Jake had ridden his bike for nearly an hour. He stood in front of the fence that ran along the boundaries of the abandoned military installation. He parked his bike and walked to the fence. The fence stretched out for kilometers in each direction. The barbed wire that lined the top of the fence would prevent climbing it but Jake wasn’t about to give up. The 12-year-old was short and skinny and he surmised that he could fit under the fence if he dug a hole under it.
He walked left, eagerly seeking out the ideal spot and found it several minutes later. Oddly enough, there was a small trench that already dug under the fence, almost as if someone had been there before him. He wasn’t about to let that deter him. He lowered himself to the ground and slipped under the fence using the trench. It was a tight fit, but he managed to squeeze though and was inside!
There was a hill in front of him and a forested area to his left. He walked up to and over-the-hill and saw a vast valley in front of him. There were hangars and other buildings in the distance to his right and several streets with houses on them in front of him. They were his target; he wanted to see what they looked like inside.
At a decent pace, he walked down the hill and into the valley, eventually reaching the first street where he walked up to the first house. He found its front door locked. He walked to the house next door only to face the same barrier. This repeated for 30 houses and he was considering giving up.
He approached a house in the middle of the small neighborhood whose front door was open slightly. Finally, he thought, finally a house he could check out. He opened the screen door and slowly pushed open the partially open front door and walked into the house.
The atmosphere within the house was eerily dark, quiet and had the scent of dust. When he walked to a light switch and flicked it, no lights came on. He decided there was enough light in the house to see where he was going and started to explore. Much of the furniture had a thick layer of dust on it. As he wandered into the kitchen, he thought he heard the sound of little feet walking around upstairs.
He called out, but no one answered. Thinking it was his imagination; he shrugged his shoulders and resumed his exploration. Despite the dust covering, he could see that it had a classical 1970’s look to it, like something out of a movie.
“Man, if they cleaned this place up, it could probably be a museum” he mused, admiring the decor. Having seen enough, he left the kitchen and walked into what looked like the den. Inside was leather furniture, a bookcase, a desk, a TV and windows that looked onto the backyard. As he walked though the room, he walked over the desk (which was in front of the bookcase) and noticed the leather chair was out of place. There was a drawer in the desk that appeared disturbed. Jake was beginning to get suspicious that someone had been here recently and heard the sounds of something walking around upstairs. Again he called out, but no one answered. He again shrugged his shoulders and opened the drawer. Inside was an open folder with several pictures and notes on top of it. He lifted the folder out of the drawer and put it on top of the desk, noting the desk already appeared as if someone had placed something on it recently.
Fortunately, the windows provided enough light for him to see the pictures. He picked up the first picture; it showed a picture of two men in what looked like military uniforms injecting a boy that looked to be about his age with serum. The boy was sitting on a table in his underwear. The picture appeared 30-40 years old. He looked at a piece of paper attached to the picture which a paper clip. There was a note on it which read, 14:00h, subject injected with the serum. The boy looked nervous, as if he was expecting someone terrible to happen.
Jake put the picture down and picked up another one, the boy looked terrified and seemed uncomfortable. He could see why, a light coating of grayish-brown fur was growing all over his body and his face looked odd. His nose looked different and his ears seemed pointer and higher on his head. The coloration around the boy’s eyes was of a black mask. The attached note read: 14:05h subject is display early signs of his metamorphoses, fur is growing in, facial features forming. Terrified, Jake put down the picture and picked up another one.
The third picture was even more terrifying; the kid’s entire body was covered in a thick pelt of the grayish-brown fur. His face looked different now, his ears pointed and at the top of his head and they were furry. They looked nothing like human ears and looked much more like animal ears. His human nose and mouth were gone, replaced with a muzzle and little black nose. His torso looked rounder, his hands and feet like paws. But that wasn’t what was most shocking, what was most shocking was that he had a tail, a long bushy ringed tail! The attached note said, 14:10h, subject’s body has begun to reshape to animal form, has animal facial features, full fur development is obvious and tail growth has completed. As he put the picture down, he feared what the fourth picture would reveal.
He took a deep breath and picked up the fourth picture. It depicted a raccoon sitting on the desk, there was no evidence that it had ever been human and looked terrified and confused. One of the people in the room, a woman that might have been his mother or guardian was petting him, comforting him. Again, he read the attached note. It said: 14:20h total change complete, no trace of humanity. Testing will continue to ensure subject has retained intelligence for project viability. He again put the picture down and thought about his next move, there were three other pictures but he was too terrified to look at them or read their accompanying notes. He quickly put them back into the folder, closed it and walked with it towards the exit from the house. He knew that he had to show these to someone, he had to let someone know about what had happened here decades ago. A part of him suspected and even hoped the images were fake and that someone had planted them there was a joke, a part of him was expecting several of his friends to jump out and laugh at him. There was something disturbing about the pictures though, something that wasn’t 'right'. As he walked towards the door, he again heard the sounds of little feet upstairs, this time they were running towards him. He quickened his pace to a run towards the front door, constantly looking behind fearing pursuit. Not looking where he was going, he ran into someone who was standing at the door, as if waiting for him.
