Camping at the Zoo

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Camping at the Zoo

Author: AxelGripp

Summer was here, and for 12-year-old Cody, that initially meant 2 months of playing, relaxing, and being his own boss. Fate, it seems, had other plans for him. Now he has been sitting in a car for about 8 hours driving down-state to spend just about his entire summer at camp.

A lot of other kids would have been super pumped about this, as they would often imagine themselves living in tents, roasting marshmallows, climbing tree's, and swimming around in the lake whenever they felt like it. Cody however has been to camp before, so he knew better. When he was 10, he and his 4th Grade class went on a week-long camping trip. All he remembered was strict curfews, tight bathroom schedules, constant camp meetings, and endless pre-determined hiking trips that led nowhere. It may as well have been a military school in Vietnam. By the time he had finally returned home, he could have slept for 20 hours a day.

But as far as he could tell, this camp wasn't going to have hiking, tents, or marshmallows. This camp, was at a zoo, more specifically, the San Diego Zoo. He could picture it in his head, being forced to sleep in a custodians closet and spending hours going from exhibit to exhibit cleaning them out, as part of what they would call a “Team-Building Exercise”.

Why anyone would want to go camping at a Zoo was beyond Cody, but apparently, It wasn't to his 8-year-old sister Jessie. She always loved animals, even the ones that could kill you in one bite. She spent much of her spare time researching them, and loved it whenever she got to spend some time near them. So for those reasons, She jumped at the idea of spending her Summer surrounded by animals of all sorts.

They probably wouldn't be on there way there right now if it wasn't for their teenage brother Franklin. When he was 10 years old, he went to the very camp that Cody was now being dragged against his will to. He liked it so much, that he spent many of his subsequent Summers there. Now that he is 19, he has taken a break from College and taken a Summer job as a camp counselor there. Ever since Cody was 8, (which is apparently the minimum required age to attend this camp) every Summer Franklin would try to convince him to come with him. He respected and looked up to his brother, but the problem was, Cody has always been a bit of a co-dependent boy. Other than school, Cody has felt uncomfortable with traveling a large distance from his home without his parents. Well, now his sister was finally old enough to attend this camp, and whether it's because his parents don't want him alone in the house while both his sibling were at camp downstate, or because they wanted him to have fun without them for once, he was coming with her, whether he wanted to or not.

Before he could finish whatever inner-monologue was going on in his mind. He heard his mother say, “Alright, we're here!”

Almost instantly, Jessie pressed her face against the glass of her window in hopes of catching a first glance of the place.

“Ahem,” said Cody, which made his sister turn her head to him.

Cody simply pointed his finger to his window, where the zoo was clearly visible through, and said, “It's that way.”

Jessie slowly resettled herself into her car seat, kinda embarrassed of her act of impulsiveness, and looked out the window looking out in pure excitement.

After 30 minutes of trying to find a parking space, and Cody listening to the ear-numbing sound of his parents bickering about it, they finally got out of the car. Since he had only been out of the car twice this entire road trip for bathroom breaks, Cody saw this as the perfect moment to finally stretch his limbs out. It was such a relief, he could have sworn he felt a bone pop back into place in his arm. Once he was “loose enough” he grabbed his backpack (Franklin recommended that he pack very lightly) and just waited around for everyone else to do something.

“Well look who finally made it.” He heard a familiar voice say, one that he was kinda happy to hear.

Cody looked over to the zoo's entrance o see Franklin walking toward them.

“Franklin!” Cody exclaimed and ran up to his brother hugging him.

“Easy there!” his brother said.

“Sorry,” Cody said and let go, “I'm just happy to see you again”.

“Me too” Franklin replied, “and I'm also glad to see you finally made your way here.”

“Yeah well, you can thank her for that.” Cody pointed at Jessie, who was sitting on a nearby bench rather passively.

Franklin, understanding his little brothers reluctance about being here, got down on his knee to his level, “Look, I understand your a bit disappointed about spending your Summer at a place like this. I know because I felt the same way my first time here. But trust me, there are plenty of surprises.”

