The 6:00 alarm woke me up from a deep sleep. I hated the 8:00 class I had today. I felt like skipping it, but I wasn't taking the class. I was teaching it. I hit the snooze button and rolled back over in bed. I didn't like getting up at 6:00 in the morning, but I had to get everything ready for class. Last night was busy. I had stayed up doing homework and working on my master's project. (Someday I'm actually going to get somewhere with it.) One o'clock in the morning had rolled before I knew it.
The alarm woke me up again. I sat up in bed this time, determined to get up. I hopped out of bed and got my bathroom supplies from my cabinet. With sleep in my eyes, I then proceeded down the dormitory hall to the bathroom to take a shower. I sat my toothbrush and toothpaste down at a sink and started brushing my teeth. I looked in the mirror. The kangaroo face looking back at me was surprising, but familiar. I didn't pay any attention to it.
I woke up to the sound of the alarm. I was dreaming. I hated dreaming of waking up and living out a day. But, this one was different. I had been a kangaroo! I examined my arms. They were still human. Then I felt of my face. It felt human. I crawled out of bed. But, this time I didn't get to the bathroom before I noticed the difference. My legs were not human. They were the hind legs of some hoofed animal. Then my whole body felt strange. My head felt heavier and like I was balancing something. I reached up to feel and realized that I had antlers. Moose antlers! I proceeded to feel of my face, but I couldn't. My hands had become hooves and my arms forelegs. I was forced to all fours as the rest of my body completed the change. I was a moose! I felt weird. "Where were the trees? Where's the grass? I'm trapped! How did I get here? Mustgetout" I rammed the walls with my antlers. "MUSTGETOUT" Finally one part of the wall collapsed. It smelled like trees, but it didn't look like a tree. I was in another trap. "MUSTGETOUT" I ran down the long strip between the walls. At the end I saw trees. I ran to them and crashed through a hard invisible barrier. "FREEFREE" I ran to the trees.
I woke up to the sound of the alarm. I was human again. I wasn't a moose trapped. That dream was so real. I thought I was really a moose. These dreams of dreaming are going to have to stop. I sat up in bed. This time I check my whole body to see any signs of changes. I found none. I crawled out of bed and got my bathroom supplies. The hall was empty as I walked down it. Not many people take classes this early. No one was in the bathroom either. I brushed my teeth and got in the shower.
My mom told me about a new dandruff shampoo. So, I decided to try it. I had just bought it yesterday. I wanted to see how well it really works. I squeezed a small amount of the shampoo into my palm and lathered up my hair. I thought I could feel it working. It felt tingly. Then I noticed my hands. In the foam was bunches of hair. I rinsed the foam and hair off of my hands and felt of my head. I was able to take more hair out this time. I didn't even feel it pull. "That shampoo made my hair fall out!" I yelled. I quickly finished showering and dried off. As I was drying I saw that the rest of my body hair was falling out, too. I ran to a mirror above a sink and saw that all of my hair was gone. I had just gotten a hair cut, too. I grabbed the shampoo bottle and read the label. It didn't say anything different from other shampoos. I looked at myself in the mirror again. I was bald! I also noticed a grayish-greenish tint to my skin. There must have been something in it I was allergic to. So, I decided to get dressed and call the company.
When I got back to my room, I had a sudden realization. This must be another dream. I had a series of strange dreams before. This one went right along with them. Since it was a dream, I decided to not call the company. Why worry about being bald in a dream. Might as well go along with it.
I opened the closet door and looked for something to wear. Or rather to see what was clean. There was a strange feeling. Like muscles were stretching. Thinking that I was just sleeping wrong I continued to pick out clean clothes. But, when I started to put on my pants I saw a problem. My legs were now much thicker than they use to be. And longer. My arms were the same way. But they seemed to be the same length as they had been. Then the strange feeling spread through my body again. This time I saw it. My arms and legs grew in thickness. My feet showed signs of becoming claws. My pinkie finger shrank into my hand leaving me with only four fingers. My skin was now tough and gray with a few hints of green. My stomach was a lighter color. But, the biggest change was what I was sitting on. A thick tail about two feet long was now sticking out from the base of my spine. I got a rush of new sensations from the tail. It felt strange but enjoyable to move it around by thinking about it. This dream was becoming more realistic by the minute.
I ran to the mirror to see the whole me. In the mirror a deformed monster was looking back at me. My head had shrunk a little, or my body had gotten bigger. But, my face had lost almost all traces of humanity. My nose was now just nostrils at the end of a short muzzle. My forehead seemed flatter. My eyes had moved more to the side, and my ears were gone. I couldn't recognize what I was becoming. The other two dreams I knew that I was a kangaroo and a moose. But, this one I had no idea. I looked to be some sort of reptile. As I was pondering what this dream was changing me into, my head changed again. My muzzle was longer and my forehead flatter. This time the biggest change was my back. It was now a large arch with a row of plates. My tail had grown longer and thicker. Plates had sprouted from it also. Along with four spikes. I then realized what I was becoming. I was a stegosaurus. I tried to feel of my plates with my clawed hands, but I couldn't move my arms far enough to reach them. My back was so far away from my front now. Another wave of changes happened. My legs were that of a stegosaurus now. But I could still stand up on two legs. My arms looked like that of a stegosaurus, however they retained much of their human movement. My hands were still as dexterous as before, just less one finger. My back was arched more and the plates were larger. My tail had grown a lot. It was about two thirds long as I was tall. My head looked exactly like a stegosaurus head. No human traits were left. I had grown in height. I think I was up to seven feet. I hoped this was as far as I was going to change. The last dream of becoming a moose was pretty disturbing.
This dream was so vivid though. I had to keep convincing myself that it was a dream. I must have been reading too many stories on the TSA mailing list. "If I remember this when I wake up, I'm going to write a story," I said to myself out loud. I was relieved that I could still talk. I looked at my new body. It was so strange, but natural. I looked like a stegosaurus standing on it hind legs.
Then I heard screams down the hall. I must have been so caught up in my transformation that I didn't hear them before. I wanted to see how real this dream was. I tried to get some clothes on, but nothing fit anymore. I didn't have much to cover up, since I was now a dinosaur. But, I wanted to out of habit. I grabbed a sheet and through it around me like a toga, my pointed plates trying to punch their way through the sheet. My tail, of course, was sticking out. I went down the hall to see what the screaming was about. It was a co-ed dorm. So, I was at the female end of the hall in a few seconds. One of the doors flew open and a rat woman ran out. She screamed when she saw me and scurried back into her room. This dream was getting stranger by the minute. Other people must have be awakened by the girl screaming, because more screams echoed through the hall. "Everybody must be changing."
I decided to see what David was now. David had been my best friend since I came to college six years ago. We both are in the masters program now. I'm in Computer Science, and David is in Electrical Engineering. His room was just a few doors down from mine. I walked up to it and listened. My new hearing was sensitive. I could hear him moving around in his room clearly. I knocked. I heard him mumbling and he finally opened the door. He had thrown on a shirt and shorts. But it didn't hide that he was now a humanoid donkey. His girlfriend had always called him Eeyore. The name suited him, now.
He was surprised at what he saw standing at his door. I could see the white of his eyes. "Lance?" he asked.
"You're a dinosaur."
"And, you're a donkey. This dream of mine is very realistic," I said. I tried to smile, but I don't know how my saurian mouth handled it.
He looked at his hoof-like hands. "Dream? I don't think this is a dream."
He would say that if it was a dream or not. "Well, we should try out our new bodies. I mean it isn't every day that you are a donkey, even if it is a dream. Have you heard from Meghan?"
"Call her. Let's see what she is." This dream was getting fun. David called Meghan on the phone. It was hilarious watching him try to put the receiver at his ear and mouth at the same time.
After talking a while, David hung up the phone. "She said she is a walrus."
I started laughing. Meghan being a walrus was hilarious. She was always self conscience about her teeth. The sight of two long tusks sticking out of her mouth was too much.
David didn't join me. "You're taking this pretty well," he said.
"Why not? It's my dream."
David rolled his eyes and shut the door. I guess he needed more time to adjust. I went back to my room. It was almost 8:00. I was going to be late teaching. But, since I was dreaming, I figured I could be late. However, I decided to go ahead and go to teach the programming lab.
The trip through campus was entertaining. There were a few people who were half animal were running around in panic. Most of them were mammals. There were a few bird morphs trying to fly. There were also a few reptiles, but no dinosaurs. I guess since it was my dream I could get to be the unique one. I arrived at the Computer Science building and saw that not many people were there. I stopped by the main office. The secretary was there. She hadn't changed too much, but she resembled a rabbit. She looked up from her work. "May I help you?"
"Stacey, it's me. Lance."
"Lance? I should have known you would have shown up even on a day like this. You're a stegosaurus, right?"
"Yep. I had to show up. It's my dream."
"Lance, I hate to tell you this, but you are not dreaming." She grabbed her long ears. "This is as real as this building."
I considered that for a few seconds. "Who else is here?" I asked.
"Well, Brian and Ross are here. I have seen other people walk by, but I don't know who they are."
"Thanks," I said leaving the office. She seemed to be taking her new shape better than others I've seen. But, then she hadn't changed too much.
I entered my office. Well, I is actually a large room with six desks. Five other grad-students and I have this as our office. Two people were in there having a conversation. Not surprisingly, it was about the changes. I couldn't tell which was Brian or Ross. They were two other grad-students which share this office. One of them was now a bear; the other was a razorback. (That was almost funny. The razorback is our mascot at the University of Arkansas.) Both had changed a considerable amount. I guess it was the same amount that I had changed.
