Ok, here is my entry to Regal's Contest. I think I've had a visit from my
muse this week. Hopefully she will stay for a while yet.
Anyway, enjoy and as always any comments, criticisms or adorations greatly
I felt like a bit of a fool as I walked to the secluded beach. In my backpack was a small jar of bluish ointment. According to my contact on the 'net this was suppose to transform me. Well, I think that was what it was suppose to do. I still felt like a fool. I spend a lot of the time on the net. Sometimes I surf, sometimes I muck and other times I just chat. I tend to like the fantasy and science fiction aspect more than other areas. One area I really like are transformations. Before I was on the net I made do with a lot of werewolf books, cheesy movies and heaps of imagination. Some of my friends think I am a little loopy since I spent so long watching the transformation scene in American Werewolf in London. If you know which scene I am talking about, then you know why. Anyway, last year I finally got around to getting my own dedicated connection. I had been online through the university for six years, but now I could connect from home. Suddenly I found myself on all these weird mucks, mudds and chat channels. Most of the time I was a dolphin character. I like dolphins, so it seemed to be natural enough. I even found a channel on Internet Relay Chat, (IRC for those in the know) which was dedicated to talking about transformations. The only problem was I live in Australia. Most of the other folk who inhabit the same places live in America. This meant I spent quite a while online waiting for people to appear. One day I was logged onto the chat channel tormenting the bot named Genie when someone else popped in. They had the nick "Lo_Wang." I said hi and performed the routine ping, finger and whois functions on them while I waited for them to respond. For those who do not know what I am talking about, do not worry. Its something us certified nerds do to find out what we can about the other people. Interestingly, Lo_Wang had a ping reply of zero seconds, while the whois and finger were unable to resolve host. This did not worry me, he (I assumed it was a he) was obviously on a fast connection, probably behind a firewall or something. Nothing unusual. Asking Genie what Lo_Wang was also provided no clue. By this stage, Lo_Wang had responded with a "Greetings Wolphin, may I assume you are some kind of dolphin spirit." To this, I nodded and told him I was a dolphin morph, then gave him the URL of my web page which includes a picture of Wolphin, my character. He lagged for a while, I assumed he was inspecting my page before he countered with, "You are an intriguing creature, perhaps I could interest you in a potion to turn you into a dolphin." I sidestepped, "Saying, thanks for the offer, but I like myself just the way I am." I do not mind people being in character while I talk to them, I try to respect that, but this was a little too sudden. I hardly knew anything about him. Anyway, as luck would have it, at that moment my limit on my ISP came up and I got booted and did not give the conversation a second thought. Then, the next day I logged on and had a message waiting in ICQ. In the nick it had Lo_Wang, but the identification number was given as "******" The message said, "I am sending you a jar of magic ointment, consider it a gift." That was it, I was certain this Lo_Wang guy was a bit of a wacko. Trying to reply to the message produced a "Sender unknown" error. A search of the popular search engines also turned up nothing useful. I sent emails to most of the people I know online, then sat back to wait. After a week, I had got a pile of replies to my email, all of them saying no-one they knew used the nick "Lo-Wang." Then, a small box arrived in the mail. The return address was given as a post box in the central post office of Peru and it certainly looked as if it had been over most of the world. Tentatively I opened it up. There, cradled in a nest of shredded paper was a small jar. It was a pale green colour and inside was a strange, almost sapphire blue paste. I poked it with a pencil. It smelt pretty bad. Not off or rotten or anything, but sort of spicy and somehow mystical. Under the jar was a folded piece of paper. I took this out and spread it out on the table. It was a brief note, written in a strange sort of flowing script, a little like cursive. It was definitely written with a nibbed pen, perhaps even a quill judging by the way it seemed to fade out slightly every few words, only to have a darker letter begin the cycle anew. The note read : "My Dear Wolphin, I hope you do not consider this too strange. For sometime now I have watched you from afar and believe you to be worthy of this prize. I can not tell you what it will do, but can tell you it is something you have longed for. As for how it works, well, magic does form a part of it. Simply apply it to your skin and wait, then all will be revealed. Yours Sincerely, Lo Wang" Okay, now this was strange. I had nothing about people finding out my real name, it was on my web page and I usually