“I guess,” Cody muttered, “I just had a lot of other things I wanted to get done these next few months.”

“Look,” Frank explained frankly (No pun intended), “Literally, EVERYONE says that at the beginning of Summer, and almost all of them end up sitting on their couch eating goldfish.”

“But that's my idea of heaven.” Cody stated.

“Me too kid, me too,” replied Frank, “But if there really is a heaven, then right now, lets just enjoy life.”

Frank then ruffled Cody's hair a bit and went over to meet Jessie. After a while, everyone was ready and they entered the zoo. Soon enough, Cody found himself in what anyone would expect from entering a zoo; concession stands, restaurants, guys in elephant costumes that must have been 500 degrees inside, a sign that says “All-New Extremely Rare White Coyote” and an overall “jungle plaza” look... how unoriginal. Although he kinda liked the people covered in vines on the vine covered suits that would blend in with the rest of the agriculture, It took them long enough, but they finally found the their group of campmates, along with some of the other counselors. After saying good luck and goodbye to their eldest and youngest child, their parents went over to their middle child.

“Now listen Cody,” explained his father, “Franklin may be here to watch over you two, but Jessie is your little sister, which means you are responsible for her. That means if she hurst herself, she gets lost, or she ends up taking drugs, it's all on you.”

Cody did not like the sound of that. The last time he was responsible for something was when he was left home alone for two hours with their pet cat. By the time his parents came home, Damien had chewed up half the sofa. So how could they think for a second that he would have any more success with a human being? Perhaps in their rulebook, being born four years before someone gave you total seniority over them. But being the obedient (or at least as obedient as he lets his folks believe) kid he was, he simply smiled and nodded his head. After a few goodbye hugs and some kisses on the cheek, Cody and his siblings waved and watched as their folks left from their view, for approximately the next two months. Cody would never tell this to just anyone, but he felt very sad to see them go like that and not be able to see them again until the end of the summer, being as codependent as stated before. Still, he took comfort knowing that Frank would be here with him.

Before he could think anymore about it, who he could only assume was the head consoler stood on a conveniently placed stool and began his welcoming speech.

“Good afternoon campers” He said out load, “Welcome to the San Diego Zoo. I'm your head counselor, Chet. Before we get started here, I'd like to talk a blah some of the blah blah we have in store for blah blah blah blah with blah in a yakkity yakitty with some etc. Etc. For yak yak yak to blah yada yada yada ect. Yak until..............”

That is what it sounded like to Cody, who simply couldn't care enough about what he was saying to stay focused on his words. Based on the faces of the kids around him, a lot of them weren't either. However there were some kids, Jessie included, who looked absolutely psyched to be here. Besides her, much of said kids looked well over 8 or 9, so he could assume they had been to this camp before.

Before he could really think about what they could possibly be excited about, he heard Chet say, “alright, now we are going to divede you all by age and a counsoler lead each group to their respective changing rooms”.

Wait, changing rooms? Oh no... They were going to make him wear a uniform weren't they! Well that's just perfect. Not only was he going to spend each day out in the hot blistering sun with no hope for a visit to any pool, but he was going to have to do it while dressed like the Super Mario Bros. Knowing however, that arguing about it won't get him anywhere, he managed to find his way into his age group, and they and all the other groups formed separate lines. His sister was four lines away from him, so he could barely see her. Considering his parents expectations from him, this made him a little insecure.

Franklin, whom Cody was lucky enough to have leading his group, said to him, “don't worry, this place takes familial relations into account, so you two will defiantly be bunked together.”

Cody didn't know whether to feel relieved or even more unnerved, because it seemed to him now that EVERYONE expects him to be Jessie's “Guardian Angel”. Nethertheless, as soon as his and everyone elses line started moving started moving, he followed suit to whatever “changing room” they may be heading to.