"Hi, It's me. Lance," I said setting my backpack down on my desk.
"Lance, don't you have a class now?" the bear asked jokingly.
"Hey, I had a rough morning," I responded.
"It looks like it," the razorback said with a tusky grin.
"Ok, before I run off to the computer lab to see if any students came, who is who?" I asked.
"I'm Ross," replied the bear.
"Brian," said the razorback.
"Now that we have introduced ourselves again, I'm going to run off to teach," I said grabbing my notes. "Isn't this an exciting dream?" I hurriedly walked down the hall to the computer lab. I was only a few minutes late. Teaching a programming lab isn't too hard. I give them an assignment, and I answer questions while they work on it. So, I wasn't under too much stress even that I was now a dinosaur.
The lab was empty. Not one student had shown up. Not that I would have recognized them to begin with, but nobody was there. I wrote a note on the dry erase board that said, "Lance is in room 207." And I went back to the office. Ross and Brian were still there talking.
"Funny, I didn't have one student show up," I said when I entered.
"Maybe you did. They might have turned into computers," Ross laughed showing his sharp teeth. Brian and I joined him.
"So, what do you think happened?" Brian asked me.
"Well, beside the fact that I am having one realistic dream, I don't know what happened," I replied sitting down at my desk. It was harder than I thought with that long thick tail of mine. The plates on my arched back made it difficult as well. "I had several dreams in a row of waking up as an animal. This last one is still going on." I motioned with my arms at my body.
"You aren't dreaming, Lance," Ross said. He walked over to my chair, grabbed my tail, and bit it. I yelled in pain. Instinctively I jerked my tail from his grip and prepared to swing it. The spikes aimed at the bear.
"Sorry, Lance. I was just making a point," Ross said backing away from my tail.
"I don't know what came over me," I said lowering my tail to a somewhat comfortable position. It was a comfortable as I could get it sitting down. I needed to get a chair without a solid back. But then I had a sudden realization. Not only was I uncomfortable sitting down with my tail and plates, but I had felt pain. Ross's teeth were sharp.
"Oh, man," I gasped. "I'm not dreaming!"
I wasn't sure which hurt worse. Ross's teeth marks in my tail, or the fact that I had a tail to begin with. I had accepted being a stegosaurus morph as part of my dream. But, now that I knew I wasn't dreaming, I wasn't so sure how I liked it. I started examining my new body closer. I was taller and thicker than I was. It wasn't really fat though. My back made a huge arch. My skin was tough and green. It was a lighter green on my stomach and a darker green mixed with gray on my back and limbs. I had always wanted to change into something. Now I have, and I'm not accepting it. I decided that I should be happy that I was changed at all.
Ross and Brian were staring at me. I hadn't said anything in the past ten minutes while I was looking at myself. "How did this happen?" I asked breaking the silence.
"We don't know," Ross replied.
"The news said that everybody has changed. Kids that haven't reached puberty seem to not be affected. But everyone else has become part animal," Brian answered.
"Some have changed completely into an animal. Their minds seem to not be human anymore," Ross added.
That scared me. This morning I dreamed that I had turned into a moose. I though I was a moose. In the kangaroo dream I was still me. But, when I was the moose, I was the moose. I wonder if that was what it felt like to have changed totally.
"Watch this," Ross said. His body started changing. Suddenly there was a real bear in his place. He didn't have to change too much. He looked a lot like a bear to begin with. Then he changed back to his half way form. "Cool, huh?"
"How did you do that?" I asked.
"It's easy," Brian replied before changing fully into a razorback. He changed back after a few seconds.
I stared in amazement. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. First of all everybody was now part animal. And second the people in front of me just changed into a real animal.
"Why don't you try it?" Ross asked.
"I don't know..."
"Come on, Lance. It's fun," Brian said.
"I don't think a real sized stegosaurus would fit in the office," I said. If I remember my dinosaurs correctly, a stegosaurus was about 20 feet long.
"Then, let's go outside. It's a wonderful experience," Ross said. They grabbed me by my arms and pulled me down the hall toward the outside door. Once outside they let me go. "Ok, just think about changing. There is sort of a mental barrier. Just push through it," Ross explained.
I closed my eyes and concentrated. I pictured my body as it was now, or at least as well as I could remember it. I had only had it for a few hours now. Then I sort of felt a barrier. I imagined pushing against it. Then I felt a strange sensation. I opened my eyes. I was growing. I could no longer stand on two legs, so I fell to all fours. I continued to grow more. When it felt like I stopped changing I saw that I was a stegosaurus. And, I still remember who I was. My mind didn't change. Fortunately, too. A stegosaurus had a brain the size of a walnut. That made me wonder. Was my brain the size of a walnut now?
"Wow," was the reaction from both Ross and Brian.
I looked myself over. My sheet had come loose when I expanded and fell to the ground. Luckily it didn't rip. I was impressed. I was huge. And it felt wonderful. I liked being a stegosaurus. A real live stegosaurus. I got hungry. The grass and trees seemed to be appetizing. I moseyed over to a grassy area near the sidewalk and started munching. It was delicious. But, not filling. I started looking for more food. I heard something. I saw two creatures following me. They seemed familiar. But, I was hungry. One of the creatures grabbed my tail and bit it.
That jarred my memories. I had though I was really a stegosaurus. I quickly closed my eyes and tried to find the barrier I had pushed through before. I found it and changed back. "Thanks, for biting me again, Ross," I said. "I guess the small brain I had as a real stegosaurus didn't have room for my human part."
"Did you not understand us?" Brian asked. "We were telling you to come back. We tried to tell you how to change back."
"I didn't even know what you were," I replied. "I was determined to find more food." We headed back inside the building. "I don't think I'm going to do that again." I said.
"We haven't had that problem before," Ross said.
We went back to the office. No one else had arrived yet. They probably weren't going to come. It was summer school, and everybody was eager to take any kind of holiday.
Then Stacey, the secretary, came down to our office. "The news just said the some people have developed super powers. Most can just change into their animal, but some have extra powers."
"I wonder if we have any powers," Brian said.
"How would we know?" I asked.
He just shrugged. Brian and Ross tried to find if they had any powers. I decided not to, considering what happened when I transformed. Neither of them found anything. About 1:00 we decided to go home. Not many students showed up for their classes. And, I wanted to see Meghan and David.
I walked home and saw several people. I didn't recognize them. I was used to walking though campus and always seeing a familiar face. Now, even my face isn't familiar.
Walking barefoot wasn't bad. It felt comfortable. Even on the rough parts of the sidewalk. My leg didn't get tired going up the hill either. Every now and then my right knee would act up, and my leg would tire out going up the steep hill. But, now I didn't even notice my sore knee. It must have healed when I changed. I'll have to find out the next time I sit in a movie theater. It starts jumping if I keep it still for very long.
The sun was warm and bright. I don't know if I have to worry about getting sunburned easily now. I used to be pale or red. I could never get a tan. When I reached my dorm, I opened my door and put my backpack on the floor. I then knocked on David's door. He was still in there.
"Still dreaming?" he asked.
"I know I'm not dreaming now," I said. "It seemed so much like a dream though."
"Well, it isn't my dream to be a donkey," he said. "Although Meghan thinks it's so cute." He said "so cute" in a mock sweet voice.
"Have you seen Meghan yet?" I asked.
"Yeah, she's here." David pointed to his room. I looked in. There was a walrus watching TV. She hadn't changed to the degree that David and I had, but she was definitely a walrus.
She looked up at me. "Lance?" she asked.
"Yeah, it's me," I said.
"You make a great dinosaur," she said. "Now,... what kind are you?"
"A stegosaurus," I said. I turned around so she could see my two rows of plates.
"See, he gets plates," David said. "I just get to be a donkey."
"Let me tell you. These plates aren't great," I said. "I can't sit back in a chair anymore."
"Oh, David. I like you still. You're really my little Eeyore, now," Meghan said getting up and hugging him.
I left them alone. I knew that David need Meghan's support right now. He doesn't seem to like what has happened. I'm sure a lot of people don't like what has happened, but I've seen many have already adjusted in the few hours it has happened. I went into my room and turned on the TV. Maybe the news would have something on about the Change.
The anchor man on the new was an elk. He was saying that this has happened around the whole world. Nobody knows the cause of it. One guy, who was a tiger morph in India, said that he knew of a way to reverse the Change. There was something about him that I didn't like.
I sat there continuing watching TV. I eventually drifted off to sleep. It was 3:00 in the after noon and since I had to get up at 6:00 in the morning I needed a little nap. The dream I had was so real. I was in my room. My room looked real. I didn't feel real. I looked at myself. I wasn't a stegosaurus anymore. I was a moose. Not a complete moose, but a moose morph. It felt so real. I looked around the room to see anydiscrepancies with the real world. I found none. Then I saw myself. I saw my stegosaurus body sleeping on the couch where I fell asleep. But, I wasn't in my body anymore. I wondered if this was what they call an "out of body experience." I decided to test it out. My new moose body seemed real, but not real at the same time. I reached for the door knob, but my three-fingered hand went through it. It was like I was a ghost. So, I decided to just walk through the door. And I did. I was out in the hall.
I decided to pay David and Meghan a visit. I went into David's room through the wall. "Hey, how did you get in here?" David said when he saw my moose head poke through the wall. "How did you do that?"
"What?" I asked. "You can see me?"
"Yes, who are you?" David demanded.
