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As soon as she planted her feet on the curb, the sensation of doubt that had brewed in Rebecca’s stomach for the last thirteen hours finally solidified into something that strongly resembled regret.
“Pardon,” muttered a hunched shadow behind her. The word missed its target and careened wildly into the darkness.
The bus driver coughed impatiently.
“Oh,” Rebecca sputtered, realizing she was blocking the bus door. She side-stepped into a signpost and ricocheted a comfortable distance away. “Sorry.”
The driver stepped out of the empty bus and locked the door behind him, noticing that his only passenger was still lingering.
Supposing that her obvious anxiety was due to a family member being late to greet her at the station, he thought a little small-talk might calm her. “So, are you expecti--”
“Can you take me back?” Rebecca chirped.
The driver rolled his eyes, snorting to himself as he shuffled toward the town’s only diner. Rebecca hadn’t expected him to agree, nor did she know she would have done if his answer had been any different.
“Fuck,” she groaned as she plopped down on the nearest bench. “What am I doing?”
It was Sunday night. In just over twelve hours, she was supposed to be sitting down to take the first midterm of her final year in college. It wasn’t that she was unprepared; she was a good student with numerous opportunities waiting for her after graduation. When she got home Friday night after class, however, something happened that she still didn’t fully understand. A lingering feeling she had been trying to ignore for months had finally bubbled to the surface: She wasn’t ready to start her career, and she was pretty sure that even if she were, she didn’t want to be a scientist. There was no escaping or reversing her initially impulsive decision to come out to her aunt and uncle’s farm; she was dropping out.
She pulled out her phone, sighing as she navigated through her contact list to her aunt’s number. The call went straight to an answering machine without ringing. Shit. She had hoped to start with small-talk and gradually meander into the bad news.
The phone beeped.
“Uh, hi, Aunt Lindsey. It’s Becca. I guess you guys are having dinner. I, uh,” she shuffled the words in her mouth. Thirteen hours on the bus and she hadn’t even figured out how she’d break the news to them. “I can’t do it anymore. School. It’s too much. I left. I don’t...”
I can’t even give up correctly, she thought.
“Anyway, see you.” She hit the End key and pressed her palms against her burning cheeks.
She got up and started walking. The last time she had visited her aunt and uncle’s farm must have been a decade ago, but luckily the town was so small she couldn’t miss it. The mailbox and fence looked a little more worn than she remembered, but this was definitely the place.
She walked up the old wooden steps leading to the front door and remembered a day, many summers ago, when she had limped into the house with a broken ankle after failing to climb a tree. Her current circumstances felt oddly similar.
The front door was unlocked. She sighed and timidly pushed it open. “Aunt Lindsey? Uncle John?”
A fork scraped against a plate somewhere in the dining room.
“Hey guys, I tried calling, but--”
She rounded the corner and encountered a puzzled stranger.
“-- it went… to… voicemail.” Rebecca’s eyes darted around the room. The place looked packed up. Large, dusty sheets of cloth draped over the furniture, and most of everything else was precariously stacked in boxes.
“Who? Umm...” blurted the stranger.
“Their niece, ” Rebecca said, gesturing feebly at the boxes.
The woman’s shoulders relaxed. “Didn’t John tell you?”
“Tell me…” Rebecca was on the verge of panic. Of course she would flee to an abandoned house. How perfectly like her.
“John and Lindsey are on vacation in Italy for the next few months,” the woman said, adjusting her glasses.
“And you’re… the housesitter?”
The woman seemed confused at first, but social norms finally tapped her on the shoulder. “Of course. I apologize. I’m Dr. Elizabeth Cooper. I’m renting the farm from your aunt and uncle for an experiment while they’re gone.”
“Oh,” Rebecca felt a little relieved. She sat down in the chair across from Dr. Cooper. “Well, shit.”
“And your name?” Dr. Cooper finished the last bite of her salad with an underwhelmed wince.
“Right, sorry. I’m Rebecca. I just can’t believe this.”
“Did they forget to tell you they’d be gone?”
Rebecca sighed. “They didn’t know I was coming. I’m, uh, dropping out of college. I was hoping I could stay with them while I figure things out.” She placed her elbows on the table and massaged her temples. “Shit, shit, shit. I knew I should have called first.”
Dr. Cooper had trouble sympathizing with Rebecca; she couldn’t fathom abandoning her academic pursuits. Still, the girl looked like she was teetering toward panic.
“Well, there’s not much here,” she said. “But you can help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge, and I’ll make a bed for you upstairs. You’re welcome to stay as long as you don’t disrupt my research.”
“Of course. Thank you. I’m sorry if I’ve inconvenienced you. What are you researching, anyway?”
Dr. Cooper frowned. “It’s a bit hard to put into words. Advanced genetics. I’m actually on the verge of a breakthrough.”
“That’s exciting. Congratulations. I was actually a bio major until, uh…”
“Until you quit?”
“Right.” It still hadn’t fully sunk in; she was a dropout now. A fuck-up, as her father would undoubtedly soon dub her. She would never be a scientist. She tried not to tear up.
Dr. Cooper realized her recent isolation may have damaged her capacity for empathy. “Sorry. I don’t know the circumstances. It’s not fair of me to judge.”
“It’s fine,” Rebecca said, standing up and shuffling toward the stairs. “Good night.”
Dr. Cooper slowly rose and began to wash her dish in the kitchen sink. Her scrubbing was intermittently interrupted by an idea that was gradually taking shape.
Rebecca couldn’t remember a worse night. What little sleep she managed to get was haunted by spectres of all of her doubts and regrets. And spiders.
She sat up in bed, her eyes tightly shut, hoping that when she opened them, she would be back in her dorm room, that her idea to abandon three years of her bachelor’s degree with a strong GPA and several highly flattering summer internships was just another fading nightmare.
The sound of the back door slamming shut snapped her back into reality. Through the window, Rebecca could see Dr. Cooper walking toward a temporary structure she had set up close to the stables.
What kind of genetic research is she up to, Rebecca wondered. Was she testing something on the horses?
Rebecca’s stomach growled loudly. She realized the last time she had eaten anything was before she got on the bus.
The only thing in the fridge was bologna and mustard. Hunting through the pantry, she found only bread and basic canned foods. Beans, beans, string beans, peaches, beans.
“Ugh,” she pouted, not exactly sure of what she had hoped for. She made a disappointing sandwich.
As she choked down the last of the dubious-smelling bologna, Dr. Cooper entered through the back door. She walked up to the table and sat down awkwardly next to Rebecca.
“How would you like,” she said in a tone that she hoped would come across as mysterious and intriguing, “to help me with my next experiment?”
Rebecca tried not to smirk at Dr. Cooper’s awkwardness. “Me? I wouldn’t just get in the way?”
Dr. Cooper shook her head, looking down at the tablecloth. “It’s just basic lab work. An extra pair of hands would be useful at this stage.”
“Uh, sure! Just let me change my--”
A look of horror crept across Rebecca’s face.
“I didn’t bring a change of clothes. Or a toothbrush!” she sputtered. Her cheeks burned as a blush crept over her face.
“Tell you what,” Dr. Cooper said with a smile. “If you help me out today, I’ll go into town and pick up some things for you. Consider it your payment.”
Still embarrassed, Rebecca nodded, and they made their way out to the makeshift laboratory.
The first few hours of work were familiar to Rebecca. Clean these beakers, prepare this solution by mixing Compound A and Compound B, fill out the spreadsheet. She didn’t quite know that it was for; all of the labels and instructions were very vague.
Dr. Cooper was silent. It seemed as though her mind was preoccupied.
“Is everything okay, Dr. Cooper?” Rebecca asked as she finished the last item on the checklist.
“Please, call me Elizabeth. And yes, everything is fine. I’m afraid the next step might be a little unsettling, Rebecca.”
“Okay, Elizabeth. What’s going to happen?”
Elizabeth pulled the stopper off of one of the syringes Rebecca had prepared and grabbed a lab mouse out of its cage. “Perhaps it’s best if I just show you.”
She carefully plunged the syringe into the mouse’s thigh and slowly emptied the pale orange liquid into the creature, then placed it carefully back into its cage. “Now watch,” she said.
The mouse seemed disoriented, and it stumbled toward its food dish, which Rebecca at first thought had been accidentally overfilled. But as the mouse quickly began to devour the contents of the dish, it became clear to Rebecca that she was in for a surprise. The mouse tipped its dish over, seemingly looking for any spare scrap it might have overlooked, until it froze in place and began to tremble.
“Is that supposed to--” Rebecca muttered.
Elizabeth shushed her and pointed. The mouse squeaked as, with a series of sickening muted pops, its tail retracted into its body and its white fur fell out. Rebecca covered her gaping mouth in disbelief as the mouse slowly doubled in size.
Over an hour passed, but Rebecca would have been shocked if she were told it had been more than a minute. Patchy, light brown fur sprouted out of the bloated mouse. As the muffled sounds of popping joints and bones seemed to fade, Rebecca recognized the creature’s similarity to a childhood pet. “A guinea pig? You turned it into a guinea pig?”
Elizabeth looked at Rebecca and smiled, reaching into the cage. The new guinea pig squeaked softly and seemed to be dazed but no longer in pain. Elizabeth handed it over to Rebecca, who stared at it in bewilderment.
“That’s impossible,” she said, pushing up her glasses.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s possible; you just saw it yourself.”
It felt and looked real, but Rebecca couldn’t believe it. She didn’t know what to say. “You’re going to be famous.”
“Perhaps,” Elizabeth chuckled, and took the confused guinea pig away from her and placed it back into its cage. “I think that’s enough for today. Let’s go back to the house. You go take a shower while I drive into town and get those supplies I promised you.”
Rebecca emerged from the steaming bathroom wrapped in a towel just as Elizabeth returned with several bags.
“I forgot to ask your size, but I imagine these should fit. You look like you might be a size or two smaller than me,” Elizabeth said as she handed one of the bags to Rebecca. “There’s a toothbrush and assorted toiletries in there as well.”
Rebecca sighed with relief. “Thank you, Elizabeth.”