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After what felt like hours of walking, the groups came across a large building with a large garage-like door at the side of the zoo. They all entered into what appeared to be some sort of loading dock, probably for shipping the animals, food, and other supplies around. To Cody, it seemed like a strange place to put a changing room for so-called campers. At this point, the groups separated and headed down different corridors. Cody was able to catch on last glimpse of his sister before he lost sight of her through the hallway. The corridor he found himself in looked and smelt surprisingly clean for a zoo building.

After a while, they all came across a large metal door, with two lights on top of it; red and green (currently the red one was lit), and a nurse standing next to an empty seat, and a table with syringes laid out on it. What they were for, Cody did not know, but the idea of being jabbed in the arm with one of those sent a shudder through his spine.

“Alright,” Frank announced, I want you all to form a single file line in front of the door. When the light glows green, each of you will receive your vaccinations and head in to get changed.

So, those needles were really meant for him? I guess it makes sense, since he and some of the other kids might have allergies to the animals here. Either way, he absolutely, did not like shots, not now, not ever.

They got in the single file line. After a few seconds of waiting, the light turned green and the door opened. A janitor came out with the name “Max” printed on his name tag.

“It's all ready for ya.” he said in a tired and miserable voice, clearly not happy with his current job, and headed off to whatever god-forsakken toilet needed unclogging.

The nurse ushered the first kid onto the seat and proceeded to give him his injection. Cody watched him flinch as the needle was stuck into his arm and he absolutely dreaded that happening to him. Immediately after, The kid was shown into the room, and as the nurse closed the door behind him, the green light turned off and the red one turned on. After a few minutes, The green light turned on again and the door opened, but the kid wasn't in there. Cody saw that there was another door on the inside of the room, so he assumed that he left through there. To where, he did not know.

This process repeated itself until finally, it was his turn. Knowing full way that there was nothing he could say to get him out of getting this shot, he simply sat on the chair, help his arm out and shut his eyes.

“Cody, just relax,” Franklin told him, “It'll hurt a lot less.”

Cody heeded his words and relaxed his muscles the best he could, until he felt an uncomfortable feeling enter and exit his skin.

“Alright,” said Frank, “Now hurry in and get changed.”

Cody obediently entered the changing room and looked around him. It looked like just a plain white room with some air vents, a mirror two opposite wall, and two doors on the other. Before he could say anything, the door closed behind him and he heard his brother say, “Good luck”.

Cody simply stood there in that white room confused. He didn't see any other clothes anywhere in here, so what the heck did they expect him to change into? Cody has always been a bit of a modest boy, so he knew in his heart that he was not changing out of his clothes until he had another outfit to put on.

Cody's thought's were interrupted by an itchy feeling on his skin. At first it felt like an itch like any other and he scratched it without even really thinking about it. Soon however the itching feeling intensified and began to spread to his entire body. It was starting to really irritate him and drive him crazy as he scratched just about every part of his body.

“Was I bitten by a swarm of mosquitos or something?” He thought to himself as he looked at his arm. What he saw, he had absolutely no words for. Last he checked his body hair wasn't that long, and it certainly wasn't white! As he looked closer, he could actually see it growing thicker and thicker. Surely this had to be some sort of hallucination, a side-effect from the vaccine perhaps. That theory was quickly debunks as he began to notice a strange feeling in his innards. He put his hand on his stomach, almost feeling like he was going to throw up. He began to feel very dizzy and his vision became slightly distorted. He raised one of his hands to his face with the intent of waving it around to check his vision, but what he saw made him visibly scream. His nails were growing longer and his fingers were starting to shrink into them selves.

He was defiantly panicking now. “Hello!?!” He called out to anyone who might be listening.

Just then, he felt his arms begin to change shape. It didn't exactly hurt as much as it felt weird and uncomfortable. He began to notice a similar feeling in his feet. Scared and confused, he took off one of his shoes and saw that his feet were going through the same mutation his hands were. His head also began to hurt as he felt his ears begin to change shape and move to the top of his head. He looked at his hands one more time and saw that not only have his fingers become so small that they cant even be moved anymore, but his thumb had almost disappears into his hand

As what he could guess by now was fur kept spreading over his body, he felt his legs begin to shift. The more his legs shifted, the more trouble he wad standing up. By now he was absolutely terrified of what was happening to him.