"I'm Lance. You know the stegosaurus." The next thing I know was that my moose body disappeared and I was in my stegosaurus body again.
"How...?" Meghan trailed off.
"I don't know. I fell asleep watching TV. The next thing I know I'm awake, but I'm still sleeping," I said. I concentrated on changing again. It worked. I wasn't in my stegosaurus body, I was now a lion morph. "I can change my shape this way. But, I'm not really here." I jumped through the wall and back again.
"I don't understand," Meghan said.
"Come, I'll show you something," I said going through the wall. David and Meghan opened the door and followed. I went into my room. The door opened behind me. They entered staring at my sleeping body. "See, I'm dreaming."
"But...." David began.
"This must be my power. I can cast a projection of myself. I think I'm sort of like a hologram."
David looked interested. He reached out and passed his hand through me. I didn't feel anything. He didn't either. "You're right. You aren't really here," he said. He then walked over to my sleeping body. Before I could stop him, he shock it. "Wake up."
I woke up from my sleep. I was in my real body. David and Meghan were standing over me. "That was weird," I said.
"You're telling me," Meghan said. "Your 'projection' disappeared as soon as you woke up."
"This is a neat power," I said mostly to myself. Most of the powers people got were like comic book hero powers. Mine seemed unique. The rest of the day I experimented with my gift. I discovered that when I was asleep that I could project a "hologram" of myself. I could change the hologram into any form except human. I tried that , but I just ended up in my stegosaurus form.
I "walked" all over campus as my projection of my stegosaurus form. It was a strange sensation. I could speak with people, but I couldn't physically interact with them. I went clear across campus. Then I felt like the world was fading. I started walking back toward my room. The world was solid again. I walked the other way again. The farther I went the more the world faded. I continued walking. Suddenly everything was gone, and I woke up in my room. "I guess I found my projection range," I thought. The place where I my projection vanished was about a mile away from my room. I figured that I could only "project" within a one mile radius from where my body was located.
I got tired of sleeping. I was wide awake. So, I checked my e-mail. It was harder than I thought to type with my new hands. Having only four clawed fingers on each hand was difficult to get used to. But I managed. I logged on and started reading the hundred messages that was in my in-box. Most of them were from the TSA list. "I wonder what everybody was now."
The next morning I woke up as usual. I didn't have an early class today. As a matter of fact, I didn't have anything to do until, 12:30. And that was office hours. So, it was about 10:00 am when I got up. I was up all night reading and sending e-mail.
I was amazed at how comfortable I was sleeping on my stomach. I usually roll all over the bed, but I guess my new stegosaurian body knew better. Those plates on my back would either rip my sheets or hurt me if I rolled over on them. I got out of bed and gathered my bathroom supplies. I walked down the hall to the bathroom and took a shower. I was still shocked that I was not human, but a stegosaurus morph. But, I felt like it was my normal body.
The shower was pretty tough. I had to get used to being about seven feet tall instead of 5'7". I stood well above the shower head. And then I had a hard time washing my back. Not only did the two rows of plates get in the way, but my back was so arched that I couldn't reach all of it easily. I scrubbed the best I could. I made a mental note to buy a bath brush. I got out of the shower, dried off, and finished the rest of my bathroom routine.
I used the same sheet I had the day before for clothes. I needed to get some new ones. None of my old clothes fit me anymore. So, I decided to go to the store some time soon. Hopefully I'll be able to find something I can wear.
Breakfast was interesting. I ate at the school cafeteria. They had most of the staff working. There was a wide variety of students eating. A table of carnivores were seeing if they could still eat hashbrowns, while some herbivores were tasting of the sausage. "I wonder if I could still eat sausage," I thought. The day before I was too caught up in what was happening, that I didn't eat much. At that was the grass I ate in my "norm" form. I felt all the other students watching me. I guess because I was a dinosaur. I usually blend into a crowd easily. But, being a stegosaurus among a campus of non-extinct animals, I kind of stick out.
I got my breakfast food. It was mostly hashbrowns and eggs. I got some sausage to see if I could still eat it. I took my tray and looked for a table. I usually eat breakfast with some of my friends, but I didn't know what they were. So, I sat at a table by myself. I tried the sausage first. It didn't taste like it used to. But, it still tasted good. The eggs tasted the same as they always have. I kind of wished that the cafeteria eggs would taste better. The hashbrowns were the best. I never had hashbrowns that had that much flavor. They were fine before, but now they were great.
I finished my breakfast and walked to the office. All the computer science graduate students were there. There was a large range of the degree of change. But, nobody was a dinosaur. I hadn't seen another dinosaur at all. "Am I the only one?" I asked myself.
Surprisingly, the day went as normal. Except for the occasional question about the change. Everybody seemed to be taking it well. More students had shown up. I didn't have a class to teach, so I didn't expect to do too much. The hardest part for me was sitting in my chair. I couldn't lean back, and my tail wasn't too comfortable in the position it was in.
About 2:00, a horse woman stopped my the office. She had a child with her. He was hiding behind his mother's legs. The boy was still human. That surprised me. I heard on the news that children that hadn't gone through puberty didn't change. But, seeing someone that was still human was shocking.. I wondered if they would change when they got older.
"Excuse me. But, is Lance here?" the horse asked.
"Lance, I'm Carla Grey," she said.
"Carla? And this must be your son I heard you talk about."
The boy peered around Carla's legs and looked at me. His eyes lit up, and he ran over to me. He stood by my chair staring at me.
"I'm sorry, Lance. But, Jimmy likes dinosaurs," Carla said taking Jimmy's hand. "Jimmy, it's not nice to stare."
"Mommy, it's a stego," Jimmy replied pointing at me.
"Yes, and he is my teacher." She looked at me. "I'm sorry I brought him. I didn't know..."
"Oh, don't worry. I am getting use to being stared at," I said. I bent down to talk to Jimmy. "Jimmy, do you want to sit in my lab?"
Jimmy looked up at his mother excitedly. Carla nodded, and he hopped up on my lap. He sat there looking up at my head silently.
"Lance, I was wondering what we did in class yesterday. Jimmy's school was closed, so I had to stay home," Carla explained.
"You didn't miss anything. No one was here," I said. I looked down and saw Jimmy still staring at me with awe. "We will just make that lab up next week."
Jimmy started to move. He positioned himself so he could see my back. He reached out and felt of one of my plates.
"Jimmy no!" Carla yelled.
Jimmy jerked his hand back and sat innocently in my lap. "I just wanted to feel..."
"Jimmy, you didn't ask," Carla said.
"It's ok," I said.
"We better be going. I need to take Jimmy to the store. We were planning on buying him some new clothes. It looks like I need some new ones, too," Carla said picking Jimmy up from my lap.
"He wasn't bothering me," I said.
"I'll see you next week," she said carrying the boy out the door.
"Bye, Mr. Stego," Jimmy called back. Then I heard him say to his mother, "I want to be a dinosaur when I grow up."
Carla said something back, but they were too far down the hall for me to understand. I tried to get as comfortable as I could in my chair and started grading people's programs from last week. I wondered how many of them would return to pick them up.
Eventually it was time for me to go home. I left the office and headed for the dorm. When I got there, I had a package. It was from my parents. They usually send me the mail that arrives at home. This must have been sent before the Change. "My Parents!," I suddenly realized. I hadn't called my parents. I hurried to my room, put my backpack on the floor, and picked up the phone. It didn't occur to me that my parents had changed. I knew the whole world did, but I didn't think my parents did. I all came as a shock when I realized it wasn't a dream.
"Hello?" asked my mom on the other end.
"Mom? It's me, Lance," I said.
"Lance, are you ok? We were worried. The phones were busy all day yesterday."
"I'm fine. I'm a stegosaurus, but I'm fine."
"A stegosaurus? That's unique."
"How are you all?" I asked.
"We are fine. Your dad is a deer now. I don't think he will be hunting anytime soon. Heather is a turtle. She is accepting it rather well. She claims she is more like that Ninja Turtle she used to like."
"Michaelangelo?" I asked.
"Yeah, that's him. She's trying to pick up nunchakus."
I laughed at that. Heather had liked Michaelangelo ever since the Ninja Turtles came out.
"I... Well I can say that I don't hate dogs anymore," Mom said.
"You're a dog?"
"A husky to be exact."
"It's nice to know you are ok. Some people seem to have lost it," I said.
"I know what you mean. Everything seems to be find here. But, in the city, mobs have formed and looted many of the stores."
We talked for about thirty minutes. After I hung up the phone, David came over. Even with the head of a donkey, I could tell something was bothering him. "What's wrong?" I asked.
He sighed. It sounded more like a "hee-haw", but I knew it was meant to be a sigh. "I don't understand. Why?" he looked at his hoof-like hands and clenched them. "Why?"
"You know I don't know," I replied. I was more puzzled why I became an extinct animal. "Nobody really knows."
"I don't know if I can get used to this. I mean I'm a donkey. I'm an animal. Everybody is an animal!"
"We are not animals," I said. I remembered what it was like to actually think like a stegosaurus. Even if it was only for a few minutes. "We are people. No matter what we look like now."
"That sounds so fake," David said.
"Hey. Why don't we do something we used to do?"
I almost leaned back in my chair to think. I realized what I was about to do and jerked forward. I rested my elbow on my knee with my chin in my hand instead. "Why don't we go hiking tomorrow? I don't have anything to do." I knew David loved to go hiking. Meghan did, too. But, I don't know how well she can now that she is part walrus. However, I think she is taking to her new form better than David.