give it out freely if someone asks. But then this person went to the trouble of looking up the White Pages to get my address and then they sent me this. Very strange. Luckily for me, I have a few friends in interesting places. One of them, Vicky, happens to work in the police forensic laboratory. She owed me a favour or two, I think it was time to collect. After a few phone calls, a little grovelling and threats of blackmail I had her say that she would pick up the jar and have it analysed for me the next day. Two days later, on my way home from work, I stopped by her office to find out what she had to say. "So," I said to her in her lab. "What is it?" "As best I can tell," she replied. "Some herbal concoction." "You sure?" I countered. "Yeap, there is absolutely nothing in here which could be classified as a narcotic, there are traces of a few drugs, but nothing other than what you would probably find in the supermarket and definitely not in any quantity to do you any harm." "So its safe?" "Definitely," she said. "At a guess, I'd say its probably someone's old home remedy for arthritis, or asthma or the common cold. But there is nothing in there which should hurt you in anyway. Where did you get it from anyway?" "Someone sent it to me," I replied. "And they didn't really tell me much about it. And since you owed me a favour I decided to cash it in - thanks." She smiled. "No problem." We chatted for a while, then her boss came in and demanded she perform some tests on something they just confiscated at the airport, so I excused myself and left. On the way home I pondered my next move. One half of my brain was saying, "Ok, its useless, throw it out." The other side countered with, "Well, perhaps it will work. And if it does work..." That was another thing. Exactly what would it do? Wang had said something I had longed for. Well, I have always longed for money, winning lotto numbers and perhaps the right woman. However, I saw him in the transformation channel. I will freely admit to most people that if I could have anything I wanted, the ability to transform myself into something else would be high on my list of priorities and, as I say, I like dolphins. So, here I was. I had taken a week off work and had hiked out to a little spot I know. It was a small cove, very sheltered, flat calm regardless of the conditions of the seas or the weather. As I walked along the beach I thought about what I was going to do. I considered myself a realist, believed in scientific facts, but a part of me liked to dream. Most of my brain said "you're a nut case." However, a tiny part of me said, "what if it works?" I dumped my pack on the dry sand and looked at the water. "Well," I said to no-one in particular. "No time like the present." I began unbuttoning my shirt before removing it and placing it next to my pack. My shoes were next, followed by my jeans. Soon I was naked. This was another reason why I liked this beach. I had been coming here for five years and had never even seen anyone else's footprints. I walked down to the shore and dabbled my feet in the cool water. After the long walk it felt really good. I waded in further and submerged, swimming a few strokes before poking my head up again. I played in the shallows for a while before emerging and wandering back to my pack. Rummaging around and trying not to drip on my dry clothes I finally found the jar, wrapped in its layer of protective bubble wrap. I unscrewed the top and looked at the sapphire ointment, running what I was about to do through my head for the umpteenth time. I still expected a television crew to come running up shouting "Candid Camera" but the only sound I could hear was the gentle lapping of the waves. I moved to the waters edge once more and sat on a smooth granite rock. "Last chance to back out," I thought. Suddenly I stuck a finger into the jar, took a glob of the stuff and spread it down my leg. Moving in small circles, I massaged the blue streak into my skin. "Too late," I thought. "I'm committed now." Almost without thinking I covered my legs with the stuff. It lasted surprising well, a little going a long way. After covering my legs completely, I still had over half a jar left. It was interesting, the stuff was bright blue in the jar, but faded to a grey-blue when you rubbed it into your skin. "Just like a dolphin," I thought absently. I scraped what remained on my finger back into the jar and sat there for a moment waiting to see what would happen. