Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2289593-The-Perception-filter
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2289593
An old Dog TF of mine, that's a slight Doctor Who fanfic too
First released on January 11, 2019
Edited and corrected by Ben243

I still can't believe they found me guilty! I still can't believe the judge sentenced me to 10 years in prison! For a crime I hadn't committed. I had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. My lawyer had told me nobody would believe the witness, and that there wasn't enough evidence. He promised me I would be a free man again within hours. But in the end, the prosecutor broke both our necks.

Now I sat with a couple of other criminals in a prison bus heading down to St. Jordan’s, the worst place I could imagine. It's said to be hell on earth, a place that could bring down even the toughest guy. I had no chance of surviving the first day, let alone a ten-year sentence! I was already imagining them hitting and kicking and raping me, while the guards just sat and watched or worse, joined in.

We drove through the mountains, through a deep forest, in the middle of the night. And all of a sudden, there was this deer on the street...

When I woke up the bus was lying sideways on the very bottom of a small, but not insignificantly deep gorge. There were pieces of broken glass, dirt and blood everywhere. Tree branches were sticking through some of the windows, impaling some the prisoners, guards, and the driver. Luckily I had been thrown to the floor, or I would have been impaled too.

As far as I could see I was the only survivor. I managed to get a grasp on the keys on one of the guards' belts. Once free, I gave myself the once over. Most of my injuries were superficial. Thank God for small favors.

From where I stood, it was clear I had no chance to reach the road. And even if I were dumb enough to wait for help it would take them ages to find us down here. I decided to risk escaping. My chances of surviving in the wilderness were higher than they were in prison. I took a gun, some ammunition, and a full bottle of water from the driver's seat.

It took me some time to climb out of the gorge. Once out in the open, I looked up to the stars; relieved I was still alive I took a deep breath of fresh air. Luckily I still had my own clothes, it would have been a lot harder to return into civilization in an orange overall with “Prisoner” emblazoned on it. Steeling my resolve, I ran through the night, hoping I could reach a town before some wild animal got me.

Hours had passed since I left the bus, and I was already regretting my decision. What chances did I have, really? The whole thing felt hopeless. Even if I found my way back to civilization, where could I go? How could I possibly pretend to be anything other than an escaped prisoner? A sudden scream startled me out of my thoughts. It sounded like someone was in need of help. As I said I'm not a bad person, really I'm not! So I ran in the direction where the scream came from.

Peering out from the brush, I saw a thin young man in a clearing. He was surrounded by a pack of hungry wolfs, drawing ever closer to him. I could see panic in the poor guy's eyes and even though it would give my position away, and maybe result in me being rearrested, I knew I had to help him. I fired the gun up into the air. The surprised wolves ran away immediately and my new friend fell to the ground and thanked me.

His name was Graxod, which I found a little odd, but okay at the time. Maybe he was a foreigner or something like that! I hoped Graxod could return the favor of saving his life and take me to his car or home, where I could have a little rest and sleep. Unfortunately it seemed he was just as lost as I was, searching for his "ship". I was puzzled - A ship, in the middle of the forest? I started thinking Graxod was some kind of lunatic! I had enough problems on my own, so I tried to get rid of him, which frightened the poor guy.

He was still concerned about the wolves and other creatures that may be lurking in the dark.
So we agreed to stick together. It probably would have been easier to just shoot him, but again: That's not my style! Besides, I might need him to vouch for me later.

On our way we talked a little and for some reason, whenever I told him a lie, he knew it and made a disappointed face. I finally gave in and told him my whole story, how I got caught at a crime scene, got falsely accused and sentenced; about the bus and the accident. And for some strange reason Graxod believed me, that I was innocent. I was thankful for that. It felt good to finally meet someone other then my lawyer, who I had paid for it, that believed I was innocent! Even my family had abandoned me!

It had been a long day - the trial, the bus, my escape and rescuing Graxod. But it wasn't over yet! On the contrary: My life was once again turned upside down, when we finally found his so called "ship". It wasn't anything like that, nothing you would identify as seaworthy. Not even a spaceship, an U.F.O. or something like that. It was some kind of small, blue shed with windows and a lamp on the top. It didn't help that the words "Police Public Call Box" were written on it in bright white letters.

