’s wrong?" Roger asked.
"The fur, it’s getting thicker!" Marisa exclaimed, showing Roger her arms. There had indeed been more fur growth since he last saw her. It was subtle but definitely there.
"I know but you need to relax" Roger said. He had dealt with illness and with people who were wounded before. He knew how important it was to keep them calm. Putting the food on a table by the TV, he knelt down and touched the fur on her arm. "I know this is scary but I’m going to help you through this. Somehow, I’m going to find a way to rescue your parents, I promise you that." He said in a soothing voice.
"But, I’m still turning into an animal! For all I know, by this time tomorrow I’ll be rummaging though dumpsters and won’t even remember who I am!" she lamented.
"That’s not going to happen, I’m not just going to dump you in the wild to fend for yourself. I’m going to be with you through this. I’m going to help you to stay focused. No matter what happens, you’re going to make it!" he assured. Hugging him, she smiled.
"Thanks for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done had we not met. This is all just so overwhelming. Only a few days ago my family and I were normal. Now I don’t know where my parents are or if their okay and I’m facing living out my life as animal." she answered.
"I understand and the way you’re feeling is very understandable. It’s okay to be upset, it’s okay to be angry." Roger said. Reaching for one of the containers of food, he opened it. Inside was a burger and French fries. Smiling, Marisa hugged him before saying she wanted to get dressed. He nodded and she got up and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. A minute later, she emerged dressed in her tee shirt and jeans.
Sitting down on the chair, she proceeded to eat the burger. Her forming muzzle presented a slight challenge but she quickly overcame it. As she ate, they watched TV together. She ended up eating to contents of all three boxes!
They spent the rest of the evening watching TV until 11pm. Marisa was feeling very tried and decided to go to bed. It had been a long day, so Roger did the same. Since there were two beds in the room, sleeping arrangements were not a problem.
As they got into bed, Marisa again thanked Roger, he responded that he was glad to help and turned off the lights as they both closed their eyes and went to sleep.
Roger was awoken the next day by a shrill scream. He quickly sat up, first looking at the clock. It said 9:30am. He then turned his attention to the source of the scream, it was Marisa! When he looked at her, he immediately saw the problem. Her changes had progressed considerably overnight. What had been a soft coating of fur was now a pelt. Her short forming muzzle was now fully developed and included whiskers. Her human hair was gone, and her ears were now at the top of her head. She was holding something with her right paw, something that was attached to her backside. When he saw the black rings on it, he knew what it was; she had a tail. Her torso was rounder, but still retained its human shape.
"Marisa?" he asked, getting off his bed and walking over to hers.
"I’m a freak! It isn’t fair! I didn’t ask for this, I don’t want to be like this!" she sobbed. "When they told me to expect physical changes with puberty, this wasn’t what I had in mind!" she yelled. Putting a hand on her shoulder, Roger did his best to comfort her.
"Marisa, I need you to calm down. Please, we are going to get through this! One way or another you’re going to be okay. And your definitely not a freak, your actually quite beautiful like this." He said, petting the fur on her head in an attempt to soothe her.
"You mean that?" she asked, looking at him, her eyes wet from crying.
"Yes, I do." He said smiling. "Are you hungry at all? I figured we could get some breakfast and then see what we can do about finding your parents." Roger answered.
"Well, I do have a craving for bacon and eggs. But I’m afraid to eat, I don’t want this to spread any faster and eating may only hasten it." She said. "Speaking of which, how do you feel. You showing any signs of the change?" she asked.
Looking himself over he told her that he didn’t seem to be. That made her feel better, perhaps she hadn’t of infected him. He told her that he was going to go down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. She nodded, asking if she could use his laptop to try to find information on the facility her parents were being kept at. He nodded his head to say yes and left the room.
Marisa got out of bed and sat down in front of the computer. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with herself. What felt like a million thoughts were going through her mind, making concentrating very difficult. She tried to picture getting out of this situation and being back home with her family. Unfortunately, her body seemed to indicate a far different future. The mental images of her future seemed to fade. It wasn’t long before the only images of her future involved climbing trees and rummaging through dumpsters and garbage cans in search of food. She tried her best to purge herself of that image but the fact that she had fur and a tail made it almost impossible. Shaking her head, she decided to focus on the task at hand. If she was going to be an animal then she planned on at least being able to be with her family.
She knew there as a website for the facility her parents were being detained at. She was able to find it with a bit of searching. Unfortunately, the website was of little use. It talked about fancy rehabilitation facilities for people affected with the virus and about fair treatment. She knew that this was a lie and it enraged her that they were covering up what was really going on. Someone was going to pay for this, she didn’t know how but someone was going to pay!
A minute later, Roger came back with breakfast. He made sure to bring enough to both of them in case Marisa changed her mind about eating. At first she was afraid to eat, but when she picked up the scent of the eggs, her hunger overrode her fear. As Roger put her serving on the table, she quickly dug into it, foregoing using a knife and fork. As she finished, she used a napkin to wipe the bits of food off of her muzzle.
