My mom walked around the side of the car. She saw that I was not getting out.

"I know," she sighed, "that... that this is tough..."

I hugged my knees against my chest. I felt like I was six again, and my mom was trying to coerce me to go to the dentist. It was a primal fear of the unknown. It was fear simply of not knowing what it was you should be afraid of.

She hugged me, and inhaled, slowly getting out. When I set foot on the asphalt, and she let go of me, I felt the unpleasant sensation of it back there.

My mom stood there with discomfort plainly on her face. I hung my head in shame. I was just trying to focus on anything but the feeling of it back there.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "um... stuff it back in and lets get inside out of this cold."

I nodded as cold tears formed. Mom sent the car to drive away and park, and I winced as I pushed it back down into my shorts. I let out a slight gasp, not really out of pain, but more realization that it had felt relieving being uncompressed.

"C'mon," she squeezed her arms around me tight, "just... just hold on. We're going to make it through all this one step at a time."

We stepped through the growing layers of new snow towards the entrance of the building, the cold wind biting at my face and legs. We walked inside, and rather than being quiet like I had seen it in the past, everyone was swiftly traveling from place to place, talking loudly on their phones in frantic voices. No one paid us any mind.

Sitting in the lobby I tried my hardest to both ignore my deformity and not cause undue discomfort. My mind kept on having those strange signals hit me. This isn't right, it seemed to say. There is some part of your body that you are hurting and you need to fix it. My nose however, acutely smelled everything. Somehow, I smelled my dad before I even saw him. How I recognized his scent I had no idea.

"Yes Clive," he said on a set of stairs to another employee, "I know that the time on the computer is precious, but I need this specific one looked at. We have limited time and -"

He caught sight of me.

I firmly directed my gaze to the floor. A pair of shoes entered my vision.

My dad hugged me tightly, and when I did look up, I found he was also wearing a mask. Another employee with him was handing one to my mom.

"Matt....," he nudged my chin to force me to make eye contact, "Are you alright?"

I didn't hesitate. "No."

He held onto a pensive look. "This is my fault Matt, and I accept that. I royally screwed up all those years ago. Until we get all this figured out, I'm going to be calling people, analyzing data, digging through fifteen year old files... anything I can to solve this."

"Okay," I squeaked out.

"So what we need to do right now," he said, "is that we are going to take you to the recovery rooms. We need to analyze the virus as it progresses and monitor your body all throughout - and we also aren't sure of how contagious the virus is. We are fairly certain it isn't air transmitted, but we are taking precautions."

I swallowed. "How... how long will you need to watch me? How far... how far is it going to... "

"We don't know Matt," he said, pulling me to my feet. "We know that more is going to change over the next few days."

He started leading me down a long hallway with large windows opening on a snow covered courtyard, my mom following close behind.

"How... how much is going to change?"

My dad seemed frustrated with the questions. "We simply don't know Matt. We'll be watching. I know that this is the last advice you need to hear right now, but I'm going to need you to relax. The more stressed, the more anxious you get, the faster the virus will propagate."

"That makes me feel much better."

My dad glanced back at me, annoyance flashing on his face, then he quickly suppressed it.

"I know Matt. This is an extremely difficult situation. I know you're going through a lot. Just please... try not to lose hope. Try to stand tall through it."

"Okay," I said sheepishly.

Other Generation employees gave a wide berth as we walked past them up to the second floor. I didn't blame them. I would avoid this sickness at all costs too. We went into a wing of the building that had another small waiting room and reception, going past it to a bunch of smaller rooms. Dad opened one and led me inside.

The room was reminiscent of a hospital room, with a hospital bed and IV. There was a divider that opened up to an adjacent room. We were on the second level, with large windows in each room showing the blizzard outside. A TV sat on a stand at the front of the room, a well used old Switch sitting beneath it.

"You haven't seen this part of the building before," Dad said. "It's where we house patients who've been conducting gene therapy, as well as when we occasionally do human trials for new drugs."

I walked in slowly, and sat down on the bed. Dad slowly walked up to me, and pulled off my mask. He disguised his surprise better than Mom had. I pulled my jacket off, breathing slowly. Dad met my eyes, gripping my shoulder and making a faint smile.

I felt the crying begin to start, and then it quickly burst soon after. I just needed that moment of release, that moment to not care about anything or anyone... and just cry. It took a minute or two to get it out of my system. I blinked to clear my eyes.

"Cut out all the fluff," I said, "what's going to happen to me? What is happening to me?"

