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|A man befriends a woman who goes missing the following day. He finds her and both get transformed into mutants by a Mireau like scientist.||
Jake is Kyleís best friend. Jake had been there for Kyle since he was in the ninth grade. Even though there was a year difference between them, with Jake being the older, Kyle seemed more knowledgeable beyond his years. Jake was really an outgoing person. He always liked going out to clubs and having a good time. He now worked as a manager of a Wendyís restaurant. Jake was the person who set up most of the occasions that he and Kyle had been to together. In short, Jake was the more social of the two. And his muscular physique didnít hinder his outgoing demeanor.
Kyle was a bit more conservative than Jake. In high school and colleague, he was the captain of the soccer team, brining both teams to the state championships for four years, each. He was really athletic, participating in a number of sports activities outside of his academic and team obligations. He never spent much time on his academics in spite of the fact that he would always get top marks. However, he would quite often be engrossed in personal research projects on topics that seemed like he picked at random. Many people said that Kyle was like a machine, always on the move, always doing something.
Tonight, Jake had taken his girlfriend and Kyle to one of the ritzier nightclubs in New York. They were sitting in a circular four-person booth, talking and joking. Jake was humorously regaling to his girlfriend one of Kyleís greater feats of his soccer Ďcareerí.
Hey, Jake, whose that?" Kyle interrupted as he motioned to a woman who walked into the door.
Jake craned his to have a look, "Who?"
"The blond woman with the green dress," Kyle said. "Sheís sitting at the bar."
"I see her," Jake confirmed. "What are you going to do? Buy her a drink?"
Kyle smiled. "Precisely, my dear Watson." He loved quoting various literary sources.
"Getting a bit rebellious for yourself?" Jake returned with a grin. Kyle just shrugged.
Kyle walked over the woman and tapped her on the shoulder, she looked over her shoulder and smiled. "Pardon me, Kyle Forte," he said as he held out his hand, she shook it.
"Maggie. Maggie Reed," she returned. Her long blond hair fell all the way down her back.
"Could I perhaps buy you a drink?" Kyle inquired. "I have a few friends waiting over there," Kyle pointed to where Jake and his girlfriend were sitting, "if youíd like, Iíd like to get to know you a little better."
Her green eyes sparkled for a moment. "Sure," Maggie said with a smile. She took Kyleís hand and walked with Kyle over to the table. Her sleeveless, emerald green dress falling to just above the knees and flattering her figure.
Sitting down next to Kyle, Maggie was courtly introduced, "Maggie, this is a good friend of mine, Jake, his girlfriend Selina, guys, this is Maggie."
"Hello," the trio said simultaneously. Kyle chuckled as he slid himself into his seat next to Jake.
"Whatís so funny?" Maggie asked.
Kyle smile. "Nothing. Itís just that the chances of three people meeting for the first time saying hello at the exact same time is infidecimal. You have a better chance of winning the lottery."
"That so?" Selina asked.
"True," Kyle answered.
"Thatís one of the things this guy hasnít done yet," Jake commented as he gave Kyle a friendly slap on the back.
"Whatís he done?" Maggie inquired.
"You must be new in town," Jake commented. "Where are you from?"
"Ohio," Maggie answered cheerfully. "I came here the day before yesterday. I got an audition for a musical thatís opening downtown."
"I can see you as a singer," Kyle complimented.
Maggie blushed. "Youíre sweet." Kyle grinned at the compliment. "So tell me, what have you done?"
"Can you believe that this guy brought both his high school and colleague soccer teams to the state nationals four years straight?" Kyle regaled.
"Both teams, four times each?" Maggie tried to clarify. She looked over at Kyle, he seemed to be proud of his friend complimenting him in such a manner.
A waiter came over and everyone ordered something to drink and a large plate of nachos to share.
"And you know what the funniest thing is?" Jake asked.
"Go ahead, tell us," Selina encouraged.
"Please," Maggie inquired.
"Kyle, want me to let the cat out of the bag?"
"Sure thing," Kyle said as he took a sip of the Jack Danielís-ice-and-Coke that was finally brought by the waiter.
"This guy spends more time researching things and playing soccer than he did in school and studying, combined, and he used to get top marks in every class," Jake said with a friendly pride. "One year, I was on the high school team that he was captain of. Man, this guy is amazing, you should have some of the things he could do."
"Sounds like you were good," Maggie complimented. "Which position did you play?"
"Goalie," Jon answered.
"Tough position," Maggie chuckled.
"That isnít the half of it," Jake went on, "Kyle was the best anyone could find." Jake proudly slapped Kyle on the back. "This guy was named Ďthe wallí. He rarely let a ball go through the net. All the championships were perfect, flawless wins. Thatís how he managed to get through colleague on a soccer scholarship." Kyle smiled as Maggie and Selina seemed intoxicated by the story. "I remember one time, he did something completely off the wall."
"Donít tell me youíre telling them about the punch?" Kyle asked with a smile. "Iím sure these lovely ladies would rather hear about something else rather than my sportsmanship."
"Donít be hard on yourself," Selina said.
"The punch?" Maggie sounded confused.
"It was hilarious, the referees watching it on replay couldnít believe it," Jake chuckled. He chewed on a nacho and continued. "It was quarter finals of the second championship at the last three minutes of the fourth quarter. The other team had a penalty shot. Even if he made it, we still would have won the game five-to-one. Anyway, the lines up and takes the shot and the ball heads toward the top right-hand corner of the net, to Kyleís left." Jake and Kyle looked at the women and saw that they were almost enthralled in the story. "Kyle jumps to his left, and you would think he would throw both arms out to stop the ball right?" Both women nodded. Kyle knew Jake always had fun regaling this story. "Not this time. Kyle swings his arm out as if he is about to punch the ball, makes contact and the ball flies back toward the guy who took the shot, the ball sent him reeling. He didnít know what hit him."
"I also sprained two fingers doing that," Kyle added.
"Yeah, well you also made the save," Jake answered. "And made a point for the reference books."
"Now I remember," Maggie said. "I read about that in the paper a few years ago. It somehow stuck with me. That guy was you?"
"Yes maíam," Kyle answered with a grin.
"How did you do it?"
"I donít really know. I guess I just saw it," Kyle answered as he popped another nacho into his mouth. "So what eventful things have you done in your life?" He tuned to look at Maggie.
"Oh, nothing nearly as eventful as that."
"Surely something of your life must be interesting," Kyle encouraged. "You said that you were auditioning for a musical. Which one?"
"The Lion King," Maggie answered. She had made herself comfortable in the cushioned seat.
"See thereís something," Kyle said. "Donít tell me, youíre auditioning for the part of the adult Nala, right." He teased.
"No," Maggie said with a shy smile. "Iím just trying out for a character part."
"Really?" Kyle inquired. "Tell me more."
The group spent most of the evening talking joking, cheering, listening to stories and acting as if they were old friends reunited after years of separation.
* * * * * * * *
Kyle walked up the three flights of stars of the hotel to the floor of Maggieís room. He quietly carried the dozen red roses down the hallway to room three-forty-seven, Maggieís room. Kyle tapped twice on the door and waited for a response.
After a few seconds, "Whose there?" Maggie called. She sounded surprised, yet a bit disappointed.
"Kyle," he answered. "We met a few nights ago." Maggie opened the door slightly ajar and peeked out at Kyle.
"Oh Kyle, itís you," Maggie said enthusiastically. "Please come in."
Kyle stepped into the room, brought the roses out form behind his back and handed them to Maggie. "I got these for you."
She was wearing the same green dress that Kyle had met her in. "Youíre so sweet!!" Maggie exclaimed. She took the flowers and put them into the a vase of water. "Please find a seat, make yourself comfortable. Sorry for the mess, I was just packing up." Maggie stopped by a table with several cups and a teapot. "Would you like something to drink?"
"Have any coffee?"
"I have earl gray tea," Maggie offered.
"Thatís fine," Kyle stated. "Say, where are you going in such a hurry?" Maggie poured two cups of tea from a engraved silver teapot he assumed came from the kitchen from The Regent.
"Iím going back home," Maggie answered. "Any sugar or milk?"
"A little sugar if you donít mind," Kyle said. "I suppose you didnít get the part you were hoping for?" Maggie handed Kyle a cup and sat down in a close by chair.
"I didnít, no," Maggie said sorrowfully. "And I better go, Iím almost broke. Iím not even sure I can pay for the room."
"Need money?" Kyle inquired. "I could lend you a bit until you get back on your feet."
"Oh no, please donít do that on my account." Maggie said sweetly.
"I donít mind." Kyle assured. "Iíve got some money because of those soccer championships that I would like to do something with."
Maggie sat there for a few moments and just looked at Kyle, her green eyes twinkling with the same fire that he had seen earlier.
"If you want to stay in New York a little longer you could live with me, if you would like," Kyle offered. "Iíve got another room in my apartment that I could free up for you."
"Kyle," Maggie said as she looked into his eyes. "Your a sweet guy, I donít know what to say."
"The decision is yours. I am merely offering this to you as a friend."
"Before I answer, tell men one thing: how did you find which hotel I was in?"
"I went down the street asking all the hotels if they had you as a guest."
"You didnít," Maggie giggled. She got up and began going about tidying up the rooms.