As he fell to floor, the folder and its contents fell to the ground wide open. Jake backed up on the ground and turned around and assumed a sitting position with his legs stretched out and his arms supporting his back and looked to the man he’d run into. He was a tall, strong looking man. It appeared as if his running into him hadn’t even affected him. He wore a dark black suit with sunglasses; he looked like something out a military conspiracy movie. The man knelt down and picked up the folder and contents, stood back up and looked through them before placing them on a table beside the front door. He folded his arms and looked at Jake angrily.
“You should not have come here, I cannot allow you to spread information about this.” He said as he reached into an inside pocket with his left hand and pulled out what almost looked like a remote control. He pointed it Jake and shook his head.
“Our research on this subject has progressed rapidly since those early tests, and now it’s time you found out firsthand!” He said as he pressed a button on the control.
Massive warmth overtook Jake’s body as if he’d immersed himself in a pool of bathtub temperature water and he began to perspire. His heart rate increased, and his skin began to tingle and itch like mad. He stood up to try to charge the man but the sight of a pelt of brown fur growing on his arms distracted him. He held his arms out in front of his face, watching the fur develop as it spread to his hands. Dark brown fur grew on his hands and his fingernails began growing into claws. The skin on the bottom of his hands became more sensitive. He could hear something running towards the bottom of the stairs behind him as he felt an expanding in his face and tailbone. Unable to react out of fear, he felt his mouth and nose expand into a muzzle and little black nose, complete with whiskers. Fur grew on his face as his ears moved to the top of his head and took on a more animal like shape. A long hairless tail sprouted from tailbone, ripping the top of his pants. It grew until it was nearly the as long as his legs before a thick pelt of fur grew on it, leaving him with a bushy ringed tail. Seemingly now half animal, Jake’s senses suddenly came to life as his hearing and sense of smell became acute. He could hear the sounds from upstairs much more clearly now and could even smell what was up there as it dashed down the stairs. It was another raccoon!
Jake felt his humanity draining away and feared he was about to spend the rest of his life as a wild animal as he felt himself starting to shrink. The raccoon suddenly ran under his legs and jumped at the man in the suit, biting him on the leg, causing him to drop the device. The raccoon caught it and ran beside Jake. Still stunned, Jake looked himself over; he was upset, terrified and angry. The man had turned him into a freak! He could feel certain instincts coming to the fold, and licked his new sharp fang like teeth with his mostly human tongue. This man was going to pay for what he had done. But the raccoon had other ideas and with his dexterous paws, pointed the device at the man and pressed the activation button. The man could only scream, knowing what was about to happen to him. Fur sprouted on his body, his face grew into a muzzle and he developed a tail at the same rate Jake had, except with dark gray fur. This time, there wasn’t someone to stop it and the man quickly shrunk into his clothes and in less then a minute, what in all senses was a ‘normal’ raccoon climbed out of them. Looking at the two angrily.
The raccoon deactivated the device and pawed at Jake’s legs. Jake knelt down and the raccoon handed him the device, which Jake quickly took and pocketed. Jake then picked him up and sat down on a step, careful not to sit on his new tail.
“Thanks for saving me little guy” he said, finding speaking a bit more difficult with his new muzzle. The raccoon looked at Jake as he petted its soft rust colored fur.
“Jake, it’s me, it’s Tony” it said, its voice sounded strange but the sounds it made were human English words. Jake wondered how his 17-year-old brother could possibly be here.
“Tony, my brother but how? How can you talk?” Jake nervously asked.
“I wanted to explore here like you did, I drove here. Saw same pictures you did. He stopped me, did this to me. I ran, hid from him. Raccoon vocal cords able to mimic human speech, just have to learn to speak like this.” Tony answered, pausing between each word as he struggled to speak.
“How are we supposed to explain this to Mom and Dad?” Jake asked as he looked at the raccoon standing on the suit, demanding that he show them how to reverse their changes. The animal shook its head, saying it was irreversible.
“But, I don’t want to live my life as a freak! And my brother, what he supposed to be now, a pet?” Jake angrily asked.
“You have no choice, but you should be happy to know what you both will keep your intelligence and human lifespan, you both age at human rate, so live just as long.” It said.
“But how is that possible?” Jake asked, petting his obviously distraught brother to comfort him.
“I see no reason to tell you.” The raccoon answered.
“We could go home now and leave you here to fend for yourself as a wild animal. Of course if you cooperate with us, we could take you with us.” Jake said in a commanding voice.