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well, that is not strictly true. It tingled slightly, but besides that, nothing. No magical emergence of a tail, no appearance of a dolphin's skin. Nothing. I felt like a fool, but somehow decided to continue rubbing the stuff on my arms. I took a big glob in each hand and gently massaged it into each arm, turning them the same greyish colour of my legs. Then I stopped again. Still nothing. Actually, that is not right either. The tingling sensation was growing. It was now becoming painful. Right down the insides of my legs. Now it was definitely hurting. I tried to scrap it off with my fingernails, but that did not seem to work. Then I tried splashing water on them, but again this did not work either. I stretched my legs out and grimaced. They hurt like hell now, but the pain eased when they were straight out next to each other, feet together. That was when I noticed my feet. As I watched they seemed to flow and merge together. I let out a sort of terrified moan and watched in horror as my legs flowed together from the feet up. It was a little like watching molten wax. My grey skin flowing together, joining my legs. The join continuing up my legs until it reached the edge of the blue area around my waist where it stopped. For a moment all was still. Then another wave of pain coursed through me. I looked down to see the lumps where my knees had been smoothed out and I felt something else growing down there. Somehow I knew this was a continuation of my spine, made up from what remained of my leg bones. At this point I could hardly believe it. The potion worked. This was not possible, but here was the proof. I was becoming a dolphin. That was obvious now, as I watched what remained of my feet flatted into tail flukes and new muscles rippled down my new appendage. I felt a sucking sensation from within and watched in a mixture of fascination and horror as my maleness was drawn inside myself and then covered with the streamlined opening of a male dolphin. Then I noticed the change stopped at the line which formed where I had spread the ointment. Of course! I needed to cover myself in it. Stifling a call of glee I reached for the jar beside me, but my hand was sluggish and slow to respond. I brought it up to my face and looked at it. In horror I noticed my fingers were fusing into a single lump, similar to my legs. It was a fin. My fin! But I needed that hand! I needed both my hands! I made a desperate lunge for the jar, but the change was faster. Before my eyes, it twisted upon itself and then drew up to my shoulder, replacing my arm with a perfect dolphin pectoral fin. I did not even get the chance to see my other arm change, I was only able to look in time to see a fin protruding from my other shoulder. I sat on that rock for a long time. The jar, still half full of ointment still on the rock beside me. I tried just about everything I could to get at it. I tried knocking it, hitting it and smashing it. Nothing did any good. As the sun set on the horizon I looked at myself in the fading light. I did have a perfectly good dolphin's tail and pair of pectoral fins. I was just lacking the bit in between. I looked back up the beach to the dark lump my backpack had become. Like the jar, it too could have been a million miles away. Pushing myself off the rock and half slid, half fell into the water. This was my new medium, I may as well get use to it. My tail did work well. It propelled me through the water hideously well and my fins were good for guiding me, however the rest of me was not so streamlined, but I could get use to it. I supposed I would have to. I looked out to the glow on the horizon. Somewhere out there was the mysterious "Lo_Wang." Perhaps they held the answer to my dilemma. "Someone," I thought to myself. "Somewhere will have a solution. They must. All I need is time." With that I headed to the open sea and began my journey. -- end part one. Now begin part two... -- The Mysterious Lo Wang - Part II By Wolphin. "Sir," the junior officer snapped. "We have an intruder." Rear Admiral Samston looked up from his desk. "Yes son," he replied. "Just why should I be informed of that? We have intruders every other day in here. You know as well as I do what these protesters are like, we are always scraping them out of the woodwork." The officer looks a little confused, this was not the reaction he was expecting, but he continued on valiantly. "Sir, I have only been told to notify you that they have a protester in the water seeking some kind of asylum and he will not come out until he speaks to the man in charge." There was another pause before he tentatively added, "That is you Sir." Samston looked at the officer with a tired look in his eye and nodded. "Ok, tell who ever reported it I shall be there in a few minutes. Where is it anyway?" "Birth eight, Sir!" the officer snapped immediately. Samston wearily stood up from his desk, reached for his hat and with a minute pause to compose himself, walked out of the office. He strode through the building towards his jeep muttering to himself. "Probably some damn Greenie chained themselves to the propeller again," he murmured to a passing sailor. "It was a lot simpler in the old days, we could have declared them a commie spy and thrown them in the brig, but now we have to pander to them... invite them in for a cuppa and listen to their ravings... Bloody menaces." By the time his jeep arrived at the waterfront he was ready to take on an army of hippies. Naturally he was quite disappointed to find the birth empty with the exception of a lone head from one swimmer a few metres from the pylons. That was it? That was why he got dragged down here? There was a small crowd of half a dozen men on the side