He walked as best as he could to the door and yelled, “Help! Somebody please! Frank!!!”

After vainly waiting for a response, he started to feel a compressing feeling all over his body. He was shrinking! On top of that, he could feel his mouth and nose stretch in front of his face until he could see it with his own two eyes. Soon enough, he had shrunken so much, that this pants and underwear simply slid off him. Even though he was alone in the room, his sense of modesty got the best of him he couldn't resist the urge to try and cover his privates. When he realized it was no use, he stepped out of his discarded pants feeling rather defeated. He then felt a strange twinge above his butt. By now his shirt was starting to feel really uncomfortable over his fur, so he decided it was best to get rid of it. Using his inarticulate hands as best he could, he was able to eventually get the thing off of him. Now he was just standing there, completely naked and mutating into god-knows-what.

He then remembered the mirror, and decided to get a good look at himself through it. He gasped at what he saw. He was almost completely covered in fur from head-to-toe, his legs trembling under his weight, his useless excuses for arms waving about in the air, and a face that looked like it belonged to a werewolf. Altogether, he looked like something he once saw in a horror movie.

He tried to scream, but all that came out was a “aouuuh-raahhh!” Was his vocal cords changing?

Before he had a chance to think about it, the feeling above his rear became more of a distraction. So he turned around and looked behind him to see his reflection from the back. What he saw was a strange stump growing above his behind. It was almost starting to look like a tail. Suddenly, he started to feel pain in his spine. This pain increased gradually and soon it became so unbearable that Cody screamed as best he could. Soon enough, he felt an audible pop in his back and he fell to the ground on his hands and feet. Taking a second to enjoy the relief of the pain ending. He attempted to stand up again, but kept falling back on his hands. It was no use, his spine, arms, and legs conditioned him to be on all fours like... like an animal.

That's when the realization hit him, he was becoming an animal, a beast, a creature! Looking down at his hands only confirmed his fear. He no longer had hands, but paws, canine paws. He finally finished shrinking as his nose turned black. He could feel his ears and muzzle finish taking shape. As the uncomfortable feeling inside him and the feeling in his rear ceased, the last thing he could feel was his teeth sharpening and his vision turning to black and white.

The first thing he noticed after the “transformation” was over was his heightened sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight, despite his monochromic vision. He looked down at himself to see his fully developed front legs and feet. Although he was scared of what he would see, he slowly looked into the mirror to see what he had become. What he saw, was a white coyote pup, like the one he saw on the poster earlier. He didn't know whether to scream, faint, or cry, so he just stood there in shock. Soon enough though, he decided to test out his new body. Walking was the biggest issue, since he had only ever had two feet. He tried putting one of his front paws out first, then the alternate back leg, his other front leg, and then his last back leg. His first few try's ended up with him falling flat on his face, and struggling to get back up, but eventually, he was able to execute an exceptional walking cycle, considering his situation.

With this newfound sense of mobility, he returned to the mirror to get a better view of himself. First, he took a look at both his sides, getting a good idea of his length. Then he was able to catch a glimpse of a reflection of his rear through a reflection of the opposite mirror, including his new bushy, fully developed tail. He tried to see if he could move his tail, which proved to besurprisingly easy, and was able to wave it back and forth. He tried to say something but all that came out were a few barks and yips, which brought him back to the severity of his predicament. He had been reduced from a 12-year-old human being, into a small animal. What would happen to him?