“Don’t mention it. I’ll fix up some dinner,” she said, gesturing to the bag in her other hand. “Take your time. We’ll eat whenever you’re ready.”
Rebecca nodded and took the bag to her room. The clothes were nothing fancy: plain t-shirts, jeans, sweat pants, and simple underwear, but they were a welcome gift. She got dressed, brushed her teeth, and brushed the knots out of her shoulder-length brown hair.
As Rebecca descended the stairs and slowly sauntered into the kitchen, Elizabeth spooned a final scoop of steaming red sauce onto a bowl of ravioli and gestured toward the table. Rebecca took a seat and smiled as Elizabeth placed the bowl in front of her before sitting down with her own meal.
“Thank you for this,” Rebecca said between mouthfuls. “It’s just what I needed.”
Elizabeth smiled, staring down at her plate.
The two of them finished their meals in silence.
Rebecca cleared her throat awkwardly. “Well,” she said. “Thank you again.”
As Rebecca started to get up, Elizabeth reached across the table and placed her hand on Rebecca’s. Rebecca sat back down.
“What is it?” Rebecca asked.
Elizabeth considered her words. “I have something I want to ask you, but I’m not sure where to start.”
“Do you need me to help you again in the laboratory tomorrow?”
Elizabeth looked down. “In a way.”
The room was silent. Rebecca was sure she could hear herself blinking. “I, uh, would be glad to help. What’s the next step?”
“A complicated one,” Elizabeth said. “What I showed you today is not a recent development; I’ve done it dozens of times. I’m ready to proceed to more… complex subjects.”
Elizabeth looked up at Rebecca in a way that made her meaning clear. “People? You want to test it on humans?” Rebecca whispered in disbelief and perhaps a small amount of indignation.
Elizabeth nodded. “But I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, that would be a sensitive subject. There’s no way such an experiment would get approval.”
Rebecca tried to wrap her mind around it. Sure it was impressive, but human testing? “Um, but...”
“But why humans?”
“I’m still months, if not years away from being able to target specific parts of the body or, more importantly, individual genes, but imagine the applications once I’m able to. I could take the genes that make certain species less susceptible to certain cancers and simply change a person’s genetic code to match the desired traits. Most diseases could be eradicated in a single generation!” Elizabeth was quivering with excitement.
“But how does changing a person into… whatever… help that?”
Elizabeth understood Rebecca’s growing apprehension. “Ah, of course. Simply because I need to know if this approach in its current simplistic version even works on humans before I potentially spend the next few years, if not the rest of my life, perfecting it to work with gene-specific targeting. Drugs are developed all the time that work perfectly on lab mice but don’t have the same effect when taken to human trials.”
Rebecca was beginning to understand, but not entirely. “I see. It would definitely be a waste to get it working on mice if it doesn’t even work on humans to begin with. Testing on humans now would let you know if it’s even worth trying.”
“Exactly.” Elizabeth snapped her fingers.
“So where are you going to get the test subjects we’re going to work with if…” Rebecca trailed off, as suddenly the final piece of the puzzle clicked into place. “Wait, me?”
Elizabeth nodded slowly. “I wouldn’t ask you to do it if you weren’t 100% on board, Rebecca.”
“That’s...” Rebecca sputtered incredulously. “There’s no way. I don’t want to be some animal!”
Elizabeth gestured to Rebecca to lower her voice. “It wouldn’t be permanent. I’ve done extensive testing on reversing the change. It’s simple. You’d be an animal for no more than two weeks.” Elizabeth paused, seeming to do a little math in her head. “Possibly even less depending on how quickly you recover. Think about it! You could be saving generations of people from illness, birth defects, allergies--”
“By turning into… into a fucking… No. You said it yourself: Sometimes things don’t work on humans like they do on lab mice. What if the change works but the reverse doesn’t? I’d be stuck as a… a…”
Elizabeth realized she hadn’t even mentioned what species she wanted to try. “A horse. It’s the most logical, given all the existing supplies and equipment here to properly care for you. And I promise, you won’t get stuck. I wouldn’t be proposing this if I wasn’t completely sure that in two weeks, you’d be back in your own skin.”
“But I… Not for two weeks. I have to…”
“My dear girl,” Elizabeth placed her hands on Rebecca’s trembling shoulders and leaned forward. “You’ve just dropped out of school, and you came out here because you need to figure things out. You have nowhere to be but here, thinking. So take a break from your life for two weeks. Take a break from being yourself, in the most literal way possible. It could give you exactly the perspective you need.”
Rebecca closed her eyes and breathed heavily, nearly sobbing.
Elizabeth continued, “If I’m wrong, you’ll just have to put up with an injection or two. If I’m right, you could be helping the entire human race.”
A tear drifted down Rebecca’s cheek as she opened her eyes and looked at Elizabeth. “I… I’ll think about it.”
“Take the night. Take all the time you need. As I said, we won’t do this if you’re not completely confident you want to. Get some sleep and we’ll talk in the morning.”
Without saying a word, Rebecca turned and went up to her room. She closed the door and sat on the edge of her bed, numbly staring out the window at the bright moon. After what must have been hours, a sound from outside brought her back into the present. She stood and walked over to the window, the night breeze softly relaxing her tense body.
Out by the stable, she saw the horses sleeping peacefully in their corral. Her aunt and uncle’s land was beautiful, especially when cloaked in the dark blue blanket of twilight. Maybe Elizabeth had a point; she did come here to escape. Although the experiment in question was a bit more of an escape than she had anticipated, she had to admit it had a certain appeal, assuming Elizabeth’s confidence in the chances of returning to humanity were well-founded.
Rebecca decided to sleep on it. She wasn’t seriously considering it, was she?
In the morning, Rebecca returned to the window and watched Elizabeth feed and groom the horses. There was a certain tenderness to the scene: Elizabeth carefully brushed one of the mares while the other two huddled together in the morning chill as the stallion looked on, quietly munching on oats. Elizabeth certainly wasn’t focusing on her experiments to the detriment of the farm’s well-being; she seemed to genuinely enjoy caring for the horses. Rebecca couldn’t help but imagine herself in their position. Could she do it for two whole weeks?
Sighing and shaking her head in disbelief, she decided she’d do it. “Elizabeth!” she called out the window. Elizabeth turned toward the house. “Let’s talk.”
Rebecca chewed her bacon thoughtfully as Elizabeth stared at her with a degree of tense desperation.
“You’re positive you can reverse it? Two weeks tops?” Rebecca said, swallowing.
“There’s always some minor final adjusting a subject’s body will make after the bulk of the changes have completed. It’s best to wait until those are done before attempting to reverse. It normally takes a mouse three days to adjust. I’d say a human… or I suppose I should say a horse… would take a week or two. Maybe three, depending on the variables.”
“But you’re sure you can reverse it.”
“Positive,” Elizabeth leaned forward. “I swear.”
Rebecca breathed in deeply. “My aunt and uncle have a stallion. I don’t want to… um…”
Elizabeth shook her head firmly. “No, of course not! That’s out of the question. He’ll be kept in his own area, as he is now. The mares will be going into heat before long, and your aunt and uncle specifically asked me to ensure they weren’t mated this year.”
Mated. Rebecca couldn’t help but think about it. Her years focusing on school rather than socializing meant she still had her virginity intact, and the last thing she wanted was to lose it to a beast. “You’d take extra care to make sure of that?”
“It would be unthinkable. We have no way of knowing what would happen if you were to become pregnant before changing back.”
“I could become…” Rebecca scowled in disgust.
“While you wouldn’t completely be a horse in every possible way, you would most certainly be fertile, yes. You could be bred, but that won’t happen.”
Rebecca shuttered at the thought of giving birth to an animal and forced her mind in a different direction. “Will I stay myself? Inside, I mean.”
“Your thoughts?” Elizabeth asked. “All of our test subjects retained their trained behaviors. I can’t say with certainty that nothing would change, but my hypothesis is that you’ll keep your consciousness throughout.”
“And when I come back, I’ll be the same?”
Elizabeth nodded. “There’s not a doubt in my mind, Rebecca.”
Rebecca bit her lip. She couldn’t believe what she was about to say. “Let’s do it,” she squeaked, as Elizabeth’s face lit up with joy.
As she stared down the massive needle that was about to be plunged into her exposed thigh, Rebecca began to have second thoughts. “How long will it take?” she said, breaking Elizabeth’s train of thought and forcing her to pull the syringe back.
“Only a few sec--”
“Not the injection.”
“Oh, of course, the change.” Elizabeth thought for a moment. “I’ve diluted the serum specifically to reduce the pain, which should cause the change to take,” she resumed aiming the needle, “three or four days.”
Rebecca’s breathing accelerated. “The pain?” She wiggled away from the needle, pulling her sweat pants back up around her waist and folding her arms.
Elizabeth sighed in frustration. “There’s no way around it, my dear. If I give you anything to reduce the pain, it could interact with the serum in an unexpected way. It will hurt at times, but it should come in bearable waves.”
Rebecca turned pale.
“Hey,” Elizabeth placed a hand on her shoulder. “You can do this.”
Taking a deep breath, Rebecca nodded and pulled the right side of her sweatpants down, exposing her hip and upper thigh again. Elizabeth swabbed the area with alcohol.
“Maybe I sh--oooooooooowww fuck!” Rebecca shouted as the needle met its target before she could stall any longer. Again she found herself reconsidering her decisions as she could feel the cold liquid slowly enter her bloodstream and tingle down to her toes and up into her pelvis. It was too late; this was happening. She winced as Elizabeth withdrew the needle with a slight jerk.
“Sorry,” Elizabeth said with a grin.
“At least it’s over,” Rebecca tried to chuckle as she started to pull up her pants, but Elizabeth grabbed her wrist.
“Not so fast, dear girl,” the doctor smiled and nodded at two more syringes sitting on the stool next to her.
Rebecca held her head in her hands and tried to focus on her breathing as she sat at the dining table waiting for Elizabeth to finish preparing their meal. The throbbing in her right thigh felt like a second, distant heartbeat, which thankfully seemed to be fading, although she wasn’t sure if that was more due to the increasing difficulty she was having staying focused.
