Jack and Jill

This is the second time in my life that I felt compelled to write down a vivid dream. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I dream, I have great dreams, colorful, adventurous and complex. This dream is in an entirely different category. I call it vivid because every detail is remembered and I don’t feel as if I had anything to do with it. The last time this happened I wrote it down and called it “The Letterbox”. This time it’s a little different. It may poke fun at some current social issues, and maybe it’s a little dark. But what the hell, it is what it is. Maybe I’ll figure it out later.

Jack and Jill

There was once a couple, very rich, with huge pedigrees, and always active in the most progressive movements.

They didn’t like each other, and never had, regardless of their common ground in social issues, politics, or sports teams. They just didn’t click. Perhaps it was a case of a socially arranged marriage gone wrong. Certainly the financial reward had more than doubled their net worth. With their combined wealth they could play in much better playgrounds.

They had long decided to live apart, he lived on a private cove on the island of Maui, and she had a few secluded acres in Montana. She used her family ranch as a base for big game hunting all over the world. Jill had enough money to purchase permits for even the most protected animals. She was tall, big boned and could pass for a Nordic shield woman.

Jack preferred the water. He had private beach access to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. Jack made use of it for most of the daylight hours. Unfortunately, Jack suffered from osteoporosis, similar to what the French artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec suffered. Jack’s leg bones did not grow to full adult size, he was barely five foot tall. While walking on land proved difficult and painful, Jack found that he could use a dolphin kick in the ocean with no ill effects. He was a trim 140 lbs with heavily muscled legs suited for the dolphin kick.

Jill traveled the world gathering trophies, and expanding her interest in big game hunting by learning the art of dramatic taxidermy. She even went back to some of her early kills in order to mount them in a more exciting fashion. She had most of the larger, more dangerous animals, already bagged. She was now focusing on a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. She had a unique habit that she had developed over the years by giving a first name to all her target animals. They were always named Jack.

Jack spent most of his waking hours in the warm waters of Maui. He would even spend time at his “desk on the dock”, in order to keep abreast of his hundreds of foundations and trusts. He was not interested in relationships, perhaps his physical condition had a factor. The marriage of convenience was never even consumated except in financial terms. Divorce was never considered, not an option to lose half his power.

Jill had the same understanding. She did had a string of relationships but none of them could match her wealth, and the few that equaled were not that interesting. She did not find divorce as an option. She did consider being a widow as the result of an accident or disease. She often daydreamed of a contract hit-man. Of course, she was far too intelligent to give anyone the opportunity to blackmail her. Besides, Jack’s genetic condition did have an impact on his longevity. She could wait.

It was about five years into the marriage when something awful happened to both of them. By extreme chance they were both nearly killed in the same week, thousands of miles apart. Jack was, of course, in the water in his private cove, snorkeling at about fifteen feet deep in the clear ocean water. He could see a small dot coming towards him from the deep channel water. It was difficult to recognize what he was seeing but he did notice that most of the fish around him were heading in all directions to get away.

Before Jack could even turn to kick, the Great White had taken his right arm off between his shoulder and his elbow. A large cloud of blood immediately surrounded him. His training brought him up to his surf board while he gripped his stump to slow the bleeding. The shark had turned and was swimming through the cloud of blood looking for the rest of his meal. Jack managed to get to the shore while others got him to medical services.

Jill was high in the Rockies, on the trail of a Big Horn Sheep. Her target animal was on the next peak over. Her ram, named Jack, was probably 1,000 yards away, a difficult shot, so she worked herself down to the pass between in order to get above and on the same peak. She left her guide in place where she first saw the ram. She was in process of climbing down the talus to the pass when she saw the bear with the famous hump coming up to cross the ridge.

She did not carry a powerful handgun, she only had the scoped long rifle, and it was slung over her shoulder. The time and the distance was not right. The grisly could run 45 miles an hour up a 45 degree slope. Once he committed she only had a few seconds to bring the rifle around, aim, and fire. Jill got the rifle around, aimed, but did not fire. The bear took her right arm halfway between her shoulder and elbow, crushed in its jaws and nearly severed completely through. Jill fell to the ground while the bear stood over her and roared, reaching down for a few exploratory bites.

Jill froze and played dead, she had read that fighting back would just enrage the bear. Just as in the books and movies, the bear scraped a shallow ditch, dragged Jill into it, and covered her with dirt and brush. She had managed to forcibly grab what was left of her arm to reduce the flow of bleeding. The guide had heard the roaring of the fight and made his way to Jill’s shallow grave. It wasn’t long before they were down the mountain and safe into medical hands.

