The Spring of Rejuvenation
With frigid air and snow gusting against their faces, Roy and Jordan trekked up the mountain. Two days ago, they had embarked on a journey to find a legendary hot spring. Legend claimed the spring could cure any wound, heal any illness and even reverse the aging process. The gentlemen that told them of the legend mentioned a cost did not disclose just what this cost was.
Roy, a thirty-nine-year-old, was determined to find the spring. He had a limp in his right leg from an injury he sustained five years ago. It had never healed properly and he was hopeful that the spring could correct that.
Jordan, a forty-five-year-old had poor vision due to a genetic condition as well as a nasty scar on his chest from an accident ten years ago. He too was hopeful that the spring could correct his vision and repair the scar.
As they neared the summit, winds were so strong that they had to use each other for support. Visibility was poor. It looked as though they were going to have to call the mission off. Just before they gave up, Roy saw something shimmer in the distance. Something about it called to him.
"I think we’re getting close! I can feel it!" Roy said.
Jordan couldn’t see the shimmering but he too felt as if there was a presence watching and pleading for them to continue.
"I feel it too!" Jordan responded.
They nodded to each other and decided to continue. Walking steadily, they forged on. The snow was getting deeper with each step, making walking taxing for Roy. Determination, faith and perhaps desperation pressed them on.
For another hour, they walked until they discovered an entrance to a cave. Their eyed needed a few minutes to adjust to the almost blinding light inside the cave as they entered it.
Walking into the cave, they felt as though they’d entered another world. The cave lacked snow or wind and was warm enough to permit both to strip down to their jeans and shirts.
The walls of the cave were smooth and a soothing gray/brown color. The floor was beige, smooth and spotless. A calming effect kept both men sedate.
They traversed the corridor for a few minutes before hearing the sound of running water. Quickly moving towards the source of the sound, they discovered a large chamber. The chamber was warm and even brighter then the cave but that wasn’t the most shocking thing about it.
A huge pool with glistening water that looked about a meter deep sat at the middle of the chamber. The illogic of such a large pool fitting into the peak of the mountain was lost on Roy and Jordan.
Now that he knew the legends were true, Roy felt joy and anticipation much like a child on Christmas morning.
"This is incredible, the legends were true!" Jordan beamed.
"Well, should we take a dip?" Roy asked.
"Try and stop me," Jordan said.
They both slowly advanced on the pool but a gentle female voice that seemed to radiate from the walls stopped them.
"Welcome to the spring of Rejuvenation. Please remove all clothing before entering the spring. Enjoy your stay," The voice said.
Roy and Jordan looked at each other. At this point, being naked was a small price to pay to experience what the pool had to offer. They removed the rest of their clothing, sat down at the edge of the pool and climbed into it.
The moment the water touched Roy’s feet, feeling of joy and happiness overwhelmed him. He felt as though everything was going to be fine. There was a brighter future ahead of them.
Roy and Jordan waded further into the pool. They both sat down, submersing all but their heads in the water.
Intense feelings similar to a massage focused on Roy’s right leg. The bones straightened out and healed properly. Another feeling Roy couldn’t explained was also present. Roy knew that he knew this feeling. However, it was as though he was trying to remember something or someone he’d long since forgotten.
Roy saw Jordan closed his eyes and lowered his head under the water. While Roy wasn’t sure how, he seemed able to sense Jordan’s thoughts and feelings. Any desire to explain how any of this was possible faded away, making way for a more innocent desire to see it as magic and be happy with that.
From Jordan, Ray sensed that Jordan’s eyes were tingling. As well, the area on Jordan’s chest with the scar was healing, taking the scar with it. Roy could sense that Jordan felt a similar innocence.
Roy and Jordan felt as though the water were washing their worries away as Jordan surfaced for air. Jordan felt more energetic and a strange desire to play was starting to overwhelm him. When the tingling in his eyes subsided, he opened them.
"It’s incredible," Jordan said. "I can see perfectly!"
Again the peaceful voice spoke.
"You have been rejuvenated. However, the cost of this is that you must become a part of nature. Your new form will reflect your personality. You will then be further rejuvenated to an earlier state," the voice said.
Neither Jordan nor Roy was too fond of the part of nature comment. Unfortunately, they couldn’t leave the pool. Neither could explain it but it was as if something held them in place. Both stood up and looked at each other. They could only watch as the pool modified their bodies further.
It started with Roy's chest. A small patch of light brown fur grew on the center of it. The fur quickly spread, covering the rest of his chest with a pelt of the light brown fur. His facial hair was disappearing and he was shrinking! He couldn’t see it, but he was getting younger by the second!
Roy blinked his eyes. Now he could remember! Ways of thinking he’d lost since abandoned were coming back to him. Nonsensical to his adult mind, they began to make sense again.
As the time progressed, Roy felt his age regress. From Jordan, Roy could sense how young he looked. After thirty seconds, he looked thirty; after a minute, he looked twenty.
The fur was spreading as this happened. Fur sprouted on the rest of his torso, coming in a gorgeous chestnut color. The chestnut fur spread to his arms and legs before spreading down to his hands and feet. As it did, webbing grew between the toes on his feet with a small claw growing on the tip of each one. Webbing that Roy somehow knew would retract once he was out of the water developed between his fingers.
Despite what was happening, he felt no pain or discomfort. If anything, he felt warm and perhaps a little itchy.
Hearing an odd sound coming from Jordan, Roy looked up and saw that Jordan too was changing.