"I did," Kyle confirmed. "When you said Ďthe hotel on Lexington Avenueí I was hoping for a hotel name or such. I went to about eight other hotels asking if you were there before I got that you were here. A guy with a bouquet roses walking into about a dozen hotels is rather conspicuous, even for the rumors of New York City." Maggie stopped and let out a loud playful laugh. She rested against a wall until her laughter subsided. Kyle chuckled because he too, saw the humor in his statement.
"I suppose youíre right," Maggie stated as she wiped a tear from her eye. "Sorry about that." Kyle just smiled.
"Laughing so hard youíre crying?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah," Maggie answered. She began picking up what few pieces there were and putting them in their respective place. "Although, itís the best Iíve felt in a long time. Now that Iíve thought about it, yes."
"Iíd like to take you up on that offer to live at you place."
"Fair enough," Kyle said as he got up and walked over to bed, where Maggieís suitcase was.
"But I must warn you, as soon as I get a job here, I insist on paying half of the rent."
"Not a problem," Kyle smiled. "But I pay the utilities. That is, until you become a star and can afford your own place." Maggie began again with a burst of soft, playful laughter.
"Oh, please stop," Maggie said between bursts of giggles, "he-he, youíre killing me."
"Sorry," Kyle said with a slight chuckle. "Iím not trying to be funny. By the way, would you like me to take your suitcase with us?"
"If you could," Maggie answered. Jon lifted the suitcase off the bed and drug it, on its wheels, over the door. "You have money on you?"
"Yeah, a bit."
They both walked over to the elevator, called it, waited, stepped inside and rode it down to the ground floor.
* * * * * * * *
Sevarious sat in front of a computer terminal. He was the head geneticist at the Gen-I-Tix research laboratory. He was commissioned to decode and map the genome of numerous terrestrial organisms. In all actuality, he was one of the top geneticists in the world and had the documentation to prove it. His work at this laboratory had so far taken only ten years, five years ahead of schedule. This allowed much time for his personal project that he had begun near the initiation of his commission.
His Project was to blend the genetic structure of humans with various other animals. His first few experiments ended in failure. However, with the progression of time, Sevarious had deduced which genes he could convert and exchange with various other animalistic genes. Nearly all of those genes were of the physical structure of the human volunteers.
Since the beginning of this Project of his, he had slowly changed the lower of the two basements of the Gen-I-Tix building into the facility to house his experimentation. It was a rather spacious basement, about a quarter square mile in total floor area. Part of the basement, which he preferred to reference it as the Facility, was the holding rooms for the people who had volunteered. Out of the twenty-five of those cubicles only eight were occupied with people who were progressing along the transformation into their new bodies. Along the opposing wall, there were full-sized display containers holding the failures of those transformations. Many of those had died because of their bodies had a violent shock to the serum. The remaining few died because of complications during the process of their transformations. Some of their bodies were hideously deformed, their limbs either stretched and elongated or had contorted beyond recognition.
Looking at the fragmented genetic structure being dissected and reassembled on the monitor, Sevarious pondered the continuation of his work. He was able to rectify the dosage of the serum that the patients were given, however they all eventually died because their body either burned itself up because of the physical transformation or shut down because of the shock. However, preventing the body from completely burning itself up remained a mystery. He had observed that the metabolism of all the Ďpatientsí had tripled or quadrupled because of the growth and change. That had been quelled with providing more food to the people and that had slowed down the process of their bodies form burning out to some degree.
"The key to the survival of the being has to be with the harnessing of the metabolic process," Sevarious said to himself. He knew there was something with the bodyís final adjustment to the transformation that would create the next level of the human race, but what it was had eluded him so far. This elusion of the answer angered him. Through much failure throughout the entire project, he knew that many of the people given the serum should have survived. Physically, they should have survived the transformation into Homo Superior, perhaps it could be something with the psychology of the transformation.
Perhaps that the failures were due to the fact that those people did not want to live with what the became and died because of that will. Mind over matter. It was a plausible theory, however there was nothing to support it. All of the people who were subjects to the Project had entered into it of their own free will. They willfully accepted the fact that they would no longer be in the forms that they once were in.
Then again, mind over matter may be a key to what is happening. Science has said that sometimes the state of mind of person could affect the physical aspects of the person. If a person was in a low stress period, the body would function better, it might have greater speed, better responses or a general increase in overall well-being. If a person was crowded with stress, quite often the mind would allow the body to slip into a state prone to injury. Or even worse, the mind would force a injury onto the body in order to alleviate the stress.
"There is a need for more volunteers for the Project," Sevarious said quietly. He knew that no one would have herd him. Few people had assisted his with the Project, and those that did would have left hours ago to be with their families or do what they had planned for the evening. He sat there thinking on how to attract more people into becoming subjects in the project. He smiled to himself. "Perhaps the allure of being a lab assistant would coax them," Sevarious said with a wide grin.
* * * * * * * *
Kyle was sitting on the couch in his living room. He had moved the extra items he had from the smaller bedroom into an overcrowded storeroom to accommodate Maggie. She was less than a day in Kyleís apartment, but already made her self comfortable within the small two-bedroom apartment. While Kyle sat reading the morning newspaper, Maggie was working her way though the kitchen in Kyleís apartment making a light breakfast.
"Could I make you anything for breakfast?" Maggie called form the kitchen.
"Youíre making breakfast already?" Kyle inquired. "Itís barely eight oíclock in the morning."
"Iím an early bird," Maggie said. "And I would like to help out around here. Youíve been so kind to me, I want to repay you in any way I can."
"Thanks," Kyle returned.
"Did you want anything for breakfast?"
"I usually go and run by a McDonalds and pick up an egg McMuffin there before I start my day. But Iíll ask for a little of whatever youíre cooking."
"Iím making scrambled eggs and toast," Maggie said as she quickly stepped into living room. "Hope you donít mind." Kyle just shook his head. " If you donít mind my asking, what do you do for a living?"
"On Mondays and Fridays I coach a local soccer team. Itís more like a soccer camp where many of the kids can come for a few hours enjoy themselves. Itís at the YMCA about a half hour drive from here. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I help in teaching an english class at the same place. And on Saturdays I help in a gaming card shop with one of itís activities with some the smaller kids. Wednesdays and Sundays Iím off."
"Pretty active arenít you?" Maggie inquired.
"I try to be," Kyle answered. "On Sundays you can quite often find me in the public library researching stuff."
"Breakfast is ready," Maggie called. Kyle walked into the kitchen to see both seats of the small table, one on either side, served with large portions of scrambled eggs, toast, steaming coffee and small glasses of orange juice. "Have a seat. It wonít bite," Maggie chuckled. Kyle sat down and began to dig in.
"It better not," Kyle said humorously as he looked at Maggie with such seriousness that it was almost comical. She giggled as she sat down in the other set. She was wearing a plain green T-shirt and light pair of jeans.
"Do you like what you?"
"Keeps me busy. I canít complain. And even if I wanted to, who would listen?"
Maggie smiled. "You have a point there." She took another bite of toast.
"What did you before you came to the big apple?" Kyle watched Maggie eat. Her feminine form was strong and beautiful. Kyle was reminded of many of the TV stereotypes of female heroines, strong and powerful, but also with a strong womanly quality.
"I was an assistant instructor in a dancing class back in Ohio."
"You must have looked gorgeous in many of the dancing costumes." Maggie blushed with embarrassment. "What type of dances did you teach?"
"We taught all types of the dances. From the waltz to the tango. Just about anything else you could name."
"It seems that you are actually more active than I am."
Finishing the glass of orange juice Maggie said, "you have a point there. What do you do on Wednesdays?"
"Depends," Kyle answered. "Sometimes I train at the YMCA, or play soccer. Other times I just let the day float by."
"Out of curiosity, what do you do in the english class?"
"We quite often work on the understating and interpretation of various literary works. My personal favorite is Macbeth."
"Quite the intellectual," Maggie grinned. Jon smiled with a mouthful of scrambled eggs and toast. "And here I thought that you were all brawn and little brains," she teased.
"I try to surprise. I even got a few pieces of my writing into one of the newspapers."
"Come to think of it, have you seen this morningís segment of want-ads?"
Kyle got up and darted into the living room. "Here you go," Kyle said as he handed Maggie the newspaper. "There was one job listing that caught my eye."
"Which one was that?"
"Itís on page J 4," Kyle continued. "It says it is looking for lab assistant at one of the research places. No prior experience is required. Pay is good."
"At thirty thousand dollars starting salary?" Maggie said as read the advertisement. "At that price you would think that there would be more to it than just being a lab assistant."
"Perhaps," Kyle responded. He reached over and patted Maggieís soft hand. "There is more to a person or place than just stereotypes. Some of those stereotypes may have some hint of truith. Quite often they pieces of exaggerated fiction."
"Where are you from?"
"Canada," Kyle answered. "Where the people are friendly and the winters are killer."
Maggie grinned. "You definitely are the Canadian stereotype of being overly friendly."
"Thatís something I try and live up to." He had finished the breakfast and brought his plate to the sink, washed it and let it drip dry on the rack next to the sink. "Want to have a look at the job?"
"Yeah," Maggie said as she cleaned up the few remaining pieces. "You havenít even touched your coffee," Maggie stated as she looked into Kyleís cup.
"Down the hatchet," Kyle said as grabbed the cup and downed the contents. "Geez, thatís strong." He blinked and looked into the cup.
"Donít tell me I put too much coffee into the mix!!" Maggie said, upset.
"Actually, it tasted like turpentine and battery acid." Kyle looked at Maggie and watched her expression turn sour.
"I always mess upon the coffee."
