This was the first story I wrote after quite a break.
Its alot longer than I thought it was going to be, but all in
all, I'm quite happy with it. Also, Sharkie (you know who
you are) if you're reading this, I'd like to think you
get a kick out of me saying this is dedicated to you.
Ever since I heard sharks don't get cancer this idea had been
floating around inside my head and I finally managed to get around
and write it out. It took me a while. Well, three nights, but
spread out over about two months. I'm just about to proof read
it, but I suspect I'll find the first half is written in a
different style to the second half. If anyone notices this and
questions me about it, I'll say it was due to changing mental
processes. Another thing which people may have an urge to bring
up (and please, feel free to do so, I like learning from my
mistakes) is a possible complete misuse of technical medical
terms. To them I will reply - "Its an experimental treatment, of
course its not going to be conventional"
When the doctor looked at me that way, I knew it was going to be bad. "Mr McOnigal," he paused. "Brian. There is no easy way to tell you this." He paused again, nothing like a little bit of silence for dramatic effect. "The tests show the cancer has spread. It has been detected through your lymph nodes, as well as your liver. Plus there are indications it has affected several other organs." He went on but I slipped into a daze. I was in there for quite some time. I already knew I had cancer, it started with a having a mole removed from my back, that went to a routine pathology test and the results shocked almost everyone. It was a malignant melanoma. So, I was back in for another batch of tests, that was when they discovered it had spread. My meeting with the doctor was several weeks ago. Since then I had undergone more tests. For a while they gave me a good chance with heavy does of chemotherapy, coupled with drugs and several operations. Then an MRI showed a huge tumour almost encasing my brain. Apparently it was a miracle I was still functioning normally. Some miracle. The discovery of the tumour changed everything. That pushed the extend of the cancer above some barrier which ruled out chemotherapy, coupled with fact it was deemed too dangerous to operate on. They gave me six months. The thing was, I felt fine. Ok, a little weary at times, but not like I was dying. They put that down to the tumour. They said it was affecting my brain, apparently including the bits which determine pain. However, they were unable to tell me why I could still feel pin pricks on my skin. It was as if once they found the tumour, they had a closed mind about anything else. "Thank you for your time, we estimate you have about six to eight months left, we will endeavour to ensure your remaining time is easy for both you and your family." I think that little speech almost killed me in itself. One night I spent most of it sitting in a darkened room, looking out over the glistening lights of the world. There was so much more I wanted to do, so much more to see. If I died now, a few people would feel sad, but the ripples would soon ease. I had always wanted to make a mark on the world, I don't think I had succeeded in scratching the dust on the surface. I was too young. At least that was true, I was only twenty five. Some time around three in the morning I decided I was not dead yet and hence it was not too late for me. If I still moved, there remained a chance. For the first time in a while I went to bed feeling a little better. The next morning I began researching cures. I wanted to know what the common cures were, the alternatives, even the far out wacko ones and believe me, there are lots of them. I called up a few friends in the medical research field and they gave me the names of some contacts. By the end of the week I had a pile of stuff to wade through. When I was first diagnosed, I had begun researching cancer, so I knew the basics, but I wanted to become an expert... and I only had a few days to do it. By Monday morning I had a list of five people I wanted to contact with regard to their treatment, all were basically similar. Most of them combined drugs and radiation therapy in the hope the combined efforts would help. Three of the teams were sympathetic, but did not see how they could help. The other two were both accepting patients for trials. One of the teams was located in New York, the other was based in Sydney, but the actual research was conducted at a naval hospital up the coast. I applied to both on the spot and was accepted to the Sydney one two days later. At the time I thought it was a little strange, but they had said I was one of the very few who actually met their parameters and was willing to be a guinea pig, so to speak. Three days after that, I found myself standing in their waiting room. A secretary appeared and ushered me into the boardroom and I met the people who were going to