"So, were you able to find anything?" Roger asked.
"Yea" she responded, frowning. "They have a website about the facility but its all bull shit. They make it sound like a peaceful rehabilitation place but that’s a total lie!" she said.
"Well, we’re going to find out and truth and if possible expose them. They won’t get away with this, I assure you." Roger answered.
Nodding her head, Marisa sighed deeply.
"What’s wrong?" Roger asked.
"It’s so hot in here" she complained.
"It’s all that fur, it’s like you have a natural fur coat on all of the time now. It’s going to take time to adjust to it" Roger said.
"I guess so, I just wish there were something I could do, something I could wear that was cooler." She answered. She wasn’t about to start running about with nothing on. Despite the fact that she was now technically half animal, she was not ready to start acting like one! "Maybe a cool shower will cool me down" she suggested.
"Sounds like a good idea, I’ll be out here if you need me." Roger answered.
Marisa smiled and nodded and started walking towards the bathroom when they heard a knock at the door. Roger wasn’t expecting anyone, so he didn’t know what to think of it.
"Who’s there?" he asked.
"NQA open up!" the voice on the other side of the door demanded. Marisa gasped when she heard the name.
"NQA, the National Quarantine association, they’ve found me!" she cried.
"I don’t understand how, I didn’t mention you to anyone." Roger questioned.
"That clerk, he was looking at us oddly, he must have known somehow!" Marisa yelled.
"Open up!" the voice yelled!
"We’ll have to figure it out later; come on, out the fire escape!" Roger yelled. Marisa nodded and they ran towards the window that led to the fire escape. As they were nearly halfway there, the door was kicked open and three men in biohazard suits burst in! They yelled for Roger and Marisa to freeze, but neither had any intention of doing so. As they reached the window, Marisa tried to open it but couldn’t. She stepped back as Roger used his strength to force it open. Unfortunately, this delay gave the lead man the opportunity to fire a tranquilizer dart into her shoulder!
As she started losing consciousness, Roger rushed the man and kicked him to the floor. Grabbing his rifle, he used it to knock the man out before firing it at the other two. To his luck and amazement, the darts penetrated their suits. Looking back at Marisa he saw her struggling to stay awake while slumping against the wall.
"Go, you can’t let them get you!" she yelled.
"I can’t just leave you here!" he replied.
"Even if you take me I’ll be an animal within 24 hours! It won’t be long before I can’t even talk or walk on two feet, I’ll be no good to you then!" she said, obviously struggling to stay conscious.
"I’m not leaving you here and that’s final!" he yelled. Looking at him, she tried to say something but lost consciousness. Picking her up and holding her in his arms, he ducked out the window before running across and then down the stairs of the fire escape.
As he managed to reach ground level in an alley beside the hotel, he could hear sirens in the distance approaching! He knew that he was running out of time. Thinking fast, he decided to go back towards the alley he had seen her running towards in the hopes of finding where she was headed.
As he located the alley, he could hear the police cars in hot pursuit. There was another alley across the street, he wasn’t sure where it led to but he seemingly had little choice. Quickly running across the street, he noticed that Marisa was slowly starting to wake up. He ran into the alley and could hear the police pursuing him. He was only a few hundred meters into it when he saw a police car drive up to it. The alley was (thankfully) too narrow for them to fit through, forcing them to pursue foot and buying him more time.
After running for 10 minutes, he came to what appeared to be a dead-end at a brick wall with boxes surrounding it. Cursing he turned around to see the police getting closer. He thought that they were as good as captured when something beside him startled him. A door opened to his right and a man that appeared to be partially changed (although only in the initial stages) told him to follow him. He had little choice in the matter and followed the man as he closed the door behind him. They were quickly led though the building and down a flight of stairs. The stairs led to a tunnel where a van was waiting. Roger climbed in the back with Marisa (who was almost fully awake at this point) as the man got into the front seat and started the van down the tunnel.
"Where are we? What happened?" she asked.
"One of those quarantine guys tranquilized you, are you okay?" Roger asked.
"I feel a bit dizzy but I think I’m okay" she answered.
"I managed to get us out of there, I ran back down the alley you were going towards and this man rescued us." He answered.
"Joey? Is that you?" Marisa asked, as she stood up between the front two seats.
"Yes, I knew you were coming. We’ll be there in half an hour, then were going to find your parents." The man answered. It was then that Roger noticed the man had a short coating of orange fur with some black stripes, it looked like he was becoming a tiger.
"Who are you and where are we going?" Roger asked.
"Well, that depends, who are you?" Joey asked.
Roger proceeded to tell him the story about how he was pursing the suspect and ended up on this Earth. At first he was weary that the man wouldn’t believe him, but surprisingly he did.
