The sun sets again, and Dr. Callyco returns with another of his Thirteen Tales. This time, Pancake a young inventor is our victim, or lucky winner. All a matter of perspective.
Meanwhile at the Lair of Dr. Callyco
“SCIENCE!” The orange kitten in a lab coat shouted. “It can do anything! Well at least in this universe. It probably can in your universe too. Eventually. You just haven’t gotten there yet.” He gave a manic grin. “But still, the power of science is amazing! It could even turn a wolf pup into a mouse!” He paused after saying that. “Not that I know anything about how to do that.”
“Squeak.” The mouse formerly known as Dr. Cutie Pup rolled his eyes again. At this point he was just seeing how long the kitten could keep this schtick going before getting distracted.
“Anyway, tonight is a tale of science! And maybe a bit of magic. But mostly science!” Dr. Callyco shouted excitedly. “I mean it’s complicated, things cause other things, and who knows if magic or science is to blame. Either way, tonight’s guest, Pancake is in for a surprise when a small accident sets off a chain reaction. I bring you our fifth tale. The Tale of the Butterfly Effect.
Thirteen Tales 2020
The Tale of the Butterfly Effect
Pancake eagerly rushed into his lab in the midafternoon. Of course, it was less a lab and more a shack out in the middle of a field. The yellow and white surmelle, being only nineteen, did not quite have access to an actual lab. At least not most days. He did have a real lab hidden somewhere, but it was a bit of a pain to reach and may not have technically been his unless squatter’s rights held up in court. But he was still an aspiring inventor and so a workspace was needed. The shack wasn’t the ideal image of a lab, but Pancake wasn’t the ideal image of a scientist. He was young, chubby like most of his race and dressed in a hoodie and shorts. But sometimes you had to make do with what you’ve got.
The shack itself also did not actually belong to Pancake. As far as he could tell the place had been abandoned for years, much like the actual lab. When he had first found it the place looked ready to collapse in on itself. Using his own mechanical expertise Pancake had done some repairs, but the shack still looked pretty worn down. That wasn’t entirely bad. If it looked abandoned and useless then Pancake could stash his latest projects in there without anyone suspecting. He had of course swapped out the lock on the door for one in working condition just in case, but he doubted this place would catch anyone’s attention. Which made it a perfect place to work when he wanted to be alone.
Pancake had done his best to get the place organized. There was table pressed against the wall with a number of chemicals and mechanical parts laying on it. High above that table was a window that Pancake left open by a crack, just to ensure any fumes from the chemicals aired out. Against another wall was a shelf that was half filled with toolboxes of various shape and size and half filled with cardboard boxes full of random bits of metal and wire. Then against the third wall was his actual workstation, where he had set up a small desk and a chair to actually sit down and work on projects. The fourth wall had no equipment next to it. This was to ensure the door could be opened without slamming into anything.
Pancake sat down on his chair and spun in place as he turned around to face the desk. What was he going to work on today? Should he start something new? He already had several half-finished projects. Perhaps it’d better to get some of those taken care of first before moving on to a new idea. So many machines or chemical compounds he could create. There was this glove he was working on that was going to be capable of a number of feats once he was finished. Perhaps that was best to start. Pancake wheeled his chair over to the table with various chemicals and machinery and began to look for where he left it. He froze in place however upon seeing something that he did not recognize. A tiny little scarf. There were actually quite a few of them just laying on his desk. He hadn’t made them. And unless one of his creations had become self-aware and taken an interest in sewing it could only mean someone else had been his shack.
Pancake stood back up and checked the door. It had been locked when he arrived, and there was no sign of it being damaged from someone trying to force their way in. Then there was the window. It wasn’t broken, and at this point it was mostly rusted in place with just a small slit open. It was doubtful anything bigger than a squirrel could get through there.
This gave Pancake pause. The scarves were rather tiny. But other than the fact several of them were laying around nothing else in the lab appeared to have been touched. He supposed it was possible someone could have dropped these through the window but that begged the question of why. Pancake crossed his arms and considered for a few minutes. Whatever reason these were here, nothing seemed to be missing or broken. No doubt there was some logical explanation it just escaped him at the moment. But it didn’t seem like anyone had broken into his lab to mess with anything. And if anyone had been here they weren’t now. The place wasn’t exactly big. There wasn’t really any place to hide inside considering that the entire square shaped shack was roughly five feet in length. The small size had made getting the few items Pancake had in here a real chore, and the place always felt cramped with so little room.
