One long day on the road
Danny lay in the cool, dark stomach brooding. Reptilian digestive juices,
slow but remorseless, did their best to dissolve him. Of course, they
couldn't hurt him, but this really was becoming tedious
"Is there a problem, officer?"
The two raccoons in the convertible looked up at him inquisitively. They
were well-dressed, each of the four-foot-tall tall humanoid procyonids
wearing matching white shirts and shorts tailored to allow their tails
out the back. Charcoal-gray sandals and fingerless driving gloves completed
the outfits: they were a perfectly matched pair, only their gender separating
"Just a routine check, ma'am. We're required to ask about any unusual
pets we see."
The animal curled in the female's lap opened one eye, then pulled its
nose from beneath its ringed tail. Danny has never seen anything like
it: long of tail, narrow of skull, with a flexible muzzle resembling a
pig's. It looked like nothing so much as a stretched raccoon.
"Oh!" The she-raccoon giggled. "Cheesers is a coati. Want
to see his papers?"
"Yes, ma'am." Why was the male raccoon so nervous? His eyes
kept flashing from Danny to the glove compartment., and cop instincts
kicked in. "If you'll get them out for me."
He reached for the radio mike clipped to his chest, and moved half a step
forward so that he could see the males' hands. When in doubt, be paranoid.
It kept cops alive
The raccoon-woman reached for the glove box, hesitated
and the world
went crazy around Danny.
He'd just had a glimpse of the clear capsule in the male's hand before
the procyonid snapped it between his fingers. A wave of colorless energy
flowed past the female raccoon and over him. That was when things changed.
Air roared past his ears, his vision dimmed, and he staggered.
A second later he recovered, only to find himself in a strange new world.
He stood on a rocky field, densely pebbled with head-sized gray stones
that were half-sunk into the darker surface. An occasional tree made up
of wide, flat green blades poked toward the sky.
In the distance, a mountainous white wall loomed. Tall as a hill, it seemed
flat, with perfectly horizontal grooves every fifty feet or so of its
"Jesus, Gary, did you have to do that?"
The voice boomed over him, so basso profundo he didn't catch the first
couple of words. '
have to do that ?' Danny turned, and towering
overhead was a gleaming red wall. Whatever it was, it seemed suspended
in the air, and beneath its edge was an architecture of pipes and valleys.
Danny was not a dumb man. He turned, and sure enough, about two hundred
feet away was an enormous gray disk with a silver center. The thick disk
had a heavily corrugated edge. Bridgestone, said the writing on the disk.
That made the white 'hill' the side of the convenience store, and the
The convertible's door opened, and the female raccoon stepped carefully
out into the parking lot. "Damn, it's a good thing we're the only
ones here." This little convenience store on Ave. D was so far to
the west of the Antelope Valley that only travelers on their way to or
from the I-5 tended to visit it. Its isolation was one reason they had
stopped; when carrying illicit goods they never stopped in anything resembling
a town or city. It had just been bad luck that the cop had been there
to take a leak, or whatever. "What did you hit him with?"
Cheesers dropped from her lap to the pebbly parking lot, grunting at the
fall then snuffling around. As always, his flexible nose hoovered about,
searching for anything edible someone might have dropped. Bugs, too, were
highly edible, in the coati's opinion.
"Shrink spell. He should be about an inch and
male raccoon appeared around the front of the Miata. "Get Cheesers
off the ground! If the cop is --"
But it was already too late for Danny. He'd stood staring up at the towering
raccoon femme (as tall as an 18-story building, to him), and the coati
landed right next to him. When he finally shook off his shock and turned
to look at it, the motion attracted the animal's eye. Danny was just about
Ambling forward, it thumped a paw down on him. Protective spells woven
into his uniform blunted the blow, as they would have deflected a bullet,
but the huge paw still threw him to the ground. He fumbled for his gun
as the paw scraped him across the pebbles, and then the animal's mouth
took him in.
Cheesers considered the little snack he had caught. At first chew, it
was discouragingly tough. He almost chipped an incisor as he tried to
snip it in half. Tonguing it to the rear of his mouth, he ground it between
his molars. It was equally resistant there, like a little rock. And for
some reason, his mistress was upset at him.
"Cheesers, you spit that out!" Abigail grabbed the coati up
into her lap again. "Be a good boy and spit it out. I have a treat
God, Gary, what are we going to do?"
Of course, Cheesers was having none of it. He continued to masticate the
tough little bug, and when his mistress offered him the slice of fruit,
he took it. But only after disposing of the bug in the proper manner.
As a cop, Danny had been in some foul dives. Biker bars, sheep ranches,
the backs of greasy spoons. Once he had to search the rear of a semi carrying
crated poultry, and he'd smelled like chicken crap for days. But none
of them could compare to this. Saliva had spread over him the moment he
popped into the coati's mouth, and the huge, disgustingly fleshy tongue
had moved him about like a toy, pushing him between the teeth to be chewed.