"There are rumors that they’ve been searching other worlds for a possible cure. Although sometimes I think their just after resources. I think they invented this plague as a form of population control." Joey answered the bitterness in his voice clear. "To answer your question, I’m taking us to a place where infected people can have dignity. We take care of them, unlike at that facility. That facility just releases them into the wild; they don’t care what happens to them after. If we know where Marisa parents are in it, then we get them out of there. Even if we can’t cure them, at least we can ensure they’ll be taken care of."
Thirty minutes later, they arrived at the end of the tunnel. Marisa seemed to be a little further in her change by this point. She seemed smaller and her clothes were looser and her torso appeared rounder.
Joey led them up another flight up stairs and into what appeared to be a large house. There were two guards at the door and someone sitting at a desk nearby, she didn’t seem to be infected. Joey told them Marisa and Rogers stories before Marisa was led upstairs and into a room where she would be taken care of and better prepared for the future she now had.
Roger was taken to an examination room. They wanted to see if he was infected or not and took several blood tests as well as scans with equipment he couldn’t identify.
When they returned half an hour later, they informed him that he had been infected. The good news was that the virus was having trouble with his cellular structure. This was why he had yet to show any signs of it. While research on the virus seemed to indicate that the species it changed the person into was based on species they had recent contact with, that wasn’t certain. According to the readings, the virus was going to change him into the same species it was changing Marisa into. He hadn’t of been in contact with a raccoon recently. They could only guess that his trip through the vortex has eliminated any animal DNA from his person, and when he touched Marisa, it used her species.
The fact that the virus was having trouble with his body offered hope to them. They took samples of antibodies from his blood in hopes that they could be adapted to create an anti virus. But, even if it would work, it would take at nearly 24 hours to synthesize it. Unfortunately, Marisa would likely be an animal by then but they still had to try. There was also the matter of freeing her parents. They had to plan a rescue before it was too late.
After getting dressed, Roger was led to a planning room. There were six people there, four women and two men. All appeared to be infected with the virus although they were still in the early stages. They had specially altered particle rifles that could get past the detection grid without deactivation. Marisa had told them where her parents were being held and they planned the rescue.
After the planning was done, Roger went to see Marisa. She was in a room with a few other people and was lying in a bed. She had been given a gown that allowed her to stay cool while still offering something to wear. She had progressed slightly since he last saw her. She was a little smaller and her torso a bit more round. She tried to speak but speech was becoming increasingly difficult. He sat down on the bed beside her and petted her to try to comfort her.
"Were going to rescue your parents soon. I’m going with them and I’m going to do everything I can to get them out of there." He said.
"They told me that you’re infected. I’m sorry, it’s my fault." She whimpered her voice higher pitched then before. Looking at her reassuringly, he smiled.
"It’s okay, I know you didn’t do it intentionally. Anyway, they said the virus is having trouble with my DNA. They think it may be possible to make an antivirus from my blood. For all we all, this could work" he said.
"So, we could all be alright?" She asked.
"It’s certainly possible, but I don’t want to get your hopes up in case it doesn’t" he said. Slowly, she sat up and hugged him, thanking him for trying, even if it didn’t work. He then told her that he had to go, the rescue mission would be leaving soon. She nodded and he got up and left the room.
Joey met him outside of the room and led him downstairs into another room with a few rows of computers. There were a few people seated in the room but the one user of interest was seated at the very back.
Joey led him to the user, a woman in her early thirties with sunglasses and a blue tee shirt. At first she seemed unchanged, until he saw her huge legs and tail, the legs and tail of a kangaroo.
"Sarah, this is Roger, he’s a visitor. He brought Marisa to us, he saved her." Joey said.
Shaking her hand, Roger asked how it was that she was becoming a kangaroo. She had been with the group for some time. How she managed to avoid infection was anybody’s guess. Three days ago she visited the zoo and the last animal she visited was a kangaroo at a petting part of it. Two days ago, a new member joined them and she helped him to adjust, staying with him as his humanity slowly slipped away. It was especially difficult for him, as he became a seal. They were unsure where had encountered seals before then. Cases such as his put what species someone infected with the virus becomes into question. Unfortunately, she had become infected and started showing signs within a few hours after he was fully changed. She estimated she’d be a kangaroo with 24 hours but until then planned on helping the group for as long as she was physically able to.
"So, where is this man now? Is he okay?" Roger asked.
"He’s in a pool he have in the basement. We are a bit worried he’s adjusting a bit too quickly to his new form but if he’s happy then perhaps it’s for the best. If he’s gonna live out his life like that then I’d rather he be happy then miserable" she said.
"I understand" Roger said.
"So, you need a hack into center 4? No problem, just gimmie 10 minutes and I’ll have everything you need on them" she said, grinning mischievously.
Roger couldn’t help but grin himself at how casually she appeared to be taking this. But either way, if the end result was getting Marisa’s parents back then it was worth it.
And 10 minutes later, she had kept her promise. Handing Joey a printout with a significant amount of information of the facility, she smiled.
