“Sometimes roaring like a lion can be cathartic. Climbing like a monkey is great exercise. Hopping like a kangaroo on the playing field is good fun. Yes, mimicking animals has great benefits, but what if you can actually become one?”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango — Colloquial
Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge — Animal – Friend – Trust
Authorworld — Picture – If I were an animal
Your Daily Word — Cloy
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Coalesce
Word of the Day — Fractures
It began as a normal evening for Jim. Even the sulphur-crested cockatoo with its brilliant white feathers on his shoulder was normal.
Jim was a zookeeper, he loved nothing more than to work with every animal within the County Zoo. He was one of few keeper’s who never minded the night shift. The dark hours brought a special feeling to the enclosures. They gave a unique chance to watch animals like the kinkajou who would normally sleep all day too.
“Everything’s nice and calm tonight, Tybalt,” he said feeding the cockatoo cracker.
The large bird took in its talon with a grateful squawk and began to nibble on it. Jim had raised Tybalt from an abandoned chick ten years ago. The cockatoo had grown to trust him. He wouldn’t ever sit on anyone else’s shoulder and would bite them if they tried to touch him.
Karoo the great male lion was prowling in his enclosure. Seeing the human and bird coming, he gave a mighty roar.
Jim felt the big cat’s bellowed rumble in his chest. No noise caused a bubble of fear quite like that of a lion.
Even the dromedary camels and zebra across the path backed away.
“Let’s not give him a cuddle, He’s apparently in a bad mood!” Jim said.
Tybalt squawked his approval. The next second, he shrieked in fear.
A mighty fork of lightning turned the grey skies blue for a split second. The rumble which followed sent the lion running for cover.
“Wow! Time to be inside, I think.” Jim increased his pace making his way back through the monkey enclosures to reach the aviaries.
Above the storm gathered pace, sheets of lightning and rumbles to rival a bowling alley. Winds whipped into a frenzy as heavy raindrops hammered upon the zoo.
Tybalt fluffed up his plumage and gave the sky an aggrieved look.
“No kidding, buddy!” Jim turned left at the owl caged. It was here, his foot slipped on the wet crazy paving.
Tybalt took flight as his friend stumbled off the path.
The sky phosphoresced above as Zeus’s thunderbolt unleashed its scintillating power.
Jim cursed as he crashed shoulder-first into the Aviary Stone – a quartzite monolith.
Ten feet tall and etched with birds from many species, the crystalline metamorphic rock was magnificent. Especially in gleaming sunlight.
On impact with the crystalline rock, Jim felt a thousand needles jamming into his nerves. He leapt away from the electric shock and fell to the ground as the thunder exploded overhead.
Tybalt squawked and flew in circles over his friend’s head as if trying to protect him from the rain.
Jim sat up feeling dazed. “I’m okay, buddy.”
Tybalt landed on his shoulder and filled his ear with relieved sounding colloquial chatter and squawks.
“I love you too, buddy.” Jim turned away for another flash of lightning. The storm was beginning to cloy at his senses. Already becoming tedious thanks to the pain it caused. “Let’s get you safe in your enclosure.”
Tybalt leapt at another rumble of thunder. He flew ahead and landed inside his enclosure.
Jim watched him climb into his bed box. “Good boy, Tybalt. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Jim locked the cage. “Wish I could fly like you.” He added as he turned to walk away.
In that instant, it was as if every molecule in his body started to party. Pins and needles, electricity and pressure. He felt everything and then nothing but the raindrops falling on his feathers.
Jim opened his mouth to speak and flinched as a squawk came out. Looking down, he was shocked to see he’d become a cockatoo.
Taking flight, he flew a couple of circles before a thought occurred. ‘This is cool. But I hope I can be human again.’
The pins and needles, the electricity and the pressure erupted back into being.
Jim splashed into the growing puddles around the aviaries. “That was weird!” he said as he regained his feet as a human once more.
Soaked through, he knew he needed to get out of the weather. Running from the aviaries, he made his way toward the staff rooms. “I wonder if I can become a cheetah?” he said himself.
His stride stretched, as his molecules went wild again. Within seconds his feet became paws and he was running through the wind and rain at 70 miles per hour.
He couldn’t believe his eyes when he caught sight of his lithe, spotted shape in the glass of the reptile house. “Woohoo! Let me be a rhino!”
Jim’s body swelled fast. His speed slowed to a slumberous walk. The cat’s fur vanished, replaced by the thick, grey wrinkled skin of the rhino. Looking right, he grunted as his horn obliterated a sign for the petting zoo.
Moving on, he tried many forms. Impala, hyena, giant tortoise, penguin, pangolin, butterfly. At the slightest thought, he could become any creature on the planet. He went from a fruit bat to a giraffe. That was a big mistake, his head clanged off a lamppost and made his brain thump like the storm overhead.
He reduced his size to a gorilla, then an anteater and finally a German Shepperd dog. ‘Woo, everything stinks bad as a dog! Let me be human again,’ he barked before becoming regular Jim once more.
