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Satyr-day night Fever (5)
"Just try to relax, Aaron." Rocky set his pot down next to a large, turquoise cabinet that looked something like an old-fashioned telephone booth. "Transfer is supposed to be completely painless. And it's not like you got a lot of choices, anyway."
Aaron managed a silent nod, and felt the thick growth of leaves which covered his upper body sway in response. His vocal chords had been absorbed into the thick, greenish trunk that used to be his body, and even his mouth had locked into a sort of knothole. All he could do now was flex the remains of his head and arms in a 'yes' or 'no' gesture.
His transformation from what looked like a normal 3-year-old human into something more like a giant spear of broccoli had been very fast. The huge satyr who was now fiddling with controls on the booth had made a slight error in making up a nutrient solution to replace the mud Aaron was used to, and that error had triggered a metamorphosis. It was sort of like a moth becoming a butterfly, except Aaron was changing from a sentient creature into a true plant - mindless foliage.
He'd been terrified at first. The thought of fading into non awareness was somehow more awful than death. He'd resisted Rocky's attempts to meet the changing needs of his body until he could no longer control his root-covered legs and feet. Then the satyr had picked him up and stuffed him into a prepared pot of rich soil. He'd been planted, like a damned petunia.
It was strange to feel his roots pushing into the dirt, and even stranger to see his legs merge and darken. Planting seemed to make the change accelerate, but his stiffening neck did not allow him to observe the rest of his transformation. By rolling his eyes to the sides, he could barely make out the branches that had been his arms. Hands and fingers had split up to become masses of the same leaves which now covered his head.
Rocky fiddled with a panel, glancing towards Aaron occasionally. "Won't be long now. They are setting up the recipient." Aaron nodded, having more trouble moving this time. He wasn't sure what the huge satyr was attempting, but it didn't matter now. Unless something was done, Aaron Fitzgerald would cease to exist by the end of the day.
Vision was blurred by the greenish film already forming over his eyes. His neck was already part of the trunk, as well as the lower part of his face. Only the top of his head seemed to be resisting, eyes and brain struggling against the transformation that had claimed the rest of his body. But they were losing. He could feel the change nibbling at his thoughts, like a rat after cheese.
The booth Rocky was working on had appeared within the past hour, sent through one of the countless portals that emptied into this huge workshop. He'd been working frantically ever since they discovered what was happening to him, and Aaron realized that the satyr must have called in a lot of favors.
As best as he could understand, the turquoise box was from what another world in the multiverse used as their penal system. While crime seemed to exist in most of the multiverse, the method of punishment varied wildly from one place to the next. This particular world did not have a death penalty - not exactly. Instead, they kept a convicted prisoner in stasis until someone needed a body. Then the prisoner's 'soul' and that of the needy individual were swapped.
Usually, the process was reserved for important members of that world's population, for capital offenses were rare, and demand was understandably great. However, Rocky was obviously held in high regard, for there had been no delay in setting things up. Such transfers were usually accomplished with both subjects in the same location. However, the satyr was unsure how travel through a portal might affect Aaron's already rapid transformation, and had arranged for this remote link.
Aaron had very little idea what awaited him at the other end. All Rocky would tell him was that the body was that of a convicted killer, and was both young and healthy. He would wake up in that body, and the killer would become the tree. Aaron had misgivings about taking anyone else's body, but at this point he had little to say. Nothing, in fact, since he couldn't speak anymore.
"We're ready." Rocky pushed the pot into the cabinet, and Aaron thought he could make out a grin on the satyr's face. "They'll send you back here through a portal as soon as this is done. We're gonna get along just fine!" Aaron wondered what Rocky meant by that. Then his soul was wrenched from his body with a ripping pain unlike anything he had ever experienced. His brain exploded, senses burned...
He screamed. It took a moment for the sound to register on his ears. He screamed? A mental checklist confirmed the return of senses and body parts he thought he'd never see again. "Lie still. It will take a moment for the transfer to integrate into the new body." The voice was pleasant, an older man from the sound. Aaron kept his eyes closed, satisfied to feel the cool table under his back and shoulders. Oddly, they had put a blanket under his buttocks and legs. Or maybe he was wearing thick pants. His chest and arms were cool, but below the waist felt warm. Except for between his legs.
He flexed fingers. Hands seemed normal, as did his arms. That meant he could still draw. His legs were a little odd, stiff and angled upwards. And he couldn't feel his toes. "You should be able to move now, but start slowly." The voice was close to his ear, and he opened his eyes to see a familiar-looking face. Rocky? Vision cleared, and he realized that the man looking down at him was older than the satyr, though obviously of the same species. Rocky had sent him to his own world!
The prospect delighted him. Before he'd started the change to a tree, he'd looked like a typical 3-year old boy. And he had to admit that he'd envied both the size and obvious sexual potential of the centaur and satyr males he'd seen. Well, he might not be as big as Rhudi, but if Rocky was any indication, he was gonna have a lot of fun.
Curious fingers groped down the furred waist, stopping for a moment to marvel at the softness of the curly wool. Then they continued to seek the patch of cool flesh amid the hair. What they found did not match up with expectations. "What the..." He struggled up in growing horror, remembering Rocky's parting words.
And then she screamed again.
Satyr-day night Fever (5) copyright 1996 by Bob Stein.
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