Jamie rang Jess's doorbell.
"I'm coming!" Jess shouted. A few seconds later, she opened the door. "Ready for game night?"
"As much as I will be." Jamie slung the backpack off his shoulders. "I think I brought everything." After having forgotten to bring his controller the first time, he had made a list he went over every time Jess had him over. That didn't stop him from feeling like he was forgetting something, though.
"Well, come in! John said he would be here a bit later. Oh, hey, I found a recipe for a drink that sounds fun. I just got done making some."
"What is it?" Jamie put his backpack by the door, then made sure the clip-on flower in his short hair hadn't been blown away by the wind. For as long as he could remember, knowing it was there brought him peace.
Closer to the kitchen, he smelled chocolate. A lot of chocolate.
"It's a surprise! For me, too, in a way." Why are you like this?
A nearly-empty bag of chocolate chips sat on the counter, next to a can of whipped cream, several crushed cans of soda, an energy drink bottle, and... was that frosting? Jamie's stomach churned. He fingered his flower.
The microwave *beep*ed. The stench of sweetness became thicker as Jess took a tall, steaming cup out. The light brown liquid inside didn't wobble.
"Are you sure you can drink this?" Jamie asked.
Jess put the cup to her lips and drank half of it, then licked her mouth despite it already being clean. "Mmm. Here, you try." She shoved the cup in Jamie's hands while he was inhaling. Too sweet. More than a taste would make him vomit, but he tried it anyway.
The drink was thick, sweet, and a bit tangy, not to mention the overwhelming taste of chocolate. All his tongue knew was sugar. Slowly, the drink traveled down his throat, filling him with warmth. The nausea began as soon as it entered his stomach.
"It's very sweet," Jamie said, pressing his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "What is it called?"
"Can squirrels even have chocolate?" Jamie's lungs and guts were warm and fuzzy. He sat down. "Oh, I shouldn't have had that. Too sweet."
"Other than that, what did you think?"
The warmth spread to Jamie's arms and legs. He leaned forward. "It was like I melted a cake and the candy in a Halloween bucket, then squirted in some orange. It was very thick. I think some of it is still oozing down my throat."
"Anything else?" Jess's voice squeaked a bit. "Ooh, I think it's actually working!"
"The gobs of sugar attacking my stomach?" Jamie's voice squeaked too. Wait, was that hair on Jess's arms?
"Not that." And, did the hair just grow? Jess giggled, but with how high-pitched her voice was getting, it sounded like a chitter.
"Jess?" The warmth touched Jamie's head, making it feel fuzzy too. The rest of his organs joined his stomach in complaining. "I don't feel good." He swirled a finger around his flower, bumping into his soft hair.
"The page said that it'll be over after about a minute at most."
So Jamie wouldn't be throwing up. Good. There was more hair on Jess now, probably more than on his own arms and legs. There was even some on her face, including her forehead and cheeks. She couldn't have more hair in total than he did, right? Jamie took a look at his own arms.
Jamie couldn't see his skin -- his arms were coated in gray fur. His hands were gray too, as well as his legs. His heart shook, from both the sight and the sugar. There had to be a rational explanation. "Uh, Jess, I really think something is wrong. My eyes are messed up." As soon as the words left his mouth, his eyes hurt like he was going cross-eyed. After blinking and rubbing them, they stopped hurting, but he still saw fur.
"How so?" The fur covered Jess wholly, turning white where her neck poked out of her shirt. Her eyes were farther apart, bigger, and black, like the eyes of a stuffed animal.
"To start, I'm seeing--" Jamie wiped his hands on his arms, gesturing, only to feel the fur. It was real.
"Squirrel got your tongue?"
"Isn't it cat got your..." They were turning into squirrels -- people-sized squirrels. "...tongue. What was all in the recipe?" His mouth was roomy, and his tongue kept hitting his incisors while he was talking. Gaps existed in his gums where his canines and half of his incisors should have been.
"Chocolate, sugar, soda, orange juice, some whipped cream -- pretty much everything I had on the counter." Jess's face expanded into a muzzle while she talked. A tugging feeling on Jamie's mouth and nose meant it was happening to him too.
"Nothing special? No weird chemicals?" Jamie's ears tingled.
Pop! Jess said something, but Jamie couldn't hear.