She was slowly becoming aware of symptoms but wasn’t certain whether they were just her mind’s nervous anticipation of what was to come. Her palms were sweaty, her mouth felt dry no matter how much water she drank, and although she didn’t quite feel tired, she was having trouble concentrating. In fact, the world around her felt strangely far away and muffled. She shook her head to try to clear her thoughts.
“How do you feel?” Elizabeth asked as she began to serve dinner.
Rebecca groaned and rubbed her eyes. “Like shit. Could I have some more water?”
Elizabeth nudged the water pitcher a few inches closer to Rebecca.
“Oh,” Rebecca muttered. “Sorry, I didn’t--”
“You have every right to be distracted; that’s quite a chemical cocktail swimming through your body right now. It’s only natural that your immune system will try to fight it.”
The muscles in Rebecca’s thighs and calves, which had already felt more tense than she could ever remember, trembled softly. She tried to remain calm, placing one hand on her right thigh. Muscles and tendons flexed and spasmed under her fingertips. She was so mesmerized by the sensation, she barely managed to piece together her next sentence coherently. “How… How much is this going to… to hurt, again?” she asked.
Elizabeth considered her response. “Well, as I mentioned, I diluted the solution as much as I could while still guaranteeing it would be strong enough to overcome your immune system.”
Rebecca gasped as her thigh muscles tightened intensely for a brief moment, then relaxed. She ran her hands over her thighs. They felt a little numb, but they didn’t seem to be any different physically. Her eyes narrowed on Elizabeth’s. “How much?”
“It, uh, will probably still hurt quite a bit.”
Rebecca was losing her patience. “How much will this hurt?” she demanded, pausing briefly between every word.
Elizabeth sighed. “Your genetic code is being slowly rewired as we speak, Rebecca; it’s not going to be easy. Even with the diluted serum, it will still likely be the most painful experience of your life.”
What the fuck am I doing? screamed a previously silent and entirely rational voice in Rebecca’s head. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Why did this seem like a good idea? Stupid, stupid, stupid little girl.
Elizabeth could see that Rebecca was inching closer and closer toward panic. Her breathing rate increased, and her forehead glowed with a thin layer of sweat. “Hey,” Elizabeth said, placing a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. “It’s going to be okay. I’ll do everything I can to make you comfortable.”
Rebecca felt sick to her stomach. She was terrified about what the coming days had in store for her. And she’d have to do this again in reverse in a couple weeks? “I don’t suppose there’s any way to… uh…” she paused, hunching over slightly as she felt her abdominal muscles begin to quiver.
“To what?” Elizabeth asked.
“Uh… I…” Rebecca began to grunt softly, clutching at her stomach as her muscles locked in a painful flutter. She closed her eyes tightly and tried to remember to breathe.
Elizabeth rubbed Rebecca’s back, trying to comfort her as the spasms spread again to her thighs. “Shh, shh, it’ll pass,” she whispered. “It’ll pass. Just breathe.”
Tears rolled down Rebecca’s cheek as her muscles suddenly released, leaving her slightly dazed and gasping for air. “Stop it. Reverse it now. I can’t do this, Elizabeth! It’s too much!”
Elizabeth pursed her lips and slowly kneeled, softly wiping the tears from Rebecca’s face. “I wouldn’t recommend doing that,” she said sternly.
“Fucking do it!” Rebecca choked between sobs. “There’s no way I can do this, and then again when you reverse it. This was a mistake.”
“I’ve only tested reversing a change while it was in progress a handful of times, Rebecca. It’s not safe yet.”
“I don’t care!” Rebecca slapped Elizabeth’s hand away. “Do it! I don’t want to be a horse. I should never have left school. If I leave tomorrow morning, I can still make it to half my midterms… Maybe I can even--”
Elizabeth raised her voice. “It would take until tomorrow evening at the earliest to finish synthesizing the reversal serum! You’d already be well on your way.”
Rebecca’s eyes darted around as she ran scenarios through her head. She could still make it, even if she had to take all of her midterms with a late penalty. “Please, Elizabeth. I’m sorry, I just can’t. It’s okay if it’s later than I want, just don’t make me do this.”
I didn’t make you do a damned thing, you brat, Elizabeth thought. With a sigh, she closed her eyes and muttered, “I’ll see what I can do. If I work all night, maybe I can have it ready by lunchtime tomorrow.”
Rebecca smiled. Grabbing Elizabeth’s hand, she said with quivering voice, “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth groaned, shuffling to the back door.
As the door slammed shut, Rebecca sighed with relief and turned her attention to the bowl Elizabeth had placed on the table. Even with the intensifying feeling of nausea in her stomach, she was starving, and even though she normally preferred a little meat in her meals, she couldn’t deny that the huge salad before her seemed perfectly suited to her current craving. Before she realized it, the entire contents of the bowl had migrated to her stomach.
“Huh,” she said with an unexpected belch. She was still so hungry.
After eating an entire bag of carrots she found in the fridge, she decided it was time for bed. Her ankles and knees clicked and popped ominously as she slowly heaved her tense, aching body up the stairs.
As she reached her door, she could feel the muscles in her back tightening. She braced herself against the doorframe and arched her back as every muscle from the base of her skull down to her buttocks clenched in unison. She gasped in short, labored bursts as her quivering flesh slowly released, and a faint tingling sensation ran down her spine and out to the tip of every finger and toe.
Exhausted and drenched in sweat, Rebecca fumbled for the doorknob and was already half asleep by the time she clumsily climbed on top of her bed covers and curled up, a slight shiver creeping across her body as she drifted off into slumber.
Rebecca bolted upright in her bed. Was it morning already?
A songbird flew by her window, whistling cheerfully as Rebecca pulled herself out of bed and looked out the window. It must have been nearly noon. She couldn’t believe she slept so peacefully after all the pain she had felt before bed.
Suddenly it hit her: At least twelve hours must have passed. She managed to trip over half the furniture in the room before finally bumbling her way over to the mirror. Gazing at her face nervously, she didn’t immediately notice anything odd.
She brushed her brown hair over her right ear and found her first change. The top of her ear was definitely elongated, ending in a rounded tip with a faint trace of light brown fuzz. The stretching seemed to have taken a toll on her earlobes, as she noticed that her earrings were pressing uncomfortably against the side of her head.
Not so bad, she thought before turning her gaze down.
After timidly tugging her blue t-shirt off, she was afraid to open her eyes at first. Then with a deep breath, she took a peek. Relieved so far, she didn’t see anything unusual. Her nipples looked a little darker, and her breasts were slightly tender to the touch as she poked them with her… fingers.
Her eyes widened as she looked down at her hands. Half of her fingernails had fallen out, and the rest looked like they were barely clinging on. She carefully poked at one of her nails, and it slid off her finger cleanly.
“Ugh!” she grunted, turning to quickly shake the remaining nails off her hands when out of the corner of her eye, she saw something in the mirror: Her sweatpants didn’t look right.
“Shit, shit, shit,” she whispered as she could feel her heart rate increase. There was a small bump at the base of her spine. Slowly, she turned her butt toward the mirror and pulled down the top of her sweatpants.
A tapered nub about two inches long poked out just above her buttocks, the beginnings of a tail. With a feeling of dread, she tried to wiggle it. Thankfully, she failed.
Rebecca closed her eyes and tried to calm down. “It’s not that bad. Just a little… tail, and my ears, and I need to regrow my nails. It’s fine,” she said to herself. “Elizabeth said she’d be done by lunchtime. I’ll be back to normal before I know it.”
Just then, Rebecca squeaked in surprise as she felt her tail twitch. She quickly looked down and watched as it slowly gained girth and twitched again every time it seemed to form a new bone. Fine auburn hairs sprouted from the tip and within a few minutes, her little nub had grown to cascade just barely beneath her butt.
Although it was still small, the hair flowed in an unmistakably equine way, and as she attempted to grasp unfamiliar controls in her brain, the tail twitched in response.
“Holy shit,” she whispered before carefully stuffing her new appendage into her sweatpants. She pulled her shirt back on and began to pace nervously. What if Elizabeth couldn’t stop this? She didn’t want to be a horse, even if only temporarily.
Downstairs, the back door opened and closed, and Rebecca could hear Elizabeth kicking off her shoes. “Rebecca? Are you awake?” she called.
Rebecca opened her door and slowly started to climb down the stairs. Her toes felt very stiff, and she imagined herself tripping and breaking her neck and how Elizabeth would need to explain the horse woman to the police.
She awkwardly walked into the kitchen. Elizabeth was standing by the sink, drinking a glass of water. She looked tired as she casually looked over Rebecca’s body.
“Thank you for doing this,” Rebecca said softly, gazing down. “I, uh, have a tail.”
Elizabeth smiled sadly. Rebecca knew she was disappointed that this might be as far as the experiment would progress, but her mind was made up. She continued, “How’s it, um…”
“It should be ready,” Elizabeth said. “If you’re still sure.”
“I am. I can’t… I,” Rebecca could feel a slight shiver run across her body and was eager to proceed before any more changes started. “I just want to be myself. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”
“No,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head. “I understand. I asked too much of you. I’m frankly surprised you ever agreed in the first place.” She turned to a small container with three more huge syringes inside, pulled one out and removed the stopper. “Are you ready?”
Elizabeth took a deep breath and nodded. She pulled one side of her sweatpants down, exposing her upper thigh again. Elizabeth swabbed the area and cleanly delivered all three syringes. Rebecca whimpered as she pulled her sweatpants back up, excited to reverse the changes and get on with her life.
“Should it already be taking effect?” she asked.
Elizabeth washed her hands and replied, “It’s hard to say. Like I said, I’ve only applied the reversal serum mid-transformation a handful of times. Every test case worked; it’s just hard to predict how long it’ll take with so little data. Regardless, it should already be fighting the initial serum.”
Grinning from ear to ear, Rebecca hugged Elizabeth. “Thank you, thank you!”
“Don’t mention it,” Elizabeth chuckled, trying to wake herself up. “I suppose it’s lunchtime. Shall we?”
Rebecca nodded enthusiastically.
“I’m sorry it had to be salad again. I had planned to get you adjusted to a herbivorous diet,” Elizabeth said as the two of them finished the last of their lunches.
