Patreon reward for internmatt. A woman visits the zoo and begins to experience a strange transformation the next day.
What was better than a relaxing trip to the zoo? Well… A lot of things were. But Lonnie’s call center job wasn’t exactly paying the big bucks and so her choices for entertainment on the weekend were limited. At least it was better than just spending the weekend at home in her studio apartment. If she did that, she’d feel obligated to start cleaning the disaster zone it had become… But she couldn’t clean if she was too busy being out somewhere else!
After purchasing her ticket, Lonnie slowly worked her way through the gate into the main zoo. It was moderately crowded today, but not so much as to be overbearing. She slowly looked around, taking in the sights. It was her first time at this particular zoo. The entrance was basically a small plaza, with a stand selling food, a few picnic tables, an information booth and then cobble trails leading off in six different directions. Each of those trails led to a section of the zoo that featured animals from a specific continent. There was no Antarctica section. A pity, Lonnie wouldn’t have minded seeing some penguins.
She decided to start with the path leading to Africa. Mostly because that was where the animal she was most interested in seeing would be kept. As she followed the trail she came to an incredibly large pavilion with habitats set up all around it. There was an elephant enclosure, zebras, antelope, lemurs, wildebeest, and much more. However, Lonnie moved past all of those and instead moved to one exhibit in the very back. The Big Cat Habitat. It was a large expansive area, with a stream running through it, large rocky formations and plenty of room to run and move around. However, as Lonnie looked around she didn’t actually see any animals in it.
“Where are the lions?” She muttered as she squinted to try to see further into the distance. Absolutely nothing. Were they hiding somewhere to sleep? That was a possibility since most cats preferred to be active in the evening. Lonnie looked for an exhibit display to see if there was any information on what was supposed to be here. There was, and it made her heart sink a little.
‘Our current Big Cats have moved on to new opportunities. We apologize for the inconvenience. But don’t worry, we’re searching for new cats to add to the enclosure for your viewing pleasure soon. Interested parties inquire here.’
The message left Lonnie feeling somewhat confused to say the least. New opportunities? What did that even mean? But it did make one thing clear. The exhibit was empty. No big cats today. She stared back down at the display.
“What does inquire here even mean?” She looked around, wondering if there was someone nearby people were supposed to talk to. As she did, she felt a strange chill go down her spine. She shuddered, but the sensation passed after a moment. She went back to her thoughts. What were people inquiring about anyway? For details on when the exhibit would be full again? Or was the zoo asking random visitors if they had some spare lions to donate? Because that seemed rather silly and Lonnie wouldn’t want to meet the person that fit that description.
“Stupid crummy discount zoo.” Lonnie muttered under her breath. “Charged me a whole ten dollars and I don’t even get to see what I came here for.” She grumbled as she walked away from the exhibit. She supposed she would just have to take a look at some of the other animals throughout the day. She had paid money, she wasn’t going home until she had received at least ten dollars worth of entertainment dang it!
She went to the antelope exhibit next. There she saw well… Antelope. They weren’t doing much. Just sitting there in the grass. She didn’t know what she expected. Ah well, it was best to move on. Staring at these lazy things were making her hungry.
That gave Lonnie paused. Why would an antelope make her feel hungry? Her mind was just going in strange places today. She shook her head and moved on to check out some of the other animals.
Lonnie found herself growing bored with most of the zoo. She wasn’t sure if she was just that disappointed about the lions or what… But most of the animals she saw just didn’t interest her at all. Others… Usually herbivore animals, she kept getting strange urges around, mostly in they made her feel hungry enough to eat a whole deer. In fact, when she got to the deer she found herself fantasizing about how easy it might be to chase one down and cook it. Okay, clearly, she needed to get some food in her because she was obviously starving. The hunger was probably just messing with her brain and keeping her from thinking straight. She’d head back and grab something from the stand before going home.
But she wanted to make one last stop. In the South America section there was another cat enclosure. This one featured jaguars. Not what she originally wanted to see today, but they were actually here, and she was going to see some kind of cat today!
