Chapter 22
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Emma goes downstairs with Dan in the shoebox and a pencil and paper in hand to speak with her parents.

Arriving in the living room, Emma sees her father and mother sitting on the couch watching tv. "What do you need, sweety? Dinner is in the oven," Rose says to Emma.

"Did you have fun on your trip, Emma," her father, Eric, asks?

"Yeah, I did, Dad. I have something to talk to you both about," Emma says a bit nervous. "I need you both to remain calm and just listen to me."

"Alright, sweety, we will listen to you. I wonder what so important that gots you so bothered," Rose says, a bit concerned about her daughter.

"Okay, here goes nothing. This lizard here is Dan," Emma says, as she opens the shoebox she is holding.

"What do you mean, sweety? Did you get a pet lizard and name it, Dan? Where did you even get a lizard," Rose asks both confused and worried about her daughter? Eric staying silent but also a bit concerned about her.

"No, I mean this is really my brother Dan," Emma tells them.

"Sweety, your brother has been kidnapped, he isn't a lizard, that's not possible," Rose says as both her and Eric grow ever more concerned.

"I didn't believe at first either, but just ask him anything that only Dan would know," Emma says as she sets Dan and the paper and pencil on the table.

"Alright sweety, I will humor you," Rose says to Emma, worried that Emma might be having a mental break down. Eric is also starting to worry about her but decides not to say anything, as he believes a lizard could not possibly respond to a question. And, after the lizard doesn't respond, she would snap her out of it. "What did Dan come home crying to me about a month after the beginning of middle school," Rose asks, then feels a little sad recalling it.

Dan picks up the pencil and begins writing. Both Rose and Eric are shocked seeing this, and Emma is pleased to see her parents shocked faces. Dan finishes writing, and although still shocked, Rose and Eric begin reading it. "I come home crying because the girl I had a crush on moved to a different school."

"That... That's correct," Rose says, astonished that a lizard could write at all and concerned about the implications of that mean.

Right as Rose is about to start talking again, she is interrupted by Eric. "What did I tell Dan right before we went hunting for deer the first time," Eric asks, seeming to be freaking out a bit.

Dan writes, "You told me that if I kill an animal, to make use of all of it leaving nothing to waste as a sign of respect for the animal. And never hunt simply for entertainment."

After staying silent for a few moments, trying to wrap their heads around the whole thing, Eric speaks. "You... You're really, Dan, my little boy. What happened," Eric asks, happy that his son is back, but concerned about what could have happened to turn his smart little boy into a lizard and what that means for his future.

"Yes, we were told you were kidnapped. How can you suddenly be a lizard? Did someone do this to you?" Rose asks, feeling a bit angry, but otherwise, she feels the same way as her husband.

Emma explains to them what she knew and their concerns about telling anyone about it. When they heard the part about how their sone probably died, they visibly quivered but quickly went back to listening. "Yeah, you're right. If people found out about a lizard that has the mind of a human, they would go crazy trying to get their hands on Dan. We have to be very careful about who we tell, but we also need help to get Dan back to normal," Eric tells his daughter. He is not about to lose his son again. "I think I might know someone who would be able to help Dan or at least point us in the right direction. Jim Galmont, he has been my friend ever since I meet him back in the army. He was still studying to become a doctor back then. I have not spoken to him in about two and a half months because he has been off on an assignment, but he should be done soon. Last time I talked to him, he said that he asked to be assigned to the military base near here as he slowly transitions out of the military. Once he is back, I will ask him about what he can do for Dan."

"Are you sure you want to tell him about Dan? I know we can trust him, but won't Jim be in big trouble if the government catches wind that he is hiding something. I mean he is still part of the military, they could cut his benefits," Rose says to her husband.

"That is a risk, but he does not have to help us if he thinks the risk is too great. But, I don't think it will bother him too much, he did make Master Sargent rank last year, so I don't think the military will pay too much attention to any weird things he does. And he will be leaving the military in a year or two anyway," Eric tells Rose.

As Rose, Eric, and Emma are talking, Catlin, laying down on her bed in her room, thinks to herself, "I hope you get your body back to normal soon Dan, so I can finally tell you how I feel about you."

Meanwhile, in an undisclosed lab underground, a blond-haired man in his forties, he yelling at someone over the phone. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU STILL HAVE NOT LOCATED IT! This is the first mammal SMC we have had the chance to capture. Your team almost had it a month ago, but you were careless and let it slip through your fingers, losing your best chance. Now a month later, you still have not managed to find it."

"Sir, the last report we have is that the SMC was heading southwest from Fayette, West Virginia, but that report is over two weeks old, with the SMC's speed it could already be in another state by now," the man on the phone says.

"You have two weeks. If you can't find it by then, I am cutting your pay and assigning another team to do the job," the blond-haired man states.

"Of course, sir, we will get it done," the man on the phone says before hanging up.

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