"Give em hell!" she said.
Putting a thankful hand on her shoulder, Joey thanked and kissed her. As he and Roger walked off, Roger was a bit curious about the kiss.
"Haven’t even started changing and already that famous raccoon curiosity is kicking in?" Joey said, speaking sarcastically.
"Guess so" Roger answered chuckling.
"To answer your question, Sarah and I are more then just friends. We’ve known each other since high school. We’ve been very close ever since." He answered, chuckling as he shook his head. "The irony that my name is Joey and she’s the one becoming a kangaroo certainly isn’t lost on me." He said.
Five minutes later, Roger was sitting in the back of vehicle that was not unlike a military van. Two of the rescuers were in the front and the rest were with him in the back. All were dressed in camouflage and armed with particle rifles. Roger noticed that his chest was a bit itchy, no doubt initial sign of the change. He didn’t have the luxury of worrying about his health; he had a mission to complete. As the truck started on its way, he wondered what the people back home were doing.
In the facility, a man in a white coat slowly walked down a hall. There were several doors in the hallway, each leading to a small room with a bed, toilet and sink. In each of the rooms was someone infected with the virus.
In a room he walked by was Marisa’s father, indicated by a plate bearing his name and species he was becoming beside the door, in his case a red fox. He was progressing rapidly, his entire body covered in fur; hand almost complete paws and muzzle well formed. Bipedal locomotion was becoming difficult for him. They estimate he’d be fully changed within 24 hours.
Walking to the door across from it, he looked in. Marisa’s mother was in there. She was becoming a ferret. She was well along the way, being the first of the three to be infected. She had shrunk to only about twice the size of a ferret and was fully covered in fur. She had since lost the ability to speak and walked on all fours. They had taken her clothing away and estimated that she only had a few hours. They knew she couldn’t survive in the wild here and planned on taking her to a proper place to be re-educated and released.
As he finished observing her, an orderly walked up to him.
"Have you located the daughter yet?" he asked.
"She escaped from the authorities, twice. Some guy she was with at a hotel helped her the second time. They don’t know where they went." the orderly answered.
"Then we need to find her and bring her here" the doctor said, obviously agitated.
"Well, they said she’s becoming a coon so when’s she’s done she’ll probably join the wild ones in the woods in the area or go searching a Dumpster or something." The orderly said sounds rather arrogant. With a look of anger in his face, the doctor responded.
"We cannot allow her to infect other people, she must be brought here to be quarantined!" he said.
"Yes sir, I’ll have the efforts to find her re-doubled." The orderly answered.
"See that you do." The doctor said as he continued to observe the ferret that her mother was becoming with fascination.
The orderly walked down the hall, through the facility and into the communications room to make the calls necessary. Just as he picked up the phone he saw something totally unexpected outside. A military truck was heading right for the front gate of the facility. He watched as it smashed though the gate effortlessly and several people got out of it. Putting the phone down, his hands were trembling as he pressed a button to summon security.
The itching on his chest now having spread, Roger was fighting back the desire to scratch. In this situation he couldn’t afford any distraction and such he ignored the itching. The group split into two, him with two others and three others. Unfortunately, a stealthy approach was now out of the question, not only because of their literal breaking on but also because of the loud alarm was now blaring!
Roger and the two with him ran to the right. Their mission was to find Marisa’s parents as well as anyone else they could free.
As they ran, a spotlight turned on and began following them. Thinking quickly, they each fired their weapons at it, destroying it.
"Hurry, we haven’t much time!" Terry, a man with the tail and fur of a lemur said. They ran across the yard, taking out two more spotlights before rounding a corner and coming to a door. Placing a small pack on the ground that he was carrying, Terry told them all to take cover. They ran back around the corner and he pulled a small remote control out from his coat pocket and used it to detonate the pack. The explosion blew the door off cleanly, allowing the three of them access to the building.
Running into it, they immediately got their bearings from a map on the wall. Marisa’s parents were being held in a wing a short distance away. Sarah had hacked codes to the cells, so it was simply of matter of getting to them. They all ran down the hallway towards the wing but unfortunately, several security guards ran out from another hallway ahead of them. Reacting quickly, all three opened fire, hitting three of the four security guards. Unfortunately, the fourth guard fired and struck the third member of their group, a young man with the tail and mane of a horse named Gordon. Roger fired at the guard before turning his attention to Gordon. He was still conscious but was in obvious pain. Terry helped him up and they slowly continued walking towards the wing, with the Terry supporting him.
In the wing, the Doctor still watched Marisa’s mother. He had a disturbing fascination with watching someone becoming an animal. Seeing her so close to being fully animal delighted him to no end. He had heard the alarm go off but thought nothing of it, feeling the security would have no trouble getting any intruders at bay.