The jaguars were in a field that was separated from the patrons by a glass wall. One jaguar was curled up right against the wall relaxing, in plain view. He had attracted a bit of a crowd. A number of the other people here were trying to get their picture taken standing in front of it. Perhaps… This made up for the lions a little bit.
Lonnie waited in line to get up closer to it, happy to get a good look. But… As she approached something was off. The hairs on the back of her neck began to stand up, and she felt a sense of hostility towards the jaguar. It shouldn’t be here, or anywhere near her. This was her place to roam!
The jaguar suddenly snapped awake at that moment and stared directly at Lonnie. Its face contorted into a snarl, and it bore its fangs before growling. A number of patrons jumped back, but Lonnie herself stepped closer, a low growl forming in the back of her own throat. She stared into the eyes of the beast for a few moments… And then the jaguar stood up and walked away looking irritated.
Lonnie was back to normal as soon as it was out of sight. There was whispering all around her about the jaguar. People were confused what had upset it so much. There was a number of theories, some rather unflattering ones about Lonnie. It had not gone unnoticed that the creature became hostile as she approached. Lonnie turned around and shot a glare in the direction of some of the ones she heard. If they were going to try to talk about her behind her back, they could at least have the decency not to whisper so loud. She could hear them as clearly as she could hear someone’s normal speaking voice. It was like they wanted to be overheard.
People looked away when glared at, and Lonnie decided it was best to just forget about it. Clearly, something was off with her today. It was probably best to just go get that food and head home. After some rest she’d probably be back to normal. Today was just not a great day apparently.
The next morning Lonnie awoke with the same sense of foreboding she had every Sunday morning. The looming doom that was Monday and her day job was just twenty-four hours away, and no matter what she did she wouldn’t be able to stop it from coming. Darn capitalistic system requiring money for her to buy things. She rolled out of bed with a groan and headed to the bathroom to get cleaned up. Lonnie started a shower, stripped, and then froze.
When was the last time she shaved? Her legs were looking… Pretty not great right now. In fact, she had never seen so much hair on them in her life. It was just gross. She quickly grabbed her razor so she could address this issue while she was getting cleaned up.
After showering, Lonnie got dressed, grabbed a quick breakfast and prepared to go out for the day. She put her shoes on opened the door and froze. Something was wrong. Her shoes were squeezing her feet, and they were itching something fierce.
“What the actual heck?” Lonnie muttered. They had fit fine yesterday, what was the problem now? Something must have gotten inside them or something. She slipped out of the shoes, intending to shake then off and- “What?”
Her legs were hairy again. She had just shaved a half hour ago! And… Something was wrong with her feet. Her nails were solid black and… There was something else. Standing on her bare feet felt off… Strangely comfortable, but not like it should. Lonnie sat down on the floor to examine them and saw there were black pads on the bottom of her feet. She scratched an itch on her face idly while staring in confusion.
“OW!” Lonnie had managed to prick herself when scratching. She lowered her hand, and saw her fingernails were solid black as well… And looked far sharper than they should. More like claws than nails. Then there were pads growing on her palm, similar to the ones on her feet. “What the actual heck?”
Lonnie didn’t understand what was happening. This didn’t make any sense. If it was just the pads she would have thought it was some kind of fungus or something… But why was she growing so much hair? And…
“ARRRRRGH!” Lonnie let out a loud scream as she felt a sharp pain near the base of her spine. She quickly lowered her pants and looked over her shoulder to see what was happening. She nearly fainted after what she saw. There was a growth coming right out of her spine. The growth snaked out, forming into a long slender thing, covered in golden hair, with a hairier brown tuft on the tip. The pain subsided after it stopped growing, and Lonnie found she could move it as easily as she could her arm. “Do… I have a tail?” She slowly stood up and grabbed the thing. She was too shocked to even react properly.