I looked at the so called ship, and asked him if he was sure it was what he was looking for, and if he was sure he hadn’t, I don’t know, been hit over the head a few times (maybe not in those exact words). Graxod assured me there was nothing to worry about, but the whole thing was so surreal, I couldn't make heads or tails out of it. Maybe I’d lost more blood than I'd thought, and was hallucinating.

Graxod explained it was actually not HIS ship - it belonged to an old friend. Supposedly it could disguise itself, adjust to its surroundings, although it seems there was something broken and it got stuck in this form. I looked at Graxod and a thought occurred to me: Either this was all a prank, and a very bizarre altogether, or what Graxod had told me was true and he was in fact in disguise himself - an ALIEN in disguise!

When I asked him about it, he touched a spot on his wrist. He shimmered and turned into a large, thin, greyish... creature. The thing he had deactivated was a small device he called a Perception filter. According to him it could alter how people perceived him on all levels. I'd seen him and heard him as a young man in his 30s, but now even his smell was different. He smelled a bit oily, artificial.

Before we parted he expressed his gratitude and told me he was sorry, he couldn't take me with him - his "friend" wouldn't approve. A little dazed by what I had seen I started to walk away, but he asked me to wait. He wanted to repay me, to help me out of my predicament. So he gave me his little device, so I could start a new life.

I thanked him with all my heart, that thing would really help me. He warned me though, not to overuse it and that it would probably be necessary to add some disguises myself, to keep it stable. It only changed me - not my clothes. Problems I could easily solve later, I thought. We hugged and he went into the blue box that slowly vanished with a strange, shrieking sound. It was the strangest experience I ever had - so far!

Alone again I walked a while, examining the device, attaching it to my wrist. There was no way to check if it worked for now, cause I wouldn't recognize myself as having changed. But the fact I had it alone made me already feel better. A couple of minutes later I found an old seemingly abandoned barn where I could get some rest. I was able to break the rusty lock with a piece of rock, slipped inside, and lay down on the old hay. It was a little itchy to begin with, but I was exhausted and quickly fell asleep!

The sun had already risen when I woke up again. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, only to find myself in the next horrifying situation: Pointing only inches from my face was a pitchfork, held by a big burly Redneck farmer with a long white beard and more hair on his teeth than his head. I pretended to be just some unlucky fellow who got lost in the forest, searching for help. But the Redneck knew I was lying, he'd seen my face on TV, and the whole county was looking for me. If only I had the Perception filter activated!

The Sheriff was on his way; I had no time to lose! With a swift kick I'd managed to disarm him and before he knew what's happening, I had him at gunpoint. He slowly backed down, whining he was just an old man, begging me to show mercy... I didn't shoot him obviously! But I knocked him out and left him behind in the dust, running for my life.

Only minutes later I heard them: Shouting men and barking dogs! I ran and ran, the sweat was running over my hay scratched face that was also burning from the midday sun. In front of me was a mountain, on the right rocks I couldn't climb fast enough and on the left a raging river, far too dangerous to try and swim through. My only hope now was the Perception filter. But what help would it be if I couldn't turn it on? I remembered Graxod's words, but there was nothing I could add to my disguise...

All of a sudden there was this dog in front of me. A German Shepard with black and brown markings, and a vest on him that read SHERIFF in big yellow letters. He growled threateningly, so I instinctively pointed my gun in his direction. I didn’t want to shoot him! But he ran towards me and I panicked... a headshot... he was dead instantly!

I knelt down near him, stroking his beautiful fur. They would come any second, but it didn't matter - what could I do anyway? I always loved dogs! And to kill one was a total shame. When I was a little boy I always wanted to have a dog like him, but our apartment was to small and we couldn't afford it anyway, they said. Poor boy, I thought, and almost wished I was in his place...

THAT'S IT!!! I had an idea! But it wasn't enough time to execute my plan. So I had no other chance than to grab the lifeless cadaver and take a leap of faith into the wild waters. The cold temperatures made me gasp for air; instead I swallowed a mouthful of water. We were rafting down quite a distance, before I could get a grasp on the Dog's collar and struggle to bring us back onto land. I had no idea how far we had gone, but it wasn’t far enough. I realized what I was considering was a desperate measure. I didn't even know if the Alien device had survived being submerged.

I fiddled with the device for a few seconds before it finally lit up and beeped at me. I pushed a flashing spot, and a beam of light shot out. The light played along the ground until it found the dog’s body. It moved up and down it several times, then finally a green light lit up and it made a chiming sound. A voice said something in a language I didn’t understand. I could only hope that meant that the dogs pattern was ready for use.