“It’s fine; the idea of eating meat still feels strangely unappealing,” Rebecca said, licking the juice from a tomato off her fork. “I can’t believe I had four full plates.”
“The appetite should pass soon. You’ll probably be back to craving hamburgers in a…” Elizabeth paused as Rebecca looked up at her. Hadn’t her eyes been blue before? “Uh, in a few days.”
Rebecca grimaced. “I guess. Right now they don’t sound appealing at all…”
Elizabeth didn’t hear Rebecca’s monologue about her normal food preferences compared to how she was feeling lately, as she was trying to look over Rebecca’s body without being obvious. Elizabeth had not known about the previous changes to Rebecca’s ears, but they had since elongated to the point that they poked out of her hair and sat noticeably higher on her head.
Elizabeth stood to take the plates to the sink, and as soon as she turned back around, she saw that Rebecca’s toenails had all fallen out over the course of lunch and were scattered across the floor. Trying to get a better look, she saw that Rebecca’s middle three toes on each foot were undeniably longer, and they seemed swollen between the metatarsals and the phalanges.
The second serum could just be taking a while to react, Elizabeth thought.
Rebecca’s story had trailed off as she became aware of a growing discomfort in her feet and ankles, and when she realized Elizabeth was staring at-- or perhaps examining-- her, she grew nervous.
“What is it?” Rebecca asked, shifting in her seat until her legs came into view. “Oh, fuck.”
“Ah!” she cried out as the bones in her right foot popped loudly and slowly grew in length. “No! why isn’t it stopping?”
“Calm down,” Elizabeth said. “It look time for the first serum to kick in. You can’t expect the reversal to be immediately effective.”
Rebecca whimpered in pain, lifting her foot into the air for a better view. The spaces between her middle three toes were filling in while her big and pinky toes seemed to be shrinking, and she could feel the horrible grinding sensation as the bones in her foot became less numerous.
“Ugh! No!” she cried as the pain faded from her right foot but quickly spread to her left. Within minutes, each of her feet was at least four inches longer and her middle toes had started to form one solid mass at each tip.
Carefully, she placed her feet flat on the floor, hoping she wouldn’t have to try to balance herself on the stubby tips of each foot to walk. It was difficult, almost like trying to walk in swimming flippers, but she managed to stand and take a few steps.
Elizabeth stared at her, afraid to draw attention to the fact that, as Rebecca balanced herself against the countertop, her tail was involuntarily twitching within the confines of her sweat pants.
Elizabeth removed her glasses and gently rubbed her eyes. After staying up all night preparing the reversal serum and now spending the last three hours reviewing her lab notes, carefully checking for any miscalculation she may have made on account of sleep deprivation, fatigue had firmly taken hold of her. She was confident that her numbers were right, at least in theory.
Rebecca stirred in her sleep on the living room couch as Elizabeth paced nervously in the dining room, notes in hand. The changes, at least on the surface level, appeared to have stopped for the time being.
The reversal serum has to be working, Elizabeth thought as she quickly skimmed her numbers again. Her body just didn’t have time to respond before the last set of changes started. Unless…
Elizabeth flipped a few pages back. She had diluted the original serum to the point that it was just barely effective enough to overpower Rebecca’s immune system. But the reversal serum hadn’t been diluted at all. Logically, it should have been fine for the reversal to be at its maximum potency, shouldn’t it?
“No,” Elizabeth muttered under her breath. The original serum might be weak enough that the reversal serum can’t detect it, she thought. Of course, she had no way of knowing for sure without observation, which she was sure she was about to get.
With a groan, Rebecca sat up on the couch. She looked exhausted. “What time is it?” she asked.
“You’ve been napping for a couple of hours,” Elizabeth said, checking her watch. “Nearly three.”
Rebecca gasped, frantically looking herself over.
“I kept an eye on you. I think the changes have stopped,” Elizabeth tried her best to sound confident. She hoped that she was right, but there was no way of knowing at this point.
“Stopped,” Rebecca echoed groggily. “I don’t want them to just stop; I want to go back to the way I was!”
Elizabeth sat next to Rebecca and placed a hand on her knee. “You will. I promise. You just need to be patient.”
Rebecca pouted. She knew it was irrational to expect that the reversal would be instant, but she was eager to get back to the life she had so recently tried to abandon.
“I’m trying,” Rebecca said. She looked down at the bulging masses at the ends of her feet and cringed. “What should we do while we wait?”
“I think it would be best to go out to the lab and take a blood sample. Just to see how things are progressing.”
Rebecca slumped her shoulders and sighed. “More needles?”
“Unless you’re busy with something else…”
“Ha ha,” Rebecca laughed sarcastically and rolled her eyes.
“I’m surprised there was anywhere left to poke,” Rebecca nervously remarked as Elizabeth withdrew the syringe from her arm and carried it to the microscope. “Can we have dinner when you’re done?”
“It’s only five o’clock,” Elizabeth said, placing a small droplet of blood on a glass slide.
Rebecca wriggled uncomfortably, realizing she was sitting on her tail. She bashfully leaned to one side and, reaching into her sweatpants from behind, pulled her tail out the top, leaving the waistband low on her hips to accommodate her appendage. “I know,” she said. “But my appetite hasn’t gone away yet.”
“All right. This should only take a moment.” Elizabeth turned on the light in the microscope and focused the lens. As her pupils adjusted to the brightness, she began her work. She could feel Rebecca’s worried eyes piercing a hole through her as she moved around through the blood sample, looking for bacteria from either the original or the reversal injections. Zooming in a little more, she found exactly what she had feared: Plenty of the original bacteria were still present, none of which seemed to be under attack by the reversal bacteria. Still, the original bacteria at least weren’t attaching themselves to Rebecca’s cells.
Elizabeth tried to suppress any physical reaction that might further worry Rebecca, who subconsciously flipped her tail in anticipation. “Well?”
Elizabeth leaned back from the microscope and shut off the light. “Things appear stable, but we’ll have to see what that means. We might just have to wait for both serums to become inactive and then inject another batch of the reversal serum.”
With an angry sigh, Rebecca looked away. Tears welled up in her eyes. What if there wasn’t a way to go back? Sure, the tail could be removed, but what about her feet? She might not walk normally ever again.
“Hey,” Elizabeth whispered, nudging Rebecca. “Let’s get some dinner and get our minds off of it for tonight.”
Rebecca looked down, her hair hanging over her face, and nodded.
She was quiet at dinner, in spite of Elizabeth’s attempts at striking up a conversation, and although she would have much preferred to go up to her room for the night, her hunger was still too strong to be overcome by grief and fear. After her third bowl, she quietly thanked Elizabeth and slowly made her way up the stairs, placing her elongated feet sideways on each step and tugging herself up with both hands on the banister. She flopped down on her bed and stared at the ceiling for hours, trying not to think, before finally drifting off to sleep.
Rebecca awoke early in the morning to the sound of the paddock gate opening and closing. She sat up and moved over to the edge of her bed closest to the window, gasping as she once again accidentally sat on her unfamiliar tail. Elizabeth had finished cleaning the enclosure of waste and was beginning to bring in the horses’ food.
Feeding horses and horse-girls all day and night, Rebecca thought, shaking her head. It’s a wonder she ever sleeps.
She stood up and shuffled toward the bathroom, her flowing tail still free from the prison of her sweatpants. As she spread toothpaste on her toothbrush, she thought about tucking her tail back in, but decided against it. As much as she hated seeing it, she hated feeling it against her leg even more.
Almost robotically, she brushed her teeth, glaring at her ears poking through her disheveled hair. I’d better not be stuck with you, she grumbled internally.
Leaning forward over the sink, she spat out the toothpaste and instantly froze. Red.
She looked up at the mirror and slowly opened her mouth. Her gums were swollen and bloody where they met her teeth.
“No…” she whispered and quickly cupped one palm and scooped a couple handfuls of water into her mouth, carefully swishing the water around from one cheek to another before spitting it back out. Something hard rattled around in the sink.
She nearly fainted as she looked down to see four of her teeth taunting her from the sink. She looked back at the mirror and tried not to panic as she opened her mouth and saw that most of her teeth were either barely hanging on or were at least twisted at a very unusual angle. In disbelief, she poked one of her upper incisors in her toothbrush and it moved with no resistance. Panic set in. She quickly scooped water into her mouth, feeling the rest of her teeth sliding free one by one until none remained.
Panting in horror, she looked at her swollen and aching gums. Were the changes starting again? Or was this just a side-effect? Maybe she had overdosed and was suffering symptoms like radiation poisoning. Was she dying?
Her breathing increased to the point that she felt light-headed and worried she might faint. Steadying herself on the countertop, she closed her eyes and tried to control her breathing. In… Out… In… Out… In...
She opened her eyes. Out… She opened her mouth again. In each little hole, a tiny white sliver had begun to poke out. She watched with dread as, over the course what felt like hours, each of her new teeth slowly emerged from her jaw, leaving a noticeable gap between her boxy new incisors and her molars. Her mouth ached as her teeth struggled to grow in such a crowded space, barely growing more than a quarter inch before they had to stop.
A shiver ran down her spine, causing her tail to flick up and down several times. On the verge of tears, she stumbled back to sit on the toilet seat cover, trying to compose herself. As the muscles in her legs began to tremble, she placed her hands on her thighs, trying to massage the discomfort out, but something was wrong: She couldn’t feel her fingers.
She looked down in a daze, turning her palms to face her. With some concentration, she managed to briefly bend her fingers about halfway, but she couldn’t separate them. Each knuckle was noticeably swollen, and she could feel a sharp pain growing in her metacarpals.
I have to get to Elizabeth, she thought as she stood with a wobble. Her elongated feet throbbed as she dragged them across the tile floor to the door. Fumbling with the doorknob, she realized her thumbs were now tightly curled against her palms. She pressed her hands against either side of the knob and jerked it several times before the door finally swung open.
She limped to the stairway and, with her numb and useless hands pressed against the banister, yelled downstairs with a quivering voice, “Elizabeth?”
There was no answer; she must have still been taking care of the horses. Rebecca slowly made her way down the stairs, one step at a time, pausing halfway to call out again, “Elizabeth? Help!”