A new sensation roused her from inaction. She felt like her entire body was being squeezed, making it difficult to breathe. It was… Her clothing? It was as if they were suddenly several sizes too small… And getting smaller by the moment. Lonnie let out an animalistic roar, as she flexed her arms and legs simultaneously, causing both her shirt, pants, and underwear to tear apart at the seams and fall off her. She was left standing naked, but this was far from her biggest concern right now. Her entire body had large patches of hair growing all over it. The patches were starting to form together, making a uniform golden coat over her entire body.
Lonnie began to wobble back and forth on her feet as she felt unsteady. She toppled forward, landing on all fours. She felt her backside push downward, and the posture suddenly felt normal as she stood on four pairs of feet… No… paws. She understood now. She was turning into an animal? But… Why? And more importantly, how?
Lonnie didn’t understand anything about what was happening, but she knew she needed help. She tried to call out, but only a loud growling noise escaped from her throat. As she continued to struggle she could see her face pushing out, her nose turning black. She could feel her ears stretching and sliding further up onto her head. Lastly, her human hair shrunk into her scalp before vanishing completely. All traces of her humanity were gone. She looked like a normal lioness.
“Mrooaawwwrl!?” Lonnie tried to stand back up on two legs. She managed to launch herself up onto her hind-paws for a few moments, before falling backwards onto her back and crashing into an end table. She was mostly unhurt, though the same couldn’t be said for the table which now lay in several pieces beneath her on the floor. Lonnie let out another growl as she rolled back onto her stomach. She looked around the room, and seeing her tattered clothing got a new idea.
Her cell phone was right there on the floor, having been freed from her pocket when her pants exploded. She could call someone for help! Except… No she couldn’t talk… But maybe she could text? She bounded over to the phone in a single leap and lifted up a paw to try and work it. She slowly pushed the paw down, pressing the entire touch screen all at once. She groaned and held one of her massive paws up in front of her face. How was anyone supposed to do anything with these clunky things!?
Okay… She had to think. She had claws right? Maybe if she was very careful she could use those to type in the words? She looked to her paw again and tried to figure out how to actually work her claws. She found she could make them slide out from their sheaths with a flexing motion. Very, very carefully, she moved her paw downward close to the phone. She positioned it so only one claw would actually touch it and tried to pull up her contacts. It was a slow process, but it was working.
But… Who to contact? Who would even believe her? What was she supposed to say? ‘Hey, I turned into a lion this morning. Please help?’ Well… Maybe she could say something to at least get someone to show up. She picked a contact at random and started to slowly type a message. The process was agonizing. Her claws weren’t meant to be used like this, and they soon felt stiff trying to type. About halfway between the word ‘turned’ she growled and pulled her paw back and began to shake it. There had to be a better way!
Maybe she could use her nose? She lowered her face close to the phone. No. It was way too big. Would press at least five letters at once. Wait! Maybe she could find something else to use to place the call! She quickly ran back towards her kitchen, knocking over her kitchen table in the process. Jumping up and placing her forepaws on the counter she saw what she was looking for, a collection of pens. She grabbed one in her mouth and ran back to the phone, lowered her head again and tried tapping a letter with the pen. It worked!
Okay! Progress! Step one, find a way to use the phone was done! Now, she just had to focus on step two, contact help. Then step three would be somehow reverse this but she was going to take things one step at a time right now to try to keep herself sane.
She went back to typing her message, a very long and drawn out process, but at least not painful. After what felt like an eternity, she had finally finished it. She reached for the send button and then…
There was a small shot of pain in her backside… As if she had been bitten by a rather large bug. Suddenly, Lonnie’s vision started to blur. What… Was happening? Her thoughts become muddled, her vision clouded, and she fell over onto her side. She was falling asleep. She tried to force her eyes to open, and for a moment she saw the open doorway to her apartment. There was someone standing there holding some kind of long object. He was speaking in a calm tone… But her mind was now too far gone to understand any of the words. Her eyes closed again, and then she was dead to the world.
Lonnie awoke with a large yawn. She had been having the strangest dream just moments before. It had actually been somewhat terrifying… But at least it was over now. She opened her eyes and-
And she was outside?
