The Transformer

(As with many other dreams, this takes place in a large building, which is the labyrinth that contains everything in the world.)

I was in a room with white plastic tables and MDF bookshelves, perhaps a meeting room in a library or goverment office. There were several cages filled with shredded paper on some of the shelves and tables, holding baby mammals of various species. I opened one of the cages containing a very small puppy with ginger fur, but young as it was, it attacked me.

“Don’t touch the animals,” warned one of the government officers waiting around with me. “You don’t know what can happen if they bite you.” The bite of a puppy with milk teeth? I wondered.

The mayor arrived at last. He had once been the mayor of New York City but had been sacked from office. Somehow he had found the labyrinth and taken it over. He had an entourage of two or three other men in suits, including a dark-haired, good-looking young one.

One of the officers who had been waiting with me stood up at the front of the room and began speaking. She said that they had (developed? Been given?) a machine that could temporarily transform any mammal into any other species of mammal. What this meant for the city was that it could make huge sums of money by setting up a Contract Research Organisation. But unlike other animal CROs that did toxicology and efficacy studies in rabbits, mice, and dogs, this new CRO could produce data from living human bodies. But since the humans were really just rabbits, mice, and dogs, it would enable them to do incredible experiments that could never be performed on real humans.

She invited the mayor to view a live demonstration of the transformer. One of the other officers took the cage with the ginger puppy, as well as another containing two hooded lab rats. We headed to the main lift lobby and took a lift down, down so the way to one of the lowest floors in the basement. To my surprise, the lobby doors opened on a small theatre with red velvet curtains framing its stage.

A closed booth with a desk and a laptop next to it stood on the stage. To the right of the stage was a pile of empty cages, smelling of various things. One of the officers from the first room mounted the stairs to the left of the stage and headed towards the computer and booth with the puppy. I didn’t see what happened to it, because the mayor’s young assistant suddenly seemed to be in distress.

He held his hands in front of him, bent sharply at the wrist with the fingers together, stiff and straight. He tried to sidle away from the group, but it was impossible not to notice him. As he shook his head, his ears grew large, triangular and floppy, and he grunted repeatedly. The mayor grimaced in disgust. The two other suits, without any other command, stepped up behind the younger man and drew long knives from their jackets. They swung together.

I ran without waiting for the blades to fall. There was a wet thwack and a crack together, the sound I have heard hundreds of times in butcher shops. Shouting. I ran out and through the corridors, around the back of the theatre to where I knew from my years-long inhabitation of the labyrinth that the cargo lifts should be, hoping that the VIPs and bureaucrats would not. Some surprised workers were loading empty plastic crates of the kind live chickens are transported in. I shoved them aside rudely and dived in. I punched the button for the forty-ninth floor over and over, praying for the door to close quickly.

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