Planet of the Raccoons,by Bob Nelson

When I woke up,I could sense something was very different.The bed I was in seemed about 15 feet long,and more than 8 feet wide.I looked around the bedroom I was in and it seemed unfamiliar...and everything seemed bigger than it should have been.I got out of bed and noticed that I was wearing a HUGE T-shirt,with "short-sleeves" almost reaching my hands,and the bottom of my shirt nearly reached the floor.

I looked around and saw that the windowsills were high;a dressing-bureau was over my head,and so were the lightswitches and doorknobs.Suddenly,the door opened and in walked a 12- foot-tall raccoon,dressed as a person--a boy of about 10 or 11--would dress,and walking upright.

"Oh,you're up,little fella",came his prepubescent voice.He walked over to me,and his gargantuan hand(paw?) petted me on the head."You ARE cute,I don't care what they say about you humans!" Naturally,I was dumbfounded,so I didn't say anything.I guessed that I was wearing one of the boy's shirts...and he was treating me like a pet or some sort of wild animal he had snuck in;he had no fear of me, and why would he?He was twice my height,and at least six or seven times my weight.

The boy grabbed me and started to drag/carry me out. "I gotta show you to my family," he said. We went downstairs and arrived in a kitchen where two 15-foot-tall raccoons(his mom and dad,I figured) and a 10-foot- tall raccoon(a girl,I guessed from her clothing)were gathered for breakfast. Where was I?What sort of world was this?

"WHAT have you dragged into this house,Matt?," asked the father. "This is some wild animal--we don't live in a barn,y'know."

"But he's cute,dad!",the young boy responded. "I saw him last night trying to raid our barrels and well,he looked just so pitiful trying to get 'em open."

"Of course," said the dad,"since I really locked 'em up tight...and even the smartest of these dumb humans could never figure out how to get 'em open."

"Drink your orange juice, hon," said the mother.At this point,the "little sister" had come up to me and was eying me suspiciously.The boy told her it was OK to pet me;I probably wouldn't bite."Go ahead,Rachel," said the father."He doesn't look rabid."

The TV was on in the kitchen;a fox was reading the news.There was a cutaway shot to a wolf interviewing a raccoon about the capture of two escaped convicts.The convicts,a dog and a fox,were being shown as they were being marched back into custody.My jaw dropped,and I finally spoke."Oh my God," I half-muttered,and all the raccoons' heads jerked back to look at me.The boy looked shocked,then smiled." again!," he demanded of me.

"I,uh...I just want to know where I am,and why do you have me here?" The father looked at the boy. "Have you been learning how to be a ventriloquist?,"he asked the boy.The boy nodded "no".Then the dad smiled. "We have got a goldmine on our paws.A talking human!Can you imagine what the TV networks would pay?The newspapers,and book publishers?"

With that,he grabbed me and put me on the kitchen counter."Say some more stuff!I just want to make sure I'm not dreaming."

Well,I had to roll with this."My name is Bob Nelson,and I come from a planet where human beings all talk like I do,because we rule the world.In fact,on our world,raccoons do NOT talk,and garbage barrels."

I prepared for him to slap me for daring to suggest such heresy.But he extended his huge paw for me to shake."Ray Cooney.This is my wife,Connie,my son Matt,and my daughter Rachel.YOU'RE gonna make us rich." He handed me a huge doughnut."You'll have all you want to eat here;you can sleep in Matt's room.I'm gonna take you to the TV station right now!"
"Aw Dad,I want 'im for show and tell!," shouted Matt and Rachel in unison.

As it turned out,Ray Cooney worked as the public service director for a radio-TV station combo.His station would have the first "scoop" on me,of course.First,he told me,we have to get you some clothes.Well,I was a little did I apparently arrive on this alternate world naked?It was then that I remembered that I'd been taking a shower,dried off,and had stepped outside the bathroom to put on some clothes;and then I was suddenly on the back porch of some huge house,next to some barrels.When I saw a giant raccoon heading toward me,I needed to hide,so I'd tried in vain to pry off the cover of a barrel.That giant raccoon must have been Matt,and he'd dressed me in his T-shirt(I must have fainted at that point),and put me on his bed.

"I must have slipped into some space vortex," I wondered aloud.Ray took me to the store and bought me the tiniest clothes he could find.Then we went to his TV/radio station,and he introduced me to his news director,a dog who was amazed to see how intelligent I was.

"We'll tape a bit with you now," he said,"and it'll be on the noon,6:00,and 11:00 news.The network will want to see this!" I pictured myself being interviewed by a tabloid talk show hosted by their version of Oprah,Ricki Lake,or Geraldo.As it turned out,a fox sat me down on a chair and told the camera that a great scientific "find" had occurred. A super-intelligent human!I introduced myself,used a magic marker to write my name on a pad of paper,sang,and took a bow.A star was born.Ray and I had lunch with a reporter from a news magazine,and other arrangements were made for my stardom.

