Hey, guess what? I am in the process of rewriting book #3 of the Oddily Series. That's right...I lost my original manuscript on the computer. A window came up giving me the option of yes or no if I wanted to replace an already existing Held in Secrecy document. I tried to cancel without making a choice. That didn't work, so I chose and pushed yes. I ended up with a blank page with the Held in Secrecy title. I had a professional come out and try to retrieve the story, but with no luck. It was gone! Since then, I have started over making good progress. And yes, I had a backup hard drive installed so this will never happen again! I say this because with Oddily, I had lost the first twenty-two chapters of the edited version. Anyway, moving on...Fish Eyes is a project I've been writing on weekends. I know very little about mermaids, so the story is written from a fresh approach. I hope you enjoy the first chapter.
Swimming close to the ocean floor where there’s thick leafy seaweed and mossy rocks, I’m provided with a welcome cover for predatory fish. I have to think of these things because, being a mermaid, I grow slowly and can live a very long time…if I’m careful.
Crabs and lobsters scuttle around on the ocean floor. Tiny bubbles come up from the sand. There are clams under there.
Something long, flat, and wide wiggles its way free of the sand and swims off. It is an angel shark. Its flat body and sandy colored skin allows it to bury itself in the sand and blend right in.
A solitary Manta Ray slides along the ground, flapping its fins like a cape.
The strength of my tail produces rhythmic pulses streaming behind me, as I glide over the swaying plants, the tips of the kelp brushing against my underside. Beautiful pink coral with glowing peddles stretch out over the mountainous rocks.
I’m almost home. Vivid colors erupt around the rocks as I fan my tail to create a disturbance in the water. Tiny fish, in various shades of yellow are startled by my presence and vacate their hiding places. Spiny caudal fish, with their wing-like fins, dart away.
My sensors warn me that I have company moments before my guest comes into view. A whale shark is moving its massive body from side to side, as it glides past me. Thankfully, it never bothers mermaids, but that doesn’t explain why it would be swimming in this part of the ocean. Curious by the rare sighting, I make a detour from home and follow the gentle giant at a comfortable pace heading into an area of the sea that isn’t so…inviting. The water is becoming cold and black until suddenly, without warning, I begin to spin in circles.
Something strange is happening.
The water is churning wildly, tossing me around as if I were a small, insignificant fish.
The current is strong.
I dive deeper into the sea, trying to free myself from its grip, but I can’t. The thrust of my tail isn’t strong enough. I’m locked in a battle, a tug of war between me and – and what? As the strong current forces me towards a massive black hole, something collides with my head.
Did a shadow just fall across the ocean floor, or am I imagining things?
Total darkness comes and with it, the absence of water—gone in a flash.
I am lost—lost in a fragment of nothingness.
What happened to my body?
I try to move in my panic, but I have nothing to move. My tail is gone, and so am I. My body ceases to exist.
Am I dead?
My life flashes before my eyes. I’m sure this is the end. But wait! I feel a tingling sensation. And my heart! My heartbeat is returning, and it’s thumping unusually fast.
My brain searches for an explanation, as the uncomfortable tingling throughout my body grows stronger.
Then I feel the beginnings of some movement.
I’m alive! I know I am because I can feel sand beneath my body…cold and gritty against my hot clammy skin.
While lying sprawled out on my back, I try to remember what happened. Something about churning water. Strong currents. Darkness.
When my eyes flutter open, I see the sky full of gulls. They soar in huge, lazy circles. There are scores of them, their call, high and shrill as they dip and twirl.
The sun pokes out from behind a cloud and I quickly look away. The sunlight is too bright.
I sit up so fast my head gets dizzy. Still, I manage to gaze at the shoreline and the glimmer of breaking waves. I glance behind me and stare in silence. A low line of rocks twists out from the shore, stretching out into a long thin body. At the tip, it narrows into a sharp point, dented and creased along the middle, as if it were a jaw line filled with sharp teeth. Jagged rocks stand along the top like fangs. Dark and menacing, it looks as though it could easily come to life with a snarling twist of its body. A cold shiver creeps up my spine to my neck.
I’ve been cast ashore! I blink hard in disbelief. What if I’m discovered before I have a chance to return to the sea?
The thought is terrifying! With my arms, I begin to drag the weight of my naked body to the water’s edge. Then I stop.
With a sinking heart, I gawk at two skinny legs—human legs where my shiny, turquoise tail used to be. Then I look at my hands. What happened to the translucent webbing between each finger?
I cry out in shock and horror at the sight, but instead of hearing my lovely enchanted voice, a hideous gargled noise escapes my lips.
I begin to choke on grains of sand and something else that is lodged in my mouth.
Reaching inside to grab hold of the moving lump of flesh, I try to remove it. It won’t budge.
