Watery Ways

Mermaid and her lover live in a Scottish village leading normal lives until Nix starts to sense something is wrong.

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1. Watery Ways

     The water rippled. Continuous waves of seismic halos radiated from the figure in the water. Her hair clumping in tangles to her head, whilst the rest fanned out in a lighter shade around her neck.

     This single bobbing head stood out anomalously in the vast loch. That was his signal. Steadily he pushed the boat off the shingles further into the depths of the lake. The waves from the oars shimmered with a white golden glint from the sun rising over the bens. Quickly he fell into the rhythmic sound of the water washing against the wood of the boat. There was a gentle stress and release of his muscles; it was surprisingly invigorating for first thing in the morning.

     The vessel slowly encroached on the bobbing figure.

     “Nix!  Look at me!” As she spun round he pressed the shutter trigger on the camera, catching her if full surprise. “Got yah!”

     “Dewren!” She flung her arm across the surface of the water sending a spray of sparkling dewdrops cascading perilously close his camera.

    “Nix!” He turned quickly in a weak attempt to conceal his camera. “You can get me wet but not the camera! I’ve been saving up for that for months!” His words fell on the water, she had already dived under. “Nix! Do you hear me!”

    “You want to bet on that.” She challenged as she pulled up onto the side of the boat, resting her head on her hands. Her smile disarmed me, how could a mere mortal not be enchanted by her gleam of innocence.

   “Come on. Get in; the village will be getting busy soon.”

    She heaved herself over the edge, “Did you bring my clothes.”

    “Yes.” It was impossible hide the blush that was triggered by memory of the last time he’d forgotten her clothes. Grabbing her arm he helped haul her over into the boat, leaving her to settle herself as water ran down in spidering pools over the scales of the tail that extended from her waist. Small sequin-like scale that glittered various shades of turquoise. He watched the trails run down to pool at the tips of her tail fin as she contorted round to grab the dress he had brought her. She buttoned it down to her waist before she wriggled along the board to fully extract her tail from the water. Drewren handed her a towel to lay under it before her began to row again.

    Every morning he did this. Ever since the day he’d found her stranded on the night of the storm. He never regretted finding her, he’d found more than a girl that day, a whole new form of existence and a whole new form of love.

   He watched her as he powered back. Now the sun was facing him it was harder to see, but at the right angle he could highlight the key features of her form. She had already shrugged on her cardigan and was now combing through her hair with her fingers, leaving darker pooled areas of damp on the wool. The light shone off the droplets on her face and her hair, small strands of which had plastered in curls over her cheeks, brushing her lashes.

   The closer into land they got the further her metamorphosis progressed. Her fin splitting and thickening into two separate entities. The scales smoothed and lost their green sheen as they her human skin became more prominent, until the residue of them was no more than a veined mesh across her skin. A grove deepened down the body of her tail which gradually led to a split.

    As the bow of the boat furrowed into the bank, her legs reached the final stage of their change, divided.

    Nix towelled down her legs before she moved them to place her feet on the wooden floor. She looked around, her hair flicking off strands of water.

   “Drew… where are my shoes?”

Shit!

  “Umm… well….”

  “Drew, how am I going to get home?” A slight edge of exasperation entered the tone of her voice.

He ran his hands across the rough stubble on his jaw.

   “Wait a minute.” He clambered over her to grab the rucksack he’d used to bring his camera and her clothes, which he slung over his shoulder. He then jumped out over the side into the water. “Pick up the towel with you.” He then reached round, extending his arms to snake round her back under her arm and under her bent legs and then proceeded to hoist her out of the boat. She scrambled to pick up the towel before she was out of reach.

     “Are you going to carry me all the way home?” She asked surprised. “You know how far that is.”

     “It’ll teach me not to forget your shoes again.”

     She wrapped her arms around his neck tenderly before nuzzling her head in the crook of his neck. “At least you remembered my clothes this time.”

     He blushed a second time. “That wasn’t on purpose.”

     She looked up through her lashes. “Sure it wasn’t.” She continued to tease as she reaches to stroke his cheek then plants her lips carefully on his. He pressed back longing to be alone with her, away from the impending glare of the village bay. Pulling back he sighed hoarsely.

