An Extended Experiment (By: GreaverBlade)

A single lamp hangs above a cold steel table. The edges of the room are shrouded in darkness, inky and cloying.

Upon the table, strapped down, legs splayed, waits a small, terrified creature. Her name is Muffin. She is a fluffy foal.

The last thing she remembered was she was eating milky-kibble with her brothers and sisters and mummah. Then the nice daddeh in white told her she had to come with him for an “ekspewiment”. Then she felt an owwie in her flank and everything went dark.

She’s awake now. She’s shivering. The table is very cold even through her fluff. But it’s not just the polished steel sapping away at her. This place, this isolation, the silence. It sends her body trembling with fright.

Suddenly, the lights around the room snap on. Muffin is dazzled as she adjusts to the new lighting. There’s two daddehs in white standing over her. She doesn’t recognize them. Their faces are hidden behind masks and goggles.

“Is she ready?”

“I mean, as much as a fluffy can be.”

“I meant has the Immunosuppressant been spread through her system? We cannot have her body fighting against this experiment.”

“Yeah, the drip has been running all night. If somebody were to sneeze around her, she’d probably die.”

Muffins eyes went wide at that. “Muffin nu wan’ fowebba sweepies!” She began to cry, soft sobs in the otherwise silent room. Her tiny tears pooling on the table beneath her.

The first voice, a daddeh voice, speaks to her. “No, Muffin. No forever sleepies for you. I promise. Maria, please retrieve the virus.”

Muffin realizes one of the daddehs is a Mummah. And not just any mummah, but Mawia, who gives her milky kibbble.

“Yes, doctor Carradine.”, the other voice replies.

The other voice! That’s mistah Cawwadeen. He’s scary, but never mean. He always looks so serious, until he looks at the fluffies. He’ll look sad at first, and then very happy.

Maria walks to a counter at the edge of the room and returns with a tray. Upon the tray is a single syringe on a sterile pad. Its end is capped. It’s a small. But Maria sets it in Muffin’s eyeline, and the little fluffy begins to squirm.

“Nu wan’ huwties! Nu wan’ boo boo stickies!”

Maria quickly moves the tray out of sight. She gently pets the fluffy with her gloved hand, calming her.

“I’m sorry, Muffin. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Maria removes her hand, and Muffin feels a larger hand scratching behind her ears.

“Little Muffin, I’m sorry. I have to give you an owwie, but I promise it will only last a moment. After that, you will feel much better.”

Both doctors strip off the gloves they used to touch the fluffy and apply fresh from a supply under the table.

“Doctor, before we go on with this, I have to ask. Is this right? Do we actually play God like this?”

Carradine looks at Maria. “Playing God? Maria, we are so far beyond that, it moots the question. The fluffy genome, their whole existence is an encyclopedia of humanity’s sins written in ‘A’, ‘T’, ‘C’, and ‘G’. If this works, we can at least erase a couple pages from our own book of damnation.”

Maria takes a slow breath through her nose. “Hmm. Poetic. When you put it that way, yeah. I guess this is the right thing to do.”

“And we will not be releasing her in to the wild. We still have years of observation to conduct first. My only regret is that funding and testing has left us with one observational subject. I regret the others. I really do. I look at these little creatures, and I weep for the cruel joke we played on them by creating them.”

“We didn’t create them, doctor, you know they were made–”

“Maria, now is not the time for pedantry. We, mankind, made them. We have a responsibility to them.”

Maria doesn’t reply at first. “Doctor, we should proceed.”

Carradine nods to her. He picks up the hypodermic need, out of sight of Muffin. “Now, Muffin, you will feel a little owwie. I’m very sorry for that, but this is an important medicine I’m giving you.”

Muffin’s eyes tear up in anticipation, and her lip quivers. She feels an owwie poke, and whimpers. Then it’s gone.

“See?”, Carradine says to the little foal. “Not so bad, was it?”

“Muffin nu feew huwtie nu mowe. Muffin gud fwuffie?”

Carradine removes his mask. “Yes, Muffin, you are a very good fluffy. Possibly even the best fluffy.”

The doctors unstrap Muffin and take her to an isolation room. There’s a one-way mirror where she can see her mummah and bwuddas and sistahs.

