Once I recover from the shock of the freezing water, I relax a bit, close my eyes, and make a little telepathic sigh as the individual cells in my tail draw in the saltwater like a sponge. I feel so free! It's like being back home in Pacifica, swimming with Carla beyond the reef.
Oh, Carla! I swallow the lump that forms in my throat. Neptune's Beard, I miss her so much. Now I have to live on land and sleep in a log cabin with Shelly Sharkweather, piles of pink fabric, and gallons of perfume. On the upside, the stench will probably ward off wild animal attacks.
I dive to the bottom of the bay and swim through a thick meadow of eelgrass. The soft long green ribbon-like leaves sweep against my body, awakening every nerve ending. For some weird reason, I think about Pierce.
Pierce! Holy crab! I'm down here acting like a fingerling who's never left the lagoon when I have to get to that yacht before Shelly mauls Pierce, or Pierce munches Shelly, or some combination of the two happens.
A horrible image of Pierce and Shelly making out in some gaudy gold-trimmed, mirrored yacht bedroom flashes through my mind and makes me queasy. The vision is so vivid, it includes: a zebra-skin rug (totally gross by the way), a scarlet bedspread and a lavender-scented bubbling Jacuzzi. If you remember, I'm only one-eighth fairy, but sometimes my visions come true. Okay, maybe a vision came true only one time, but that doesn't mean it can't happen again.
I tighten the straps on my backpack and blast into turboswim. I'm going so fast, that even with my enhanced mermaid eyesight, I barely notice the oily shimmer floating in the eelgrass. But as the shimmer intensifies, I feel a prickling sensation on my skin, sort of like a mild jellyfish sting. I decelerate enough to notice that there is no marine life nearby. The eelgrass is thinning and brown, the kelp is slimy and decomposing.
I like to think I'm the kind of mermaid who can appreciate all types of ocean decor, I mean, not every square inch can be a coral reef, but this place is totally unpleasant. It is unlike anything I've ever seen.
I turn around, and I'm about to shove off when a telepathic shriek explodes in my brain.
"Aaargh," I reply. Neptune's Beard the screech is loud. It sounds like someone's in trouble. Will I ever get to the party? I look around for anyone else who might help, but nope. It's up to me. Great!
"Where are you?" I telepathically holler.
I get no answer other than more of the high-pitched, brain-scrambling noise. I clench my teeth and continue looking for the source. The screaming gets shriller, the oil gets oozier, and the burning sensation on my skin becomes almost unbearable.
The scream intensifies. I see an enormous limestone rock jutting from the floor of the bay.
"Can you please stop screeching, and tell me where you are?"
The noise coalesces into words: "Stay away from the cave. Save yourself!"
"Go away before it's too late."
"I could get out of here a lot faster if you'd shut up and tell me where you are." I know I'm not sounding all heroic and patient, but at a time like this, you really need the victim to at least try to help with the rescue, plus my skin feels like I'm being boiled in a hydrothermal vent.
I flit around the limestone wall and see an eerie light emanating from a fissure in the rock. I peer inside and gasp.
The water inside the cave is a pulsing kaleidoscope of indigo, yellow, pink, chartreuse, orange and teal. It is beautiful, but scary at the same time—like a jellyfish or a sea anemone or a stingray.
YOU ARE READING
Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them (Winner Watty Award 2014)Vampire
"Everyone knows mermaid blood is like vampire crack ..." Right before her senior year, mermaid Waverly Marie Fishwater's parents inform her they're moving to the Bay Area in Northern California. She's to attend a cross-cultural experimental high sch...