A twist of fate leaves Deven with a magical artifact offering him a second chance at childhood, and the chance to be something more than human. More than happy to take this chance, he eagerly looks for friends to share his new gift with.
Children At Work
“This thing has caused nothing but chaos.” A man in a cloak spoke as he stood with another cloaked figure in the deepest level of the castle dungeon. “We’ll throw it through the wormhole, and never have to worry about it again.” He gestured to where there was what looked like an old stone well. It was impossible to see the bottom of it. He held a round figure wrapped up in rags before dropping it into the well.
“Was that wise?” The woman in the other cloak asked. “What if it winds up somewhere dangerous?”
“It’ll be fine. This well is a hole in the universe, and the universe is quite vast. Wherever it lands, the odds of anyone ever being able to reach it are astronomically low.”
He was correct. But, something being near impossible meant it could still happen. In another universe there was planet called Earth. It was a boring universe, devoid of magic and wonder. Until now.
Deven awoke to the sound of his alarm clock blaring. He groaned and turned over in his bed, not wanting to get up. He tried to block out the light with pillows, leaving only his messy brown hair visible. Getting up would mean having to get dressed and get to work for the day. Much more comfortable to just stay in bed naked and sleep. But of course the alarm wasn’t going to just stop going off unless got up to get press the button.
After a loud noise, the alarm clock indeed ceased going off as there was a crash followed by several crunching noises. This was enough to shock Deven awake. He sat up in his bed and looked around. There was a small hole in his roof about the size of a basketball. And something round wrapped up in rags was laying where his alarm clock and dresser had been. The alarm clock was smashed to bits while the dresser was split in two. The object itself now lay on his apartment floor.
“Ok! Universe! I’m awake! You don’t have to destroy my apartment!” Deven growled as he crawled out from under the covers and rolled out of the bed. On all fours, he crawled over to the thing that had fallen into his house, seeing it completely wrapped up with rags. Common sense would have told him poking a thing that just fell out of the sky was a bad idea. Unfortunately, common sense tended to not wake up until roughly an hour after Deven was awake. So, he grabbed at one of the rags, and peeled it off the object, revealing what was beneath it.
A gemstone. A really big one too! Which explained the basketball sized hole in the ceiling now. As to what kind of gemstone, Deven wouldn’t say. This wasn’t something he was an expert in. The gem had a round shape but a rigid surface. It lacked any color whatsoever. For a moment Deven thought it might be a diamond. But, he could actually see through it as if it were glass. He was pretty sure diamonds weren’t completely see through. He reached out both hands to pick up the gem. As soon as he did, colored mist began to swirl around inside the gem. It filled the entire inside, causing the gem to take on a green color. And then the same mist erupted from the diamond in several streams, that traveled in a spiral pattern around Deven, going past him reaching towards every corner of his bedroom. The smoke grew thick, to the point it became impossible to see. Caught off guard, Deven had no chance to hold his breath and coughed as he breathed in the smoke.
The sound of his coughing grew higher pitched, and he felt a strange tingling sensation, on his back, his hands and feet, and at the tip of his tailbone. Deven groped around trying to find the window to open the smoke, only to bump into a table as tall as he was. The only table in here was his nightstand, so that couldn’t be right.
Suddenly, there was a hissing noise, and all of the smoke was sucked back into the gem in an instant, which returned to its completely clear color. Once Deven’s room was revealed though it had changed quite drastically. Everything was brightly colored, and giant ABC blocks littered the room forming pillars. His bed was now a hammock suspended between the ears of a giant teddy bear. There was a bounce castle, which shouldn’t have fit in his room, but somehow the entire apartment had become bigger.
And then there was Deven himself. He barely noticed the room as he looked down at himself. He had claws. And green scales covered his hands and feet, running up to his knees and elbows. He had a long flexible tail, thick at the base and thin at the end. Horns protruded from his head, and wings from his back. And he himself was only about six years old.
“What?” Deven stated flatly as he slowly stood up. For a very brief moment he felt apprehension. He didn’t understand what just happened, why his room had changed, why he was a kid or why appeared to be part dragon. All of those thoughts were pushed from his head when he saw the bounce castle. It was a simple fact it was impossible for a child to stay focused on a problem when they had immediate access to a bounce castle, and he was a child. Deven jumped inside, began to bounce up and down enjoying himself. Remembering his wings, he flapped them to get extra airtime on his jumps. After jumping a for few minutes, he flapped them faster and discovered he could stay airborne, and fly through the air.