His long ears perked up. "That sounds good. I hope Meghan will want to go."
The next day we went hiking. I didn't get a chance to go to the store. So, I found an old sheet and ripped it to make some shorts. I don't think I'll get used to going around naked like other people are.
Meghan was willing to go hiking. She also talked Jenny into going, too. Jenny had been wanting to get away from her school work for a long time. She was thrilled to be going on a hike. And now that she is a squirrel, she was even more eager.
The four of us decided to go on a short trail. None of us new the limits on our new bodies yet, so we didn't want to risk anything. The trail we picked ended at a lake. That was our driving force. We set out to reach the lake and not turn back until we did. Meghan was the one pushing us. She wanted to get in the water. A swim didn't sound too bad to me either. Although I'm not sure how well a stegosaurus can swim.
To get to the lake, we had to cross over a mountain and then go down the other side. It was not a huge mountain, but it is much bigger than a hill. All of us handled it well. Jenny was the one to reach the top first. David was next. He seemed to be enjoying the hike. I just hoped it snaps him out of his depression. I arrived at the top followed by Meghan.
The view was spectacular. We could see the lake sparkling in the distance. I felt like I was on top of the world. Well, it might have to do with the fact that I was not the tallest of the group instead of being the shortest and I was at the top of the tallest mountain in this area. But, I really felt like a part of nature. I thought I had accepted my new form before, but I didn't realize that I missed being human. The feeling I had pushed all the regrets away. I loved being a stegosaurus. The plates on my back soaked up the sunlight while a cool breeze blew across them. It was an new sensation. It felt wonderful. I had no intention to change into a full stegosaurus. I didn't want to lose my human thoughts. But, I didn't want to change back into my old human body again. This is me now.
"Lance. Lance!" David yelled. I snapped out of my gaze at the horizon and turned to look at the others. "Lance, we are going down to the lake now."
Jenny had already started down the mountain. Meghan was turning to go. David was standing there watching me.
"I just love the view," I said. I started walking down toward the lake. I couldn't wait to get there. It looked so inviting from the top. When we finally reached it, Meghan ran and jumped in. The rest of us were a little more reluctant. I was curious about my swimming ability now, so I was cautiously waded out into the water. Jenny and David stayed back. I could understand. They had all that fur.
I had gotten out far enough where I couldn't touch bottom. The water was refreshing, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I used to. I guess it was all the added weight. Or it might just be some instincts. I'm not sure. But, I wasn't very good at swimming. I could doggie paddle. That was about it. My saurian body couldn't handle anything else. So, I got back to where I could stand. Meghan sure was enjoying herself. She would swim out into the lake, and then splash me when she returned to where I was wading.
I got out of the water and laid out to bask in the sun. Meghan continued swimming. David and Jenny were sitting near the edge watching Meghan. She tried to splash them, but they were just out of reach.
After Meghan got her fill of swimming, we headed back to where we parked the car. We were starting to get hungry, and we didn't bring a lot with us. Most of the food we brought was in the car. We didn't know Meghan was going to swim for so long. We reached the car and drove to a nice picnic spot. We went in David's car, because I couldn't sit in mine. I need to get that fixed some how. David had a Jeep Cherokee, so I laid in the back. I couldn't sit down in any of the seats.
We ate and drove back to campus. David dropped Meghan and Jenny off at their dorms, and then he parked near ours. "Today was the best day of my life," David said as we were getting out of the car. "Thanks for suggesting to go on a hike. It's just what I needed."
"I was a great hike, wasn't it?"
"I think I'm going to like this body once I get completely used to it."
"I know how you feel," I said. I guess I wasn't the only one who felt like a part of nature. "It's glad to have to old David back."
"No, it's the new and improved David," he said laughing. It sounded just like a bray to me.
It finally came! It hurried to my front door after pulling out the mail from the mail box. The letter from the Meso Club had finally arrived. I had been waiting for this letter ever since I heard about the club. I unlocked my door, tossed the rest of the mail on the kitchen table and ripped the letter open.
"Dear Mr. Holloway," it began. "We are delighted to inform you that you have been accepted to be a member of the Meso Club. Being a member has many benefits. We provide means of obtaining those hard to find built-for-dinos items. We all know that reptilian clothing just doesn't work.
"We will be pleased if you are able to come to our meeting on April 3, in Los Angeles. If you are able to attend please call us to schedule a flight. We will fully pay for your flight and hotel."
The rest of the letter contained details of the meetings followed by a list of phone numbers. One was to make the flight reservation. I was thrilled. I had never been to LA before. And the club is going to pay for the trip. I called the number right then.
"Hello. Meso Club. This is Stacey. How may I help you?" asked the voice on the other end of the line.
"Hi. My name is Lance Holloway. I just received a letter notifying me of my acceptance. I am calling to make my flight reservations for the April 3 meeting."
"Glad to hear that you are coming," she said. "Now, if you will give me some information, I'll be glad to reserve your flight."
I gave here the information she needed. She was able to get a flight on April 2. The tickets were going to be sent to me through the mail. I hung up the phone. I couldn't wait until the meeting.
It's been about ten months since the Change, and I still knew only a few dinosaur morphs. There's not enough of us for the stores around to carry dino merchandise. It is so hard for me to find clothes to fit, and when I do I have to cut holes for my plates to stick out.
The day finally arrived. April 2 was the day I was to fly to LA. I was so excited I could hardly keep my tail from twitching. I packed my luggage into my car and drove to the airport. I had the car dealer change the driver seat of my car so that I could sit comfortable. Well, I at least had a gap in the seat where my plates fit, but my tail was another matter.
The airport wasn't very large, so I didn't have any trouble finding my gate. I didn't have to wait very long either. I have only been in an airplane a few times. I guess I have always been lucky, because my planes have never arrived late. This is the first time I've flown as a stegosaurus, so I was hoping that I could fit in the seat.
The flight didn't have any problems. Except the way I was seated. The plane didn't have any seats that would accommodate me, so I had to sit in an isle seat sideways. It was so uncomfortable. Although I did have plenty of leg room, since my legs were in the isle.
I was so delighted when we landed. For one I was in LA for the first time. Second, the in-flight movie stunk worse than the food. (I would rather have been watching "Alive.") And lastly, I was glad to get out of the airline seat. I had a real problem with the seat-belts. They just didn't seem to fit with the way I was seated. And then weaving them between my plates was a real talent.
I got my luggage and hailed a taxi. After insuring the camel driver that I would not puncture his seats with my plates and spikes, he drove me to the hotel. The meeting was to be held in the convention center across the street. I think the meeting was really a Meso Club conference or something. I saw many other dinosaur morphs in the hotel. All of them were either checking in or visiting the ones who were.
After I received my room key, a brontosaurus in at sports jacket walked up to me. His jacket actually fit his body. He must already be a member of the club to have a jacket that fits. "Hi, there. The names Bruno," he said extending a large hand at the end of a thick arm.
"Lance Holloway," I said shaking his hand.
"Oh, you're the one from Arkansas? We've been looking forward to your visit."
"How did you know....?" I asked.
"I'll explain.... Are you going to your room?"
"Then I'll explain on the way. We have an important question to ask you," he said with a large grin. Well, it was as good as a grin that a brontosaurus could make.
I picked up my luggage and headed for the elevator. Bruno followed me. "You see, I'm one of the founders of the Meso Club: Dave, Eos, Charlie, Kris, and me." We stepped into the elevator, and I punched the "6" button. "When we received your letter, we figured you would be perfect."
"Perfect? Perfect for what?" I asked. I was getting annoyed with his secrecy.
"We don't have any chapters in your area. So, we figured why not start a new chapter. We already have a few on the west coast, but none anywhere else. Not many people from other regions have shown any interest." He looked at me expectantly. I still wasn't sure what he was asking me. Giving up on my understanding he continued. "We would like you to be the chapter founder of the Arkansas Meso Club."
"What? Me? ...." I couldn't think of what to say. The door to the elevator opened at my exit. We stepped out and stood at the doors.
"Because of you letter. You were one of the first from your region to send us a letter to join. Do you accept?"
"Sure, I guess. I mean I don't know how to get one started. I would love to. But..."
"Don't worry. We will pay for publicity at first. Besides, your chapter will have to cover some of the surrounding states for now. That is until the membership increases. If you are accepting, then we will get with you later and fill you in on all the information you need."
"Yes, I'm accepting. I am honored to be the chapter founder. When can we meet?"
"We can meet right after the opening meeting tomorrow." He reached in his jacket and pulled out a card. "Here's my card. If you change your mind, let us know."
I took the card. "I doubt I will change my mind."
"Good," he said pressing the down button for the elevator. "Oh, by the way. We will be announcing that you are starting a chapter at the meeting, so we are going to have a seat reserved for you at the front."
I was speechless again. "Thanks," I spurted out.
"See you at the meeting," he said stepping into the open elevator.
"See you then," I said. I stood there for a few seconds thinking about what just happened. Then I headed down the hall to my room.
The next day as soon as I stepped into the convention center across the street from the hotel, Bruno ran up to me as soon as I arrived. "Lance, come this way," he said. "I'm going to introduce you to the other founders."
He walked through the crowd and into a small room. There were four dinos who I assumed to be the founders were there. Bruno spoke up, "Everyone this is Lance Holloway."
The four dinosaurs got all excited and circled me. "Nice to meet you," I said.
