© Copyright 2012 - Nate Walis - Used by permission
Storycodes: M+/f; surgery; bodymod; implant; transform; mermaid; dreams; fantasy; cons; X
Carla was surprised by the view of the building as the car pulled to a stop with the sound of gravel crunching beneath the wheels. Although she had to admit that she would have been at a loss to describe what she expected the clinic in which she would be operated upon might look like, the red brick house she saw through the window looked to her more like something from a costume drama than a location at which a woman might be able to have herself transformed into a mermaid. As if the whole idea of what awaited her was not strange enough, she now found her mind struggling to cope with the unfamiliar surroundings of an English country house at the same time.
She climbed the steps to the main doors of the building in something of a daze, not aware for a moment of Henry dutifully hefting her bags out of the car behind her. Carla drifted into the smart, but understated hallway that served as the entrance and reception without noticing the woman sitting at a desk and smiling at her in a welcoming manner. Instead she walked straight past and found herself drawn to the large French windows at the very back of the hall, where the afternoon light was streaming in through the glass.
Henry watched her progress for a moment before turning to the woman behind the desk with an apologetic smile on his face.
"Sorry," he leaned forward to read the woman's name badge, "Gillian. She's a bit distracted, what with all of the stuff you do here… if you know what I mean."
"Of course," Gillian nodded, her thick accent almost baffling Henry after the time he had spent on the other side of the Atlantic, "you have the papers?"
"Right here," Henry handed them across the desk.
"Thank you," she looked away for a few seconds, tapping on the keys of the computer set to one side of the desk. "Ms Smith will be allocated a room in another wing of the house to yourself, I hope that will not be a problem?"
"No," Henry shook his great head, "she'll be okay without me breathing down her neck. All I need to know is where there's a decent boozer around here."
"I hear that the Green Knight is thought of very highly by the staff here," Gillian seemed amused by the mismatch between Henry's appearance and character, "just a few minutes' walk down the lane."
"So long as they have some proper beer," Henry waved a hand to excuse himself as he turned to make his way towards Carla. "I've had it up to here with that fizzy piss they drink on the other side of the pond."
All the time they had been talking, Carla was silent and still as she stared out of the windows and across the perfectly flat lawns that stretched out behind the house. At first she had simply been interested in seeing what lay beyond the main building, but she had quickly laid eyes upon a sight that occupied her attention and set her heart racing.
Beneath a stand of trees, perhaps a few hundred feet from the window where she stood were a pair of figures deep in conversation. At first Carla had supposed they were discussing the horse that stood partially hidden by their bodies. But as they moved, it became clear that there was something simply not right about what she was seeing if indeed they were a man, woman and a horse.
The man she could make out fairly well; white, tall and somewhat gangling in appearance he was smartly dressed without seeming formal and his body language radiated concern for the woman to whom he was talking.
It was that very woman and the horse that Carla had assumed she was either leading or sitting upon, that confused her. The woman was also tall, though not as tall as the man, and she was strikingly pretty even from such a distance with dark skin and her hair gathered in braids that cascaded down her back. Her horse was small, probably a pony and grey in colour although Carla could only make out its body while its head was hidden from view. That was the problem, she realised, and she could see the top half of the girl and the whole of the horse apart from its head. The girl's legs and the head of her pony were nowhere to be seen.
A second later the man moved no more than a few inches to the left and Carla realised that she was confused because she had been looking for something that was simply not there to be seen.
Below her waist, the body of the girl simply melted into that of the horse.
Carla turned to say something to Henry as he approached, but then she was seized by the thought of how she would feel if people clamoured to stare at her own altered form. She turned back to watch as the centaur and her companion made their way across the lawn, all too aware of the fact that soon she would be in the same position as the girl she was watching.
Morning coffee was something that would under normal circumstances have set Carla up for the day, waking her mind from the fog of sleep and getting her focussed on the day ahead of her. But the cup she was clutching in her hands had barely touched her lips in the time since it had been poured as her attention was centred on the face of the man who sat in a comfy chair opposite her own.
She had recognised his distinctive features as soon as she had entered the room and been invited to take a seat. Carla had never been troubled by poor eyesight and there was no mistaking that the man who had made her coffee and introduced himself as Dr Pickford, was the same man who she had seen the previous day as he spoke to the stunning female centaur on the lawn.
Though the man had a similarly pleasant Englishness to Henry, the fact that he seemed comfortable around creatures that had previously been the stuff of fairy tales as far as she was concerned lent him an air of mystery and made her feel slightly uneasy around him.