"What was that?" His voice was loud. Jamie put a hand to the side of his head, nails-turned-claws acting as a brush. His ear had moved and was now hiding his flower.
"I said, 'nope!'" Jess hunched forward too. Then, there was a rip as a tail shot out behind her, a gray bush that was as tall and thick as the rest of her. A patch-sized piece of her pants fell to the floor.
"So... the combination of every sweet thing in the house just happens to be the secret to being a squirrel?" Jamie scooted to the edge of the chair.
Something light but invisible stepped on Jamie, and he found himself buried in a bundle of cloth. "Jess?"
"I can hear you!"
Jamie shuffled through his clothes, careful not to scratch them. Soon, the cloth underneath him gave way, and he fell out of his shirt and onto the kitchen floor. It didn't hurt, but... he was tiny!
Jess was already on the floor. Jamie stretched his arms; they could wrap around the leg of the chair. He and Jess couldn't have been taller than eight inches.
This shouldn't be possible. Well, transformation shouldn't be possible, but shrinking? Where did all their mass go? Over two hundred pounds of humans had become less than two. Somehow--
Something colorful was in the corner of his eye. His flower! He bounded over to it, feeling the new pads on his hands and feet squish. Over all the years he owned it, the sun hadn't been able to bleach it.
The flower was too large to put back into his hair, but he needed keep it safe. He bit it between his teeth and scampered up the chair leg. At the top, Jamie spat the flower atop his clothing and looked down at Jess, who was pacing around the floor. What had he been thinking about? Oh, right. "Jess," he said, "how is this even possible? We shouldn't be able to..." It was funny how the cloth shifted under his feet. Would his hands be considered feet now? His thumbs were awkward to use, but he could still pick things up. "...to shrink. Where did all our mass go?"
Focus, Jamie told himself. Sugar shouldn't mean almost forgetting to finish a sentence.
"I don't know," said Jess.
"If it all evaporates--" That was a big word. "--shouldn't the air smell different since it's not... not..." He ran a paw through the fur on his head, trying to find the flower that wasn't there. "...not oxygen. Or if it all became energy--" Without thinking, he leaped off the chair. He looked back at his tail. It was big, and fluffy, and... Finish! "--shouldn't the room be warmer? A lot warmer?" What was wrong with him?
"Maybe. Want to help me get the rest of the living room set up?"
Jamie stared at the floor. With his eyes down here, it was easy to make out the waves and ridges in the off-white tile.
"I got most of it set up before you came, but I still need to get the console plugged into the TV. Jamie?"
"Huh?" He looked up. "Oh. Sorry. I'll be right there." On all-fours, he darted into the living room, pads pressing into the soft carpet, then walked in a circle. Staying still made it feel like there was an electric current going through his muscles and brain. He had to keep doing something.
Jess came in a few seconds later. "Wouldn't this be easier as humans?" Jamie asked. Keeping eye contact was difficult. His eyes wanted to dart around, see every part of the now-huge room.
Calm down! Just a moment ago, you were thinking about how likely it was you were hallucinating, and now you're not even worried. Jamie needed to care. He licked his teeth. Those black cords behind the entertainment stand looked tasty. No!
"Yeah, but it's more fun like this! We'll be back to normal in a few minutes. When John comes, we can make it so that whoever loses the game has to play the next round as a squirrel!" Jess chittered. "I'm going to get the video cord. Would you be able to plug the console into the wall?"
"Sure." Jess bounded out of the room. Jamie walked under the entertainment stand, tail sliding against the wood. How is someone even supposed to play a game as a squirrel--Ooh! A bright red light, from the switch of the power strip. It illuminated the tangle of cords and cables. Most of them didn't lie on the carpet, but snaked left and right, hung suspended in the air, or bent up and down like standing waves. He could have been standing inside a tree during nighttime. The black cords were branches, and the red was the light of the sun poking its head up from the ground. He could even taste the soft bark...
"I'm back," Jess said. "Did you get it in?"
Jamie looked down. He wasn't in a tree; he was in Jess's house. And, why was he gnawing on a cord? He spat it out. The cord he was supposed to grab was already plugged into the strip; the console end lay nearby. "Uh, just found it!" Jamie picked it up and navigated through the maze of cords to the back of the entertainment stand. He would need to climb to get to the console, which meant holding the cord in his mouth. Oh no.