I held my breath and pressed the center button. It changed from red to green. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but I didn’t feel anything. Everything looked the same. I wasn’t sure that the device was working properly, but I had no other options. I had to hope for the best.

I stripped myself from my clothes until I was totally naked, except for the thin, wiry Perception filter. Then I removed the dog's collar and vest, and barely managed to fit them on myself. I tossed my clothes behind some rocks near the water, and managed bury the deceased canine in a shallow grave. All I could do now was return upstream, trying to stay on all fours, which wasn't that easy to begin with. Not to mention dealing with all the crap lying on the forest floor. I considered my options: Either this would work or I would find myself in a rather embarrassing situation! On the other hand, maybe they would declare me insane - I preferred an insane asylum to a Prison like St. Jordan’s any time!

After a while I encountered a big bear of a man, with a white mustache and lighting hair, wearing the Sheriff's Uniform. He looked down at me in surprise; my heart was beating like crazy. He reached out to me with his big butcher hand, I wasn't sure what he was about to do... choking me... strike me down... instead he petted me and said: "Good boy!" Then he attached his leash on my collar and led me back to the others. I followed like the obedient animal he was seeing me as. And although it felt strange and a little humiliating, I was relieved to be safe.

When we rejoined the others I started to worry, but they too just saw me as the Sheriff's German shepherd "Alex", not the weird naked runaway I was. Even the rest of the K9 Unit was surprisingly easy convinced. It was just a bit weird how they nuzzled around me, their cold noses touching me everywhere!

I'd hoped to end it there, but instead of going home we searched the forest for another couple of hours. That made me worry, because of Graxod's other warning concerning the overuse of the Perception filter. He hadn't specified what would happen, or exactly what “overuse” meant. Maybe the energy... no, I remembered he mentioned something about a battery that lasted for centuries. I had no idea what could happen and in the moment I had other problems.

My back was killing me from running around on all fours half the day, as we finally headed back to the Sheriff's car. I was happy to lie in the back and get some rest, while my "handler" drove, grumpily yelling commands into the radio. He wasn't happy at all he hadn't found me - if only he'd known the truth! I felt sorry for him and the urge to lighten up his mood, but reconsidered: What was happening to me? It was as if I would lose myself into my Dog disguise. The sooner I turned that machine off the better!

Unfortunately the Sheriff hadn't brought me to his office where I could have changed into a uniform and escaped disguised as one of his men. Instead I was locked into the kennel, unable to free myself and fed some icky, slimy Dog food I had to eat out of a bowl. I don't know if it was the Perception filter, but it tasted surprisingly delicious! After that I took a nap on the Dog bed, which was also surprisingly comfortable.

It's been weeks now since they had closed my case. Weeks since I decided to stay Alex and serve my new master as his trusted K9 partner. Although I'm not sure if the Perception filter had something to do with my acceptance of the new situation, I definitely felt more comfortable in this life than I ever had in my previous one. Anyway, I grew accustomed to running on all fours, drinking using my tongue and every thing else it meant to be a dog. I must serve my master, I must please him, obey his every command! Sometimes it's like I'm seeing myself as a dog too, it happens more often every day, especially when I got stroked by the Sheriff and his men or when I'm interacting with the other dogs.

Yesterday, I was waiting outside the Grocery store for my master. A young thin man with a long brown coat, sandshoes and strangely old eyes stepped up to me. He didn't look down at me, but spoke; not like a man would speak to an animal... he spoke to the human me! He told me, it had been a mistake for Graxod to give me that device. It was malfunctioning, not only changing the Perception of others, but also creating a metamorphic field that was indeed changing me into a Dog. He offered to help me, reverse the polarity or something!

I looked left and right, if anyone was there to hear me speaking. And I spoke to him, for the first and last time in a long while, telling him that I was happy and okay with being a dog. He replied that he knew about my case and that he could help me prove my innocence, but I stuck to my decision. "Okay then!" he said and went away. I was about to ask him for his name, but the Sheriff returned and rewarded my patience with a yummy piece of sausage and a good stroke.

I love my new life! It gives me purpose, more than my whole human life had given me. From now on I'm Alex, German shepherd and proud member of the Sheriffs Department of Bad Wolf County.
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