"Lance, I'm Dave," said the velociraptor. "This is Eos, Charlie, and Kris." He pointed to the eoraptor, ankylosaurus, and hadrosaurus. I made a point to learn more dinosaur names since I had become one.
"We are so delighted that you agreed to be the Arkansas Chapter founder," said Eos.
Kris interrupted her, "Yes, we needed someone to found a new chapter. It will help the club tremendously."
Charlie looked at his watch. "We have to go to the meeting now. We can discuss this after the opening meeting."
We all left the room and mingled among the crowd. The other five were shaking everybody's hands and greeting people as they approached the front table. I followed them, but didn't greet anyone.
The meeting was basically a large welcome. The five founders each gave a short speech. Dave went last. He introduced me as the Arkansas Chapter founder. The crowed seemed pleased. I wondered if any of them are from my area. I nervously gave a short "thank you" speech and sat back down in my chair. The chair was so comfortable. It was made for someone with back protrusions. It was one of the few chairs that I could actually sit back in.
"Thanks for coming everyone," Dave concluded. "We see all of you at the induction ceremony." With that the crowd turn into a swarm of people. They all were talking and trying to leave the room. Many of them came up to me to congratulate me.
"Hi, Lance. I'm Scottie," a female stegosaurus said to me. She was slightly more human that I was. She was the last in the line to shake my hand. "I'm from Arkansas, too."
"Really?" I asked. "What part?"
West Memphis was close to my home town. I knew a girl from West Memphis. We went to the same church, but I hadn't seen her in several years. "Scottie? Scottie Harris?"
"That's me," she said. "Isn't it amazing. We have the same birthday and now we are still the same species."
"Isn't it though. So when did you become a member?"
"Today. If I go through with the induction. But now that you are going to found a chapter in Arkansas, I am definitely going to join," she said with as much as a smile as her saurian face would allow.
"Lance, we need to talk about your duties," Kris said grabbing my arm. She pulled me toward the room we were in before the meeting.
"I'll see you after this meeting," I said to Scottie as I was being lead away.
"I'll see you then," she called back.
The meeting proved very useful. They gave me papers and fliers that would help me get the chapter started. The chapter was not only for Arkansas but for the neighboring states as well. I'm not sure why they didn't want a Oklahoma chapter or Tennessee chapter. But, I'm sure they had reasons. Maybe they will start one up once more dinosaurs get interested.
After the meeting, I left the stack of papers in the room so would have to carry it around wandering among the booths until the Initiation meeting. I was to be the first one initiated. I was not looking forward to it. I have to change into my "norm" form and make a footprint. I wish there was another way.
I ran into Scottie at a clothing booth. There were several dinosaur morph mannequins with clothing designed to fit. "They sure do have useful stuff here," I said walking up behind her.
She turned around startled. "Oh, it's you. How did your meeting go?"
"It went. They basically gave me a bunch of papers and information about the club," I said holding up my hands to show how thick the stack of papers was. "I think being chapter founder is going to be a lot of work, but I'm going to enjoy it."
"I can't wait to join. Look at all this stuff we can get," she said pointing around at the booths. "It is so hard finding things that I can use. And here is a place where I have access to items I need."
"I know what you mean. These plates are the worst in regular chairs," I chuckled.
She laughed. Even though she wasn't as high a degree as me, she still had those stegosaurus characterizing plates. We started walking around casually looking at the other booths. "How are they going to run the initiation?" she asked after a while. "I mean, are they going alphabetically or what?"
"I'm not sure. I just know that I'm going to be first,"
"Wow, you certainly are the guest of honor."
I gave a little snort.
"What?" she asked. She stopped walking and looked at me. "You never did want to be the center of attention. Well, let me tell you. With this thick skin of yours, I don't think they will notice you blushing."
"It's not that. It's the initiation itself. Did you know we have to switch to norm form?"
"Well. I can shift, but I loose my human mind."
She looked confused for a few seconds. "You mean you really thought you were a stegosaurus?"
"Wow. I don't know what to say. How many times have you tried?"
"And when was that?" She was starting to sound like she was analyzing me.
"It was the day of the Change."
Scottie nodded an "I see" nod. "Well, we are just going to have to teach you to keep your mind. You have to shift to norm for the induction. What would everybody think if the Arkansas Chapter founder won't shift?"
"And just how are you going to teach me? We only have a few hours before the ceremony."
"I have my ways." She had this "evil grin" look about her and drug me into a side room. The room was set up for a lounge. There were some snacks on a table in the middle and chairs lined up along the walls. A few other dinosaurs were mingling in there. They didn't seem to pay any attention to us. "Ok, first you need to get out of your clothes."
"You don't want to rip them. Besides you are a dinosaur. Everything is hidden anyway."
"I never got used to not wearing clothes. For a few days after the change I wore bed sheets," I said reluctantly taking mine off.
"Ok, now. You remember how to shift right?"
"Yes. I think." I tried to remember how I did it. Then I felt the mental barrier. That was what I had to "push" through. I knew on the other side was a real stegosaurus waiting to take my place. I did not want to go through with this. I remember a few weeks after the change, I was teaching the Programming II Lab. One of my students shifted into his "norm" armadillo form. To put a long story short, he lost it and ran down the hall. It took us hours to catch him. He eventually snapped out of his hysterical state and shifted to his morph form.
"I know you have will power. You just need to use it right now. I want you to concentrate on my eyes..."
"Are you going to hypnotize me or something?" I joked.
She snickered. "No. You just need to focus on something. Focus on my eyes. I'm not going to shift. That way you can remember that you are not really supposed to be on all fours. Are you ready?"
"No. What if I do loose it?"
"I'll try to bring you back. How did you come back the last time?"
"A bear bit me."
She gave another "I see" nods. "Ok, go ahead and do it. Remember to concentrate on me."
I reluctantly decided to go through with this. I found the mental barrier again. I concentrated on Scottie and pushed through the barrier. I felt my body grow. I was forced to all fours. I didn't dare look, I continued to concentrate on Scottie's eyes. Then I felt the changing stop. I was a stegosaurus now. Just in body. I managed to keep my mind!
Then someone walked up and stood next to Scottie. It was a dimetrodon. "First time, huh?" he asked.
Scottie told him to leave. That he was breaking my concentration. And she was right. I found my eyes wandered. I spotted a potted plant in the corner. I realized that I was hungry. I guess adding a few tons would make anybody hungry. I lumbered over to the plant and started nibbling. It was the worst plant I ever had. It didn't taste right. I tasted fake. I know what it tastes like. I just can remember. Then I realized that I was losing it. I was starting to think like a stegosaurus. I promptly pushed through the barrier and shifted back to morph form.
"Lance, are you all right?" Scottie asked running over to me. "You were eating the plastic plant."
"I'm fine. I just lost it for a little bit. I think my stomach gets the best of me."
She laughed. "Well, I guess we are just going to have to practice some more."
I practiced shifting. Each time I was able to keep my human mentality longer. I eventually got to the point where I didn't lose it when I saw a plant. I felt very confident when it came time for the initiation ceremony.
At the ceremony, the five founders were at the front. They invited all the initiates to come to the front. I of course was at the very front. All we had to do was shift into "norm" (if possible), and make a footprint in some plaster. The mold will be taken and a reduction will be made. Then we have to carry around our small footprint with us. I just hope I can concentrate enough to make a footprint in the plaster and not in the rest of the building.
My time came. I shifted. I lumbered over to the plaster. There were lots of plants in this room. They all looked tasty. I am so hungry. But, I needed to do something. I looked around at my surroundings and saw many dinosaurs standing on their hind legs. That wasn't right. No, I was one of them. I was human. I looked back at the plaster. The people were waiting for me to make a footprint. I stepped in and made a nice big footprint. I then promptly shifted back to morph form.
"Nice print," Dave said.
"Thanks," I replied wiping the plaster off my hand. I walked to an empty chair and sat down. The rest of the initiates didn't seem to have much trouble with their dino-brains. I just needed to work at it. Scottie sat next to me after her turn.
"I see you were thinking about eating salad instead of making a print," she said examining her hand to see if she left any plaster.
"I'm just glad I'm a herbivore." We laughed and watched the rest of the dinosaurs make their impression.
After the closing meeting, all the initiates received their footprint. Many of them who didn't wear clothing fashioned it into a necklace. I kept mine in my pocket. I'll think of a better way of carrying it later. Scottie and I left the meeting and headed for the hotel across the street.
"You're staying here, too?" I asked.
"Yep. Most of the dinosaurs are. Why don't you stop by my room later. I've rented some movies," she said.
"Movies? Are they dinosaur movies?"
"Yeah. The old cheesy ones."
"The cheesier the better. Ok. I'll be there. What's your room number?"
"516," she answered as I pressed the elevator button. We stepped on when the doors opened up.
"When do you want me to show up?" I asked.
"How about in 30 minutes?" The doors opened on her floor.
"Ok, I'll see you then."
She got out of the elevator. I waved to her as the doors closed. After getting off the elevator, I went to my room to get ready. I found a nice shirt I fixed to fit. After freshening up, I went to Scottie's room. She was dressed nicely also.
"Hi, Lance. I have the VCR queued up and ready to play." She motioned for me to come in. I sat down on the sofa. The way it was made, I couldn't get comfortable. She plopped down on the bed, and hit the play button on the remote.
We watched "The Land that Time Forgot" and laughed at the special effects. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to find acting jobs now, if they wanted to make new dinosaur movies. After that movie, we sat round and talked for a while. We had a lot to catch up on. I hadn't seen her since I went to college. The conversation eventually ended up the Change and peoples' powers.