"Sorry for the joke," Kyle consoled. "It didnít taste that bad." Maggieís face brightened slightly. "It was strong, though. But the best coffee Iíve had in a long while."
Maggie finished cleaning up. "Thanks."
"No problem. The last good coffee was made by a friend of mine back home."
"Really? Maggie inquired. "Tell me about it."
"Arlene was her name," Kyle regaled. "We were good friends. I was completely head-over-heels for her a while. But I remember that she would make the strongest coffee you could find anywhere. That and she always had a warm smile and a grace with her. She never had a bad day. Her coffee really tasted like turpentine and battery acid. I just didnít have the heart to tell her at first, but I grew to love it."
"Guess it was good stuff," Maggie commented as she got up, went into the living room and headed for the front door. She looked at the folded-up newspaper in her hand.
"Good stuff?" Kyle repeated. "That coffee strip the grease engines. Leaving so soon?"
Maggie tuned and looked at Kyle. "Well, I might as well. If I get an early start, I could easily go looking around later this afternoon."
"Good call," Kyle said. He looked at his watch. "And I better get going, my soccer class begins in an hour. Need a ride?"
"No thanks, Iíll take the bus."
"Fair enough. See you this afternoon."
"See you. Have fun!!"
"I always do," Kyle called back to Maggie.
* * * * * * * *
Sevarious personally led Maggie on a guided tour of the Gen-I-Tix building. He had given her a meticulous explanation of what was officially being done at the laboratory. He was debating on letting her on the little secret attempt at human evolution he was working on in the second sub-basement.
"If I do get the job, what would I be doing exactly?" Maggie inquired as she walked beside Sevarious.
"You will be assisting me directly." Sevarious answered in his cool, German-accented voice. "You will be running various minor tasks. Filing papers, setting up for my experimentations and the likes." Sevarious was slowly leading Maggie to a private elevator that lead down to his Facility.
Maggie shot Sevarious a confused look. "Experimentation?" she asked. "I thought you were decoding the genes of various animals."
They were in the elevator and heading toward Sevariousí underground laboratory. "True," he responded. "However, I have taken the research to the extent of attempting some gene splicing." The doors hissed open revealing a hallway that was lined on either side with neatly stacked jars. Maggie looked into one of the jars to her right. "The attempt at the hybrids between organisms have had interesting results, to say the least."
Maggie cringed and looked away form the jar, not so much out of fear, but in the hopes that she wouldnít be forced to look at what was in it. "What have you done here?"
"I believe that I have already stated such," Sevarious coolly said. His solid demeanor never changed. "But I have attempted to create the hybrid between man and animal."
Maggie hesitated for split second. "You mean like in the Island of Dr. Mireau?" she asked timidly, slightly afraid of the answer.
"I have progressed to that stage, yes," returned Sevarious. He had motioned to the few occupied holding cubicles. Maggie looked at the creatures in the rooms that were slightly bigger than washroom stalls. All of the subjects were slumped along a wall of their cubicle or in a corner of their cubicles, all were fast asleep. "But much more humane. These volunteers have allowed themselves to be transformed to better the research I am currently engaged in." Sevarious made a mental note not to scare Maggie by showing her the containers with the failures of the Project.
Maggie looked at the people who were in the glorified showcases. "How could anyone volunteer for such a thing to be done to them?" She looked at one in particular and took heart. He was about two and a half meters tall, furred and even though human, he had catlike features. He had ears on the top of his head, like a cat and his face was extended and elongated of what a cats might be. His clothes were tattered and frayed because of his body pressing through them.
"I really cannot say to what people are thinking," Sevarious said. "He came in some time ago. He asked if he could be of assistance and has been very cooperative since. He is simply named Lynx because he was merged with the Canadian lynx."
"Are they in pain? Do they hurt?" Maggie asked, not looking up from the transformed man.
"I was told that the initial part of the change is painful, but once the body changes and adjusts, the pain goes away completely," Sevarious answered.
"Why do you show me this?" Maggie inquired as she got back up and looked at Sevarious.
He fixed his clean, white lab-vest. "This is what I need your help on."
"I need you to assist me with this," Sevarious restated. "That is why the pay is exceptional. For myself, I have noted that I may be working here for days at a time and found it prudent to store a fresh set of clothes in a private locker."
"What if I do not want to work here?" Maggie inquired.
"You are free to leave."
Maggie stood there for long moments, debating on what to do next. She needed the money. She really didnít know if there was another job that would take her.
"When did you need the assistant to start?" Maggie again asked.
"They could start as early as this afternoon."
"If I take the job, could I get a few things?" Maggie inquired. "You said that I might be working days on end, and I do not really want to be unprepared."
"Do you want the job?" Sevarious asked, Maggie nodded. "Pick up what you want and be back here by three this afternoon." Sevarious extended his hand in acceptance of the new volunteer Maggie took it. "Welcome to the Facility. You will be on the cusp of the greatest achievement in the history of all evolution."
"Thank you," Maggie said. Sevarious took Maggie back throughout the elevator and to the entrance of the Gen-I-Tix building. "I can finally repay Kyle," Maggie said proudly to herself.
As Sevarious watched Maggie walkout of the building be smiled to himself. She had no idea what he would do to her. She had no clue what would happen to her.
* * * * * * * *
Kyle stood in front of the crowd of about two dozen kids. The average age of the group ranged between about eight years old and 12. They were in the large closed gym of the YMCA. Two soccer courts stood in the room, one on either side of Kyle and the group. Kyle was wearing a plain white T-shirt and a pair of sweat pants. Kyle had a stopwatch around his neck. The kids themselves, wore shorts and T-shirts.
"OK," Kyle said looking at the clipboard in his hand, "Get into the squads that you were in Monday. Squad one plays squad three in court one. Squad two plays squad four. Get the jerseys and put them on and Iíll get you the balls."
While kyle jogged over to the store room, the kids raced over to the sack filled with jerseys of various colors. They put them in colors respective to their squad. There were six kids wearing green jerseys, six wearing blue, six wearing red, and six wearing yellow. As they pulled the jerseys over them, they got into positions on the two courts. Kyle came from the store room with two soccer balls.
"Start when you get the ball," Kyle called as he tossed the balls over to the courts. "Games will be fifteen minutes. Have fun." The kids began playing furiously.
"Hey, hey, Kyle," a voice came from behind Kyle. Kyle turned to see who it was, Jake. "Looks like you got a good group of kids here." Jake was wearing shorts and loose-fitting a T-shirt
"Jake, my man," Kyle said with a smile. "Whereíve you been these few days?"
"Various things," Jake answered. He and Kyle began walking between the two games of soccer. "I herd that the date you picked up is now at your place."
"I offered a room to her as a friend," Kyle answered. "Iím beginning to go a bit fond of her."
Jake pulled a shocked expression. "Someoneís going to tie you down?" he said comically. Kyle chuckled.
"I feel a bit attracted to her, thatís all," Kyle said.
"Want to have a game?" Jake asked.
"Now?" Jake nodded. Kyle looked at the stopwatch, it read 13 minutes. "Which position do you want to play?"
"Okay," Kyle said. "See the tall one in the green jersey?"
"Tell him to sit out this round. Iím going to do go goalie for the opposing team."
Jake stopped. "Hey, thatís no fair."
"Why?" Kyle inquired.
"Youíre the beast goalie around."
"Youíll have to adapt."
Jake just smiled. "You got a point."
"Sammy!" Kyle called to the goalie of the blue team. He turned to look at Kyle. "Iím letting you sit out for this round."
"Why, Coach?" he asked.
"A friend of mine is going to play this round on the other team."
"OK coach," Sammy said and left the space open to go sit on the bleachers and watch.
"Donít worry, youíll be back in next round," Kyle cheered.
Kyle went in front of the net. "Guys, quick change, Iím on blue team, Jake is on green team. This is just for this round." The rest of the players just nodded. "OK, whenever you guys are ready."
* * * * * * * *
Maggie hurried into the apartment. Once inside, Maggie began frantically looking through the apartment for some of her belongings and put them into a small carry-bag that she had. She looked around for a pen and pad of paper. Finding one she scrawled out a note for kyle and left it on his coffee table. She left the apartment, locked it and carried the bag out of the building, hurrying back to her newfound employment.
* * * * * * * *
"Dr. Sevarious?" Maggie called as she walked through the hallway she went through earlier that evening. "Are you here?"
Sevarious stepped out of the shadows. "Yes I am," he said coolly. His German accent sounding somewhat sinister. "I was just getting ready for a press conference later this afternoon. I was hoping that you could join me when I make my statement."
"Me??" Maggie said with enthusiasm. "When? How?"
"In about an hour or so," Sevarious said. He smiled. He knew that she had no idea to what was going to happen to her. "Come," he said "I donít think you would wear a simple pair of jeans to something as astounding as what I will announce on television." He slowly lead her to the washroom of the Facility.
Maggie looked at him quizzically. "I have a dress could wear, do you think that would be alright?"
"If you wish," Sevarious answered. "If you wish to get changed into the dress, you may."
Maggie said. "Thank you." She ducked into the washroom to get changed.
As Maggie changed her clothes in the washroom, Sevarious prepared a hypodermic needle. He had drawn a clear liquid from a test-tube into the small syringe. When he felt that he had drawn enough of the clear liquid, he placed the needle into his pocket, sat down on the chair behind his desk and waited for Maggie to emerge.
"How do I look?" Maggie asked as she exited the washroom. She had on the green dress that she had worn when she first met Kyle and when he had brought her flowers.