"I have to tell you that I'm quite looking forward to getting down to business in your case," Pickford took a sip of his own coffee, "if you'll forgive the forward nature of putting it that way."
"You have?" Carla was not sure if such enthusiasm was a good thing under the circumstances.
"Oh yes," Pickford nodded. "You see while I may have amassed what could be called a large body of work in this area, I always have a fondness for the mermaids that I have been asked to create. I see them as some of my best work and always find that they seem to be the happiest and well-adjusted to the change once the operation has been completed and they've had the time they need to recuperate."
"Doctor," Carla looked him in the eye. "I'm sure you know what you're doing and all. But I'm still more than a little scared by all of this… I mean, how am I supposed to handle becoming a mermaid?"
"It's different for everyone," Pickford placed a hand on her knee, "some of the patients that I've worked with embraced the change with gusto as soon as they saw themselves in a mirror, others needed time and a helping hand to come to terms with their altered situation. But I'm proud to say that we have never had a case of a patient being left in a position where they were unhappy with what we had done to them. I won't settle for anything less than you being happy as a mermaid or happy as you are right now."
"I have a choice?"
"Of course you do," Pickford looked surprised at her question. "I am aware of the more sensitive nature of your case and that's not something that I need to bother you with. Nevertheless, the same principles apply here as they always do. If you are not responding well in either a physical or mental sense to the transformation, I will not hesitate to reverse the procedure and refund the cost of the operation."
Carla seized on this new piece of information and tried to digest it as quickly as she was able. No one had mentioned for a moment the fact that the process was not permanent and she had simply assumed that there would be no way back once she had become a mermaid. But now Pickford had opened up a whole new world of possibilities and she was aware that her position was being made stronger by the combination of the doctor's good nature and the absence of Aubrey Lister's influence on the interview.
There was no way that she would risk trying to convince Pickford to cancel the procedure, there was too much at stake for herself and her family. Instead she stored away the knowledge that the doctor was able and under the right circumstances willing to turn her tail back into legs when the time came. In addition she noted Pickford as a potential ally in any battle against Lister's possession of her liberty, he seemed concerned for her as a patient and unlikely to sanction her transformation into a glorified pet intended only for sexual gratification.
The realisation that she was not being cast into a role little better than that of a slave served to bolster Carla's confidence. She decided that if she was secure in the knowledge that the change was not permanent and at least one of those wielding the scalpel was on her side then she could go on without trepidation and face the reality of life as a mermaid.
"That makes me feel a whole lot better," she smiled.
"I'm glad," she got the impression that Pickford was sincere in his words.
The doctor flicked through his papers and allowed Carla a moment to gather herself.
"Normally the patient has been filled in on a lot of the details beforehand and I'm simply answering questions and letting them know the agenda," Pickford shook his head. "But I understand that the gentleman who is probably best referred to as your sponsor in this matter has chosen to keep most of those details to himself?"
Carla nodded, Lister had been miserly with the information he provided to the point of paranoia.
"Well," he looked around the room and then back to Carla, "seeing as how he's on the other side of a rather large ocean and not in the room with us right now, I think we can dispense with his way and make up our own."
As she nodded for the second time, Carla began to think that she could get to like this man.
"Now the procedure as we've planned it will take a total of three days to complete and the changes that you will have to endure are quite serious. My responsibility will be for the first and second days, in which time I will be making the extensive alterations to your body that will essentially make you a mermaid in appearance. From there I will be handing over to my colleague, a fellow doctor by the name of Ward. His job will be to complete the smaller alterations that were specified in the contract and are not directly involved in the main operation."
"And those are?" Carla's mind was suddenly filled once more with the fear of Lister turning her into a pouting bimbo with an avalanche on cosmetic primping and inflation.
"I'm sorry," Pickford gave an exasperated sigh, "it's so easy to forget that you've been kept out of the loop in terms of the details." He thumbed through the papers he held, reading with some great speed before looking up at her again. "From what I can see here, it's nothing that should be a cause for concern. This type of surgery is not my forte, but it seems as though there's nothing planned that goes beyond a simple programme to rejuvenate the parts of your body that will not be affected by the main process of becoming a mermaid. Beyond a bit of nip and tuck and a little jab of Botox in a strategic spot, there are no major procedures planned."
"If you say so."
"Well, I had asked Dr Ward to be here in order to take you through what he'll be doing, but it seems that he's been unavoidably delayed. But as I say, there's nothing drastic in the file and you probably shouldn't worry about the matter overly."
