Sealed With a Kiss

Steve relaxed on his blue beach towel wearing sunglasses and his black swim trunks. It was 8:45 am on a Friday morning, a day he’d taken off of work because of stress. He was at the beach this early to avoid the crowds that always appeared around 11. His burnt out mind and fatigued body needed relaxation and rest; the last thing he needed was crowds and noise.

Closing his eyes, he listened to the waves as they crashed onto the shore, the horns of ships several kilometres away and the barks of the sea lions. He took a deep breath of the ocean air, its smell refreshing and relaxing. He relaxed so much that he found himself rolling into his stomach and dozing off.

Opening his eyes, he found himself face to face with a sea lion. It was looking right at him, almost appearing to be studying him. He propped himself up with hands much in the same way the animal was with its flippers. Its brown skin was dripping with water and its presence made him nervous. He’d seen them in zoos or sunning themselves on rocks along the shore, but never this close!

He looked around the beach, seeing he was still alone. A quick check of his wristwatch showed it was 10:30 am. The fact the beach was still otherwise unoccupied mystified him. He felt warm breath hit him and turned his gaze back to the animal before him. Its breath smelled bad, a fish like odour. He of course, couldn’t blame it for that; they didn’t have access to mouthwash or toothpaste.

"Easy there fellow, what do you want?" Steve asked. He knew the animal couldn’t answer and was asking more out of habit.

It looked right at him, its black eyes seeming to stare into his soul. For a second, Steve could have sworn he heard its thoughts and felt its emotions. He didn’t know how, but he knew it was a she. Feeling a little spooked; Steve wanted to stand up.

"Easy girl, this is a little too close for comfort," he said.

She cocked her head, as if trying to comprehend what Steve was saying. Steve was growing uncomfortable and looked around the beach, hoping someone saw him and would say something. He looked back at the sea lion before deciding to stand up and walk away. She however, didn’t give him the chance before leaning over and pressing her lips to his.

If her kissing him wasn’t unexpected enough, the images of swimming through the cool ocean, the waves pressing against his back, belly and sides, capturing and eating fish, sunning himself on the rocks and watching humans on the beach, wondering what they were doing that inundated his mind were. He realised those images were memories, her memories. He also felt as though he was telling her the story of his life and realised that she was accessing his memories. She was accessing his deepest, darkest secrets and desires; it didn’t matter she was an animal, she still knew everything about him and that made him feel violated. He wanted to say something but with her lips pressed up against his, he couldn’t do more then mumble.

When she released the kiss, Steve knew everything about her, although information on how she gained this ability seemed vague. She had what he could only describe as a smile on her muzzle. She wanted more then information or to simply know him … that much he sensed from her. He sensed happiness from within her about what she was hiding, as though she had a way to solve his problems. Steve lay there, watching her, trying to make sense of what just happened. He knew her; he knew what it felt like to be one of her kind. It was disturbing yet also fascinating.

"What did you do to me?" he asked. He again knew she couldn’t respond or understand him but he needed a response.

He was about to stand up when he felt sensation of water flowing through his body. He experienced cold chills and then felt dizzy for several seconds. When it faded, his head felt itchy and the sea lion was staring at him. He stood up and looked at her, wondering if what he’d just experienced was real. Why are you upright, that’s not normal! Get back down! He did a double take, wondering where that thought came from.

Scratching his head, he gasped when he pulled out a clump of hair. He could feel his hair falling out in wads as it hit his feet and the ground around him. In seconds, his scalp was as smooth as the sea lions! He took several steps back and tripped on the sand, falling into his rear end with a painful and undignified thud.

The sea lion clapped her flippers and barked a few times as though she found the situation amusing. Looking ahead of him, he saw the clumps of his precious brown hair lying on his towel and almost cried. He took excellent care of it and no one in his family was bald, besides, he’d never heard of a person losing their hair this fast!

"That isn’t funny! Did you do this to me?" he asked her.

When she nodded, barked and clapped her flippers in an apparent understanding, Steve wasn’t sure if he should be afraid or fascinated. When she bounded towards him, leapt up and kissed him on the lips again, her damp sand covered body felt warm and heavy, Steve gasped in fear.

What the heck is wrong with her?

She released the kiss, her whiskers twitching a bit as she looked at him. Steve’s arms legs and chest were itchy. He looked at his chest to see his chest hair falling out. While it didn’t hurt him, he still wanted to panic, perhaps even and weep. In a panic, he pushed at his blanket, bunching it up and kicking sand all over the place. His eyes went wide when he saw his leg hair also falling out. A quick check of his arms confirmed his fear that they too were losing their hair.