watching the head circle slowly. They snapped to attention as soon as they noticed him. "At ease," he said after returning the briefest of salutes. "Now what do we have here?" "Well Sir," a lieutenant began. "This.. err person made it past our patrols and has been swimming around here for an hour or so demanding asylum from the top brass. We did send in divers, but he just drops below the surface and disappears until they go, then he reappears. So, we decided the best way to go was to get you down here and you could speak to him. We do have a frigate which is due to use this berth in about two hours, so it would be nice to have him out of there and check for any unwanted surprises." Samston nodded in understanding, then walked over to the edge of the platform. "You there," he yelled down to the head. "I believe you wanted to speak to the top brass, well, I'm it so say what you want to and I can go home. I believe you want asylum or something?" The head turned to face him, before shouting back. "That is right, I want a guarantee that I will not be harmed, although I am willing to co-operate." Samston stifled a chuckle, while he may fantasise about doing away with Greenies with their own flowers, in reality he was a very tolerant and forgiving man. "Of course you have my guarantee that no harm will come to you while you are on this Navy's soil," he shouted back. "Why would we want to harm you anyway?" To this, the head suddenly rose above the surface of the water. It was attached to an ordinary looking human chest, but instead of arms there were two grey fins sticking out of the shoulders. Towards the base of the chest, Samston could see the familiar pink human colouring fading to a pale whitish grey and he took in a long low whistle between his teeth. A Merman! In the water, Brian looked up at the small crowd take an involuntary step back and he sighed to himself. He had really let the cat out of the bag now. All he could do was watch and wait. -+- They asked him to swim around to dock 72, "sort of out, turn left and go past the big boat." This really narrowed it down for him. He found it eventually, helped by the seamen on the land yelling at him he was going the wrong way. He actually should have guessed where dock 72 was. It was beside the dolphin training area. Since rubbing the concoction on himself and being half transformed into a dolphin he had found himself almost being able to communicate with cetacea, but not quite. He could easily distinguish their sonar signatures, but lacked the ability to create one for himself. Listening to them was similar to listening to someone having a conversation on the other side of the room. Tantalising, but never completely comprehensible. He had thought being a dolphin would be fun. Unfortunately from the waist up, with the exception of his arms, he was still human. This significantly reduced his ability to swim. He thought it was going to be easy, but about two hours after leaving his cove he had some serious second thoughts. He next problem was sleeping. A true dolphin shuts down one side of its brain for little microsleeps. Brian couldn't do that and the first night he had almost succeeded in drowning himself. Then there was the problem of food. He never expected to be able to catch fish like a true dolphin but, unfortunately he couldn't really reach out and grab something either. This meant for him to eat he had to graze on seaweed, usually growing on the rocks. He wasn't very good at this either, an unseen swell had almost knocked him senseless on more than one occasion. In fact, the only reason he was still alive was probably due to him being befriended by a dolphin. He had nicknamed her Keiki and she was presently hovering about the mouth of the harbour. He could feel her sonar pulses tracking him as he swam towards the half submerged ramp ahead. He hoped she would be all right. -+- Samston had ordered the base's head medical doctor down to dock 72, he had also phoned ahead and made sure their vet and dolphin expert were also there. This sort of thing was not in the manual, but there was no way he was going to let it get away from him, so he declared the area restricted to authorised personnel only and had his aide fill in some blue 74/C forms. He did not know what they were, but the aide thought is would help. Dr Vashere arrived at the gate just before him and jumped out of his jeep with his black bag and grabbed the canister of oxygen and ran down to the enclosed building. "Doc," Samston yelled. "Don't stress. I don't think he is going to die on you." Adding, "Not yet anyway," under his breath. The grey haired doctor turned, nodded to the Admiral, then resumed running down to the building. Samston shook his head, then climbed out of the jeep and walked down after him. He pushed open the door and looked around. Three heads turned to look at him. Vashere has a look of perplexed horror on his face. Their chief vet, Dr Garret was shaking his head in disbelief and the civilian dolphin expert Miss Baskin had a look of pure amazement. He looked down to the ramp where the creature lay. It looked back at him, waved