"I'll try not to."
"That's probably for the best," Pickford's tone became conspiratorial. "Personally I can't see the need for any of this cosmetic nonsense. Don't think that I'm overstepping the mark by saying this, but I am always puzzled by the need that some people have to tamper with the signs of the passage of time when they seem to make no difference to the beauty of the subject. Were it up to me, I'd cancel all of these primping measures and leave you as I find you."
Carla gave him a smile at the compliment.
As she stood to leave the room, it occurred to her that it was probably a rare occurrence when a man who was about to turn your legs into a tail said he wouldn't change another thing about your body.
The sound of the door caused Pickford to glance up from his desk and make a vague show of recognition as Ward entered the room. It had been a good hour since Carla had left and he had given up all hope of seeing his colleague before he began the operation the next day.
"It would be nice for a patient to see you before you put on a surgical mask for once."
Ward laughed at the comment and sat down on the opposite side of the desk.
"I'd love to be able to make a meeting, but there are other demands on my time and you're so much better than me at that side of things. And besides, I'm only handling the minor details on this one so there's really no need for me to be involved."
"I suppose you have a point," Pickford conceded.
"Less reason for you to get involved like you always do as well," Ward raised his eyebrows. "Since she's not recuperating here, you could save yourself some bother and keep more of a distance this time around."
"Well, I'm still not really happy with that arrangement. I know the facilities that the sponsor has for her are adequate, but she'd do better adjusting to the changes here in an environment where we can monitor her closely and offer her the support that she needs."
"Support in the sense you were offering it to that rather exceptional girl we recently turned into a centaur?" Ward gave Pickford a look of mock scandal. "As I understand it, she won't let any of the other staff near her. And as for the reigns and halter, I didn't think you were that creative or that that way inclined at all!"
"Don't be vulgar," Pickford pointed a finger at his colleague. "You know that there's nothing unprofessional going on between myself and that woman. I've done nothing more than provide the help she needed."
"And what does Gillian think of that?" Ward grinned as the other man justified himself. "I'm sure that she's an expert on the help that you can offer."
"You leave her out of this."
"Okay," Ward raised his hands to signal that the game was over. "Just make sure you do a good job with this one. The sponsor wants us to make his fantasy come to life, not counsel a mermaid that's not right in the head."
"What he wants is not my primary concern," Pickford watched as his colleague stood and walked back to the door.
"Then you're lucky that it's mine," Ward was out of the door and gone before another word could be spoken.
Theatre gowns through the ages had never been designed with the dignity of the wearer in mind and Carla found that as she lay upon the table in the operating theatre, her thoughts were almost totally occupied by such meaningless concerns as whether or not she was being properly covered by the one she was wearing. The inability to focus on more serious issues might have been on account of the slow acting sedative she had been given to ease her into the operation, or perhaps her brain was trying to distract her from the reality of her situation in order to stop her from being overcome with fear and panic.
Whatever the cause, she was by that time starting to see her surroundings through a haze of pleasant confusion, as if the edges of her perception had been blurred and the gravity of what was going on around her simply evaporated like water beneath the rays of the sun.
She would have smiled at the absurdity of the situation, but she was too far gone with the effects of the drug to do anything more than watch. All these people busily making preparations for her, all of them thinking that she was going to turn into a mermaid if they played their part correctly.
How could they believe in crazy things like that?
Carla might not have counted herself as a genius, but even while drifting on a cloud of drug-induced delirium, she knew that there was no such thing as mermaids. She was vaguely worried that they might be disappointed when they realised she had legs and feet rather than a tail and fins, but it was a reality they would have to get used to, like it or not.
She wondered what time it was, how long before she would have to simply tell them that she was an ordinary woman who needed to make it to work on time. And anyway, if they made her into a mermaid then how would she even be able to get to work? The pedals of her car were intended for feet and not fins, and then there was the ridiculous mental image of her crawling from her parking space and into the office with her backside waggling and her tail dragging across the ground behind her. Could she use a wheelchair, or even her wheeled office chair to get about more easily?
And what about the club?
Carla supposed that she could ask for a tank, which would get her attention from the customers.
No, it was all too silly for words and she would simply tell them that it was all pointless and be on her way.
At least she would as soon as she had taken a quick nap.
Carla closed her eyes and finally fell into a deep sleep as she lay on the operating table.
"Patient is under sedation," Pickford spoke for the formal record of the proceedings, his words being recorded by the microphones of the cameras that sat in strategic corners of the operating theatre. "Beginning stage one of the procedure."
