Part 1

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ShyShy crouched among dried leaves and twisting roots to watch the Siren work her magic on the murky lake water. She watched the creature in awe, having finally found one. The pulsing hum of the trees around her drowned out the quick scratch of her crudely sharpened pencil against the paper. ShyShy sketched the stunning lake woman, paying particular attention to the way she worked her fingers on the veil between this World and the OtherWorld.

Could ShyShy replicate those motions?

The Siren's voice undid the stitches of the curtain, pulling magical threads from the veil. Once a woman, but long dead, the now fish-like creature had a long and voluptuous figure. A sharp contrast to ShyShy and her rectangular fourteen-year-old frame.

The Siren's melody didn't reach ShyShy's ears. She watched the effects, but the siren's music was not intended for her. An aura illuminated the lake creature, and the light it cast played through her long glittering hair.

She looked just as ShyShy had imagined she would. The beast had pale, scaly skin, terrifyingly beautiful. Light reflected in the pools of the Siren's silver eyes.

A waver of air in front of her opened the window into the OtherWorld. ShyShy scribbled down the split between the AfterWorld and OtherWorld. She couldn't miss a single detail.

As the curtain between the worlds lifted and the handsome woman beckoned her victim with her bewitching song and beauty. Her lips curled into a smile as a stubby, masculine hand reached through the opening. She didn't part her lips, hiding the fangs behind them. The hand wrapped around the Siren's slender fingers.

She trapped him.

Horrified and fascinated, ShyShy's stomach quivered with excitement. The creature lulled a man from the OtherWorld. Once in her grasp, she devoured him. Mother taught ShyShy, to prepare her. ShyShy's mother in this world, that is, not her real mom.

Now, with her heart pattering against her chest, ShyShy sketched out the size and shape of the window to the OtherWorld. The Siren pulled her victim further through the window, revealing an arm and then a shoulder. ShyShy squinted to make out the scene behind the man. Could she fit through there?

She leaned forward and her legs trembled from being in a crouched position for so long. Before she could adjust her stance, a cramp rippled through her calf. ShyShy stumbled and fell with a gasp. She crushed a twig under her foot, sending a reverberating crack across the lake.

The Siren's bright eyes flashed red as they snapped in ShyShy's direction, and the light surrounding her form disappeared. The magic of her haunting melody had broken. No longer under the Siren's spell, her victim tried to take back his arm, but the window to the OtherWorld slammed closed. For a moment, the disembodied arm hung in front of the Siren. Then it fell with a heavy thud on the lakeshore. After a couple spasms, it stilled.

The Siren glided over her watery domain, searching the shadowed bushes and trees. ShyShy leaped to her feet, smacking her head on a low-hanging branch. Pain coursed through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs, and ShyShy crashed to her knees. With a gasp, she blinked away an intrusive vision.

A young man walks his dog.

Not now. ShyShy couldn't be carried away by the bush's vision. She had to stay in the AfterWorld.

The resulting rustle of the leaves drew the attention of the Siren, and the hissing creature rushed toward ShyShy. Her head throbbed, but she didn't have any time to waste. She had to get away from the water. Mother had taught her that a Siren couldn't leave her lake.

The water creature dropped to her stomach and reached into the bush with a glimmering claw. Back pressed against the bush's branches, ShyShy stared at the gills on either side of the Siren's neck, a frayed break in the greenish skin of the creature. The Siren's claw snatched at twigs and leaves, millimeters from ShyShy's foot.

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