Being All That I Can Be

By Tigaronso

I write this as a testament as to how much a person can change in a short time. I take myself as an example. It seems like only a few short months ago I was getting ready to graduate college and had no idea what I was going to do after. Now I know and I owe everything to a man named Ben. I never guessed that I would be a Major in the US military or how drastically my life would change. Now I worry more about my body weight and how to keep the privates in line, rather than what to eat for supper like I was only a few months ago. I guess I should tell you what exactly happened. It all started about 4 months ago.

As I said, I was getting ready to graduate from college. I had just finished my history class and was heading home, when I passed by a broken down car. Now normally I wouldnít stop, but for some reason this time I felt like I should. The owner appeared to be around my age and he thanked me for stopping. He introduced himself as Ben and I introduced myself. He looked ok, except he complained his one arm hurt a lot. I figured I should take him to the hospital, incase it was broken, so I helped him into my car and drove him to the hospital. When we arrived, the emergency room was amazingly empty and they fixed him right up. As I drove him back to his car, he thanked me for helping him out. I let him use my cell phone to call a tow truck to help get his car to a repair shop. As we waited, he went into his car and opened the glove compartment and took something out. He came up to me and handed me the item. They were a pair of dog tags. Why a pair of dog tags? I asked him why and he told me that they belonged to a friend of his and he had been killed over in Iraq. I felt bad and told him I shouldnít take them since they were his friends, but he insisted and told me that I reminded him of his friend and that his friend would be happy for me to have them, since I had helped him so much. He also said that there was an old myth that the ownerís spirit lived on in the dog tags and would protect the wearer. I put them on, since he seemed insistent on it. I looked at the name on them, ďJason Draco.Ē This guy had the same first name as me even; it was kind of scary in a way. Soon the tow truck arrived and took my new friend off. I waved to him as he rode off and I hoped he would be ok as I drove home. I knew that my parents would be mad for being late, but I felt good for helping out a person in need.

When I arrived home there was no one there. My parents mustíve gone out for the day. My legs began to hurt and then my arms. In fact, my whole body began to ache. I thought I may have hurt myself somehow at work or something. I decided to go the bathroom and take some aspirin. Besides, I had to take a piss as well. I hadnít gone since I left school and that was a good 3 hours ago. I headed in and did my business. Then while I was washing my hands and getting out the aspirin I noticed I seemed to look a bitÖtaller. How can that be? It had to be my imagination, it had to be. However, I watched as slowly I grew higher and higher. I couldnít deny what was happening in front of my eyes in the mirror. It was then I noticed the tags, they seemed to almost glow. I reached down and felt them. They were warm, hot even. My bones creaked as they stretched and lengthened, thickening also to push me to my new height. There was no pain, only the strange feeling, like I was being stretched.

Now I was kind of skinny to begin with, so with my body growing, I was looking more and more like a bean pole. I felt the stretching stop. I didnít know it then, but I know now I reached a height of 6 foot 5, almost a foot taller than what I was. My body began to feel hot and sore. Like I had lifted heavy items for a long time. I looked my body over and saw something on my right arm. My bicep was looking a bit bigger than usual. I stood there and watched as my bicep inflated like a balloon, the triceps growing to match it. I watched as the growth migrated to my hand and forearm and they too grew in size and muscle. My right arm felt heavy now, and my veins seemed to almost push out of my skin there. The growth moved up my arm to my shoulder and I felt it widen, bones changing, muscle growing and tendons stretching as my shoulders widened. My other shoulder soon changed as well as did my left arm.

So, here I was. Standing in my bathroom, with huge muscular arms and shoulders. I felt like I was losing my breath and began to breathe deeper. However, with each breath, my chest didnít come back to its normal position. In fact, it seemed to get bigger with each breath. I noticed 2 shapes pushing against my shirt, which felt tight now. I soon realized that they were my pecs. Larger and beefier they grew; I almost fell over from their weight. But they soon felt lighter, because unknown to me at that point was that my back had grown as well, my lats grew as well, pushing my arms away from my body a little. My stomach ached and I looked down, although it was hard to see over my pecs now. My waist seemed to stay the same size, but my stomach was growing, but not with fat. My abs popped out, forming a tight 6-pack and looking more like a cobblestone road. I felt a tightness in my groin area and I could only guess as to what happened there. My legs began to swell now. Like my arms, they inflated like balloons, my calves getting a nice diamond shape and my thighs resembling large tree trunks. My shoes felt tight and I guessed that my feet too had gotten bigger. My throat felt dry and sore. I reached and felt it and my neck! It was thicker and getting thicker as I felt it. The dog tags which had hung to about mid stomach, now reached only my upper chest.