“It would seem I little choice” the raccoon lamented, “The purpose of this project was surveillance. No one would suspect an animal they commonly see in their backyards as someone who could be observing them. Because of the permanent nature of this, we wanted to make the volunteers who signed up for this comfortable, so we made them ‘super raccoons’ in essence. They would retain their human intelligence and lifespan and have immunity to almost every disease and poison. The project was officially scrapped, but we continued to develop it in secret.”
“So you wanted to make us animals to cover this up?” Jake asked. The raccoon nodded.
“Look, we can come up with an explanation for this, we can keep your secret. But we do need to get home. Although I’m not sure how.” Jake said.
“I drove here, I can coach you to drive back, keys in clothes pile” Tony said.
“By the way, you can call me Chuck” Chuck said.
“Let’s get going then.” Jake said.
Jake allowed Tony to climb onto his shoulders and stood up, Tony told him that his clothes were in the living room, the one room Jake had yet to explore. With Chuck following, Jake walked into the living room and found the clothes. Tony told him where his keys and wallet were and Jake reached down and recovered them, putting them in his pant pockets. Tony told him that he had parked his car on the road about a kilometer from where he had gotten under the fence. Jake said he would retrieve his bike and put it in the trunk so they could get home. But they did have one problem, assuming Jake could reach the peddles, how was he supposed to drive? He was only 12 years old. He posed the question to his brother.
“You’ll do fine bro, I’ll coach you.” Tony said “how hard can it be?” He asked and looked down at Chuck, who covered his eyes in an ‘I am not hearing this’ motion.
“Don’t worry Chuck, it’ll be fine, now let’s get going.” Jake said as he went towards and out the door of the house with Chuck walking behind him. The trip back to the fence took some time, as he had to walk slower to so Chuck could keep up with him. When they got back to the fence, Jake knelt down so Tony could crawl under it, an act easily performed with his new size. Chuck followed next and finally, Jake followed, again struggling a bit and almost getting his new tail caught as he slipped under the fence. But with some help from Chuck and Tony, he was able to get under and out. By now, his clothes were filthy, covered in dust, although he didn’t mind as he had other more pressing concerns on his mind. He was starting to feel the effects of the heat, although he still had sweat glands, sweating wasn’t as useful when you have a permanent fur coat on. Tony and Chuck could sense his discomfort as they were feeling it themselves.
“Hang in there bro, the car has air-conditioning and I have some water in a cooler in the trunk.” Tony said. Jake nodded and they walked towards his bike. When they reached it, Jake picked it up, he thought about riding it, but was afraid he’d get his tail caught in the wheels so elected to walk it to the car. He invited Tony to climb back onto his shoulders, and for Chuck to sit on the bike seat. They agreed and Jake helped them both up and began the walking the bike to the road where Tony had parked.
They arrived after what seemed like an eternity but was in fact about 20 minutes. Jake parked his bike and walked around to the backseat, and opened the door so Chuck and Tony could get in. He knelt down allowing Tony to crawl onto the backseat and walked over to his bike, picked Chuck up and put him on the seat as Tony moved aside. He closed the door and walked over to the trunk to retrieve the cooler. He was very thirsty and got a bottle of water out of the cooler and drank its contents down. With his thirst quenched and the cooler on the ground, he put his bike into the trunk. He noticed there wasn’t enough room left in the trunk to put the cooler back, so he heaved it over to the passenger’s side, opened the door and put it onto the floor. With it secure, he closed the door, walked over to the driver’s side, opened the door and climbed in. Closing the door behind him, he had to maneuver his tail around a bit to avoid squishing it. Fortunately, he was able to reach the pedals and have just enough clearance to see over the dashboard. He reached for the seat belt and buckled himself in as Tony climbed into the passenger’s side seat. Tony started directing Jake on how to work the ignition to get the car started and on how to turn on the air-conditioning. A minute later, the car was running and the air-conditioning was on, providing major relief for the three of them.
As Tony coached, Jake slowly backed the car up, turned it around and slowly drove down the road and away from the base. For the rest of the way home, while Tony instructed, Jake drove slowly and took the side roads to avoid attracting attention. If he weren’t experiencing it himself, he wouldn’t believe that he was a 12-year-old raccoon person getting driving instructions from a talking raccoon.
After 30 minutes of driving, they finally pulled into their driveway and parked. Jake sighed a deep breath and looked at his bother.
“So how are we going to explain this to mom and dad?” He asked. Tony looked at Chuck and sighed.
“I think were going to have to tell then the truth. How else can we explain it?” Tony asked.
“If they ask us who we are then well, a raccoon person and two talking raccoons should be proof enough. That’s something that is hard to fake.” Jake said.
“If we tell them the truth we might compromise national security, we should find some forest and you should complete your transformation and go wild,” Chuck added.
