I’m not supposed to be here, I told them. I’m not one of them.
One of you, I mean. I mean, really, I’m not. I’m a human being….
Yeah, go ahead and laugh. This is the thanks I get for trying to be like you and….
Ah, now you want to know how I got in here. Fine. I’ll tell you….
I always had a fascination with you cartoon characters from when I was young, you know. And it didn’t seem like anything in the mundane world was working out for me, anyhow. No family left, friends and work nonexistent. You know how it is.
So I came out here to L.A., to find you guys. Well, actually what I did was to enroll in the film history program at UCLA first, to make a search for you guys seem like a more legitimate enterprise and less of the fruitcake enterprise people in the non-academic community would make that out to be if I told them. What I wanted to do was to take a camera out here in the ghetto, do some anthropological research you and get the proof that I needed to finally prove that you were all real. Get my Ph.d, a full time academic job, financial security. Happily ever after, huh?
What I didn’t realize was that it was pretty easy to actually become one of you. Or that it would actually be me becoming one of you instead of just studying you….
Don’t ask me about how I managed to find the way here to your land, or how it was that I actually managed to pass by the carefully guarded boundary between fiction and reality. A girl’s got to have some secrets in her life, after all.
So I got in, and I stood around gawking around, like some dumb tourist, at how two dimensional everything is around here. Literally. When they say you guys have no depth, they mean it. No offense.
Not much going on around here during the day, which is when I first came in. I wondered why that was, why there were none of you around on the streets then, but I eventually figured it out. Putting you guys on the air during the daytime is a big mistake, I found out. You’re creatures of the night.
Oh, yeah. Drinking, partying, getting down, all kinds of that serious shit. Even the kids, for God’s sake. You must have some superhuman way of taking and giving that stuff. And now I got it, too.
I was trying to be all discreet and stuff, the best way you can when you’re not one of you and all that. I stood in the background in one of those clubs, like some sort of wallflower or something, and boogied around while some rock band calling themselves the Rubber Hose or something like that put down a fat groove that got everyone dancing. Enjoyed myself, and hoped to buttonhole some of you into talking into my tape recorder for my academic purposes later, when…
I got bit. And changed.
Some two-bit creature with fangs for teeth took a nip out of my index finger. As I watched the blood fall out of it, it happened.
I lost my physical depth, and became two dimensional- and flat- like you.
I got skinnier and taller.
My tits ballooned out of my chest.
My eyes narrowed into tiny points of black.
My hair got brightener and shinier, and my face prettier than I was before.
Suddenly, I was one of you. And, for that one moment, I felt accepted as a ‘toon in ways I would never be as a human being.
I felt like I was invincible, and that nothing was going to happen to me that would hurt me. You know what I mean. You risk your lives recklessly all the time. On camera, that is.
The next thing I knew, I had found the two most handsome guys on the floor (not hard to find in the crowd of anthropomorphized uglies that it was), and demanded, loudly and stridently, that they service me on the floor, out in the corner, right then and there. Being typical ‘toon guys with no brains, they were more than happy to oblige me.
We’d barely gotten started, however, when the cops raided the joint.
How was I to know that the kind of partying they were doing was illegal, even here? And, especially, that the kind of sexy fun I was going to do with those guys- and our combined mighty ‘toon powers of endurance- was even more illegal than that?
Turns out you ‘toons are even stricter regarding transient strangers than we are where I come from. They didn’t even give me a chance to plead my case in court. I told them, I don’t belong here, and tried to tell them I was really a human being who got changed, but they didn’t listen.
Happens all the time here, the judge said. And, especially given what you were thinking of doing, we’ve got no reason you’re actually pretending to be a human being, not a ‘toon.
That set me off. I loudly insisted I was a human being, damn it, and if they didn’t believe me, they could put my name in at UCLA- which don’t take any ‘toon students- and see for themselves.
No dice. Not only did I get arrested and fined, but they put me in this straightjacket here and sentenced me to the loony bin, where I am now with you.
The bloom’s off the rose now, I’ll tell you. I’ve seen and heard enough of you people to make me want to go back home and never come back. I’ll rather take my chances with real human beings than you shallow, self-centered jerks.
The trouble is, I don’t how to get back home.
Or if there’s any possible way for me to resume being a rational, free-thinking human being like I used to be.
But you’ll help me find a way out of here and back to normal.
David Perlmutter is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The holder of an MA degree from the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg, and a lifelong animation fan, he has published short fiction in a variety of genres for various magazines and anthologies, as well as essays on his favorite topics for similar publishers, including most recently SFF World.com. He is the author of America Toons In: A History of Television Animation (McFarland and Co.), The Singular Adventures Of Jefferson Ball (Chupa Cabra House), The Pups (Booklocker.com), Certain Private Conversations and Other Stories (Aurora Publishing), Orthicon; or, the History of a Bad Idea (Linkville Press, forthcoming) and Nothing About Us Without Us: The Adventures of the Cartoon Republican Army (Dreaming Big Productions, forthcoming.)