Hiding in The Genetic Park - 2
One shot of Jose Cuervo, straight.
Two pints of British ale, craft beer (double the alcohol) only distributed to Rusty Pete’s. One I just drank, the other in my paw.
And waiting for two duck fart shots from the buck anthro named Larry. No kidding, that’s the drink’s name.
Yeah. I’m a party boy… or girl. With that much alcohol in my system I was waiting for that familiar tipsy feeling. I was experiencing a minor buzz while leaning on the bar, the sweatshirt hood over my head. The hanging televisions played music, like Jim Collins I guessed. The music fit the bar’s woodland cabin décor. If I arrived earlier I could’ve watched a baseball game. I watched Larry pour me my last drinks for the night. He slid both to me.
“In the years working here, I’ve never seen anybody drink this much besides frat men without pass out. Most girls in your figure tip out at two pints. You must be lucky, even after the TG.”
“I’m seventy percent alcohol tolerant. It’s inherited from my father,” I explained. “He was a heavy drinker and takes him a lot to get smashed. Back in college I down a keg and all I get is a buzz.” I may not be drunk, but I was talking like one. At least I still remember I’m Riley inside a female snow leopard anthro.
“That’s rare,” he summed. “Any more?” I told him no and went off to wash dishes and talk to anthros still in the bar. None of them talked to me, I never talked to them besides Larry. He’s a good man.
I grabbed one of the duck farts and held it up saying, “Here’s to you, Mr. Harris.” I’m a big fan of Deadliest Catch. I downed the drink in a second, feeling the sharp pull of the hard alcohol in my throat. I coughed thinking how that crazy sea captain drank that stuff.
Even so, coughing with a girl’s voice was not swell.
Two hours in in The Genetic Park. I was hitting the reality hard. I still hated my snow leopard body, even after four years from my first experience. In between coughing and drinking, I tried to scribble words and ideas on a paper napkin on how to get back at Parker. Like say TG her into a male elephant, throw a harmless beer bottle at a window at Langley and act weird during interrogations, or blow up her cookie cutter mailbox in suburbia or wherever the hell she lived. I have the right to dream, right? Of course I do. I laughed out loud at the notes. I didn’t care if they stared at me.
I grabbed my second beer and did two gulps. Larry came with my tab and I gave him the black hole credit card. “Why are you laughing so much?” Larry asked.
“Ha, wouldn’t you like to know,” I laughed.
Larry charged it. “It’s not easy being a TG. Riley. When I got this job two years ago I heard this story from Maintenance of this TG getting embarrassed at the basketball courts south of here. God the things they did to humiliate and traumatize the poor bastard. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you.”
I drank the rest of my beer.
“I TG’d once,” he continued. “I feel your pain, bro.” He was reassuring me; how sweet, and weird. I still kept the act up and still didn’t tell him my previous experience. He looked up as the doors behind me swung open. They breathed a lot assuming they ran through the rain. I had to glance.
There were three anthros wearing plastic parkas. One removed hers, a lizard girl of like a… brown snake anthro type, and hanged it on a hanger. She wore jeans and a black tank top. “We should’ve stayed in the room, Maya,” she said.
The girl in the middle was a vixen, fox anthro to the uneducated, removed her parka. I assumed she was Maya. “Meg, I just have to get out. You know me and my cabin fever,” she told her. “We got here yesterday and I’m not gonna let a little rain ruin our vacation.”
The third looked what seemed to be an otter anthro from the smooth tail, short brown fur, and whiskers. He took his parka off, wearing winter clothes, and talked on the same side as Maya. “Weather guy says tomorrow it will be clear for the rest of the week”
Swell, I thought and turned back to the bar. Just what I need, sunshine.
They came to the bar. Larry asked for their drinks, commercial lagers times three. All sat to my left, one stool separating Maya and me. I looked away, but I swore my ears wanted to hear more, angling towards the group.
“Can’t you believe I’m still not used to my new body?” The one called Maya said. “The tail, the fur, the new face. Its like I’m living a real animals experiences.”
“I take it you are a first timer,” Larry asked.
“Yes all three of us, plus Jonah and Billy and their son back at the cabin. But you can thank this little otter Max for getting us here.”
Max chuckled, proud of himself. “You can thank the hospital. We deserve this vacation,” he said.
“Don’t think about hooking up with her,” Meg added. “I’m still watching you.” Max huffed.
If I listened any more of their chatter, I could be throwing up just from their happiness. I know that first timers be a little freaked out about their transformations, these two are accepting it all to fast, excluding Maya.
“Hey there,” Maya said to me. I hummed but didn’t look. “You okay, girl?”
