I stood nervously in the immigration line. By all accounts it should be a normal process and I should have no reason to worry. That's true under normal circumstances, but these were far from normal.
It was finally my turn and the agent took one look at me and then at my passport and said "I'm sorry but I'm afraid these pictures don't match...at all...". I brushed some of my pink hair behind my ear and sighed.
"I knew this would happen. Can I try to explain?"
"...I have no idea how you are going to be able to explain this miss. This photo on your passport is of a human, and you are...not a human."
"Like I said, there's a bit I need to explain and I have photographs to prove it."
"...Okay well I'll send you over to secondary. Just head over to the line in front of the green benches and we'll try and see what we can do to help you."
It all started on the beach. An orca pup had washed up on the shore. I found them and tried to help them back into the ocean. Unfortunately, they had been out of the water for too long and I felt them expire in my hands, just as I had gotten them into the ocean. The mother was inconsolable but somehow grateful and rubbed into me as I delivered her the body. I hugged her goodbye and she swam away.
Later that night I was out on the beach meditating. The moon was at its peak and I was making an offering to nature in honor of the calf that had died in my hands. Clouds rolled in and a ray of light struck me in the forehead. I blacked out and found myself in a dream.
The dream was peaceful. I was an orca in a pod of several dozen others. We were swimming and singing to eachother. The song was a somber memorial of the calf that had fallen. The grieving mother was at the head of the pack, her cries forming the core of the rhythm that we all built on top of. Suddenly we came to a stop and the pod circled around me. I felt like I was being empowered somehow. After a while I was bumped in the head by another's tail fluke and I woke up in my hotel room.
"Oh thank god you're finally awake." My partner was relieved. He must have brought me inside our rental house.
"How long was I out?"
"16 hours. I was about to call 911. You woke up just as I was reaching for my phone. How do you feel?"
"I'm exhausted. My back feels weird too."
"Yeah about that...take a look at this:"
My partner handed me their phone and showed me a picture of a single black spot in the middle of my back, and as I flipped through the pictures I saw it get larger and a dorsal fin start to form as the black spot grew larger.
"Is that...an orca fin?"
"It seems to be one. Your skin around it feels really soft too. It's gotten to cover your entire back now. Get up, let's take a look in the mirror."
I stood up and almost lost my balance. My gait was thrown off balance by these changes. Eventually I made my way over to the mirror and took a look, pinching myself a few times to make sure that was me. There was a little nub above my butt that looked like it was going to become a tail.
"I'm awake, right?"
"You are as much awake as I am."
Thirst and hunger suddenly struck. "I think I need to get something to eat. I'm starving."
It was good.
The agent took a solid look at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears. "I thought I've seen everything but this is something else. Show me those pictures again? I want to see what VeraShot says about them."
I gave the agent the photos and he ran them through the computer. They came back as unedited. He ran the test 14 times and it came back unedited as many times.
The agent looked like he had seen a ghost. He called over his supervisor and told them what was going on. They went from skeptical to flabbergasted and everything inbetween.
The next day I woke up feeling something cramped. It was my tail. I had a tail?? I started rubbing at it to try to calm the muscles and it slowly settled. I looked over to the mirror and I was covered with black and white blubber, save a small patch of normal skin around my navel.
I held up my left arm and saw the arms of a powerful swimmer. I still had all my fingers, but they were a little thicker than normal. My tail had fully grown out, trailing behind me on the ground. It was heavy.
I walked over to my suitcase and grabbed some clothes. My bikini top still fit (somehow), and I put on a t-shirt over it along with a bikini bottom and long skirt. My partner hugged me from behind, slightly startling me.
"Morning cutie, wanna have some fun today?~"
A small crowd of immigration agents had gathered around the desk. Everyone was in awe. After a bit of discussion the other agents filtered back to their desks and the main agent spoke to me: "This is the most unique case I have ever seen. You've been able to present all of the right documentation (save the pictures) and I think we have no choice but to allow you into the country. However, please get your passport photo updated and checked out by a doctor. Call the number on this card if you have any problems. Please have a good day and welcome home to Cascadia."
"Thank you. I will try to. Be well."
I walked out of the immigration office and into the terminal. My bag was waiting there for me with my partner.