Just then, the opposite door of the one he came into opened and two men in zoo uniforms came in. Cody unconsciously tucked his tail between his legs and shivered as they brought out a small cage. There was no way he was going in there! After a few seconds of defiance, one of the men took out what looked like a squeaky toy. Suddenly, Cody was hit by a mesmerizing sense of desire. He didn't know why, but he could't keep his eyes off it. The man threw it into the cage and before he knew it, Cody was walking very quickly into the cage. He grabbed the thing in his mouth and started chewing and gnawing at it, not really caring what else was going on. He was snapped out of this trance however when he heard the cage door shut behind him and he felt himself being carried away.

However scared he felt when he was becoming... this, was nothing compared to now, he was literally an animal in a cage, being taken god-knows-where, and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. After a rather nauseating ride being carried in that cage, he found himself back in the loading room where they had entered the building in and was being carried to a truck with a bunch of other young animals loaded onto it. That's when it hit him, “Has the same thing happened to all the other kids?”

Once he was loaded and secured with all the other animals (that thought made him shudder) he began to hear a bunch of voices his own age. Some sounded scared, others excited, others were crying, and the rest were trying to comfort the ones who were crying.

<Wow!> He heard a human voice say behind him, <You're a white coyote? That's awesome!>

Cody looked behind him and saw a tiger cub looking at him in awe.

<D-did you say that?> Cody asked confused.

<Yep!> The tiger cub said innocently.

<How- how am I able to understand you?> Cody asked.

<Well, since we are now both like this, we can understand each other, and other animals,> The tiger replied contently.

<We?> Cody asked, <You mean you...?>

<Yep> The tiger replied contently, <Me and all the rest of us were all the human kids in your group.>

Cody didn't know what to say. How was this kid, er... tiger... whatever, so calm about this?

< I take it it's your first time here?”> the tiger cub asked. Cody simply nodded.

< I guess that makes sense considering look of fear and confusion on your face. I can certainly understand that,> said the tiger, <First time I was changed, I thought I had entered The Twilight Zone!>

<Your first time?> asked Cody, tilting his head.

<Yep, I've been coming here every Summer for three years> the tiger exclaimed happily, <Last year, I got to be a snake! It was beyond epic!>

Before Cody could ask anything else, he and a lot of the other animal/kids saw Franklin approaching the truck. Cody, happy to see his brother, unconsciously wagged his tail. But he was also scared and confused so he pawed at the inside of his cage like a dog who needed to be let outside.

“Now kids,” Franklin explained, “I know that for some of you, this is your first time here, and I'm sure you might be scared, confused and have a lot of questions” He looked at Cody knowingly, “Well, trying to ask me them directly right now would be pointless, because You all are all no longer capable of human speech. Let me first assure you, that your transformation is not permanent.”

Upon hearing that from his brother, Cody felt relief pour through him. For a second there, he thought he might become a permanent addition to this zoo.

“Second,” Frank continued, “By now you realize this is no ordinary camp. Here, we allow kids to spend the summer living here as part of the zoo with our animals.”

Wait, did he say what Cody thought he said? He was going to spend the next two months like this!?! Why didn't he say anything? That seems like a pretty important piece of information to leave out!

“In a few minutes, you will all be driven to each of your respective enclosures, where you will joined with other kids of your species. Once there, your adult animal caretaker will help you settle in.”

Cody could defiantly understand that Twilight Zone thing now. I mean, animal caretakers? He didn't know whether he should keep trying to get answers or just try to go with it and see where he ends up.

“Later, a counselor will be over to explain other important details.” Frank continued, “understood?”

Cody simply watched as many of the other animals around him nodded their heads, like something out of a Disney movie.

“Alright.” Frank said before looking over to the driver, “You're all clear!”

Cody then felt the engine start and the truck rumbling. He almost lost his balance at the car began to move forward. As the truck progressed into a steady drive, he took one last glance at his brother before he disappeared from his sight. Before he knew it, the truck was driving outside driving along one of the zoo's car routes. The first thing Cody noticed was that there were more voices than when he first entered the zoo.

He heard voices saying, “don't bite your brother!” and “I was hitting on her for about 5 minutes before I realized she was just a penguin plush some kid had dropped into the enclosure” “Been there!”. It didn't take Cody long to figure out that these voices were coming from the other animals in the zoo.