The itching faded, leaving his body hairless. Trembling, he continued backing up, never taking his eyes of the sea lion before him. Now, his skin felt warm and a bit tight. His swim trunks were feeling confining and something in him wanted them off.

No, I’m not taking them off; this isn’t a nudist beach! I’ll get caught!

His skin seemed darker, as though he were tanning. However, this tan was unlike any other he’d ever had. In seconds, he received a tan that should have taken all day and it was getting darker. His trunks felt more confining with each passing second, the desire to remove them overwhelming. He could no longer resist and slipped them off, kicking them in front of him. The sea lion found this amusing and clapped her flippers all while barking at him. His skin continued to darken and after a few minutes, it looked like hers. He felt his chest only to realise the skin not only looked like the sea lion’s but also felt like it. This wasn’t just a change of skin colour; the texture had changed as well!

This is not happening … this is not happening!

He tried to stand only to find his legs felt weak. He watched as they involuntarily straightened out, aligning with his torso, forcing him to lie on his back and struggle to look down at them. He felt the skin crawling and moving between his legs. Denial and upset met the sight of his legs merging to becoming part of his torso!

His arms and hands ached as his ribcage shifted into a rounder shape to match the one his legs were merging into. He looked to his sides to see his arms shrinking into his torso as his hands lengthened, webbing growing between his fingers.

They’re turning into flippers. No … it’s … impossible!

In desperation, he attempted to scream for help, noticing his voice sounded lower pitched, as though he’d become a baritone. He half expected helicopters to show up at any second, or at least lifeguards. Failing that, he hoped he’d wake up in a cold sweat, discovering this was a bizarre dream. Unfortunately, no one showed up and he wasn’t waking up.

A sharp pain in his skull, jaw and eyes interrupted his train of thought. He tried one more time to move his legs only to discover that below the waist, he was now a sea lion, complete with relocated plumbing. He felt an irresistible urge to move onto his belly and acted on it. His torso felt so strange, its shape was growing more streamlined by the minute, perfect for swimming.

Closing his eyes, he felt them changing with his jaw and skull. His sunglasses fell off as he felt the band on his watch stretch and break as the last of his arms vanished into his torso, the watch falling to the ground below. His hands were now flippers; he moved them around, not sure whether to panic or be fascinated with the odd feelings his brain was receiving. He felt an urge to clap them together but pushed it away, not wanting to act like an animal.

He again felt a bit dizzy as his neck re-aligned and his skull completed its shift, resulting in what he could only guess was his brain becoming an animal one; a realisation that terrified him. Don’t worry about it Steve, just relax and enjoy this. Where these thoughts were coming from, he didn’t know and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. The strange feelings faded and he opened his eyes, looking the female of his now fellow species in the eyes.

Glancing around the beach, he found the world almost devoid of colour, there were dull colours but they were nothing compared to what he was used to as a human. Of course, from the female’s memories, he knew he wouldn’t need to see a lot of colour while swimming.

This is unreal; I’m a sea lion!

At first he felt afraid for his future. Then, he felt an excitement; the urge to live in the moment and not worry about what tomorrow may or may not bring consuming him. He hadn’t of felt this irresponsible and worry free since he was a teenager. In the here and now, he wasn’t in the office or at home, he was a sea lion on the beach with a female of his species. Concern over this happenstance dissolved when he realised there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.

What do sea lions and seals do best? They swim! It’s not like I can do anything about his right now; I might as well enjoy it.

The crashing of the waves against the shore beckoned him. The ocean was his friend; the mist from it felt wonderful against his face, its scent almost intoxicating.

Looks like I won’t be going back to work anytime soon.

With no other logical reaction he could think of, he tested out his voice. As he expected, a barking emerged from his muzzle. He wasn’t saying anything, just vocalising. He did it again, just enjoying the sound of his voice. The female clapped her flippers in response to him, kissing him on the lips and barking. Turning around, she walked off towards the ocean.

Steve watched her walk. It was quite the site seeing her using her flippers almost like legs and feet. He knew from the female’s memories how to walk like her. He followed her down the sand as she slid into the water. Anticipation he hadn’t of experienced in a long time hit him. He wanted into that water; it was his home. Being out of it was only for relaxing or sleeping. He moved onto the wet sand, sinking into it ever so slightly. He lay there as the waves hit his flippers and chest. He slid into the water, feeling it surround his body. It felt wonderful, although he did feel a little guilty over his nudity. His new-found desire to live in the moment wasn’t about to allow him to worry about any human seeing him this way and soon he was close behind the female as they waded deep enough to submerge.