“Look, we can’t just abandon our family, they have to know the truth, even if it will scare and disturb them. Yes people will freak out when they find out that it’s possible to turn a person into an animal but a secret like this can’t stay hidden forever.” Jake added. Chuck sighed and then nodded his head.
“It would seem we have little choice.” He said. Jake nodded his head, got out of the car and let the two raccoons out. Together they walked up to Jake and Tony’s house and opened the front door. Their mother immediately came upstairs to see who it was and screamed when she saw them. She started backing up, looking at them in terror. Jake walked towards her, trying to convince them of their identities.
“Mom, I know this is hard to believe, but it’s me, Jake. The rust colored raccoon is Tony and the gray one is Chuck. We went exploring on that military base and saw something we shouldn’t have. Well, Chuck here tried to use a device to turn us into raccoons to silence us and he got Tony. As he was changing me, Tony stopped him when I was only half changed and made him drop the device and used it on him.” Jake said. His mother walked up to him and tugged on the fur on his face and then on his tail.
“It’s…it’s real!” She said in shock, “but if you are Jake and Tony then why not use the same device that made you like this to make you human again?” She asked. Chuck walked up to her to explain.
“I’m sorry but it is irreversible” He said. Tony and Jake’s mother looked at him in shock.
“You can talk? But that’s impossible!” She said.
“No it isn’t Mom. Raccoons have advanced vocal cords and we still have human intelligence, it’s just a matter of forming the words with them instead of human ones.” Tony added.
“This is insanity, what am I supposed to do with 2 talking raccoons and a raccoon person?” She asked.
“Well, we can be like pets and Jake can still live his normal life. As for now we explain this, we’ll tell the truth.” Chuck added.
They spent the next few hours in the living room proving that they were who they said they were. They did so by answering questions only they would know the answer to. Jake showed the device to his mother, who quickly turned it on herself but turned it off after she grew some fur on her chest. What had happened distressed her but she calmed down when Chuck told her that they’d all still have human length life expectancies and would keep their intelligence. He said that he was willing to ‘go wild’ as not to arise suspicion, but would be willing to stay as a pet. Tony and Jake’s mother seemed unwilling to force him to fend for himself and allowed him to stay.
When their father got home, he experienced shocked at the site of Jake, Tony and Chuck but once they all explained themselves, calmed down.
Later in the evening, they discussed who would sleep in which room. Jake sat on the couch watching TV with Tony in his lap, Chuck sitting beside him and Jake and Tony’s parents pacing around the room.
“Well, you won’t need your room anymore Tony and I can use your bed, it’s not like you need it anymore.” Jake proudly acclaimed with a happy tone. Tony stood up and frowned at Jake.
“This isn’t fair” he lamented “It’s still my room, even if I do look a little funny, it’s still my room and my bed!” He cried.
“Well Tony, Jake is right that you don’t need your big bed to yourself anymore. But there is plenty of room on it for you and Jake.” Their mother suggested.
“Awe Mom, were both guys, how can we sleep together? That’s wrong!” Tony protested. Their mother walked over to the couch, indicating she wanted to sit down. Chuck climbed onto Jake shoulders and their mother sat down and began petting Tony.
“Tony, I know that it’s strange and seems unfair but your going to have to accept that your not human anymore, it will make the transition harder if you try to act like one. Besides, it can still be your room, It can be both of your room.” Gently scritching Tony behind the ears, she smiled and continued. “That doesn’t mean we will think of you like an animal, you’re still our son but you’re in the body of a animal and you need to accept it, it’s what you are now.” She inferred.
“See, I don’t want to steal your room away Tony. It’s just that your bed is so big and looks so comfortable, and you got your computer in your room and stuff. It will allow us to be closer,” Jake said, trying to convince his brother. Tony looked at him and then looked his mother and then at Chuck.
“Believe me friend, it’s a lot easier if you accept your new form and embrace it, being in denial will only make it harder.” Chuck added. Tony looked down at his furry body and again at Jake.
“Well, I guess but if I ever have a girl over, I will want some privacy.” He slyly said, suddenly realizing what he had said now meant a female raccoon “Er I mean when surfing the web.” He corrected.
“Don’t worry bro, I’ll give you privacy” Jake joked, tickling his brother’s belly.
With that, they decided had Jake would sleep in Tony’s room from now on. Tony would stay with Jake, While Chuck found it a bit unusual; he too elected to stay with Jake, citing accepting his new form as the reason.
That night, as they lie in bed with Chuck at the foot on the bed, and Tony lying on Jake, they pondered their new forms.
“Well, this was an interesting day.” Jake said. Tony looked at him and stood up to look himself over before laying back down on him.
“Interesting doesn’t cover it. But if you wanted my room, then you found an interesting way to get it.” Tony responded. They all shared a good laugh.