"Splendid my dear," Sevarious said. He got up and pulled out a chair for Maggie to sit. "Have a seat, tell me what you are planning to do with yourself."
Maggie smiled and took the seat. Before she could answer, she felt the prick of the needle in her arm. "What did you do?" she asked. Sevarious just stepped back, as if to watch her. "What did you do? Did you give me an injection of something? Tell me!" She suddenly felt waves of pain crashing against her muscles. Pain flowing against every fiber of her body.
Sevarious just watched. He watched as her face and body took on the form of a large cat. Her eyes already showed the first stage of the transformation, there were the slits so famous to the cats. She clutched her waist. She tried to get up, but couldnít, she staggered a few steps before falling to one knee. Rips were herd as her dress stressed and tore against her growing body.
Maggie looked at Sevarious. "What did you do to me?" She asked, almost pleaded. Sevarious just watched.
"Put her in the holding room," Sevarious said to one to the other doctors. He smiled as Maggie was brought, almost dragged, to the holding cubicle.
Maggie opened her eyes and looked up, she saw that she was in one of the cubicles. She gazed through the clear plastic wall that separated her small cell from the one next to her. She saw in the cubicle the person she had seen sleeping earlier that day. She looked at him. He shifted his position to get a better look at Maggie. His eyes were yellow with thin black slits that ran from the top part of his eye to the bottom. He eyes spoke of compassion and sympathy.
"Y-youíre the o-one I saw earlier," Maggie said, she didnít think he heard her. She was curled in a fetal position against the wall farthest from the one that allowed her to see her fellow captive. Her body was changing, burning with pain. The man in the next cubicle nodded a slow yes. He pressed a large hand to the plastic wall.
"Will the pain stop?" Again he nodded a yes. Maggie tried to move, her body responded only slightly. She could barely look at him. "Sevarious said your name is Lynx. Is it true?" Still again, he nodded his slow yes. "What is wrong with you? Cant you talk?" Lynx touched is throat, pointed to Sevarious, to Maggie, and then to himself.
Maggie thought for a minute. She was surprised that her mind still functioned with all of the pain she felt. "When d-did you go through this Ďtransformationí?" She asked the pain coming through her voice. Lynx held up five digits, tapped his other wrist, flashed two digits followed by four digits. "Youíve been here for five days?" He signaled a Ďthumbs upí. "You mean, you havenít spoken a word since Sevarious turned you into a monster?" Maggie said with a clearer voice. His expression turned glum, he nodded a yes.
Maggie buried her head in her knees and began crying. Lynx felt her pain and sorrow. He wished he could somehow help her. Somehow ease her pain. But could not. He could not bear to watch and turned away.
* * * * * * * *
Kyle sat in front of the desk of a detective. He was in a police station hoping to get some help in finding where Maggie was. The detective had quickly stepped out to get herself and Kyle a cup of coffee. Kyle looked at the nameplate on the desk. It read Detective Maza.
"What did you say her name was?" the detective asked as she came back to her desk. She handed Kyle a coffee cup. Kyle nodded a thank you.
"Maggie Reed," Kyle answered. "She said she was from Ohio. I can give you a description of her if you need."
The detective began filling out one of the various forms on her desk. "Letís not get to that just yet. Now, how long have you said she was away?"
"Give or take," Kyle looked at his watch, "about a full day since I last saw her."
"Did she say anything before she left?"
"I know that she was going for a job interview." Kyle fished the newspaper clipping and note out of his pocket. He handed the advertisement to the detective. "She was going to talk to the people for this job."
Maza read the advertisement, "I know where this place is. Theyíre supposed to be decoding the human genome. I think theyíre also trying to decode the DNA of some other animals as well."
"Donít you think it a bit odd the way the advertisement is phrased?"
"What do you mean?"
Kyle pointed to the clipping, "They are looking for a lab assistant with no pervious skill required. It sounds a bit odd to me."
"True," Maza said. "Anything else you can tell me that might be of use?"
"Yeah," Kyle said. He handed over the note Maggie left. "She left this on my coffee table. I think she came back to my apartment to pick something up and left this. I think she might be still there at that place."
"She could have also dropped something off," Maza countered.
"Unlikely," Kyle stated. "She had a small carry bag that she brought with her to my apartment that wasnít there when I got home."
"Note taken. Weíll have to keep these pieces as evidence."
Kyle got up and fixed his loose T-shirt. "No problem. I copied them before I came here, just in case they get lost." Detective Maza just looked at him. "If there is anything I could help you with, I gave you my address and phone number."
She got up and extended a hand. "Weíll let you know if anything comes up." Kyle shook her hand.
"By the way, detective," Kyle stated. "Your name Maza, where is it from?"
"My father was aboriginal and mother is British," Maza answered casually. "You should have herd some of the jokes I got about it."
"I can imagine," Kyle answered.
"Well thanks for the time," Kyle answered. He turned and left.
Detective Maza sat back down and pondered the fragments before her.
* * * * * * * *
Maggie and Lynx were outside their normal cubicles and in a larger room, it had about the same floor space of all twenty-five holding pens combined. There was one large clear fiberglass panel that allowed anyone to look in and the subjects to look out. There was one other person in the large room with Maggie and Lynx. A woman, who by best guess of Lynx, who had been melded, at least partly, with that of a brown Siberian husky. Her clothes were little more than rags.
The woman way lying on a make-shift bed. She was in pain and in need of medical attention. Lynx tried to make her as comfortable as possible. Maggie was curled up in the corner of the other side of the room. She emitted dry sobs.
A door stood to one end of the room. It was locked and solidly constructed. When Lynx was first in this room, he tried to open it, but did not succeed. No one would get in or out of the room except through that door and no one could open it from the inside.
There was a table pressed against the main wall, opposite of the clear panel. There was food set out like a buffet for the three of them to eat. Lynx took a small bowl of what looked like apple sauce and a spoon and brought it over to the woman on the bed. He held a spoonful out for her to eat. She sniffed and ate the spoonful greedily. She reached over and grabbed the spoon and dug into the food.
Lynx went back over to the table and put a large chicken leg into a bowl with some small sausages and carrot and celery sticks. He brought the food over to Maggie. He knelt beside her and placed his hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him. Her face was extended outward, like that of a lioness. She had the distinctive, almost triangular, nose and cleft of skin from the bottom of the nose to her upper lip. Her ears had grown, and moved up her head slightly. Her legs were longer and more muscular with her feet ending with three large toes. Her entire body was bigger, more muscular and more cat like. Lynx deduced that Sevarious must have tried to turn her into a lioness. About the only thing that remained noticeably the same was her golden hair that fell down her back.
Lynx smiled and offered the food to Maggie. She returned the smile and took the bowl of food. She cleaned the meat of the chicken leg off the bone and was halfway through the last small sausage before she realized Lynx was still watching her. She seemed to blush, turned and offered Lynx some of what he had given her. He smiled sweetly and pointed to the table. Maggie found that in spite of his silvery-brown fur Lynx was rather attractive.
"Thank you," Maggie whispered. Lynx smiled and nodded.
He got up and began gathering himself a meal from what was laid out on the table. There was a huge selection of meats, just about everything from cold-cuts to steaks to cooked chickens and large servings of vegetables, particularly beans. Proteins. Lynx thought about this for a moment.
"Something the matter?" Sevarious said to Lynx from the other side of the glass panel. Lynx spun around to look at him. Sevarious was wearing the white lad-shirt that he always seemed to be wearing. "You look a little concerned." Lynx pointed to the husky-woman in the corner. "AH, her. I really cannot say what is wrong with her. She should be physically fine but she is like that. I have had doses of painkillers administered to her that would have killed a normal person almost instantly." Lynx glared at Sevarious. His golden and black eyes never wavering from his stare. "Anything else?"
Lynx held up a single finger. He picked up a leg of chicken and a steak and held them up for Sevarious to see. "You donít like the foods?" Lynx shook his head. "Then what about it?" Lynx stepped aside and waved to the spread of meats and the various servings of beans and gave a shrug as if to ask a question. "Is it that you want to know why there is so many meats?" Lynx nodded. "Protein. Itíll help your body. Your body went through a big change. It required a lot of protein. I am keeping you on a diet of protein for the next little while to make sure you body doesnít shut down because it burned through all its protein supplies." Lynx gave a slow nod of acknowledgment. "Well, if there is no more questions," Sevarious said before he turned and walked away.
Lynx placed the piece of cooked steak back onto the plate he took it from and brought it over the husky-woman. He held the piece of meat out for her to gain itís scent. She sniffed and bit hungrily into it. Lynx reached over to the plate with small sausages, grabbed a handful and waited for the woman to finish the chicken. When she did, she tossed the bone back onto the table and looked at the meat in Lynxís hand. Lynx patiently handed her the sausages. She ate those greedily too. Her breathing is noticeable less labored and sounded heavier. It seemed like she was almost panting.
Her lower face was extended like a huskyís and she had the same friendly, almost playful, eyes. She licked at her hands. And then wiped them dry in the single sheet that covered her.
"Thank you," she said. Her voice was warm and sweet, but it had been roughened and hardened. Lynx thought that her voice would have been very lively and that before her transformation she must have spoken with in a sing-song manner. "What is happening to me?" She asked. "Why are we here?"