save me. There were five doctors all up, two women and three men. Between them they had over eighty years of cancer research. This was to be their crowning glory. Tests in mice and primates had proved to be much more than there expectations, with over seventy five percent of the test subjects being totally cured. I was flabbergasted, those were impressive figures from any treatment. Our discussion lasted for over six hours. Firstly they explained what they wanted to achieve, then described how they were going to achieve it and what was going to happen to me. Then I asked questions, they explained and I asked more questions. But the end of the day I was convinced this offered probably one of the best chances I had. Due to the aggressive nature of my cancer, it was decided to admit me immediately and start treatment as soon as possible. This was what I had hoped for and I was prepared for it. I left the meetings and was shown directly to my hospital room and given one of the reasons I visit hospitals - the backless green gown. That night I lay in bed and wondered for the countless time if this would work. One thing was certain, if it didn't, I'd soon be dead, so it would not matter that much. I awoke from an uncomfortable night to find someone had been into my room and placed a large chart on the wall. It said "Day 1." For some reason this sent a shiver down my spine. Just before nine, one of the doctors entered, followed by a nurse pushing a stainless steel trolley. "Brian," he said. "How are we today?" "Nervous," I replied. He nodded understandably. "Well, this is to be the first injection, its pretty big and you'll get a booster every few hours for the next two days and we'll give you your first does of chemo tonight like we discussed. Hopefully, if everything works we'll start you on the second treatment in a short while, just like we discussed." I nodded weakly. This was the last chance to back out. "Ready?" he asked. I murmured something which sounded like a yes. He had already turned away to meddle with the instruments on the trolley while the nurse came over and pulled up my sleeve. She lightly swabbed around a vein, then put a tourniquet around my arm and made me clench my fist. The doctor had pulled out a very large looking needle and with no warning slid it into my arm. I watched in mute horror as the huge thing entered the skin. I could see the bulge it created ending a good two inches up my arm. He strapped it in place with a piece of cotton tape, then pulled out an even larger syringe, connected it to the end and began pushing down on the plunger. The stuff in it did not belong in my arm. It was what you expected to see in a horror movie. Almost fluorescent green, it literally glowed. As he pushed in the plunger, I felt an evil chill begin to spread up my arm, looking down I could see the colour of my veins changing. It did not hurt as such, but it tingled. I felt it travel up my arm, then across my shoulder. for a moment it was lost as it entered my arteries, then it quickly spread over most of my body. As I had been warned, the effects on me were almost immediate and I found myself laying back in my pillow, barely able to move. Eventually he finished, and pulled of the syringe, leaving the needle strapped to my arm. My eyes followed him as he whispered something to the nurse before leaving. This scene was repeated precisely three hours later, then three hours after that and again and again. I lost count after the fifth dose. My brain still functioned, but on a different level now. I was aware of nurses coming in, attaching things to me, stuffing the glowing stuff into my arm but I seemed unable to say anything. The strange thing was, below that I knew exactly what was going on. The idea of the green drug they had given me was deceptively simple. It was attracted to cancer cells, by itself this is not very useful, however, they had added bits to it to make it detectable by the magnetic resonator they lowered me into towards the end of the second day. The resonator was hooked up to a computer which in turn controlled a very tightly focused beam of gamma radiation. This is where the chemotherapy came into it. The computer was able to pick out the areas of cancer and blast them away with a really high tech ray gun. This was all well and good except I had so much cancer in my body and it had spread so widely just killing the cells was not enough. However, by incorporating a second mysterious drug cocktail into my system, they hoped that would fight the cancer before it had a chance to grow back. It is a well known fact that sharks do not get cancer. Why this is so is still a mystery. Many research teams had tried to emulate a shark's biology in a human patient, but without much success. The research team I was a guinea pig for tackled the problem slightly differently. Chemo therapy naturally takes a lot out of the body. I can testify it does not leave you feeling