After enjoying himself for a few minutes Deven exited the bounce castle and went back to the gem. Whatever had happened to him, that had caused it. He poked the gem again. Nothing happened this time. No wisps of smoke or anything. Was it because he was already a dragon kid? Or maybe because his room had changed? He should probably be worried and try to figure out what happened and fix all this.
Then again, fixing things was an adult’s job. And he wasn’t an adult anymore. He was still himself mentally, but every fiber of his being just wanted to go our and play and enjoy his new dragon child body. It was difficult to say if the transformation had awakened some childish instincts in him or if Deven was simply using it to act the way he wanted to. But, right now, he decided play was far more important than questioning what happened.
But all his friends were still grown-ups. They wouldn’t be much fun… Unless. Deven looked at the gem. Would it change them like it did him? Then he would have friends his own age to play with! It was worth a shot! Deven opened the window, deciding it’d be more fun to fly out rather than use the front door. He quickly grabbed the gem and climbed into the window. He paused for a moment, remembering he was naked. Generally, you got in trouble for running around naked.
“Dragons don’t need stupid clothes!” Deven declared loudly to the universe, before he leaped from the window and flying into the distance.
Another Monday at the office. Jimmy was working as hard as he can, filling out reports and forms on his computer, and then printing them out and storing them in a filing cabinet. In theory, having the hard copies as back ups was in case the database went down, and everything was lost. But, really, the entire thing seemed like a waste of time and trees.
An e-mail came in, informing Jimmy that apparently, the vice-president was going to be visiting the office, and as a result, everyone was going to have to stay late tonight to make sure every report was completed before he arrived. This job sucked. What he wouldn’t give to be free from it.
Little did he know, freedom was currently tapping on the window. Jimmy’s office was on the third floor of a small business center. So, the tapping from the window was certainly odd. When Jimmy looked up at his work what he saw on the other side of the window was even odder. A naked child, no older than six, who appeared to be part dragon. He was flying in the air and holding a clear gem in his hands.
“What the heck?” Jimmy stared at the sight in confusion.
Outside, Deven gave Jimmy an annoyed look and knocked on the glass window. As he did, Jimmy noticed the messy brown hair, and something about the facial features were familiar… He slowly approached the window. This thing hadn’t been open in years, and parts of it were rusted. It took some effort to move the metal lock out of the way, and then finally he was able to slide the window open. The dragon child immediately dove in through the window, tackling Jimmy and knocking him to the ground.
“Jimmy!” Deven shouted gleefully. He sat on his knees on Jimmy’s chest holding the gem above him. “Come play with me! It’s no fun playing by myself.” The dragon child knew his name! And… Those blue eyes… No it couldn’t be. It was as impossible as… Well as impossible as a naked dragon child suddenly crushing through his office window.
“Deven?” Jimmy asked in confusion.”
“Yeup!” Deven flapped his wings and floated off of Jimmy before setting the gem down on the floor. “Now come on work is boring, let’s play instead.”
“Okay, but…” Jimmy looked around in confusion. None of his coworkers had seen the scene yet. All of them were in their cubicles, lost in a death-like trance as they mindlessly tried to complete forms hoping to eventually get to go home before dinner. “What happened to you?”
“Awesomeness. Obviously.” Deven stuck his tongue out. “I touched the gem! Them bam my entire bedroom was amazing and I had wings and was little and all kinds of stuff! I bet if you touch the gem it’ll do the same to you. I think. Come on! Do it!”
“Are you crazy” Jimmy asked. “Look at you! What is that thing? Aren’t you even a little worried about your situation?”
“I was for a moment…” Deven landed on the ground and rubbed a foot in a circle. “But then I realized this was way more awesome than being a boring adult. I mean… Would you rather keep working, or come play with me.”
“Well…” Jimmy looked back at his computers. There was a lot of work. And… Whatever happened to Deven there was no idea if it was reversible or not. Deven could be stuck as a kid forever, have to grow up again, if he even aged. If Jimmy allowed the same to happen to him, he’d never be able to keep working his job. He’d never be able to do anything needed to be a responsible adult.