Before Lonnie was a large expansive area that looked familiar. Fields of grass, a bunch of rocky formations, a stream. It was the lion enclosure at the zoo! And… She was inside it? What was even happening? She tried to stand up, but her body felt heavy… It was hard to get back up onto her legs. She managed to push herself up onto two legs for a moment, then immediately toppled forward landing on all fours. Just like in her-
Lonnie stared down at the massive paws she still had. She hadn’t been dreaming. She was in the lion enclosure because she was a lion! She looked around frantically. There was no one else here! How had she gotten here? She had been in her apartment when it happened and… The last few moments were hard to remember. Everything had gotten hazy all of a sudden for some reason. She vaguely remembered a human shape standing in her doorway holding something… What was it?
Wait… Had it been a gun? That was it! Whoever that was, he had shot her! Obviously, not with bullets as she was very much alive and unwounded but… She remembers a sharp pain… It must have been a tranquilizer dart. That would explain how she got here. They must have thought she was some crazed animal, escaped from the zoo. So, animal control had been called in to tranq her and bring her back… Except she wasn’t really a lion! She wasn’t supposed to be here and-
And why would animal control be at her apartment when that happened. She hadn’t called them… No one else had been around to see her… And even if they had it would have taken them a lot longer to show up. Whoever that had been… They knew to be expecting a lion there. Did… Did someone do this to her? But then she had been brought to the zoo and put into the enclosure. She thought back on the display outside the exhibit and the strange message. Was it related? Maybe it was asking people to inquire if they wanted to be hired as lions? A few hours ago she would have considered the idea ridiculous, but that was before she was four-hundred pounds and had teeth that looked sharp enough to take a man’s head off.
Well… Lonnie supposed she at least knew what had happened and where she was now. Still not the why or how, but it was a start. But… The bigger question was what now?
Actually… She knew just what to do.
Lonnie stood up on all fours, stretched her body out and held her breath up. She took a deep breath, and then unleashed a terrifying roar that was so loud the glass walls actually rattled. This didn’t actually accomplish anything… But she was frustrated, and it felt good to vent a bit of that by screaming. Or well… Roaring. Actually, roaring was kind of a bit more satisfying than screaming. It made her feel powerful. She definitely felt like it would make someone take her concerns a lot more seriously. So… Silver lining?
Maybe she should look for a way out. She wasn’t going to be able to climb over the glass walls… Maybe there was another way out? They had put her in here somehow, and she highly doubted they just threw her over the wall. She slowly began to walk through the enclosure, taking in the sights and looking for any possible paths. There was a cave beneath the rocky formation, but not much in there other than a bunch of padded blankets for some reason. Oh, someone had probably put those there to be a bed for her. So she could rest in comfort. How thoughtful of them. Lonnie snarled.
She tried climbing to the top of the rocks to get a better view of the area. This was actually surprisingly easy. Her body moved with athleticism and acrobatic ability she had never been capable of before. At one point she went straight up a rock wall. Another, she jumped onto a rocky platform half her size, and then jumped again to more stable footing without falling or even losing her balance. She was actually kind of amazed how her body worked. In seconds she was at the very top. She could actually see most of the other exhibits around hers, as well as the Africa pavilion. Looked like no one was here… The zoo must not have opened yet. She looked at some of the other animals and noticed… They were a bit odd. For starters, she was certain she saw a lemur reading a newspaper. And… There were two antelope that appeared to be playing a game of checkers made with a board drawn in the sand and using acorns and pebbles for pieces and-
Mmmmm. Antelopes. The thought of them made Lonnie hyper aware that she hadn’t had breakfast yet. How hard would it be to get into their enclosure and chase down-
NO! Absolutely not. She was not going to hunt down and eat an antelope! It didn’t matter how delicious they looked and… Based on their behavior they weren’t acting like normal animals. Had all of them been transformed too? Were they the same ones she had seen being lazy the other day? Well, if that were true, then in some way maybe she lucked out turning into a lion instead of some dumb steak dinner on hooves. Wow she was hungry.