“Muffin wan’ pway wif famiwy!”, the little foal says to the doctors.

“We’ll take you to them soon, Muffin. But for now, you need to rest and heal.”, Maria says to her.

The doctors place Muffin in a strange box. It’s like a sorry box, but she can see through it, and there’s a comfy bed for her to rest on, and a small litter box for poopies.

Carradine smiles at the little fluffy, leaning down to speak to her. “In just a couple days, you’ll be back with them.”

Muffin nods her head. “Ok doctuh Cawwodine. Muffin wiww wait da bwight times.”

And as promised, a couple days later, Muffin is returned to her family. Her mummah and bruddahs and sistahs all give her best huggies.

Months pass. Many many bright times. Many forevers.

Muffins brothers and sisters are all adult fluffies now. Muffin is still a baby. She doesn’t need milkies from mummah anymore, but she does still need her milkie-kibble. Her teeth hurt when she tries eating dry kibble.

Maria and Carradine watch the fluffy from the other side of the one-way mirror.

“Doctor, it looks like it worked. The virus rewrote her genes. She’s stopped aging!”

“Not quite, Maria. But her aging has been dramatically slowed. She’ll probably age at about the same rate as a human. The last thing the world needs is a strain of immortal fluffies. Though Muffin shows that might be possible, the important thing is she will enjoy a long, long life now.”

Years later.

Muffin is just entering adulthood. She was a babbeh for a long time, but now she’s excited. Her mane is growing in. Her teeth are hard enough to eat normal kibble, and she can even eat sketties! Her tail is long and swishy.

Muffin missed her bwuddas and sistahs. And her mummah. She’d had lots of bwuddas and sistas over the many fowebbas, and her mummah had gone fowebba sweepies. But there were always new fluffies coming in. Her heart hurt when she through about her family, but there was always somebody new. And Maria and Doctuh Cawwadeen were always with her.

“Well Doctor Sanchez, I think some small celebration is in order. 12 years in and she’s finally hit puberty.”

“Doctor Carradine, please just keep calling me Maria. The doesn’t change anything.”

“I’m just sorry that our research has taken so long that it delayed you earning the title.”

“Doctor–” “Please, we’re past that now. Call me Lyman.” “…Lyman, it was worth the wait. Our research here has been groundbreaking. The entire basis of my thesis was on what we are doing here. It’s not every day that a decade long experiment with a sample size of one can pass muster.”

Lyman Carradine smiled at his assistant-turned-partner. “I’m an old man, Maria. I’m glad you’ll be around after me to continue our work.”

Maria squints at Lyman. “Uh… you’re only 59 years old. We started this experiment in your late 40’s.”

Dr. Carradine gives Maria a wry smile. “It’s the principle of the thing.”

More Years Later

By age eighteen, Muffin is a fully grown adult fluffy. She has met a lot of fluffies in her long life. But she feels something is missing. She remembers her mummah, long gone forever sleepies. She thinks about all the little babbehs that have grown up around her, and have gone, too.

“Daddeh Cawwadeen? Muffin wan’ hab babbehs.”

Doctor Carradine looks down to the fluffy sitting at his feet. “Maria, she’s finally asking.”

Maria steps into the room. “Well, Lyman, we expected it sooner or later.”

Muffin doesn’t know what her mummah and daddeh are talking about, so she continues to look at them both, expectation in their eyes.

Maria kneels down and strokes Muffin on her head. “We want you to have babies, too, Muffin. But we need you to understand something.”

“Wha’ Muffin nu unnastan?”

Lyman joins Maria on the floor. “You are a very special Fluffy, Muffin. No other fluffy is like you. We want to help you find a ‘special friend’, but we need you to realize that someday, your special friend will go ‘forever sleepies’ and you will be alone. We could help you find another special friend after that, but we want to make sure you understand, and you don’t have…‘heart hurties.’ We care about you.”

Muffin thought hard on this. Her dramatically slowed development, unknown to her, gave her a grasp of concepts beyond most fluffies. She wasn’t necessarily smarter, but a life as long of hers was full of memories, and heartbreaks. Unlike most fluffies, Muffin had been around long enough to gain wisdom."