Jamie bit the groove in the middle of the power cord and picked out a bulky cable to climb. I'm only going up a level, he told himself, I'm only going up a level. The claws on his hands found purchase in the rubber, and after a second of dangling, so did those on his feet.
Jamie pulled one of his hands out of the rubber and stretched his body, rubbing the fur of his belly against the cable. Then, he grabbed the cable again with his free hand. After moving the other hand, straining his ribs and spine, he brought his hindlegs up. The rubber seemed good enough at preventing him from ripping it with his claws, but was it thick enough to stop him from electrocuting himself? Electricity was quick, like a critter. Critters liked to chitter. I'm only going up a level.
Instead of having a too-small hole cut out to feed cables through, the shelf the console was on just didn't have a back. Jamie pushed off the thick cord and landed onto the smooth wood. There were about a dozen ports on the console. The six round ones had five different colors. No, there were seven round ones. One port looked like a smile. Four flat ones were bunched together. Different shapes and colors...
Jess landed onto the shelf from behind. "Forget what the spot looks like?"
"Huh?" The words were a lantern in the fog that was Jamie's mind. "I'll get it in. Sorry." He dragged the cord over to its spot and plugged it in. It was so hard to think clearly. It was like there were five children running around and competing for his brain's attention, going, Here! Here! Look at this! Come check this out!
Jess pulled up one end of the video cable and plugged it into the back of the console. Then, she sprang away and climbed to the TV with the other end in her mouth.
"Do we need to plug in anything else?" Jamie asked.
Jess grunted. "Nope!" she said after her mouth was empty.
Good; Jamie didn't want to try getting something out of his backpack. Jamie reached out to the cord he had climbed, hugged it, and slid to the carpet, stopping halfway through because his chest felt like it was on fire. At least the rubber didn't blacken his white chest fur.
When Jamie stepped into the open carpet, Jess jumped from the base of the TV. "You alright?" he asked.
"Yep. Did you know the smaller you are, the farther you can fall?"
That would make sense. He should have thought about that before opening his mouth. Maybe he needed to lie down for the few minutes before John came, but Jamie didn't think he would be able to stay still for more than a few seconds. "You said we were only supposed to be squirrels for a minute or so?"
"I haven't felt anything yet." Jamie looked out the window. The clouds were white and fluffy. One of them looked like an acorn. How did someone eat an acorn? Did they bite a chunk out of it?
"Hmm. I might have made more than I was supposed to. I should have the recipe up on my phone. If you want to check, it's next to the television. Want anything to eat?"
Food sounded great, but was that his stomach talking, or was that his mind making it sound better than it was? "I think I'm good for now." He had eaten before coming over, anyway.
"I'll get something for myself. Don't rip up the couch while I'm gone!" He would try not to. She darted out.
Jamie circled around the edge of the entertainment stand and climbed to the top, noticing the claw marks he and Jess had left on the cords. The base of the television was fun to look at. It was glossy, and it distorted everything it reflected. The edge of the ceiling looked like a wave hitting a beach, and Jamie's face was scrunched like in a fun house mirror. Phone. It was near the edge of the entertainment stand but far enough away that it couldn't be seen from the carpet.
The phone wobbled when Jamie put a paw on it. He put his whole body onto the slick screen and rocked back and forth, taking advantage of the case's shape. It was like he was on a rollercoaster, but without the nausea. He looked over the edge of the stand. It looked like a far drop, but as Jess had proved, it wasn't far at all.
Jamie's hindfoot pressed down on something. The screen lit, bright, showing the current time and a picture of some trees. Had he seen them before? There were many trees in the city, but these could be the ones from the park, or the other park, or the other other park. Maybe the picture was from the internet... just like the recipe he was supposed to look at. Jamie swiped his paw across the screen. There was no password.
Jess had her internet browser open, but the only tab was a blank page. However, the recipe was the latest entry in the browser history, so Jamie opened it that way. It was on a website called Life-Changing Recipes. They sure were. Wasn't he supposed to be worried?
Squirrel's Sweetener, Jamie read. This sugary delight is guaranteed to make anyone squirrely! Sounds nuts, right? Scroll down to see the ingredients, instructions, and effects. The text moved down the page from an ad loading. It had a window with one side dirty and the other side clean. Jamie opened it in a new tab, then scrolled down to a link with the author's name. Jamie opened the link in another tab and switched to it.