Lynx got up, looked for, and found, a silvery tray. He wiped the meat of that tray onto another one, splashed water onto it in hopes to clean it to some degree, and brought it over to the woman. He wiped it dry with the sheet. He held the tray for her to see her reflection. Her eyes widened as she took the tray.
She touched her face. "I canít believe this," she said in disbelief. "Sevarious said I would look different, but nothing prepared me for this." Lynx looked compassionately at her. "Donít worry," she began before she doubled over with a painful groan and clutching her abdomen. Lynx looked helplessly at her. "It hurts," she coughed.
Lynx turned to the glass panel. He pounded on it for someone, anyone, to hear. No one came to help, no one even looked.
* * * * * * * *
Kyle walked into the Gen-I-Tix building, the sliding glass doors made a hiss as the slid closed behind him. He walked over to the reception desk.
"Could I help you?" the receptionist asked enthusiastically as she looked up at Kyle.
"I am looking for whomever is in charge here," Kyle answered.
"I would like to speak to whomever is in charge," Kyle repeated. "Who is the head geneticist here?"
The receptionist perked. "That would be Dr. Sevarious."
"Could I speak with him?" Kyle looked at the receptionist sternly.
The receptionist held up a finger. "If you would wait just a minute," she said. She picked up the telephone, dialed three digits and spoke into it. She listened for a few second before putting the receiver down. "Dr. Sevarious would be with you in a moment. You may take a seat in the reception area until he comes." She pointed to a set of neatly designed chairs.
"Thank you for the time," Kyle said. He went over to the chars and sat down.
A few minutes passed before a man with a white lab coat and neatly cropped hair quietly walked over to Kyle. "I hope you havenít been waiting long," Sevarious said, his German accent coming through again.
"My name is Kyle Forte," Kyle introduced. He held out a hand in a handshake. Sevarious took it. "Iím looking for a friend of mine."
"I am Doctor Sevarious. Iím the head geneticist here," Sevarious answered. He took a seat next to Kyle. "Who would your friend be? And why would you have come here looking for her?"
"She came here yesterday looking for a job advertised in yesterdayís newspaper," Kyle told. "Her name is Maggie."
Sevarious tried to look surprised. "Her name wouldnít happen to be Maggie Reed, would it?"
"Thatís it exactly," Kyle answered. "Iím assuming you are acquainted with her."
"I am," Sevarious answered. "I gave her the job that was advertised. But there was an unfortunate accident yesterday." He lied.
"Where is she?" Kyle demanded. "Which hospital is she at?"
"She isnít at any hospital," Sevarious assured coolly. "She is being treated at the medical facility that we have available downstairs."
"Is it possible for me to see her?"
"You may," Sevarious answered. He stood up. "If you would follow me."
Kyle got up and followed Sevarious to the private elevator that went down to the Facility. Sevarious led Kyle through the same path he did Maggie.
"What type of twisted things are you doing down here?" Kyle asked as he glanced at the various jars containing indistinguishable shapes of bodies.
"Believe it or not," Sevarious said, "We are on the brink of genetic fusion. Bringing the human race to the next step of the evolutionary chain." Sevarious continued to lead Kyle through the Facility and over to the large room with a glass panel that held Maggie, Lynx and the husky-woman.
"Whereís Maggie?" Kyle demanded.
Sevarious pointed to Maggie in the back, left corner. "There she is."
Kyle pressed a hand to the glass and said, "Maggie?" She didnít seem to hear. The lynx-man perked up his ears and from where he was sitting, looked directly at Kyle.
"Good afternoon, Lynx," Sevarious said. Lynx said nothing, he just glared at Sevarious.
Lynx waved to get Kyleís attention, pointed to Kyle and then to Maggie. "If you could," Kyle answered. Lynx reached over and tapped Maggie on the shoulder, she looked at him. Lynx smiled and pointed to who was standing at the other end of the clear fiberglass panel. Maggie looked over. She stared at Kyle. "Maggie, is that you?" Kyle asked.
Maggie shifted position to get a better look at Kyle. "Why did you come?" Kyle just looked at her sweetly. "You came for me?"
Maggie pulled away. "Please, donít look at me. Iím a monster."
"What is it going to take to get her out of there and back to normal?" Kyle asked Sevarious.
"Come with me," Sevarious said. He led Kyle to a different part of the Faculty. A part where there was a large table with someone strapped to it. A smaller table was beside him, with several full medical needles.
Kyle looked at the person on the table. "Jake?" Kyle asked. "Is that you?"
Jake turned his head to face Kyle. "So he got you too, huh?"
"What do you mean got me too?" Kyle inquired.
Sevarious picked up a hypodermic needle from the table. "Not too bright, are you?" He leaned over and emptied the needle into Jakeís arm. He screamed. The scream briefly turned into a gurgle and then merged into the pained growl of a large jungle cat.
Jake looked over at Kyle, "Help me, please." His eyes were the black on gold that he had seen on Maggie and Lynx. "Kyle, please, help me." Several of Jakeís teeth were elongated and cat-like.
Kyle didnít notice Sevarious reached over and plunge another needle into his arm. Kyle turned and batted the empty needle away. He fell to the floor, clutching his abdomen. His muscles ached. His entire body was burning. Waves of fiery pain crashed against every muscle. Fire-like pain poured over all his muscles like water. Kyle screamed in pain. The scream came out as a near shriek of a panther. It hurt. His entire body felt as if it was pulling away from him. Pulling away in burning flames.
"Put them in with the others," Sevarious called to several of the other scientists.
"Yes doctor," four of the scientists said as they came over and took Kyle and Jake to the room with the others. It took two scientists to drag Kyle and two to drag Jake.
What Kyle herd next is the locking of the door to the display room form the outside. He sniffed the air, there was meat, protein, there. He clambered up to the table and found that Jake, now nearly finished with the transformation, tearing into the meats. Kyle reached over and tore into the meats as well.
Time seemed to lose itís meaning. All that was driving Kyle, and he also assumed Jake as well, was the urge and desire to consume the meats. After what seemed like hours, Kyle slowed down. He saw Jake sitting on floor, his back resting on the glass panel. Jake was wiping his hands on the sides of his torn jeans. Kyle did the same. He looked over to Maggie. He knew it was her, he somehow knew her scent.
"Hey, Kyle," Jake called. Kyle looked around at Jake. Jake was as tall as Lynx but much bulkier. He had white and black striped fur and his head looked like that of a tiger. Kyle realized he most likely he was merged with a white tiger.
"Woah," Kyle commented. "Check you out."
"Why?" Jake answered. He looked at his arms and down his chest. His shirt was in tatters and he just shrugged the remains off. "Hey what did he do to me?" Lynx handed Jake the tray in which he used to show the husky woman her reflection. Jake looked confused. Lynx pointed to Jake, then to his eyes, and then to the tray. "What are you trying to say?"
"I think he is saying to have a look at your reflection," Kyle answered. Lynx smiled and pointed to Kyle. Apparently that is what Lynx was trying to say.
Jake looked at the reflection in the tray. "Kyle do I really look like this?"
"Yeah," Kyle answered. "Pretty interesting to say the least."
"Heck to that," Jake stated. "I think I am going to like this new body. Here take a look at yourself." Jake handed Kyle the silvery tray.
Kyle looked into the tray. His reflection showed one of a black panther, solid, powerful, and very cat-like. He couldnít take his gaze away form his reflection.
"Kyle," Jake said. Kyle snapped out of the trance he had with his reflection and looked at Jake. Jake nodded to Maggie. Kyle nodded back and acknowledgment.
"Maggie," Kyle said softly to her. "Maggie, will you talk to me?" he sat down beside her. Then Kyle saw his feet, they were longer, more powerful, stronger. His legs looked like those of a panther, and that Jakeís legs looked like those of a tiger. Both Kyleís and Jakeís clothes were torn beyond repair. The fragments that remained intact seemed to cover the parts of the body that seemed to need covering.
Maggie was softly talking to herself. "My name is Maggie Reed. Iím from Ohio. My name is Maggie Reed. Iím from Ohio. My name is Maggie Reed. Iím from Ohio." She was repeating this over and over.
"Maggie," Kyle said again. He looked at her ears. Longer, wider, able to hear much more. He was certain that Maggie her him.
Maggie looked up at Kyle. Here eyes showed signs of crying. "Why did you come her?" She asked. Her voce hadnít changed.
Kyle tried to put his arm around Maggie. "I came here looking for you," Kyle answered.
"Why?" Maggie asked cynically. "I am a monster. Look at yourself you and your friend, you both are monsters as well."
"Maggie," Kyle said, he held up the tray in front of him and Maggie, "look at your reflection. Tell me what you see."
She batted the tray away. "A monster," She answered. "Thatís a monster. Iím a monster." She buried her head back in her knees.
"No, that is not a monster," Kyle said. "You are not a monster. Do you believe you are a monster?"
Maggie looked back at Kyle. "I donít know anymore."
Kyle looked into Maggieís eyes. Kyle saw twinkle in those cat-eyes of Maggie that he had seen days before. "You know what I see when I look at you?"
Maggie sobbed. "What?"
"I see a beautiful woman."
"That looks like a freak."
"No you are not a freak," Kyle told sternly. "You are not a monster either. He softened his voice, "you are as beautiful now as when I first met you." Kyle looked over at Jake. He was slumped over to one side. Lynx knelt next to Jake, and signaled to Kyle that Jake was just sleeping.
Maggie seemed to ease a little. "You believe that?"
"I do," Kyle answered. "I really have a fondness for you."