very good. Normally when someone is getting dosages like I am they keep you in a clean room environment and try to keep your immune system as protected as they possibly can and hope it, couple with even more drugs can counter anything which you are unlucky enough to pick up. With me, they took that one step forward. While the chemo was (hopefully) taking out the tumours, other parts of the drug were knocking out my immune system, not just a little. Totally. Things I never would have noticed could have killed me. The common cold, for example would have been certain death. Even harmless skin irritations would have probably wiped me out. By now I was about two weeks into the treatment and frankly I thought death would have been much more enjoyable, however I was too weak to even think about that. The chemo had taken a massive toll on my body. In the fortnight I had lost over fifteen kilos, all of my body hair. My skin was an strange yellow colour due to a nasty liver infection I had picked up and I was being fed through a drip in my arm. I floated in and out of consciousness, vaguely aware of visitors, the constant stream of doctors and unfamiliar faces looking at me from behind a protective pane of glass. I watched one day, through blurred vision and a general haze of uncertainty, as one of the nurses walked into my room and added a bag of blue liquid to the line feeding into my arm. I can remember thinking to myself, "Isn't this nice. They colour co- ordinate everything." From that day on, things began to improve. The chemo stopped, apparently the shorter than normal duration was due to the massive doses and precision with which mine was received. The drugs continued. Speaking of drugs, I never finished explaining what mine did. Like I said, the chemo took care of the cancer, the first batch of drugs took care of my immune system and then in came the second batch. At this point my system was basically helpless. The researchers planned to use this to their advantage. The blue stuff they were pumping into me contained a retro virus. Retro viruii are sort of like dead viruii. They are not exactly dead as such, but they can be almost programmed to perform certain tasks. The one I got had large slices of DNA mixed into it. The virus infected my cells and grafted the new strains of DNA into my sequences and my cells began happily producing genetically modified cells for my body. The big question is what was in the DNA sequence. Well, ideally you would want to splice in a section telling the cells "Don't turn into cancerous cells" but that is a little difficult if you don't know why they are doing it in the first place. However, as I mentioned earlier, sharks don't get cancer. So if there was shark DNA then that would naturally stave off the cancer growth. That was the big idea anyway. Kill of my immune system, genetically modify my cells to produce a new DNA sequence and have them begin production with no fear of rejection by my body. Not only that, as my immune system recovers itself, it accepts the modified cells as my natural ones and protects them because my immune system will have the shark DNA incorporated into it. It was a complex plan and I was the first test subject. There were bound to be complications. I was aware of that, I just didn't realise exactly how serious the complications were going to be. I noticed the first anomaly, as they called it, about six weeks after treatment had begun. By now I was feeling relatively better. I was still bald and exhausted from the chemo but things were looking up. Tests had revealed the cancer had been almost totally wiped out and the small amount which remained was diminishing with each test. I was still confined to my bed and quarantined in the clean room, but I was also becoming more active. Most of my days were growing increasingly restless and I was bored out of my mind. It wasn't until I was dragging my hand across the sheets and they caught on something I actually noticed the change. My hand sort of snagged the bedding and I found it hard to pull it away. Curious, I lifted by fingers to my eyes and peered at them. Each nail was definitely longer and seemed to be darker as well. Wiggling my toes I sensed they had grown and when I mustered the energy to look, I found those too had began to darken. I mentioned that to the nurse. They examined them closely then concluded it must be something to do with the radiation. They had probably grown and no one had trimmed them and now they were dying off, new ones being pushed in from below, hence the darker coloration. It was a good theory, but something about her look told me there might be something more to it. A few days later I noticed my skin seemed to be loosing colour. It was greying in appearance and felt like it was drying out. I pointed this out to a doctor and he said it was due to the radiation. Just the outer few layers of skin dying off due to radiation poison. It was nothing to