Again his uniform saved him, but it couldn't absorb all the force of the
bites. What got through was still stunningly painful, and he dropped his
automatic before firing the pistol even once. It sank into the thick saliva,
churned around the coati's mouth as he the tongue pushed him toward the
rearmost rows of teeth.
He'd proven impervious to the teeth, but the coati was not done with him.
The slick tongue forced him to the rear of what, previously, had seemed
a long, narrow muzzle. Now it was such a maw as a dragon might have, easily
large enough to hold his bug-sized body. Danny felt the huge muscle forcing
him ever deeper, and tried to wedge his fingers between two teeth. But
like him, the teeth were slippery with saliva
"Cheesers? Come on dear, spit out the nasty
The coati was licking its chops, now, and while it lifted its muzzle for
the fruit slice, it wasn't spitting anything out. "I think Cheesers
swallowed him. Why the hell did you hit him with that spell?"
"He was reaching for his radio. He was suspicious." Gary eyed
the motorcycle cop's ride. "I don't think he called in our tags,
and no one saw us pull up here. I say we go."
Abigail climbed back into the Miata. "That poor cop. He must have
Gary fired up the Miata and pulled back onto the road, heading for Lancaster,
Highway 14, and, eventually (in maybe 5 hours), Las Vegas to sell the
capsule-spells in the glove compartment and trunk. "At least he didn't
But the raccoons underestimated Danny. Pushed into the coati's throat
and swallowed, he slithered through the fetid heat of the gullet. Coated
with slime and pushed ever downward by the swallowing muscles, he soon
arrived at the cardiac sphincter and was pushed through. All his struggles
had been for naught; there was nothing to grab that wasn't smooth muscle
just as slicked-down with mucus as was. And so he pushed into the stomach,
sinking into a mass of digestive fluids, half-digested fruit, Iams cat
food, and the occasional bug.
As the disgusting slop permeated his uniform and filled every crevice
of his body, Danny calmly reached for his radio. He'd been in enough bad
situations to trust his uniforms' spells. He'd be safe in here, no matter
how disgusting his environment.
The stomach, of course, didn't know he was invulnerable. It treated him
as any other lump of food, kneading him between its walls and sloshing
him around to ensure he was soaked in a copious quantity of its enzymes.
Were it not for his protective spells, he would already be burning, his
skin corroding. A bug-sized creature such as him would be reduced to a
skeleton in mere minutes by this much acid.
Danny held the radio mike and waited for a bubble of gas to make itself
available. While he didn't need to breathe thanks to his spells, he couldn't
talk unless there was some genuine air (or methane, or whatever) to carry
the sound. If he spoke into this mess, it would distort his voice. Not
to mention the fluids were transmitting the thump of the coati's pulse
and the heavy gurgles of digestion.
Swimming through the chunky goo, he eventually found a pocket of -- for
lack of a better term -- 'air' against one stomach wall. He pushed his
face into the pocket, brought his hand and mike up, and sent out the call.
"Officer needs assistance. Officer needs assistance. Officer down!"
That last was not strictly accurate, but he figured he was 'down' enough
to qualify. "Officer needs assistance." And he waited. When
Dispatch replied, he could fill them in on the situation and then hold
down the mike to give the DF teams something to home in on. Eventually
the raccoons and their pet would be apprehended and he'd be extracted
The stomach, eager as ever to digest this lump of 'food', squeezed and
massaged him while he waited. He lost track of the bubble of air (the
coati burped quietly as it dozed in Abigail's lap), and though he held
the radio speaker to his ear, he couldn't make out a reply. After far
too much waiting for his taste, he paddled his way around the dark pit
of a belly and found another air pocket.
"Officer down. Officer down! Dispatch, please reply." The gut
gurgled and moaned around him. He had swum 'downward' to find this pocket,
and something near his feet was making sucking sounds that transmitted
through the fetid slime to be more felt than heard. "Officer --"
But Danny, while a trained policeman, didn't know much about his radio.
Like a soldier who merely uses a complex weapon, rather than understanding
its inner structure, he simply assumed that since he could feel the cable
from mike to radio and from radio to antenna, that it was intact. In fact
it *was* intact. That was not the problem.
The problem was that when he shrank, reducing to about a fiftieth of his
normal height, the radio antenna had shrunk the same amount. The physical
length of an antenna directly controls its frequency output. The shorter
the antenna, the higher its transmission (and reception) frequency. What
had been a VHF (Very High Frequency) signal at 142 Megahertz was now radiating
at over 7 GHz -- a band used by cell phones, not police radios. And since
his signal lacked the encoding looked for by cell phone rebroadcasting
networks, including satellites, they ignored it. The power output was
also much reduced, and what wasn't being soaked up by the wall of flesh
around him hardly reached fifty feet.
icer down. Officer down. Dispatch, please respond
The stomach wall had moved him again, pulsing him between two hot folds
of itself, and he lost his air bubble.