He felt his nostrils and mouth close on their own, the water streaming against his body as he swam through it. The stress and worry of work flowed off of him like the water he shot through. He surfaced and took a deep breath, feeling the water drip off of his skin, the scent of it surrounding him. The female surfaced to his left and barked at him. He looked at her and barked back. This method of communication was liberating; no grammar, saying the wrong thing or accidentally offending someone to worry about; just a simple vocalisation to show he was having fun.

The water felt like home, not cold at all. It was almost like taking a bath with the entire ocean as his tub and no need to get out. He shot back under the water, feeling the female following him. He effortlessly rolled, spun and changed direction under the water. The lack of timetables, duties and managers had him feeling a real innocence; his ‘job’ was having fun and enjoying being alive.

He surfaced again, breathing in joy as he felt the warm sun against his skin. The female surfaced in front of him, bobbing up and down in the wavy water. He wished he could thank her for this experience, but he could only bark. Somehow though, he seemed to know this was enough; if he was blissful, he knew that would make her happy.

Hearing a rumble, Steve looked up into the sky, seeing storm clouds gathering. The prospect of rain didn’t bother him; given how soaked he was, a little rain wouldn’t do anything. He was distracted by the scent of a group of fish. He’d never considered eating raw fish, let alone live fish but now it felt like a normal thing to do. He didn’t have to think about what to do next. He dove at the fish, grabbing one of them as the female did the same. Surfacing, he gobbled it down, loving the taste and texture of it as he chewed on and swallowed it. While just taking something that appealed to him was an alien way of thinking and acting, it was rather liberating.

Raindrops from the now dark sky started hitting him. He looked at the beach, seeing several humans running for cover. He laughed at them in his mind; they wanted to swim here for fun, perhaps even swim with his new kind. Moisture from rain however, would scare them off. Dampness was now his friend. He floated there for several minutes just enjoying the feel of the rain against his head and upper torso. The female breathing against the back of his neck brought him out of his trance like state. He turned to see two other sea lions had joined them. Social creatures, it was normal for them to be around others of their kind. The female seemed to want Steve to play not with just her but with the others as well. She and the other two plunged under the water.

Steve took one more look at his flippers, still in disbelief this was real. Being this way felt great; sure he’d been in the ocean before but he’d never been able to enjoy it at this level. With a happy bark, he dove under after his companions. He felt the currents from the others as he followed them. They swam in circles under the water, their bodies brushing up against each other. Humans may have become upset at such close contact but now it felt natural, leaving Steve wondering just why people were so uptight about letting go and allowing themselves to have fun.

The group swam and played for hours, only surfacing for air when they needed it. By that time, the storm had passed and the sun was shining. The trio led Steve to a large group of rocks where they climbed out of the water and lay down with a group of at least two dozen others. Steve relaxed beside the female. The sun felt great against his skin; he was so relaxed that he dozed off.

* * *

When Steve awoke, he had no idea how much time had passed. The sun was still up but it was lower in the sky. The air was cooler and fog blanketed the area. Steve looked down at flippers and barked when he tried to speak, confirming this experience was real. This no longer felt like a new form, more like a secondary one; sort of like wearing a different set of clothes then one is used to, but they’re still yours and look good on you.

The female and a few others were still on the rocks with him, and he could hear people walking nearby. He listened to the people walking around the rocks. He could feel the rock slipperiness under his belly as he moved along them. For him, that just made it easier to move but for the humans, Steve knew that could pose a danger. He couldn’t see them through the fog, but he could hear them talking and decided to listen in.

"So, why don’t you ask her out?"

"Yeah, right! She won’t give me the time of day!"

"Time of day?"

"You know, she won’t pay any attention to me!"

Steve felt a bit guilty eavesdropping on the teenagers. They could walk right past him and have no idea he understood everything they said. Perhaps the playful nature of this form did it to him, he couldn’t be sure but any guilt vanished, turning into to a feeling of mischief. Eavesdropping on someone in a restaurant, beach, theatre or any public place was always considered a faux pas for a human. For him though, it was normal.

"Man, these rocks are slippery!"

"I told you we shouldn’t have."