This page had a list of every recipe that person had uploaded: Whitetail Whiskey, Bunny Brownies, Pork Pickles, Giraffe Granola Mix, Chipmunk Cookies, Gecko Graham Crackers... Jamie opened them all in new tabs. They had small pictures of their animals next to the names. An ad popped up in the middle of the list. A chance to win a free computer? Sure! He tapped on it. A new page opened, then another, then another. When he was done being redirected, he was asked for his name and debit card number. He had it memorized. Four, eight, twelve... No. Twelve wasn't even a digit--
"Jamie!" Jess squeaked from the kitchen. Her voice sounded hollow. "I need your help! I'm stuck!"
"I'm coming!" Jamie ran off the edge and fell to the carpet, which came up to him faster than he thought it would. He raced through the hallway, then stumbled on the kitchen floor, sliding forward with his paws flying everywhere.
The fridge was shut!
"Jess! I'll get you out!" But how? He was a tiny squirrel! Jamie wrapped his paws around the edge of the door and pulled, planting his feet, squeezing his eyes shut, but nothing happened. He let go and panted, letting his arms droop. He needed to put his back into it -- Aha!
Jamie forced himself in the space between the door and the fridge and moved his tail out of the way. The fridge pressed against his chest, preventing him from taking more than shallow breaths. After more shuffling, his arm butted against the rubber lining of the door.
Jamie threaded himself upward a few inches, prevented from slipping down by the tight squeeze. He brought his feet as close to his body as he could and shoved his hands between his chest and the fridge. Then, he pushed. He tried so hard to straighten his arms and legs, to push the fridge away, to drive his back into the door -- anything to make the door let go and open.
His tiny muscles wanted to quiver. Jamie took in a fuller inhale and pushed harder. His heart pumped, thump-thump thump-thump thump-thump, and he could feel the blood pulse through his body. The sugar of the squirrel drink was the only thing keeping him going. Just a little more! He opened his mouth and yelled, letting out a cute squeak -- no, no, if he laughed, he wouldn't be able to push...
The air was cold and bright. Jamie fell to the ground and collapsed in a heap of fur, breathing as fast as his heart was pumping.
"Thank you!" Something ran through Jamie's fur. Jess's hand. She stood over him and said something about keeping the fridge open. Something touched his side and stayed there.
Jamie made a noise in acknowledgment. Jess went back up. That cold air felt wonderful, taking away the heat.
Over the next minute, Jamie's breathing and heart slowed down. Who would have thought something so easy could be so hard?
Jamie stood up, the only thing keeping the fridge from swinging the last bit shut. The door was a lot lighter now that it wasn't held shut by suction, so he was able to back away and swing the door open further.
Jess had three crisper drawers in her fridge -- one below the middle shelf, and two at the bottom. Jess leaned over the edge of the middle shelf, tail sticking upright, and tugged at the drawer handle, creating a gap she could fit her arms into and push open wider. Jamie smelled lunch meats; by the gaps in his teeth and his lack of canines, he and she probably wouldn't be eating any. She left the drawer and started rooting around the leftovers, some containers small enough to hide behind.
"What are you looking for?" Jamie asked.
"I don't really know," Jess said, reappearing. "Just anything that catches my nose."
Jamie shuffled his feet. The energy was coming back. This was the one time he wished he could stay fatigued. To take his mind off it, Jamie scanned the inside of the fridge door. Gallons of milk, bottles of sparkling water, and bottles of condiments loomed over him, able to fall over and crush him if they felt like it; that thin railing couldn't possibly hold them back. At the top of the door were sticks of butter and cream cheese, not only in their packaging but also behind the plastic shield. What was it for? Did it keep rats out, or did it keep the food in? Maybe the food was going to grow legs and move--
Jamie stopped himself. He was about to walk away from the door and shut it on Jess.
"I just remembered -- what did the page say?" Jess asked.
"I didn't get that far," Jamie said, trying to keep his voice steady. He went to finger the flower that wasn't there.
How long had the fridge door been open? Minutes? Likely less than one, but it felt like many. What was better at cooling a house -- an air conditioner, or an open fridge?
Jess grunted. She was trying to open one of the bottom crispers, but it wouldn't budge.
Jamie jumped up and helped get the drawer open. It cracked open enough to get his body through.