My dad breathed slowly, seemingly collecting his thoughts. "The cancer treatment was given in the form of a pacified virus. Like any virus, it duplicated, spreading around your body. Everywhere it went, it was engineered to deliver changes to your genes to fight the cancer. It made you very cancer resistant, starving out the cancer and saving you... but it seemed that in a way, it left a different cancer dormant. Now those dormant genes, for some reason, are developing, and causing changes in you."

I sobbed, stood up off the bed, and pulled out... it, communicating vividly just how bad the changes had gotten.

My dad stared at the tail. Without a word, he reached into his pocket, and pulled out his pocketknife.

"Hold still," he said. He gripped the band of my shorts, went at them with the knife, and after a bit of effort, he'd made a tear in the synthetic fabric. I looked up at him with a puzzled look.

"Pull it through," he explained.

I suppressed my disgust, holding onto the furry growth, and guided it through the new hole.

"I hate this," I said. "I don't want to acknowledge that thing, or my stupid nose..."

"It's a part of your body now," Dad said, "and at very least, I bet it feels more comfortable like this."

I turned around, and stared at it. My... tail. It wavered around slightly. I couldn't deny that he was right. It felt a lot better.

"More things like this are going to happen to me," I asked, "right? Am I... am I going to have paws? Am I going to have to walk on all fours?"

My dad shook his head. "We don't know exactly -"

"I'm...," I let out a quiet, groaning wail. "I'm going to turn completely into a dog aren't I?"

My dad stood firm, an air of calm about him. I didn't feel that way at all. I felt like I was sliding down a gravelly hillside that had a cliff at the bottom. I felt so... so alone. I just wanted some small degree of assurance that it would all be alright.

My dad was staring. I realized at that moment that I'd been panting.

"So you've fallen back into your old habit I see?"

I slipped my tongue quickly back in.

"Unfortunately Matt, it's probably best that you don't fight that. Your new nose needs you to lick it. Everyone that's going to see you in here knows what's going on, you don't need to hide it."

"Okay," I said. "I'm sorry that... that I have to be so weird. It just... it just helps me feel better."

"I'll do all I can," Dad tried to smile again. "But I don't know what will happen. There's the risk that if we're too hasty, the cancer from when you were little could resurface. But... be brave. And I know that while this feels extremely strange and embarrassing... just do what makes you feel comfortable. Anything that will help you get through this.

I sighed, and then allowed my tongue to loll out again.

Dad turned to an employee behind him. And said something that I didn't hear. He walked up to my bed and pointed at a small button on the side.

"Press that if you need help. Any help. Food, painkillers, anything. You'll get a visit from another employee named Melina twice a day to have things like your blood pressure tested."

"Alright," I said quietly.

"I'll visit you when I can," my mom said. "I'll bring you some stuff to occupy your time."


"I love you Matt," Dad said, "remember, despite all these stupid mistakes I made that led to this, all of us right now are trying to help you and everyone else that got the treatment."

They began turning to leave.



"What... what about... everyone else that got the treatment?"

He was unable to hide the pain that came to his eyes. "I wish I could save all of them, and you, from whatever is happening. There's millions of children that needed the treatment. We don't know if every iteration of the treatment has these effects, or just yours. All I know is... I'm glad that we were able to get you here before it got worse. You won't have to be the patient zero who will have the attention of the whole world."

It dawned on me how much the news and everything would explode from this. Countless people around the world were going to go through the pain that I was going through. I at least would be able to suffer through it all in privacy.

"What... what caused it?" I asked.

"The treatment?" my Dad asked, confused.

"I mean why did it all... why did it happen now? Why not right after I received the treatment?"

"That is one of the many riddles we're trying to solve. So many theories are floating around. Most of the affected are around your age, so maybe it has the same hard coded gestation period... maybe it has to do with hormonal stuff... we don't know. All we know is that it's all flooding in right now... so.... so many. So many who might be changing without any idea what's happening... who just...."

He sighed.

"I just... thank you at least for not hiding this Matt. We... we won't be able to stop everything from happening to you... but maybe we may be able to help the others. Still though, I'll be doing all I can."

"Thank you," I said at a whisper.

Mom and Dad nodded with great pain in their eyes. They said nothing more, closed the door behind them, and left me alone.

I sat back on the bed, being careful to not sit on my tail. I sat there for a few moments, my mind vacant.

Then I bawled my eyes out.


A note from RockyTheDogBoy

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About the author


Bio: A golden retriever that knows how to use a computer

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