The one thing the stomach could do to him was make him sweat. It was over
a hundred degrees in here, and humid as a hothouse. Danny was already
thirsty. As revolting as the idea was, he would eventually have to take
a drink of this
and just hope his spells kept it from
dissolving his lips and innards. He was going to put that little experiment
off as long as possible, though.
Now he had another concern. Trapped in a fold of the belly, he was being
pushed downward (or upward; he couldn't tell). Something had grabbed his
feet and was pulsing slowly up over his calves. It felt a lot like being
swallowed, but much slower this time. Wanting no more of that, he jerked
one leg upward, trying to slip his foot loose.
His foot did pull out, but the wall folding in from above didn't give
him enough leeway to get his other foot loose. And now the sucking
it was had begun to pulse more rapidly, pulling his leg deeper. Soon he
lost the second foot again, then his lower thighs. Now, his hips. He shoved
the stomach wall, trying to get a grip, but the thick slime again slid
through his fingers. Could this get any worse?
It could. Gradually he was drawn into the sucking hole and into the tunnel
behind it. About the time his waist was consumed, Danny reasoned out what
was happening. Stomachs have a way in, and a way out. In his efforts to
find an air pocket, he had come too close to the lower valve, and was
being sent into the intestine. He might not know a huge amount about internal
anatomy, but he knew where this was going.
Pulled now fully into the small intestine, he was being kneaded along
by its peristaltic action. The surrounding villi felt his skin and uniform
avidly, looking for nutrients to absorb, but unlike the soup of digested
food sent downward by the stomach, he was un-absorbable. That was not
a problem. Other indigestibles had traveled through this sausage of flesh.
This, too, shall pass
With no air pockets here, he couldn't transmit. All Danny could do was
relax and hope the coati had a rapid digestive system. Gradually the intestine
pushed him along, feetfirst. As revolting as the prospect was, at least
it was a way out of this sauna. Maybe his only way.
It happened at a rest stop past Baker (home of the world tallest thermometer!),
California. Cheesers had been progressively more restless the last half-hour,
and eventually Abigail told Greg the coati needed a walk. All three of
them needed to use the restroom now, but Cheesers got priority, and they
pulled into a slot at the end of the rest stop so they wouldn't have to
let the coati wander too far. Sure enough, he scurried out into the sagebrush,
found a spot he wanted and squatted.
Danny had been in the animal for hours now, and lately things had gotten
nasty. Nasty-er, anyway. He had arrived in the coati's large intestine
and come to a halt, squeezed in with a fair accumulation of other indigestibles.
The growing volume of crap-to-be included large quantities of worn-out
blood cells, bits of carapace from luckless bugs, fruit seeds, and food
residue that wasn't quite interesting enough for the small intestine to
vacuum up. He lay in that mess as water was gradually leached out, turning
the slurry of unusuables into a more compact column of, to be blunt, shit.
Now the coati squatted, lifted his tail, and relieved himself. It only
took a few seconds to expel the tube of used food, and Cheesers scampered
back to be petted and loved. Shortly thereafter, Abigail and Greg used
the bathrooms in the center of the rest area, and after that they were
back on the road and on their way out of Danny's life.
Unpleasant though his life was, as the moment. The muscular contraction
that shot the coati-turd out was impossible to mistake for anything but
the animal taking a dump, at least, if you happened to be part of that
dump. Now the turd sat steaming in the winter air, and he was able to
move at last.
Burrowing through the *yuck*
stuff that made up his prison, he
soon emerged into the open. The very first thing he did was find a patch
of grass (actually it was a spot of ground moss, since the 'grass' was
two stories tall to him now) and wipe himself off. He had to rub every
part of himself against the rough moss to get the worst of the crap off.
Even so, he'd need dozens of showers to ever feel clean again. He was
still slimed from head to foot, just less thickly now. And there was no
way he was taking his uniform off to clean it. Not until he was his normal
Comparing himself to the grass, he decided he was about an inch and a
half tall now. The rest stop fence was a few hundred yards away (less
than twenty feet. Cheesers had been in a hurry) and with any luck he could
find attract the attention of one of the travelers there. First, though:
He keyed the mike. "Officer Daniel Skerry to any other officer or
dispatch. Please respond." *Sk* "Anyone receiving this, pleased
A sound behind him made him turn. There, head tilted and looking down
at him with one bright eye, was a raven. From his viewpoint, a more than
To be continued in chapter 2, The Raven
Possible future chapters:
-- Raven (definite)
-- Coyote (definite)
-- Snake (California Glossy) (Definite)
-- Human toddler (possible).
-- Open to suggestions.