     “Let me get you home.”

     She smiled before nuzzling back down under his chin.

-*-

     The path winded up from the village bay before fading into a dirt track in the woods. The light became gradually dimmer, until the path turned into a series of steps cut into the ground. As their gradient increased Drewren started to feel the strain of Nixie in his arms. I suppose that’s the penance for forgetting her shoes. His breathing deepened with each step. Deep breath in. Deep sigh out. Deep breath in. So it continued.

     Hmm. Hmmm. Hmm. Hmmm.

     He paused. He could hear it now. The soft sigh and trill of her breath as Nix slept in his arms. It wasn’t far now, maybe, maybe he could wait, just let her rest. Then again it might be safer to lie her down, he wasn’t sure how much longer he would hold her for. There was a ledge not too far away, he remembered, they’d sometimes go there to watch the sun setting. They usually sat leaning against the rocks there talking until the night had taken full possession of the sky. He continued up the hill for a few minutes longer until the opening in the trees became visible. The sun shone through across the steps gilding the stones and leaves.

    Gently he settled her down on the rocks, her face lolled away from him as he released his grip on her. He sat across from her leaning on another rock so as not to disturb her.

     You could see the whole village from here, the post office, the hotel, The Lionhearted Lamb and The Fallen Clover pubs. Gradually the village became more active with as cars moved and people strode on the cobbles of the streets and around the market. Stalls began to be set up, the shops would probably be opening too, but from this distance it was hard to discern.

      “Drew…”

     He turned just to see her head shift across to rest on her other shoulder. Quietly he unzipped his back. This was when she looked her most beautiful. Off guard. Relaxed. Lining up the shot he readied the camera to focus on her. Snap.

     He looked back out over the village.

     Maybe a panoramic…..

     He started at the village, Snap, and then the hills, Snap. Then Nix. Snap.

     “Drew…” She shook her head more this time.

     He scrambled to hide the camera in his rucksack then to her side. “Nix. Nix, I’m here.”

      “Drew!”

      “Shh, Nix I’m here. Nix, wake up.” He shook her gently trying to wake her up. The unnatural swaying woke her slowly. Her pale green grey eyes peeped through their lids. As she became aware of where she was they dilated and widened in panic.

     “Drew!”

     “I’m here. Shhh, calm down.” She dove into his arms.

     “I was so scared. You went and I couldn’t find you. Someone had taken you-“

     “Enough Nix.” He stroked her hair in soothing motions. “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”

     She released a breath that had been trapped in her lungs, sighing. “Can we go home?”

      “Sure.” He went to pick her up again.

      “No. I’ll walk.”

      “You sure?” His voice showed his doubt, but he didn’t stop her when she went to stand.

     She paused to look over the view. “We have to be so careful Drew.” She paused. “So very careful.”

     He slid his arm around her waist. “I know.” He kissed her damp hair lingering to stay close, as if to assure her of his presence.

    Without a word drew her arm around his waist and guided them back to the path.

    They didn’t speak. Drewren could feel her tension against his side. This wasn’t over he could tell. There was more to that dream than she was admitting to. The question would be what was it….

-*-

A few minutes further and the cabin came into view. Their bikes were still secured to the porch, the furnishing as undisturbed. As they approached though, it became obvious something wasn’t right. They were no more than ten yards when Nix saw it.

     “No.” she breathed, releasing her grip on Drewren to run to the door.

     Embedded into the wood a small blade, slicing into the timber, acting as a pin for a crumbled sheet of paper that hung on the door.

     She tore it down.

     “No.” she breathed.

     “What’s wrong, Nix? What does it say?” He tried to peer over her shoulder but she was already pushing the page into my hand and running in the opposite direction into the cabin. “What is it?” He shouted after her.

     “We have to leave! Now!” The panic in her voice was evident. Something had spooked her badly and part of it lay in his hands.

     Slowly and carefully he uncurled the page to find words sprawled in a runny red ink. Terror filled him as the meaning of the words sparked in his mind. He gasped, sucking in as much air as his lungs could inhale.

     This was it.

     He read them again:

 

“We know what you are.

You will not escape this time.”

 

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