I... was a dog. My hands were now paws. My arms had become forelegs, and with my hind legs changing as well, I was only able to walk on all fours. It felt weirdly natural.
What did not feel natural though was my voice. I wanted to say something to Ashley. I wanted to just say anything - but I couldn't. All that came out were barks, growls, or wimpers. To pile on top of this discomfort, while we slept, they had somehow removed our clothes - I suspected that the drugs they were giving us also put us out cold. It felt horrible being around Ashley like this, and I knew that she felt the same from the look in her eyes.
My eyes... even they revealed that I was no longer human. I'd thought my whole life that dogs saw in black and white, and my vision hadn't changed substantially when I'd become canis - but as a full dog, I realized that I could only see in hues of blue and yellow. I was grateful to see some color still - but now with washed out colors everywhere, the red in the carpet and the brick wall now gone, our prison felt even more dark and dreary.
And yet, after all the crushing fear that I had felt in the past, that the virus would advance me to this state... the reality didn't feel as awful as I'd imagined it. I had already been living with fur, a snout, and floppy ears for a while. I'd grown to even like how I looked when I was just canis. The full change then, wasn't as big of a leap as it had seemed before.
Maybe I'd just given up hope. Maybe my mind had deadened. Whatever the cause, being a dog, walking around on my paws... it felt natural, somehow. I could tell, in some ways, that my mind had been altered. While I had sniffed at the air occasionally as a canis person, now fully canine, I felt a compulsive urge to sniff everything.
On top of that, I was feeling restless. I had been stuck in this room for... for a week? Or was it just a few days? I felt so pent up. I wanted to go outside, I wanted to run, bound across some grass... chase something.
When I focused really hard, I knew deep down that those weren't my real thoughts. They were canine instincts creeping in. But I was a dog now. Did it matter really whether those were my human thoughts or my dog thoughts? It sounded fun, and if it was fun, did it matter?
I shook my head, snapping out of the trance I was in. It was getting harder and harder to concentrate. It had been this way for a while. I hoped that it had stabilized. I'd been able to think long after my physical changes had finished. Maybe we would at least retain our intelligence.
I got off of my dog bed and walked over to where Ashley lay on hers. I nudged her with my snout. When she didn't get up, I barked softly. That woke her up. She sat up on her haunches, where she used one of her hind legs to scratch an itch on her neck.
I stamped one of my forepaws down on the ground. A moment passed, and Ashley did so as well.
It was our only way to communicate that we were still mentally alert, able to actively choose to do something not based on instinct.
Despite my relief that Ashley was still okay, she let out a very, very pained whimper. I licked her face. She licked me back. It was the only reassurance that I could provide to her now. I couldn't read her thoughts, I couldn't telepathically tell her we'd get through this.
All we could do was hold on.
I tried my best not to let the dog conquer me by trying to do as human of things as possible - and the most human thing I could do was read the books. Getting them open and trying to turn the pages with my paws was difficult - but reading them was getting just as hard. I wasn't sure if it was my eyes or my mind, but I had to think a lot more about what I was reading.
At least it was a way for me to fixate on something that felt human. It was a way for me to practice concentration. I was not a dog. I was Matt Hewitt. I had a sister named Ashley. I had my parents who were looking for us. I had a girlfriend named Jackie. I loved her.
Our situation was awful, but I had felt so much anxiety thinking about how worried she must be. What if she thought I was dead? What if they had no leads on how to find us?
Even if I saw Jackie again... she would see a dog. The thought filled me with horror. I couldn't imagine her reaction to that. Maybe she would've preferred that I had died. At least then I would've died as myself, fighting back. Instead I just felt pathetic. I felt like a coward. I had let them do this to me.
Contrary thoughts in my mind rejected this as useless and untrue. It didn't keep me from feeling like I was going to die... or lose my humanity in such a sad way. I had not gone down like a valiant tragic hero, but was going to be defeated as a sad, instinct-driven pet.
I heard the door buzz, indicating that it was being opened. I kicked away the textbook I was reading, and put on my best, dumb happy face as Melina walked in. It was the first time one of them had walked in since we'd completely changed, and I wasn't going to squander this opportunity. If we could convince her that we'd become completely lost to the change, it could give us an edge.
"Arf!" I barked, panting happily. Ashley barked as well.
"Ugh, pipe down you two dumb mutts," Melina groaned, hauling a bag of dog food into the room.
She carried it to our food dishes, but poured a bit too much, and spilled it all over.
She was drunk. Incapacitated to an extent.
I no longer needed to pretend, as I suddenly felt very, very happy. I barked again.
"Gosh, can't you two let a hungover woman have some quiet?" she said loudly.
She set down the bag of dog food, and then just collapsed onto the floor. She stared up at the ceiling, a glimpse of tears in her eyes.
The door was wide open. We could run now, and with her being drunk... and hungover? - Gosh she was not having a good day - she might not be able to catch us.
Ashley let out a small bark directed at me. I could sense the meaning in it in a way a human couldn't - what are you waiting for?
I was waiting for a way to get Melina away from the electric prod on her waist. I suspected, seeing the buttons on it, that it may also control the shock collars we were wearing. I didn't want to take any chances. She was was resting her hand on it, even as she looked off away from us with a glazed over look. She reached into her jacket, and pulled out a flask, sipping from it.
"How... how weird is it," she said, putting her back to the wall, "that doing this, trying to drown out my hangover with more drinking... is called 'hair of the dog.' That's funny isn't it?"
I barked and panted as she took a swig.
"I woonnder what weirdo came up with that," she slurred, "he was probably... prolly as weird as me, talking to a dumb animal."