That afternoon,Ray took me to a Little League game, featuring his son Matt and his team.I was introduced to the various foxes, raccoons,dogs,cats,and wolves on his team,all of whom were twice my height, of course.For a publicity photo,I posed with a bat almost as big as I was, swinging it at home plate.At the actual game,Matt hit a home run;he high- fived his teammates and hoisted me on his shoulders."He's my good luck charm!Let's make him our team mascot!"

We went home to a nice meal,and I really felt like part of the family.Because of my intelligence,I wasn't really a pet...instead,I felt like a relative who'd stopped by,or maybe even a new "little brother" for Matt.They kidded me,saying that maybe they'd draw a mask around my eyes with magic marker so I'd look more like them.

After dinner,Matt and I went for a walk.A few blocks away,a shady-looking wolf saw me..and I recalled how,minutes earlier,I had been on TV.Had he seen me?Apparently so,as he rushed toward us and snatched me away from my raccoon protector.The wolf was about 16 feet tall and rather strong--how could I escape?I kicked violently at a rather sensitive part of his body. "YEEOWCH!",he yelled,and let go of me enough that I could wriggle away from him;I fell to the ground and ran between his legs,nearly missing getting swatted by his huge grey tail.I ran away;there was no sign of Matt,so I ran until I saw a house with a basement apartment.I knocked loudly,and a 16-foot- tall,thin fox answered."Please help me!,"I pleaded."A wolf is chasing me,and I need to hide!"

The fox,who looked like a mellow,shy college student, said,"Sure," with a puzzled look on his face.I saw a kitchenette and darted under the sink,in a cabinet.A female voice was heard,saying,"What's up, Farley?"

"Some human needs to hide out--wait a minute,that's the one we just saw on TV!", "You mean the talking one?,"asked the female voice. Suddenly,a knock came at the door.It was the wolf.The fox opened it and was greeted by the gruff-sounding animal who'd abducted me.
"You seen a human around wearing clothes?"
"No,not at all," said the fox,and the female's voice agreed:"Nope."
"'s my phone number--please call me if you see him!"

A moment later,I was told it was all clear.I emerged and met the fox,who was obviously named Farley,and shook his paw gratefully."You just saved me life!I don't know WHAT he was trying to pull, but I didn't want to find out.THANKS!" I turned and look at the other animal there...a 15-foot female raccoon.

"I'm Farley Fox,and this is my roommate, Etta Raccoon." I turned to face her and fell in love.There was something about her kind eyes that attracted me,and she looked at me warmly.I hugged her. "I'm Bob Nelson.THANKS to both of you!," I said.

"You must be that intelligent human we just saw on TV,"said Etta. "My,you're a cute li'l one. You must have everyone after you."

"Boy," I replied,"that wolf sure was! I'll bet he would've held me for ransom..."
The fox said,"I wish I could stay,but I got a date with a vixen tonight."(Ah,so Farley and Etta were roommates and nothing more!) "Nice to meet ya!"
Etta and I walked back to Ray Cooney's house,as the family was no doubt worried sick about me--and I found out that Etta was Ray's niece! I felt more comfortable walking with one of the giant animals to protect me, and needless to say Etta was very attractive. I looked up at her as we walked and started thinking--but no, wait!, I told myself. It wasn't so much the size difference that was holding me back from getting intimate with her-- but she was a different species, for crying out loud. Somehow I think it wouldn't be right. Then Etta patted me gently on my head with her massive paw. I smiled and thought, maybe this world might be worth staying in...

When I got "home", the Cooneys were elated and Matt hugged me so hard I thought my bones would break.Later that night,I hung around with Matt in his room.But then, suddenly,I found myself back at my REAL bedroom.Was it all a dream?

I heard a noise outside,so I went out an saw a 12-foot raccoon and a 15-foot raccoon...yes,it was Matt and his cousin,Etta--somehow the vortex that had brought me back to my own world had brought them to it!I assured them that somehow they could find the vortex and go back to their own world;in the meantime,I invited them to see what MY world looked like."C'mon,Matt--I'll take you to the Little League game.You'll be over twice as tall as the players!" "Cool!"

It was fun showing them around this strange world where human beings ruled.But in all honesty,I hoped to find the vortex as much as they did,because I wanted to go back to that strange,yet strangely-familiar world of giant animals!Yeah...a family to love me,and celebrity status too...and I'd be the one human there who wouldn't have to raid barrels!

1997 by Robert P. Nelson.All rights reserved.