"Such a shame such a beautiful person such as you has had something like this happen to her" he mocked. "Now, if you’ll excuse me my little ferret, I have my rounds to make" he said. He was about to start laughing that was until he turned to his left to see Roger and the other two standing before him with their rifles aimed right at him. He could see something Roger was unaware of, Roger had the beginnings of fur on his face and already had a well developed mask.
"I’m afraid you’re not going to be making any rounds any time soon!" Terry proclaimed.
At the other end of the facility, the other three were making their way towards the security area. They were planning on deactivating all security arrangements as well as opening all the rest of the cells and collecting video evidence of what was happening to the people there. The media and government had said that victims of the virus were brought there to make the transition was easy as possible as well as for treatments to slow it’s progress. They were told that if they ended up fully animal that they’d be put in a special facility where they’d be well taken care of. The three planned on exposing this facility, hoping to bring forth-new evidence so the public would know what was going on.
As they reached the security shed, six security guards ran at them from in front and behind them. Thinking quickly, they ducked as the guards fired their weapons. This tactic worked well and four of the six guards ended up knocked out from friendly fire. The three easily dispatched the remaining two. Getting up, they continued on their way to way the shed!
Having locked the Doctor in the same cell Marisa’s mother was in, Roger held her gently, assuring that Marisa was safe and that he was going to get them out of there. Although much of the ferrets humanity was gone and she was now all ferret with the exception of being twice the size of a normal ferret, she seemed to understand him and nodded her head.
Having located a medkit, Terry treated Gordon’s wound and gave him something for the pain, which made him feel quite a bit better.
"Come on guys, hurry up, get the cells open." Terry said quietly. He could only hope that the other team was having luck in their mission. While they had been able to free Marisa’s mother and father, they had been unable to unlock any of the other cells. Unless the other team could use the code to unlock all of them, they would have little choice but to leave the others behind, something that in their eyes was not an option.
In the security shed one of the three worked hard to disable the security protocols while the other two stood guard valiantly. When an alarm sounded, the one working looked shocked and cursed loudly.
"What is it?" one of the ones standing guard asked.
"The police are on their way, at least 8 squad cars. As well they’ve dispatched 12 security guards towards the wing where all those people are being held." The one operating the equipment answered.
"How much longer until you get the cells open?" the third one asked.
"Only another minute or so!" the operator answered.
The group could hear the security guards approaching. Marisa’s mother in particular, with her new very advanced hearing was on the verge on panic.
"We can’t wait any longer, but we can’t just leave these people here. What are we going to do?" Terry asked.
"What your going to do is to surrender now!" a voice from behind them said. The voice was very familiar to Roger. They all turned around to see this words double of Sergeant Frank Stevens, a colleague of Rogers.
"Frank, is that you?" Roger asked.
"That’s right, name is Frank. I don’t know who you are though." He said before looking closer at Roger. "And I see you’ve been infected. Such a shame." He said.
"What you’re doing is wrong! These types of facilities are here to help infected people adjust. You’ve bastardized that mission. Why did you do it, how many credits did they offer you?" Terry asked.
"So, you figured it out. I suppose people wouldn’t believe we were just releasing these people for long." He said. Pressing a button on his belt, he summed at least dozen security officers who quickly surrounded the group both in front of and behind them. "You’d be amazed how much money a rare specimen goes for at a zoo" he said.
"But this is wrong! These are people, not animals; you can’t treat them like this! They are victims of an illness; they deserve compassion, not imprisonment! You may look like my friend but I can assure that you most definitely are not." Roger yelled.
"You’ll never get away with this!" Gordon yelled.
"Oh but you see, I already have. Take them away, just don’t touch them, we don’t want any unfortunate infections" Frank said before snapping his fingers.
Just as the security began advancing on them another alarm went off. Except this alarm wasn’t an intruder alarm, this alarm signaled that all of the cells were opening! As the prisoners, all in various states of change walked out of their cells and advanced on the security, the looks on the guard’s faces was described as ‘oh crap’.
"You may have numbers but we still have the guns!" Frank yelled.
Suddenly hearing even more weapons powering up and pointing at them, everyone turned to see more then a dozen police officers both behind and in front of them, all heavily armed and armored.
"And we suggest you drop them immediately!" one of the offers yelled.
"Ah," Frank happily said as he approached the lead officer. "Am I glad you’re here, arrest these people!" he said.
"They’re not the ones were here to arrest! We know all about what’s really going on here. You have right to remain silent," the officer said.
A short while later, Roger was outside speaking with a detective.
"So, infected people aren’t just rounded up like this?" Roger asked.
"No, but they are asked to go into quarantine as not to infect others. These types of facilities are not just for quarantining them but also for helping them to adjust to their new bodies. We had no idea that our version of you was using this facility for illegal means." Roger said.
"But how did you find out?" Roger asked.
"We found tapes and that proved it and we uploaded the information to them as they were on route!" came a voice from behind them. The three that broke into the security area walked up behind them, carrying ample amounts of evidence.
"Then who were the people that took Marisa’s parents away?" Roger asked.