"I have limited telekinesis," she told me. "I can only move objects under ten pounds. And they have to be in my line of vision. See." She looked at the remote lying on the bed. It floated off the bed and landed on top of the VCR.
"Impressive," I commented. "That is a very useful power. Much practical than mine."
"Oh? What's yours?"
"When I'm asleep I can send out a projection of myself."
"Really?" she said skeptically.
"Yes, really. It's like I'm a ghost or something. I pass through everything."
"Would I be able to see you?" she sounded like she was analyzing me again.
"Yes. But I can only go about a mile from where my body is."
"I want to see."
"Yes. I showed you mine."
I figured it wouldn't hurt to show her. "Ok, I'll show you. I need to fall asleep though."
"We could watch the movie again."
"That will do it," I laughed. I settled into a somewhat comfortable position on the couch. I could feel her watching me. Eventually I fell asleep. I found the other mental barrier. This one allowed my conciseness to leave my body. I stepped through it and ended up in the room.
Scottie was startled. "Wow! You fall asleep quick."
"See. I'm not really here." I moved my arm through her. Neither of us felt it. She watched in awe. "And watch this." I concentrated on my form. I changed it from my stegosaurus body to the moose morph I seem to prefer.
Her eyes grew in wonder. "Wow. What else can you do?"
"That's about it. Did I mention I can go through walls?" I ran through the bathroom wall. Well, at least I thought it was the bathroom wall. It turned out to be the room next door.
Three men were in the room surrounding a fourth. The fourth was a dog morph. He was becoming more dog-like. One of the other three was an elephant morph. He seemed to be concentrating. The fourth man finished his transformation into a full dog. The lion morph squatted down and petted him.
"Nice boy. You like your master, don't you?" the lion said.
The dog barked and licked the lion on the face.
"Hey, boss. We have a visitor," the ape man said.
The lion looked up and saw me. "Attack the moose, Butch!" the lion said. The dog saw me, growled, and charged. I was too terrified to do anything. I turned to leave. The dog leaped through me and hit the wall I was running toward.
"Elwood, change that moose into a moose!" I heard the lion say as I phased through the wall. I was back in Scottie's room.
"We've got to get out of here!" I yelled before waking up.
"What do you mean 'get out of here?'" Scottie asked as I woke myself up.
"No time to explain," I said grabbing her arm. I raced for the door pulling Scottie behind me.
"Lance! What's going on?" she yelled.
I didn't answer as I opened the door slowly. No one was in the hall. The elevator was just down the hall. I threw the door open, and we ran toward the elevator. The door to the room the men were in opened. They had a look of confusion but determination. The lion saw us.
"Stop those two!" he yelled. The ape pulled out a gun and fired. I expected to feel the bullet pierce my hide, or Scottie scream. But that didn't happen. Scottie had turned around and the bullet lay at her feet. Then the gun flew out of the ape's hands.
I punched the button for the elevator. Scottie ran to join me. Our attackers stood where they were. The lion signaled the dog to attack. The dog obeyed and charged. His mouth in a snarl. The elephant seemed lost in concentration.
The dog drew closer. Scottie prepared to bring up a force field. The elevator opened, and we ran in. Scottie punched the close door button. The doors closed just as the dog reached them.
"This elevator seems smaller," I said jokingly as I pressed the lobby button. It was a large elevator. Luckily since two stegosaurus morphs were on it. But, this time it did seem small. That's when I noticed my hand. It wasn't a hand anymore. It was a stegosaurus foot.
"Lance! You're shifting. The elevator isn't big enough," Scottie shouted.
"I can't stop it! It's the elephgajdg......" I said as my voice changed. I continued to change into a full stegosaurus. I tried to stop the shift, but I couldn't. I was forced to all fours. Scottie tried to back against the wall to take up a small space, but it didn't help.
I had finished changing. The small cave I was in was cramped. How I got in here I don't know. My tail and my neck were bent at painful angles. I tried to move, but I heard a noise. I couldn't turn my head, but out of the corner of my eye I saw another stegosaurus. It was a female, but she was smaller than other stegosauruses. And she was standing on two legs. That wasn't right. She was packed in tightly in a small place that I didn't fill. She was making odd noises. Why doesn't she just speak normally?
The cave shook. One wall opened. I was able to squeeze out of the opening and ended up in a larger cave. The female that was with me walked out of the small cave. She bent down and wrapped her arms around my neck. She made those noises again. I saw some tasty plants near a wall of the cave. I moseyed over to them and started eating. I felt like I hadn't eaten all day. The female followed me still making noises.
Other dinosaurs came over to me. They were on their hind legs and making similar noises, too. They shouldn't be on their hind legs. Wait! They should. I should also. But, why? This is what I am. No. I should be on two legs. I should understand them. I'm Lance not just a stegosaurus. I needed to shift back.
I searched for the mental barrier and found nothing. It was like I was taken through the barrier and dropped off far away from it. I had no idea where it was.
"Lance, can you understand me?" Scottie asked. I was relieved that I could understand her again.
Being that I was not able to talk, I just nodded.
"Good," she continued. "Just shift back, and we can call the police."
I shook my head.
"What? Why don't you shift back?"
I concentrated again. I searched and searched for the barrier.
"Oh no! You can't shift back? Why? You remember the barrier don't you?"
I tried again and nothing happened.
"Well, come on. We need to call the police." She ran to a pay phone.
I lumbered behind her. I tried to shift to morph form along the way, but I couldn't. That elephant must have really hit me hard with whatever he did. I didn't even know how to start looking for the barrier.
When I reached Scottie, she was just hanging up the phone. "They will be here in a few minutes," she said. "We need to hide somewhere before those people come down the elevator."
I nodded. We both ran to a small conference room down a hall from the lobby. It was small but big enough for both of us. Luckily it had double doors. I barely made it through those.
"Lance, you have to tell me what happened. The police will want to know," Scottie said as she closed the doors.
I closed my eyes in concentration. I just couldn't do it. Wait. I could project myself. I got as comfortable as I could in the small room and tried to fall asleep. Surprisingly, I was out of it in no time. I then projected myself. I was still a stegosaurus. I concentrated and shifted my projection to that of my morph form. It took more work than usual. I had never tried it in my norm form.
"Good idea," Scottie said.
"I don't know why I didn't think of this at first," I replied.
"So, what is going on?" she demanded.
"When I fell through your wall, I saw them change a dog man into a normal dog. Then they tried to get me."
"What? Why would...." She was interrupted by doors being kicked open down the hall.
I poked my head out though the wall enough to see what was going on. The lion and ape were searching all the conference rooms. "It's them. We have to leave!"
"The police will be here any minute," Scottie said.
"We can't wait for them. We have to go."
"And where are we going to go?"
I didn't have an answer.
I could hear the lion and ape men coming closer. They were a few door down from the room where we were hiding in. Scottie was fidgeting. She must have been lost in concentration. We had to think of something. My sleeping body lay on the floor taking up a lot of room. The projection of myself was near the wall listening to the approaching men.
"I have it," I said. "They know that it was a moose that saw what they did. I'll just change my projection and run for it. They won't be able to hurt me that way. You stay hidden in here. Hopefully they will go after me and not look in any more rooms."
"But, what about you?" Scottie asked. "If they do look in here, your body will still be asleep."
"Don't worry about that. I think they would go after me since it was my moose projection they saw in the room," I said shifting from my normal stegosaurus morph to the moose morph.
Scottie looked down in thought. "But...."
"No time! Take care of me," I said and ran through the wall. The lion and ape were looking in the room next to the one we were in. The ape noticed me and aimed his gun. I took off running down the hall. Looking back I saw the lion and ape both chasing me.
I ran around a corner. Some custodians were taking cleaning things out of a closet. "Out of my way!" I yelled. They looked up in surprise and jumped out of the way. I think my leg phased through one of the mop handles. Hopefully it happened so fast no one noticed.
I heard one of the ladies scream as my two pursuers rounded the corner. I turned another one. It lead to a door that opened to the alley. I ran through it. Hopefully it wouldn't be locked. They needed to be able to follow me.
Sure enough I heard the door open behind me. Then there were gun shots. I knew the bullets wouldn't hurt me, but I was still terrified. I reached the street and ran down the sidewalk. I dodged people trying not to phase through anyone. Then I heard screams as people saw the two men with guns charging down the sidewalk.
I continued running. "If only there was somewhere were there weren't a lot of people," I thought. Luckily they haven't fired the guns in the crowd. I needed to loose them.
Suddenly a lady walked out from one of the buildings right in front of me. I didn't have time to dodge. She saw me and threw her hands up to brace the impact. I went right through her. I looked over my shoulder. She looked startled, but nobody else seemed to notice. I proceeded to run.
Then the obvious hit me. I turned a corner into a small alley. I concentrated and changed my projection to that of an armadillo morph and quickly strolled out into the crowd on the sidewalk walking the direction I was running. Hopefully that would throw them off. I heard them coming. People yelled and jumped out of their way. They ran right past me. I let out a sigh of relief. "Now, I just need to get back to Scottie," I said to myself
I looked for a good place for me to disappear. I didn't see anything in the direction I was walking, so I headed back for the alley I shifted in. Strangely, I felt like I couldn't make it. It was like I was being woken up. "I couldn't be a mile away from my body," I thought. Then I vanished and woke up in my saurian body. I was still in my normal form. I looked around and saw Scottie tied up and unconscious. Then I saw that we weren't in the conference room anymore. We were in the back of a large semi truck. The elephant was watching us. The man that was induce-shifted to his norm dog form stood next to the elephant man. The dog growled.
