After a year of delays and red tape, my air rifle had finally arrived. I had received a phone call in the morning from the staff at the range informing me that it had arrived. All I had to do was to clear some paperwork, and it would be mine. Of course, the rifle would have to stay in the range or armoury. I am not allowed to remove the weapon by law.
Upon receiving the news, I had hopped onto the bus, and made my way to the range. I had waited a year for the rifle, and was eager to try the gun out.
When I reached the range, I was greeted by a stern-faced policeman.
"Sir, are you the owner of this gun?" He asked, as he took out a clipboard.
"What's the serial number?" I asked, not wanting to lay claim to someone else's weapon. I had been given the serial number beforehand by my coach.
He then rattled off the serial number, confirming that the gun was indeed mine. I signed on the form, and he stepped aside, handing me the weapon that was in its case. I then proceeded to clear the rest of the paperwork at the counter, growing more excited by the minute.
Eventually, I managed to clear all the paperwork, and took the rifle, and my equipment into the range. Since it was a weekday right smack in the middle of the school holidays, the range was empty, as the students normally present to train for the various competitions were obviously on holiday. I hastily unpacked the gun and placed it on the table. I then adjusted the cheek piece, and added sight raisers to cater for my ridiculously long neck. Inside the box, there was also the warranty card.
"This weapon is guaranteed to be fault free, and any defects will be remedied, or the weapon replaced free of charge if they are found."
The phrasing sounded strange, as if whoever had written the document didn't speak English well. However, I dismissed that thought, as inconsequential, and turned back to the task at hand.
Now came the time to test and calibrate the gun. I went up to the ten meter mark and took aim, ensuring that my stance was correct. As usual, I aimed for the bullseye. I hit it occasionally, but I was no sniper, and most of my shots would usually hit the eight or nine point marks.
After ten shots or so, I had almost managed to completely zero the gun. All that was left was fine tuning.
Once again, I loaded the gun and took aim. As I stared down the sights, my vision suddenly flashed red. Dismissing it as me having overstrained my eyes, I blinked, and resumed aiming. As the sights lined up at the bullseye, I pulled the trigger.
Instead of the usual "Blam" sound, the rifle let out a loud click. Thinking that I had accidentally left the safety on, I flipped the weapon onto its side, looking at the switch. It wasn't on safe mode. Before I could even put the rifle down, the chamber exploded in my face. It was obvious that gun was defective.
I barely had time to dodge, as the cocking lever flew directly at me. The chamber itself had been propelled some distance from me, and had embedded itself in the wall. I had been bombarded with small fragments of the weapon, such as bits of metal and black paint. Realising that the air cylinder was still screwed into the weapon, and that it could explode again, I dropped the gun, and tried to get as far away from it as possible.
Only that I could not drop the gun. It was stuck to my hand, as if someone had smeared superglue on the handle. If the air cylinder exploded, it would take my hand with it.
Then, the handle began to heat up. I groped around with my other hand, trying to find something that I could use to try to free my hand. Soon, the heat was so intense that I almost cried out, and it blotted out my thoughts. The heat then spread along my arm, and engulfed my entire body. It felt as if I had been thrown into an inferno. I screamed in pain, but no sound came forth from my mouth. It was as if someone had cut out my tongue, and ripped out my voicebox.
Then came the pain inside my body. It felt as if someone had dowsed my insides in kerosene and set them alight. To make matters worse, they felt as if they were moving about. The next thing I knew, my tongue began to have the same burning sensation. It then felt as if it was reforming, and at some point, I thought I felt its tip break into two. All of a sudden, my tongue felt too long for my mouth, and decided to let itself out. It flopped out, giving me the shock of my life. What I now had was a thin, narrow forked tongue. Like a reptile. I was turning into something.
While my internal organs were doing acrobatics, the burning sensation on my skin intensified, and I collapsed from the pain, dragging the ruined rifle, which was still stuck to my hand, together with me to the floor.
As I fell, my spectacles came off, and clattered to the ground, one of the lenses cracking from the impact. My vision then flashed red several times before clearing again. I then discovered that I wouldn't need them anymore, as my vision had somehow become perfect again.
Then, I noticed that my skin was turning black, as if I had been burnt to a crisp. The only exception was my chest, which was acquiring a metallic grey colour. However, the burning pain both inside and out blotted out my thoughts, and I had no inkling about what I was turning into.
Then, there was a searing pain in my back, and tailbone, as new appendages emerged and grew. What I saw was myself sprouting a tail and wings, which all but totalled my shirt and pants. However, I had no chance to inspect them, as my vision flashed red again, as I felt my face being pulled forward, becoming a black muzzle, and a small horn sprouted at its tip. I then grunted in pain, as a pair of milky white horns pushed their way out of the back of my head, and at the same time, scales began to grow, and soon covered my entire body. I felt bolts of pain originating from my feet, as I felt my five toes fusing into three longer ones, and another toe sprouting from the back of each foot. Then, claws sprouted forth from each toe, shredding my shoes and socks. In essence, I now had digitigrade feet. My hands retained their five fingered configuration, only that they were now tipped with small claws. Surprisingly, I did't lose my hair. Instead, I sprouted hair all along my back, forming a short mane that ran from my head to tailtip.
Then the pain and burning sensations began to clear, and the gun clattered to the floor, having come unstuck from my hand. Then my brain started to work again. Then it dawned on me. I had turned into a dragon! However, when I tried to pick myself up, I found myself lacking the energy to do so, the transformation obviously having taken up most of my energy.
"Like your new form?" came a voice from above me. I looked up to see the same policeman only that he had turned into a green dragon.
I wanted to reply, but my brain had gone blank. All I could do was to give him a hard stare. Granted that I liked dragons, but that didn't give anyone the right to turn me into one without my consent.
He then offered me a green clawed hand, and smiled, unperturbed. "Let me help you up." He then muttered something about everyone reacting in the same manner.
I regarded his hand for a moment, and took it. What's done is done. Besides, I did want to be a dragon.
Gesturing to the door, he said, "Come, your new life awaits."
We then left together.
The rifle lay forgotten on the floor, a picture of a dragon etched on the bottom of the handle.