"They worked for this facility. They told us that they were forced to take them away. This is why so many of us had to go into hiding, we wanted to make sure that infected people could have their dignity." Terry said.
"We really should be getting back then, I want to get Marisa’s parents back with her, at least this way she can with people familiar before there is no humanity left in her." Roger said.
"Of course." The detective said.
Forty minutes later, the truck now carrying the original six as well as Marisa’s parents pulled into the tunnel under the safe house. Marisa’s mother had unfortunately finished changing in the interim and her father looked about 70% fox. Although he could still walk on two feet, his hands looked like paws and speech was very difficult for him.
Rogers own changes had been progressing. Although the virus was slower inside of him, it still progressed. A light coating of fur now covered much of his body and he had the beginnings of a tail. His mouth and nose were starting to grow into a muzzle and his face was furry.
Quickly walking up the stairs and into the house, he asked to be taken to Marisa. They did so, and he was led into her room. She was still in the bed and her change had progressed rather quickly. She was much smaller now and her torso was rounder, its human shape almost gone. She looked like a giant raccoon, albeit one with clothes.
As Roger sat down beside her, he put the ferret her mother had become on the bed and her father stood beside her.
"The mission was a success. Not only did we save all those people but we’ve put an end to what was going on there. Hopefully no one will go through that those people went though again." He said.
She looked up at him with desperation in her eyes. Her humanity was quickly slipping away and there didn’t seem to be anything she could do about it. She seemed to be holding back, as if she wanted to do something but was afraid to.
Her father shook Rogers’s hands and thanked him, assuring him that even if they’re meant to animals, at least now they’ll be treated in a humane manor.
"I wish there was more I could do to help all of you" Roger sadly said. Marisa nodding and hugged him as best as she could. Picking up the ferret, she petted it gently.
It was then that she realized her paws were much more sensitive then her human hands had been. But this didn’t change the fact that the ferret she was petting was her mother. A week ago, had someone told her that at this moment she’s be a giant raccoon petting a ferret, she’d have called them crazy. Yet, here she was; a giant furry animal that couldn’t even speak.
Feelings of anxiety were starting to overwhelm her again. Gently putting the ferret down on the bed, she looked down at her body. Her mind seems to go fuzzy for a few minutes. She wondered why she had clothes on. Animals don’t wear clothes and yet she had them on. They made her feel itchy and too warm. As best as she could, she tried to get them off. It was a bit of a struggle, but she did manage. As she got them off, she discarded them on the floor. Looking at her furry belly, she petted it with her right paw. Now that felt better, why she had allowed herself to do such a human activity was puzzling to say the least.
Roger saw this activity and was very concerned. It seemed like her emerging instincts were overwhelming her. He knew how hard this was for her. Such a young age and having to deal with something so drastic was no doubt overwhelming for her. He could see her fathers concern in his eyes. He knew how much it pained him not only seeing his wife turn into an animal but to see the same happening to his daughter. He knew he had to do something to keep her focused, keep her from losing herself to her emerging new form. There was another factor in this however. He knew that if this experimental cure didn’t work that he’d never be able to get home. He also knew that sooner or later, his body would lose the war against this virus and he’d be an animal, he knew that he’d likely end up like her sooner or later. That only gave him more determination to help her. If her couldn’t help her then surely, he couldn’t help himself!
Kneeling down, he put his hands on her shoulders.
"Marisa, please stay with us! Don’t let it win! You have to fight it. Stay Marisa! You are not an animal! You are a beautiful girl and it’s important that you stay focused and remember that!" he sternly said.
Marisa looked up at him, desperation in her eyes. She wanted to fight it, wanted to retain some of her humanity, but it was growing harder with each passing hour. She was starting to see little point in thinking like a human if she wasn’t going to be human anymore. But she also knew that she couldn’t let her friends and family down. She had to fight it for as long as she could, no matter what the cost!
Looking at the ferret and at her father, she then looked at Roger and nodded her head. She was going to fight it.
"One way or another Marisa, you’re going to be okay. If this cure works, hopefully they can restore you. If it doesn’t then it looks like you’ll have me as a companion as I can’t risk spreading this to my own Earth" Roger said, not noticing the man walking up behind him.
"Maybe not, looks like I have good news!" he said.
"Oh?" Roger asked.
"That sample you gave us appears to be working. We should be able to synthesis an anti viral agent within 12 hours." He said.
"That’s great news, but what of the people already fully changed?" he asked.
"I’m not sure, we’ll find out then. In the meantime, I suggest you all get rest." The doctor said.
The next day, Roger awoke feeling strange. He slowly got up and walked into the bathroom. Turning the light on, he looked at himself in the mirror. The virus had been busy overnight. His entire body was covered in a pelt of brown fur as well he had a tail. His face didn’t seem to have changed though. He looked at his watch and saw that it was 10am. His first concern was how Marisa was doing. Quickly running out of the bathroom, he ran into the room where she was.
