crossed his arms and studied her. “You’re
taking this a lot better than I thought you
would. I didn’t know Humans had such open
we have lots of neat tricks, us humans. Like
breathing water, for instance.” Erica sucked
in a few pints just for kicks and giggles. She
hoped she remembered this hallucination when
her body recovered from the bends.
you can’t breathe water.”
I am, ergo, I can.” She demonstrated again.
that’s only because I did that to you. To
save your life.”
Right.” She choked on that last pint. “Um,
to save my life? Well, that’s a relief. I
had thought that I might be um, well, dead,
but then, this certainly isn’t my idea of
Heaven. So, I’m alive but unconscious? I
just have the bends, right? I mean, yes, I’m
seeing you as a naked, water-breathing
stud-muffin, but you’re really just an
illusion, aren’t you? Maybe a doctor at the
hospital some passing boater took me to?”
didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to.
The tittering of the little fish scattered
among the whelk art answered for him.
I think you better rest on the bottom.”
She did as he suggested, but put her hands up
as he floated toward her. He had to be a
figment of her imagination. He had to.
you’ve been out for a few days and you’re
not in a hospital. You can’t have the bends
because you never went up to the surface. Chum
reminded me about them, actually. So I did the
only thing I could.”
face was grave, which, considering the
situation, might not be an appropriate
analogy, but then, what was appropriate when
facing the impossible?
Did. You. Do?”
me?” Somehow, that phrase did not offer
Into a water-breather.” He crossed his arms,
which flared some really nice pecs that
tapered down to slim hips and--
fish? You turned me into a fish?” Forget the
pecs. And other parts.
a fish. Do you see any fins? Gills? You’re
not even a Mer. I just gave you the ability to
breathe underwater. Otherwise, you would’ve
drowned. And Vincent would’ve had the right
to, well, eat you. I couldn’t let that
course you couldn’t.” Well, see? That made
sense. “And Vincent was the, um, shark?”
right.” The faintest glimmer of pearly
whites showed between his lips.
he wanted me for dinner.”
A bigger smile.
you somehow managed to re-route my entire
oxygenation system and voila! Here I am at the
bottom of the sea.”
it.” Full-out grin going.
going to be sick.” She turned her face to
the side and felt her insides heave.
then the floor blinked at her.
the hell was that?” she screamed,
They like to hang out in here since no
predators are allowed.”
put a hand on her chest, her heart beating
three times as fast as normal. Or was that now
normal with her newly-acquired aqua lungs?
“Well there’s a relief. So I won’t have
to worry about my body being torn apart by
Vincent or others like him? Good to know. Now
if I could only guarantee my mind won’t fall
apart, I’ll be just fine.”