While the doctor busied himself with a final check of his equipment, theatre assistants slipped the loose fitting gown from Carla's body. The ties at the back of the garment had been left undone and so the whole thing came away with no resistance, leaving her naked body exposed to the lights of the room.
Silent, sedated and totally still, it was apparent to anyone who cared to look at the evidence just what had made men like Aubrey Lister pay money to see Carla Largo move. Her figure could never have been described as slight, the curves and shape of her hips and the full weight of her buttocks might have been a near perfect hourglass. But neither could she have been described as heavy, with the smooth lines of her stomach and the well-defined length of her limbs as well. She possessed breasts that were in perfect proportion to her build and skin that seemed to have lost little of its glow as she passed the initial flush of youth.
She had been instructed to shower and cleanse herself thoroughly before the operation began, even submitting to a waxing session that had left her body naked of all unnecessary bodily hair. All in all she almost shone with the effects of the preparations she had been required to endure.
But all of those who were laying eyes upon her were there in a professional capacity, totally unmoved by the sight of her naked body and concerned only with the task at hand.
Pickford supervised a pair of his underlings as they slipped Carla's legs into a large bag made of strong and yet supple transparent plastic. The bag swallowed both legs until reaching to within an few inches of her groin, at which point it was gathered tightly around her thighs so that the rest of her body remained uncovered.
A flexible hose was attached to a socket in the neck of the bag an electric pump sucked the remaining air from the bag while a second hose began to pump in a thick, viscous liquid. Soon the interior of the bag was filled by the liquid, forcing Carla's legs to rise as they floated inside the bag.
Perhaps ten minutes has passed when Pickford gingerly pressed a finger into the surface of Carla's left leg, just below the seal of the bag. He watched intently after removing his finger, noting the fact that the impression of his fingertip remained indented upon her flesh long after it should have returned to its normal position. He made another small impression further down her legs and noted the same result. Where they had once been simple flesh and blood, Carla's legs now seemed to have taken on the texture of wet clay.
"Drain the bag," Pickford's words were acted upon and the liquid slowly drained from around Carla's lower limbs, a small supply of air being reintroduced at the same time in order to keep the plastic from adhering too tightly to her flesh and thus spoiling the shape of her legs. Once the liquid had been completely drained, the assistants gently released the seal and eased the entire thing off the patient's body.
Now it was Pickford's turn to begin work and he set to his task with silent devotion.
Firstly he paid attention to Carla's feet, plucking the nails from her toes one by one with a pair of tweezers and dropping them onto a tray held by an assistant shadowing his every move. The nails came away with no resistance or loss of blood, as if the effects of the liquid had simply melted their connection to her body.
Pickford discarded his tweezers and pulled off his surgical gloves. Though he knew he should have kept them on his hands, he compared himself to a potter at the wheel and revelled in the chance to feel the flesh of his patient as he worked. He pinched each of her toes, squashing them out of shape and then moulding them together into the mass of her foot so that in a matter of minutes there was no trace of the individual digits whatsoever. Carla's feet simply ended in a blunt wedge as though the individual digits had never existed in the first place.
The doctor did not pause, but instead proceeded to press both of Carla's feet down until they were in line with her calves. Bones that should have protested at his reshaping of her feet made no effort to resist and soon the definition of her heels had been lost as he smoothed them into the soles as he had done the toes before them.
The blunt points that now represented the end of Carla's legs came together in Pickford's hands as he pressed their flesh together firmly. Rather than remain separate, the altered substance of her extremities yielded like the clay it resembled, the two distinct parts melding into one as his fingers smoothed over the gap between them.
He moved quickly on to the calves above her feet, paying the same attention to the flesh and kneading one limb into the other so that with every inch he progressed, ever more of the distinction between her legs was lost. All the time he took more care to preserve the shape of Carla's legs than he had done with her feet, keeping the outline intact while the independence of each limb was fast being lost.
Pickford continued his progress as he reached her knees and then her thighs, pressing the malleable flesh into one and smoothing over the join between the legs. His efforts came to a halt at the point where the bag had been sealed around Carla's legs, the extent of her body that had been exposed to the liquid. Above that point her flesh refused to yield to his hands and instead he paid attention to the task of shaping the transition between the two now distinct portions of her body so that one seemed to flow into the other.
Following the doctor's instructions, two of his assistant gently rolled Carla onto her side and then her stomach, taking care to keep their hands away from the altered flesh of her legs. Once she was in place, Pickford repeated his smoothing and massaging from her heels all the way to the back of her thighs. His hands worked away at inch after inch of Carla's legs until he had succeeded in blending them into a single limb.