Her feet became too tender to walk on, and she braced herself as best she could as her feet popped and cracked, growing another several inches. She grunted loudly as the lump her middle three toes had merged into started to grow, and a newly formed joint allowed her to pivot the mass forward and backward. Desperate to reach Elizabeth, she tried to apply weight to it, but the naked hoof was too tender on its own.
She carefully crouched down onto her butt and slid the rest of the way down the stairs as she heard Elizabeth enter through the back door. “Elizabeth!” she screamed.
Rebecca was lying on her back on a makeshift examination table back in the lab, sniffling quietly as Elizabeth inspected her feet. A hard coating had begun to form around the tips of each foot, slowly finalizing her back hooves. Her thighs and calves were still mostly human, although there was some swelling around the upper thigh and buttocks.
As Rebecca’s hooves thickened, turning a dark brown color, Elizabeth took another blood sample.
“Can’t you just,” Rebecca paused and winced as the joints above her hooves popped, allowing her a little more flexibility. “Just give me another reversal shot?”
Elizabeth sighed as she prepared the blood slide for the microscope. “It didn’t work before, Rebecca, I doubt another one would do anything more than just delay the change another few hours.”
She focused the lens and frowned. There was no trace of the reversal serum left, but the original serum was just as strong as before. “You’re not going to like this, but it might be best to wait for the changes to finish before we try again.”
Rebecca grunted, feeling the metacarpals in her hands slowly begin to merge and elongate. She tried to turn her palms toward her but found that her wrists were too stiff to rotate. Strong muscles that had formed in her back and the sides of her chest started to tug her shoulder blades farther apart until they met resistance. She arched her lower back and cried out in agony as her shoulders started to give, popping loudly under the pressure from her powerful torso muscles. Each shoulder blade was pulled around the to the sides of her ribcage before snapping firmly into place.
Rebecca flailed her hands in the air, trying to feel what was happening to her upper arms, but their range of motion was now significantly restricted. Rather than operating like a familiar ball joint, her shoulders were now limited to a single axis.
Rebecca gasped for air, nearly oblivious to Elizabeth’s attempts to comfort her, as the changes seemed to slow. With some assistance, she managed to sit up, her arms dangling awkwardly at the sides of her torso.
“Stay there one second,” Elizabeth said, rushing out the door facing the stables.
After five minutes, she returned and helped Rebecca to her feet. She could no longer attempt to walk flat-footed, but she managed to hobble awkwardly on her back hooves.
“I must look like such a freak,” Rebecca sniffled.
Elizabeth shushed her and led her to the corner stable, where she had set up a cot.
Rebecca shook her head. “What is this? I’m not sleeping out here!”
“I know you don’t want to, Rebecca, but it’s not safe for you in the house anymore.”
Rebecca knew she was right, but the idea made the crushing reality of her situation all the more final: There was no turning back anymore. She was going to spend at least a few days as a horse. She walked over to the cot and carefully sat down on it. “Fine,” she muttered.
“And while we’re on the subject of uncomfortable adjustments,” Elizabeth said, kneeling in front of Rebecca. “I need to remove your clothes.”
“Fuck. No,” Rebecca flatly replied.
“Do you want to get strangled by your own shirt during your next growth spurt? This isn’t negotiable; either you remove them now, or I’ll remove them for you.”
Rebecca tried to fold her arms, but it just came across as a clumsy series of waves.
“Well?” Elizabeth said, losing her patience.
With a sniff, Rebecca looked away and said, “Do what you need to.”
Elizabeth went back to the lab and returned with a pair of scissors, knowing there was no way Rebecca’s t-shirt was coming off the normal way. She quickly sliced a line up the back of the shirt and tugged it off, noting that Rebecca’s hairline now trailed down the back of her neck. She had not been wearing a bra, and they could both now see that her nipples had turned a light brown color.
Embarrassed, Rebecca stood, trying her best to cover her breasts as Elizabeth grabbed onto the waistband of her sweatpants. The pants were a little snug when she had first put them on as a full human, and now that her hips were a little wider, they required a little effort to tug them down her thighs. Rebecca looked away as her genitals were exposed.
Realizing she would have to get used to being naked sooner or later, she lowered her misshapen arms to her sides and Elizabeth pulled the sweatpants down to her hooves and asked her to step out of them. Her tail tickled the backs of her thighs as she did so, and she tried to flick it away from her in response.
They stood in silence for a moment, neither sure of what to say.
After several deep breaths, Rebecca asked, “How long will I have to stay a horse before you can change me back?”
“As soon as the original serum leaves your system,” Elizabeth replied. “I promise I won’t wait a minute longer.”
Tears welled up in Rebecca’s eyes. “How long?”
Elizabeth paused. “I would guess a week at the shortest.”
A week as a horse. She tried not to cry.
“Hey,” Elizabeth tried to change the subject. “How about I bring you lunch?”
“I guess,” she replied.
Elizabeth brought Rebecca an assortment of raw vegetables and sat on the cot beside her as she fed them to her by hand. Rebecca might have protested, but she was finding eating with her new teeth was awkward enough that it demanded her full attention. It took some time to adjust to the gap between her incisors and molars, none of which had fully grown in yet.
When Rebecca had finished eating, Elizabeth got up and said, “I’ll leave you alone for now. If you need me, I’ll just be in the lab tidying up. Call to me if you need anything at all.”
She picked up the remains of Rebecca’s clothes and left.
Rebecca stood on her back hooves and looked down at her naked body, noting that her breasts had shrunk and migrated a few inches down her torso during her meal. She still had her feminine curves, her neck and head were mostly the same, and her upper legs and pelvis were more human than equine, but she suspected that it wouldn’t be long before that changed.
She walked carefully over to the wall and looked through the cracks between the wooden planks. She could see the three mares enjoying the afternoon breeze as the stallion trotted around his separate enclosure. God, I’m going to be just like them soon, she thought.
Her stomach gurgled as a chill rippled across her skin. She steadied herself on her fingers, which had merged up to the first knuckle, and looked down. Her breasts had made it to her belly, and she could feel the unpleasant sensation of her organs twisting and shifting into new shapes. Her lungs swelled with each new breath, barely contained by her human ribcage.
She felt as though she was constantly out of breath, gasping deeply until, with a sickening pop, her ribcage barreled out in three separate thrusts. Her heartbeat pounded in her head as her arteries gradually opened up, becoming wider in preparation for her more equine frame.
Her breath wavered in muffled chokes as each of the vertebrae in her neck individually expanded, increasing the distance between her head and torso by several inches.
“Ughh-huh-huh,” she moaned, feeling a pressure building in her sinus and lower jaw. She threw back her head, groaning loudly as her face began to push forward. For all the pain in each thrust, the ultimate change was not as severe as it felt. The muscles at the back of her lower jaw had swelled considerably, but her new muzzle had only grown by at most two inches.
Her ears, now in their final position on top of her head, swiveled to the stable entrance as Elizabeth entered. Rebecca stumbled back away from the wall, struggling at first to stay upright, but she managed to maintain her balance. She turned toward Elizabeth, who watched as her breasts shrank and finished moving to the area just above her groin.
The tips of her fingers were swollen and began to form the same bony mass that her toes had formed the day before. Her neck swelled with new muscles as it continued to elongate with several soft snaps. Elizabeth started to walk in.
“Stay away from me!” Rebecca cried.
“I just want to be alone,” Rebecca sobbed. “Just leave me alone! You can poke and prod all you want when this is over, but until then I just want to be by myself!”
Elizabeth hesitated for a moment, but then returned to the lab as Rebecca sat down on the cot and cried.
Elizabeth slept in the lab that night, just in case Rebecca had a change of heart, but she would respect her wishes.
Inside the stable, Rebecca grunted uncomfortably for most of the evening, trying to find a position where something sore or tender wasn’t being jabbed by the cot’s metallic frame. After a few hours, she gave up and kicked the cot aside and laid down in a pile of straw in the corner. It was humiliating, but at least she finally drifted off to sleep.
She awoke in the early morning, her entire body aching from a night on the cold, hard ground. She stood up on her back legs, still able to maintain a slouched human stance and took stock of her changes.
She could see more of her face stretched out before her, and indeed her jaw had grown several inches in the night. She looked down. Her legs were the same, although her hips were slightly wider and her breasts had become dark mare’s teats. She tried to maneuver her hands into view, and the bony masses from the night before were well on their way to becoming front hooves.
She wondered about her voice. Bashfully, she muttered, “Hello.” The tone was a little deeper, and her tongue struggled to form the “L” sound, but she could apparently still talk.
Realizing she was incredibly thirsty, she looked around the room, finding a small trough full of clean water in the corner. Elizabeth must have filled it in the night while she slept. Rebecca felt badly for snapping at her, but she didn’t know how else to vent her frustration with the situation.
Crouching down carefully on her knees and sensitive front hooves, she leaned into the trough and drank in labored slurps. The strain was uncomfortable on her back, and she could only get a few gulps down before she had to stand back up.
The discomfort didn’t pass, however. She paced around the room, grunting as muscles in her hips and lower back locked up and spasmed. There was intense pressure in her pelvis that, just when it seemed unbearable, was finally relieved with a sickening pop. In slow motion, Rebecca’s relief turned into terror as she realized she was falling forward. She tried to lean back to retain her balance, but it was too late: Her pelvis snapped several more times as it reshaped to lock her legs in a quadrupedal stance.
Her front hooves hit the floor with a disheartening “Clop!”
“Ugh!” she grunted as the joints in her arms and legs adjusted to the new weight. She tried walking her front hooves up the wall to get back upright, but the brief few seconds she could maintain her human stance were too uncomfortable.
She became dazed when, as her neck finished lengthening, her skull snapped forward at a more appropriate angle. Her face continued to push forward, forcing her dilated eyes apart. As she moaned with each thrust of her increasingly equine face, her voice gradually shifted in pitch and became more shrill.
Spasms rippled down her spine as her muzzle grew long enough for her teeth to finish pushing through their gummy prisons, and all of the muscles in her body took turns rippling.
