Uisce Cuid II (Water Part II)
Berlin, Deutschland (Berlin, Germany)
This ripple carried Florian Fischer into the water, and the race began. He dived straight down, instead of out, which was a mistake. The other swimmers were already a good bit ahead, and he had wasted his dive. Florian kicked his feet furiously, and made for the surface. He took a deep breath and started his front crawl. Normally he was quite good at it, but he was panicking, and starting to flounder. He couldn't control his breathing. At one point he swallowed a mouthful of chlorinated water, and started to choke. He was getting nowhere.Hoffman was already halfway down the pool.
But suddenly, Florian changed. A surge of energy ripped through him, and his strokes became longer, more powerful. His legs kicked harder. As he turned his head to breathe, he saw his right arm had gained a whole new layer of muscle! Three strokes later, he saw his left arm had done the same! He presumed his legs were doing the same, as they were carrying him a lot further than before. His chest seemed to expand, his shoulders broadening. Though he was rapidly gaining bulk, his body seemed more streamlined. He glided effortlessly through the water. All trace of his earlier frenzy had dissipated.
After reaching the twenty metre mark, Florian realised he had caught up with Hoffman. They reached the pool wall at the same time, and tumble-turned. Florian’s legs shot out, carrying him nearly half way up the pool in one kick. He was still underwater, but he realised he had no need to surface; he could go further without oxygen. Then for some reason, unbeknownst to even himself, he changed his style. His legs started to kick together, like the butterfly kick, while his arms swung out in arcs, a breast-stroke. It took mere seconds for him to finish the race.
Triumphant, Florian burst through the water's surface, slapping the deck of the pool and claiming his victory. Around him the crowd cheered. Florian tried to picture how Mia looked now, but he couldn’t make out her face in the blur of the crowd. He didn’t mind though. He’d see her later, he thought, and then he’d ask her out.
He looked to his right where Hoffman had just finished the race, winning second place. He was staring at Florian with a look of awe and incredulity, before reaching his arm over the lane, and saying “Bravo.” Florian laughed and languished in his glory a little longer, before finally deciding to get out of the water.
Of course, it was in that moment of pure elation, that it all went spectacularly wrong.
Florian lifted himself onto the deck with his newly-muscled arms, and swung his legs out to stand victorious. Instead, he slipped and fell flat on his face. He expected to hear laughter. Instead he heard screams. Several screams, from boys and girls alike.
What is it, he wondered, surely the fall didn’t look that bad. He picked himself up with his arms and turned to sit. Then he saw exactly what it was.
It wasn’t his suddenly toned torso, huge arms, or broad shoulders.
It was what now hung below his waist, instead of his legs.
It was a fishtail.
It took Florian a full five seconds to comprehend just what he was seeing. And when he did, he let a scream so horrendous and pitiful it would have made mountains shiver.
He gave a tearful glance towards the stands, to the horrified onlookers, to Mia's terror-stricken expression.
And Florian did what he felt like doing at the beginning of the race.
He broke down, and cried.