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It was only a week after the successful operation when my doctor surprised me in the street, calling my name out, and slapping me on the shoulder. ‘And how are you feeling?’ he asked, and I replied, ‘Never better. ‘Ha!’ he laughed, ‘you are a fine species of animal!’
I was his first patient to participate in a new line of transplant procedure known in France as “animal-viscera”, where defunct internal organs are replaced by genetically enhanced animal replicas. I told him the operation had worked a spell and I was feeling rather active than usual.
He smiled at me, but it was more a curious smile, if I have ever known one, than the type of smile one likes to see in reaction to a cheerful word. He put his fingers on the side of my face, as if to examine me, and after gazing into my eyes he shook his head. ‘Not yet ready,’ I heard him mumble in a voice that was otherwise inaudible. As he muttered to himself he began stroking his thin grey goatee beard. His eyes were great and dark, I had noticed this before, and for awhile I seemed to stand hypnotised before him. Noting my rigid state I saw his hand move into his pocket and then he said suddenly, ‘This might help!’
Then, without warning, and certainly without my permission, he drew out a syringe (filled to the brim with a singular orange liquid), and stabbing my hand plunged the contents into my veins!
He checked my face again, nodded, and stalked away!
I felt the blood flow through my veins again and checked my sore bleeding hand. Why had he done that?
Of course I had to hope it was for the good, he was my doctor after all and I trusted him, and I soon forgot about it because of the important meeting to which my presence was expected. The chancellor of the Head Bench was waiting for me and I needed to be spick-and-span if I wanted to win him over to my cause. Yes! Political matters, I am afraid, but the success of this particular meeting would see me a chair ahead on the bench in parliament, the President of the Elect Council - a position my father held before me.
‘I must say you are looking rather well!’ said the chancellor. ‘And I must agree with the beard! I know you are one to keep your appearance sharp, but this time I agree with the length of bristles on your face! The beard leaves you with a noble air!’
I thanked him, and then reflected on the obscure subject he had touched on because I remember specifically that morning shaving my countenance clean of any hair…
I started to pour the brandy, and my hand jittered when I noticed the fantastic length of black hair growth on my hand, especially across my knuckles, and along the ridges of my fingers. I tipped a portion of the brandy on to the table clothe. The chancellor eyed me inquisitively, raising one of his great bushy brows and he said, ‘I say boy! Are you alright?’
‘It’s just you seem a bit shaky! Not like your usual self! Are you sure you are feeling well enough for this?’
‘Of course I am!’ said I, perhaps a little too harshly. Then I calmed, continued to pour and relaxed myself in my chair. ‘Sorry! You know how it is! Just a little, you know, a little jittery!’
‘Ha!’ and the chancellor patted his mouth with his serviette, ‘I never looked on you as the nervous sort! I remember your father! Never afraid to speak his mind!
Really, what the man said wasn’t really that funny at all, but for some reason I started to laugh uncontrollably! A wild howling laugh, and I could actually feel my mouth grow larger than normal! I will tell you the truth, I don’t know why I started to laugh then in the way I did, but I did; a mad loud hooting laugh like some mad thing. Even though I felt thoroughly embarrassed I couldn’t stop, and when I tried to stop I lost full control and started to throw my hands about. Then for no reason I stood up, jumped onto my chair, and in a crouched position started to jump up and down in the same spot.
The chancellor, who by my unexplainable actions, had been worked into a sweat, mopped fully his howl head with his serviette, and stood abruptly from his chair. ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this!’ he said.
Without another word he stalked away, and this threw me into a rage, and I chased after him, but I found myself unable to say a word, only shout mad noises. Everyone was looking at me, and that was when I noticed my reflection in a glass pane - I was actually running on all fours - using both my arms and legs! I don’t know why I did this, but for a few seconds it seemed to feel right. I grunted, stood aright, straightened my back and adjusted my collar. Ignoring the hundreds of glances that were aimed my way I calmly left the building, and when I was out of eyesight, I picked up speed and just manage to catch the chancellor before he vanished into his taxi.
‘Wait!’ I cried. ‘We haven’t finished!’
‘I’m sorry but I wont be made a fool,’ he said. ‘Unless you regain your temperament we have nothing further to say to one another!’
I don’t know why but I completely lost my temper with him. My hands became separate beings and lashed out at him - and he turned and dodged, and then came about again in a diagonal position with his own fist aimed caught me on the chin and knocked me to the pavement floor.
He drove off and left me there, while I sat up and rubbed the bruise, blinking into the stars and wondering why I had attacked him. Of course I deserved the punishment in the chin, I could live with that; what I couldn’t live with was my irrational, and uncontrollable behaviour. Why had I laughed madly in front of my friend, or ran about on all fours like some animal for hundreds of people to look upon with mocking frowns? It was ridiculous actions for any human being let alone a public figure, and no doubt after the nights high handed conclusion with the chancellor the pages on my political career were slammed too.