It was very odd that both Jack and Jill had lost their right arms in nearly the same place, at the same time. In some ways they were fortunate, medical help was nearby, and they were both left handed.

Jack found that his recovery was very quick, but it did have an impact. His efficiency in the water was reduced. One armed swimming was not ideal. After a time he developed a neoprene sheath for his legs with attached fins. Jack had become a merman. He even had a small prosthetic fin attached to his right stump to give himself some directional stability. Things then were even better for Jack, except for the constant watch for another shark.

Jill also recovered, and a variety of prosthetics attached to her stump. She tried the traditional fixed hand an elbow joint. It looked reasonable in a business suit, but did not help to raise a rifle in order to shoot. She tried the most complicated of small micro motors to control finger gripping. She could pickup a cup of coffee, but it made pulling a trigger awkward.

Jill finally resorted to a left hand holding a bow, and pulling the arrow back with her teeth. She liked that, but fly fishing was even better.

Jill found that going traditionally with fly fishing gear with a light motor assist was very satisfying. It wasn’t big game, but was a sport. She even tried some deep sea fishing with special belts and motor driven reels, but gravitated back to the long cast of a fly fishing rig.

Something happened to Jack after this accident. Instead of driving him away from the water, he was even more immersed. He had the money to try most anything, and he found some researchers that spent military dollars on developing artificial gills to allow breathing underwater. Initially the goal was to develop a box carried on the back to provide oxygen like a scuba tank that would never empty. The focused changed when they started looking at artificial gills that could be implanted in the human neck.

The immediate effect was that the funding stopped. Nobody was going to volunteer to have gills implanted. Jack found out about the research and volunteered. If it meant that he had more time underwater then he was for it. He didn’t care about the social impact, he didn’t care about his looks. He was all in.

It look several years, but eventual Jack made a break through and the gills worked. The world was taken aback, one of the powerful, richest man in the world was breathing water. Jill was not surprised. Good for him, now maybe he would be eaten by a whale.

Jack made another huge step the first time that he fell asleep underwater. Everything was fine except that he had shut his eyes and that even the smaller fishes were taking small nips of his skin because he was not moving.

This is where things got weird for Jack. His skin was taking a beating by being underwater so long. He started to pay for research that would develop a biological solution to his skin problem. He wanted fish skin, maybe with an extra layer of insulation for the cold water. He had already experimented with Botox to paralyze the blink muscles for his eyes. With contacts and being underwater, he longer needed to blink. One more reason not to get out of the water. The funny thing is that he still thought he was blinking when he was not. Sleeping meant shutting down the brain but waking up when anything swam nearby.

Jack finally paid for the working synthetic skin. He had a team to surgically fused his legs, knees, and ankles together, covered in this “skin” with built in fins. A different solution was used for his torso. The only thing left was dealing with his left arm. The natural solution was to amputate and create the symmetry that would make it easier to move through the water. However, the arm was his last connection to his humanity. Having at least one opposable thumb meant a lot.

Jack finally made the decision to be who was always meant to be. He lost his arm, and became the first trans-species on the planet. For old time sake he had his wedding ring hooked between his nostrils. He worked hard to gain the recognition of trans-species, and spent a huge amount of his fortune to be able to survive completely underwater.

The world slowly became convinced that trans-species could exist, but it seemed that the only example was Jack. There were a few bumps. Because Jack and Jill never divorced, there was precedent for inter-species marriage. So a few pets got married. What the world didn’t know was that this was already happening for some time.

Jill was still waiting for the whale, but meanwhile becoming one of the most accomplished fly fishers in the world.

Jack was finally told that the saltwater was destroying his synthetic skin, but living in fresh water should be much better. Jack made the move to a mountain lake , spring fed in Montana. Clear water that was artificially planted with every kind of fresh water fish. Jack still wanted a variety to swim with. He did not own the lake, but had a compound at one end where he could still do business.

Jill couldn’t believe that after thirty years they both lived in the same state. They still hadn’t seen each other after all that time. She kept busy with her various expeditions and foundations. One summer she sponsored a fishing contest that drew professionals from around the world. It was won by a Polish fisherman who hooked a 140 pound monster from the lake. The odd thing was that it had a gold wedding ring in its nose.

Jill presented the trophy and was pleased.