My eyes begin to leak—droplets of water sliding down my face.
How did this happen? One moment, I was swimming home after a fun time exploring the shipwreck Sea Witch, and the next—I’m not sure. Something catastrophic happened. The sea turned into a violent and deadly mass of turbulent, whirling water, and it sucked me into the vortex. There was no escape and that is all I can remember.
Now, here I am, not knowing if the others of my kind are dead or alive.
As I moan with grief over the possible loss, my eyes leak worse than ever.
Suddenly, I hear a loud noise and catch a glimpse of something charging up the beach dodging scraps of wood and other debris. My eyes are too blurry to see clearly, but whatever is heading my way, is moving fast.
Then someone starts to shout. “Tank…you get back here!”
Now, there are three heading my way.
Fearful of the approaching attackers, I attempt to stand, using my human legs to escape into the vast, deep, murky water.
If I am the sole survivor of my people, I will not go down without a fight!
As hard as I try, I can’t stand properly. The stumpy looking fingers at the tip of my legs won’t allow me to stay upright. Fortunately, I’m able to stumble a fair distance into the water before the first assailant arrives.
The upper lip of the hairy creature curls up into a snarl, a rumbling noise coming from deep in his chest. The threatening sound starts to grow louder…more menacing. With his teeth showing, he begins to bark!
When the female human and her offspring arrive, the adult has a hard time quieting the animal.
“I’m so sorry about Tank!” She repeats apologetically. “I don’t know what got into him!”
Suddenly, Tank begins to scratch and sniff at the spot in the sand where I had been resting. The human takes advantage of the moment and grabs hold of the object around Tank’s neck. She drags the beast away while leaving one last comment. “By the way, wear a bathing suit. There are kids around here!”
After they leave, a mournful sigh erupts from my throat.
I know what got into him. It was my scent!
“Whoa, that was a close call!” The sound of a soft deep voice penetrates the air—air that is thin and light compared to the thick heaviness of water.
I quickly spin around and there, poking out of the water, is a seal with a human face. Or is it a human with a seal’s body?
Either way, I am so limp with fear, the weird knobs halfway down my legs knock together.
Does he have a knife? Will he gut me like a fish?
No. I must kill him first!
My pulse, usually regulated with the rhythm of my tail…is beating rapidly—much faster than the normal twenty beats a minute.
I open my mouth to sing the deadly song of the Sirens, to lure my victim to a watery grave, but there’s a problem. I sound more like a screeching banshee!
Grimacing, the human plugs his ears. His large, dark, dewy eyes with curly lashes, stares at me curiously.
I try it again, only this time, the enemy ducks underwater. Common sense tells me to kick and punch beneath the waves—to make it difficult for him to approach.
But it doesn’t work. When he reappears, he is closer—too close! I lunge forward and sink my teeth into his flesh…tough, rubbery flesh.
At first, he yowls in surprise.
“Hey, what are you doing? Let go!” When I don’t, he grabs my nose and squeezes hard. I have no choice but to release him.
I am left with a strange unnatural taste in my mouth while I catch my breath.
The look he gives me is of shock and anger, but I don’t care. I won! I scared him away. The human stranger swims toward shore, strong arms cutting through the waves with little effort. The only question is…why couldn’t I penetrate the black covering on his body and tear the flesh from his bone?
Using my finger, I feel around inside my mouth, but what I discover comes as another shock. My beautiful double row of serrated teeth have been replaced by…I don’t know. They feel like one row of tiny square pearls.
My attention goes back to the shoreline just in time to watch the male as he climbs up a hill.
After he disappears inside a large structure, I remain where I am—scared and lonely. Why I linger in the water, I’m not sure. I suppose it’s because there’s nowhere for me to go. I glance up at the sky and wonder what I will do when the sun grows sleepy and slides into the ocean.
As I tread water, my long lavender hued blonde hair floats in a cloud around my face.
I can’t ignore the pain. My skin—it is sore to the touch. Who was to know that human beings suffered such a fate? I will share this tidbit of information with my people when I see them again. I mean…if.
I want to distract myself from my watering eyes, so I concentrate on nourishment.
I need to feed on Plankton. It is the basic food source for species like me—a mixture of tiny plants and animals.
Suddenly, exhaustion overwhelms me. If survival means living outside the realm of the ocean, I would rather die. I glance up at the sun, and like the yellow orb, I allow myself to slip beneath the water. My body instinctively wants to hold its breath. I don’t resist, but I continue to struggle with the need to resurface! The will to live is powerful, so when panic grips me by the throat, I begin to squirm.
Can I truly drown?
No, of course not! I am Zazzle…100% mermaid! Beautiful. Fearless. Dangerous.
With pride and confidence, I stop struggling and inhale the water.
The world slips away.