“Mummah and bwuddahs and sistahs won’ gone. Wub mummah and bwuddas and sistahs, but dey fowebba sweepies. Muffin hab heawt huwties. Bu’ Muffin hab heawt happies fo’ aww da udda fwuffies Muffin am pway wif.”

“Lyman, this is… astonishing.”

“It is. I half expected it, but I’m still taken aback. But this is what we’ve been working for. If her offsping can sustain, we can finally publish the end of phase one.”

Over the next few weeks, Muffin is introduced to several healthy stallions. Eventually she becomes linked with Stanley, her first ever 'speciaw fwiend".

Six months later, Muffin gives birth to a healthy litter of four foals. Stanley was confused the entire time, but he accepted the explanation that he had given Muffin “speciaw tummeh babbehs”, and he waited eagerly for their birth.

Maria delivers the four foals, two earthies, a unicorn, and a pegasus. They are healthy, hearty, and Muffin loves them all dearly. She is provided with the best diet available. It becomes apparent to the two doctors that they are just like their mummah. All are chirpy babies for the first nine months of their lives. Their development continues apace to what Muffin’s would have been, had she not been transformed in her adolescence.

Stanley is proud of his “won’ time babbehs”, and how he gets to be a daddy longer than other stallions before his children grow up.

Muffin and Stanley have three more litters over the next six years, until Stanley finally passes away at old age, Muffin and his still small children at his side.

Doctors Maria Sanchez and Lyman Carradine publish their findings after 24 years. Their paper “A Study of the Genetics, Inheritance, and Psychology of Extended Longevity Fluffies” sends a shockwave through the scientific community. Their funding, enough to keep the lights on and the study going for nearly a quarter century, is increased dramatically nearly over night.

Lyman sits with Maria. “Well, now I’m actually an old man.”

Maria smiles back at him. “Yeah, I’ll grand that now. And I’m a middle-aged mother of two.”

Dr. Carradine takes a slow breath. “Are you ready for phase two?”

“We’ve come this far and proved that it’s possible to improve the species. To give them a chance to grow at a rate that lets them truly understand the world around them. Lyman, we’re redeeming fluffies as a species. And I think we might also redeem our own.”

Phase two begins with a large batch of healthy fluffies. They are all at the same stage of growth, though chronologically younger than Muffin’s foals. Each of them is strapped down to a steel table. A team of researchers approaches them, carefully cradling a syringe. Each fluffy is treated kindly, given comfort, and receives an apology for the small owwie they will each have to endure.

A few weeks later, they are all introduced to Muffins foals. They start to play. They start to form friendships.

Muffin, now in her mid-twenties, and looking like any normal, healthy adult fluffy would around the age of six, sits on Dr. Lymans lap. He slowly strokes the fur on her back.

“Doctuh gib babbehs speciaw owwies? Babbehs special wike Muffin an’ famiwy am speciaw?”

Lyman looks to the fluffy. “Very good, Muffin! You are a clever fluffy. Yes, these babies are special, just like you and your family. Your hard work let us help them and help you. Now your babies will grow up with friends like them. They will have special friends like them. They can raise families together, and not fear losing each other to time.”

Muffin snuggled closer upon hearing that. “Muffin wub doctuh Cawwadeen an’ Doctuh Mawia.”

Many Years Later

Doctor Carradine lived long enough to see Muffin become a grandmother, and himself effectively become a great-grand father. Muffin was sad when he was gone, but she had so much family. And she had Maria.

Maria has taken over the research. She has a team of like-minded colleges, studying the fluffies, ensuring their health. They have made a critical discovery. The long-lived line of fluffies have dramatically reduced instincts to reproduce. Muffin and Stanley produced three litters before Stanley passed, but Muffin’s foals each produce a single litter, maybe two.

Maria and her team publish their second report. They have created a lineage of stable, long lived fluffies with reduced libidos. They have converted a biotoy, a pest, a crisis, into a near perfect companion. Their fluffies can follow a human through a lifetime, learning and loving like humans do. And their researcher parents, Maria most of all, loves them right back.

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~editing comment cause fixed~

First. :slight_smile:

A decent tale.

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Where picture

Virgil fixed it. Thanks @Virgil

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Intriguing.