“This is a little embarrassing. Not really a conversation I want to be having, or ever thought I’d have to. Not with you.”
Brian, his manager, called him into the office. It was predictable, although the animal part of his brain ignored the warning signs.
“You’ve been becoming… uh, smelly, frankly. No other word for it. Well, probably lots of words…”
He stopped using deodorant upon his epiphany. An old flatmate told him their father never used anti-perspirant and was all the better for it. However, father was a farmer, with a life of fresh air away from city pollution, not an office drone with smartness in the job description.
He also stopped using soap, shampoo and shaving, freeing himself from man-made chemicals. Animals did not look in the mirror. His beard grew wild over ruddying cheeks. Uncombed, trimmed or groomed, hair sprouted everywhere. He did not wash his clothes; he didn’t even want to wear them.
“And your manner is… well, there’ve been complaints.”
His speech had degenerated; conversation became alien. Monosyllables, snorts and glares formed a new economical communication. Beth from accounts recoiled in horror when she tried to discuss the weekly payment run; he snarled, threw some documents across the desk and punched his computer. It was an instinctive reaction.
“Whatever personal… emotional issues you’re experiencing… I feel a leave of absence may be in order. There is some holiday leave you haven’t taken yet. And we’re willing to give you some time, additional if necessary. To get yourself together again.”
All he could do was shake his mane, bare yellowed teeth and grunt in reply.
“And for your own sake, you really should start wearing shoes again.”
HE STRIVED TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT, AS NATURE INTENDED
He enjoyed the feel of the ground beneath his feet – soles first blistered, then grew hard. He didn’t care if they were black, his nose accustomed to the smell.
He shunned weights and machines to build his new body, instead training muscles naturally, using plank and stretching exercises. Holding one position still until arms and legs vibrated and collapsed made him stronger than any machine could. He was transforming, evolving, stripping his body of fat along with his mind of doubts. He strived to live in the moment, as nature intended.
Bumps, scrapes and scratches were left untreated. A toothless friend claimed he could chew a steak with his gums. The body overcomes and adapts to need. He caught himself stroking his developing hirsute form, admiring silky hair in weird new places, then became disgusted by such vanity. He would not replace one ego with another; the goal was base instinct, not desire.
A monkey eats a banana upside down – humans wrongly adopted the habit of opening it by the stem, where apes simply pop the plant open fresh end first. When he tried, the flesh broke apart in his lumpen fist, squishing into gunge that plopped on the floor. No matter, it was still food. He licked it off his fingers and gobbled splatters off the lino. Food was life.
He foraged. Humans were a wasteful species and there was an endless free supply of grub in the city. Bins behind restaurants and outside takeaways were a prime resource. He emptied cardboard cartons for rancid chicken and mouldy burgers, trawled sacks for rotting vegetables and gravy slime.
There was competition. When he retched and vomited in an alley, gut rebelling against green fish, he saw a fox watching him. Sensing the human was unsteady, the animal darted forward for the prized meal. He righted himself in time and lashed at the glowing eyes, then opened his mouth wide and screamed. The deep, guttural roar that burst out, known to all species, was sign of his new-born nature.