The WarehouseMy name is Lilian Vlanski. I am a reporter for the Des Moines paper. I have been doing this gig for almost 4 years now. I am 5 foot 5 inches tall, with Shoulder length brown hair with green eyes. I left Russia with my family when I was still a young teenage girl. I was more than happy to put my past behind me there. I am 25 years old with no significant other.
I have been given a tip there is a warehouse on the south side of town where it has been reported that some homeless people have been disappearing.
My boss, Jim Harris had also told me that there were some strange things that had been seen in the area. So here I sit on a Saturday evening in my car outside the warehouse waiting for the guard to go around the building again. If I timed this right I should be able to get in before they come back around.
The guard turned right and disappeared around the side of the building. Quickly I got out of my car and shut the door quietly. I hurried to the door and picked the lock on the door. It was an old fashioned lock which is the easiest to pick. Something I picked up in a previous life. I slipped in the door and shut it quietly. The guard wasn't going to be around to this side of the building for another 4 minutes. I had timed how long it took him to make a complete circuit around the building.
I took out my flashlight and shone it around. Looking for something, not quite knowing what. I knew that some homeless people had disappeared around here but so far the place looked far too clean to be a hot spot for homeless people. usually they would go to places that were somewhat dirtier. The warehouse was a long and for the most part, empty. On the far end she could see a stack of boxes in the corner. I walked quietly towards them seeing how there was nothing else in the building to look at. I came to the first set of boxes that were 3 ft by 3 ft and stacked 3 boxes high and in a row 12 boxes long.
There was 3 rows of boxes in this corner. I shone the light down the first row and saw nothing. Not even a door or a carpet that a homeless person might use to sleep on. I looked down the row, puzzled. I walked over to the next row and again saw nothing down that row. Again there was no door or even a window here. I walked past the last row of boxes and found down the end of the row a door. Finally. I thought maybe I would find something. But this door only led out, or so I thought.
I quickly picked this lock also and opened the door into what I thought was the outside. It was a stairway. I quickly slipped through this door also and went down the stairs. she went down two flights of stairs and stopped right in front of an elevator. The elevator was on this level as if waiting for me. A sense of foreboding stole over me.
It was one of those freight elevators. "Well, You might as well see this through." I thought to myself. I stepped in and pulled down the gate and pushed the heavy leaver down. Slowly it descended into the depths of the unknown.
When it finally stopped I was looking into a lab. A lab filled with cages and aquariums with strange and unusual creatures. A dog, or at least it looked like a dog, was in the first cage closest to me. The dog looked at me and with deep sadness in his eyes as if saying, "Help me." The animal was shaped like a dog but had webbed feet on his front legs and hooves on his hind legs. When the dog's tongue lolled out it was over teeth that looked as if they belonged in a shark's mouth instead of a dog's.
I had almost forgotten that the camera hunging around my neck was there for more than just decoration. I snapped picture after picture. Animal after animal. Cage after heart wrenching cage. All stranger and more bizarre than the last. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. None of them looked dangerous or angry. They all just looked sad, hurt and lonely. Suddenly I heard the elevator returning to the upper level.
Quickly I ran to the back of the room to hide behind the tall cage holding a huge mountain of a gorilla. His muscles were huge and rippling. I looked into the saddest and wisest eyes I had ever seen.
I peaked around the corner trying to see who was stepping off of the elevator. An unassuming man stepped off the elevator. He walked towards the dog who now was growling at the man. The other animals were starting the make noise as he walked down the isle towards the desk half way down the isle. He set in his chair and started typing on his computer.
"I know you are in here. I have cameras everywhere. Are you a homeless person or what?" The next thing I knew the dog looking thing was behind me. he was looking at my calf like he was about to do something he didn't want to do. I mouthed the word, "no" to him. faster than I could even blink he had bit me. It wasn't as deep as I thought it would be and suddenly I didn't feel so good. I slowly edged my way towards the back of the room. When my back had touched the wall i slowly slumped to the floor. I felt strong arms lift me off the floor and settle me into an enclosure.
Later I woke up in a cage. The Dr. was looking in at me curiously. "What will you turn into?" he said as he straightened and walked away.