“Horrp!” Rebecca cried, shaking her head in horror as she discovered her difficulty with speech. “Hurr! Hurr-ur! Hurrlp!”
Once more, she took a deep breath and tried to wrap her equine mouth around the word, but a bashful whinny was all she could muster. Frightened, she stumbled around her enclosure in a clumsy trot, knocking over her trough as she tried to get Elizabeth’s attention. The characteristic clopping of her hooves against the stable floor rang in her ears like an alarm signalling her body’s surrender.
Her bones and joints popped and cracked as the final changes sank in and, suddenly, the pain left.
Oh God, I’m a horse, she thought, looking herself over. Her tail flicked behind her. I’m a fucking horse. Oh God, oh fuck.
She reared up in panic and whinnied as loud as she could as she could hear Elizabeth stumble into the stable, half-asleep.
“Oh my… Rebecca?”
Rebecca snorted and nodded her head. Elizabeth slowly opened the gate to the enclosure.
“Stay calm,” she said, shushing her as she placed a hand on Rebecca’s muzzle, stroking her affectionately as she looked her over.
Rebecca was a little skinny and small, and her skin was still completely smooth and peach-colored, but she was by all other accounts a healthy young mare, and she would undoubtedly fill out her new body well if given the time.
Still trying to talk, Rebecca snorted and nickered at Elizabeth, shaking her head in frustration.
“Relax,” Elizabeth said sternly, stroking her side and patting her rear. Rebecca was uncomfortable with the idea of a relative stranger patting her naked ass, but she had a lot more on her mind at the moment.
“I’m sure you’re trying to tell me to change you back now,” Elizabeth said.
Rebecca did her best to nod her head.
“I will once we can determine that the serum is fully gone. I need you to wait until lunch, and we’ll start taking blood tests every meal of every day until we get the results we need. Until then, I need you to stay here and get adjusted to this body. Once you’re comfortable, I’ll let you out into the enclosure with the other mares for some exercise and sunshine.”
Other mares, Rebecca repeated in her mind, trying to snort in the angriest way she could.
“Hey,” Elizabeth glared. “Don’t flatter yourself, my dear. Until we fix this, you need to get used to the fact that while your consciousness is human, you are a horse for the time being. That includes eating what I say you eat, exercising when I say you exercise, and letting me groom you properly.”
Rebecca hanged her head. She hoped the first blood sample would be the only one they needed.
Rebecca finished eating the last of her lunch out of the trough and looked over at Elizabeth expectantly.
“All right, all right, ready?”
Rebecca let out a short whinny and nodded her head. Elizabeth sank the needle into her thick thigh and extracted a sample, then quickly took it into the lab. The wait was an eternity.
Elizabeth reentered the stables and shook her head. Rebecca’s stomach sank.
“I’m sorry, but like I said, it’ll take at least a few days for the serum to fade away. Until then you’ll have to be patient.”
Rebecca could no longer cry, but she wanted to.
“How about in the meantime, we introduce you to your neighbors?”
Rebecca didn’t protest, and followed Elizabeth cautiously, still unsure of the right way to move her new body, out into the mares’ enclosure. She walked past the open gate and stood awkwardly in front of the three mares, almost wondering if they would start talking to her in some hidden horse language she had just learned.
Of course, no such thing happened, and they merely walked up to her and gave her a few sniffs and a nudge with their noses, and they were satisfied with their introduction.
“I’ll be back to check on you later, Rebecca,” Elizabeth said as she locked the gate and walked back toward the lab. She paused suddenly and chuckled to herself. “Haha! ‘Neighbors!’”
Dork, Rebecca thought, walking to the shade of a nearby tree. Her skin was still bare and human-like, and the last thing she needed upon returning to humanity was melanoma. Gradually over the course of the afternoon, a thin layer of fur grew across her body as her skin thickened and turned a rich light brown, with patches of pure white on her right eye, her left butt cheek, and on the lower parts of her back legs.
That evening after dinner, Elizabeth had more of the same news; the serum was at the same levels. She wasn’t sure how to sleep that night. She had seen horses sleep standing, and she had seen them sleep lying down, but she didn’t know which was right. She tried standing, and managed to sleep relatively soundly until morning.
The days started to feel shorter as they passed. She gradually stopped waking up wondering why she was naked in a field, she stopped imagining eating human food as she chomped on her usual breakfast of dry oats, and she found herself thinking about things other than becoming human again. It wasn’t that she no longer cared if she got her body back; she just couldn’t bear the waiting and had to distract herself.
She ran around her enclosure, trying her best to distract her mind until the next meal, but she became accustomed to the news. Elizabeth stopped making an event out of notifying Rebecca of the blood results, and even began testing only in the mornings to spare Rebecca the discomfort of another needle.
As Rebecca finished her breakfast, she looked at Elizabeth with muted optimism, twisting her head to the side and snorting.
“Same story, I’m afraid,” Elizabeth said, rubbing Rebecca’s snout.
With a sigh, Rebecca turned away and calmly walked away toward the other mares, trying to come up with another task to pass the day. She tried to figure out how long it had been, but the days were starting to blend together. She guessed it must have been just over ten days.
As Rebecca stood with the other mares, Elizabeth couldn’t help but note that Rebecca’s previously short, skinny frame had quickly filled out to the point that she was almost as big as the other horses. Elizabeth didn’t want to point it out to her, but Rebecca already knew, although she had tried her best to not dwell on the fact that there was at last nothing of her former physical self left.
There’s got to be something you guys do for fun, Rebecca griped to her stablemates. Naturally, they didn’t respond.
She flicked a fly away from her ass with her tail, looking around her enclosure in absolute boredom. Without fully realizing it, her eyes followed a set of sturdy hooves clomping hard against the grass, leading up to strong legs rippling in the soft morning sunlight, and a firm--
What the fuck? Rebecca shook her head as she realized she was ogling the stallion’s ass, trying to catch a peek at his manhood as he trotted around his enclosure. Ew, no way.
Rebecca turned and galloped back toward the trough to get a gulp of water, trying desperately to clear the images from her head.
Come on, she thought. Calculus. Trig. Macro-economics. Biology.
She turned back to catch a guilty glimpse. The stallion was standing close to the fence, staring right at her. Her eyes drifted across his strong features, feeling excitement building up in her gut as she realized the attraction was mutual.
Goddamnit, Rebecca, she shouted internally, looking away abruptly. She was extremely aware of a growing tingling sensation in her crotch, a pressure that made it impossible for her to think of anything but the stallion.
She snorted, forcing herself to walk out of sight of the other horses. Other horses, she scoffed at the thought. You’re not a damn horse, Rebecca; you’re human.
She breathed heavily, trying to calm herself down. She thought about human men and how she used to feel about any of the crushes she had back at school, but that only frustrated her, and her mind quickly raced back to thoughts of a warm body pressed firmly against her back, forearms tightly gripping her sides as her mate entered her aching pussy.
Elizabeth, you’d better figure this out soon.
Rebecca gained some control over her libido over the passing days, although there were times she half-hoped the stallion would jump the fence just so she could end her curiosity.
Elizabeth stroked Rebecca’s snout during breakfast, humming softly. She seemed like she had something on her mind.
“I’m sorry you have to go through this Rebecca,” she said quietly. “I really thought it would last no more than two weeks, and you wouldn’t have to deal with going through estrus.”
Estrus? Rebecca repeated in her head. Of course! She had been so preoccupied with trying to control herself that she had completely failed to realize that the other mares rarely left the part of their enclosure closest to the stallion; they were all in heat. Wait, more than two weeks?
Elizabeth noticed Rebecca pause and look at her quizzically. “It’s been almost a month, but the good news is that the levels of serum in your blood are declining rapidly. I think we’ll be able to try the reversal serum tomorrow.”
Rebecca lost it. Tomorrow? I’ll be a girl again? She was sure horses couldn’t dance, but she did her best, nearly tripping over herself.
Elizabeth laughed. “Calm down! You’ll hurt yourself.”
Rebecca trotted back over to her happily.
Stroking Rebecca’s neck, Elizabeth continued, “I’m just going to have to go into town for some more supplies. I didn’t expect this experiment to go on so long, so I’m afraid I’m not entirely prepared. I should be back tomorrow morning, but I’ll leave some extra food out in case I’m delayed.”
Rebecca nodded with a snort as Elizabeth turned and walked away. One more day, she thought.
The minutes dripped by slower than Rebecca could remember. She soon gave up resisting her lusty gawking at the stallion.
What’s the harm in looking? she thought. I might as well enjoy my last day as a horse.
She stepped forward, toward the fence, and sniffed at her male companion. Ugh, he even smells amazing.
She imagined his seed firing deep into her burning pussy, filling her up and dribbling down her inner thigh. She fantasized about his hot breath on the back of her neck, his heaving chest pressed against her, her body quivering beneath him.
The other mares whinnied with frustration; they wanted to be with him just as badly.
He’s all yours, ladies, she chuckled to herself. I’m just a window shopper.
Rebecca munched on a little dinner as the sun began to set, and she contentedly snuggled up against the mares and went to sleep.
For the first time in weeks, she dreamed she was human. She was dancing on a pier, telling her former teachers about a spur-of-the-moment decision to tour the Alps. Her friends were there, smiling at her silently. They have no idea I was a horse, she thought.
They laughed and said, “Certainly not.”
She laughed with them, spinning dramatically in a way she never would have been able to accomplish in reality. Abraham Lincoln wandered around the party, offering the guests balloons filled with bees. Nobody seemed to want one.
“I’ll take one, Mister Lincoln!” Rebecca squealed.
Mr. Lincoln opened his arms and blew gently against the balloons, causing them to slowly drift in Rebecca’s direction. The music slowed, dropping in key. Her guests groaned deeply.
“What’s wrong?” she asked as the balloons gently landed at her feet.
Almost in response, each balloon exploded in unison. Billions of bees, buzzing like chainsaws, quickly flowed over the edge of the pier and into the ocean. She could feel them between her toes and looked down to see them burrowing into her legs and stomach.
She awoke suddenly. What the--?
It was morning. Eagerly, she trotted over to the part of her enclosure closest to the house and looked for Elizabeth’s car.
