The Transformation Story Archive Mythical Beings


by Donna Matheson

based on the story "Glaucus" by Jim McCann

Gladys left her small cottage that morning not knowing she would never return. Of course, that isn't something one would expect-- she was just going to her nets to reel in her catch. For the last few weeks her usual fishing places seemed to be producing smaller and smaller yields, so she moved her operation elsewhere, to beaches with which she was unfamiliar. She began to worry more about somebody tampering with her nets, and on occasion couldn't even find them-- but it always turned out she simply forgot exactly where they were and eventually came across them.

Nevertheless, she became increasingly unable to take this shock, for those nets were her only livelihood, and she would be a beggar before she could make new ones. The day before she found a new place which, though a very far walk from home, was easily locatable and surprisingly vacant. It was a wonderfully tiny bay surrounded by a grassy field perfect for drying the fish, all enclosed by a row of trees.

When Gladys arrived that morning, she found the scene happily untouched-- she soon came to wonder if any human had ever laid eyes on it before. It was early, Gladys began the laborious task of reeling in the nets and laying them on the grass to dry. It was well toward noon when she finished.

This was a wonderfully good catch; as Gladys flattened piles of fish she realized that she never made a catch as good in her life. Only when she nearly finished this did she first hear a flap.

Startled, she looked around. There was nothing unusual to be seen. She resumed her duty when she heard it again. And again.

Suddenly all the dead fish in the field stirred and flapped on the ground. Even one in her hand began to move. Petrified, she dropped it and it sprang to life. Around Gladys's feet the fish and its friends swam in the grass as if it were water, eventually converging toward the sea. Emboldened by curiosity, Gladys tore a clump of this enchanted grass from the ground and tasted it.

Her mind (and stomach) swirled and changed direction instantly. Suddenly the land and forest behind her grew cold, dark and frightening. The sea sparkled as a warm haven-- and appeared to fly ever more distant as she realized how far inland she was. Without another thought, she raced into the sea.

Gladys met the churning ocean forcefully, and found that she couldn't breathe. Trying to regain her senses, she pushed for the top but found herself under the inflow of countless rivers and streams.

While Gladys agonized under the pressure of all the world's streams, Poseidon, great god of the sea, distantly directed the transformation of Gladys into a mermaid.

All muscles in her legs contracted, and in the discomfort Gladys lost her last bubble of air. Suddenly becoming aware of herself, she realized her simple clothing was gone. The size of her feet suddenly caught her attention, and reaching for them found they were flippers, like a frog's. She hardly noticed her ankles were no longer present, and the flippers were parallel with her legs, for she felt a pang, then a tightness, in her thighs. Turning her attention she saw that her legs now joined halfway down her thighs, hiding her privates.

Refocusing her attention on her feet, she found that she could no longer reach them; her legs were now considerably longer. The feet themselves were not frog-like either anymore, the smallest, outward toes were now the longest, and stretched the membrane between them and the other toes further. While she watched, individual toes faded away, leaving only the webbing surrounded on the outer parts by flesh.

Trying to move, she noticed the joints of her knees were no longer definite, and bent in any direction she chose. The separation between her legs continued to close like a zipper and merge into a single column.

Hundreds of goose bumps bulged on the skin of her legs, flattened, and pressed together, forming rough ridges. The scales mostly retained the old skin color, though they were tinted slightly blue.

It then occurred to Gladys that for several minutes now she had been breathing freely, although she was still underwater. Nevertheless, she swam for the surface, was relieved to find the torrents were gone, and once again gasped air. She cautiously opened her wet eyes and discovered she was all the time submerged in only five feet of water, in that little harbor surrounded by the field.

She dragged herself onto some sand to inspect her recent changes under the light of the sun. For the first time she saw her modified legs all at once. For the first time it shocked her to discover that they were a fish's tail.

After a quick inspection she found that the upper portion of her body was also changed. She had grown smaller, more petite, more voluptuous. Her once-miniscule breasts enlarged before her eyes, yet they did not sag. She was as firm and as supple in her movements as a seventeen-year-old. Lines in her face disappeared, and Gladys realized she was getting younger. Intuitively this led her to look at her midsection to discover exactly where woman met fish. The transition was surprisingly difficult to find; it was gradiated between several inches. In fact, Gladys couldn't view and recognize both sides at the same time, it was too much of a blur. What were scales on one side slowly became the goose bumps she saw earlier, then a few freckles on human skin.

Her tail flopped flat, and she found it difficult to lay it straight on the little strip of sand, for her tail was nearly six feet long. In every motion, its heavy mass was revealed. Only in water could she move usefully.

She shivered, and although the forest didn't seem as awful as it did before, she was still repelled by it. Gladys began to slide herself back to the water, and noticed the oddity of her reflection. She couldn't see clearly, for the surface was turbulent with ripples. She never realized whether she spoke or thought her command for the water to stop and straighten, but it obeyed. Only momentarily surprised with her power, she saw her bare chest as it blended into the tail. She seemed like a single unit, there was no longer any distinction in her eyes. The tail was a part of her torso and her torso was a part of her tail. Before she imagined she looked like a human trying to escape a column of rock like an unfinished sculpture, but now it was obvious she was one. With this she waved the image away and plunged into the water. For many months she remained there and learned to live in the realm that was partially hers.

She often wondered why Poseidon had changed her, but she did not begrudge him that fact. She had become a creature of mystery, living as one with the sea she dearly loved. She often examined the changes in both her upper torso and her in her lower extremity. She could not believe she was such a beautiful creature! Her waist had narrowed several inches, and her hair had grown long and luxurious. Her arms had lost weight as well. It seemed to her that Poseidon had given her a body that women all over the world would kill for.

