When Mega opened up his eyes, everything was blurry. His body was wracked in pain and it felt like he was floating underwater.
Instincually he gasped for air but was not met with the burning or coughing sensation he knew would come. The very weird feeling of water rushing through his mouth and his neck was not discomforting, but rather, relieving, like taking a long drawn breathe. However instead of air, he gathered water.
Around him he heard muffled voices and shadows above the water in the shapes of human heads. Carefully he stared up at them for a second trying to figure out what in the world was going on - especially before a full panic set in.
First, he wasn't on the beach anymore obviously.
Second he was able to breath... water.
Third his clothes were missing - which wasn't a good sign.
Mega twitched the muscles of his body to ensure that they were there. However, for some reason when he moved his toes it felt like he was dragging more with it. When he tried to unbend his knees, much to his surprise all of his lower half bent forward in an inhuman curve.
Shock overcame him as a golden red and orange sleek mass waved upwards into his field of vision. When he reached out to it, he could feel his fingers grazing across the shimmering scales - of his leg. It felt absolutely bizarre. He sat up from the bottom and gaped at what was a huge tail that joined with his hips and the scales trickled up his hips until it became flesh.
HIS LEGS WERE GONE?!
What the hell- he mouthed, unable to speak. Which also caught him off guard.
His hand leapt to his throat to feel scales on the back of his neck and crawling up his non-existent ears. Utter confusion and anxiety consumed him until a white board appeared to be dipped into the water before him with the phrases, "Don't panic. Yes, you are a merman. We are here to help." written.
Instantly he looked to the source, and pushed off towards the surface. The tank was only three feet deep (and 3ftx9ft) so he came up quickly, startling the biologist holding the white board.
Mega's brown hair flattened and clung to his head, he used a hand to wipe his bangs from his brown eyes. He used the new tail to prop himself up so that his head and shoulders remained above the surface of the water. The blonde biologist recovered and greeted him with a smile, behind her a couple lab assistants had backed away from the sudden movement.
"Let me introduce myself," she pulled the white board from the water, "My name is Dr. Erica Phillips." The woman's hair was pulled back into bun but thick strands of bangs were loose and framing her bright green eyes. She was dressed in business casual with a pale pink polo and khakis, "I am head marine biologist at the Folly Beach Marina," she smiled and gestured around her, "You are in my lab on my boat docked there."
Mega tried to talk, he really did, but nothing was coming out. Even if he gathered air, it would not surpass his throat. He opened his mouth, and attempted once more before the biologist interrupted him with a sympathetic look. "I'm afraid that those afflicted with Transmerplasia lose their ability to speak."
That was almost a kick to the gut when he heard that, but she continued.
"Which is why," she held up the white board still dripping a little bit, "We have these special boards you can write on."
Well that answered two questions, but there were dozens more. His eyes narrowed and she started up again, "I can tell you want more answers, I'll do my best to cover all bases." He gingerly accepted the board as she offered it to him.
This time she pulled up a chair beside the tank and grabbed a chart from the table before she plunked down beside him. "Alright." she flipped to the top page, "Mr. Altmega Springs." she looked back up at him, "You were located on Folly Beach by some surfers, it appeared you were stung by a manowar jelly fish but started showing the symptoms of Transmerplasia, so you were brought here. Since two nights ago your body has changed to that of a merman." she paused to let him soak it in. He glanced down at his tail and flickered it a little bit, with genuine concern. "It took a bit of time, but we have contacted your mother, Dr. Nikkoa over at the Notebook Aquarium. She stopped by last night to check on you, but you were still unconcious. Seeing as how you are unable to talk, I'll call her to come down here."
Mega frowned, he knew about their research facility there and how they studied this rare condition. To think, it happened to him. Mega was not too fond of fish, but he had a feeling he was about to get intimately acquainted with the idea.
"As of right now, there is no cure or treatments." Dr. Phillips interrupted his train of thought, causing him to look up at her, "However your mother has already talked to the managers at the aquarium and can arrange for you to stay there if you would like to help them find one."
That notion shook him.
It finally hit him.
There was no going back to normal.
Everything in college he'd worked towards was not plausible in this state.
He couldn't become an engineer with a merman's tail.
There were no accommodations for this kind of thing.
Tightly grasping the white board he pulled at the pen, clipped to the top, then hastily spelled out "What about school and work?" he flipped it so she could see and watched for her reaction.
What was once a cheery expression faded into a sympathetic countenance. Her eyebrows drew upwards and her smile drew to a relaxed frown, "I'm sorry. Mr. Springs." Dr. Phillips shook her head slowly, "I'm afraid you won't be able to attend either in your condition."
A crippling feeling of helplessness overcame him, masked by anger as he grit his teeth.
Everything he'd worked for.
Gone because of - a flurry of curses surged through his head like a torrent.
But as quickly as the anger had consumed him....
It left an emotionless void in its wake, and he stared at her. The doctor's face held genuine concern, but...
Everything... Was gone.
Seeing his whirlwind of emotions Dr. Phillips offered a comforting hand upon his still clutching the board. "I know it's sudden. Just when you think everything is going okay, something like this knocks you off of your feet." she glanced at his tail, "Literally." she paused and offered him a small smile, "Your mother and I will talk with your employers and your university. I'm sure we will reach an understanding given your situation."
Numbly he nodded, accepting her help.
This was the start of a very long and crazy journey. Definitely not how he wanted to spend his summer - or his life - in the very least.