worry about. I took his word for it and kept quiet when I noticed the next anomaly. My eyes seemed to be behaving strangely. I would go to open them and my eyelids seemed to pause a moment before opening. It was disconcerting to say the least. I next began to feel twinges with my bones. Its hard to describe, but my skeleton felt, well, strange. It wasn't painful as such, it was more like an awareness that something was different. Not wrong, just, well... different. I passed this one off to the two months of constant bed rest. Luckily, around that time the doctors decided I was well enough to be allowed to get up. At first I was still confined to the clean room but that restriction was lifted after it was shown my immune system was almost back to where it was before I was admitted. The room they gave me overlooked a small cove. I must admit I liked places which could afford almost private beaches and seaside rooms for their patients. Apparently it was bequeathed to the navy by someone who died of cancer and the hospital had grabbed it. At first I hobbled around my room uncomfortably. My bones were still sore from lying in the bed all the time and I had developed a strange lean forward. What was even stranger was how it felt kind of natural and a lot better than standing up straight. They took a pile of x-rays, held muffled conferences and decided that if it felt ok to me, there was no harm to it. I first began to suspect they knew something I didn't when they refused to let me look at my x-rays. I wanted to see what had happened to my hands and feet. They seemed larger than normal and the nails had developed into definite claws. Trimming the nails back left my hands feeling strangely unbalanced so I let them grow long. When I asked to see the films they made some feeble excuse about confidentiality and locked them in a cabinet. Three days later, at four in the morning I decided I wanted to see my files. My jaw had begun to ache, along with the base of my spine and I was not getting told anything. I snuck out of my room and eased my way along the deserted corridors to the researcher's offices. I knew exactly where my records were being kept, I had seen them consult them many times. It was a filing cabinet in the office of the head doctor. The research wing was deserted and I easily made it to his room. Surprisingly, his door was unlocked, as was the cabinet and I pulled out the top drawer, flipping through the thick folders within. The entire wad of information was devoted to me. I fingered through, finding a file marked "clinical summary" and flipped it open. One of the side effects of that strange sensation with my eyes was I had found my night vision had increase out of sight. I was able to read the typed notes in the moonlight with no problems at all. The beginning was filled with events already knew, my history, preliminary test results, the chemo treatment. Things did not get interesting until the last couple of pages. As expected, there was a lot of scientific talk, but hand written notes on the side such as "Subject shows signs of successful combination of shark and human DNA"; "X-rays confirm increase of cartilage to skeletal structure"; "Anticipate full and final transformation with next few days" The next few pages were computer generated pictures of me with areas highlighted. One such area was my neck, which had the note "increased bloodflow - possible???" A circle around my eyes revealed "nicatating membrane in place and appears to be functional. Subject not aware of existence" Well, that explained one thing at least. I continued to flip through the folders. The meaning of many passing way over my head, but the general gist of it was clear enough. I was turning into a shark. Most of my bones had already dissolved into cartilage. I had claws on my fingers. My eyes had changed. The changes to my skin was not caused by the radiation. That was the early formation of scales. I felt like confronting the team with this file and demanding what they were on about. Then I stumbled across the red page. That in itself was a warning. The other warning was the words "Top Secret" stamped across the top. A third warning should have been the "Department of Defence" letterhead. I skimmed over the contents, then stopped and double checked before carefully reading through them again. The entire project had been underwritten by the Department of Defence. It was an experimental project to genetically engineer a perfect warrior. So far the results were encouraging, but survival testing of the subject and an autopsy would confirm this in the near future. It took a while longer as the meaning sunk in. I was literally a guinea pig. In a few weeks, they were going to lock me in a room, perform tests on me until I died, then cut me open and study the results. I may be a freak, I may owe my life to them, but there was no way I was going to let them slice me up. Hollow footsteps caused me to