And with that it clicked, and Jimmy reached for the gem. What good was being a responsible adult in a world that was designed crush your spirit? There was no real reward at the end of the day for working hard and doing your best. Just the people at the top reaping the benefits while you worked yourself into an early grave. If he turned into a dragon kid like Deven when he touched the gem… All of that would be gone. As his hand touched the clear gem, blue smoke began to gather around in it. And then just as it had with Deven’s room, the smoke filled the entire office.
Deven, strangely enough could not feel the smoke, and could breathe fine despite it filling the room. It was clearly there though, as it was thick enough to blind him. And he could here Jimmy coughing, as the coughs got higher and higher pitched. It only lasted a few seconds, then once more all the smoke was sucked back into the gem.
The office was gone, in its place a giant game board. Cubicles had been replaced by giant plastic houses and other figures, and there was a pair of dice, each as big as Deven’s head. The board was divided into spaces, that were grouped into the names of departments that had existed in the company, and then each space had its own name beneath that. There were three spaces under the Accounting Department for example. They included Sales, Budgeting and the third one simply said Spreadsheets. Each space had a dollar amount listed on it. It looked as if the entire game revolved around trying to make money.
As for Jimmy… His clothes were loose on him, exposing his dark skin. He like Deven had become a six-year-old child. But, he wasn’t part dragon. Instead, he had black rabbit ears at the top of his head with a blue interior. Blue paw-pike feet with fur that went up to his knees. His hands also had blue fur, and like Deven’s scales extended to his elbows. Then he had a little blue and black rabbit tail. To tie the entire look together, he had buck teeth.
“It… It really worked!” Jimmy sounded astounded.
“Of course it worked!” Deven smiled smugly. He grabbed on Jimmy’s arms and tried to pull him up. Jimmy’s clothes started to slide off him as he did.
“H-hey I can’t just run around naked!” Jimmy objected and tried to hold his shirt up.
“Why not?” Deven asked.
“Because…” Jimmy considered for a few moments. Because it wasn’t allowed? But who was to say what was allowed? This place wasn’t his office anymore. There were plenty of explanations he could give ranging from modesty to worried about getting in trouble, but before Jimmy could say any of them he realized he didn’t really care. He was a little rabbit kid, and he just wanted to enjoy this for as long as it lasted. He stopped resisting, and allowed himself to be pulled out of his clothing, leaving him naked like Deven.
And he was far from the only one. Around the entire office, everyone had transformed into rabbit-like kids, and each of them were doing their own internal math trying to figure out what was going on. And pretty much all of them reached the same conclusion. Whatever this was, it was a lot better than work.
“So… This place looks like a giant board game.” Deven observed. “I guess we act as the pieces and walk around ourselves.”
“Seems so…” Jimmy walked in a circle around the board. Eventually he reached a corner that explained the rules. It was very similar to another game he had played, with the goal being to essentially own all the departments, make money and bankrupt the other players. It’s just that everything was changed to be something about his company. “Wanna play?” As he asked, he not only got an overly eager reaction from Deven, but the other transformed children as well. Given that there were at least ten people in the office, they wound up having to break into teams of two to get the game going. Deven and Jimmy naturally teamed up together.
No one understood what was going on. But it was the first time they just had fun without worrying about the consequences or the future in a long time. Right now, the only worry was how to buy up all the sections of a department before the other players did.
In the end, it was Jimmy and Deven, vs a team made of green rabbit boy and a red rabbit girl. Each team owned about half the board, and it was just a matter of who had to stop in who’s department first to determine the winner.
“I got this! Let me handle the dice!” Deven shouted excitedly, picking up the giant dice and tossing them across the room. They came up snake eyes, landing them in the middle of the Marketing Department, giving the game to the other two rabbits. Who bounced up and down in joy.
“Got it huh?” Jimmy stuck his tongue out.
“Like you would have done any better!” Deven huffed.
“I mean I couldn’t have done any worse.” Jimmy continued to tease.
“That’s it. ROAAAAWR!” Being six, Deven now had a more efficient way of resolving disagreements than yelling at each other. He tackled Arzure, and the two rolled around on the ground wrestling for a few minutes before finally forgetting what they had even been arguing about.