Whatever or whoever had been here, they were gone now. There was no reason to dwell on it, other than to maybe considering building some kind of camera to watch the inside of the place just in case something like this ever happened again. For now, Pancake was going to get back to work. With a single swipe he tossed the scarves off the table and looked around until he found it. The glove. It looked little more than a common rubber or latex glove someone might wear while doing chores. Pancake was proud of that fact. Everything that made this thing function was neatly sewed inside the glove and could only be opened up and accessed when the glove was turned inside out. Pan sat down at his desk and began to reach around for a screwdriver. There wasn’t one. He gave a weary sigh before getting back up and heading over to the shelf. One of the toolboxes would have one. He needed a small one, he was working with delicate parts.
Pancake opened one toolbox and dug through it but then froze as he heard a rattling sound come from one of the other boxes on the shelf.
“What?” Pancake squinted and stared at where he thought the noise had come from. He reached for the box and pulled it off the shelf and for a brief moment saw movement as a number of other items began to rattle and make noise. There was something behind the shelf. He hoped it wasn’t a gross bug.
Pancake began to take things off the shelf and heard a panicked and exasperated shout come from behind the shelf. Whatever was there it could talk! Pancake had just enough time to realize that before something shot over the top of the shelf, knocking several items off in the process and leaving a trail of dust that fell over Pancake’s body. Whatever it was, Pancake barely got a look at it before it was gone, flying out the slit in the window as fast as it could. He might have been more perceptive and gotten a better look but when that dust covered his body, he suddenly felt very strange and lost his focus.
Suddenly Pancake found himself shrinking to the ground. First his shorts fell right off him, then he felt like he was swimming in his own hoodie. Then there was his tail. Normally it was small stubby thing, but it was growing out in length, and at the same time the fur seemed to melt from it. His ears became larger in comparison to his head and his pouch melded into his body disappearing. By this point Pancake had disappeared to inside his own hoodie, unable to see what was going on, but he could feel the changes, or at least he could feel the change son his hands and feet. Suddenly, they were a lot colder due to the fact they both lacked fur.
Pancake let out an annoyed squeak, then paused in surprise from the noise that had come from him. He quickly scrambled out of his hoodie and atop it so that he could see himself.
He was a mouse.
“What was that?” Pancake looked in the direction of the window. At least he was still able to walk on two legs and talk. But there was the whole question of why? The dust from that thing when it hit him? He had no clue. Either way, whatever creature it had been almost seemed as if it had been as startled of him as he of it. Just, he was the one that got turned into a mouse as a result.
This was going to make his work a little harder.
Pancake slowly climbed down from his hoodie, took a few steps forward and then froze rigid as a wrench fell from the shelf crashing into the ground barely missing him by just a couple of inches. He looked up, noticing that several items on the shelf were tilting over the edge and were slowly tipping over.
Pancake decided to worry about the why and how of his situation later. For now, he broke into a full sprint as more items started to fall from the shelf. Just because his name was Pancake didn’t mean he wanted to be flattened like one. He could hear the various items crashing to the ground, and part of him panicked while the other part wondered how hard it was going to be replace any broken parts.
Pancake ran underneath the table that had the various half-finished projects and chemicals on it. Now that he had some cover he was less worried about something landing on him. He glanced around the shack, waiting until the crashing noises stopped to risk sticking even a whisker out from beneath the surface of the table.
So many items had fallen to the ground. When it finally came to an end Pancake walked out and stared at the mess in disbelief. That would take forever to clean up at his normal size. It’d never get done as he was now! He studied the mass of items on the floor trying to figure out what he was supposed to do now. However, the items that landed on the floor should have been the ones of least concern to him.
A cardboard box had tipped over that had a large metal sphere in it. A piece intended for a later invention. It had been on the very top shelf and gained just enough momentum to fly from the shelf all the way to Pancake’s work desk. There it landed on the tip of a socket wrench, launching it from the desk to the table where it shattered one of the glass bottles containing a foul-smelling liquid. The sound of the smashed glass would have been obvious and alerted Pancake to look up had all of his spare parts crashing to the ground not been making even more noise. For now, things were silent, but spilt chemical seeped across the table, reaching a microscope. It began to burn through and desolve the microscope’s base, tipping it over knocking it into two more of the bottles. Both of them wobbled back and forth for a little bit before spilling over. Unlike the previous liquid, these two weren’t acid and so didn’t do any physical damage to the objects upon the table.
However, as they mixed together then began to bubble and took on a dark red color. The dark red liquid then seeped to the end of the table and poured right over the ledge. And then the mouse who had finally come out to examine the situation was completely oblivious to the waterfall of chemicals that game pouring off the table until it rained down on him, soaking him.
