For a moment, in the warm twilight between sleeping and waking, William had dignity. For a split second, he was comfortable and happy and he had all the rights that he used to enjoy back when-

"C'mon boys! Up 'n at 'em!"

William couldn't help himself. In an instant he was wide awake, jostling and lowing with the rest of his herd as he was driven out to grass.

How could he help himself when there was a chip in his brain that overrode his humananity and forced him into acting like a bullock?

Because William was a humanimal.

It was terrible, really, he mused, wandering with a bullock's absent-mindedness around a field, occasionally taking a mouthful of the grass that could only nourish him because of the augmentations they'd added to his digestive system. They took your brain and they implanted a chip in it and they made you act like an animal; but they left your higher brain functions. You could still think. You knew what was happening to you.

And that was why it was a punishment.

He could hardly remember what had led to his transformation. Could have been hardly anything. Now that the food shortages were so extreme, and so many animals were becoming extinct, most crimes led to humanimal transformations. If you were lucky, you became a pet animal, a cat or a dog or even a hamster; if you were slightly unluckier, you became a zoo animal, a lion or a penguin. If you were really, really, really unlucky you became a farm animal. Destined for the table.

William was going to be slaughtered, and he couldn't do a thing about it.

The knowledge rankled. There had to be something he could do. He felt like tearing off the false nose he had to wear, throwing away the false tail attached to his pants. They couldn't even be bothered to genetically edit your appearance; they used costumes. Costumes, for heaven's sake.

There had to be something he could do. Lead an uprising, or something...

But of course it wasn't as easy as that. He could see the same desire in the eyes of the rest of his herd; the futile desire to escape, get out, return to pure humanity. But they could do nothing that wasn't in the nature of a bullock; and bullocks wouldn't spontaeneously charge their way out of their field. They'd long since given up.

But William hadn't. He knew that there was a loophole somewhere. There had to be.

The End

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