A red x appeared over my cage. The bright light stung my eyes which forced me to wake. The cold iron that I lay on had numbed my side. Considering I was covered in hair you would think that would be pretty hard to do. My cage was 5 feet by 5 feet. With a metal bottom and bars all around me. Nothing big enough to squeeze through. I had no bed or mattress to lay on. Just the cold hard metal floor. I was in a laboratory where so called scientists came in daily to poke and prod and test me. The walls were all stark white. Same with the floor and the ceiling. There were other cages in my area also containing “mixtures” of creatures like me. The scientists called themselves the “gene benders” they thought it was great fun to see what they could come up with next.
So far they had come up with an 8 year old rhino girl, named Sophie, who was 80% rhino and 20% human. That’s the mixture they loved to use. She didn’t like anyone messing with her so she didn’t generally let them. She would rage at anyone who came even close to her cage.
The next was a bat girl, named Bell, who was 13 years old who rarely ever talked to anyone. About the only one who seemed to get along with her the best was rhino girl named Sarah. They would go to a corner that was close to each other and seem to have private conversations.
Mole boy, whose name is Doug, who was also 13. Then there was a river otter girl named Mary, who was 16 years old like me. We were all in cages spread out on a floor so no one could reach the other. The metal cages had been bolted to the floor so we couldn’t move them either.
They had decided to mix me with 80% wolf and 20% human. I often thought of freedom, to be able to walk out that door as I had seen the scientists do so many times. I wondered what was beyond that door. For most of our lives we all lived here. None of us knew what the outside world was like. Would we be accepted, would we be feared? I saw how some of the scientists looked at rhino girl when she was angry. They feared her.
When they moved us to the other labs in the building they wouldn’t take us out of the cages. They just moved us, cage and all. In the other part of the lab they would do all sorts of testing and experimenting on us. Yesterday they took us all in one at a time and gave us another round of shots. The gene benders had been giving us these shots for the last 3 weeks. I over heard one of them say that this should be the last shot. “After this we should see some changes in their bodies. These poor dumb animals wont know what is happening though. I don’t foresee their I.Q.s getting any higher than maybe a 3 year olds but anyway.” The female with him just laughed. Little did they know how much we really knew. We had been able to understand their language for almost 3 years now. We never spoke to them. Not one word.
That night after all the gene benders had left I lay there listening to the sounds of the lab. Listening as the people who cleaned left the building one by one until finally we were alone again. Softy I whispered to Bell who looked as if she might be asleep. One never knew with her. “Bell, are you sleeping? What did they say about us?” I knew we needed to talk. We had to keep on top of what is going those scientists. The morale of everyone had been going down pretty badly lately. I had been hoping something would happen to break us out of this cycle. We had tried to get free so many times and nothing had ever come from any of it.
Bell whispered back, “They only said that this was the last batch of drugs they were going to be giving us. That there should be some changes now. I guess they upped the last dose to make sure there were changes this time.” I thought for a moment and then said to Sophie, “Sophie, are you alright? Did you hear anything?” I said hopefully maybe they had said more around her. “No. They don’t talk around me. They do their job and get me back in here quick.” She said softly to me. We sat there quietly when suddenly I heard it. A noise I hadn’t heard before at this time of night.
I could see lights shining around out in the hall through a small window in the door. We could hear voices in whispers asking, “which way? Where are the animals?” and someone else saying “Hurry! Here there are some in here!” Suddenly the door opened. We knew right away these people weren’t the gene benders. Some were different ages, men and women. No one was wearing one of the lab coats. “Shhhhh, quickly we need to move quickly the alarm will be bringing the cops any minute now! Hurry!” Suddenly they were in front of our cages. “How do these open?” A blonde girl was standing in front of my cage shining her flashlight on the wall beside my cage and on the cage itself. Finally she spotted the remote that was in its holder on the wall. Quickly she told the others to look for the remote and hit the button to release my cage. Again she hit the button and my door opened. Soon all of our doors were open and they were leaving quickly. Cautiously I stepped out of my cage. “Hurry! Now is our chance we wont get another. We have to leave now if we want to escape.” I said to the others.
Once we were in the hallway we hugged the wall to stay out of the way of all the other humans who were still running around without any real clue of what or where they were going. As we hit the slick hallways we those of us with claws started sliding everywhere. We couldn’t get any traction. It was very slow going. Finally Sarah said to us rather impatiently, “Use more pad and less paw on these floors.” When we settled down a bit and used our pads we did move faster towards the exit. The people didn’t notice us as we moved along the wall toward the door that lead to freedom. Finally I could see the outside. I could smell the outside, all new smells I had never had the chance to smell before. My senses were flooded with new sights and sounds too. I kept checking behind me to be sure we were not being separated. Legs and feet ran past as suddenly alarms and lights were suddenly blaring everywhere. The people who had set us free suddenly all seemed to be panicking. I could smell the fear on all of them. Quickly we moved closer to the door and out. Finally we were outside. I looked around to see which way we should go. I could see trees off to the left