"Jamie, the door--"
Thud. The fridge went dark.
Jamie's heart sank. "We'll be fine. We can get out of here." Jamie looked behind him. In the fuzzy dots floating in the darkness, he could make out faint shapes of leftovers and boxes of soda cans. He climbed on top of a box and walked to the back, where it hit the back of the fridge. "Come up here."
Right in front of them, there was an empty spot on the fridge door. At least, it looked empty. "If we run forward, jump above that railing, and hit the door, we should be able to get it open." If I don't decide to stop halfway through and eat... That smells good. "Actually, wait a minute."
"Want to eat first?" He should be panicking -- Jess, too -- but after being careful not to fly off the edge of the box, he squeezed himself into the partly-open drawer and sniffed. There was something fruity, but it was stuck in a bag. After some gnawing and tearing, made difficult by the lack of canine teeth, he tore a hole in the bag and breathed in the scent. "Want some grapes?"
"That sounds good." Her voice was neutral. She dropped down. Jamie ripped the hole open further so both of them could fit through.
The fridge was cool, but the grapes Jamie bumped into were cooler. Jamie gnawed one away from the stem and carried it with him out of the bag; Jess did the same. The grape was bigger than Jamie's hand! He bit into it, letting the taste go down his throat.
Jamie stopped eating. The guilt that should have stayed with him when the door closed came back. "Jess, I'm--"
"Don't worry about it!" Jess's full cheeks muffled her voice. "I can't blame you if being a squirrel is making you, well, squirrely. I wasn't thinking straight either, trying to get food from here by myself." She swallowed. "Anyway, this is our first time not being human."
After they were done eating, the chill was nipping at Jamie's bones. It was a little easier to see in the dark, but that wasn't saying much.
"Ready to get out?" Jess asked.
They walked to the edge of the crisper, then pulled themselves up over the edge. They went to the back of the soda boxes and stood next to each other on all-fours.
"Go," Jamie said.
They smacked into the door. It didn't hurt that much. Light flooded in from in front and behind, making Jamie squint. They jumped onto the kitchen floor, warm compared to the fridge, and listened to the door close.
What were they doing again? Right. "Is there anything else we need to set up?" Jamie asked, rubbing his fur.
"We could get the TV on."
"I'll do it."
"Sounds good," said Jess. "I'll finish looking at the recipe. There has to be something I did wrong that's making it last so long."
In the living room, Jess climbed up the back of the entertainment stand to get to her phone, while Jamie climbed up the couch to get to the remote. It was a relief not worrying about getting electrocuted, but the couch liked to hold onto his claws.
Jamie's eyes widened at the number of buttons on the remote. The white ones made a pretty pattern, while some of them were different colors and shapes. The middle looked like a target. Focus, he told himself. He pressed the round, red power button.
Jamie took a deep breath and looked away while the TV turned on. He could keep focus. He could stay in control of his mind. He could--
His thoughts were interrupted by static. Jamie turned down the volume with his paw, which made a graphic of a bar on the screen. It was about half-empty. What would happen when it was full? He stood on the Volume Up button, funneling more static into his brain.
Jess barked, and something thudded onto the floor. Her phone. She was covering her ears.
Jamie shook his brains out. What was he doing? He muted the television.
"Just set it to the input we usually have it on. Don't worry about the volume." She turned on her phone, and her face brightened. "Why are there so many tabs open?"
"I got carried away."
"No worries." She swiped at the screen furiously.
Jamie set the input the the correct one. The console was off, but he knew what the right setting was. The snow on the screen was replaced with blackness. "When did John say he was going to be here?"
Jess checked the time. "Any second now."
Jamie looked up at the door. "We need to get the door unlocked." Thankfully, he hadn't put his backpack down in front of the door.
"That's going to be a problem," Jess said. "The lock's pretty high up!"
"Do you think you can bring your phone up here?"
Jess was able to force it on its side and push it, trailing a line in the carpet, but couldn't lift it. "Nope."
Jamie hefted the near end of the remote toward the wall, making a steep ramp. He climbed to the top, using the edges of the battery cover to go up. The top of the remote was thin to stand on. "Climb onto my back," he said. "You might be able to reach the lock if you jump from here."
She followed Jamie's path and did as he said. She was careful with her claws, but it still stung when she jumped off.