What amazed me more than anything, when I got back home, was the beard I had grown. Before I was about to wash I saw my reflection in my bathroom mirror, and the shock I received by what I saw left me starring in wonder for at least five stupefied minutes. Not just a beard, but long black hairs over all the face and the throat. When I touched the hairs I saw my fingers in the mirror, then looked at them closely for the first time to see how long they had grown. Huge long groping fingers! I couldn’t believe it and yet all I could do was make a strange inaudible grunting sound. Then I began hoping around my room, going fourth on all floors, like a proper prince of fools! I began spilling over book cases, turning up furniture, and it seemed to almost give me some sort of crazy but curious pleasure - like I had achieved something profitable or intellectual, even. As a man read books to keep his brain keen, I tilted chairs and gazed under tables.
I shook and quivered with fear. Had I gone mad?
I retired to bed and hoped sleep would cure me.
In the morning a felt a hundred percent myself again. No longer seeing the point in getting changed, I swung out of my bedroom window, and proceeded to dance cheerily along the rooftops. A nearby tree looked a good resting spot and I jumped up into the lower branch and climbed up to the top. I gazed about at the mad town below. I saw someone walking down below, and I felt I could not stand for this. “I found this tree, it was mine!” I leapt out of the branches and growled and threw my fists about at her, and she in turn screamed, and for some reason fell unconscious to the floor. Minutes later men clad in fearsome military attire marched out of a vehicle, and I was netted, drugged and put to sleep.
When I awoke I found iron bars around me, but it wasn’t until the effects of the drug finally wore off when I realised I was inside a cage!
I shook the bars with my long leathery fingers, but could make no other sound except a loud resonant scream.
Then I saw my Doctor! Dr Pretler entered through a door, and standing before my cage leaned down to look at me. He chuckled through his grey goatee beard. ‘Ah! So you are awake again! Good! Good!’
I had questions, but I could ask them no more than I could open the door to my cage. I just couldn’t shape words like I wanted to, and every time I put my voice into action I just made mad jumbled sounds. This eventually infuriated me to such a state I just stopped talking altogether, and sat there like a fool.
My tormenter just laughed. ‘Good! Good!’ he kept on saying. ‘A fine specimen! You have worked out admirably.’ And again he drew fourth a syringe, containing the same orange liquid as before, and aimed it for my veins - but I scratched him off and the syringe smashed! He retreated cursing angrily.
I hugged my short hairy legs to my chest and pondered, ‘Why I am I in such a small place? I want to be out in the world - I want to be free!’
Someone was laughing at my side. I turned about, and in the cage opposite me was a chimpanzee! The most bizarre thing was, I could understand what he was saying! It was the most singular experience in my life, and then it also seemed to feel just right - like it was meant to be.
‘Got you as well, has he?’ he said, and again he laughed. ‘You aren’t the first, mate. You probably wont be the last!’
‘What are you going on about?’ I found myself able speak now, and the monkey understood me completely and he replied, ‘You don’t know, do you?’
I said, ‘Know what?’
He said, ‘Imagine there was a mirror between us, and I was your reflection. That’s right my friend. You are like me. You are a monkey.’
What was my reaction to this? Did I wail and shout with anger and despair. No, I was quite calm. When I saw the long hair on my arms, and looked down at my large leather feet, it all made sense.
‘But why?’ I said to him, and he shook his head and said, ‘I don’t know! But I have been trapped here for days. I don’t know what Pretler is planning, but I know what I’d do if I got my hands on him!’
‘So do I,’ said I, with a growl.
‘He’s ruined my life,’ said my friend, and I nodded, and muttered a mirror answer, ‘And mine,’ I said.
I cannot say how long my imprisonment lasted, for I was never allowed to see the light of day, and every now and then Dr Pretler entered the room, deposited food through iron bars of my cage, and then left again through door, chortling. One day he came and took the cage away containing my friend, the only person I had to keep me company. It made it easier having someone to share the burden of my misfortune with, a fellow sufferer who carried the same hardship. When he was gone I went mad, and wailed for hours, but when my energy was spent I recoiled to the corner of my cage, and turned grim and silent. My eyes must have glazed with fury. I began to plot and plan… My life had been destroyed but it had one last thing to live for…revenge…
And so I remained patient, and waited, and as I hoped the good doctor rewarded my good behaviour, and removed me from the cage and brought me out to the laboratory that lay outside the door beyond. ‘It has worked perfectly,’ he said. ‘It,’ and at this point the was referring to me! ‘has absolutely no knowledge of its former life. Ha! I have succeeded where others have failed! Those doubters will now eat their words when they see my latest triumph!’
Now at this point I wasted no more time. I attacked with only the veracity an animal has. I clawed him with my hands, I gnawed him with my teeth. I vented my days of fury upon him fully, ripped him to shreds, and scattered him across the room. I tore up his books, his papers, tipped over his vials of chemicals, and drained out every last ebb of that putrid orange liquid till it seeped into the cracks in the floor.
When the deed was done I sought the nearest window, snapped it clean open and swung out into the open air.
I have been on the run ever since, chased hither and thither by those of my former kind. I found my way back to my old apartment, and there I shall stay, till I am found. I do not know my fate, but I do not think I will be looked upon as anything other than a savage animal.
And so I have decided to discharge my final thoughts in this analogue, for others to wonder on, and perhaps, with hope, prevent such events that have distressed me from ever occurring again. For now though I leave you with a misty far well. I do not know if my fate would have been different had I not attacked the doctor in the way I did, or if my mind had not started to turn more and more animal…
The one thing I did know, and that was the number of my days…
Just because monkeys seem the same doesn’t mean to say we are the same.