jump, my chest hit the open draw and it slid shut, closing with a metallic bang. The footsteps suddenly changed, a torch beam shining through the office space. "Halt!" called a voice from an unseen guard. "Stay were you are." Overhead lights began to hum into life and I heard the crackle of a two way radio. Within a few seconds I would be found, hauled back to my cell, tortured and killed. I made a spilt second decision. To my left was a window. I threw myself out of it. There was a smashing of glass, a sensation of falling, somehow I found myself pivoting in mid-air, then my feet hit the grass. I literally felt my legs flex under me, this cartilage may be an asset after all. Looking up I saw a security guard looking out of a fourth story window as he screamed into his radio. Lights began to come on around the compound and I knew I had precious little time. I could hear the gentle surf, tantalising close and let instinct guide me. I turned and fled towards the water. It was probably the hardest run I had ever done in my life. Behind me I could head shouts of anger and dismay as I dodged around emerging security personal. A small paved path lead between two buildings, around a corner and down onto the sand. From one end of the beach a jeep began bouncing over the sand. I head guns beginning to fire as I crossed the strip of pale sand. My feet hit the water and I felt a burning sensation in my shoulder. I stumbled and almost fell, but somehow continued to push my way further out to sea. Then I was swimming. I could sense the men gaining behind me and somehow that pushed me on further. As I rounded the headland, something grabbed my foot, pulling me back. Instinctively I lashed out and felt a sickening rip as a sharpened toenail connect with some part of the guard's body. The grip lessened and I broke free, but the struggle took its toll and I felt myself slowly slipping to the bottom of the ocean floor. I had made it out of the sheltered cove and was caught in the icy grip of a strong current which was pulling me deeper and further out to sea. I tried to fight it, but felt myself spiralling towards unconsciousness. My lungs burned as I floundered desperately for air, then it became too much, panic kicked in and I found myself gulping mouthfuls of the near freezing water. I gagged, trying to get it out of my lungs, only to swallow more. My entire body went numb as the oxygen began to fall from my blood. I felt the darkness coming up to greet me as my neck began to throb strangely. There was a ripping sensation and I gasped. Then gasped again. I seemed to be breathing. Well, not breathing exactly, my mouth moved and I felt better. The darkness began to recede, leaving the inky blackness of the ocean at night. I tentatively reached up and felt along my neck. There, running down the sides were five slits which pulsed as I opened and closed my mouth. Realisation dawned. They were gills. I had gills. At that point I became aware of the amount of energy I had expended over the chase and allowed myself to continue the decent to the ocean floor. It was cold on the bottom, I felt myself slowing down, but that it did not seem to bother me. I found a sandy niche between two lumps of rock and slid myself into it. Falling into a restless sleep as my body changed around me. While I slept my body transformed itself. The actual change was relatively quick, it took a matter of hours. I am guessing my system sort of saved itself for the change then forced it out in one small burst. I gather the burst was triggered by my escape and near death experience, but I am not one hundred percent sure of that. When I awoke later I ached all over. Not a painful ache, sort of a knowing ache. As if my body was trying to inform me things were different. And things definitely were different. For one, I had a tail. It trailed out behind me for at least five foot. Its end was tipped by the familiar twin edged blade. The top section extended about a foot or so above my tail, the bottom section much smaller, but very noticeable. My tail seemed to grow out from my waist, not stuck on my backside like a mammal's, instead it seemed to be more part of me. A continuation of my body. My legs seemed more out of place if anything. Speaking of my legs, my feet had grown. They still had the claws and if anything they were longer than before, but now my foot was closer to being liked a webbed fin. It was wider and somehow I could tell I was only going to walk on part of it, my ankle was going to stay above the ground. Just below my waist on the underside of my tail were what looked like two tubes, a pair of fins growing from their base. Curious, I reached down. The sensation was enough for realisation to dawn. Claspers. Well, at least I was still male. My hands were similar to my feet. Larger, webbed and tipped with sharpened claws. Starting just above my wrists and travelling to past my elbows were what had to be fins. Curious