"Now, Seth," he smiled, as he scanned quickly through a few sheets of stapled paper. "are you ready?"
Seth found that his voice had shrivelled up and died. He nodded.
"You've had nothing to eat for the last few hours? No? No drink?"
Seth shook his head.
"Ok. Would you like me to go through the operation with you before we go into theatre?"
Another dumb nod. But Seth still managed to pick up the way he said the 'we' rather than the 'you'. Standard hospital relaxing technigues.
"Well its quite simple. You remember the skin sample we took a few months ago? Well since then we've cultivated it and formed it into a tail about" -he held his hands a foot apart-"this big. We're gonna graft that onto the bottom of your spine, ok?"
Out of all the sheets of paper he withdrew a picture. It showed a man with a tail and cat ears resting on the top of his head. This, he said, would be what Seth could hope to look like after the operation.
Seth managed a weak "hgmm". When the doctor appeared to have stopped he said, "the other doctor said something about genetics?"
The doctor began to rattle on about the various genetic replacement techniques that would be used to replace Seth's own DNA with a similar yet slightly different one which would accept the tail and grow the fur. All the time, his dad stood nearby, arms crossed, trying to look as defensive as posible. It had taken years of persuasion and a whole years alowance to let him let Seth do this. It was the latest fashion- splicing animal characteristics into your own DNA.
His best mate, Ike, was sat on a seat beside the bed, grinning at him. Seth grinned back, or atleast he pulled back his lips and bared his teeth. Somewhere along the lines the fun got taken out of it.
"-and, if you want, we can give you the anesthetic now. How does that sound?"
Seth choked at the suddenness. "Now?"
"Of course. You'll be awake in 12 hours- up and around and feeling like a new man."
The doctor brought the mask over his face and snapped the elastic on painfully. Thin white vapour filled it quickly. It tasted of mint.
On the other side of the room, high up on the wall, was the usual picures they paint on children wards. Brightly coloured animals stared down at him out of brightly coloured foliage. Seth caught sight of the orange and black lion, barring its fangs.
He'd always wanted to sing 'silver bells' as he went under. If anything had gone wrong it would've nice to be in the papers. He never got the chance. Before he knew it, the world had dropped away with a faint cry of "see you when you wake up, man" and melted into blackness.
When he woke, a day later, he was in theatre, laid on his back on starched white sheets. A light shone painfully down into his eyes. Faces were silhouted in it, looking down at him, their edges crinkled in frowns.
"What is it?" His throthe was dry s hell from the anesthetic but it sounded odd...high.
A heavy hand was laid on his shoulder and his stomach churned. He was being reasured, prepared for something...Oh god, they'd cut his legs off!
"Im afraid there's been a slight problem," the deep voice of the Asian doctor confirmed.
No, he could feel his legs...but there was SOMETHING missing...something important...
Someone laughed, and then he heared Ike say, "They got the names mixed up; you're a girl, man."