Changes – Mutant 750: Grammar Ghoul Press


Sometimes it all goes wrong in the worst way possible. Various events combine to create a positive feedback loop. Each unforeseen failure exacerbating the previous catastrophe.

It was probably unwise for Jerry Montcrief to leave the time machine running. Although in his defense it took days to get the thing started, and he planned to continue his research the next morning. It was probably worse to place the three-ton machine atop an anti-grav sled for easy maneuvering. Who could ever have expected that Nicks the chimpanzee would get loose during evening and shove the whole device out an unexpectedly open window? Who would imagine the strong winds of a thunderstorm would then blow the operating time-machine straight into the nearby zoo?

All these things could’ve been overcome. Montcrief’s research never involved sending anything back in time more than a few days. A working time machine was brand new, of course, and he proceeded carefully. It’s perhaps not his fault that the machine was easily capable of sending animals back 65 million years. It was his fault, however, that he could control the machine from his PC at home.

Consequently, it’s rather amazing that his cat, Mimzy, decided cavorting on the keyboard was rather fun at this very moment. And what amount of horrible luck would it take for a mere tortoiseshell cat to accidentally reprogram the time machine? Of course, if things weren’t already bad, this reprogramming sent random zoo animals back roughly 64 million years.

It was a critical time, 600,000 years after the dinosaurs died off suddenly. Earth had healed and could once again support large animals. Many ecological niches stood open, waiting for some creature to evolve and fill a role. At this critical point, life could have evolved in many different directions. The seeds of future sentience could have been planted in any living animal. It was in this critical point, when Montcrief’s machine began sending modern animals and their associated bacteria, back in time.

Jerry awoke at 11:00PM to loud music blasting from his PC. He and his wife had slumbered after making love. As both lay scattered across the bed, David Bowie sang, “Turn and face the strange, ch-ch-changes.” Jerry wondered why the PC was suddenly playing music. He turned to his wife, and recoiled in shock. Her long ears flopped back on her rabbit head. “Mmmm. That was wonderful, darling,” Jasmine cooed.

He sat up suddenly and slapped his face. Nope. This was no dream. Reality had changed.


“Sweetheart. You know how sex makes me ravenous,” said Jasmine. Her triangular Mantis head leaned towards him. He launched himself away from her. All in a rush, he realized what was happening. He raced to his PC, and soon his worst fears were confirmed. The time machine was sending anything nearby it back in time every few minutes. The current dominant species being replaced from Human to another animal each time. Jerry wondered at the cause until he saw Mimzy sleeping on his handkerchief beside the computer. That cat would die…but later.


He couldn’t fix this from the PC. He had to get to the lab, quick. Now, as a jaguar-headed sentient, the quickest route was climbing down the fire escape. Why use the elevator when your climbing skills are so good? The neighbor’s dog, Pooper, growled as he passed. Jerry always liked banging on his doghouse, coming and going from home. It was so easy to get the dachshund excited. Such a pitiful little animal. Idly, he wondered why the dog hadn’t changed.

He got waylaid on the way to the taxi stand. The smell of tuna at the local fish market was overwhelming for him and all the other jaguar-headed clientele. It was strange seeing jaguars walking around in Armani suits and pencil skirts.


When he arrived at the lab, he had to pay extra for his fare. As a sentient goat, he couldn’t help chewing on the upholstery…just a little.

At the lab, he finally corrected Mimzy’s ad lib programming. He performed his own programming and reversed all the accidental sendings into the distant past. The zoo’s animals returned, roughly, to where they belonged.

He returned home on the train, as a human, surrounded by other humans. Normalcy had been restored. Walking past the neighbors, he felt so good, he couldn’t help banging on Pooper’s doghouse, and walked on.

Pooper now stood seven feet tall. He glared at Jerry down his yard-long Terror Bird’s beak. Tonight, Pooper was getting revenge!
Author’s Notes:
I’ve written about Terror Birds often, but for those unfamiliar: Terror Birds evolved after the dinosaurs died out, filling their niche as top predator. Some species (e.g., “Phorusrhacinae”) stood as tall as 10 feet.

