After a couple of days of water breathing Calista was allowed to rest up and enjoy a little down time. Given that there wasn’t much to do on the island, “down time” consisted mainly of resting, sunbathing, and swimming.
Calista figured one thing she could do was spend some time jogging, as that was an activity she’d not partake in soon.
Her path was a simple one. She went out the front door of her bungalow and headed north on Ariel Lane until reaching Seaside Avenue, where she took a left and returned to the aircraft parking area. Once there, she headed north across the tarmac to the taxi lane, then turned left and jogged as fast a pace as she could stand until reaching the runway turnaround point two and a quarter kilometers away at the southeast section of the island. Izzy followed her, skating along in the roller blade she brought, and slid to a stop next to her friend, who was walking slowly and taking in the view.
Izzy watched Calista closely and realized what seemed out of place. “You’re hardly winded.”
“That’s what happens when you have improved lung capacity.” She stopped and stared out over the ocean. “I could probably knock off a half-marathon and not ever breathe hard the whole time.” She looked over at Izzy and smiled. “At least for another couple of weeks. After that–”
“Yeah, I know.” Izzy was sitting in on the updates Calista received on her transitioning and based upon what the lab saw, in another two weeks Calista would find walking difficult, and a week or so after that her legs would become useless as they began the processing of becoming her tail. “You’ll have to swim that half-marathon.”
“I think I can do that, or something like it.” Calista took a couple of steps towards Izzy, who was shifting her weight back and forth from leg to leg. “Harmony told me they have a race along the edge of the atoll that’s sixty-five kilometers long. They even run one race that ends just outside Down Below Town that’s a hundred kilometers long.”
“Sounds like you won’t go for lack of exercise in Merland.” Izzy sighed and squatted down, hugging her knees.
“What’s wrong?” Calista knew her friend well enough to tell she was bothered.
“I guess I’m coming to realize that we aren’t gonna be hanging out like this for much longer.” Izzy slowly stood. “You can breathe underwater, your eyes are adapted for above-and-underwater use, and you’ve already begun developing that extra skin layer that’ll keep you warm when you’re in frigid water.” A slight smirk formed on her face. “You’re already not quite human. Give it another month and you won’t be human at all.”
Calista gave the matter some thought. “I was worried this would bother you.”
“It doesn’t really bother me–it doesn’t.” Izzy slowly rolled over and took Calista’s right hand. “I’m the one who suggested you for the program, so I knew this was possible. It’s just that… We’ve been having so much fun the last couple of weeks that it’s felt like a holiday of sorts.”
“And now you’re beginning to feel like it’s not.”
“Yeah.” She looking over the lagoon and sighed. “Doing stuff like this reminds me why we’re here.” She gave her head a toss from side-to-side. “It’s to make you something more than human.”
“Something… legendary.” Calista smiled as Izzy snorted. “I knew that would get a reaction.”
“Yeah, well–” She patted Calista on the back then turned around. “How long is this runway?”
Calista gazed down to the other end of the seldom-used stretch of concrete. “Two and three-quarter kilometers long. If I remember that figure correctly from what I was looking up on the computer after we arrived.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Izzy knelt a bit on her left leg and put her right out behind her. “How’s about you put those mermaid lungs to good use and race me to the other end.” She winked. “See if you can keep up.”
Calista lined up next to her friend and got down in a modified runner’s take off position. “You wish.”
“Then count it down. One–”