Girl in the Mermaid Tail – Part 6
I am posting from my Kindle so forgive me if the post looks funky. The reason I am not at my computer is because I am attending my oldest son’s graduation from U.C. Davis, a five hour drive from my home – thirteen if you take the train, which I did yesterday.
Enough about me. It’s Thursday, though late and time for another installment of “Girl in the Mermaid Tail”. Once again, a disclaimer. This piece is still in edit so don’t hang me 😉
Until next week, Write On!
~ K.L. Parry
Girl in the Mermaid Tail
By K.L. Parry
As quickly as it had begun, the swirling energy that surrounded them dissipated and the waters calmed. Jade, still clutched in the merman’s embrace, was rocketed upwards. Once her head broke through the surface she let out a breath, drew in another and screamed, “Let me go!”
“As you wish,” Pal answered and released her.
Jade slid back into the inky waters to resurface beyond the arm’s length distance she had intended to keep from her abductor. She looked to her surroundings realizing she was no longer in her backyard pool.
One might have thought it beautiful, even magical, floating in a placid sea under a moonless, star lit night sky. Jade would have, had she not been so frightened. It was all she could do to keep from hysterics.
“Where are we and how did we get here?”
“Second question, first,” Pal responded. “We’ve come through a porthole.”
“To another planet!?”
An amused look played across Pal’s face. “No, we’ve not left Earth.”
Jade looked up to the points of light dotting the night sky. “The stars – they aren’t right.”
“Not stars. Clusters of phosphorus producing bacteria. It grows on the roof of this cavern. As for your first question: we’re in The Sapphire Sea, twenty five miles below the earth’s crust.”
This can’t be happening.
Jade didn’t want to believe him. It was insane to even consider what he suggested. Yet what other explanation was there. She surveyed her surroundings, the magnitude of her situation sinking in, the contents of her stomach rising.
“You look ill.” Pal commented. “It’s the effect of the vortex, I’m afraid.”
Jade threw him a questioning glance.
“The swirly thing that brought us through the porthole,” Pal responded.
Porthole. Vortex? None of this makes any sense. I’m going to puke.
But Jade was not allowed to focus on her discomfort for long, something very large was speedily approaching, its dorsal fin cutting a swath across the velvety surface.
“Our ride‘s here,” Pal pointed out. “Say hello to Luna.”
Jade did not know what to think of the creature that breached just ahead of them. Except for its long toothy snout, it looked a whale.
Stunned to silence, she watched it slow to a stop then roll onto its back, bringing to surface a metallic looking pod attached to its underbelly: cylindrical in shape and rounded off at either end.
Though her nausea was subsiding, fatigued had settled and Jade’s strength was failing. Reluctantly, she again allowed the merman to take her in arm as the pod opened to receive them. Jade stretched out on the spongy mat that made up it’s interior lining, save the ceiling. Pal flopped down next to her, making for a tight fit. She was uncomfortable with the intimacy until the cushion beneath her began to swell. Jade squirmed, her skin tickling while the spongy material crept up around her, enveloping her limbs and torso in a cocoon like fashion leaving only her face exposed. Jade understood the reason for the cocoon when Luna rolled back onto her belly, suspending her occupants from the ceiling.
The pod’s exterior lights flared to life, allowing Jade a view through the transparent floor to toothy, crystalline rock formations that rose up from the sea floor in sparkling prismatic display. As Luna skimmed past these glittering peaks that rimmed impenetrably dark valleys she could not help but be awed.
A change in gravity’s pull alerted her to the pod’s repositioning. Jade’s cocoon reacted as well, shrinking back until it was nothing more than a spongy pad beneath her. She was now free to make her exit, which she would have done had the way not been impeded by the naked young man lying next to her. She adverted her eyes but not soon enough.
“Oh my God! What the hell! What happened to your tail?!”
“Can’t walk on a tail. Nor, for that matter, can you.
Rattled by the revelation of Pal’s lower limbs and the accompanying body part, Jade did her best to keep her eyes focused elsewhere while she wriggled out of her tail.
“So, you’re not a merman?”
“Really, Jade? There‘s no such things. The tail is a membrane I shed when I no longer need it. Guess I should have warned you.”
“Yes, you should have warned me – about a few things!” Her gaze still averted, Jade handed him the wad of green Lycra. “Please, cover up.”
Outside the pod, the air was hot and heavy with humidity. Uncomfortably so, thought Jade. She looked out from where she stood at the end of a pier to an open archway flanked by spire topped towers, set within a sprawling wall.
“This is my home.” Pal announced as he took the lead, the green Lycra mono-fin swaying from his hip, an ornament to the loin cloth he had made of the rest.
They passed under the arch entering a high ceilinged corridor, which stretched out for nearly a quarter mile before opening onto a large square that featured at its center, a gleaming gold statue. Jade thought it familiar but was too distracted to give it another thought.