“Might I say something to you three,” the bartender started. “She’s having a rough night. Just got here a few hours ago trying to kill her jet lag.” He covered my gender and made up the jet lag story. Like minds think alike.
“Yikes,” Max added. “From the lifeless tail it must’ve been rough.” Larry nodded. he asked if I’m allowed to drink and Larry explained the iron liver gig. The otter nearly got it.
“I think she’s in shock from the transformation,” Meg suggested. You have no friggin idea, sister, I thought.
I can tell they will ask me to say hi, maybe force it and leave Larry with no luck. Biting my rough tongue I glanced at the group. All three stared at me. The fox looked mighty curious from the obsessive blinking. The other two were the same, minus the blinking. I liked my lips and said, “How’s it goin’,” to an almost whisper. The alcohol still didn’t slur my words, yet.
Maya waved her black furred paw. I spotted a lot of excitement in her brown eyes. I could imagine how ecstatic she felt when her tail grow. “Don’t talk a lot?” She asked.
I bobbed my head at Larry. “Like he said. Rough jet lag,” I said.
“Forgive for being a prude but I’m a nurse and drinking after a flight is not such a good idea, even from your anatomy,” Meg said. I made note to avoid her at all cost.
“I’m different,” I clarified.
“Meg, don’t start,” otter man said. “We are here to get away from work.” The lizard girl shook her head, agreeing with him. “Sorry. Meg has no restraint.” No kidding.
Maya was acting weirder than before, I think. Dipping her head, squinting, trying to get a good and detailed look at me, she might be thinking about my whole emo look compared to her Hawaiian shirt and shorts, but she just had to drop the ball. “Where did you get that pin? Never seen it in the store.”
I kept myself from explaining as my lip bunched up. The other two looked as well.
“Yeah, never seen it,” said Max.
“Maybe she smuggled it before she entered the chambers,” Meg guessed.
You can tell they have no clue what TG means. They obviously never read the website, it’s clear as day on the “Before You Choose…” section. I can already see the impending horror of explaining it all. Not with the witness protection. They might think that changing genders is sick and could see me as a freak. Meg might use it to her advantage. I couldn’t be the one to tell them face-to-face..
“Screw this, I’m heading to bed,” I hissed before drinking my second duck fart. I picked up my umbrella and synched my hood tight to my head. The group was telling me to stay and chat. I ignored them.
The bar door slammed shut and the snow leopard girl stomped out into the rain. Maya, Max, and Meg sat at the bar stunned. Larry shook his head feeling sorry for the TG. The others didn’t care to bud in, they knew what TGs are.
“What the heck,” Meg said. “Did I catch her having PMS?”
“Meg,” Maya said, shaking her head, “why can’t think before you talk. You might have brought that poor girl to tears.”
“Not tears. More like hate and frustration. My cat back home whips her tail like that every time I give him a bath,” Max added.
“Whatever it was, you sure did put a sore thumb in her vacation. I hope she’s alright.”
I believe so. I hope being alone for a while wont be a hamper,” Larry said.
“What do you mean?”
“Yeah. Alone. Single party. Not only that, it is more… problematic than you think.” He saw all three became interested from his stressed tone. “Seriously, you don’t know what that pin on your shirt means?” They shook their heads. “Website? Forums? Contract? The custom screen at the lobby?… Word of mouth?”
Max thought back, never seeing anything on the computer or the Genetic Park website. “No. Nothing.”
Larry sighed. “Oh boy. Can’t believe this is still going on. Those pints are on the house. I’ll explain what is up with him.”
I opened my room’s door, entered, and slammed it shut. I felt wet all over, and soon I’ll be stinking up the place. One of many downsides for being half animal.
“Four hours and everything is coming back to me,” I whispered. “I hate this place.” It occurred to me I wasn’t getting emotional. Back then I would be balling all over myself. Now it seemed that I still acted male. Wonder if there were major changes to the serum. But still, those memories…
I did breathing exercises to ignore those memories. It’s what my therapist taught me, among other things. It always works. “I will get Parker for this.”
I thought Parker herd me as the phone on the table rang. Parker’s Caller ID confirmed it. Without government, I didn’t want to talk to people. Regrettably I would be standing up a government agent, and I can imagine what would happen if I don’t answer. I crawled to the phone.
“Hello, you’ve reached a depressed and possibly drunk witness protection freak. How may I help you?” I said with the snakiest female voice I could come up with.
Parker sighed to make me aware of her anger. “Phil, that’s just rude. You are a lady and you must act like one.”
“Bite me,” I said bluntly. I picked myself up and slouched on the couch, tail resting on my lap.
“I was calling you for an hour to make sure everything is alright. Was ‘bout to call in a party to look for you.”
