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Bad Case of Photosensitivity

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A Bad Case of Photosensitivity

"That was not a good place to get an STD bro'," Ed shook his head.

"Tell me about it," mumbled Justin as he intently examined the small print on the medicine bottle. "Avoid exposure to sun or bright lights," he read. "Shit!"

"Looks like that nils-out your beach-time."

"Shit! Shit! Shit!" Justin made a motion as though he was going to toss the bottle over the cruiser's side.

"Hey! No way! I helped pay for that!"

"I'm not gonna spend shore-leave in a hotel room instead of on the best beach in the world!"

"You shoulda thought of that before you banged that 'sister of delight' at our last port.

"Thanks for the late advice."

"If you want timely advice, I'd say you need to get uninfected before you start showing your pecs off to the local honeys."

"That doctor said that all I needed is one dose to clear 'it' up."

Ed laughed, "That's another thing. When talking about that guy, you should make the quote sign when you say 'doctor'."

"Oh, shut up." Justin removed the lid and choked down the thick, green liquid. "Augh! That's nasty!" he gagged.

"What're you gonna do?"

"Slather myself up good with sun-block and hit the beach. What else?"

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That evening, the U.S.S. Hartford slid into port. Justin's shore leave started the next morning. Ed's didn't until the day after that. When he saw his friend at the hotel breakfast bar, Ed was shocked. "Damn bro'! You are burnt to a crisp!"

"I know. I know. The sunblock didn't help." Justin was hunched over and winced at even the slightest movement. His skin was fire-engine red. His eyes, covered with sunglasses. "That ain't my only problem." He removed his sunglasses. Ed choked and dropped a forkful of pancake in his lap. Instead of their usual brown, Justin's irises were golden and his pupils, vertical slits.

"What the f**k happened to your eyes man!"

"Not so loud!" Justin hissed and put the sunglasses back on. "Somebody might hear."

"You gotta see the ship's doctor man! That's freaky shit! You could go blind!"

"No way. I can see fine. In fact, I think I can see even better."

"You can't just go back on board like that. You'll give everyone nightmares."

"Of course not." Justin leaned forward and gripped his friend's arm. "You know I can't go to the ship's doctor. You gotta help me find another one."

"How?"

"Well, right now, I'm feeling kinda feverish. I'm gonna go up to my room and lay down for a bit. Why don't you go through the local phone-book. When I feel better, if you've no prospects yet, we'll go out and find a doc the same way we found the last one."

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In Justin's room, Ed pulled out the phone-book and started leafing through it. Justin stripped off his shirt, wetted down a towel and draped it over his sore shoulders. Next, he laid himself down on his bed and sighed, "Man, my life really sucks right now."

"Did you save the bottle?"

"Yep. I'm not totally stupid. It's in the night-stand drawer."

Ed took the bottle out and looked it over. It still had a bit of green sludge on the bottom. "That's good. They might could use that to figure out what it is." Taped to the bottle's front was some card-stock with Ext Sang Drac Au printed above the warning. "Whadda you suppose that means?" asked Ed, but Justin was already snoring.

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Ed went down the list of local physicians in Alphbetical order. He had gotten to the H's when Justin moaned and tossed about, then he settled down again with his back to the wall. Ed continued calling and was in the L's when he heard a sound that made him look up. It was a tearing sound, follwed by a moist plop.

"Justin, you OK?"

"Yeah, feel better, I think." Justin stretched. There was another rip. "What the hell!" Justin reached behind himself and pulled up a golden scaly tail.

The phone fell from Ed's nerveless fingers. "I'm gettin' the f**k outta here!" He was up and at the door in three steps, but Justin was there first, sloughing off slabs of sunburnt flesh.

"You can't leave me like this man!" Justin rasped.

"The hell I can't!" Ed tried to shove Justin out of the way, but more flesh slid off revealing more golden scales. Horrified, he leapt backwards onto the couch and danced a frightened jig. "Ogod-ogod-ogod don't hurt me!"

"I'm not going to hurt you!" Justin roared. There was a 'pop' and a leathery wig erupted from his left shoulder. Ed's eyes rolled back in his head before he collapsed backwards onto the couch.

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Ed woke up some time later to a damp washcloth swabing his face. The room was darkened, but Ed could see that the damp washcloth was held in a golden-scaled claw.

"How's that? Feelin' better now?" The voice was deep and raspy, but clearly Justin's.

Ed whimpered.

"C'mon Edgar! Don't flake out on me! I need you!"

Ed sighed and sat up. Justin was a shadowy form standing next to the bed.

"OK, you ready? You gotta see this!" Justin clomped over to the window and opened the curtain. "Tah dah!" The sunlight streamed in to reveal an eight foot golden dragon with a long snout, horns and leathery wings. Its scales shone like twenty-one karat gold coins.

"Ohh maaaan, you're f**ked up."

"F**ked up!" Justin managed to look disgusted and put his claws on where his hips might have been. "Is that what you think? I feel great! Lookie this!" Justin swallowed and belched. A softball-sized gobbit of fire poofed out and scortched the wallpaper. "Neat huh? I can do a lot better, but I don't wanna burn the place down!"

"What're you gonna do though? Your leave's up in three hours?"

"I'm gonna report for duty of course. I sure as hell ain't gonna go AWOL, I'm due for a promotion next month."

"They're not gonna let you on board like that! Security'll blow your shit away!"

"They can try." Justin grinned toothily. "But that's where you can help. I want you to go first and tell the Master Chief what happened to me."

"He'll have me locked up for reporting drunk."

"Not when they see me sauntering up a few minutes after."

"You're bug-eyed crazy. And what then?"

"What then? Do you think for a moment that the Navy can't use an eight-foot-tall, sixteen-foot-long, flying, fire-breathing, golden f**king dragon! I gotta whole new future in the Navy! I can't let this opportunity go to waste! It might wear-off eventually!"

"What if it doesn't?"

Justin shrugged, knocking over a lamp with a wing. "So what? I feel great! And I look magnificent! Why, chicks would..."

"Would what?"

"You gotta point there. Well, they'll think of something. And what do you think I should do? Curl-up in a ball and cry?"

"True, you might as well make the best of it."

"So, you'll help?"

"Sure. How we gonna get there? You won't fit in a cab."

"I'll fly in as close as I can, then hide til you show up."

"Sounds like a plan."

Justin grabbed his cap, the only part of his uniform that he could still wear, and opened the window. "See ya there!" He gave a clawed thumbs up and leapt.

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