Lonnie jumped down from her perch so that the antelope would be gone from her sight. The sight of them brought too many complicated feelings that she didn’t quite know how to handle yet. They might be easier to control if she could find some food first and…
A delicious aroma suddenly filled her nostrils. It was… Steak? Lonnie broke into a sprint, running across the grassy fields in the direction it was coming from. As she did, she marveled a bit at how big the enclosure was. She had a lot of room to run and move if she wanted to test just how capable her new body was. Honestly, it felt like a straight up upgrade compared to her studio apartment. To think, zoo animals were living better than she was.
It didn’t take long for her to find the source of the smell. In the back of the enclosure there was a gate, most likely how people got in and out, and how she had been brought in here. More importantly than the gate though was the fact that there was a large platter sitting in front of it… And that platter was filled with a giant pile of honest to goodness grilled steaks.
Steaks? Lonnie grabbed one off the plate with her mouth and devoured it in instants. It was prime meat! The taste was heavenly. She hadn’t been able to afford any meat more expensive than discounted two days from expiring ground beef in the last five years; and the dumb animals got steaks here!? PRIME STEAKS! Was her life that bad or did zoo animals have it that good? It was hard to be sure at this point. Either way, regardless of how traumatizing the situation was, she wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity. Lonnie gleefully devoured the entire platter, not allowing even a single scrap of meat to go to waste. Now, happy with a full belly, she took a few steps away and laid down in the sunlight. It felt kind of nice.
The sound of a loudspeaker blared in the distance. It announced the date, and that the zoo was now opening and wait… The date… It wasn’t Sunday anymore. She had been asleep for an entire day! And wait… If it wasn’t Sunday… That meant it was Monday. She was supposed to be at work! If she didn’t get out of here, get back to normal and get to the center she’d be fired for sure! And then how would she pay for the rent for her crappy cramped apartment! And buy her discount almost expired mystery meats… And spend her entire day sitting in a cubicle being berated by customers for things she didn’t do…
Lonnie slowly looked around the enclosure again. Lots of living space, high quality meals, no concerns of rent or bills. Why was she trying to get out of this again? She looked down at her paws. Oh right, because she was supposed to be human. She wanted to go back to being human! Why was that? Because that’s what she was.
Except… She wasn’t human anymore… She was a lion. So… Did that mean she had to want to get back to normal?
While Lonnie considered her conflicted emotions, patrons were starting to file into the zoo. Many of them were now up against the glass wall staring at Lonnie, craning their necks to try to see her in the distance. She saw several children among them bouncing up and down. They sure seemed excited. She decided to pay them a visit.
Lonnie lifted herself up and strode all the way to the glass wall. She saw the children’s eyes slight up, and even the adults gasp. One of the kids pressed their hands against the wall, leaning into it. Lonnie looked at them for a moment, then lifted up one of her paws and pressed it to the same spot where one of the kid’s hands were. The child shouted excitedly, and suddenly started babbling about how cool lions were. It was… A novel experience, her customers being happy to see her… Even singing her praises. They were her customers after all she supposed, if she was now a member of the zoo that sort of made her an employee. Well, sort of. Still… It was nice to be wanted.
‘You know what?’ Lonnie thought. Forget being human! Her life had just been one endless rat race to avoid, going through cycles of abuse to avoid starvation. Living in the zoo was one heck of an upgrade from that! And come to think of it… If the other animals were also former humans… Those antelopes she had seen the other day were literally sleeping on the job. What lazy ungrateful jerks! They’ve got it made and they can’t even bother to stay awake! She could be a much better zoo animal than them!
Yeah. She liked that idea. And she liked being a lion. Regardless of how it happened, this was her life, and it was a nice one now.
Lonnie began to chuff happily as she accepted her new role. She turned her attention back to the visitors, especially the kids, and started thinking up new ways to entertain them. Maybe she could train some of them to play a few games with her. Of course, the humans would probably think she was being trained.
Heh. Humans are so stupid.