She reached out towards me. I shirked back slightly, out of both my real human anxiety around someone who had attacked me with electric shocks, as well as a natural canine instinct for danger.
"I won't hurt you," she said, "not when you're much nicer than wheenn... when youuu were a huuman."
I timidly drew nearer to her, and she scratched me behind the ears. Despite the stench of alcohol on her, getting scratched always felt good, and I wagged my tail vigorously.
"I miss having a dog," Melina said. "I miss having someone thaat looves you soooo much. Not someone who complains that I'm never home for them because I work sso much, but then when you actually try to be there, you find out he was cheating on youu, and then your punk daughter chooses his cheating ass instead of youu who actually carrress..."
She was sobbing a lot now. Gosh this was uncomfortable - even though I was just a dog that didn't really have any real reason to feel awkward.
"Gosshh why did I make my life so awful!!" Melina screamed out of nowhere. "Why did I let myself marry that jerk? Why did I let my daughter slip away!!"
Ashley and I just stared at each other in bewilderment.
"And on top of thhhaa," Melina wailed, "I kidnapped some kids and made them into two... dumb... animals..."
She dropped her head down into folded arms. Her hand was not on her electric prod.
I glanced to Ashley, and barked that it was time to make our move.
Ashley didn't seem to respond. She was just staring at Melina. I stamped my paw, hoping that she wasn't falling into a trance. Thankfully, Ashley stamped her paw - she was still thinking.
Melina looked back up, and wiped her eyes. The tears came back almost immediately. Before I could stop her, Ashley jumped up close to Melina, and licked her face.
"Augh augh!" Melina grunted, "cut it out!"
Ashley remained persistent.
Melina's angered grunts turned to a bit of a frustrated laugh.
"Okay," Melina sighed, hugging Ashley, "thank you for the kisses... they don't haalp much though."
I felt pity for what had happened to this woman - it seemed that working with Seth had broken her - like Seth appeared to have broken others, and wanted to break us. Regardless, she had chosen her way in life.
As if to affirm my thoughts, Melina sighed and sat up straight, sadly before I could move in to grab the electric prod.
"But you two aren't myy friends. You're our prisoners."
I barely registered the movement as Melina started to stand up. Ashley jumped on her again, pinning her back against the ground. Melina reached for her prod. Ashley bit hard into Melina's arm.
"AAAGGHH!!" Melina screamed. "You damn mutt!"
I grabbed the prod with my mouth, and Ashley refused to let go of Melina's arm. As I spat the prod out, tossing it to the side, Melina kicked Ashley hard in the stomach and off of her, causing Ashley to let out a harsh whimper.
I barked loudly in what could be described as a harsh canine curse.
I bounded over to Ashley, who panted slow and deep, recovering from the blow. Lying on her side, she gave a strained double stamp with one of her paws. She was alright.
I turned my attention back to the prod, to run back to it before Melina could grab it. But Melina was completely distracted. She was screaming, gripping her arm as blood seeped between her fingers.
"You devious freaks!" she shouted at us. "You're just like everyone else, lying without an ounce of humanity!"
I looked to Ashley and stamped my paw. We had to go. Now.
I bounded out the door into a hallway. It was as austere and old as the room we'd been in. I don't know how my legs could feel strained after doing barely anything for so long, but gosh I was tired. I wanted some real food... like bacon. I shook the thought away, and glanced back behind me as Ashley followed me out of the room.
I turned around a corner, skittering on the linoleum floor, unused to running on all fours. In the corner of my eye I saw Ashley ran into another room. I barked at her. What was she doing?
She made a racket, knocking something over. I ran back to find that she was in a breakroom of sorts, and had a big wad of paper towels in her mouth. She ran past me - back to Melina.
I rolled my eyes and followed her back into the room we'd been held in. Melina didn't say anything, but immediately grabbed the paper towels from Ashley's mouth and began wrapping it around the wound.
"I... am going to kill youuu," she seethed.
But then she let out a screech, and reached behind her.
"Ahh! Ahhhh! What... what's going on!!"
Melina fell down to the ground amidst cracking sounds - and then I saw lump forming at the top of her back. She reached back their with a shaking hand, loosing her pants - and the start of a black and white tail popped out.
"Nooo...," she said in disbelief... "Your stupid DNA dammit!"
I watched in horror. This was no gradual change. If the virus had burned through us like a match, it was moving through her like a forest fire. Her face pushed out into a muzzle, a snout forming. Black and white fur sprouted all over her. As she screamed in pain, she slowly looked up at me, glaring with canine eyes.
A guttural growl came from her throat, and she pounced on me. She began punching me, getting in several really painful hits, before her hands formed into paws.
I tried my best to wrestle out of her grip, rolling her off of me. She kicked off her pants, her legs now canine, and she jumped at me again, hitting me with a paw, and I was knocked to the ground.
I bit back the pain, and barked at Ashley with my head against the floor. She got the message, and began to run.
I turned back to Melina, who was breathing deep. Her tongue dropped out of her mouth, becoming longer and flatter.
"You...," she said in a strained voice, "have gotten what you wanted. What everyone arround me waanted. You rruined my life. Youuuuu hhhaahahahaaggghghhhh!!"
Her voice strained more and more, until her human voice vanished forever. She barked at me a few times, and then realized what had happened.
Melina suddenly became still, only panting. The transformation had ended. She was a dog - a border collie.
She whimpered for a few moments. She let out a long howl of despair, before collapsing to the floor. She'd gotten what she deserved. I was done here.
I ran after Ashley, only exchanging a glance with her.
And we ran to freedom.
A golden retriever that knows how to use a computer
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