During the day Gladys would swim and jump and play, racing with the dolphins, with whom she had made fast friends. They knew she was different from them, but they treated her like an equal. Gladys and the dolphins would chase each other through the alcoves and caves surrounding the shoreline. Sometimes Gladys would sun herself on a rock, working on her tan, she chuckled to herself. Not all Gladys' time was fun & games, however. She had soon learned that the business of survival was the same whether you lived on land or in the sea. Much time was spent during daylight hours searching for food. After her initial transformation Gladys had developed a taste for seaweed, crab, and small fishes. She didn't seem to mind the change in her diet; it had come naturally to her, just like her change.

By night Gladys would retire to a small cave, and curl her body around her in blissful slumber. She dreamed of sharing this wonderful life with someone.

Morning rays of sunlight, distorted by the movement of the waves, wafted back and forth across Gladys' face. She had been a mermaid for a year now, and she found it hard to remember what it was like to walk on dry land, without the sea to protect and cherish her. She watched the area around the cave come to life. What had appeared to be a lifeless body of water became a sea teeming with life, and Gladys watched in wonder. After finding and consuming her morning meal, Gladys went out for a swim. The most challenging area to hone ones' swimming skills was along the shoreline, in sight of the villages and the life she had left months before.

She followed her normal path through the obstacles nature had set in her way. Around and down and up to the surface she went, a master swimmer. She hadn't realized at first what training it took to control one's tail correctly. Over time Gladys had learned to conrol her swimming without having to think about it, much as a human learns to walk.

Gladys swam faster and faster, using the ocean currents to her advantage. Her tail was able to propel her at incredible speeds; this took a little getting used to. Once she had almost collided with an object along her obstacle course because she had improperly judged her speed. She came to the end of the course, and pulled herself up into the sunshine, her long, golden tresses slapping the sea behind her. It was then that she saw him.

He was sitting in his boat, fishing as she once had. He was human, of course, with broad shoulders and a rock solid physique. He had a handsomeness about him that spoke volumes. To a lonely mermaid, he was a dream come true. She followed him to the docks, and helped him catch a great load of fish by directing the schools into his nets. Gladys wanted to impress upon him a desire to return to this place. She wanted him to think of it as his private spot. Over the next few days, Gladys returned to see the man and she filled his nest more and more each day. Although she never spoke to him, Gladys soon developed a burning desire to love this man.

After three weeks, Gladys was consumed with her fisherman visitor. He never said a word, not knowing she was there, and continued his work harvesting the catch that Gladys brought. Gladys felt a fire consuming her soul, and before she knew what was happening, her mind reached out to the fisherman, and she knew his thoughts. She knew his hopes, his fears, his desires. It must be these strange powers given to her by Poseidon, she thought. She recalled how she had calmed rough waters with but a thought, and realized how powerful she had become. Gladys sincerely loved the man, wishing no harm to come to him. Her only desire was that he could be with her. Why not? she thought. Why can't I have him? The man was oblivious to Gladys, but as she focused her thought energy and her desires on him, he felt his body tingle. He had the sudden urge to remove his jacket and he massaged his legs, thinking they had fallen asleep.

Gladys continued, strengthening her concentration on being with him, loving him, enabling him to be with her. In the boat the man watched in horror as his legs were involuntarily drawn together, and his feet flattened and spread out, in much the same manner as Gladys' had. His feet blended together, and he could no longer separate his legs. They had joined together and become as one. The man watched as his clothes were torn apart by the changes to his body. He watched as what had been his legs extended another full meter beyond where his feet should end, and a fish tail unraveled itself. Scales appeared along the tail, thousands of them, tinged blue like hers were. His torso had not gone unchanged, either. He felt his privates recede behind a flap of skin, so it looked as if they had never existed.

When the transformation had stopped, the man realized he had been changed by a force unknown to him. He wondered if this was his punishment from the gods for taking too much fish out of this place. The tail undulated slightly, a natural movement he supposed. He found that he was able to move the tail back and forth if he concentrated on those muscles. He realized his reflexes with the tail would take time to become automatic. The man felt the hot sun beating down on his tail, and it was extremely uncomfortable. Instinct told him where he belonged now, and he slid into the sea, and saw Gladys there waiting for him.

He stared at her for what seemed like an eternity. At first he though she had suffered a similiar transformation, but her eyes told her story. She had done this to him. He realized that she wanted him, and that she had caused his body to change. His mind flew threw the gamut of emotions - shock, fear, anger, rage - he wondered why she had done this to him. In his mind she conveyed her love and her desires to share her life under the sea with someone - anyone. Her emotions overwhelmed her as she conveyed her loneliness, her desire for some "human" company. He felt sorry for her plight, and considered what she offered. Here was a beautiful, charming, intelligent woman who had offered him a new life, a new start in a brand new world.

He thought about the wife and his child who had died years ago in childbirth. His remorse brought tears to his eyes, and she comforted him, and she held him. He found rest in her arms, just as she had found rest in his.

They never spoke; their relationship was beyond verbal communication. Under the waves they committed themselves one to another, and loved each other as husband and wife. The love between them grew, and they spent each waking moment together, communicating through the original mind-link. He did not have her powers of the mind; neither much cared. For Gladys and the man shared a world together; a world all their own.

Gladys copyright 1996 by Donna Matheson.

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