Steve heard the other curse before hearing a panicked shuffling of his feet. Seconds later, he heard the sound of splashing water on the other side of the rocks. Steve heard the teen splashing around. If anything, at least the water on that side was deep enough to have cushioned the teens fall.

"I can’t swim," the boy yelled.

Those words sent shivers down Steve’s spine. His instincts kicked in, he knew he could save the boy. He slid off the rocks and allowed himself to drop into the water below, hitting it with a loud splash. He heard the splashing from the teen’s frantic attempts to stay afloat and swam as best he could towards him. When he was close enough, he saw the teen just barley staying afloat. Steve wished he could speak so he could tell the boy to grab onto him. For now, he had to settle for swimming up next to the teen and floating there.

"Hun?" the boy asked.

Steve barked at the teen, motioning his head at his back and barking quietly. The boy seemed to understand and climbed onto Steve’s back. Steve listened through the fog and used his sense of smell to find the sand to guide him to the shore. He swam, making sure the boy held on. He heard another splash a few moments later and was worried the teen’s friend had fallen in as well. Fortunately for him, it wasn’t the other teen falling but the female sea lion joining him. She swam to his right and helped to support the teen.

"Man, this your friend or something?" the kid asked.

Steve couldn’t answer but found the question amusing nonetheless. They finally reached the shoreline a few minutes later and Steve and the female walked up onto the sand as the boy climbed off of them and stood up. Steve felt the sand congealing on his body from the water but chose to ignore it. He saw the boy was thoroughly soaked but he seemed relieved to be on shore. The teen knelt down and petted both Steve and the female on the head, a feeling Steve enjoyed, as did the female from her reaction.

"Thanks guys, you two saved my life!"

The boy then hugged both of them. He was shivering from the water, but Steve was certain the kid would be all right. Steve heard someone approach from the right moments later.

"Dude, are you okay? What happened?" It was the voice of the teen’s friend.

"I’m … fine. These two seals, they saved my life, they carried me to the shore!"

Steve and the female barked at the boys before heading back into the water.

"Thanks guys!" Steve heard the boy they’d save call out.

Steve felt Elated as they swam deeper into the water; he’d helped save a life. He wondered what would have happened had this not happened to him; it was something he didn’t want to think about. Stress wise, he was feeling much better about work. He hadn’t of thought of it much since changing and knew that after having this day to escape human concerns that he could go back to work on Monday and work things out. That assumed of course that this would wear off and that this wasn’t what he was from now on. If it didn’t wear off, then he was facing a whole new existence.

He was again feeling hungry and could smell another school of fish nearby. This time, he didn’t even have to think about it; he just dove under the water, speeding through it like a living torpedo. Now, the water flow over his flanks felt natural, a wondrous sensation that dwarfed the sensation of a hot tub. He did several back flips through the water, ascending and descending through the near pitch black water as effortlessly as a natural born member of the species. The innocence level was not unlike that of a human child. He was in a state of blissful contentment, his human knowledge, experience and memories allowing him to appreciate this experience on a level an animal couldn’t.

The life of an animal was not risk free of course. He was fully aware of his surroundings and ready to react to predators, human watercraft or swimmers (something he doubted would be out in this weather).

After some play, a growl in his stomach reminded him of a pressing need. He launched himself at the fishes. They scattered when he assumed they felt the currents he created. He managed to nab one of them. He felt something to his left and saw it was the female. He assumed she’d given him some time alone to enjoy his form. He felt elated when she returned and attributed that to the social nature of this species.

Both surfaced, feasting upon their captures. Steve felt perhaps a small twinge of guilt from eating a live fish but the sea lion part of him knew this was a normal thing to do. Just as a shark or orca might go after him or another of his species, or how large fish ate small fish, it was the nature of things.

As he finished the fish, he floated in the wavy water. The fog was starting to clear. It felt funny against his exposed skin. It was a different feel then walking through the fog as a human, that always felt chilly, and a tad bit creepy to him. He’d always felt like someone or something could jump out at any moment and do something to him. While that possibility existed here, he felt as though he’d feel something approaching through the water, hear or even smell it if nothing else.

From the temperature of the water, he could tell it was evening. He looked back at the female and she barked at him before diving back under, swimming in the direction of the shore. He followed her, keeping a discreet distance behind her. When they arrived at the shore, the fog was lifting and Steve could see that it was getting dark. The female walked on her flippers towards Steve’s towel, the sand sticking all over her body. Steve followed her, also getting sand on his body. He was amazed that his towel and his discarded swim trunks were still there. They felt so strange to him now; strange human things he didn’t need in this form.

