Written by Bunny Mickley, Summer, 2003
“So what do you do for a living, anyhow?”
“It’s hard to explain. I’m a professional animal,” Tom replied.
“You mean like the guys at the amusement parks that dress up in those cute costumes and scare little kids?”
“No, no, nothing like that.”
“Okay, so explain it to me! I wanna know,” Georgia whined back.
“Well, when you were a kid, did you ever have a pet in your classroom at school? Like a hamster or something?”
“Gosh, I don’t remember. That was a long time ago… I think I remember having something like that in like kindergarten or something, yeah.”
“What you most likely don’t know is that having animals in a classroom was made illegal around 15 years ago. An animal got loose, and when it was finally found it was so scared that it attacked a student. The student ended up in the hospital from the injuries, and the parents sued the school. A court battle ensued, and the school lost. Not only was the school fined heavily, the Judge ruled that animals are barred from the classroom due to their unpredictable nature.”
“Unpredictable nature? They’re animals! That’s just how they behave! What did he expect? A human?” A light bulb went on in Georgia’s head. “But yeah, I guess I remember hearing a little about that. It was quite a while ago, I suppose. So where do you fit into this?” she asked eagerly.
“I work for a company that helps fill a need in areas like this. For nine months out of the year, I’m a rabbit. The school hires folks like myself to come into the classrooms so that the students still have a chance to experience the joy that you were able to experience while holding a live bunny for the first time. Since we actually *ARE* human, we are allowed into the classroom. Some of the teachers that are old enough to remember when genetic animals were allowed in the classroom actually say they prefer us better, since we understand English. And simple commands like ‘No!’,” Tom mused with a smile on his face.
“For real? Do the students know that they aren’t dealing with an actual bunny?”
“Well, for all intents and purposes, they *ARE* dealing with a real bunny. Once I’ve been transformed into a bunny, I’m a bunny. Even a vet wouldn’t know the difference! And, uh, once I went to a vet so I outta know… man, talk about embarrassing. I got some weird kind of head cold and could hardly breathe. There’s nothing worse than a rabbit with a head cold!” He chuckled at the thought of a rabbit with a snotty nose. “But to answer your question, no the students don’t know. They are never told, and in fact, not all of the teachers know. Most of the teachers just think we’re very well trained animals, and are thus safe for school use.”
“Wow. So how do you actually get transformed into a bunny?”
“It’s not as bad as it sounds, actually. We have a machine that looks like one of those old MRI machines — one with a table in front of that you lay down on, and then the table is slowly drawn into the depths of the machine and it goes to work. It’s not for anyone that doesn’t like tight spaces! When it’s time to be transformed I lie down on the table, and get to take a ride into the heart of the machine. Once the machine kicks in I feel a tingling that starts on my skin and works its way inwards, eventually ending deep inside my body. I stay like that for an hour or so, and then the table slowly retracts from the machine.”
“And just like that you’re a bunny?”
“No. The transformation process takes place over the next three days afterwards. The time in the machine just kicks the whole process off.”
“So what comes next?”
“Normally we do the machine part of the transformation late in the day — often right before bed time. This gives your body time to start the transformation while you’re asleep. We’ve found that it goes quicker if you do. And it’s really cool waking up the next night to find that you’re half the size you were when you went to bed! The first time that happened to me it really creeped me out… I knew what to expect, but it just seemed really weird.
“Over the course of the first day there are two things that happen. The first is that most of the hair on your body falls out quickly after getting out of the machine, and the second is that you shrink, and shrink fast. Well, I shrink more than most people because a rabbit is just about the smallest animal we do. There’s some folks that actually become larger – moose, horses, cows and the like – but I like being a smaller animal. The world seems so much bigger when you’re that size.” Tom smiled and said, “You would not believe how big a queen sized bed is to a rabbit!
“Around the second day is where the fun really starts. Fur starts to grow, and the body changes shape. Some things happen so quickly you can almost watch them happening before your eyes, like the shape of your face changing. I used to think that the sensation of fur growing was very itchy, but I’ve just gotten used to it as many times as I’ve done it now. To be honest, I like having a coat of fur… it’s a lot easier than doing laundry!
“I go to bed on the second day on two feet, but wake up in the morning on four. By the morning on the third day most of the major changes are done. Surprisingly, two of the last things to change are the two things most people associate with rabbits — ears and a tail. I know I’m almost done transforming when my ears start to grow upwards and I can feel the sensation of a tail start to push its way from my rear. Very weird feeling! Not long after the ears and tail are done the entire process is done, and I resume my life as a rabbit.”
“And that’s it?”
“Almost! The body changes quickly, but it takes the mind a few weeks to adjust afterwards. I always feel like I’m really ‘short’ for the first week or so before I get conditioned to being low to the ground again. There’s more to it than just being used to your new height, too — after a while you start to think like a rabbit, instead of like a human. The same is true going from rabbit to human when it’s time for a break… it takes me a while to think like a human again after transforming back. That’s a very uncomfortable feeling, I might add.
“I sleep the third night in a cage instead in a bed, and just settle back down and prepare for the assignment ahead. Normally I’m given a few days of time to just relax before I’m sent off to my assignment.”
“What do you do when you’re not in a classroom? Like on evenings and weekends?”
“Depends on the assignment. I spend almost every evening alone – which isn’t a problem because I get really worn out during the day look forward to getting a lot of sleep. As for the weekends, normally the staff takes turns keeping me at their house on weekends. What I do there depends on if the teacher knows, or cares, that I’m actually a human. There are a few teachers that treat me like a pet, and some that treat me like a normal house guest, who just happens to be a rabbit. I can tolerate the former, but really enjoy the latter.
“When I’m in a house where I’m treated like a house guest I normally have a TV I can watch, and even get to sleep in a real bed every now and then.” Tom chuckled again. “I love that! Sleeping in a bed is so much fun — I burrow into the covers and just enjoy the warm and soft place to sleep. Oh, and on occasion I’m allowed to use a computer, too–“
“–Use a computer? For what?” Georgia interrupted.
“Just screwing around on the Internet, mostly. There’s only so much I can do. I’ve tried learning how to type with a pencil in my mouth, but its more trouble than it’s worth. Moving a mouse around isn’t too bad, however. I can manage to type an address, and then I move the mouse for the rest.
“When I’m at a house where I’m treated like a pet, I just relax and enjoy being a bunny. That’s about all I can do, really. Sleep all day and enjoy whatever food I’m given.”
“Even rabbit food?”
“Even rabbit food. It’s not as bad as you’d think. That’s what I live off of during the week, in fact.”
“Do you stay a bunny for the whole school year?”
“No. I get changed back into a human for the holiday break. The docs at our lab don’t like it when we stay ‘in character’ for more than six months at a time, so I’m given a break. I don’t mind at all, it gives me a chance to enjoy my family like everyone else. After all, I’m a normal person just like you; I just happen to have a really weird job.”
“How much do you get paid, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“No, I don’t mind. I get asked that a lot. And the answer is, very little. You’d be shocked at how little I make, but you have to remember that I have very few expenses for nine months a year. I make enough money to take the summer off and go on a long vacation, like what I’m doing right now. I just live at a hotel or with friends and family for a few months, and then it’s back to school I go.”
Georgia’s mind raced at what she’d just heard. After reflecting on it for a moment she asked, “Wow. I still don’t know if you’re telling the truth… this is all too weird. But, if you’re not lying, do you know if it would be possible to make someone into a half-human, half-rabbit creature? Like a rabbit that’s human sized and walks on two legs?”
“Well, I suppose it’s possible, but why would anyone want to do that?”