a pectoral fin and said "Errr, hi...?" Looking at the beast from this close it was clear even to him it was not in good shape. Its human parts had been badly sunburnt, bones protruded from its rib cage and its face had some weeping scrapes over it. "Well?" he asked of no one in particular. "Ummm, what exactly are you wanting to know?" replied Brian from the water. "What are you, where did you come from and why did you come here? will do for starters." he snapped back. "To the best of my knowledge, I am half human, half dolphin but I gather these people here could answer that better than I could," Brian gestured to the three people with a fin. Samston nodded. "Mind if they run a few tests?" he asked. Brian just nodded exhaustibly, then lapsed into unconsciousness. The four people saw his eyes close and his head loll into the water and they snapped into action. Firstly Vashere jumped in and held his head above the waterline while the other two grabbed a sling used for carrying dolphins and wrapped it under him. Then, with surprisingly little effort and with the help of a mobile crane they carried him from the open sea to a specially constructed medical pool designed just for dolphins. There they began to run some tests. Brian awoke sometime later a little unsure where he was. For an instant he panicked, then memories of the previous days flooded back and he relaxed a little, especially when he noticed the intravenous drip feeding into his tail, there was a similar one connected to his shoulder and he could feel some bandages on his injured face. Plus, for the first time in three days he could not feel the pain from his sunburn. Just then a woman walked into view. "Hi," she said. "I'm Jenny Baskin. Don't worry, you're going to be all right, but you've got us quite puzzled." He nodded quietly as she was joined by a man. Jenny nodded to the bearded man beside her. "This is Dr Garret." Brian looked up. "Hi doc," he managed to say. Garret spoke up. "That is doctor as in veterinary doctor, not as in medical. If you want a human doctor... well actually he just left, but he should be back in an hour or so." There was a pause. "Ummm, do you have a name?" he asked. Brian nodded, "Brian." They both nodded slowly, then Jenny spoke up again. "Do you know what happened to you? where you came from, even what you are?" she asked. Brian nodded and slowly told them his story about receiving the bottle in the mail, and his mishaps in applying it and how he thought this was probably the only place which could help him. He finished by saying "As for what I am, I was hoping you would be able to answer that for me." Hearing that they both took a sharp intake of breath. "Well," started Garret. "According to all of our tests, you basically are about half dolphin and half human. Each part of you is either true dolphin or true human, right down to the DNA. Even your nerve fibres change as they cross the relevant parts of your body and your blood is a curious mixture of the two. Normally I'd say you couldn't survive, but obviously you can... And we want to know how and why." With that, even more tests and questions followed. He was there for weeks. They asked him all about this "Lo Wang" character, the package and all of that. They sent in a rescue team to try and recover the jar, but all they found was his backpack on the beach. Apparently the intelligence people tried to track down Lo Wang over the net, but could not find even a trace of him. He recovered quickly and they put him in with the other dolphins. He thought the idea was he would be able to bridge the communication gap. It didn't work, but he did get better at playing games such as tag. One of the pools was separated from the ocean by a mesh fence and occasionally he would sense Keiki swimming past, but still unwilling to enter the harbour. About four weeks after he arrived he was lying in his partially submerged hammock one night contemplating his future when there was a splash in the water beside him. He sat up in shock and looked around before he began to slide off his perch. He did not see anybody, but thought he heard footsteps running away. Curious now, he ducked below the surface and slowly began searching for what had been thrown at him. Eventually, by rubbing his nose along the smooth bottom of the pool, he succeeded in finding it. It was small, about the side of a baseball, but wrapped in paper by the feel of it. Tentatively he grasped it in his teeth and swam to the edge. Dumping the package he backed off and looked at it. It looked like a bundle of crumpled paper, but there was what looked like writing on it. With painful slowness he began to pull the package apart with his teeth, flattening the paper out with his pectoral fin, being careful not to damage it. Eventually he succeeded in smoothing out one sheet of paper, on it was some sticky mess which he had been avoiding, but at least now he could read the message. It read : Heard you had been having troubles, don't you ever think anything through (take that as a hint) Hope this helps, Lo Wang. Brian gasped in amazement has he re-read the message, then