As the assistant rolled Carla onto her back once more, Pickford fussed over a piece of equipment that stood at the same height as the operating table and resembled a casket of highly polished metal perhaps four feet in length. The thing was wheeled across the floor on four castors and opened to reveal an interior of black ceramics. This was shaped to accommodate the lower body of a human being, but lacking any distinction for the limbs and instead more closely resembling the shape into which Carla's legs had been moulded.
A delicate dance now took place in which the doctor and his assistants supported Carla's lower body while the section of the operating table upon which it had been laid was folded out from underneath. As swiftly as possible, the new piece of equipment was wheeled into its place and the altered portion of Carla's body guided into the bottom half of the device and the lid pressed down on top. There was a faint hiss as the casket sealed itself shut and began to rapidly increase in temperature, the effects of the heat and pressure that it was generating upon Carla's flesh hidden from view beneath the device that swallowed her completely below the waist.
Carla woke with a start from a dream in which a revolting little crab had been badgering her about some flaw in her nature that seemed to be a big issue with the rest of the aquatic population, most of whom she was more than happy to tell to go to hell. But the little bastard would not take the hint and the whole thing had degenerated into a lecture on morals thinly veiled behind a depressing musical number. There really had been no other choice but to smash the crustacean into pulp with a nearby rock, but as she blanked out his ever weaker cries for mercy, she had realised with a great sense of relief that it had all been the product of her slumbering mind.
The room was dark and it took a few moments for her to recall that she was laid in bed, alone in her room at the clinic. Suddenly aware she had no idea of the time, Carla made to turn over and search out the clock that stood on the bedside table.
It was only when she turned onto her side that she noticed the unfamiliar sensations as she moved her lower body. There was no sudden panic or fear that she had been paralysed due to the fact that she could feel every inch of her legs beneath the covers of the bed. The feeling was more akin to being restrained somehow, as though a blanket had become wrapped around her in the night and was now preventing her from moving.
Carla reached the table and flipped on the lamp, the clock forgotten as she fumbled with the duvet so that she could see what state she had managed to get into. It was not uncommon for her to toss and turn in her sleep as nightmares assailed her and the multitude of problems in her life preyed on her unconscious mind and so the odd feeling of restricted movement did not worry her in the slightest.
But as she pulled the covers back, Carla vaguely recalled that it was the middle of the summer and the weather had been nothing but warm days giving way to nights that left one reluctant to sleep beneath anything that could be cast aside. There was no way that she would have even contemplated adding a single sheet to her bedclothes under such circumstances, so just where had the one entangling her legs come from?
Carla's memory came flooding back to her as she laid eyes upon the thick grey stocking that covered her body from the waist down. Of course there was no blanket tangling her legs, she was one day into the process of becoming a mermaid and that was bound to entail some loss of the movement she was used to.
At least on the surface her thoughts were so calm and collected.
There was a surge of panic building beneath the surface in her mind as she pulled herself into a sitting position and placed her hands on the surface of the stocking. Carla fought to control her emotions and instead tried to focus on the reality of her situation, pondering the fact that while she was visibly bound tight by the stocking, something about the sensation of moving her lower body hinted that it was not the piece of clothing itself that was responsible for her feeling of being restrained.
She lifted the edge of the fabric, just below her navel and was surprised to see that her stomach seemed to continue beneath the stocking for a few inches at least. She had been steeling herself to see a mass of scales replacing her skin, but there was nothing that looked to have changed as she rolled the stocking inch by inch down her thighs.
Carla thought back over her consultation with Pickford on the day before the operation had begun. Had he not told her that the entire process would take around three days to complete? That would have explained why she had woken up without scales and fins, but not why she was wearing the most unflattering piece of hosiery ever invented and feeling as though her legs had been glued together.
But then perhaps that was just what had happened while she was asleep.
Carla had continued to roll down the stocking as she contemplated her condition and now she was no more than a third of the way down her thighs, staring at the first visible proof of the fact that she had been physically altered at the hands of Pickford and his craft.
Beneath the stocking, it had become apparent that she was quite naked with her groin exposed to the light as it was wound down. But an inch or two below her crotch, the definition of her legs was simply lost from sight as the two limbs melted into one another and became a single appendage. Carla traced the curve of her legs as they framed her vagina in a downward triangle before becoming one mass of smoothed and featureless flesh.