I ran my hands over them, they were firm, yet flexible and strangely rough. As a matter of fact, all my skin was rough. Then I remember the research notes, my scales must have developed, only they were not scales. They were those things which sharks had, denticles. Almost like tiny teeth covering a thick hide. I suddenly remember my teeth and explored my mouth with a clawed hand. My entire face had changed, It was definitely more shark like, a pointed snout, no nostrils that I could feel, but a very large mouth. Opening it slightly I could feel rows of small, sharp teeth and idly wondered were they had come from. I felt over the rest of my head, it was smooth and streamlined. No ears, but I could hear the reassuring bubble of the water somehow. My neck had grown too, filling out so my head fitted smoothly onto my shoulders, there was no neck to speak off, just my gill slits which flared slightly as I unconsciously breathed through them. I turned in my now cramped niche, I was much bigger that before, but incredibly more graceful and flexible. I caught my tail as it slid by, examining its colouring. It was counter-shaded, light below and darker on the top. Its very tip was bleached white and there were darker bands travelling along the top of it. I realised at least two of the species which made me were probably a silver tip and a tiger shark. Unsure how exactly to proceed I pushed out into the depths and stroked my tail, cutting through the water, getting use to the form. Strangely I accepted it well, I'm not sure if it was just a changed outlook or if the physical change had affected me mentally as well. Loosing my human form did not seem to matter. I suppose in a way it was as if the old me had died and the new me was starting afresh. I was aware of the small fish in the water around me. The way they ducked into nooks and crannies or attempted to bury themselves in the sand to hide. It wasn't until the third bite I realised I had grabbed a large blue groper in my claws and had bitten two huge chunks out of it. Were my teeth sharp or what? And I was ravenous. It wasn't until another two fish later that I felt an almost contented full feeling. Part of me was revolted with eating raw fish, but most of me looked upon it as lunch. By now I found myself back at the entrance to the cove which housed the hospital. I paused at the mouth, debating if I was to enter or not, however it was deep. I knew I had no fear of being seen or cornered so I pushed on inside, staying low to the bottom. Over towards one side was a yacht one of the directors used. He only went sailing on the weekends, but he like that keep it anchored in sight of the office, a bit like a status symbol. I did not know what I was planning to do until I reached the anchor rope. Slowly a plan formed in my mind and I crept to the surface. My head broke the water silently, protected from the shore by the hull. Reaching up, I effortless stuck my claws through the polished fibreglass and hauled myself onto the deck, staying low and out of sight, deliberately leaving jaggered and splintered holes over anything I touched. Above the water I felt more vulnerable and open, but not entirely out of place. There was a slight panic as I suddenly wondered if my lungs would still work, but a silent coughing fit later revealed they had suffered no permanent damage. I slunk into the cramped cabin and looked around. A mirror caught my eyes and I moved to examine myself. I made a handsome shark. About eight foot tall, complete with long tail, the lean forward was a bit alarming, but all in all, I thought I looked cute, but knew others would find me terrifying. Humanity was lost to me now. That thought brought me back to my mission. Looking around I found a convenient chair and lifted it up. Opening my maw, I felt my lower jaw distend and I clamped down on the plastic and wood backing. The entire thing shattered. Releasing it I looked at the damage. The back of the chair had a huge bite taken out of it. Idly I fished bits out of my mouth as I looked around for something to write with. I finally found a tube of red lipstick and eyed a convenient wall. I scribbled my message with some difficulty before placing the chair below it and returning to the comfort of the cool water. As I made my way up the coast to the tropics I wondered what the director's reaction would be when he saw my act of vandalism. They already knew I had changed, but I gather they had assumed I had died after I was shot since there were no search parties. Then, a few days later the director would have found a splintered chair with a bite taken out of it beneath a message written in red... "I'll be watching you..."
Well, a shark transform, I've been meaning to do one and I finally got around to it. Sorry of anyone found it a little on the long side, it turned out considerably longer than I anticipated, mainly due to my ramblings in the middle. Anyway, hope you liked it. :)