read it a third time and a fourth. Then he looked at the small mound of paste stuff and back at the paper. Suddenly he noticed the words "eat me" scraped into the paste. Well, that definitely made thing easier. He was about to begin licking at the paper when the sarcasm of the note hit him and he stopped. This time he would not stuff up. If he turned into a dolphin here, what would happen? He would change, that was okay, he was in the water, but he was in an isolated pool. He would be trapped here, he needed to get to the open water. Luckily, from his current position, this was relatively straight forward. It just meant hitting a few buttons with his head and hopefully the gates would open. Well, they usually opened during the day so he couldn't see a problem with them now. Grasping the paper and its precious cargo in his mouth he swam off towards the first gate. A little above the surface was a large safety type switch, specially installed for him. He whacked it with his head and the gate slowly rolled to the side, allowing him access to the next pool. After repeating this twice more, he was as close as he could be to the open sea. Only the familiar wire fence separated it from him now. The fence only stuck up a few feet above the water's surface and he was heavily banking on being able to clear it as a true dolphin. Taking a big breath he slowly gobbled the piece of paper into his mouth, swallowing the ball of paste at the same time. Then he lay back and waited. For a while, nothing happened, then a feeling of warmth began to spread out from his stomach. He tilted his head down and watched. The change started where his tail stopped, slowly flowing back up his body. He could feel his internal organs changing, moving to new positions. Like the first change, this one was not painful, but he was definitely aware of the sensations. He felt his spine reform in a new, more flexible way as his ribcage slowly pushed itself out, making his chest more torpedo shaped. His pink human flesh began to transform itself to a more familiar greyish rubbery dolphin skin and he felt his head being pulled back while the top of his spine realigned itself. A slight pain in his back had him confused for a few seconds, until he realised it must be his new dorsal fin forming. With a soft groan of wonder he felt his nose beginning to push forward, it was joined a moment later with his bottom jaw. As the newly forming rostrum slid out his nostrils fused over. He was puzzled how he was breathing, until he sensed he breath entering and leaving his new lungs via his recently formed blowhole. It was a strange sensation, breathing through the back of your head, but he could get use to it. As the snout grew, he felt something happening between his eyes. They were slowly pushed sideways as his melon grew from his forehead. As it grew, he became aware of his new surroundings, unconsciously sending out sonar pings without even being aware of it. In his changing brain he had a perfect three dimensional map his domain, right down to the school of small fish hiding amongst the wire mesh of the fence. He also felt something else invading his brain. Not an overpowering sensation, not something trying to take over. It felt more like an old friend, providing knowledge and information, but not demanding anything in return. Unconsciously, as his ears faded into the side of his head and the grey dolphin skin spread over the last of his pink human flesh he spun in the water, taking stock of his new situation. He was trapped in a small pool. He could tell that on the other side of that strange netting he would be free, but he had no way of knowing how to get there. Then, something from the back of his brain told him to go over. The solution was to jump and he would be free. Circling the pool, he gradually got use to his new body and built up speed. Suddenly he deviated from his circular route and charged straight at the gate, lowering his flukes, his momentum propelling him up and over the fence in the blink of an eye. As soon as he hit the water he was aware of Keiki calling from the harbour mouth. While he headed towards her he was aware of some commotion happening behind him, but did not care about it. It was some silly human thing no doubt. He greeted Keiki with a friendly burst of sonar and she trilled back at him, rubbing he lithe body against his as they slowly disappeared into the horizon. -+- Rear Admiral Samston put down the phone and looked at the two doctors in front of him. "Its official," he said. "That creature was never here. If anyone asks, you don't know anything, you Vashere have been treating a critical patient for the past month and Garret, you were off on a classified assignment." As two men left his office Samston pulled out a sheet of paper from a classified file on his desk and looked at it. It was entitled "Chemical Analysis of unknown substance" - requested by Victoria Patience, Police Forensics Laboratory. He ran his gaze over the figures, sighed and slipped it back into his folder, but not before making a copy of it for himself. ...One day, perhaps, who knows... --The End