Sitting on her bed was a dejected looking raccoon along with a ferret. Beside them was a fox like creature, although it seemed to have some human features. Walking over to Marisa, he sat down beside her and petted her.
"Marisa, is that you?" he asked. The small raccoon sadly nodded her head, looking on the verge of panic. She wanted so badly to tell him how she felt. The fact that she could no longer speak was very distressing to her. If she could speak then this would be tolerable. But with the loss of human speech, it was as if she were truly an animal.
Right now she wanted to explore what this body could do. She wanted to find a forest, even if it were just a small one. She wanted to experience climbing trees and doing the things she had seen the raccoons in her backyard do. Now that her changes were complete, her fate seemed much more ‘real’. While she seemed to be maintaining composure on the outside, on the inside she was fighting a war. At this point, it was unclear which side was going to win. Would she stay herself in animal body or would she give into the animal body and be an animal? Would trying to think like a human be little more then denial? Was it time for her to accept her fate and embrace her new form? She didn’t want to let Roger down; especially after all he had done for her. If she were to give into her body and run off, then it would be as if all he had done was for nothing. From her point of view, she had condemned him to a living out his life as an animal; the least she could do was to stay with him and to stay herself. Looking at the ferret her mother had become; she could see her struggling as well. She knew that if she gave up, then her mother likely would as well.
It was decided, she was going to fight this. This virus may have claimed her humanity physically but she was not going to let it claim her mentally. She was determined to stay herself, no matter what she looked like on the outside she was still herself on the inside.
As she completed that thought, the door to the room opened and the doctor walked in.
"We’ve been able to synthesize the antivirus. We used a combination of antibodies from your blood as well as antibodies from people that appear to be immune to the virus. We’ve synthesized enough for almost everyone here but want to start with the ones furthest along." He said. Roger nodded and the doctor walked over to Marisa’ sitting down beside her.
"Now Marisa, I’m going to inject you with something that should hopefully change you back. I don’t know if it’s going to work or not but we need to at least try." He said. Marisa nodded her head. She understood that this was experimental and might not work but didn’t want to spend her life as an animal if it wasn’t necessary. The doctor also planned on injecting Marisa’s parents. A nurse walked in and handed him a container with several vials of the antiviral agent as well as several needles. Preparing each, he injected all three with the contents.
"How long until we know whether or not it’s going to work?" Roger asked.
"We should know in a few hours. In the mean time, I should inject you as well, if your going to leave this world later today and this works then we need to eliminate all traces of the virus from your system." The doctor said. Roger nodded and the doctor prepared another needle and dose and injected him. When that was done, he told him that Joey was downstairs and wanted to see him. Telling the three that he would be back, he got up and walked downstairs.
Joey was sitting on a couch in the living room watching TV. There was a report about the facility, apparently what had happened was making national news. He looked different then yesterday. He had more fur, and a tail, as well his ears were tiger like rather then human like.
Lying on the floor in front of him was a kangaroo, it was Sarah. She looked a bit distressed, however the news of the raid was keeping her calm. A closer look at her revealed that she wasn’t a complete kangaroo, not yet. Her face was still mostly human, albeit with fur and kangaroo ears and no human hair. She wasn’t wearing any clothes, but with all but her head being kangaroo, she really didn’t need any.
"I was told you wanted to see me?" Roger asked.
"Yes. The raid is all over the news. The authorities are searching the records of the facility. They’re trying to locate any people that were shipped out. It seems that this has been going on for more then 2 years. And now, they tell me they have a possible cure and it’s all thanks to you." Joey answered.
"Well, it seems your people have been working on the cure for some time now, I just helped that’s all." Roger replied.
"How is Marisa doing?" Joey asked.
"The virus was busy during the night, she’s an animal now. They’ve given her the injection, only time will tell if it’s going to work. They gave me one too, I don’t know if it’s going to work or not. Those scientists told me that it would take a couple of days to open another gateway to my Earth. If this doesn’t work then I can’t return and risk spreading this there. How are you and Sarah doing?" Roger answered.
"We are holding out. Sarah can’t speak anymore but they gave her an injection as well. Hopefully it will work. However, even if it doesn’t work, life here isn’t so bad. This virus has caused a lot of problems to put it mildly. But with the exception of corrupt people like the person that ran that facility, people with the virus are well treated. Yes we’ve had to be quarantined and there is fear but that’s only natural. Some people do believe the virus was created not by accident but to control population growth but our society isn’t horrible. What your seeing here is only a fraction of our Earth, please don’t think were monsters." Joey pleaded.
Walking over to him, Roger smiled and put his hands on the young man’s shoulder.
"It’s okay, I understand. I don’t think your world is terrible. From what I saw of its history, it looks like a very interesting place. It’s been an interesting lesson for me in what could have been." He answered. "By the way, how is Jerry doing? He seemed to be okay on the way back, but that wound of his concerned me." Roger asked.