I looked pretty impressive to say the least. My face ached now and I heard the familiar cracking as my facial structure underwent a change as well. My jaw cracked and I watched as it widened and thickened, taking on a more square shape. My cheekbones became more defined, giving my face a more chiseled look. My eyes seemed smaller or rather more in proportion to my body. Even my ears had changed, looking more normal and not sticking out like they used to. My skin felt warm now, like I had a mild fever. The temperature continued and I began to sweat. My skin began to darken, and thicken, as the heat became more bearable or perhaps I was adapting to it. Either way, I soon had a nice medium tan, one that someone would get from spending a lot of time out in the sun. My face itched suddenly and I reached up to scratch it. I looked on as my chin and jaw turned a black color. I felt there. It felt rough and I realized what it was. It was stubble, a 5 o clock shadow to be precise. My arms ached again, but this was more of a surface ache than the internal ache before. I watched my right arm, as what appeared to be color swirled over my arm, mixing and moving around. Red, White, and blue color soon stopped moving and settled into the pattern of an American flag. I felt there, I could only feel my skin and nothing else. It was a tattoo! I looked over to my other arm to find another identical tattoo on that arm as well. My eyes began to itch and water, like my allergies were acting up. I blinked several times until the sensation stopped. My vision was blurry at first, so I took out my contacts to clean them. When I took them out though, my vision was perfect. I didnít need them anymore. I also noticed my eyes had changed color. No longer were they the pale blue color I had grown up with, but the strong olive green color. I felt my hair change as well. I watched as my brownish-blonde hair lightened several shades, becoming a solid golden blonde color. I felt a pulling sensation as it raised straight up. Then it shrunk just a little and I had a neat military flattop haircut.

I felt myself over. I felt different and looked different. My clothes were really tight now, almost ripping in places from the strain of my much larger body. My shirt seemed to shimmer now. I watched as the black color began to group in patches and the rest fill up with different shades of green. A pocket forming near my left pec. The sleeves all but disappeared. It was a muscle shirt, but a camo one at that. My pants seemed to rustle as the color there changed too. Becoming a pair of fairly tight camo pants. I felt something wrap tight around my waist, snapping into place on the front of my pants. I reached down and felt it. It was an equipment belt, wrapped tight around my waist. My feet felt tight and cramped in my shoes. They started feeling more comfortable though, yet stiffer at the same time. I also felt something begin to wrap around my ankles, then my calves. I looked down and watched as my sneakers seemed to stretch up my legs, darkening to a black color as they went. The material became leather as they became a brand new pair of black leather combat boots. I felt something on my hands now and I watched as a black substance crawled across my hands, wrapping around my palms and stopping at my fingers. It thickened and warped into leather, forming a pair of leather fingerless gloves.

I kind of just stood there, remarking over how much my body had changed. ďWhatísÖWhat the?Ē My voice, it sounded so different. A lot deeper, several octaves at least, and it sounded louder too. My face began to feel warm suddenly and even itched a little. I reached up and felt my face. It felt greasy and my fingers came back with some green color on them. It was then I noticed my face in the mirror. It was covered in a random pattern of green, black, and brown patches. Just like the camo pattern on my shirt and pants. Face paint of course, but for some reason it seemed normal. I felt something wrap around my head now. Then something brushed the back of my neck. I felt back there and felt fabric hanging off my head. I followed it with my hand, realizing that it was a bandanna, camouflage of course. My vision darkened for just a moment and I blinked thinking my eyes had changed again, but that wasnít the case. I realized that I was looking through a pair of dark sunglasses, Aviator style to be exact. I reached up and pulled the sunglasses up and balanced them on my bandanna. I thought the change had stopped, and so I started looking myself over in the mirror. I was impressive to say the least. Whatever had happened to me, made me feel and look ten times better than before. It was then though that I felt it. At first it was a small feeling, like I needed something, but didnít know what. It got stronger though, feeling more like an obsession or an addiction. I couldnít figure out what it was, or even what it could be. It was then that I felt something resting in between my lips. I looked and saw a lit cigarette had appeared in my mouth. I hated smoking, so I took out the cigarette, but when I had done that. My mind told me even more that I needed it. I put it out, thinking that that would help stop whatever was going on with me, but that didnít help. I felt something in the pocket on my shirt. I reached over and took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I gave in, taking one of the cigarettes and putting it in my mouth, then lighting it like I had done it all my life. As I stood there, smoking, I could feel the addiction quieting down. I felt something in my chest, and instinctively took out the cigarette. I coughed, a cough I recognized from when my father used to smoke. It was a smokerís cough and not just a beginning one either. It sounded like I had smoked for years and my teeth also looked slightly discolored. I put the cigarette back in after I was done coughing. I couldnít believe it, I was officially a smoker, and had been for the past 4 years.