Arriving at the staff building, he sloshed inside. The staff cabin had a kitchen and living area. A haven amid the zoo for the staff to escape into when break time called.
Jim’s clothes were soaking wet and his mind whirring through what had just occurred as he stagged through the living area. ‘Animal metamorphosis was impossible, right? Sure Brave Starr could do a but he was a cartoon. Am I always going to be able to do this now? What physiological damages is it causing? Should I go to the doc —’ a towel descended over his head and he flinched and swore.
“Hey, Jim, it’s me. I’m sorry. Are you okay?”
“Oh, Mitchie. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you,” Jim took a moment to dry himself off. Removing the towel, he slumped onto one of the kitchen chairs.
“My bad for hiding —” Mitchie flinched away from the window as it shook with another rumble of thunder “Wow – in the darkness.”
“It’s okay, I’m glad you’re safe in here. It’s dangerous out there!”
“No kidding! You look like hell, what happened out there?” Mitchie poured him coffee. “Here drink this.”
“Thanks, I tripped into the Aviary Stone thanks to the stupid rain.” Jim flexed his shoulder and grimaced. He could feel no fractures but a lot of bruising was coming up he was sure.
“Are you, okay?”
“I’m fine but …” Jim used his coffee to stop him speaking. ‘Should he tell Mitchie? Or was he better off saying nothing?
“But what?” Mitchie sat opposite him and looked him straight in the eyes.
“Eh, it’s nothing.”
“Jim! Tell me.”
“You wouldn’t believe me.” Jim sipped his coffee and looked away.
“Jim, please. I’m your friend.” Mitchie squeezed his hand and gave a disarming smile.
“Alright,” Jim sighed. “I want you to name a small animal. Then don’t freak out.”
“Humour me,” Jim stood up with an expectant look.
“Okay. What about a crocodile?”
“Too dangerous. Try again.” Jim wasn’t sure if he could control the animalistic urges of predatory species yet. He wasn’t going to risk Mitchie to find out either.
“Otter, then.” Mitchie slapped her sides. “What’s this ab—”
“Let me be an otter.” Jim shrank and grew soft brown fur. Within moments, he had cute round ears, a white chest and a hankering for fish.
Mitchie shrieked and jumped off her chair. “What the hell, Jim!”
Jim changed himself into a pelican and then a partridge. Flapping onto the table he morphed into a koala.
“Now, you look cute!” Mitchie managed a smile although she was still scared.
Jim returned to human form, “I always wondered what it would be like if I were an animal. Now, I know.”
“How?” Mitchie dropped into her seat again.
“I think the storm altered my molecular structure. My cells can now coalesce and transform me into different animals at will, somehow.”
“How is that even possible?” Mitchie said still freaked out.
“I have no idea,” Jim thought of a snake. Within seconds he was a scaly smooth reticulated python. He began wending his way around the bars that made up the back of a chair. As he came, over the top, he turned himself into a meerkat. Then opened his wings as a majestic bald eagle.
“Jim! Stop monkeying about!” Mitchie demanded.
The bald eagle became a colobus monkey.
“Jim, please. This is no time to act like a petulant teenager.”
The monkey turned into a raccoon.”
“Ha! Perfect!” Mitchie sighed.
“Seriously,” Jim returned the human form. “This is fun and frightening at the same time. What should I do about it?”
“I don’t know. Just don’t turn into an elephant in here!”
Jim laughed. “That’s good advice!”
“I think, we need to find a biologist we can trust. Someone who can run tests on you and see what’s happening.”
“That’s a smart idea. Ooh, I wonder if I can become a dinosaur,” Jim felt a bubble of excitement which was echoed by lightning flashing outside.
“No, no, no! Let’s not have any scenes from Jurassic Park in here, please!” Mitchie said fearfully.
“What! You don’t want to sit on the toilet while I ripped the roof off as T-rex, then?” Jim grinned.
“I better keep my inner raptor caged then.” Jim went to look out of the window, “Looks like the storms finally moving away.”
“That’s a good thing. We better go and survey the damage,” Mitchie finished her coffee and pulled on her raincoat.
“Sure, if you need anything moved; give me a shout and we’ll try elephant mode.” Jim grinned.
“I forbid you from changing into any more animals until we see a biologist.”
“No buts, Jim. This is for your safety. Who knows what damage those changes are doing?”
“I know, thanks Mitchie,” Jim sighed and groaned. “Looks like I’m going to have to start wearing tick and flea collars, and all!”
“I’d get some of those mini pine trees as well,” Mitchie added having opened the door.
“Well, some of the animals in this zoo really stink!” Mitchie stuck her tongue out and walked into the rain. “We’ll find a scientist first thing in the morning. Don’t worry, okay?”
“Thanks, I appreciate it. For now, I’m as cool as a kangaroo.” Jim changed into the Australian hopper and bounced away into the zoo. He knew then, his life had taken a turn for the wild and he liked it.
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!