Those three words were the only descriptors that Luke Smith used as he moved through the line, the slip of paper that held his personal information on it clutched in his strong hands, which connected to nicely tanned and muscular arms, accentuated by his white sleeveless shirt. Occasionally, an idle hand reached up to brush a long brown lock out of his face. A good amount of his hair was secured by a white bandanna, but that didn’t prevent the other good amount from escaping over the top, over his emerald green eyes and chiseled face. Tight jeans fell over white tennis shoes that scuffled along the carpeted ground of the hospital.
It was one of two days that, for free, everybody was allowed a free flu shot, and he figured that he wanted to save himself a few days of trying to cough up his guts, so he drove down to the hospital for his shot.
Now, he was beginning to regret it.
It killed him, having to wait in a dreary line with screaming children trying to be calmed down by their parents, hating just the word ‘shot’ and the concept of a needle penetrating the skin. He was about ready to strangle the little prick when a honey-coated, soft, manly voice spoke from his right. He turned to come face to face with an immensely tall man with tousled brown hair and rectangular glasses.
“Is there any way I can help you, young sir? You seem distressed…”
“Unless there’s a way you can get me my flu shot without making me put up with that racket, no, but thanks for asking,” Luke’s low, baritone voice said.
“Actually,” The man thoughtfully said, “I think I can help with that. I’m testing out a new prototype flu shot, one that could be potentially more powerful, but needs to be tested in a healthy patient. If you consent to this, I can get you vaccinated right now.”
“Are there any side-effects that I should know about?” Luke warily asked.
“Well, there’s stiffness of the joints, scalyness of skin, soreness, but I believe it will be completely worth it,” He explained.
Luke had already secretly consented, “Alright, where do I sign?”
“Right here,” The man said as he produced a pen, as well as a very lengthy looking piece of paper. Luke wasted no time in scribbling out ‘Luke Smith’. The man grinned widely and beckoned for him to follow.
He led the relieved boy down several hallways and through just as many doorways, some of which required input on a keypad in order to open, and before long, he was in a very secretive-looking room, with vials of all colors set aside, as well as rows upon rows of syringes. He gawked at the variety.
“Now, don’t worry about a thing. This’ll sting marginally more than your average shot,” The doctor warned as he cleaned Luke’s bicep with a sterilizing pad.
The next thing he remembered was being seen off personally by the doctor, a business card of some kind in his hand. “Call me if any side-effects occur,” The doctor had said, and he glanced at the business card. It read, ‘Dr. Seshiro Iwazaki’ and then a phone number followed. He shrugged and pocketed the card as he slipped into his car, and promptly drove home.
The first place he found himself at was the fridge, and he was eyeing the meat sticks in his fridge. Before long he was munching away on it, and didn’t notice, but he was having to come repeatedly back for more food, and was consuming it at an astonishing rate. With a groan of relief, at last he was satisfied, ignoring the stiffness that he was experiencing as one of the side effects of the vaccination that he had been given.
Within no time, he had his clothes off and was in the shower, savoring the hot water running against his tan skin…until he noticed something…something that hadn’t been there before.
It looked like dark dirt had been splotched all over his legs, over the tops of his thighs, and his shins. They were arranged so that they almost, just almost, looked somewhat like stripes. He reached down to feel the discolorations…and saw the same markings on the tops of his arms!
He quickly grabbed a lathered-up washcloth and began furiously scrubbing the intrusive markings, but for some reason, they refused to come off. In frustration, he tossed aside the useless washcloth and felt the patches with his own hands.
It was then that the reality of it all dawned on him. These patches weren’t on his skin, they WERE his skin. He felt them carefully, now, and noticed that they had a unique texture. Unlike the rest of his skin, they seemed far tougher, and somewhat scaly. Before he could get a chance to feel his arms, he felt a spasm of pain go through his legs, and felt certain muscles cinch. The result caused him to jerk in the shower, causing him to painfully hit the wall, then the ground. He yelled out in pain, but no one heard him.
After repeated tries, he managed to successfully shut off the water in the shower, and heft himself over the barrier that the tub of the shower provided, and by then, his arms had migrated more to his front, good for nothing more than grasping. They had also thinned out slightly. He watched as his fingers lengthened, curling as white ebony talons erupted from the tips…except for his thumbs. He had the pleasure of watching them shrivel and suck back into his hands.
Desperate, he tried once more to stand without the assistance of his likely useless arms, and managed to actually get himself onto his feet, but not before another nauseating sensation swept over him, and his chest began to slowly inflate, skin shedding to reveal dark orange scales. His stomach area began to balloon outwards slightly, while his upper torso began to narrow. He could feel himself unbalanced, ready to tip over, and he began to do so, learning more and more forward, holding out his weak arms to catch himself when he did.
The next change happened just in time. As he leaned more and more forward, he could feel something squirming out of his backside, just at his tailbone. He turned his head, but could not get a decent view as the thing grew heavier and heavier. Finally, in frustration, he bent his knees deeply, causing his rear end to raise, and he gasped at what he saw.
It was a huge, thick, and muscular lizard’s tail. Upon examining it, it had the same color pattern and stripes as the rest of his body was now taking on. The thing that scared him the most was the fact that he could feel it, and make it bend to a degree. When he turned and accidentally smacked it against the sink, he could feel the pain. Whimpering, he walked out of his room, until he heard a cracking in his bare feet. He was almost too afraid to look down…but he knew that he would end up doing so no matter what.