The elephant stood from his chair and leaned over my head. "So, you're awake. Well, I didn't mean to wake you up," he said and slugged me in the head with the handle of his gun.
All went black.
I woke up. I looked around. I was in another of those strange caves. Flat walls all around me. Except one. It had vines hanging down over the opening. I lumbered over to the entrance and tried to push the vines out of my way. They wouldn't move. The vines were hard and cold. I backed away and swung my tail at the vines. Nothing happened to the vines. As for my tail, it hurt. I walked back to the opening and looked out.
I had never seen this place before. More caves with vines were around mine. Other dinosaurs were in them. Hopefully that large meat eater couldn't get out of his either.
I gave up on trying to get out and relaxed against one of the cave walls. Suddenly, I heard a screech. I knew that sound. It was a velociraptor, and it was close. I leaped to my feet and peered out of my cage. In the middle of the other cages, an elephant and ape were carrying the caged raptor and putting her into another cage. The two men left.
"Cage? Velociraptor? Elephant?" I repeated to myself. "Where did I learn these words?" Suddenly all snapped back. I remembered who I really was. I was getting tired of losing myself to the stegosaurus. If only I could shift back. I concentrated on shifting to morph form, but I still couldn't find the mental barrier.
"Lance? Lance is that you?" I heard a voice ask. I recognized it as Scottie's. I had been hearing it this whole time, but I hadn't know what English was.
I let out an affirmative bellow. It sounded affirmative to me.
"Lance, try to go to sleep and project yourself," she said.
I closed my eyes and tried to drift off to sleep. It was rather hard with all the dinosaur noises going on outside my cage. Eventually I did. I projected myself as another stegosaurus. I quickly changed my projection to that of a mouse. It would look strange to have two stegosauruses in the same cage where one was a moment before.
"Scottie, where are you?" I squeaked.
"I'm in the cage next to you. On your right."
I scurried through the wall and ended up in Scottie's cage. She was still bound. I wanted to untie her, but I couldn't as a projection. When I got closer, I saw that she was crying. She saw me and tried to hold back her tears.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"I'm not sure," she said. "I think they are capturing dinosaur morphs and shifting them all the way. It looks like they have lost their humanity too."
"Why haven't we been affected?"
"Well, you have," she said. "You can't shift to morph form can you?"
I shook my head.
"As for why you are still sentient, or why I haven't been affected at all, I have no idea," she said. She started crying again. "Oh, Lance. I thought I lost you. You were acting like a stegosaurus."
"I tend to do that sometimes," I said. I wasn't very good at comforting people. "These people haven't altered my brain yet. Well, not that I know of." I smiled.
She smiled back. "Now, we need to find a way out of here," she said after choking back her tears.
"How?" I asked.
"I've been thinking about that while you were sleeping and acting like a stegosaurus. You see those keys over there?" she gestured with her head to a pole in the middle of the circle of cages.
"Yes," I said.
"Well, remember I can.... Quiet," she stopped abruptly. I looked out into the yard and saw three figures approaching.
The lion morph was taking a tour of his prizes. He started on the opposite end of the yard. He slowly walked around looking into the cages of all the dinosaurs. The ape and elephant were following him. I stayed hidden behind Scottie. I could have just woken up, but I didn't want to risk being lost in the stego-mind.
The lion stopped in front of the velociraptor's cage. "Ah, I see we have a new guest," he said. "You will love your stay here. You will love it even more once we get a mate for you." The raptor hissed and leaped at the lion only to be blocked by the bars. The lion turned to face the ape morph. "Have you received any more information about the raptor at that humane society near Grand Junction?"
The ape looked down at a clipboard he was carrying. "Yes. He has not regained his human mind yet."
"Good. He's a raptor in every way, and we didn't have to do it. I want him brought here as soon as possible."
"Yes, Sir," the ape said and walked away.
The lion and elephant continued their tour. They stopped in front of my cage. "He hasn't been awake yet?" the lion asked.
"No, Sir," the elephant replied.
"I hope you didn't hit him too hard. These are the only two stegosauruses we have." They walked in front of Scottie's cage. Scottie glared at them. "I see this one is still resisting," the lion said. "You have a strong will, but it won't last forever." He made a gesture to the other cages. "Do you think these people wanted to be dinosaurs in body and mind? We have ways of breaking you."
Scottie continued to glare at him.
"I'm going to enjoy seeing you lay your first eggs. I'm sure you will make an excellent mother," he said. He then looked back at my cage. "And you will make an excellent father, if you wake up." He glanced at the elephant who cringed under the stare. Then they both walked away.
"See, I told you they were making them think they were dinosaurs," Scottie said as soon as the lion and elephant were out of hearing range.
"Eggs? What was that about you being a mother and I being a father?" I squeaked. "I thought the children were born human."
"I don't know," she said. "We don't have to worry about it if we get out of here. So, back to my plan. Remember I am telekinetic. I can float the keys over to your cage, and you open ours."
"I can't open a cage with a key as a full stegosaurus. Why can't you do it?"
"Because I'm tied up," she said struggling with her ropes. "I've tried to use my powers to untie the ropes, but the knots are too tight. I can't see them anyway. So, you have to shift to morph."
"But, I can't do that..."
"You will have to try."
I reluctantly agreed. "OK, if I can shift to morph, and we open the cages. What then? Just walk away? There's nothing to hide behind once we get past the cages. And no telling how far we are from civilization," I said.
"Well, it would be hard, but I think we can do it. If we wait until night," she said.
"Did you notice that the leader was a lion? He is bound to have night vision," I said.
"We will take that chance. Now, go back to your body and try to shift."
I couldn't think of an excuse, so I complied. I woke up in my stegosaurus body. I then closed my eyes in concentration. I had to find that barrier. I mentally searched and searched but found nothing.
I searched everywhere I could, and the barrier was nowhere. Hopefully that elephant didn't remove it completely. He must have just relocated it into some remote corner of my mind.
"Lance, have you shifted yet?" Scottie asked from her cage breaking my concentration.
I answered with a bellow. She should know that that meant "no." I concentrated again. I found a "dark" secluded area I hadn't explored yet, so I continued my search there.
I opened my eyes and saw I was still in that strange cave. It seemed like I was doing something, but I don't remember what. The plants on the outside looked tasty though. I tried poking my head through the vines, but I was too big. I heard something coming. With my tail poised to strike, I waited for what approached.
The creatures were those strange furry things again. This time they didn't have another cave. They walked up to my cave and looked at me.
The one with lots of fur around his head made some noises from his mouth. It didn't sound threatening, but it seemed like it was. The other one with little hair seemed to be listening to the first one.
I bellowed. Hopefully they knew of a way to get those vines out of the way so I could eat some of the plants outside. However, they stopped making their noises and walked away. I watched them until they were gone.
Suddenly I heard a familiar sound. Another stegosaurus. A female stegosaurus. The same female stegosaurus I saw in that other strange cave. I heard her making similar noises as the furry creatures. I couldn't understand why she didn't speak our language.
Then a strange thing happened. There was an object out in the middle of the circle of caves. The round thing was on a tree, but the reason I saw it was because it was moving. It was flying. Flying to me. It floated into my cave and dropped to the floor. The female made more noises.
I tried to get a look at the female, but the vines prevented me. I sniffed of the object that floated in. It smelled like those furry creatures. I pushed it around with my nose, but nothing happened. It just lay there, not moving.
I left the object alone and walked around in the cave. I wanted to get out so bad. There were no plants in this cave, and it was small too. It was getting dark, and I didn't want to be anywhere near those predators. The female continued to make noises. I bellowed back hoping that she would speak normally. She however continued with the strange noises.
I needed to get out. I walked back to the vines. They had to give way somehow. I threw my whole weight into the vines. I landed against the vines, but nothing happened to them. I tried again. Still nothing happened.
I must have been bellowing loudly when I hit the vines, because the two furry things were coming back. The female was still making noises, but she was quieter now. Hopefully the furry things would let me out.
I stood there and watched the two things outside the cave come over and look in. They didn't get too close to the vines though. After looking in for a few moments, the one with the most fur began making some noises and the other one held up a stick. I bellowed.
The stick made a noise and I felt something sting my side. I spun around and didn't see anything. I scanned the cave and still nothing. I could not find what hit me. I looked back at the two furry things. They were just standing there watching me.
I bellowed and rammed the vines again. They still didn't give. The furry things jumped back a step though. The ramming must have taken a lot out of me because I then felt really tired. I lay down. The furry things were still watching. I closed my eyes and drifted off into sleep.
Something woke me up. I was lying on something uncomfortable. I opened my eyes and saw I was still in the cage. I looked down at where I was lying and saw the key. Just great! I thought. I was supposed to open the cages and the stegosaurus took over. I bent down and picked up the key in my mouth. Luckily the keyhole was a normal keyhole with an opening on both sides. With a little trial and error, I managed to get the key in the hole. Opening the cage door was a lot harder using my mouth than I thought. With a small turn, the lock clicked open.
I cracked the cage door open enough to poke my head out. I looked around to make sure none of the goons were around and pushed the door open. I lumbered out of my cage and looked into Scottie's. She was in the back of her cage still tied up.
Hearing me, she looked up. "Lance, you're OK!" she said. "Hurry, open the cage!"
I had to put my fore feet on the bars to reach the lock since the cages were off the ground. I managed to get the key in and turned it. I was getting good at this opening locks with my mouth. I pulled the door open and climbed inside.