Suddenly I was scared. Scared of what I was seeing and what I was feeling. I looked at the animals again and saw to my horror that some of the animals indeed did have human characteristics. one even had a human patch of skin on his leg. I screamed, "No!!!!" and I threw myself around in the cage trying to get out. The other animals just looked at me. Finally I stopped panting not knowing what to do next. The dog came up to my cage and looked in at me. He walked to the isle and looked down at the dr. I heard the elevator gate shut and go back up. The dog came back with something in his mouth. "Hurry, before you start to change." He dropped the keys in my cage. Quickly I picked up the keys and unlocked the door. I stood up and looked around at all the other cage.
I started with cage closest to me and started opening doors. The other animals that could help opened other doors and helped higher up animals get down. We all made our way to the elevator. Quickly we moved everyone up to the elevator. "I don't know if we will all fit into the elevator at once.
The gorilla that I had seen right before I had been bitten stepped into the elevator and said in a deep rumbling voice, "I will take the first ones up." He said looking at me solemnly. "But where will we go? we can't go home. None of us can?" The dog said to the gorilla almost crying. "We will find a place." The gorilla said solemnly. Quickly we moved them up to the upper floor where the stair way was. soon we were all moving up the stair to the warehouse.
Quietly we opened the door and moved into the warehouse. I slipped to the front of the group moving toward the door to freedom. When we got to the door I listened and heard the guard walking past the door. I knew that he would be turning to go around the corner in just 25 seconds. he always stopped for just a couple of seconds to look around before stepping around the corner. I opened the door quickly and slipped out.
We moved quickly over to my van. Thankfully I had a full size cargo van. I used it as a cover. No one ever thought much of those types of vehicles when they had an electrician's name on the side of it. I moved over to the side of the van and opened the door. I got as many of them in as I could. This wasn't going to work. I couldn't leave the rest of them here. Quickly they all got back out of the van. "Hurry!" knowing that soon the guard would be finishing his lap around the building. I looked at the rest that weren't going to fit into the van.
We were beside a semi that was parked there for the night. I had seen the driver leave earlier with a pretty young lady in a car. She smiled knowing that it had been the driver's wife. They had been separated for a whole week. Lilian remembered seeing them last week at the gas station and had over heard them talking about going to see her mother that weekend.
Suddenly I had a very crazy idea. "Well there is no time like the present to learn. Quickly I moved to the back of the tractor trailer and checked to see if the trailer was locked. Thankfully it wasn't. An extra bonus. it was empty. "Quick, everyone inside!" I whispered hurriedly. Everyone fit except the gorilla and the dog. We ran to the front of the semi and felt under the front wheel well looking for, and found, the spare key for the truck. Quickly we climbed into the cab of the semi and I said a quick prayer as I put the key into the ignition. When I turned it, nothing happened. "Push the button." the dog said. I looked at the dog amazed. I looked over at the button next to the key. I pushed it. The truck roared to life. I sat there a moment getting my nerves under control. The dog proceeded to walk me through the steps on how to drive a semi. We left the warehouse and drove to where I lived on the north west side of Des Moines in a little house on the edge of town. When we got there we jumped down and ran around to open the door to let out the animals.
I had a large back yard and a barn on my property. Then we went around to the back of my house to go to the barn. The animals that were comfortable in there stayed there. The rest who didn't feel quite at home there wanted to stay in the house with me. We went to the back door and walked into my kitchen. I flipped on the light by the back door. The place was an old farm house and it showed in places. The old wall paper with the farm scenes from the 50's were still on the wall. The old stove that worked when it was in the mood stood over against the far wall. The kitchen sink was relatively new and somehow looked right at home among the other mismatched items around the kitchen.
I led the way past the kitchen into the living room and turned the corner into the downstairs bedroom. It was the spare room downstairs. Some of the animals like the Cat and the gorilla decided to sleep in there. The dog and the "parrot" who was currently riding on the dog's back walked into the living room to settle on the couch. I turned the lights off and walked up the stairs in the dark to my room at the top of the stairs. The dog had followed me up the stairs and settled on the foot of my bed. I looked at him and just sighed. I had to admit. He did help me drive a semi. I suddenly felt more tired than I had ever felt before. I lay down across the bed and fell into a deep slumber.