As he drove past the park guests and tourists, they all just watched casually as they drove by. It then occurred to Cody that to them, he was just another animal in this zoo. This made Cody feel like his humanity had been stripped from him.

When they reached their first stop, the seal enclosure, the guy in the passenger seat carried two cages containing seals out of the truck and carried them into the enclosure. Just then, Cody remembered something important. Jessie! What had happened to her? If he had to guess, then she and all the other age groups was most likely transformed the same as him his group. But what has she become? Cody then remembered something Frank told him about how they took family into account and how they would be “bunking together”. So it probably meant that she had also been turned into a coyote and they would be staying in the same enclosure.

Oh who was he kidding? There was no way any of this was real. He could have fallen asleep in the car for all he knew and was in the middle of a really bizarre dream. Any second now the Kool-Aid guy was going to burst through one of those zoo walls and yell “OH YEAH!!!” He just had to pinch himself and he's wake up. But then he remembered, “pinch myself with what?” as he looked down at his useless paws.

Soon, the guy came back and hoped into the truck and they continues to drive along the path. Cody, tired of standing by now, started to try and lie down. It was no easy task, seeing as his limbs no long worked like a human's. First, he tried to lower his behind the cage floor. He found that he was able to fold his hind legs and lower his rear onto the ground. After obtaining a surprisingly comfortable sitting position. Next, was his front half. He slowly moved each of his front paws in front of him, and eventually, they slipped on the sleek cage floor and his front just plopped down. Finally, he was laying down like a proper canine. He imagined he must have looked like one of those sad puppies in those animal shelter PSA's. Still, he felt very comfortable and relaxed in this position. As the car continued to drive to the next enclosure, he just laid there watching the environment whizz by and contemplated his current situation

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About an hour and a half later, night had fallen, and they had driven to at least 19 different enclosures and the truck was now half empty (or half full, depending on how you look at life). When they stopped, Cody was beginning to fall asleep. Before he could however, he felt his cage begin to move. He then jerked his head up and found himself being carried out of the truck. He could only assume that mean't they had reached “his” enclosure. His suspicions were confirmed when he reached a door with a sign saying “Coyote enclosure”. The man carrying Cody then unlocked the door, opened it, walked in, and soon enough, Cody found himself in a large outdoor exhibit made to look like a prairie environment. It didn't just look like a prairie, it smelt like one too. This made Cody feel pretty comfortable, perhaps his new Coyote biology approved with this atmosphere. When he was lowered to the ground, he saw maybe 6 adult coyote's and 3 pups, including two white ones like him. An adult, and a pup. The man unlocked the cage and opened it. Not wanting to spend another second in there, Cody walked out and he was finally free. Without even thinking about it, he stretched out his body, and then shook himself, much in the same way a dog would.

Now he was standing in a coyote enclosure, a coyote himself, not knowing what to do.

<Um... hello?> He said, prompting the other Coyotes to stare at him.

Cody just gulped and continued, <Well... this is awkward...>

<Cody?> He heard a voice somewhere in the enclosure say, one that he instantly recognized, <is that you?>

<Jessie!?!> He shouted, not knowing exactly where it was coming from, <are you here!?!>

<CODY!!!> Shouted the voice happily and excitedly.

Cody then whipped his head forward to see the white coyote pup sprint toward him. With just one look into the pup's eyes, whether by his new instincts or by instincts he had to begin with, he immediately recognized this pup. It was Jessie

Before he could say anything, he found himself being tackled by his coyote sister. Soon, he found himself on his back with Jessie standing over him with a look of pure happiness on her new face and her tail wagging furiously.