"Hurry, Lance," Scottie said.
I lumbered over to her as fast as I could and bit the ropes. After a few tries, she was free.
"Now, let's get out of here," she said and darted out of the cage. I followed as fast as I could.
The lights around the cages light up the immediate area. All the cages could be seen from any spot within the circle. We headed off to the nearest and largest opening between the cages. We didn't even have to try to know that I wouldn't fit between the cages that were closer together.
The other dinosaurs were making their usual noises not suspecting anything was wrong. I felt sorry for them, but we couldn't just let them loose. Not with their minds being the minds of dinosaurs and not the humans they once were.
Scottie stopped at a building that was near the edge of the circle of cages. She looked around to make sure the coast was still clear. I hoped I didn't make too much noise running around in this huge body, but there wasn't anything I could do about that at the time. The mental barrier was still nowhere to be found.
We seemed to be in the middle of a vast plain. Scottie continued to scan the darkened land. I casually looked into a window that happened to be in the wall we were next to. I was shocked. Inside the building was an incubator. And inside the incubator was a various assortment of dinosaur eggs. The lion was right. The dinosaurs laid eggs, but no one has done that before. All the women gave birth to live human children. Inside a small cage in the corner was a baby triceratops. "A baby!?" I thought to myself. "A baby dinosaur?" It must have come out as a grunt, because Scottie turned her attention from our possible escape route to the window.
She stood there looking at the baby and the eggs for a few minutes. I could tell she was confused and angry. "How in the...?" she started. "We have to tell someone about this." She ran out into the darkness and I followed.
We were in the middle of nowhere. The only lights were circle of cages that was getting farther away from us. Stopping every now and then to make sure we weren't running off the edge of a cliff, we managed to get several miles away from the cages. Then Scottie stopped. She pointed in front of us. In the distance was what looked like a highway.
"Hurry!" Scottie spurt out as she took off running again. I quickly followed.
We ran across the hard flat ground. Every step I took caused a slight tremor. I could tell by the rustling of the patches of dry grass. I just hoped it didn't help the lion locate us. When we reached the road, no cars were in sight. Just my luck, I thought. The road stretched into the darkness in both directions.
"Now what?" Scottie asked. I managed a slight shrug and began walking down the road in the direction away from the cages.
The road went on and on. No cars had come by yet, and no places with people or telephones either. We were really out in the middle of nowhere. Then a light came from behind us. I turned and saw a car approaching. It slowed down as it neared us.
A mid-degree coyote stuck his out of window. "Need any help?" he asked.
"Yes, we do," Scottie answered. "Do you have a car phone?"
"No, sorry. But, I can give you a lift to the next town. It's about ten miles," he said. "But, I don't know if I can get the big fella in here." He pointed at me. His car was a small two door model.
Scottie turned and walked to me. "Lance, we do need to get to a phone and notify the police."
I nodded, of course.
"I can ride with him, and call. I'll meet you in town. OK?"
"Don't worry. I'll be fine. He's two feet smaller than me. I'm sure I can handle myself if he's trouble. When you reach town, I'm sure I'll be able to find you. There's not that many stegosauruses stuck in their norm form," said and tail grinned. She walked to the other side of the car and opened the door. Before getting in she waved and said, "See you in town." She crawled in and shut the door.
"Sorry, but there's not any room," the coyote said and drove off. I could see Scottie waving before the car got too small to see.
I continued down the road. I would reach town eventually. What's ten miles to a stegosaurus? I noticed another light behind me. I hoped it was a semi. That's what it would take to drive me to town.
My luck turned out for the better. It was a semi truck. And it was slowing down. I waited at the side of the road for it to stop. The door opened and out stepped a lion morph.
"Hi, did you miss me?" he asked. It was the lion from the camp. The elephant got out of the other side of the truck.
I started backing away from them and turned to run. However, I didn't get very far. I felt like something was in my brain.. I could feel the stegosaurus mind trying to take over. I had to keep control. I needed to escape. The tugging continued. I turned and saw the elephant concentrating.
I concentrated on keeping my mind. That elephant wasn't going to make me like those other poor people. I focused. I saw a large knob in my head. One end of the label said, "Lance," and the other end said, "Stegosaurus." The elephant was there trying to move it to the Stegosaurus side. I rushed to the knob and tried to turn it back to my side. "No you don't!" I said.
The elephant morph didn't say anything. He only grinned and managed to move the knob closer to the stegosaurus side. I could feel the dinosaur instincts beginning to kick in, but I continued trying to move the knob back.
I managed to move it a notch, and he was able to move it back a notch. Each toggle, I could feel different. Not, really different, but just odd. I knew that the knob was changing the way I think, but I couldn't tell. I just knew it was wrong somehow.
I was beginning to tire. He had moved the knob three notches from where it was, and I wasn't able to regain that. He moved one notch for everyone I moved. We were at another standstill. Then he vanished. The knob swung all the way back to "Lance."
I began to notice the real world again and saw the lion and elephant lying on the ground. The lion had a tranquilizer gun in his hand. Probably waiting for the elephant to finish his job, then knock me out.
I looked around to see why they were out cold. Then someone walked around from the back of the truck holding another tranquilizer gun. It was Scottie. She came back!
"Hi, Lance," she said holding the gun like she was born with it. "I called the police, and hitched a rid back with the coyote." She pointed to the car on the side of the road. The coyote guy was ducked down and peeking out the window.
I tail grinned a "thank you." I think she understood it. Because she said, "You're welcome." She motioned for the coyote to come out of the car. He obliged and they tied up the elephant and the lion and threw them in the back of the truck. I had to get in there with them. Hopefully they didn't wake up soon.
Scottie, I assume, got in the cab of the truck and drove to town. I could hear the car following us. Luckily, our prisoners didn't wake up on the ten mile trip. The back of the semi opened and I walked out. The police ran inside after I was out of the way and carried the two men out and put them in a police car. They said their, "Good job"s to Scottie, and drove off. Another police car stayed to carry Scottie to questioning. I had to be questioned too, but I guess I had to walk, again.
I was right. I had to walk. Of course I was escorted by police cars. One in front, and one behind. Along the way, I couldn't help thinking about how I almost became a stegosaurus permanently. In mind that is. I hoped that I could change back to my morphic form eventually. But, losing my mind to prehistoric instincts frightened me. I searched out that mental knob just to make sure it was still set on my side.
Then I noticed something. It was behind the knob. I didn't see it earlier. I went closer to it and was surprised. It was the barrier! The barrier that I had lost was right in front of me. I concentrated and stepped through the barrier. I felt a sensation I haven't felt in a while. Energy flowed through my body. I opened my eyes and saw that I was on all fours, but my forelegs weren't legs. They were arms, and my front feet were the claw-like hands that I missed so much.
I stood up and shouted for joy. "I'm me again!" I shouted. Of course, I was always me, but I wasn't close enough to human for my tastes.I ran around in the street. The police cars stopped.
"Sir, would you mind getting in the car?" one of them asked poking his owl-like head out the car window.
"I don't mind at all," I said. It felt so good to talk again. I got in the car and sat at an angle because of my plates.
We arrived at the station and I jumped out of the car as soon at the police opened my door. I ran in and found Scottie. She looked up in surprise. "Ta-dah," I said opening my arms as if to present myself.
"Yep. I finally found that barrier!"
She stood up knocking the chair she was sitting in backwards and ran over to me. She gave me a big hug, and I gave one back. She let go and said, "Let's tell them what we know."
"Thank you," the cat police chief said. He stood up from behind his desk and filed the papers away. "We will begin a man hunt for the ape that was after the raptor at that humane society near Grand Junction."
"Thank you," I said. "At least we know that operation is going to be stopped."
"I just feel sorry for all those people," Scottie said. "They've lost their humanity forever."
"I understand, Miss Harris," the chief said. "I assure you that the leading experts on this type of mental recession are working on it."
"Thank you," she said and walked out of his office.
I shook his hand and followed her. A cab was waiting for us to take us back to LA. prepaid by the police department. If only it was a limo. Scottie was already in the car. I climbed in and noticed that the seats were adjustable, even for our plates. I situated my seat and relaxed. It was going to be a long but comfortable ride.
I stood from the table as the last meeting with the founders concluded. "I can't say how much I appreciate this," I said.
"You're welcome, Lance," David said. "I'm relieved that you and Scottie managed to survive that encounter."
I tail grinned. "I am too. However, there is one still loose. He was headed to Grand Junction for a raptor there."
"Grand Junction! Raptor!? Excuse me," David said and left the room.
I watched as he ran out. "Was it something I said?"
Bruno walked up and put his arm on my shoulder.. "Dave's father is at Grand Junction. He's currently stuck as a raptor. Mentally."
I almost choked. "I... I didn't know."
"It's not your fault," Eos said. "I'm sure he's glad you told him."
The others nodded in agreement.
Charlie looked at his watch. "Well, you better hurry. You're going to miss your flight."
I looked at the time. I had about two hours, but I wanted to be on time. "You're right. It would be a long walk to Arkansas."
We chuckled as we left the room. They escorted me to my taxi, and waved as it drove off. Scottie wasn't around. Her flight was earlier that day. I only had a small chance to say good bye before I was carted off to the meeting. She had strongly stated that she wanted to be in my Meso Club chapter. I was delighted. Although I had no idea how many meetings she would attend since she would be on the other side of the state. However, I felt like the rest of the year would be a huge adventure.
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