The square itself; an enclosed courtyard, was surrounded on all sides by adjoining multilevel structures with railed walkways that lined the upper floors. In unison, they all worked to conjure up the look of a deserted shopping mall and presented an uncanny reminder of a scene from a favorite old movie: Night of the Comet. She hoped that was the only resemblance to the post-apocalyptic, zombie flick.
“Where’s the food court?” she asked nervously.
Pal chuckled at the joke as he led them on.
They continued across the courtyard, passed the central statue. Jade noted numerous unmarked recesses set within the perimeter walls, all dark except for one that lit at their approach.
“Wait for me here,” Pal told her. “I won’t be long.”
As Jade watched him go a sense of abandonment swept over her, it was an uncomfortable feeling that left her searching for something to otherwise occupy her thoughts, but short of venturing into those dark recesses that lead to “who knew where” there wasn’t much for Jade to explore. She eventually came to rest beside the courtyard’s central statue. It was a figure of larger than life proportion, that stood at the reins of a chariot tethered to six winged horses. It had seemed familiar at first glance and now, with a second look, she knew why. It was identical to a picture she had seen; an artist’s rendering of a myth within the legend of Atlantis; a topic she had once been fascinated with. It was the Golden Statue of Poseidon.
Impossible Jade thought, but then too was everything else here, beginning with Pal. Then it dawned on her, the mall scene from one of her favorite movies; the fabled statue from Atlantis; her journey to the center of the earth; all that she was experiencing were fantasies drawn from her imagination. None of it could be real.
It can’t be.
Jade bolted from the square, instinct turning her back from where she had come. Her bare feet slapped the smooth, polished floor – there were no cracks here to trip her. Her heart beating in rhythm to her footfalls, Jade ran, pushing herself through the corridor with one thought in mind; she had to get home. Still, the corridor was endless, bending and twisting where it had been straight before. Finally she sighted the exit and the pier just beyond. She was almost there. Jade gathered her strength for one last burst, then drew up short when Pal stepped into view, fully clothed, the green Lycra tail draped neatly over one arm. He was smiling.
“But I left you… how…?” Jade gasped.
“Here.” Pal approached, holding out the tail before him.
Jade snatched it back once his was within reach. “I want to go home.”
“As you wished; as was always intended.”
A salty gust whipped through the corridor, giving rise to goose bumps on Jade’s flesh. A distant rumble rose, climbed to a roaring crescendo then descended to a low rumble. Though she had not seen it in a while, Jade knew the sound of surf.
Pal beckoned her to follow as he exited the corridor to come out under a brightening sky. Jade joined him following his lead as he turned away from the pier to an ascending path that skirted the perimeter of the city walls. It was shadowed and steep, and strewn with rocks requiring all of Jade’s attention to keep from bruising her bare feet. The encroaching dawn went unnoticed until they had reached the path’s end. Jade stood at the precipice of a jutting cliff. From there she looked out over a sand trimmed coastline, lit by morning’s first light with the Sapphire Sea rolling onto its shore.
“Beautiful isn’t it. Like a painting,” Pal spoke.
Jade could neither agree nor disagree – she didn’t know what to say as every alarm in her brain sounded off. “I need to go. Pal, take me home, now. Please!”
Pal smiled and raised his arm to point. “Look to the cove there – do you see it? The beach house – your home, just as you remembered it – just as you wanted.”
Jade looked to where he pointed, at the cove and the house sheltered within. Beside it, on a small patch of grass rested a rusted swing set, the seat raised too high to be of any use.
Pal whispered in her ear. “I like the swing. A tribute to childhoods past. Isn’t that what your mother called it?”
Before Jade could answer a sharp pain shot through her head. She winced then rubbed her brow against the lingering sensation. “I don’t understand any of this.”
“It’s simple, Jade. Now you have what you wanted, everything you’d wished for. ”
Another stab of pain pierced Jade’s right temple leaving a dull ache in its wake.
“Think Jade. Remember the trip you and your parents made – the hike to the Emerald Pools. You left something there; something treasured, contained in a locket. A worthy gift for the spirits of the pools.”
Jade had never forgotten the necklace she’d lost necklace that day, though she had not known it had fallen into one of the pools. She turned her gaze to Pal.
“But, the locket wasn’t a gift.”
“No. The locket wasn’t gift.” Pal put his hand to her cheek and looked deep into her eyes. “It was what the locket contained; what it symbolized and the value of those symbols. That was the gift; your father’s commitment; his love and the promise of a life together with your mother. That was the gift they received and a most precious one. In return, they’ve given you what you have wished for.”
Tears welled up as his words sank in. Sure, Jade had been angry with her parents; had even wanted them to suffer a little, but to have them harmed – to lose her mother – she could never want that. She would never have given them up – not for anything.
“This is a mistake! The chain broke! It was an accident!” Jade took a stepped back, looking for somewhere to run and knowing she had no where to go.
“Jade, there are no accidents.”
“No, no. This is not what I wanted, never what I wanted…”
Pain sliced through her head like a white-hot blade igniting Jade from within, blinding her with agony and driving her
to her knees. Then everything went black.