Now she began to push the stocking down with a reckless haste and soon the entire thing was bunched around her ankles, revealing the fact that the change was uniform for the entire length of what had once been her legs.
Carla twisted her body and simply stared at the changes that had been made to her lower half, experimenting with the range of motion that the new shape afforded her. She managed to point the rounded end of the single limb slightly upwards, oddly more disturbed by the absence of her toes than the loss of her legs. Her experiments furnished her with the knowledge that she was basically able to move her altered limb in the way she could have done the legs that it replaced had they been bound together tightly so that they could not be separated. She doubted that what remained of her feet could have supported her if she tried to stand, but then she supposed that she need not be concerned with such things in her new state of being.
So, she thought, this is pretty much a rehearsal for the finished product. When the transformation was complete and she was for all intents and purposes a mermaid, this was the body she was going to have to come to terms with.
Rolling around on the bed and pulling her new limb this way and that, Carla tried to balance the restrictions that were all too apparent while she was on land with the advantages that she supposed she would have in what would be her native element. With a tail and fins, she would be liberated once she managed to submerge herself in the water. The thought held a strange appeal, the source of which she could not be sure she knew, but all the same she was aware of a newfound longing for the freedom of open waters.
Carla was somewhat surprised to see that she had been allowed to keep her humanity to a degree that meant she could still see her own genitals. She spent some considerable time probing and experimenting, finding that the very tops of her legs had indeed been left out of her transformation and she could slip her fingers between them with a bit of effort. It seemed that despite the fact she was becoming a mermaid, she would still be able to use a bathroom like anyone else.
She realised almost at once that this could only have been one of the stipulations that Lister had ensured was a part of her transformation. He had made it abundantly clear to Carla that she was intended to be a plaything for his amusement and gratification. With a tail that started a few inches down the thighs, he intended to have the best of both worlds with a mermaid that was his personal property and also easily taken when the mood took him.
There was a full length mirror standing in the corner of the room and Carla stretched herself out on the bed, taking time to contemplate her reflection as she reclined. She had stripped off all of her clothes so as to take in the full extent of the changes made to her body, trying to reconcile the shapely mass of dark skin that spread out before her eyes.
The sight reminded her vaguely of a story she had read when she was young, about a kind of fairy women who wore the skins of seals while in the sea and stripped them off to become human and walk the stony shores of the Scottish coast. They were well known for seducing men and slipping away into the sea at night, but could be bound to stay if the man in question found their enchanted seal skin and prevented the his enchanted lover from leaving.
Carla allowed herself a daydream in which she was a creature who melted into a seal below the waist, swimming to and fro along a rocky beach. She pictured the cold spray washing over her slippery skin as she fell a little more into sleep with every passing minute.
Her mind wandered, looking for the man that she would seduce with her shapely body and exotic nature.
The face of her husband was fading into obscurity faster than she was aware, the face of Aubrey Lister had become a talisman of dread and resentment and Henry existed in her mind as more of a lumbering bull seal as her fantasy intertwined with her memories.
In her mind, Scotland was not a place of mundane reality, but rather a fairy tale land where creatures like the one she imagined herself to be could haunt the remote shores. The people of this land were pale of skin and odd of character and she fixed upon the idea of seducing just such a man. He would be so different from the men she had known as a human being, but then she had become such a different creature that it only seemed fitting to embrace a lover that matched her in his unfamiliar nature.
Unbidden the image of the kind and retiring Doctor Pickford entered her thoughts; tall, thin and almost white in colour, he walked barefoot down the early morning beach she had conjured in her mind. He stopped in his tracks for a moment, as if hearing or more likely sensing that something was amiss, his head turning this way and that as he scanned the sands.
Carla watched from her perch atop a rocky outcrop, regarding him with an expression of unashamed and open interest as his eyes fell upon her. She imagined herself naked, wet from the salt surf that crashed around her, bare breasts showing the effects of the chill morning air. Hands so heavily webbed that they almost resembled the flippers of a seal idly stroked the point where her dark skin gave way to the sleek coat covering her lower half.
His neck was long and thin, allowing her to see his Adam's apple bob up and down as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Carla could almost imagine the sound of his blood rising as his heart beat faster, pulsing in his ears and feel her own match the speed as she instinctively adjusted to the rhythms of his body. As his eyes lingered on her, wide and full of surprise, she knew within moments that she had him and that he would not flee from that spot for all the wealth in the world.