The muscles in his legs were greatly thickening, and he gasped at the amount of power he felt coursing through them. However, before he could take a step, he felt his heels riding up his legs as the feet lengthened, and he found himself standing on his toes. It felt odd for a moment, but the thought of having to walk around unstable was erased from his head as huge claws slowly slid out from the tips of his toes, and he heard a sickening crack as his big toe became perpendicular to his foot, and a huge killing claw slid out of it.
He turned his head and looked into the mirror, horrified of what he would see. To his confirmation, he now knew what he was becoming, but had no way to stop it. It was painfully obvious that he was becoming some sort of dinosaur…a raptor, if he wasn’t mistaken. It would be comical if it wasn’t happening to him, as he currently looked like a raptor with a human head stuck at the base of the neck.
Just as he thought this, he felt another wave of nausea sweep over his body, along with a burning in his veins. He could feel his ears shriveling, and retracting into his head, while the holes actually got bigger. At the same time, he heard his neck crack as additional vertebrae were added on. He saw, through the mirror, his neck slowly stretching, scales washing along its length and the now familiar stripes appearing on the back of his neck. He tried to shout in fear, but as his vocal chords changed, he spluttered out once, and then was surprised to discover that his voice sounded more like a screech than anything.
He slammed his mouth shut, but soon felt a tugging at the corners of his mouth, and within no time, he was grinning like some drunken fool. However, the vision was horribly twisted once his lips pulled farther and farther back to his cheekbones, and his jaw began to crack and distend, causing his entire skull to vibrate with each resounding crack. He could only close his eyes as he felt his nose collapse, becoming two thin slits, migrating to the front of his steadily raptorfying face. He could feel his tongue get larger inside his mouth, more pointed at the end, and heavily salivating. He ran it across dagger-like fangs that had filled his mouth, and his much heavier head was now evenly supported by his muscular neck. He blinked once, and watched as the shade of his eyes shifted to a solid yellow, with slit pupils. He blinked again, and felt more than one membrane slide over his eye every time he blinked from then on.
He was scared, and gave a shudder as he failed in an attempt to clutch his head and curl into the fetal position…until something unexpected happened.
He had felt it nagging at the back of his mind, but now it advanced into the foreground. It was driving, confident, and powerful. It was the embodiment of his instincts, and right now, they were telling him that he was hungry.
The human part of Luke that remained rebelled, telling him that he had to visit that Dr. Iwazaki, and had to change him back!
The human side of him won, but that didn’t prevent the explosion of power and energy that cascaded through every fiber of his being as he dashed out the door.
The sheer amount of scents that entered his nostrils and impacted into his brain made him reel for a moment, but he immediately took off again, running at blurring speeds, far faster than he could have ever run, even if he was an Olympic athlete. For a good amount of time, all he heard was the sound of his claws clicking on sidewalks and streets as he ran.
Then, he saw the hospital.
Involuntarily, he let out a hiss of discontent. Within this building was the man that changed him into this creature, and his claws ached to rip the man apart. He thought he would enter by surprise, so he quietly snuck around the building, entering a predatory mode.
To his surprise, he saw the doctor waiting at the back door, leaning against the wall, with some kind of pistol casually dangling from his hand. Somehow, he saw the former Luke, and turned to face him.
“Ah, I see your vaccination has worked stunningly well. Now, just come with me, and we’ll run a few tests to see if everything has worked out,” He said with that same warm smile, beckoning with the hand that didn’t hold the pistol.
Luke was enraged, to say the least. He was also very hungry. In a raptor, such things didn’t go together very well, and he found himself succumbing to his instincts. With a screech, he lunged forward. Before he could reach the doctor, he saw the muzzle on the pistol flash several times, and felt small objects hammer into his hide, what he knew were bullets. It flashed several more times, and he was on the ground, stunned and dazed, but still very much alive.
Dr. Iwazaki frowned as he slowly lowered the pistol that he held.
“Now, you know we didn’t have to do this the hard way, but it really doesn’t matter. Take him away,” He ordered, and several shapes detached from the walls, slipping a stretcher under the incapacitated Luke, and rolling him away. That was the last thing he saw as his body lapsed into a state between unconsciousness and sleep.
“How is his condition?” Seshiro Iwazaki asked a young, slim, petite woman with rimmed glasses who sat at a keyboard, fingers moving at a blurring pace.
“He’s fine and stable. The predatory instincts faded after he was fed a decent amount, so I guess that’s what you could call a success,” She answered with a whip-like voice.
He nodded with satisfaction, “And on the first try, I would call it nothing less, Lilia. However, the serum needs to be toned down. It was too aggressive in this subject.”
The woman named Lilia merely nodded and continued typing, but slowed down, until she had stopped, and breathed a small sigh, setting her hands in her lap.
“Seshiro, what are you going to do with him?” She finally asked, her voice softening.
He gave that now trademark warm smile, patting her shoulder, “Don’t worry, I have a…rehabilitation center on my island resort. I’m sure he’ll find it plenty satisfying there.”
“And his family?”
He hummed softly, “Hmm, that will be a trickier issue. I think they would do well in joining him. They looked like fairly suitable specimens. Excellent breeders.”
Lilia just sighed and shook her head in distaste. Dr. Iwazaki gripped her shoulder harder.
“Don’t worry,” He said as he drew one of the syringes from within his lab coat, examining the radiant amber serum that lie within, which had the power to change the very being of a person. He held it up to the light.
“This is just the beginning.”