"You do?" Maggie asked, half in disbelief, half in surprise. The tone of her voice made her seem very hopeful.
"I donít care to what you look like," Kyle continued. "If I have to look like this to be with you, so be it."
Maggie smiled and put her head on Kyleís shoulder. "Youíre compassionate but crazy, you know that."
"Sometimes crazy works," Kyle answered. He ran his fingers through Maggieís beautiful blond hair. He looked down, she had fallen asleep. Kyle had sniffed her hair. It was definitely Maggie, it was her scent. Kyle put his arm around her shoulder, drew her close and surrendered himself to the pulling of sleep.
* * * * * * * *
Kyle, Lynx, Jake and Maggie were sitting in a rough circle. They were discussing a way to free themselves from the prison of Sevarious.
"What do you think we should do, Jake?" Kyle asked.
"Come on Kyle, call me Stripes," Jake said. "I think it fits me better."
"Well, you do look sort of cute," Maggie said humorously.
Kyle shrugged. "Fair enough. Iíll try to remember to call you Stripes. Anyway, back on topic, how do you think we should get out of here."
"We canít just walk out of here," Maggie said. "Not looking like this."
Everyone nodded. "Iíll deal with Sevarious about that."
Stripes pointed a thumb to the door. "The door is locked tight. No chance of getting through it."
Lynx patted Kyle on the arm and tapped on the clear screen.
"No offense Lynx," Stripes said, "But I think they built the screen to prevent one of us jumping through it to get out."
Lynx held up one finger and shook his head. He then pointed to himself, Kyle, Stripes, made a motion as if to push something and shrugged.
"Do you ever talk?" Stripes asked Lynx.
"He hasnít spoken since the transformation," Maggie answered.
Kyle smiled. "I see what your getting at." He got up. "Stripes, go over the other side. Lynx, go to the middle of the screen. Iíll stay with this side."
"Donít tell me youíre going to try this?" Stripes asked.
"Canít say we didnít try," Kyle answered. "Now you want to get out of here or not?"
"Fine, fine." Stripes got up and walked over to the other side of the screen.
Each of them stepped back. "On the count of three," Kyle said. "One." He looked over at Lynx, he nodded.
"Three!!" Stripes enthusiastically said. All three slammed their body against the fiberglass panel with all the force their new bodies could muster. It cracked.
"Again," Kyle called. The pounded their bodies against the panel again. The cracks grew bigger.
"One more time," Stripes said. For the third time, they slammed their bodes against the panel. It gave way. It shattered. The force carried the three of them into the main part of the Facility.
They got up and dusted themselves off. Kyle looked around and then sniffed the air.
"Whereís Sevarious?" Stripes asked.
Kyle sniffed again. "Close. Very close." Kyle walked over to where the scent was the strongest. He found Sevarious sitting at his desk.
"So you managed to break free," Sevarious commented as he turned to look at Kyle.
Kyle grabbed Sevarious by collar and pressed him to the wall. Sevariousí legs dangled about a foot and a half of the floor. "Change her back." This was the first time Kyle had seen Sevariousí expression falter from the cool exterior he presented.
"I-I canít," Sevarious stammered. Kyle pulled his other arm back in preparation to strike a lethal blow. "Believe me. We canít change you back. The process is irreversible."
Kyle relaxed his fist and brought his hand up to Sevariousí throat. "Change her back!" Sevarious gurgled. Kyle was ready to strangle Sevarious, or pound him to death. Which ever came first. Which ever would be justified by what he had done.
"Put him down," Kyle herd from behind him. He turned around and found Detective Maza standing there, gun drawn and pointed at Kyle.
"Kyle, please," Maggie pleaded, "put him down. We may be monsters, not murderers."
Kyle slowly let the doctor to his feet. "I was wondering when you were going to get here."
"We needed probable cause," Detective Maza stated. Kyle stepped away from Sevarious and toward Maggie, Lynx and Stripes. Detective Maza lowered her gun.
"Theyíre deranged," Sevarious stammered. "They all want to kill me. They donít know what theyíre doing."
Detective Maza just looked at Sevarious. "Oh, I donít think so. I think they know exactly what they are doing. It looks like you are the one who is deranged. Someone ícuff this guy," she called over to another one of the officers that came down with her to do the raid. An officer came over, handcuffed Sevarious and lead him to the elevator leading out of the Facility.
Maza turned to Kyle and the others. "There is enough here to put him away for the rest of his natural life," she said. Everyone nodded. She smiled and winked. "If you want, there is a back door to this place that is not yet guarded."
"Thank you," Kyle smiled. Lynx, Stripes and Maggie nodded and smiled in appreciation and gratitude.
"We wonít forget this," Stripes confirmed.
"Who are you?" Detective Maza asked Maggie.
"Maggie Reed," Maggie answered. She sounded more confident about herself. She stood close to Kyle. Kyle was slightly taller than her and seemed a little more menacing.
"Youíre the one Kyle reported missing," Detective Maza said. Maggie nodded. "Anyway, as I think I said when I thought out loud, I donít believe there is a guard at the rear exit."
Kyle looked hopefully at the detective. "Where would we go from here?" He asked.
Detective Maza smiled in thought. "I think there is a building that has been abandoned a few blocks from here. It may lead to some part of a sealed off section of the old subway."
Kyle looked over at the group. "We thank you greatly." Kyle lead the group past the now useless room. Lynx placed his had on Kyleís arm to halt him. "What is it?" Kyle asked. Lynx pointed to the husky-woman. "Youíre right. She should have the freedom to come with us." Kyle walked over to the display room, stepped back into it and over to the husky woman. He knelt down beside her. She looked up and smiled. "Whatís you name?"
"Ariela," She said. She raised an arm to Kyle, he took her hand in his. "He did that to you?" Kyle nodded a yes. She smiled.
"Come with us," Kyle asked. "We can take you away from here."
"Can you?" Ariela countered.
Kyle offered his other hand. "We can live away from here. Begin again," Kyle looked into her eyes, they were filled with pain.
"Help me up," it almost seemed like a request. Kyle slid his left arm under her back and began to carefully lift her into a sitting position.
"Can you walk?" Kyle asked.
Kyle still held her hand in his, to steady her. She managed to raise herself to her feet. Then she fell to one knee in a soft howl and whimper of pain. "Can you make it?" Kyle asked as he knelt beside her.
"I canít," she said weakly. She had a gasp of air and leaned on Kyleís chest. "Can you feel it. The pain stopped. The pain has stopped." She looked up at Kyle. Her eyes were tearing over in pain. It was then Kyle knew that she was going into shock and would not live to see another day. Ariela drew her last breath and her body relaxed in Kyleís arms.
Kyle put her back into the bed and pulled the white sheet over her body. "May you find peace," he said. Kyle stormed out of the room and over to Sevarious. He again picked him up. This time with both hands at his collar and pressed him up to the wall. Sevarious looked fearful for his life.
"Kyle, NO!!" Maggie called as she reached for Kyleís arm. Kyle looked at her. "Donít. For me."
Kyle dropped Sevarious and walked into the elevator. The others followed close behind. They slipped out of the building unnoticed and made their way to the building that they were told of my Maza.
* * * * * * * *
Stripes, Kyle, Lynx and Maggie were on the abandoned potion of the subway platform. All had made patrols of the abandoned portion of the subway. All had found that it was sealed of and safe enough that there would be nobody coming through the tracks. The entire vicinity was secure except for the one staircase that lead from the inside of the building to the abandoned platform.
"Good news is that there still is running water in the washrooms," Stripes called as he left the menís washrooms of the platform. He still had on his torn jeans.
"We really need to get some better clothes," Kyle said as he tore the tattered shirt off his shoulders and tossed it into a nearby trash can.
"We could always walk around in the nude," Stripes countered. He ruffled fur on his chest. "This fur would be enough covering."
Maggie looked over from where she was trying to wash the dirt off the remaining seats. "You can walk around without anything on if you want Stripes, but I wonít. Iíd rather keep a little something on."
Lynx seemed to chuckle. "Whatís so funny?" Stripes asked Lynx.
"You set yourself up to get insulted by Maggie," Kyle answered. Lynx smiled at him. "Donít worry about Stripes, Lynx. Heíll catch on to what you mean. Just give it time." Lynx shrugged and waved it off with a smile.
Maggie stopped, perked up her ears and said, "Someoneís coming." She walked over to the side of the stairs.
Kyle turned to listen. "I think itís more than one person." He walked over to stand beside Maggie. As the sounds of the person grew louder, to the heightened hearing of everyone, it became clear that there was two, maybe three people coming down to the new home of the four Mutates.
The four of them stood and waited for the people to come down the stairs. Lynx and Stripes stood farther back, ready for a possible confrontation.
When the visitors came down the stairs everyone realized that it was none other than detective Maza and what appeared to be a friend of the detective. Kyle realized that it was, or is, the girlfriend of Stripes.
"Hi guys," detective Maza called.
"What about me?" Maggie inquired, almost comically.
"And lady," Maza corrected. She turned to Jakeís girlfriend, "donít worry Selina, your boyfriend is here. Nobody will hurt you." She timidly walked into the new home of the Mutates.
Selina slowly walked over to Kyle, staring all the time. "Jake, can you hear me?" She asked. "Tell me that you know who I am." Kyle, like the other Mutates, stood about seven feet tall, towering over the two guests. Selina looked innocently, if not a bit scared at Kyle.
"Youíre name is Selina, right?" Kyle asked.