She beckoned him forward with one of her webbed hands, all the time keeping his gaze locked on her. And heavens help him; he came at her call, one step after another until he stood so close that his trembling fingers brushed the erect nipples of her breasts. At that contact between them, Carla pressed herself forwards, cupping his groin in hand and meeting his mouth that was still open in stunned silence with her own.
The taste of salt was on her lips as she felt his hands close around her body and begin to lift her into the air, cradling her in his arms. His clothes were soaked from the moisture that covered her bare skin, but neither of them seemed to care, each intent upon exploring the body of the other.
Carla was aware of the strength in his arms; sure that he could have held her aloft for some time longer. So when he began to lower her into the shallow waves that moved in and out over the sand, she showed no resistance to his efforts, knowing that the last thing he intended to do was halt his attentions.
He laid her upon her back and straddled her in the stony sand and watched as she reached for his flies, fumbling with digits not intended for such a delicate task in her haste to have him as close to her as she was able. Sensing her urgency, he aided her without making her efforts seem clumsy or unwelcome.
Once he was free, Carla turned onto her belly and waited for the wonderful feeling of his weight pressing her gently into the sand.
He laid over her, hands reaching around to cup her breasts and his lips finding her neck.
She angled her head backwards, seeking for his lips once more and at first he teased her by keeping just out of her reach. Carla let out a gasp of mock frustration and made to snap at him, playfully returning his little tease.
He rewarded her by kissing her boldly and with a passion that she had doubted he was capable of, her hand grabbing his cheek to hold his lips in place.
At the same time she felt the brush of his penis, no more than an moment away from what she wanted. His skin met the sleek fur of her buttocks and she urged him onwards in her mind.
And then she woke.
Carla tried to bring her breathing under control as she struggled to unravel herself from the sheets.
As she scrabbled for the clock on the bedside table, she wondered what was worse; knowing that she was mere hours away from becoming a mermaid or facing Pickford with the lingering memory of her vivid dream still fresh in her mind.
The effect of the anaesthetic had already begun to blur Carla's perception of her surroundings by the time she laid eyes on Pickford. He greeted her with characteristic enthusiasm and pleasantries, but she found that she was either unwilling or unable to manage more than a weak smile in response. A large part of her silence was due to the sedative taking hold, but the memories of her passionate dreams were beginning to seep into the edges of her thoughts.
Carla found it harder with every moment that passed to separate the flesh and blood doctor who would manipulate her body in a professional capacity with the imaginary man she had conjured to caress and even venerate her altered form. She smiled inwardly as Pickford made his checks and ensured that she was physically prepared for the next stage of the operation, her fogged mind interpreting his attentions as teasing foreplay as she slipped into unconsciousness.
With his patient prepared and under the anaesthetic, Pickford wasted no time in beginning the final stage of his involvement with her transformation. Though the most laborious tasks had been completed the day before, he was now faced with the most painstaking and delicate portion of the process and concentration would be of paramount importance if he wanted to get things right.
Her naked skin once more exposed to the harsh light of the theatre, Carla lay with the expanse of her single lower limb stretching out below her waist. Raised at the point where her heels had once been by means of a small metal arch, the wedge of flesh that represented the very tip of her body was painted with a coating of the same solution which had rendered her legs malleable the previous day. Soon the liquid had been absorbed into her skin and the exploratory finger the assistant used to prod Carla's skin left a small impression, indicating that the desired effect had been achieved.
Pickford noted the assistant's progress and called for a container of transparent plastic to be brought to the side of the operating table. Inside the shallow container, floating in a bath of liquid was a broad and sturdy looking object that might have been mistaken for a cartilaginous fish of some exotic kind. Closer inspection revealed that it was in fact a powerful fin, fully perhaps two and a half feet in width and two in length, ribbed with curving lines of cartilage and ending in pattern of curves between them. The fin was a dark silver in its densest parts, fading to a much lighter shade where it became thinner, but with each shade reflecting the light that fell upon it.
With all the skill of his profession, Pickford lifted the fin from its bath of fluid and manoeuvred it so that the narrow end aligned with the blunt edge of Carla's lower limb. Made malleable by the effects of the liquid, her flesh offered no resistance as he attached the fin to the nerve endings that had once been located in her toes. One rib of cartridge within the fin married up to one set of nerves that had previously been those of her vanished digits, an arrangement that would allow her to move the new addition to her body in a similar manner once the operation was complete.
With the nerve endings attached, all that remained was for Pickford to smooth the fin into the flesh of what was now, more than ever, becoming recognisable as Carla's tail. He did this with the same expertise that he had shaped her legs, soon rendering the distinction between what was her own flesh and the specially grown additions ever harder to discern.