"Whee!" She landed on the floor, having been not high enough to reach the deadbolt.
They tried again. She was still too short, and now the remote was on the floor as well, having toppled over the edge of the couch. Jamie rubbed his back with his hand, then looked at it. No blood, despite the pricking.
Maybe they would be high enough if they jumped from the top of the TV. No, that was the sugar speaking; there was no way to get on top -- except, there was.
Jamie darted under the entertainment stand and climbed up the power cord of the console, switching to the video cord halfway through. Just as he thought he remembered, the back of the TV was perforated by an array of holes, designed to let the heat out. Jamie climbed up them, sticking his claws in the holes, and stopped at the top edge of the TV, which was thicker than the one for the remote.
Jamie crouched, then leaped, stretching his arms and legs out mid-air, making himself as large as possible. He hit the round doorknob. Frantically, he lashed out with his arms, trying as hard as he could to stabilize himself and not slide off. Once he was good, he slowly stood up, then pushed a paw against the knob of the deadbolt. It turned and unlocked.
"Good job!" Jess shouted. She looked like she was dancing with her tail.
"Thank you." Jamie fell to the floor. "So, how are we going to explain this to John? He would think had accidentally eaten his roommate's food again once he sees us as squirrels."
"Oh, he won't think that. He's known what to look for now."
"Maybe. Are you going to have him drink the Squirrel's Sweetener too?"
"Hmm... Seeing us as squirrels already would spoil the fun. Let's leave it for whoever loses."
"But before we can do that, we need to know why it's lasting so long."
The doorbell rang.
"Hide under the couch," Jess said. Jamie followed her under. There was only one cord running under here, compared to the tangle under the entertainment stand -- a root, instead of the bough of a tree. "It's open," she shouted, imitating a deeper, human pitch.
The door opened. John walked in, smelling like his apartment. Jamie fought down the urge to run up to him.
"Hello?" John asked. "Jess? Jamie?" He looked around the living room, then went into the hallway. "Hello?" He grew more distant. "Why are both of your clothes out in the kitchen?" Worry bled into his voice. He reappeared in the hallway.
"Do what I do," Jess whispered. She darted at John. Jamie followed.
John crouched. "Hi there," he said, extending his arm toward Jamie, "how did you get in here? Have you guys seen Jess or Jamie?"
"I have!" Jess shouted.
John was taken aback.
"They're in the living room."
John sat. His face grew slack, and he rested his head on his hand, like he was about to question himself.
Jess didn't let him. "Are you going to go find them, John?" She climbed over his face and ran in his hair. "This is real! You can feel me climb over you. You can feel my footsteps." She jumped off. "And that, too! Do I look fuzzy to you? Well, more than a normal squirrel?"
John blinked and rubbed his eyes. "I don't think so. I haven't had anything to eat or drink for a while, either..."
"Look at the carpet. Look out the window. Is the sky too bright? Is the carpet waving around?"
"Wanna know how I know your name?" She went to his ear. "It's because I'm Jess!"
"There's a drink I tried with Jamie. It turns people into squirrels! But, it's supposed to have worn off by now. We've tried to look at the recipe to see if I did anything wrong, but we keep getting distracted."
"Is it on your phone?"
"I'll check it out." He grabbed the phone and scrolled through it. "Squirrel's Sweetener?"
"That's the one!"
"It says, 'An eighth of an ounce lasts for about five minutes.'"
They had a lot more than that.
"Oh, I see the problem! I misread it as eight ounces. Well, I suppose we'll be squirrels for about five more hours then."
"How are you guys going to play?" John asked.
"I guess we'll figure that out then. Would you be able to get the controllers for us? They're a bit heavy."
"I can, but... Is it fun being a squirrel?"
"Yep!" Jess said, jumping.
"It's definitely an experience," Jamie said.
John went to get Jamie's controller out of his backpack. "After I get them for you, you need to make some of that drink for me."
"Only if you lose!" Jess shouted.
"What game are we playing?"
"Hmm. I haven't decided yet." She paused. "I know what we can play!" She rattled off more names than Jamie could remember, some of which he hadn't heard of before.
[humans -> squirrels]
Originally written 2019-06-05
Squirrels are small and have even smaller attention spans. Add in sugar, and it's a wonder squirrels can get anything done, even if they were humans before.