Selina placed a tender hand on Kyleís chest. "You remember Jake, thank heavens."
"I do," Kyle answered. "But one thing." Kyle gently put his hand on her shoulder.
"What is that?" Selina asked. She sounded almost panicked.
Kyle pointed to Stripes. "Jake is over there. Iím Kyle." Selina pulled away in embarrassment. "I didnít mean to offend."
Selina looked over to Stripes. He waved to her. "No, itís all right," Selina said and walked over to Stripes. She again tried to talk to her transformed boyfriend.
"Sheís as scared as she is curious about us," Maggie said to Kyle.
"Understandable," Kyle confirmed. "Itís not every day that you see someone who is a Mutate like us."
Detective Maza walked over to Maggie and Kyle. "I thought what you guys had on was a bit too ragged, so I got you, Stripes and Lynx some new clothes. I hope they fit." She handed Kyle a large bag. Maza handed Maggie the suitcase that she had brought from Ohio. "I packed up the clothes I found of yours in Kyleís apartment."
"Oh, thank you greatly," Maggie said with a smile. "Please, tell me if there is anything I can do for you." Maza gave Maggie a wink and shook her head. "If you two would excuse me," Maggie politely stated as she left the group and headed for the womenís washroom.
"Iíll clear out your apartment in the next few days," Maza told Kyle.
Kyle looked sympathetically at the detective. "Why are you doing this for us?"
She shrugged. "I really donít know. It just feels right."
"I greatly appreciate it," Kyle said. "Could you do me a big favor?"
"Could you close my bank accounts, gather food supplies and bring it down to us?" Kyle asked.
"No problem," the detective answered. "I already wrote in my report that you guys had died as a result of that guyís experimentation. I should be able to close your accounts with little difficulty." Kyle smiled. "Iíll be back in an about an hour or so with something for you guys to eat."
Kyle patted the detective on the side of the arm. "Youíre like a guardian angel."
Stripes and Selina came arm-in-arm over to Kyle and detective Maza. "I see that you two have hit it off pretty well." Stripes commented.
"Must be my charm," Kyle commented.
Selina tuned to Stripes. "When will I see you again?" she asked.
Stripes stoked Selinaís cheek. "Whenever you want to. But please, be careful about it. We do not need everyone coming down here to Ďvisití us."
"I understand," Selina said. She tuned to detective Maza and asked, "Did you want to go?"
"If you are ready," Maza answered. Selina nodded. They tuned and headed for the stairs leading back to the outside world. "Iíll see you soon." She called to Kyle.
"So what are we going to do for food?" Stripes asked. "It isnít like we can go into a McDonaldís and order a burger."
Kyle looked at his tiger-friend. "Patients, Stripes, patients," Kyle stated. "We will live here, I guarantee it."
"Hey guys, how do I look?" Maggie called as she walked out of the washroom. She was wearing a tight, sleeveless, emerald green velvet leotard that came halfway up her neck. It seemed to hug every curve of her body. With the leotard, Maggie had a red velvet sash that wrapped snugly around her waist. She also was wearing what appeared to be wristbands, made from the same green velvet as her leotard, around her forearms. Kyle now knew for sure what he already suspected about Maggieís new body, her physique was very curvaceous, yet firm, strong, dexterous, and powerful. What really dazzled Kyle was her richly golden curly hair that fell well down her back. Maggie walked toward the trio, almost trying to model her garb.
In response to the question Lynx applauded and Stripes let out a low wolf-whistle. "You look absolutely gorgeous," Kyle answered.
"Too kind," Maggie said.
"Kyle, whatís in the bag?" Stripes asked.
"Pardon?" Kyle inquired, not really thinking to what Stripes had asked.
"What did the detective give you?"
Kyle opened the bag and found three pairs of jeans and several large shirts. He reached in and pulled out one of the new pairs of jeans. "She got us fresh clothes. Want a pair of jeans?"
"Yeah, please," Stripes said as he grabbed the jeans out Kyleís hand. He headed for the washroom.
Kyle pulled out another pair or jeans and tossed it to Lynx. "Lynx, heads up!!" Kyle called.
Lynx effortlessly plucked the jeans out of the air and gave Kyle a Ďthumbs upí.
Kyle pulled out the last pair of jeans and tossed the bag with shirts onto one of the benches. He followed his fellow mutates into the washrooms to change into the new, clean clothes. Minutes later, the three of them came out, admiring themselves in their new clothes.
"Looking much better," Maggie called to Kyle as he walked out. Kyle gave a friendly wink of his golden cat eye.
"OK, we got something else as well," Kyle said as he pulled the bag off the benches. "We got a powder blue shirt, a dark blue jeans shirt, and a white halter top." Lynx held up his hand upon hearing the halter-top being called as to say that he would like it. "Itís yours," Kyle said he tossed Lynx the halter top.
"Iíll take the light blue shirt," Stripes said.
Kyle tossed Stripes the shirt. "Itíll go with your white fur."
Kyle slipped on the remaining shirt. It fit just over his enlarged body. "Man, it feels good to be in some fresh clothes." Lynx, Stripes and Maggie gave a light chuckle of agreement.
"Now all we need is somewhere we can get a shower." Stripes said.
"Weíll think of something," Kyle assured. "If we had a basin large enough, we could take turns taking baths." Lynx pointed to Kyle and then tapped his temple with a smile. "Yes, Iím always thinking." Kyle answered.
* * * * * * * *
About an hour after Maza left the Mutates, a loud metallic clan was herd from the top of the stairs. "Would somebody mind to give me a hand?" a woman said.
"Mazaís back," Stripes called enthusiastically.
"Coming," Kyle called. He leapt up the stairs three at a time and was at the top in seconds. He saw the detective next to a large metallic basin filled with cans of foods, freeze-dried materials and other such things. There were other such things as standing lights, and lanterns. There was even several small potted plants on top of the pile.
"Mind helping me lift this down?" Maza asked. She had a large grocery bag in her arms and a tray of large drinks.
"Stripes!!" Kyle called.
"I need you muscle."
"Coming," Stripes called. Within moments he bounded up the last step and skidded next to Kyle. "OK, what do you need me for."
Kyle pointed to the basin of materials, "help me carry this down." Kyle picked up the handle closest to him. Stripes came around the other side and picked up the handle on the other side of the metal basin.
Kyle and Stripes lifted the container almost effortlessly off the ground.
"Thereís enough here to feed a battalion for a month," Stripes commented as he helped bring the items down.
"More likely feed you guys for over a two and a half years," Maza corrected.
Kyle and Stripes dropped the container next to the large table they had moved from elsewhere on the platform to the center area. The table was now surrounded by a half a dozen seats from the platformís waiting area.
Kyle began pulling items out of the basin and piling them up on the table. "You guys look spiffy in your new garb," Maza said.
"Thanks," the three speaking Mutates said.
"I got you guys tins of food and all the dried foods I could find," Maza said. "I figured that you guys wouldnít really go out much, so I figured that you might want to have a nice little stock of food available."
"Youíre really too kind," Maggie said. She began sorting through the cans.
Maza pulled out the two potted plants and handed them to Maggie. "Here, I got you a few plants to liven up this place." Maggie smiled. There was a slight twinkle in her eyes. "I figured that the air down her might get a bit stale otherwise."
"Theyíre lovely," Maggie said. She put one in the center of the table and paced one on the ledge of abandoned ticked booth. It was situated in the corner of the platform and was more like a small office. Maggie looked inside. She called to Kyle, "Iíve got an idea of where we could put the supplies."
"Do tell," Kyle answered as he stood up.
Maggie pointed a thumb at the empty inside of the ticket office. "We could use that as a store room from the supplies. Itís neat and discrete."
"You made a funny," Stripes chuckled. Maggie shrugged.
Kyle swept the cans back into the basin and dragged it over to the small office. Kyle opened the door at itís side and dragged the basing inside. "Youíre right, about it being a good place for storage." Kyle said as he walked out of the now-to-be storeroom. Maggie smiled.
"I brought you guys dinner," Maza said as she began pulling neatly wrapped packages out of the large grocery bags.
"Alright!!!!" Stripes said. "Finally we get some grub."
Everyone chuckled at Stripesí enthusiasm.
It didnít take long for everyone to take a seat. Maza passed out the white wrapped packages and the tall drinks to everyone. She pulled out several large servings of french fires and passed those as well to the Mutates. Stripes and Lynx wasted no time digging into their meal.
"It must have cost you a small fortune to get this for us," Maggie said as she opened the package that she was handed. It was a large hamburger, stacked with all the toppings and dripping with the sauces.
"Not really," Maza answered. "Kyle gave me some money to get most of this stuff. I got this for you guys with the money he gave me. Kyle, there still is a bit of money left, anything else that you could suggest buying."
Kyle thought for a moment. "Couple of sleeping bags, a few blankets and perhaps a hose. If there still is some left over from that weíll think of something."
"Done," Maza answered. "Iíll get them tomorrow."
Stripes looked over at the detective. "Where did you get the supplies?" He asked with half a mothful of food.
Maza emptied her mouth. "Some I got at the military surplus store, but most of the stuff I got at the wharehouse store. You should have seen the expression on the clerkís face when I came to the counter with all of the stuff. Youíd have died laughing." Kyle smiled.
"So what are you planning to do when you are finished bringing us these things?" Maggie asked curiously. "Youíve been overly kind with helping us create a new home here. I think I speak for the rest of us when I say we wish we could repay you in some way."