Be patient, she told herself and fetched her breakfast.
Rebecca again indulged her animalistic urges and stood as close to the stallion’s enclosure as she could get. He had definitely taken an interest in her, a fact she wished she could rub in the other mares’ faces, and he stood within feet of her, pressed against his side of the fence.
She decided it might be fun to tease him. You’re really gonna miss out, buddy, she thought as she spun around and pressed her ass against the fence. There was no way he’d be able to mount her from there, but he certainly had a full view of her beckoning vagina as she lifted her tail for him.
This is just mean. Poor guy’s head might explo-ooooh God! she groaned as a feeling of tender pleasure rushed through her sex. She turned her head and could see the stallion straining to force his head through the fence as he softly licked her vagina.
Bashfully, she paused for a moment. She should just walk away before she drove herself mad.
But maybe, she grunted, just a little fun might calm me down.
Cautiously, she leaned back, making it easier for him to have full access to her pussy. He clumsily lapped at her equine labia and around her clitoris, sending shivers up her spine.
Why does this fucking fence have to be here? she thought as she pressed her sex against the fence as hard as she could. Her juices dripped down her quivering legs and onto the ground as she yearned to escalate the intimacy between the stallion and her.
Her joints ached as they were locked in foreplay throughout the day. She rolled her eyes back in ecstasy and gazed into the dim sky.
Dim sky?! she shrieked internally. She had more than lost track of time; the entire day had somehow passed. Realizing she had just spent hours upon hours being one step away from fucking a horse, she reeled in revulsion at herself.
Pulling away from the fence, much to the stallion’s frustration, she stumbled across the field toward the house. Where was Elizabeth? Shouldn’t she be back by now?
She paced nervously into the night, barely sleeping until the dawn.
Another day of mounting anxiety passed, and Rebecca could feel the panic rising in her chest. Had something happened? Did Elizabeth abandon her? What the fuck is going on?
Anxiety turned into despair as yet another day passed and the sun slipped below the horizon. Rebecca was starting to consider her options as she finally heard a car door slam.
Elizabeth? Elizabeth! Rebecca trotted over toward the house. She was overcome with relief as she saw a figure round the corner and approach, until she saw a second figure following shortly behind.
The figures walked slowly toward the fence, seemingly weary from their car ride, and they eventually got close enough for Rebecca to recognize them. A-aunt Lindsey? Uncle John?
Rebecca was in a daze. Her aunt and uncle had briefly looked their horses over before walking into the house for the night. Why were they back? They weren’t supposed to be home for another couple of months, according to Elizabeth. And where the hell was she?
Rebecca couldn’t sleep. She paced around her enclosure, annoying the other horses to no end until the morning feeding finally came.
Her aunt and uncle walked out the back door, talking quietly to themselves as they looked over Elizabeth’s temporary lab.
“We’ll finish our trip some day, Linds,” John said.
Lindsey shook her head. “We had a great time with what we had, dear. It’s just so sad. Will she ever walk again?”
“The accident was pretty awful from what Doc Harrison said. Car crushed up like a soda can. It’s a wonder she survived at all.”
Lindsey poked through the lab, opening one of the windows to talk to her husband. “I don’t know what I’m looking at in here. Was she done with her research?”
John shrugged. “Who knows? All I know is she said she’d take care of the horses while we were gone, and she’d leave when we got back. Well, we’re back, and I take it that extra mare over there is the payment she promised.”
Lindsey exited the lab and walked over to Rebecca, who was staring at them in disbelief, simultaneously hoping that they did and didn’t recognize her. “She’s just gorgeous, isn’t she?” Lindsey smiled as she patted Rebecca on the neck.
“Yup.” John nodded. “Shame we won’t get to know her.”
“Oh, do we have to, John?”
“Now, Lindsey, this vacation was our pre-retirement celebration, no exceptions,” John lectured. “The other mares are going to Al, and this one and the stud are going to Lenny.”
Lindsey smiled as she and John walked back to the house. “Oh, I wish I could see it. They’ll make such cute little foals.”
Lenny? Foals? Rebecca’s breathing quickened. Th-they’re selling me? What the hell is going on?
Rebecca became overcome with panic. This couldn’t be happening. Elizabeth had to tell them her research wasn’t done, that the extra horse wasn’t a gift to be sold as some stallion’s fuck-toy.
She paced around the paddock, unsure of what to do. If she tried to escape, she might never find Elizabeth. If she stayed, she might get bred before Elizabeth could do anything.
Oh God, oh God, Rebecca thought to herself.
A man came that afternoon to take the other mares away, and soon after, another came to inspect the stallion, and then Rebecca. Do I make a fuss so he doesn’t want me? But what if Uncle John sells me to someone worse?
Before she could decide what to do, the inspection was over.
“Hoo! She’s achin’ for it, eh?” the man said with a revolting snort.
Aunt Lindsey cleared her throat and excused herself inside. John did not seem amused.
“Yes, she’s ready to go, so to speak. You buying them or not, Len?” he asked.
The man seemed disappointed. “Yeah, I’ll take ‘em, shit.”
He took out his wallet and flipped through a number of bills before handing them over to Rebecca’s uncle.
In a daze, Rebecca was led out of her enclosure and around the front of the house, where two trucks awaited, each with a horse carrier hitched to the back. She nervously tried to protest, whinnying and rearing up before one of the stable hands took a moment to calm her. She tried to back up, but it was useless; she was eventually loaded into the carrier and locked in.
The drive felt like it took hours, but Rebecca finally was backed out of the carrier, her weary legs eager for a stretch.
As the stable hands led her to a brand new paddock, she couldn’t take it. I’ve got to get out of here, she thought. With a loud whinny, she pulled away from the men, but these were no amateurs; they were prepared for such a maneuver and responded by tightening her restraints until they got her securely in her enclosure.
She frantically ran along the length of her fence, trying to find any point where she might be able to jump over. In desperation, she threw herself against the gate, but only succeeded in tiring herself out.
The stallion was loaded into the enclosure next to hers. The only thing that separated them was a thick metallic gate. Oh shit, I’m trapped here. No, no, no!
She backed as far away from the gate as she could. No matter what happened, she wasn’t going to let them turn her into some broodmare.
She waited until the stallion wandered out of sight as night fell until she finally let her guard down and tried to get a little rest.
Rebecca did her best to delay her new owner’s plans for her. Every morning, he would send some of his stable hands to determine whether her mood had improved, and she would reassert that she was not a happy horse, but she knew she couldn’t keep it up forever. She could feel her will slowly draining. What was the point? If she was stuck like this, was she just going to get herself sold over and over again?
She grew more docile, and the stable hands seemed pleased with her. They knew she wouldn’t be in heat much longer, and they wanted to take advantage of it while they could.
One of the stable hands walked over to the gate and let out a loud whistle, which jolted Rebecca out of her introspective daze. Her eyes narrowed on the gate hinge as it swung open, sending a rush of excitement and terror through her gut.
The stallion gleefully stomped into her enclosure and sniffed in her direction as the stable hands left them to their business. When the stallion approached, she timidly backed away, unable to take her eyes off his growing erection.
No way. There’s no way that would even fit inside me.
She slipped by him and ran over by the open gate to his enclosure, looking back at him as he followed closely. Her legs quivered as she slowed down, enjoying the sensation of his nose nudging her flesh. This is what she had been craving for weeks: contact.
She shivered as he pressed his nose against her crotch and breathed in deeply, not even noticing that she had raised her tail for him.
Just a little, she thought. Just a little attention, and that’s it. We won’t go all the way.
A familiar jolt of pleasure filled her sex as her mate licked her most intimate place. Her muscles relaxed as waves of warmth flowed through her. Her breathing quickened and she looked back in a daze as he briefly pulled away.
With a hop, he was on her back. She could feel his bulging penis awkwardly poking around her back end, trying to find its mark, and she gasped as the tip of his cock finally found her wet opening.
Her eyes fluttered as he slowly worked the head inside her, stretching her burning virgin folds. Just for a minute, then I’ll pull away. Just for a... Oh!
He pushed forward, tearing her hymen as he entered her completely and slowly began to work his penis into a rhythm, pistoning in and out of her, and she couldn’t deny the satisfaction in scratching such a primal itch: the intimacy, the sense of fulfillment and completion, the imperative to procreate. As her vagina tightly gripped the length of his member, she felt connected to him. She could feel his heartbeat, his warmth, his power as he thrust into her as far as he could go.
Oh God! Fuck! Uh! she screamed in her mind. The sensation gradually intensified as minutes passed. She knew she should stop. As much as she desperately wanted his seed inside her womb, she couldn’t allow it. Just a little longer. After all the bullshit she had been put through, she needed to enjoy just this one moment of pure bliss.
His cock slipped out of her and rubbed clumsily against her belly. With a little disappointment, she realized this was as good a moment as any. She took several steps forward, and her lover dropped down and began nuzzling her throbbing hole with his lips.
Sorry, handsome, she thought. I want to keep going, but… We gotta… Oh, God--
She gasped as her pussy clenched and her entire body spasmed in waves of electricity. The most intense orgasm she had her experienced had its clutches on her as she thrust her crotch into the stallion’s face with each pulse. This was nothing like the awkward self-administered climaxes she had given herself as a human; she felt as though every cell in her body was participating in this singular moment.
The stallion took the hint and had hopped back on top of his mare while her brain was still swimming in ecstasy. He slid inside of her effortlessly and resumed his vigorous thrusts. Rebecca didn’t want him to stop. She needed to envelope him. She had to feel him empty himself inside her and make her his.
His pace became quick and frantic as they both became lost in the desperate and savage need to climax. His thrusts became shorter and harder until his entire body lurched forward into her.
She couldn’t deny her absolute satisfaction as the first jet of hot semen shot into her throbbing vagina. The stallion grunted and gripped Rebecca’s sides tightly as bursts of his seed filled her fertile womb until she could no longer carry it all, and she could feel the warm mess as it dribbled down her inner thigh.
After he pulled out of her and sauntered away to revel in his conquest, Rebecca slumped forward and tried to catch her breath. She shivered with a sense of fulfillment, but the gravity of what she had just done was beginning to dawn on her.