Jordan stood in shock; he was holding something in his right hand. It appeared to be something growing from just about the man’s rear end. It was long and furry with white fur on the bottom. The top had gray fur with several black spots and quartette of black rings with dark gray in the middle. It was a long bushy tail! He was so distracted with holding his tail that he didn’t notice that he was shrinking and appearing to be getting younger.
Roy watched as small wrinkles on Jordan’s face melted away. The few gray hairs he had underwent an interesting change, instead of changing to match his unchanged hair color of red, his hair began to grow and turn a pearly white color. As this was happening, pearly white fur began sprouting on his chest. The fur quickly grew up and down his chest, growing onto his inner thighs and up his neck and onto the bottom of his face. All the while he was getting younger. By this point, he looked as he appeared at twenty years old.
In both men, vitality increased as cynicism made for idealism and hope. Rather then fear what was happening to them, Roy was curious and looked forward to seeing it through.
Fur began to spread to the rest of Jordan’s torso and his limbs as Roy watched. Jordan gazed at Roy. Roy sensed Jordan’s fascinating with the progression of Roy’s changes.
Roy watched was much shorter now, evidenced by the water being a lot higher on his torso then before. While he couldn’t be sure, Roy seemed certain that he was no taller then he’d been when he was eight years old.
"You look like a kid!" Jordan said.
Jordan’s voice was much higher then it had been hours before and had even seemed to grow high as Jordan spoke. Roy gazed into his distorted reflection, confirming what Jordan had said.
Roy felt different mentally. Playfulness took priority over responsibility and worry. Issues that before would have bothered him seemed distant. They were things that grown ups would worry about. He felt a desire to play, it was as if time had locked the desire inside of him and the water was the key.
This wasn’t the only change Roy was undergoing. His fur was now a thick pelt and his hair was getting longer. Its slightly faded black color turned a deep black and grew slightly longer until it reached his shoulders. His face ached and ears tingled as his nose and mouth began pushing out into a short muzzle complete with whiskers and sharp pointy teeth. His ears grew rounder, moving up his skull to near the top of his head. Light brown fur sprouted on the bottom of his muzzle, and chestnut on the top and on the rest of his face and head.
Roy found himself giggling and almost purring with delight. He felt wonderful physically and mentally. Playtime took priority over figuring out how this had happened to him and Jordan. His tailbone felt strange. Roy knew what was happening next. His spine elongated as what almost felt like a new limb started growing. This new limb grew into a long, thick and strong tail with chestnut fur on top and light brown on the bottom. As he felt his center of gravity adjusting to the new changes, they seemed complete. Whatever force was holding him released him. He looked at Jordan.
A thick and luxurious coat with an interesting coloration pattern had covered Jordan’s body. Gray fur with black spots and patters covered his legs, arms and the rest of his torso. His hair was all white and his eyes a gorgeous baby blue. Small claws had grown from his fingernails and his feet were now suited for walking through the snow. Roy watched the final changes made to Jordan’s body. It was difficult to tell with the fur, but Jordan appeared slightly younger then Roy, about six years old and was slightly smaller then him. A small cat like muzzle finished developing from Jordan’s mouth and nose. His ears vanished into his head, re-appearing on top of his head as cute rounded ears with black fur on the outside and white on the inside. As the same force release him, he looked at his friend.
"When they said rejuvenate us, they weren’t kidding. But why did it do this to us," Jordan asked.
"You are now a part of nature," the voice said. "I selected your forms based on your personality and species you like. Now, young otter and snow leopard, depart and enjoy your new lives."
As the voice finished, a door appeared to open at the far side of the room. Roy and Jordan both got out of the pool and walked over to the door, curious as to where it led. Their curiosity got the better of them and they both walked through it and into another hallway. As they did so, warm air blew on them, quickly drying their fur.
Once they were dry, they realized their lack of clothing.
"We need clothes, we can’t walk around naked," Jordan said.
"I want to swim," Roy added.
Hoping to find something to wear, they continued walking down the hallway, it seemed to be leading them down the mountain. After some twenty minutes of walking, they came to what appeared to be a rack with two sets of clothing on it. Above each set was a plate with a name. It was their names!
Jordan reached for the clothes bearing his name; it was a set of overalls with arctic camouflage coloring. With his thick fur, he wouldn’t need to wear much more. He quickly took the overalls and put them on. They felt comfortable against his fur. They even had a hole for his tail. The bottom part of them ended just at his knees and the sleeves were short.
"You look cool," Roy said.
Roy reached for the other set of clothes bearing his name. The other set was a pair of black shorts, baseball cap and black tee shirt. With his fur, they would provide more then ample protection against the elements. The back of the shorts had an interesting feature. There was a small hole for his with a strap that did up. He carefully slipped the pants on and Jordan did the strap up for him. Roy put the shirt and baseball cap on and turned around to look at his friend.
"Sweet," Jordan beamed.
Just then, another door opened to their left, leading into the outside. A blast of mountain air hit both. Yet, instead of feeling cold, it felt comfortable! With yells of joy, they both ran out into the outside and into the snow. As the door behind them closed, it seemed to vanish and appeared as if it had never been there.
They were now a considerable distance down the mountain and the cabin they had met the gentlemen at was in sight. As Roy stared walking towards it, he felt something hit his back. It was a snowball! Turning around, he saw Jordan giggling.
"’Dems fightin’ words," Roy gleefully said as he reached down and molded a snowball.
As the snowball hit him in the chest, Jordan giggled and both got ready to throw another. For hours they played and ran, enjoying their new forms and vitality. Despite the fantastic nature of what had happened to them, they were not afraid. Whatever the pool had done to them, it had calmed their worries and fears. It had given them a new beginning in life.