When I was next aware of anything the light was streaming in my window brightly. I threw my arm over my eyes to shield them and saw my arm was not my arm at all. It was all covered with scales the color of opal white. It had a pearly hue to it that gave it a bit of the look and color of human skin. "Oh My GOD!" I screamed. I scrambled from my bed so I could get to my mirror and look for myself. I was afraid to look. But also afraid not to look. The Dog barred my way to the mirror. "It will be too much for you to see right now. Later, you need to calm down and let us tell you what happened." I sat back down on the bed. I looked at my hands and fingers which now looked more like claws than fingernails. I looked at my arms, the transformation had reached up to my elbows. I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to see what I was turning into. "I can tell you that you are pure. The dr. said that he had only used one D.N.A with you not a mix like the rest of us." He said rather bitterly. "I know that you will transform slower than the rest of us did too. We all turned within a matter of hours. You are still, for the most part, human." "Why is it only on my arms and hands?" I asked the dog. "He looked at me with those sad eyes that seemed to bore into me. "You are changing in other places too." He walked over and nosed at my feet. I looked at my feet and legs. The scales covered my legs. My feet were covered with the same scales that my hands were. My mind rushed with images and fear of what I was turning into, would I still be human on the inside? What was I turning into? I looked at the Dog and asked, "Can I look in the mirror?" He looked at me solemnly, "Not yet, the shock would be too much. I also advise that you not look in any mirrors until it is done. Remember what you looked like before, You are still you. That will never change. " The Dog started to pace back and forth, "We were in cages so we didn't have to worry about seeing ourselves. What I suggest you do is to keep to your usual routine but no mirrors. Oh and no work. See if you can work from home or send in your work from home." He said to me. "Any thing else? That would change everything. How will I get groceries? how will I do my shopping?" I was thinking of the usual day to day chores that most of us take for granted. I certainly couldn't go out looking like this! I was going to have to become a recluse. Wild thoughts rushed through my head. Suddenly he was there. The Gorilla. He put his hands on either side of my face and said, "look at me, it will be all right." he said softly. Suddenly everything was still. He was right. My mind stopped racing. Some how I knew with my new friends everything would be alright. We need to find a way to get food and supplies for everyone. Suddenly I thought of Susan, "Susan will help me, she has been my friend ever since I had moved here!" I said going to my phone. When she picked up the phone she sounded like I had just woken her up. "Hello?" Susan said sleepily into the phone. "Susan, I need to see you as soon as you can please. Can you come over?" I said breathlessly into the phone. "Lilian, are you alright? You don't sound like yourself." she asked sounding suddenly worried. "No, no I am alright." I said to her crossing my fingers. "I will be over as soon as I can." Susan said before she hung up the phone. I searched through my drawers to find things I could wear that would cover up my changes. I found a shirt that came down past my wrists and also some light gloves that I used sometimes when I would work in the yard. I had on long sweats and socks to cover my feet. My face thankfully, at least that is what Dog said, had been spared so far. "She will be here soon, Why don't you all go out to the barn and stay there until I come and get you. That way Susan won't get scared."
When Susan got there I felt so relieved. "Hi Susan, thank you for coming over so quickly." I said to her after I greeted her at the door. We settled on the couch and I turned to face her. "Susan, I really need to talk to you and I need you to be calm. o.k.? I said to her holding her hands. "Sure, but to tell you the truth, you are starting to scare me." Susan said with furrowed brows. I took a deep breath and started. I told her how I had been on that stake out that had changed my life for ever. She never interrupted me, she just listened. When I came to the part about being injected with the serum that changed me. I pulled back my sleeve, showing her what was happening to me. I finally looked at her. She got up and came over to me and hugged me. That is when I cried. I wept for a life that I had lost in a blink of an eye. A life that the Dr. had ripped from me. Now I would have to start a new life. One hidden in shadows and covered up. Susan pulled back from me and looking me in the face she asked, "How far has it progressed?" She asked with out a hint of fear or accusation. I smiled at my best friend in the whole world.
We sat and talked for the rest of the afternoon, I gave her money and a list of things I would be needing soon. I also introduced her to all the new friends I had brought home from the lab.