<I'm so glad your here!> She exclaimed, <Can you believe this!?! We actually get to BE and LIVE WITH actual coyotes!>

<Can you...> Cody muttered, <Please get off me?>

<Oh right,> Jessie said sheepishly, <sorry.>

After a few seconds of trying trying to roll back around and stand back up, he was back on his four legs and got his first real good view of his sister as a coyote. She was a few centimeters smaller than him and her canine figure looked a bit more feminine. It figures, based on how much she loved animals, how excited she would be about this. It also occurred to Cody that while he could barely walk, his 8-year-old sister had already figured out how to sprint. That made him feel a bit embarrassed.

<Aw man, it was sooooo weird!> Jessie explained exuberantly, < I was in the changing room, and then, my skin began to tingle...> [FIVE MINUTES LATER] <...and then I looked in the mirror, and I had become a white coyote! At first I was shocked, confused, then scared. Then I decided to try walking. Next thing I knew, I was running around the room. I had never felt so alive and free...> [ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES LATER] <...so I walked out of the cage here, and then I met Nika!>

<................. I'm sorry, what?> Cody replied, clearly having not been listening.

<So Jessie,> Cody heard a female voice say, which turned out to be coming from the adult white coyote walking toward them, <Is this your brother?>

<Mmhm!> Nodded Jessie, <Cody, meet Nika!>

<Well hello there Cody,> Nika said approaching Cody, <your sister has told me a lot about you>

<R-really...?> Cody asked nervously, and then whispered, <Has she told you about... An incident with the kitchen si->

<Oh yes> Nika Interrupted.

<...Great...> He muttered to himself, ears drooping down in embarrassment. He was nine, he really didn't know any better.

<Anyway, I'm Nika,> she explained, <i'm gonna be your animal caretaker.>

<Aaaaaaaand... what does that mean?> asked Cody.

<It mean's i'm responsible for your safety and making sure you both properly adjust to life as coyotes,> Nika replied.

<It seems like your sister is well on her way,> she said, looking over at Jessie who was busy chasing her tail.

<Seems like an unusual job.> Cody stated.

< I won't lie to you,> Nika explained a bit solemnly, <I've actually only been at this Zoo for a few months now and this is my first time doing this sort of thing.>

<So your not-> Cody began to ask.

<Nope,> interrupted Nika, < I am pure 100% natural born coyote. The only other humans here are your sister and johnny over there,> she then faced a corner of the enclosure where the said transformed pup was cuddled up next to a normal adult coyote.

< I see,> Cody said, <Well, if it helps, This is actually my first time here too.>

< I could tell by the way you were staggering earlier,> Nika chuckled, causing Cody to look down a bit and lightly kick some dirt with his front paw in embarrassment.

<I'm sorry,> Nika apologized, <I'm not sure how capable I will be at this. But I promise, for you and your sister, I will certainly try my best>

<Th-thank you,> Cody said, smiling a bit for the first time since he was transformed.

Just then, Cody heard the door he entered through open (which was cleverly hidden by some boulders), and looked over to see Franklin walk through. Jessie also noticed him, ceased chasing her tail, and ran up to him excitingly. All Cody could do was walk rather clumsily towards him. Franklin sat down and crossed his legs. Jessie simply hoped into them and looked up at him happily. Cody had no experience jumping whatsoever, so Frank had to lift him into his lap.

“Well,” He began, “It seems I have some explaining to do.”

Cody, not being able to speak human, simply nodded with a look that said, “Oh, ya think!?!”

“Well, when I was ten” he started to explain, “I was convinced to come to this camp by a close friend of mine who had come here for the first time the previous year and was returning that year. Not wanting to be alone that Summer, I took his word for it and went with him to this place. The last thing I expected was being turned into a bear and put in the bear exhibit. I thought maybe I had gone crazy or someone had put something in those injections. Well, the more the Summer passed, the more I started to enjoy life here, I had never had a more fun Summer before in my life. So I spent every subsequent Summer of my School life here.”

Cody and Jessie looked at each other inquisitively, and then Cody gave him a look that Frank could tell meant, “Well why didn't you say anything?”