I fucked him. Her pussy stopped quivering and she shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Oh God, I gave my virginity to a horse.
She tried to convince herself that she didn’t have a choice, that the stable hands had forced it on her, or that it was impossible to resist the hormones of estrus, but she knew full well that she had not only let it happen -- she wanted it to happen. She threw her head back and whinnied in despair. Although she had hoped that, somehow, she would escape this fate, she began to realize she was kidding herself; this was her life now.
She was moved to another part of the facility the following morning, and the days began to blur together as she exited estrus and found herself in a routine. Wake up, eat, socialize with the other mares, get a little exercise, eat, get taken back to the stable for bed. She still tried to hold out hope that Elizabeth would find her and somehow fix this, but as weeks turned into months, she came to know with certainty that the stallion’s attention had taken the intended effect: She was pregnant.
Her owners gave her ultrasounds and were careful with her diet and her belly started to grow as she could feel her first child begin to wiggle within her. She didn’t know why she cared, but she wanted to know what the sex of her baby was going to be, though she was sure she wouldn’t be allowed to stay with it for long.
Her teats swelled with milk, and she began to wonder how much longer she would have to wait for this increasingly uncomfortable ordeal to end. She imagined nursing her offspring, which filled her with feelings of both warmth and disgust.
She paced around her enclosure, impatiently waiting for the next meal to start, when she saw something impossible.
No. I’m imagining this, she thought as she tried to straighten her gaze.
Elizabeth, cane in one one hand, hobbled toward the fence and reached out with one hand to gently pet Rebecca’s snout.
“I’m sorry,” she mouthed. “I’m so sorry.”
Elizabeth! Rebecca would have reared up with joy if not for her extremely swollen belly. Oh God, get me out of here!
“So that’s where you got off to,” Lenny chuckled as he jogged up to them. “I turned around and you were gone. You’re quiet for a-- uh…”
“Never mind,” Elizabeth glared at the man. “How much for this mare?”
“What? Her? I don’t know if you noticed, ma’am, but she’s due to pop at any moment. Her first one.”
Elizabeth turned white and looked at Rebecca’s obviously pregnant figure. She tried to regain her composure. “For the both of them, then.”
The man rolled his eyes.
“Or perhaps after this particular foal is reared?” she continued.
The man turned his head and spat. “How much you bringing to the table?”
“I, uh,” Elizabeth babbled, running a few calculations in her head before gesturing to her cane and hobbled posture. “I can’t offer you much at the moment. I’m a bit short of funding due to my accident. Once I’m able to return to work, however, I’ll have ple--”
“This ain’t a charity, lady,” he barked angrily.
Rebecca stood in place, stunned as she watched the man tug Elizabeth back to her car as he lectured her on the nature of business. As her baby colt squirmed in her womb, she tried to think of anything she could do, but every option seemed equally impossible.
Several days later, she knew it was time. Her belly spasmed in pain as her “son” signalled he was ready to come out. She paced around her enclosure for an hour as the stable hands assembled. Eventually, she could no longer ignore her instincts and laid down, breathing heavily as nature took control.
This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening, she repeated as she felt her child pass into her birth canal and slowly poke its hooves out of her swollen vagina.
She pushed. Pain rippled through her as her opening stretched to reveal a small head. She rolled her eyes back and pushed again as the stable hands entered the enclosure as started to assist her.
Oh God, this isn’t happening. She grunted as she pushed her child further into the world, and he began to slide the rest of the way out with the stable hands’ help. Exhausted, she looked behind her. In a pool of goo laid a gasping infant horse. Her eyes followed his umbilical cord to her own crotch.
Her mind raced with the finality of the situation; she had given birth. She was now a broodmare, and this was her first of many children, if her owners had their way.
The stable hands looked at her expectantly, muttering to themselves about why she was just staring at her foal and not cleaning it. No way, she thought. Fuck you. They eventually gave up and just took care of it themselves, washing the birthing fluids off of the colt and helping him to his feet when he seemed ready.
With a little difficulty, she stood, looking down at her offspring as he stared up at her with tired eyes. You’re a cute little thing, I’ll give you that. I wonder if you have any idea you’re really part human.
He nuzzled up to her and started to nurse, relieving some of the pressure in her teats as he enjoyed his first meal.
Elizabeth, she thought, Hurry up; I can’t do this again.
Although she couldn’t deny she felt a certain amount of pride watching her first child slowly mature over the coming weeks, Rebecca always had one eye looking for Elizabeth’s return, and she would gladly leave without the slightest hesitation if given the chance.
She lost track of the days again; motherhood was becoming routine. Before long, her son was weaned and ready for their owners to begin training him. Rebecca didn’t know what they intended to use him for, and she didn’t particularly like how much it bothered her to think about the day he would eventually be taken from her.
Her son seemed to respond remarkably well to the training. Rebecca could see that the trainers were amazed. While they boasted of their skill as trainers, she knew the real reason: He must have inherited her human intellect, at least to some degree. He clearly understood the commands he was being given, and she had a feeling he might even have learned to comprehend English, although he would never be able to speak it.
Poor thing must be so confused, she thought with a sigh.
As she watched him trot in a circle, speeding up and slowing down perfectly on command, she realized how much he had grown already. She shook her head. How long had it been? Months? She looked up at the sky and tried to at least remember what season it had been when she gave birth.
I’m not losing my mind, am I? she was starting to panic. She knew she was really a human, and her name was Rebecca. She could clearly remember her life, her hobbies and dreams.
No, she thought. The days are just blending together. It’s the same thing over and over.
She walked over to the tree she usually stood beneath in the middle of the afternoon to avoid the sunlight as a group of stable hands entered the empty pen next to her and spend the following few hours thoroughly cleaning it out.
Rebecca tried to keep her mind occupied with thoughts of what she’d do when Elizabeth finally returned to free her, but beyond trying her best to care for her son, there was little to do. Late in the morning, another horse was introduced to the pen that had been cleaned the previous afternoon.
After her son was taken for his training, she turned her attention to her new neighbor. He had strong features and appeared to be very lovingly groomed; this was clearly a champion stallion of some sort.
Wait, she thought as she realized her eyes were wandering all over his body. A stallion.
Suddenly, routine incidents from the previous week that she had simply ignored took on new significance. She had been given a thorough medical inspection, her son was clearly being transitioned into a new schedule, sudden emotional peaks and lows for no discernable reason, and now…
Oh God, it’s almost time again.
Rebecca tried to suppress any physical suggestion to the contrary, but as the days progressed, it was getting harder to hide that she was beginning to enter estrus. Her legs felt weak at the thought of the gate between her pen and the stallion’s swinging open as he rushed forward to claim her.
It was difficult to sleep that night, knowing that she would probably be bred the following morning. She closed her eyes tightly and tried to think of something--anything--else, almost missing a faint whisper at the far corner of her pen.
Drunk on her libido, Rebecca turned her head in disbelief. It couldn’t be.
A figure hobbled out of the shadows. The dim light trickled across a familiar, if disheveled, figure.
Elizabeth! Rebecca tripped over herself running toward her savior, who reached out her hand to stroke Rebecca’s nose.
“I don’t think anyone saw me, but we need to be quick,” she whispered as she started to fumble with the lock on the outer gate.
Rebecca could barely contain herself, and she trembled with impatience as Elizabeth finally tugged the gate open and began to lead Rebecca toward the exit. Elizabeth could barely keep up, but they slowly passed by the main complex and could see the main road. There was no way Rebecca would fit into whatever car Elizabeth had driven here, but that was the last thing on her mind. She thought of the first meal she would have, the first words she would say, the first book she would read when she finally was returned to her human form.
A part of her felt guilty about abandoning her child, and of losing the opportunity to let the new stallion scratch the peculiar, carnal itch that estrus inspired in her. For a moment, she decided to say an internal farewell and turned to look behind her.
Four figures were sprinting at full speed toward them. Elizabeth looked around her in a panic.
She turned to Rebecca and yelled, “Run! I’ll find you!”
Hesitating for only a moment, Rebecca turned and galloped as fast as she could toward the road. I’m going to get out of here, I’m fucking getting out of here. Out, out, out.
Bright lights beamed down on her as a red pickup swerved around her and cut off her path. She stopped awkwardly, her back legs nearly slipping beneath her.
“Get her, you idiots!” the stable owner shrieked from somewhere in the darkness.
As Rebecca started to move another direction, a loud “POP” rang in her ears, and the owner screamed again.
“Are you shitting me? Who shot? Who fucking shot?”
Rebecca was briefly stunned. As she regained control of her senses and started to trot in another direction, she watched Elizabeth slump down onto her knees, and then collapse onto her side.
“John, was that you?” the owner demanded furiously.
“Uh,” one of the stable hands dropped his rifle. “I, uh.”
“God-fucking-damnit, John. This is just what I need. Somebody call an ambulance.”
John stammered, “B-but she was st-”
As the men argued, and Rebecca began to understand what had happened, she grew deaf to their rage as her world slowly collapsed around Elizabeth’s body. She walked up to her in slow motion. Elizabeth gasped in short breaths, a distant look in her eyes as blood pooled around her.
No, Elizabeth, you can’t…
Elizabeth looked at her, her eyes seeming to say, “We tried.”
The sensation of a lead being quickly fastened around Rebecca’s neck barely phased her as she watched the life drain out of Elizabeth. It can’t end like this. It just can’t.
Rebecca was led back to her pen as the police and paramedics arrived. There was nothing they could do but arrest the trigger-happy stable hand. Rebecca would never know the resolution of the case, as her life was now firmly set on its path.
She didn’t try to avoid the stallion the following morning when he was released into her pen. When he approached her and gave her rear a sniff, she instinctively moved her tail aside and adjusted her stance to accommodate his weight as he mounted her.
With each labored thrust, she felt the the inevitability of her fate taking shape. There was no hope that her fortunes would change; the only possibility of having her humanity returned to her died with Elizabeth. Her purpose was to be bred, and to provide high-quality offspring for her master.
The stallion’s pace quickened. Enjoying the intimacy of the moment, she pressed back against him as his body tensed and began spurting his seed into her.