by Frank Riccobono

How I transformed all the merfolk into strikingly beautiful, but also incredibly dangerous eel-creatures using a centuries-old spell

It all started at a social function I was attending with a girl I know. She walked out on me because I would not ask her to dance. She thought I was ashamed to be seen with her, and before I could explain that I was more ashamed of her seeing my inability to dance, she was gone. I tried to run after her, but I was waylaid by the planned demolition of a nearby building. The building was an old and ornate church, called the Church of the Black Lime. According to my smartphone (even in dreams we can't escape modern technology), the church had been unused for decades. It was believed to have some occult connection.

The church had made an impression on me when I first arrived for the social function – the stonework and stained glass were incredible. I thought it was a shame for them to destroy such a beautiful building, but I was helpless to stop it as the first charge went off shortly after I approached the site. Then, the police told the crew to stop the demolition. They were worried that someone was inside the building.

I knew what I had to do. Partly because I was drawn to the church but mostly because I somehow knew that the girl had to be inside, I snuck around back and went into the church. The girl and I reconciled and, together, we managed to extricate a large trunk and carry it back to my home. Inside the trunk were irregularly torn pieces of an old scroll. We realized that they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. We had almost reassembled the whole scroll before we realized that several pieces from the last row were missing. It was getting late at that point, and she had to leave.

After a brief digression*, I returned to the room with the scroll to find that it had changed. It was no longer a rectangular piece of canvas but was now a pile of intricately carved pieces made of some kind of shimmering purple and silver material. Although the shape was more complicated, I knew intuitively, exactly how it all needed to fit together. I heard the voice of an old sorcerer in my mind as I assembled the pieces together.

He explained that the merfolk, who were clearly the superior race, had been oppressed by mankind for too long. This transformation would give them the strength to reassert their dominance over the world. I knew that I should stop, but the call of the puzzle and the sorcerer were too strong for me. Piece by piece, I built the instrument of humanity's destruction – it looked like a cross between an eel and betta fish and was as beautiful as it was terrifying.

As I felt the magic flow through me and the construct, my alarm clock went off.

* The digression involved a late night trip to Kohl's as I remembered when the girl left that I had not yet gotten a costume for St. Patrick's day. I arrived at Kohl's but was dismayed to find that I was too late—it had already closed for the evening. I was then surprised to drive through a rehearsal for Pirates of Penzance in the Kohl's parking lot. They were wearing very cheap looking costumes and ridiculous moustaches. They, in turn, were very surprised that this stranger crashing their rehearsal was able to sing along with all the songs.

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