As soon as the fin was attached and he was satisfied with the look of his work, the doctor called for yet another container to be brought to him by his assistants. Like the first, this was filled with liquid, but below the surface there could be seen the glittering of literally hundreds of small objects no bigger than a penny. One might have mistaken the things for just that, a tank filled with silver pennies that caught the light much as the tail fin that now graced the end of Carla's body.
But then what purpose would such things have served in those surroundings?
Pickford dispelled any illusion as to just what the tiny reflective objects might have been when he plucked one from the liquid with a pair of tweezers held in one hand and proceeded to spray Carla's tail at the point where the fin met the dark skin with a container he held in the other. Instantly the liquid softened her flesh, indicating that the same solution used to mould her body was contained in the vessel and could be delivered to a desired spot with no more than a squeeze on the trigger.
He pressed the silver disc down onto the softened skin, covering a small portion of the area where the fin met the flesh. This was followed by a second disc by the side of the first as Pickford worked his way around the width of Carla's suspended tail until he had done a complete circuit of the limb.
But he did not stop there, instead beginning another row of discs atop the first. Laying them over the previous row, as he worked the true nature of his task became apparent. Each row placed over the last and moving ever higher up Carla's tail encased ever more of her lower body beneath what were now clearly scales.
Pickford worked tirelessly, placing each individual scale with care and subtlety so that the skin of silvery armour creeping up Carla's tail seemed to swallow her a little at a time. More and more of her formerly human flesh was replaced by the skin of an aquatic creature as she appeared to change by degrees into a mermaid.
When he finally reached the point where her legs began to melt into each other, Pickford traced the area where the transition could truly be said to be located with the scales. But he also picked out a decreasing number of spots as he progressed further at which he placed perhaps a trio of pair of scales before reducing the number to a single silver disc. He placed some on her upper thighs, buttocks and belly as though the tail petered away to nothing in the regions of her body that were still recognisably human.
Pickford's last task was to take from a far smaller container a series of almost triangular objects that resembled miniature versions of the tailfin he had already grafted onto Carla's body. These he pressed into the gaps between her fingers with the aid of the liquid spray, revealing them to be webbing that transformed her hands into partial flippers that would be ideal for speeding her passage through water.
As he moulded the last of the webbing into place, it occurred to Pickford that while this modification to Carla's body might have made her a more efficient mermaid, it would come at a price as regards her digital dexterity. She would be well able to feed herself and perform basic tasks as she had before, but more complicated or involved operations that a normal human being found routine would be beyond her as she struggled with the semi-rigid cartilage between her fingers.
Normally he prided himself on his ability to remain suitably removed from the plight of his patients, but for some reason there was a compulsion in him to worry about this woman in particular. Perhaps it was based on the fact that she would not be under his care for her recuperation, the time in which he liked to observe and monitor his patients in order to be sure that they could adjust to the changes he had wrought upon them.
But instinct told him that it was more to do with the heavy level of involvement that his colleague, Doctor Ward, had with this case.
Pickford respected Ward for his skill and vision, but he had never fooled himself into believing for a second that he liked the man on a personal level and he was sure the feeling was mutual. Beyond his cavalier attitude and lack of respect for his patients, there was a quality to Ward that Pickford could not help but suspect bordered on the corrupt and reckless.
When the case had crossed his desk, Pickford noted the fact that the entire contact with The Retreat had gone through Ward's office before arriving in his own. That was nothing unusual, but based on the amount of theatre time that would be required; he was providing more than two thirds of the work to be done as specified in the file. Under those circumstances it was an unspoken convention that the case was first referred to the surgeon who would be responsible for the lion's share of the work.
This combined with the requirement for the patient to be whisked away upon completion of the surgery had made him suspicious of Ward's motives. But he had to resign himself to the fact that as there was no hint of malpractice or coercion in the case, there was nothing he could do beyond perform his duties and hope for the best.
His work complete, Pickford spared a moment to consider the mermaid laid upon the operating table. Like any man proud of his work, there was always a part of him loathe to see his creations taken away from him. If he had been allowed to do what he wanted with the creatures that he created, he had once dreamt up an admittedly impossible fantasy of spiriting them away to a hidden island where each would be free to live as they chose in their new forms.
He hoped that wherever this one ended up, it would be a place in which she would be happy.
He also hoped that if she ended up in the arms of a lover, that they would be good to her and make her radically altered life a joy.
story continues in Her Contract Entails 3