The female turned back around to face Steve. Leaning towards him, she kissed him. It was a wonderful sensation this time, and again he felt as though he could sense her thoughts. From this, he learned that this form was temporary for him, he would soon re-gain his humanity. He would however, gain the ability to take this form at will. There was no limit on how long he had to spend in either. This could be a form he’d take to relax and de-stress from the pressures of human life. He was in no rush to give up his life but also loved this form, so it would work out perfectly. He felt a little sad that he had to leave her behind once in human form but sensed from her that this was her life, that he needed to walk his own path. Besides, she didn’t plan on going anywhere, and he could always return for visits.

She released the kiss and looked at him. Strange feelings were flowing through his body. He couldn’t help but lean forward and return her kiss. He closed his eyes as he did so, just enjoying the moment. He listened to the waves pouring onto the shore, felt the cool air blowing against his body, the sand under his belly, the fishy smell of the sea, the warmth of the female and her scent. It was a moment he wished could last forever.

Eventually, he had to release the kiss. He sensed from her that it was time for both to return to their kind. With a sad feeling inside of him, he watched her walk beside him, turning to see her make her way back to the ocean before slipping into it and seeming to vanish. He knew however that despite his feelings, this didn’t have to be goodbye, more, until next time. As he considered that, his skin started to tingle; he knew he was changing back. For a second, he worried that someone would see him but there didn’t seem to be anyone on the beach. He could hear a few people in the distance but they were too far off to see him.

His bones, skin and his entire lower torso felt funny, feeling as though everything was moving around. It didn’t really hurt; any pain was at most a dull ache. He looked back and forth at his flippers, feeling that they were growing longer and narrower. His skin continued to tingle as its colour lightened. His jaw ached and his skull and eyes felt funny, his neck soon joining in. He closed his eyes and rolled onto his left side as his skull began its journey back into a human shape, his neck realigning to a shape more fitting for a human. He felt the bottom of his torso loosening, his legs returning just after his internal organs and plumbing shifted, returning to a position more familiar to him. He soon found himself able to move his legs and his flippers were feeling more like arms by the second.

When the strange feelings in his skull, eyes and jaw subsided, he opened his eyes and saw the colour and field of view of his vision was back to normal. He felt a tingle on top of his head and soon felt the familiar touch of his hair as it sprouted from a buzz cut to the shoulder length hair he was used to. He shook his head back and forth, moving the hair. He had to admit that having hair felt a little strange now. When his toes and feet returned, he wiggled his toes, one feeling he missed being able to do while he was a sea lion.

His ribcage flattened slightly, returning his torso to a shape less like a torpedo and more like the familiar shape he’d lived all but the last day in. He moved his legs and arms back and forth, trying to wiggle his fingers but finding they were still webbed. He waited a few seconds before he felt the webbing recede and wiggled his fingers. Finally, he felt a slight itch in his legs; arms and chest as their hair grew back in. The various aches brought on by the change faded and he felt human again, chilly but human nonetheless.

Standing up, he reached for his bathing suit and slid it back on. It was a little damp but tolerable. He picked up his towel and watch; the strap was broken but he could replace it. He did a quick check of his body; everything seemed back to normal. With a look out into the ocean, he felt a little depressed. He wished the female could come with him but understood that it wasn’t meant to be.

Turning around, he started back up towards the parking lot where he’d parked his car. He felt relaxed, finally able to tackle his work with a fresh mind. For a few minutes, he wondered if this experience was even real and not a wonderful dream. When he got into his car and turned on the radio, a news story was playing. Two teenagers were on it, one telling about how a pair of sea lions had rescued him when he fell into the water. Steve smiled; it had been real and more then worth it. Now that he had this new ability, he wondered how he’s use it in the future. He looked forward to the fun he’d be able to have with it.

Changing back having taken a little out of him, he found himself feeling hungry. He wondered if the all you can eat seafood restaurant was still open. Before this experience, he’d never been much into seafood, now it appealed to him. He looked at his reflection in the rear-view mirror, wondering if perhaps it was time for a change in his look. He wondered how he’d look if he shaved his head. He also pondered joining the gym in order to gain access to their pool. Perhaps, he thought, some aspects of his animal form would stay with him as a human.

The female had given him exactly what he needed, a day to relax and not think about work, and a new beginning. Looking towards the ocean, he thanked her and started on his way home.