The Cretaceous Extinction (KT event) wiped out the last of the large dinosaurs 65 million years ago. I’m guessing that at 64.4 million years ago, enough vegetation grew to support large animals once more. Dinosaurs didn’t actually fail. Many animals under 25 pounds survived the meteor strike and that included small, Theropod dinosaurs. You probably see the ancestors of dinosaurs every day. They flit around in the trees. Some of them taste very good. We call them, “Chickens.” In the years after the great dinosaurs died, many ecological niches were empty. Mammals stood up and dominated the Earth, and that led to US. Things might have gone differently…with a little accidental tampering.

This week at the Grammar Ghoul: we now have multiple weekly challenges. The Mutant 750 is the 750 word challenge. The word prompt is: Handkerchief. The media prompt is a video of David Bowie’s song, “Changes.” With a lyric like “Time may change me. But I can’t trace time,” I knew a time machine would be involved. I just didn’t know how else to proceed. When backed into a corner, my stories get bizarre. I started drinking rum & coke, and things just went strange from there. I hope you enjoyed the story. Look here for more stories answering the challenge:

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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13 Responses to Changes – Mutant 750: Grammar Ghoul Press

  1. This is a brilliant tale! I have a theory that daschunds and other little dogs bark so loudly at anything because they resent the fact that they have been bred down to such stupid dimension when once they were grey wolves. And that every so often they explode during a particularly ferocious barking frenzy. I ‘ve never actually seen one do it, but it stands to reason… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Haha! You are SO right! 😀 It’s “little dog syndrome.” The smallest dogs make the biggest noise, annoyed at 10,000 years of human interference. I just know that if one day, they were made normal sized, they’d be a holy terror in the neighborhood. Nobody, especially mailmen, would be safe.

      Glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks so very much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      By the way, I just added a bit to the “author’s notes.” It’s all probably review for you. I like adding a little scientific/informational review at the end, just as you deliver whole, and fascinating, posts regarding scientific knowledge.


      • Yes – excellent extra dimension! The way chance played such a part in the specific way ‘today’ emerged always fascinates me. We might still be living in a world of dinosaurs (or their descendants) had it not been for the K-T extinction. Would they have been more bird-like than their dino-ancestors? Quite possibly – this seems to be the way dinosaurs had been changing for a while, and it’s fun to speculate. I guess in a biological sense, the Terror Birds were themselves a ‘sort’ of dinosaur – as, indeed, were New Zealand’s moa and kiwi, which have significantly more ‘lizard/dino’ like heads than many birds.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nothing short of brilliant! Chewing on upholstery and jaguars in pencils skirts…wow. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tony L. says:

    Great job! I keep reading it and I keep laughing! Brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mara Fields says:

    You produce very clean prose for it being rum induced! Did you edit after the rum had worn off? I loved your story, the pace and the plot, and the tone all fit together like puzzle pieces to create such a clear picture of the time-machine fiasco. Thanks for giving us the great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Hehe. I just drink enough to free up inhibition a tad. My typing ability is bad enough when straight sober, I don’t need to make it worse! 😉 I’m glad the story fit well. All these things you pointed out, I work on and focus on quite a lot. It’s good to see I’m gaining ground. Thanks so much for your wonderful words. I appreciate it a lot! 🙂


  5. Suzanne says:

    Ah, revenge of the underdog! 😉

    Nothing like a little rum to get those creative juices flowing. Great pacing and fantastic visuals. If Jerry survives his encounter with Pooper, he might want to think about inventing a cat-proof keyboard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Oh yes! Or after Pooper’s transformation, revenge of the Underbird. Jerry did survive and Mimzy was permanently locked out of the PC room. Pooper was never seen again, but there have been curious, unverified sightings in Boston. Pooper wasn’t the only changed dog. That might explain the very large nest found in upstate New York. 😉

      Glad the visuals were appealing. Rum is handy for getting these imagined, but a strong IPA (8% alcohol content) does an equally nice job.

      Thanks so much, Suzanne! I appreciate your thoughts! 🙂


  6. Pingback: Grammar Ghoul Press » Mutant #16 + Chimera #1 Winners, and Mutant #17 Prompts

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