|You Get What you Wished For
by Michael Bard
© Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
Copyright © Eala Dubh. Used with permission.
The man and woman dragged themselves up on the beach, the smoking wreckage of their downed shuttle still staining the air behind them. They were wet, their red uniform's itched, and none of their equipment worked anymore.
"You know, it's probably one of those super races that did it," Andrew said.
"What the hell do you mean by that?"
"Look at us, we find this planet that's just like Earth, even to the arrangement of the continents. We find nothing but Earth animals on the surface..."
"Oh give it a rest!" Cathy couldn't believe what she was hearing and turned away to look over the softly rolling waves at the smoke that marked their only way home.
"It's the Metrons!"
"The Metrons? Who the hell are they?!"
"Didn't you watch that series being shared around at the Academy?"
"That thing?! 'To boldly go where no man has gone before -- and whistle at the miniskirts!' Give me a break!" She picked up a rock and tossed it into the waves. It landed with a plonk and she sighed, smelling only the salt of the sea and a faint whiff of burning plastic from the sinking wreck in the distance.
"Well then Cathy, how do you explain this?"
"I don't know! But it's not the 'Metrons', whoever or whatever they are!" She wandered away and began looking for driftwood.
"We! Are! The! Metrons!"
Cathy spun around and glared at her co-pilot. "Give it a break Andrew!!"
He burst out laughing, but then suddenly stopped. She ran over to his side. Sure, he was a pain in the posterior, but he was the only other human on this godforsaken planet. And it wasn't as though the Alexander was going to send anybody else down! They were probably watching them right now, using them as guinea pigs...
"What is it?"
"My boots are suddenly tight."
"Didn't somebody say that the smartplastic was always guaranteed to fit by autoadjustment?" Unless it stopped working like--"
"They did... Ow!"
Her stomach let out a grumble -- who knew what kind of crap was floating around the atmosphere here? Every probe that'd been sent down had malfunctioned before it entered the ionosphere. Crouching down beside Andrew, who was already seated on the sandy beach, she helped him pull off a boot.
They both stared at his gray foot.
"What the hell?" Andrew asked.
Her stomach churned and her legs turned to jelly and she was lying on her chest. Right in front of her eyes she could see her hand. But it wasn't her hand. It was more a... paw? As she watched, she could see fine dark brown hair growing.
"I was kidding about the Metrons!" Andrew shouted to the sky.
"I think it's too late for that. You know, I wonder if we're the first to come here. The initial orbital survey seemed awful short. And we were transferred with very little notice."
"I arranged that." She noticed that his voice was higher pitched now.
"You what?!?! You--" Her last words rose into a scream as she felt her legs suddenly clench as though she had a muscle spasm. She managed to turn her head and, through the haze of pain, watched her legs suck into her body like a ship boarding tube being retracted.
As fast as it'd come, the pain was gone. She could see dark brown hair covering her body beneath the scraps of uniform. When had it torn? Spinning her head around she looked at Andrew who was no longer human. His uniform was torn, his body was hairless and covered in some kind of gray rubber. His arms were shorter and his hands were fingerless paddles. And, she could hear his breath whistling as he breathed, not through his mouth, but through a hole in the top of his head.
"Isn't this great?!" he asked.
"What are you talking about?!?!"
"There've been rumours about this place for years."
She heard his body, or was it hers, crackling as it changed. His continued to stretch whilst hers shrunk. Her arms were shorter now and she could see a muzzle in front of her face. Her legs were almost gone, now only widening feet sticking out behind her. "You did this?!?!"
He laughed, his laughter more a high-pitched clicking than anything human.
"I volunteered us."
"You..." Her voice was lower now, huskier. She could smell the salt more intensely and the shush of the waves was quieter and yet sharper.
"Oh sure... I've always wanted to be something else and--"
She remembered snippets of a talk they'd both had in the dorms when they'd both been high and had just had sex. "You... you..."
"You and your 'holier than though' belief in the 'sanctity of the human form'."
"You're... you're one of those transformationists, aren't you?!"
"At your service!" He tried to bow, but instead his body curled in its entirety.
She could see sand sticking to his sleek gray skin, and had to tear her eyes away from his face as his nose slowly grew outward into a beak. She could see what he was becoming now, a dolphin of some kind. She couldn't ID the species, her specialty was Warp Drive mechanics. She had wondered why she'd been assigned to the surface landing, but orders were orders...
"Haven't you ever wondered what it was like to be something else? To swim in the ocean with complete freedom? To have no worries? To live nothing but a sensuous existence?"
She looked down, her arms were almost gone. All that was left was short furred flippers.
"They like dropping us here. They get to try a different shuttle each time to try and find something that won't be destroyed. And they get to experiment to see what determines the change. You remember that injection they gave you just before we left?"
When they got back she was going to kill him. "Yes." Her answer came out more as a bark than a word, and she tried to cover her muzzle with a hand but couldn't move her hand far enough anymore.
"It was animal DNA. It's been confirmed that it guides the change. It also allows volunteers to choose their new form."
"Why does nobody know this?!"
"Oh, they do in the highest levels. For the rest of us it's just an underground rumour. Us 'transformationalists' know. They leak it to us. Gives us hope, and gives them guinea pigs."
"I don't want to be a dolphin!!"
"Dolphin?" Andrew let out squeaking clicking laughter. "You're not becoming a dolphin my dear."
She turned her head and looked at him. There was no human left in him anymore. Other than the scraps of clothing you could swear he was a dolphin. An odd looking one, but-- "Then what am I becoming?!"
"A cute widdle seal."
"I'm... what..." She spun her head around and, on both sides of her muzzle, she could see her sleeked furred body and she knew she was a seal. She'd seen uplifted seals that'd been helping out on orbital construction playing in the water sphere in the station's centre. They'd invited her once but she'd refused. A seal... "I am neither cute nor widdle!!"
"Oh well." He grinned, or was that just the habitual dolphin expression?
"You know, I think we're done."
"Yea. I just feel, well, done."
"Oh." And with that she realized that she did too. But how were they understanding each other-
He slapped his tail into the water. "This is great! We can talk, we can think, and I'm a dolphin and you're a seal!!"
She glared at him. Bloody transformationalists...
A hint of a frown appeared on his muzzle and he wiggled his body more and more vigorously and whipped his tail up and down in the soft waves whipping them into foam.
"Something wrong?" she asked tenderly and sarcastically as she humped over and looked at him.
"Cathy! Help me!"
"What's wrong Andrew dear?" Somehow she knew that even through her weird speech he could sense the sarcasm that dripped off her every word. "Being a dolphin isn't all you wanted?"
He stopped moving. "I am not just 'a dolphin'! I am a Tursiops truncates or Bottlenose Dolphin."
She just rolled her eyes.
"Cathy, I need your help. Really."
She sighed. "Fine, fine! What is it then?"
"Can you push me into the water?"
For a second she stared. She stared at his long body, his gray skin, his tail fin with the waves running up against it..
Her barking laughter echoed up and down the beach.
Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments or questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org