|The Transformation Story Archive||The Circe Treatment|
"Remember the setup." The director peered from behind the camera, lining up the shot. "I want you to run to the burning car, open the door, undo the safety belt holding the child seat in, and drag the baby 9 feet from the car. You think a smart girl like you can handle that?" Stunt man Eric Stoltz nodded, knowing this would be a tough gig. Any fire stunts were hazardous, and he was doing this one as a dog.
If only the public knew. The recent popularity of animal films had sparked a tremendous demand for trained animals. Except that there was a limit to what even the smartest animal could do. Most of the better animal 'stars' actually used several different doubles trained for specific types of tricks, and the process was unpredictable and expensive. As many as 10 collies had been used to portray Lassie at one time. But Sheba, the German Shepherd star of this movie, was the only real animal on the set.
It had seemed crazy when Sam, the animal handler for the studio first approached him about becoming Sheba's acting double. The Circe Treatment was brand new, and very expensive. Even now, the general public didn't know about it. The powers that be were understandably nervous about letting people know they could become anyone or anything they wanted to be with a simple injection.
It had taken a lot of reasons to get the 25 year-old stunt man to become a 5 year-old female German Shepherd. About $500,000 reasons, all safely deposited in his bank account. Not bad for two months of carefully supervised stunts. Thanks to the Humane Society, there was more attention paid to his safety than there was for the human actors. Still, he was glad this was the last day of shooting. They were going to change him back tonight and use the real dog for publicity tours and follow-up stuff.
Not that he minded being a dog that much. It had been real weird at first, getting used to walking on all fours, and all the different senses. At least he had a good teacher. They had been keeping him and Sheba in the same trailer, so no one would know there were actually two animals. Eric had found that after a few days, he was naturally responding and acting exactly like his roommate. The only difference was he understood human speech, and of course, he had his whole human knowledge to draw on.
Still, it was sorta fun sometimes to submerge himself into the animal personality, and romp with his twin sister. They were identical physically, and after Eric had played a few practical jokes, the handler put a red collar on Sheba so he could tell them apart. Sheba was a nice dog, and incredibly smart for an animal. He had no doubt that she could have been trained to do all of her own stunts, but it was faster and easier to use him instead.
"Ready?" The director raised his hand. "Action!" Eric crouched, and then ran to the burning car. Gripping the handle with his teeth, he tugged backwards to unlock the door and pull it open far enough to get in. Now for the safety belt. He pawed at the center button, which had been set up for easy release. As the buckle released, he grabbed the child carrier in his mouth, pulling the child carrier and the animated dummy in it to the specified location. "Cut!" There was a pause as everyone checked in to confirm a good shot. "That's a wrap, folks!"
Eric joined in the end-of-film cheer by barking and wagging his tail. Only the director and the animal handler knew the truth about his identity, so he didn't feel hurt that no one did more than pat his head and tell him what a smart girl he was. He'd have a lot to celebrate tonight, not the least of which was being able to eat something other than dog food for dinner.
Even with the film finished, they had to keep up the act. Besides, the Doctor wasn't coming back until dark. So Eric was taken to the trailer to wait while the others partied. Sheba was ready to play when he trotted in, and after a moment's consideration, Eric decided to have one last canine romp. They tore through the big trailer, knocking over pillows, barking and chasing each other for the rest of the afternoon. After his efforts during the filming, Eric finally flopped down on the big cushion that had been his bed for the past weeks. Sheba lay down next to him, panting happily, and watched as he relaxed and drifted off for a quick nap.
It was dark when he woke, but there were voices coming from outside the trailer. He recognized the handler and the doctor. It was time to become human again! Funny. Sheba wasn't here. Maybe she was back in one of the other rooms. Stretching, he trotted over to the door and waited expectantly. Why were they standing out there talking? He wanted to change back and go celebrate! A short bark got their attention.
"Looks like your roommate misses you already." That was the handler. Roommate? Was Sheba out there? That made sense. No point in having her around while the Doc worked on him.
"I.. miss.. her." Someone else's voice, oddly familiar, even though the speech was slurred and broken. "She.. be. No. Is... a good dog." Eric felt his hackles rising. No. It couldn't be.
"Don't worry about the speech and walking, Eric." That was the Doctor. "I expected you to have trouble getting used to being human again, especially after two months. You should be back to normal in a few days."
Eric? Who were they talking to? He barked frantically, and pawed at the door. He was Eric! They laughed outside at something. He caught part of it. "...fought it every time. Maybe she's ready now. We're gonna try, anyway." The handler again.
Grabbing the cloth curtain with his teeth, he tugged until the cheap metal rod popped free. Even with his slightly distorted vision, he could easily make out three humans. Doc and the handler, and a shaggy-haired young man with a very familiar face. Eric hadn't seen it in two months, but it belonged to him!
Stunned, he watched as the handler went over to the van and came back with a third match to Sheba. The counterfeit Eric leaned down and patted the beast. "I take.. to meet her? Could've been.. me." They all laughed, and the handler reached for the door. Eric braced to leap out and attack the fake.
And then the other dog's scent hit him. The animal scrambled up ahead of the phony, forcing Eric back into the room. What was wrong? His legs stiffened as the other Shepherd nosed his crotch and butt, and a powerful desire swept over him. He responded with an automatic nosing of the male's already swollen penis.
He wanted to tear himself away, but instincts were too strong. Helpless, he could only listen to his stolen voice speak quietly as his body acted out a canine mating ritual. "I pull off.. red thing. Meet them at.. door. Now you Sheba. And you be.. Stand in. Always."
The male picked that moment to mount him, and he yelped as he was penetrated. Sheba's personality, once so fun to submerge himself into, forced itself on him now, each thrust of the male more natural to him than the last.
He hadn't thought about how close her thoughts had been to his. Or even considered that a dog might want to change her lot in life. Worse, just as his mind was adjusting to her thoughts and instincts, she must be using his. And what she didn't get from him, she'd learn. She was a smart girl.
Stunt Double copyright 1996 by Bob Stein.
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