I hope you don't mind gaining some weight.
With the door shut behind you, there doesn't seem to be any way out of the room - except the costumes. You can't go back and choose another door. Like it or not, the only way you're getting out of this room is as an animal. (A male animal, no less - why don't they label these doors?)
The only choice you have now is which animal that's going to be. You take a look at the five costumes in front of you. Most are fairly obvious - leopard spots, tiger stripes, lizard scales, some things that look like a horse's hooves. A spotted thing like some sort of dog. The only one you can't figure out right away is the grayish spike on the floor. Is it a goat's horn? A dinosaur's tooth? You can't even tell how it's supposed to go on - what sort of costume is this? You pick it up, turning it over to look at the base. Maybe there are straps or something there.
All you feel is a brief pulling sensation before the spike slips out of your hands and clamps itself onto your nose.
Startled, you try to pull it off, but you might as well be pulling on your own face. The spike seems to have fused to your skull. You keep pulling anyway - you didn't choose this costume, you were just looking at it! What kind of animal has a spike on its-
You're pretty sure you know where this is going, then, and it doesn't look like it's going to stop. Apparently, even picking up a costume counts as choosing it. You stand still and wait for the changes to start.
It doesn't take long. Within seconds, your skin itches and turns gray all over. bumps start appearing on it. The itching gets fainter as your skin turns leathery, getting tougher and thicker.
In fact, everything's getting thicker. Your fingers swell and press together. Your arms bulge like the world's best advertisement for an exercise program, straining against your sleeves. Unfortunately, your waist does the same. Your pants are getting uncomfortably tight. You have to bend over to see your shoes - stretched tight around your swelling feet - and when you do, you hear the seat of your pants rip. An odd sensation comes with the sound. You look over your shoulder to see a short tail poking out through the gap, tipped with a brush of black hair. It twitches slightly, and you can feel the motion, control it as easily as your arms and legs.
Your ears are next. It feels like something's tugging on them, pulling them away from your head, and you reach up with one swollen hand to feel a hairy earlobe stretching up above your hair. You move muscles you didn't even have before, and the ear twitches, flicks, rotates forward and back. It's just as easy as moving your fingers or your new tail. You try moving both ears at once, then in opposite directions-
You stop as pressure builds up in your face, especially your nose, ten times worse than the worst cold you've ever had. Your sinuses feel like they're about to burst - and then your face balloons out in front, bulging and unfolding, your mouth and nose stretching wider and wider along with it. You can hear your skull creaking as it doubles in length. The room blurs as your eyes are squashed out to the sides. You can just barely see the horn straightening on top of your growing snout, rising until it points straight up. Your nose spreads across the entire front of your new face. Your lips seem to go on forever. Your front teeth shrink and disappear, but the rest seem to be growing to make up for them.
The change is disorienting for several seconds. You are seeing the room in two halves, a completely different image with each eye. The massive gray horn on your nose blocks most of the section where they overlap. A second, smaller one sprouts behind it as you watch, with a faint stretching feeling. Your head is roughly the shape of a brick. It feels as if your face has been spread out; your nose covers most of the front of it, far removed from your eyes, which are tiny under protruding eyebrows and no longer communicate with each other. Your ears are two extra limbs somewhere behind it all. You blink, trying to get used to seeing nearly the entire room at once, and run your enormous tongue over the long rows of your teeth.
There is a shredding sound as your shirt bursts at every seam. The fragments hang on your arms and shoulders for a moment, then fall to the floor, leaving your chest bare. <span class="female">It doesn't really matter, though; your chest flattens out completely at that point, leaving you with a flat, uninterrupted expanse of pebbly gray skin. It's so thick that you can't even feel the cloth or the absence of it. You might as well be wearing skintight armor. Whatever remains under it is completely hidden by the thick hide, which is starting to droop into folds as it continues to grow.
<span class="female">Your pants only hold out a few seconds longer before ripping apart and falling to the floor. Everything you were wearing is in shreds around your feet. You barely have time to register this fact before the expanding going on everywhere accelerates suddenly between your legs, growing into one more addition on your rapidly changing body. This is the male room, after all. You'll have to get used to more changes than just your species, at least until you find another costume.
Somehow, your shredded clothes don't seem so important anymore. You barely recognize your own body at this point. You're more rhino than human, and now a male as well, and being naked doesn't bother you as much as it would have five minutes ago. Everything you'd normally cover up is gone. Hopefully, wherever you're going, the people there will feel the same way.
The changes are mostly done now, but you keep growing, taller and thicker and heavier. You're almost surprised when you stop.
You're more than twice as tall as you were when you walked into the room, judging by the way your ears are brushing the ceiling. You weigh a ton - probably literally - and most of that is muscle. Not all of it, though; you're hungry after the change, and your stomach seems to grumble in more places than usual. Your skin is thick and pebbled, hard to the touch, hanging in heavy folds at your shoulders and waist. The only hair left on your body seems to be on your tail and ears; even the top of your head is completely bald. You can't feel the tips of your fingers. The last joint of each one is mostly thick gray fingernail. Your feet are little more than shapeless blobs, with only knobs of toenail marking where your toes used to be. The ground sinks half an inch whenever you take a step.
Wait a minute. The ground?
You look up from your feet to see the African savanna stretching away in front of you, a sea of waving grass. The room seems to have disappeared while you weren't looking. The costumes are gone; so are the remains of your clothes. All that remains is you, an enormous rhinoceros man standing alone in the middle of the grassland.
It looks like you're on your own from here.
Illustrated by InuebonyDarkHaven
Written by Chrysalis on 21 November 2008