|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
Max looked nervously at the guards, noting the rifle barrels which tracked his movements with machinelike precision. "Say, Doc? You sure you got an OK for this? Death Row ain't great, but I still got ten year's worth of appeals left."
The older, formally-dressed man beside him nodded. "Approved by everyone up to and including the Governor. The guards won't be doing anything to you. You were safe from them the moment you signed the waiver. Of course, it helps that you have been chained and sedated."
Looking down at the heavy manacles, Max had to agree he wouldn't be running off. And whatever the doc had pumped into him was slowing him down a bit. Funny sort of hot/cold feeling, like he was feverish, and he had to concentrate a bit just to walk. Still, whatever the Doc had planned beat the electric chair. After all, the appeals would run out sometime, and there was no doubt of the outcome. Hell, everyone knew he was guilty.
He'd really slipped up on that last one. Oh, but she had been so fine. Almost worth getting caught for. What was she? 17? So sweet and clean. And all by herself in that big, fancy house. Chasing her through the rooms, playing hide and seek. He'd laughed as he tore each room apart, knowing she was locked in, and that the phones were dead. The hunt was on, and it had been glorious.
A scowling officer 'accidentally' bumped Max's head against the edge of the van door as he helped him in.. "'Can't believe you'd help this one, Doc. After all, he's the one who..."
"I know what he has done, officer." The doc cut the pig off in mid-sentence. "He is the ideal subject for my prison reform project. And I assure you, justice is better served this way than by forcing him to spend years in a cell."
Max grinned. He'd thought this guy was just another of those useless reformers who talked a lot, but never did shit. Oh, they sent pictures, and magazines, and sometimes wrote letters. And sometimes they even got the Warden to paint the cells up, or give a few more privileges.
This guy was really different. He'd breezed in yesterday with the Warden, offering a chance to be released as part of a Prison Reform therapy program. All Max had to do was sign a release, and the Doc would take him outa here. Even now, with the van pulling out through the main gate, it was hard to believe this was happening.
Doc was real sure of himself. The little bastard didn't even have a gun with him. Even drugged, Max could snap his neck like a celery stalk. But not yet. This stuff would wear off soon, and then he'd show his 'gratitude'.
They drove in silence for a long time. Suited Max just fine. So did their route. Instead of the city, Doc was heading into the countryside. Probably had some little clinic hidden away in the woods. All the easier to escape from.
The van turned down a dirt road, and Max winced a little as he was bounced around. "Hey, Doc! Take it easy!" The manacles felt loose now, but his muscles ached and stung. What kinda shit had he been doped up with?
They stopped in the middle of heavy forest. Max looked around in confusion. "What the hell is goin' on, Doc?" The man got out of the driver's seat and slid the side door open. Grabbing Max by the shoulder, he pulled hard and sent the convict sprawling face-first into the dirt.
Max tried to catch himself, but his arms wouldn't move properly, Spitting grit out, he rolled awkwardly on his side and glared up at the Doc. "You bastard! I'll wring your scrawny neck!"
The frail-looking, gray-haired man didn't seem scared. In fact, he had a slight smile on his face which made Max nervous. "I don't think you'll be doing anything of the sort. After all, you do need hands to wring my neck, don't you?"
Max suddenly realized that he couldn't feel his fingers. Staring down, he screamed. His hands had become black lumps, and his arms were stretching past his shirt cuffs even as he watched. And what was happening to his body? His chest pushed out in the center, popping off buttons and splitting seams.
Metal flashed, and Max screamed again when he saw the knife in Doc's hand. But all that he did was cut off what remained of Max's clothes, leaving him squirming naked in the dirt. The convict kept screaming as his body twisted and pulled. Every now and then, he would catch sight of an arm flailing about. Except it was a leg now, brown-furred and impossibly thin. And his face was swelling into a muzzle, shouts fading as his throat elongated with his neck.
Then it was over. He lay on his side, panting. He didn't hurt any more, but he did feel strange. Very strange. Getting up required a complex rolling motion that was oddly automatic. He shook his head, even that sensation new.
The Doc was by his van, watching. Max leaped towards him in sudden rage. What had the bastard done to him? As if in answer, Doc gave him that cold smile again.
"You are a deer. A stag, young, and in good health. The injection I gave you is part of my new Reform Therapy." The man pulled off his sports coat as he talked. "You see, when I was talking about reform, I meant that I would give you a new form. That's what the injection was for. A rather complex biological transformation process that really doesn't matter to you."
"What does matter to you is that the parents, brother, boyfriend, and even the grandparents of the last girl you raped and murdered are waiting just a few hundred yards away. They've become amazingly proficient with bow and arrows in a very short time, and it happens to be deer season."
The man smiled as Max suddenly backed away, realizing what was happening. "Yes, that is the Therapy part of the treatment. You see, it isn't therapy for you. It's for the victims you left behind. And there is more than a little justice involved, as well."
A twig snapped in the distance, but Max's heightened senses picked it up sharp and clear. His heart pounded, and muscles twitched as he battled the primal urge to run. Doc looked towards the sound as he pulled on an orange hunter's vest, and then back at Max.
"They're coming now. If you run fast enough, you might even escape. Of course, there are always hunters out there looking for a fine set of antlers like yours." Max shook his head, suddenly aware of the weight and mass that protruded from his skull. "Instincts are taking over, Max. But there's a big difference between you and a real deer. You're gonna know. Know that somebody is out there with a gun or a bow, and that it is just a matter of time."
The others were close now, and the deer's instincts for survival took over. Max bounded into the woods, fear filling his thoughts as he ran. The hunt was on, but it was no longer glorious.
Reform Therapy copyright 1996 by Bob Stein.
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