“It wasn’t my plan to not ‘check-in’ with you. I’ve been trying to get drunk.”
Parker ah-ha’d. “Sounds like you don’t like the body I chose for you.”
“You damn right I don’t! You changed me in the most popular species around.” I laid my legs on the coffee table and crossed them.
“It’s a culture statistic. It’s not like witness protection will choose a unpopular species, that’s suspicion right there. Blending into a large demographic is the best solution. Catgirls are at best popular and have less suspicion…”
The logic babble was making my brain hurt, but I’ve been noticing her tone in a few places. Spending a few years in advertisement taught me a few tricks, like noticing what pleases the masses. I can hear those familiar tones a mile away, ten miles with my cat ears. You can say it was a form of lie detection. I had a hunch of her meaning.
“Parker,” I interrupted. She stopped and asked what. “I’m beginning to believe that this body, this hotel, is all part of your ideal vacation, and you gave me it. Am I right?”
Silence. I heard a door slam through the other end. At the point, I liked heighted animal hearing.
I shook my head with much disappointment. “You sick, twisted woman.” the alcohol was kicking in by the way. It felt good.
Another pause, then she talked again. “Sorry. But… I need something from you.”
“Can it be me begging to be transferred to Maine?” I asked.
“Not even.” I picked up other sounds behind Parker’s. I though I head somebody snicker. “This program needs you to send a picture of yourself for identity purposes.”
I leaned forward. “In other words, you want to see your creation?” She said yes, but more like a nervous yeah. My eye fell on the mirror again. My long hair was wet in a few places. “Give me two minutes. I’ll have a picture for you.” I hanged up and made my point.
And when I did, I stripped and fell unconsciously to bed.
Parker set her cell phone down on the desk. In all expenses, she felt guilty for doing this to Phil. She knows she will have to make it up for him. The government can do whatever to please him, but his mind could, or already, be damaged even more. Whatever happened to taking doctor’s orders seriously these days?
The Taurus driver came into the hotel room with one cup of Starbucks coffee. “Got you your Pikes with three sugars, miss,” he said.
“Thanks, Matt.” She took the cup and sipped the strong coffee to calm down. Matt could only wonder how she sleeps with that in her system. “Our flight leaves tomorrow morning for Langley.”
“Good, I needed sleep anyway,” Matt said. He sighed and said, “The director is messed up in the head.”
Parker looked up. “Pardon me?”
“The Genetic Park. He’s obsessed with that place. Can you believe its good for witness protection? I don’t think so. The mob will have no time to figure it out. Remember their blackhat hacker? He can find the connections.”
“What connections are you referring?” Parker asked.
“Oh the records of his first Genetic Park trip in their record banks.”
“Mr. Malcolm took care of that,” Parker said.
“Still. Blackhats are scary crafty. Then the rumored mole at headquarters…”
“Honestly, there is no mole, that’s only a rumor. Look Mr. Mavis is safe. Their company have the advanced flash memory banks in the country and they do background checks on suspicious guests that’s cross-referenced with all federal databases.” Parker got up from her chair, sipping on the coffee, and taking off her high heels. “Tighter as the TSA. The director means it.”
“If you say so, I’m just watching out for the poor bastard,” Matt said and drank. “Who knew he was there before and experienced TG before. And those sick freaks had the nerve to post it on YouTube. Worse coincidence case ever.”
“Coincidence, fate, facing our fears. Whatever we call it,” Parker said. “I’m already thinking how to make it up to him.” Parker took off her jacket. “So how come you’re quiet outside on the field but chatty in private?”
“It’s my nature.”
Parker’s laptop on the desk chirped with new mail. In the email application, both agents confirmed the message was from Phil. The subject said “hows this for identity.” Without thinking twice Parker opened it.
“Oh that’s just not right,” Matt commented. Parker face palmed.
Phil took the picture with the mirror and a couple lamps for light. He, or she, stood in front of the mirror with the phone in her left paw. Her stance expressed a lot of anger, legs rigid, tail blurry from rapid movement, and cat face looked tipsy. One ear was limp. Phil’s right paw displayed a proud and powerful clawed birdie.
“Well,” Matt started. “This will make the director unhappy. Told you the Park was a bad idea for him.” Matt drank the rest of his coffee and went to the bathroom for a shower. Parker will most likely have the next one, but let the hot water run until ice cold.
The Princess and the Dragon p6
The Princess and The Dragon p5
The Princess and The Dragon p4
And about Parker and her partner. With Malagua's series he focused strictly inside the area. I went ahead to include the outside to deepen to story line.
Alright, done talking. Need sleep for work tomorrow.
As always, comments are appreciated.
Mana Pool, a novel, is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu.