21 October 1967 / Bluff Creek, California

First of all, bully for Dian. She’s finally gotten herself living with a bunch of gorillas. I just received a letter from her stating as much. It’s funny. I never thought she was being literal when she would mention this desire. I always thought she was referring to the members of one of those ridiculous Harvard social clubs.

Her letter reminded me of an experiment I’d tinkered with a few years ago. I had discovered a mouse in my lab being neglected by the others because it was hairless. Of course, I knew deep down the proper response was to train the others to accept the odd one, to remind them they each have something they’re ashamed of, that if they looked inward they’d see that it could just as easily be them who’s being shunned. Especially that one with that little mole on its face. But instead, my urge to fix everything with science won out.

Without getting into specific details, I’d made a solution in a dish using DNA from my own hair follicles and some radiation. I dipped the bald mouse into the dish and within minutes the mouse was covered with the thick jet-black mane I would see in the mirror if I ever looked. He was glorious. And my theory was proved correct. For when I placed the mouse back with the others it was hailed and celebrated! Problem solved, and onto the rest of my day.

Unfortunately, later that evening I saw the mouse was now being shunned with even greater voracity than before. Or so I thought. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was his fame that had isolated him. None of his friends could relate to his star-power and the stresses he was living under. There were a number of failed attempts to re-assimilate the mouse, but ultimately I felt the only sensible thing was to ship the mouse to Elvis so they might both enjoy a companion of equal stature.

But back to Dian! If she truly wants to ingratiate herself with the gorillas, she’s going to have to go full immersion. And that’s where I thought I could help. Using the same formula I used with the Elvis mouse, I created a batch of the solution in my bathtub, enough for an entire human-sized thing or, in fact, an actual human.

As I was lifting the tub for shipment, though, I slipped on a tray of assorted oils, and plunged smack into the special formula. A tidal wave of DNA and radiation! I flopped and thrashed like a dozen drowning cats until I eventually exhausted myself. When I regained my senses, the hair was already starting to grow. Yet my only thought was one of relief: since I was nude my favorite robe was to be spared from the hairification.

By the time I stood and stepped over the edge of the tub, the transformation was complete. I was covered with a coat of beautiful black fur…. I was a wild animal! I pounded my chest, ran into my living room and roared at the sofa. Amazing! This was something I’d wanted since I was four. I’d been so concerned with Dian, I’d forgotten my own deep desires to connect with nature.

I bounded outside, across a highway, and into the wilderness. I wasted no time introducing myself to the ecological community, at first mildly pawing at some grass and batting around some insects. But before I realized it I was high in a tree, howling at birds, establishing my dominion.

My beastly cry echoed through the forest, and when it returned to my ears, I heard no remaining trace of man. I sucked air deeply through my snout, profoundly sensed the world around me, sending me into a trancelike state. I remember only fragments of what came next. Pouncing on a squirrel. Tackling a deer, kicking a smug turtle. Tussling with a bear over a fishing spot. Attacking a couple of campers taking pictures.

By the end of my day, though, I had the sad realization that after all this exciting frenzy, I had no one to share it with, that I would never become part of another clan. I was to live the life of a solitary predator, either too feared or too admired by the animal kingdom. Maybe I could make friends with some invertebrates, but who wants that?

I nested that night on a soft bed of pine needles. When I awoke, my black pelt had fallen all away. I sighed relief, happy to be Homo sapiens again. A 16mm camera I guess I had snatched from one of those campers lay to my side. I grabbed the camera, then stood, howled. And the echo that returned was that of a very powerful… man. I hiked the 19 miles I’d covered the day before back to the lodge, apologizing to every turtle I ran into along the way.

As for Dian, I guess she’ll muddle through somehow.