“I’m kind of hungry…” Jimmy sat up after the wrestling match. “You got any snacks.”
“No…” Deven shook his head. Then he thought up something. He had planned to visit more than one playmate. “Zach works at a hotel! Don’t they have a restaurant? We should go there!” He headed for the window.
“Deven! It’s the middle of a workday we can’t just leave like that! It’s irresponsible!” Jimmy protested.
“We can’t?” Deven seemed confused.
“No!” Jimmy shook his head. “We gotta leave a note.” He couldn’t find any pens or notepads, but did find some crayons and a coloring book as he looked around the giant game board. He quickly wrote a message on it.
‘Cookie Break. Be back whenever. -Jimmy’
“Now we can go.” Jimmy smiled.
“Ok!” Deven started for the window then looked back at Jimmy. He was a bunny. He could probably jump good. But he couldn’t fly. “You carry the gem and I’ll carry you?” Deven suggested.
“Uh sure?” Jimmy picked up the gem. It didn’t react to him on his second touch. It seemed only people who had yet to be changed could activate it.
“Alright!” Deven grabbed Jimmy underneath his arms, and leaped out the window. Flying holding the bunny kid was a little awkward, and he faltered for a moment. But soon he had corrected himself and was heading towards their next destination.
“Ugggh.” As soon as the couple Zach had been assisting were on the elevator and out of sight Zach banged his head against the desk. Working the front desk was the worst. The couple had wanted a free upgrade to a bigger room because there had been an error in the dates they booked the room for. An error caused by them when they booked it online. Eventually he had managed to placate them by saying he had them set up in one of the nicest rooms. It was technically true. Pretty much all the rooms were the same in the hotel. There wasn’t anything to upgrade too.
Just when he thought there was going to be peace, a loud noise came from the entrance. The rotating doors were spinning really fast, and he could hear voices. Children! They were playing in the door like it was a toy.
“H-hey!” Zach shouted out to them “Stop playing with the door it’s dangerous!”
“Awwwww.” A dark skin bunny kid, followed by a pale skinned dragon kid emerged from the door.
“We were just having fun!” The dragon protested. “Come on Zach you should join us.”
“Just gotta touch the gem! And poof!” The bunny explained as he held up a clear gemstone.
“What?” Zach didn’t know how to react. The two kids standing before him were naked, and not even fully human. There was no way those animal parts were a costume. And… The bunny, dark skinned poofy hair. The dragon, messy brown hair and blue eyes. “Jimmy? Deven?”
“Got it in one!” Deven replied.
“This gem thingy did it!” Jimmy explained. “Just touch it! And whoosh! No more adult worries!”
“So… That clear thing transformed you?” Zach asked uncertainly. But there was also a hint of hope in his voice.
“Yup!” Deven explained. “It even changed the entire area around us.
“Let me see.” Zach didn’t need to hear more. He quickly moved from behind the counter and ran up to the two kids before snatching the gem from Jimmy. This time, the gem filled with brown smoke, and soon so was the room.
Like Deven, Jimmy didn’t even feel the smoke this time. But they could hear Zach’s coughing, as it got lighter pitched as it got younger. They both knew simply to wait and see what happened.
The smoke retreated into the gem and it became clear. The hotel lobby was now the world’s biggest jungle gym. The elevator was gone, replaced by a fireman’s pole you could slide down. And there were all kinds of different structures made for climbing on. Rope ladders and bridges. Every single floor of what had been the hotel also now had a slide that went back down to the lobby.
As for Zach… He was neither part bunny nor dragon. Instead, he was something build perfectly for climbing all over this jungle gym, Brown pyramid shaped ears sat atop his head. His hands and pawlike feet both had retractable claws. Brown fur up to his knees and elbows and a link sleek tail. He had become a catboy, six years of age like the other two.
“Mrowl!” Zach shouted playfully. He slipped out of his work uniform with zero modesty. Looking around, and seeing the giant jungle gym, he forgot all about the job he was supposed to be doing, and instead immediately began climbing a rope ladder to the highest floor so he could get to one of the slides.
“I’m still hungry…” Jimmy complained.
