"Mermaids are real. They aren't myths or fairytales; and I killed them." Morrissey Ford stumbled across a far bigger than the fin of his new friend. Leonora is the experiment he betrayed by mistake. What would you do if your childhood sweetheart was the one who'd led your family to their deaths?


3. Leonora:

The process of ripping me apart limb from limb has taken surprisingly longer than they warned me for.

It starts as a weak burn, nothing more than the red glows off an hour too long sunbathing, where the white turns pink and from nowhere little brown freckles start to appear and taint the pale canvas, making little trails across faint hairs. I can handle that, I decide, but I later discover this is only the beginning. I lay across the sea bay, crouching behind a cluster of large and shell-coated rocks, and try to hold back the screams that are begging to escape from me.

It would all too satisfying to let loose a violent screech and let the whole world know the pain. But there's a particular group of people in the whole world that would be much too happy to find me. And I'd rather keep the game going for as long as possible. It's not a game, it's real life. I tell myself, and my habit is the only thing to keep me company. In a childhood of isolation, you have to find conversation from within yourself. I bare my teeth in a more friendly sense, because despite all the pain it's still freedom.

Then the cracking begins and it makes me want to beg for hell, because even the flames would be cooler. My eyes are dripping of salt water and my fingers dig into the gold sand into each has made little holes that almost make me stumble. I loose my balance from half-crouching, half whimpering and end up on my back, so from the corners of my vision I can see it.

The sea. The saviour. The temptation to crawl back in and be sealed blissfully into my old state. A few drops, and that would be all I need. The wounds I'm trying to create would be smoothed like a clean slate of shiny scales. The water shimmers and begins to ebb out and crawl slowly close but not close enough. I'd have to move just a hand-length away to reach the blue.

No! I yell at myself, this time out loud, and pray anyone near by will disregard it as the call of a seagull if anything at all. My voice is so hoarse and dry at this point I swear my throat has snapped at the pressure. I can't bear to look at what is happening to me, and instead try to focus at the sky. Part of the view is blocked by bright and strong off-white cliffs, home to dozens of birds and the rare landwalker, daring to come out in the chaos and remind themselves of peace. The watchers told me this, at least. But it's been a while since the watchers did anything more than just simply watch me, and by now there might be no people to see anything at all. There's just a few houses that stick near the seafront, and most are blocked from vision, but there's one with a little warm fire beginning like a tea-candle and it makes me feel warm. Not hot, like the pain radiating off my body. This feeling stirs its heat internally.

At the sight of a black, shiny, plane, like some kind of vulture, I yelp and try to flip over to nest my face in the sand. The little grains get trapped in the scales and filter into the delicate flesh underneath, and I have to remain absolutely still so not to alarm whatever is surveying from the top. I hear the call of the water until water is all I can think about, I didn't remember it like this. I didn't remember the starvation for water, the craving so deep I want to melt and become one with it. It isn't impossible, I don't  think at that time. If I lay very still, and just waited, maybe the sea would engulf me. I'm not sure if I can drown in water but I'd do anything to try. 

But I've worked too hard to get here. And last time was different because last time there was an innocent distraction that dragged me into this mess. Without him, this wouldn't have to happen. Without him, I wouldn't have to run.

I don't know how long it will take until my scales finally retaliate, after being drained of all moisture, and the soft flesh underneath may become the limbs of landwalkers. I've never tried before, but I know I can do this.

We are made to adapt. We are meant to survive. And if I can't survive, or adapt, then I'll somehow make my way back into the water and they'll never find me.

Now that, is a plan with no defeat. I nearly grin but then a splitting burst of gas trapped under one of the scales near my feat releases with a jump and it's filled with cold sea air and I can't stand it much longer but I will have to.

Because there is no turning back when it took nearly death itself to get there.

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