Wait, that couldnít be right. I had just started today, but my mind told me different. My head began to throb, feeling as if my memories were being manipulated somehow. I began to remember enlisting in the army, right out of school. I had been smoking since I graduated high school as well, and my current job was no longer my own, nor had I ever had it. I was in college for the time being, so I was considered inactive. Knowledge seemed to flow in one part of my mind as other knowledge flowed out. I could use pretty much any type of weapon and turn anything ordinary into a lethal weapon. Memories of boot camp and field missions flooded my mind, whilst memories of college before this year simply disappeared. The headache seemed almost to disappear now, only a slight throbbing present. I looked myself over, admiring my new body. I felt so much stronger and more powerful. I felt like I could take on anyone and win. I also felt a discipline, how to get things done right and the first time. I didnít feel mercy for anyone dumb enough to cross my path the wrong way either. I didnít joke around when it came to work or anything important. I remembered why they called me ďDraco,Ē in the military as well. I had a weird obsession with dragons and thus I had been dubbed ďDraco.Ē The throbbing finally stopped and the tags darkened as their glow was lost. Was I finally finished? My mind said yes.

I walked out of the bathroom, having to duck under the doorway now. My living room looked different. Pictures of me in uniform and a framed medal I had earned 2 years back. I walked upstairs to my room, since I felt a little tired from what had just happened. As I walked into my room, I was greeted by an entirely different room. In one corner, was my gear. My bed was neatly made, like any good soldierís. Recruitment posters lined my wall and on my dresser was a picture of me and my troop. No surprise, Iím one of the biggest, if not the biggest one there. I can remember each of their names infact. As I stand there in my room, I finish my cigarette and put it out in the ashtray on my dresser now. The monster is satisfied for the time being, but it will be back. I laid down on my now larger bed, and just thought about what had happened. I mustíve dozed off, since when I woke up, it was near evening and dinner was almost ready.

So, there you have it. Thatís my story. I changed quite a bit after my chance encounter with Ben. Ben stopped by the next day and didnít seem surprised at me. In fact, he told me he was sort of a psychic and could tell this was what I had always wanted to be and he knew the dog tags would change me. I had pretty much become him in fact, right down to the voice and yes even the smoking. As I sat talking to him, I felt the monster creep in again and I appeased it with a cigarette. He left soon after, but handed me a cell phone and a set of keys. He told me to come outside and I did. In place of my car was a nice shiny Harley-Davidson motorcycle. His friend, or rather I now, owned a motorcycle identical to this one he told me. I was in shock to say the least. I walked up to it and remembering what I had seen other motorcycle riders do, I straddled it as I turned it on. The purr of the engine seemed to awaken more memories in me as I began to remember how to ride it. I backed out of the driveway and sped off into the town, ready to enjoy my new life.

Epilogue:

Itís been several months since my life was changed by a pair of magic dog tags. After I graduated college in May, I volunteered for active duty and am now in Iraq on patrol duty. Itís still amazing how even though this is my first real mission, I feel like Iíve been doing this for years. Iíve been doing work on some of the vehicles around here and found I have a real knack for it, so maybe Iíll do that when I get home. I canít smoke when Iím working on them, but I make up for it later. Speaking of smoking, my habit has grown a lot worse. I smoke around a pack a day usually, and itís getting expensive. I get care packages with a pack or 2 in them from home about every other week, but itís just not enough. One of my army buddies told me to try cigars, so I might just do that. Well, thatís about all thatís happened. So remember. The next time you see someone on the side of the road who needs help, stop and help them. You never know, it could just change your life in ways you could never imagine. •


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