"Here, here," Stripes and Kyle said together as they raised their drinks in the air. Kyle took another bite of the his hamburger.
"Iíll come by if I could use your help," Maza answered. She looked over at Lynx, "Youíre nameís Lynx, right?" he nodded. "I donít mean to pry, but you havenít said a word since I came here."
Lynx touched his throat and shook his head.
"He hasnít spoken since the transformation," Maggie told. "But through his gesturing, you can get the idea of what he is trying to say." Lynx grinned as he looked at Maza, he pointed to Maggie.
"I see what you mean," Maza answered. "There is a few things that I got for this place, like lights and so forth. I though it might give a more home-like feel to this place."
"Youíre a doll," Stripes said as he took a large sip of the drink.
"Where would he get the power for the lights?" Kyle inquired.
"There is a a few power lines that are running along these walls." Maza answered. "All you would really need to do is to tap into them." She finished her serving of french fries and cleaned up. "Sorry to cut my visit so short, but Iím on duty in an hour. So Iíll wish everyone good tidings and see you tomorrow."
"Cheery-o," Kyle said.
"Stay safe," Maggie called.
Lynx just nodded at the detective and waved a good-bye. The four Mutates watched her as she made her way out of their home.
* * * * * * * *
Maggie was helping Kyle stack the canned and dried goods on the shelves of the ticket office turned store room.
Kyle placed the last of the cans on the shelves. "That should do it," he said as he stood back to look at the shelves.
"Good job," Maggie complimented as she patted Kyle on the back.
He picked up the basin and carried it out of the storeroom and over to the the wall near the washrooms.
"You two finished in there?" Stripes asked.
"Finally," Kyle returned.
Stripes gave Kyle a wink. "You two were taking so long I was thinking that you two might be doing more than just stocking shelves in there." Kyle smirked at the humor.
"Thatís not funny," Maggie shot back.
"Sorry, sorry," Stripes apologized.
"Hey everyone!" Maza called as she walked onto the abandoned subway platform. "Iím back."
The Mutates turned and had a look at the detective. She was surrounded by over a dozen plastic bags and about a dozen sleeping bags.
Maza looked around the platform. The area looked relatively like a large rectangle box that opened to the tracks. The wall to the left extended from the ticket booth, now a storeroom, to the platform. That wall had the large table pushed against it with one of the small lights on it. Apparently they had found a power line behind the wall and tapped into that. The wall to the right had the entrances to the washrooms. The few lights that were still functioning gave off a light that made the place a little more like a home. "Nice place you guys got here."
"We tided it up a little," Kyle said.
Stripes walked over and picked up some of the bags. "Got us more stuff?" Maza chuckled.
"Got you guys sleeping bags as Kyle suggested."
Stripes did a quick count, "Why eight?"
"Two for each of you," Maza answered. "I figured that one sleeping bag would be too small and that if you put two together, youíd have enough space." Lynx had walked over and brought the sleeping bags over to the section platform that in which they slept. It was an open space that extended from the washrooms to the wall coming from the stairs.
"Smart woman," Kyle said with a smile.
Stripes picked up the bags and headed over to the store room. "Wait a second," Maza called after him. Stripes turned around and looked at her. Maza picked out a bag that Stripes was carrying and took it gently out of his hands. She pulled several items out of the bag. "I got you guys a few other things, like watches." She handed Kyle and Lynx a watch. Then Maza pulled the bag away from a small box and handed it to Kyle. "To top it all off, I got you guys a radio. I figured that you would like some contact with the outside world."
"You really must be a guardian angel," Maggie said. Maza just giggled.
Kyle tapped his watch, "Itís midnight, shouldnít you be on duty?"
"Itís my night off." She handed Stripes the remaining watch as he stepped beside her. He smiled.
"I donít know about you, but being this late, Iím going to go down for forty winks," Stripes said as he looked at his watch. He grabbed two of the sleeping bags and brought them to a spot away from the corner of the wall where they were placed. He unfurled them both, unzipped them fully and then zipped the two of them together. He then looked up. "Donít wait up for me," he said with a smile. With that, Stripes slid himself into his new bed.
"See you in the morning," Maggie and Kyle said unanimously.
"Do you want to stay for a while?" Maggie asked. She followed Kyle in getting two sleeping bags and beginning to set out a spot to sleep on. Kyle had chosen to sleep in the corner. Maggie decided to make her bed next to Kyleís. Kyle moved the remaining two sleeping bags to the foot of his would-be bed.
Maza shrugged, "If you donít mind." She ran her fingers through her shoulder-length black hair.
"Itís going to be rather dull if you want to stay here," Kyle said as he zipped the sleeping bags together.
Maza just smiled. "Maggie, Iíve been wondering about something. Ever found it curious that you kept your hair while the guys seemed to loose theirs when they changed?" Maggie stroked her hair. She was sitting on the sleeping bags. Her large powerful legs extend outward. Her feet were like Kyleís, shaped that those of a feline, but with three large and powerful toes.
"I really canít say what happened," Maggie answered. "What happened to me and the others is a curse and a blessing. We can see the world in a new light. But we are cursed with the fact that people would want to hurt us because we look different."
Lynx walker over and motioned to the two remaining sleeping bags. "All yours," Kyle told Lynx. He took them and walked over to near the edge of the platform and unfurled the sleeping bags to make his bed.
"True," Maza answered. "So you accept yourself as you are?"
Maggie nodded. Her lioness-like face seeming peaceful. "I have. Thanks to Kyle." She patted his arm. "Without his help, I donít think I would have accepted myself as this."
Lynx tapped Maza on the shoulder, she spun around and looked into his cat eyes. He opened his arms as if to offer a hug and waited with a smile. Maza smiled and gave Lynx a hug, he returned it. Lynx took the knuckles of one of his hands and gently ran them over and top on Mazaís head. She looked up at Lynxís smiling face. Even through the silvery fur on Lynxís face, Maza thought that it was remarkably good looking. Lynx walked back to his bed with Maza following close behind. He sat down on his bed.
"Why did you do that?" Maza asked sternly. Lynx shrugged. "Only one person ever did that to me," Maza said as she knelt down on one knee next to Lynx. "And that was my brother. I havenít seen him in years. I really donít know what happened to him." Lynx tapped the center his chest and then the center of her chest. Maza again looked into his cat eyes and gasped. "Oh, no." Lynx nodded. "Samuel, is that really you?" Lynx nodded. A tear fell from Mazaís eye. "Why didnít you call or write."
Lynx motioned to his body and then to Mazaís.
"Were you afraid of rejection?" Maza again inquired. Lynx nodded. Maza gave Lynx a hug with the love of a sister to a brother. Lynx stoked his sisters back and took her scent. When Maza was finished she pulled back and looked at into his eyes. Lynx pointed to his sister and then tapped his chest. "I love you, too," She said. "I got to go do a few things." Lynx merely nodded. He knew that she needed time and space to adjust to the fact of what she just found out. "Good night," she said as she got up and walked toward the stairs. Lynx just watched her slowly leave. He wanted to console her but didnít want to push her away.
"Good night detective," Kyle called as she passed by.
Maza looked over with a half-hearted smile. "Good night you two."
"Night," Maggie said.
The two of them smiled as the detective left. Maggie then turned to face Kyle. His face was definitely that of a black panther. His jaw was extended and entire face slightly changed. Dark fur had pushed through bare skin. His eyes were like hers, but Maggie saw the same friendliness in them that she did about two weeks earlier. She leaned froward and kissed him. Kyle tasted sweet berries on her breath.
"What was that for?" Kyle asked once they finished.
"For being there," Maggie answered. She slipped under the covers of her sleeping bag. "Thank you." Maggie relaxed in her sleeping bag. She was facing out, the same direction as Kyle.
Kyle too pulled himself into his sleeping bag and drew himself as close behind Maggie as possible. "Youíre welcome." Kyle whispered into her large cat ear. He wrapped his arm her. Maggie didnít flinch. "Maggie, you know what your scent reminds me of?" Kyle said softly.
Maggie turned around to lay facing Kyle. She smiled. Her lioness face seeming to brighten slightly. She looked curious "What? What does my scent remind you of?"
"Sweet lemonade and fresh honey," Kyle answered. "Thatís what you scent reminds me of. Seems befitting of you." Maggie giggled. Kyle propped himself up on his elbow and looked at Maggie.
"You know what your sent reminds me of?" Maggie inquired.
"Do tell," Kyle answered with a smile.
"Your scent is like black licorice." Kyle raised an eyebrow. "Black licorice, but with a refiened quality. Something else, that you canít get from the candy."
"Seems befitting of me as well," Kyle commented. "Black licorice for a black panther." He laid himself down, his back on the ground and his head resting on the corner of the wall.
Maggie chuckled. "Thereís something I realized."
"Remember when we first met, and I told everyone that I was trying out for the Lion King," Maggie began. Kyle nodded with a smile. "And remember you said that you thought I would be trying out for the part of the adult Nala." Kyle again nodded. "I think I AM the adult Nala."
"You have a point there," Kyle answered. He licked his muzzle. "But you know something?"
"Youíre my Nala," Kyle said with a kiss on her head. "And you look every bit as gorgeous as when I first saw you."
Maggie giggled and gave Kyle a friendly poke in the ribs. "Youíre such a tease," Maggie said.
"Maybe," Kyle answered with a smile. "Good night."
"See you in the morning," Maggie whispered back. She pulled her sleeping bag up and laid her head on Kyleís chest.