"Unfortunately, the blast was quite a shock to his system. It sent the virus on the fast track. He’s a full horse now. He’s more then a bit freaked out to say the last, we had to sedate him." Joey answered.
"I can only hope this cure works for him." Roger said.
"As do I. Anyway, your probably hungry, how about we get something to eat?" Joey asked.
Several hours later, they had eaten and been watching TV. It was then that Roger noticed he was feeling better. The pelt of fur he was covered had been shedding. As well, his tail appeared to be getting shorter. The cure seemed to be working!
Excited, he ran out of the room and back up to where Marisa’s and her parents were. Arriving at Marisa’s bed, he saw that it appeared to be working on her as well. He noted that she was busy eating and that her size was now much closer to her human size. The shape of her body also appeared to be more humanoid, although she still had fur and a tail. As well, she was able to speak again.
Walking over to her, he asked how she was feeling.
"Much better now, they say the virus was been eliminated from my body. But something’s weird, they say that those of us that became full animals can only be partially restored." She said.
"What do they mean by partially?" Roger asked.
"They say we’ll be humanoid animals. The same thing happened to my mom and it looks like my dad as well. Their trying on some people that have been full animals but they say that anyone that’s been full animal for more then a few days is stuck that way!" she answered.
"Well, at least you’re going to be okay. And it looks like I’ll be able to go home safely after all" Roger said.
"But, I’m gonna be a freak! How am I gonna live like this?" she asked.
"You’ll have a lot of company. Once they start getting this out, I’m sure there will be a lot of people like you." He answered.
Hugging him, Marisa nodded her head. She realized that adjusting to this was going to be tough but that she wasn’t alone and it was preferable to ending up a full animal. A minute later, Marisa’s mother walked in. her progress was slower, but she was gradually regaining her humanoid form. Right now she was about the size of a child and was starting to regain the ability to speak.
"Thank you for rescuing us and for helping Marisa. You’ve done this world a great favor." She said.
"Your welcome, I was glad to help. I’m just happy that this cure appears to work. I should be able to return home safely this evening." He answered.
"Do you really have to go? Can’t you stay with us?" Marisa asked. Roger thought about it for several seconds, before gently answering.
"I can’t stay, this isn’t my world. I also have friends and family back home. They’re probably all wondering where I went. Besides, maybe I was meant to come here to help you guys provide the final pieces of the puzzle needed to cure the virus." Roger answered.
"I know but I do wish you could stay. I guess you do have people to get home to. Just as a request, can we come with you to see you off?" she asked.
"I think that would be just fine." Roger answered.
Later that evening, Roger had been fully restored. Joey had been given the cure was well and was on the way to be fully human again. He drove Roger as well as Marisa and her parents back to the facility where Roger had first arrived on this Earth.
The scientists were fortunately expecting him and had seen the news, not only about the facility but also about a cure being found. At this point Marisa was fully humanoid, as were her mother and father. As Joey pulled up to the facility, they were all met by two of the scientists who led them all back into the room with the vortex generator.
As the scientists programmed the co-ordinates of Rogers Earth and prepared to open the vortex, Roger knelt down and hugged Marisa as they said their good-byes.
"You know" the lead scientists said. "You still have the equipment back on your Earth and we still have your earth’s co-ordinates. It should be possible for people from here to visit your Earth and vise versa. Perhaps this doesn’t have to be goodbye." He said.
"Until next time then and don’t worry, there will be a next time." Roger assured Marisa, hugging her one last time before standing up and shaking her mother and father’s hands and finally Joey’s.
Turning to the lead scientist, he nodded his head, saying that he was ready to go home. The scientist pressed a few buttons on his console and the emitters for the vortex lit up and a second later, the swirling yellow vortex stood before them.
Taking one last look at the group. He waved and smiled and looked at Marisa.
"Remember Marisa, your not a freak and never will be. You’re a beautiful and very brave young woman. I know that you have a promising future ahead of you. Never let anyone tell you any different." He said. Marisa smiled at nodded happily. With a smile on his face, Roger turned around and jumped into the vortex. Several seconds later, it gracefully closed.
Back on Rogers earth, several police officers and scientists were busy studying the equipment in the old warehouse in an attempt to ascertain what it did. Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, a yellow swirling vortex opened with Roger flying out it seconds later!
With a shocked look on his face, one of the investigators, his friend and this world’s Frank Stevens helped Roger up before asking him where he had been. As the vortex closed several seconds later, Roger smiled; realizing his actions in the past two days had possibly saved an entire world.
"You’re the Frank Stevens I know right?" Roger asked.
"Of course, we’ve known each other for 10 years, what other Frank Stevens would I be?" Frank responded.
Roger couldn’t help but hug the man, happy that he was home and that this was his friend. Shocked over this response, Frank looked at Roger oddly.
"Are you okay Roger? What’s with the affection?" he asked.
"Yes, I’m fine. And, it’s a long story." Roger responded.