“But he seems to be having fun.” Deven crossed his arms. “Kind of like we did when we first changed. Honestly, took to it faster than even I did.” He tilted his head. “I guess if we want to eat, there’s only one thing to do.”
“What’s that?” Jimmy asked.
“Catch the kitty!” Deven shouted, as he used his wings to fly upward. Who needed to climb when he could do that?
Jimmy meanwhile, started running up a set of colorful stairs.
“Huh, meow?” Zach saw the two hurrying in his direction. It wasn’t hard for his child brain to put together a game of chase was in order. He jumped onto a rope that hung out between two raised platforms, and swung across, diving into a tunnel slide.
“Hey no fair! I can’t fly through their!” Deven whined as he landed at the top of the slide. All the slides from the different floors twisted around each other, making it impossible to know which one Zach was going to come out of. Somewhere on the floor but where? Rather than try to figure it out, Deven tucked in his wings and dove down the slide, trying to catch up with Zach. He could hear the cat giggling, and when he emerged from the slide the catboy was already running across a rope bridge on the second floor. He moved quick! Jimmy was close behind him though! “Don’t let him get away!”
“Two on one isn’t fair!” Zach shouted, though his tone of voice seemed to imply he was enjoying the challenge. He jumped off the side of the rope bridge, grabbing a ladder below. Jimmy hesitated to do the same. Deven did not, using his wings to take flight again. He was sure he had Zach this time!
Except, the catboy slipped through the bars of the ladder, and got underneath the jungle gym. He jumped to the opposite side, and started to climb up inside the jungle gym. Deven pouted. There were so many bars going in every which direction in there that he wouldn’t be able to spread his wings wide enough to fly. He’d have to climb just like the cat. The gem had really decided to give Zach a homefield advantage.
As Deven tried to climb through the jungle gym after Zach, Jimmy monitored their progress from above. He moved at a glacial pace, trying not to make a sound as he soon found himself directly above Zach and Deven. When he saw a brown furred paw reach up over a bar next to the platform he was on, Jimmy grabbed it and pulled Zach up onto the platform.
“Caught ya!” Jimmy stuck his tongue out.
“Only cause it was two on one!” Zach stuck his tongue right back at Jimmy.
“We still win.” Deven huffed as he climbed up onto the platform with them. Climbing was a lot more work than flying. Not that he was going to admit that in front of the cat. “You didn’t take long to jump into this.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” Zach asked. “What kind of idiot has a chance at childhood again, and to be a little bit beastly on top!?”
“He raises a compelling point.” Jimmy nodded. “But I’m still hungry! I want cookies! Where’s the restaurant.”
“Um it was…” Zach pointed in the direction of where a door had once existed. Now it was a round shaped tunnel, leading into the darkness further than any of them could see.
“More tight spaces?” Deven sighed and flew down to the floor level and tucked his wings in. “It’s like you don’t even want to fly.”
“I mean neither of us has wings.” Zach pointed out. He and Jimmy shrugged at each other before sliding down the fireman’s pole to get to the lobby and follow Deven through the tunnel their hands and knees.
What they came out into was not a restaurant, but something out of a child’s dream. A sweets shop. Cookies, candies, cakes just about every type of desert a child could hope for. And all of it just sitting there ready to be claimed. The restaurant was not empty. There were a few people who had been chefs or waiters. Like Zeelo, they were now children and part cat. It seemed while the three had been having their game, the former adults in here had already made peace with their situation and enjoying eating as many sweets as they could get their paws on.
“I call the sugar cookies!” Deven shouted as he grabbed a jar.
“There’s more than enough sugar cookies for all three of us!” Zach protested as he swiped a cookie right out of Deven’s jar.
“H-heeeey!” Deven complained.
“So what’s next?” Jimmy asked as he too swiped a cookie from the jar.
“Come on guys… Have some respect for a dragon’s hoard!” Deven wined as he sat down, curled his tail around the cookie jar and greedily devoured what was left. Though, the question Jimmy had asked was now burning in his mind. They had a snack. What did they do next?
The answer was obvious.
“I say we go find more friends, and see what other games we can play.” Deven picked up the gem. Wherever they took it, the thing changed not only the people but made the entire place a million times better. There was an entire city out there just waiting to be improved upon. “So… Who has an idea of who we should visit next?”