“I'm sorry you guys,” he apologized, “I wanted to tell you, I really did, but this program has a very strict confidentiality policy, since they believe the transformation serum would be dangerous in the wrong hands.”

I could understand that... I guess... maybe, Cody thought to himself.

Frank sighed then began to speak to Cody directly, “Look, I know that it's... beyond weird, even unheard of, to spend the Summer... well... as another species. But if I didn't think that it might be a fun an enjoyable experience for you, I wouldn't have spent four years trying to convince you to come. Actually getting to be an animal here at the zoo, being able to do things no human can, It's a very unique and rare experience, one you might just learn and grow from it.”

Cody just thought to himself a little bit about what Frank just told him.

“Are you going to be okay?” Frank asked.

Cody simply nodded. It wasn't just out of not wanting his brother to worry, a small part of him really felt like he would be. Although he really wished he could speak to him. Frank being able to talk to him but him not being able to talk back made him feel a bit like he was cut off from him in a sense.

“Alright,” Frank responded, lifting Jessie to his head to get a loving nuzzle and then doing the same with Cody.

Cody, not knowing what else he was supposed to do, followed his sisters example and nuzzled him. At this moment he kinda felt like his pet. He didn't know how to feel about that.

Frank put Cody down, stood up, and said, “alright you two, time to get some sleep. It's almost midnight and all the other animals here are asleep”

As Cody and Jessie watched, Frank said, “goodnight, I'll see ya tomorrow!” He then exited the enclosure and closed the door.

Left alone, with his sister and the other coyotes, Cody turned around and asked, <o-kaaaaaaayyy, soooo, where's the bathroom?>

The other natural chuckled out load at his statement.

Cody simply sat there, looking around confused, <what?>

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An hour later, all the other coyotes in the enclosure were fast asleep, except for Cody, who just couldn't seem to bring himself to slumber, despite having finally managed to get himself into the “curled sleeping position” which turned out to be REALLY comfy. He had never felt more dirty in his entire life. Just an hour ago, he literally had to go to the bathroom, right on the ground, in the open. Well, not exactly in the open, he found a large enough rock to take refuge behind. At least the other Coyotes were decent enough to look away, but still. His sister didn't seem to mind the itchy fur, sleeping on the ground, the nakedness, the walking on all fours, or going to the bathroom in the open. Cody used to sometimes tease Jessie about her obsession with animals and wildlife. Well, who's laughing now? Although, he did think the efficient night-vision his new eyes provided him with was pretty cool.

His thoughts were then interrupted by the feeling on something poking at one of his sides. He raised and turned his head up and to the side to see Jessie standing next to him.

<Yeah?> he asked quietly, uncurling himself <what's up?>

<W-well...> Jessie asked nervously, with her ears halfway down, < I was wondering if... maybe... I could... sleep with you tonight?>

<Why?> Cody asked <are you scared?>

<No.> Jessie stated defensively, <... well... yes. It's just, I've never... slept out in the open... in such an unfamiliar... dark place before.>

Cody, thought to himself, “How could she be afraid of the dark when she has night vision?” but he then remembered what his mom told him about being responsible for his sister, and simply said, <Well, alright, but try not to snore.>

< I don't think it's possible in this body,> she said, <but okay.>

With that, she laid down right next to her brother, her tail wagging in content as she very quickly started to feel drowsy.

<Cody?> she asked.

<Yeah?> Cody responded.

<Thanks,> Jessie said, <thank you for coming with me here.>

She then snuggled into her brother's warm toasty fur and promptly fell asleep. Cody simply looked down at his sisters sleeping form. Out of both brotherly and animal instinct, he briefly and lovingly nuzzled her and moved his tail around her defensively. He wasn't sure how much he would be able to warm up to this “camp”, and the concept of being an animal and living in a zoo like one still disturbed him. But when he thought of his sister, well, he'd do it for her. He wasn't sure if he could be her “Guardian Angel” and protect her the way his parents expected him to. But if Nika would try her hardest, so would he. And with that, he joined his little sister in a deep sleep.