Pancake let out a squeak of surprise as he slid across the room, thrown by the impact of the chemical mixture. His entire body was soaked. He sat up and tried to shake as much free from his fur as possible, but something felt off. He felt… Hyperactive. Like he was full of energy all of a sudden. Also, the room seemed to be getting bigger again. Something was up. Pancake stood up and ran to the fallen various scrap parts. Among one of them he found a reflective surface. And in his reflection, he saw a twelve-year-old mouse boy.
So now only had he transformed he had gotten younger! Except, as he stared at his reflection, he saw that it hadn’t come to a stop yet. Pancake was still shrinking in age. He watched as his body became more compact, and his proportions changed. He continued to shrink. Soon he was eight years old, then six, then four, then two.
Suddenly lacking the strength to stand Pancake fell backwards onto his bottom. Then a lot of that excess energy faded away as he started to feel a little more sluggish. He looked back up at the reflection. One year old, six months, and finally, a newborn baby mouse. The age regression finally stopped, if only because Pancake could not physically become any younger.
“Squeak.” Pancake couldn’t even talk now. He tried to stand up, but his legs lacked the strength. The best he could do was crawl on all fours. “Squeeeeeak.” Pancake looked around the shack. Everything was massive. Earlier there was hope he might have been able to climb his way up the junk or the table, maybe even try to create something that could undo the changes. Now, at this size and this age he had neither the strength nor the dexterity to work on anything. And he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be able to climb up to anything.
And that left another problem. Pancake had no way out of his shack. He was small enough to fit through the crack in the window, but wasn’t strong enough to climb up there. Then there was no way he was going to be able to reach the door handle to get that open. Maybe he could squirm underneath the door? But that was on the other side of a pile of debris. Well, the entire floor wasn’t covered, so he should be able to find a way.
Pancake crawled around the floor, encountering different pieces of machinery and working his way around them. At a couple of points he was able to crawl over a few pieces that weren’t too big. Finally, he found his way to the door.
“Squeak.” Pancake gave a rather exasperated squeak as he examined the door. He was really small, but he wasn’t that small. He wasn’t getting out of the shack by going under the door crack. Then again, what good would it even do him if he did? He wasn’t exactly the most capable right now. There really weren’t a lot of options.
No, he couldn’t think like that. He was thinking he was helpless because he was thinking too big. He could still try to build something to at least get out of here. There were plenty of parts, and it would be easier to work wires and circuits at this small a size. He just had to find pieces small enough for him to use. It’d be a challenge, but it wasn’t as if he had any other options right now.
It took time, but slowly Pancake found the parts. The blades of a handheld fan for wings, a rewired thumb drive for the main body, some thread for straps and the solar cell from a calculator for power. Turning a storage device into the basic systems for a flight system had been a real trick. But getting it strapped to his back was actually harder than building the thing. Now that he had it assembled, he just needed to get into a spot with enough light. He looked up at the window and crawled to a spot where the sunlight filtered through. It hit the solar cell, the wings started to flap, and suddenly Pancake was soaring into the air. It was kind of funny, he couldn’t even walk or talk yet, but he could fly.
Controlling the flight device was a bit on the tricky side. It mostly involved having to use the straps to pull on the wings to aim them in different directions. After a couple of minutes Pancake got the hang of it. Then he flew upward to the window and out through the same slit the stranger had gone through. He had made it out! And he could go further from here. It was a sunny day and this machine moved him a lot faster than he could crawl. It looked like he could make it all the way home from here. The infant mouse flew his device up higher into the sky to make sure he’d have plenty of sunlight. Last thing he’d want to do was go under a tree, lose power and crash land.
It seemed he wouldn’t get much done in his lab for a while. So, there was nothing else to do but to head home. He tried to figure out how he was going to explain this to his parents when he got back. Well, about the only thing he was capable of saying was ‘squeak’ so that was about it for now. Hopefully, it wouldn’t take too long for them to figure out who he was. And hopefully they wouldn’t mind raising him a second time. Was probably going to be very strange, growing up as a mouse. But he might be able to find a way to fix that. Eventually. If he changed species once there was no reason it couldn’t be done a second time.
Maybe he would put off going home and starting that process just for a little bit. After all, his invention could still use some testing. No reason he couldn’t have a bit of fun and fly around for a bit before heading home. And then he would get to that part about starting his entire life all over again but this time as a mouse.
“Squeak.” It was strange seeing the world from a mouse’s perspective. The world was a completely new place. He had a feeling that his new life was going to be quite different from his old one.