The cheek of my human face was pressed against something wet. I opened my two new eyes, shutting them instantly against the bright grey light. In the moment these overtly light-sensitive organs had been open, I had observed packed brown stretching away from me, fringed by white.
Somehow I knew that what lay firm beneath my cheek and stretched into the distance was sand, and the white, water. I raised my oddly heavy head. Wet strands of hair fell in my eyes. Limbs that must be attached to the torso of my new body lay prone against the sand, numb with cold but dressed in some textured material but for which I knew I would be colder still, or dead. A wet suit, wet from the sea.
I had command of my thoughts, and my thoughts commanded this strange language without trouble.
Curtained by the damp hair, my eyes were adjusting to the light, and the organism’s brain – my brain – was modifying its original assessment of the nature of this light from bright to dim. I bent my upper limbs – arms – at their elbows and pushed my body up using hands – fingers – muscles until I was kneeling. I noticed the rhythmic sound behind me which first I had taken for granted. Waves breaking on the sand; a beach. Never stopping, varying only in strength.
I looked down at my new body – so different from my old one, I thought, before realising I could not remember what shape or size or colour or texture the earlier version had been. I watched my chest rise and fall as I breathed in the sharp, ruffled air, noticing also the tangy smell of the sea. My hands felt for the fastener of the black suit at my neck, wanting to release it so that I might breathe deeper still, and more easily. My numbed fingers fumbled for some time before they were able to draw the zip down. Hair appeared, and beneath it, skin. The wind crept in and tickled the reviving flesh I had exposed. I adjusted the zip upwards a fraction.
Though my legs were heavy, they responded immediately to the mental urge to stand up. I wobbled uncertainly on my feet, instinctively putting my arms out by way of balance, finding nothing but that fluid air. Somehow I steadied myself, and looked down at my legs, where there were flashes of colour – light blue and fluorescent yellow stripes which produced a green blend where they crossed. Around my left leg was some kind of cord, frayed at the loose end, as though I had been chained to something.
This grainy guttural utterance honked out of my mouth. It seemed I could speak the language as well as think it. I pictured an object which was long and curved and made of some kind of hard lightweight substance which served to make it buoyant.
‘Are you alright?’ said a voice which was not my own. It was lighter, higher, kinder. I turned slowly towards the point I guessed it came from. There, not many human steps from me, stood another of the kind, with mostly similar bodily attributes, but seemingly softer and rounder, beneath a different kind of clothing.
‘I’m not sure,’ I said in answer, because I wasn’t.