Above High Waters

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Chapter 3

It was late noon on a Saturday, and a marine biologist, Ryan Taylor, was working at his desk He was in the study of his four-bedroom apartment looking through his sample records as he smoked a cigarette and itched his growing beard. He was frustrated. He had the numbers, but nothing seemed to be making sense — the samples he collected from a further depth into the ocean was, cleaner?

Ryan let out a groan before reaching out to dust the ash that had fallen from the end of his cigarette. He lost his train of thought, cursing out in every word he could as he looked down at the small pile of ash on his journal. Letting out a frustrated sigh, he flicked the last bits of the ash mound away from the page before closing his journal and pushing it aside.

He looked over at his laptop, wondering if he should sit down and do some more work, but he shook his head, deciding that he was done for the day.

He was tired, and he was starting to feel defeated.

Years of studying how to manage the water pollution and he was finally running out of grant money.

Shit. He thought when the butt of his cigarette dropped ash again. He shook his head, trying to get the worries out of his head. He then moved away from his study desk and his notes, quenching the flame of the cigarette on an ashtray before leaving it there and heading out of his small office. He wanted fresh air of some sort, so he made his way out to the balcony.

After walking about in circles in the small space he paused before heading over to rest his hands on the concrete railings. “So, this is the end?” he said out loud t no one in particular as he looked out into the busy city. The city which had air choking with pollutants and was surrounded by water infected with untreated waste. The tap water wasn’t safe to drink either, and that meant buying bottled water and hiking up the money set aside for groceries.

He sighed, letting his eyes observe the buildings around. Heck, there wasn’t a tree in sight for miles, just rows, and rows of apartment buildings.

“Definitely the end,” he repeated, smiling a bit to himself. Ryan was sure no one was interested in what he was trying to do. He was sure no company would want to sponsor his research further. Many companies were actually against his research since he wasn’t only proposing a cure to the problem. He was also proposing preventive methods that could cause companies thousands if implemented. So that was it, five years of research would be wasted.

He started humming a song under his breath, nodding to the tune in his head as he started to think about what he would do with his life in the coming future. He could always move back to his hometown and get away from the city noise and suffocating crowds. He didn’t like the city very much either.

A curious frown made its way to Ryan’s face when he suddenly remembered what he saw on the beach when collecting samples. I was just seeing things. He thought to himself, dismissing the person with what seemed like a tail. People in California were crazy anyway. He wouldn’t put it past someone to dress in a fish tale and swim in the ocean.

He wondered why the man hadn’t replied to him, however, and it was also puzzling how he’d disappeared into the water without a trace. He’d stayed at the shore for about thirty more minutes, but the man didn’t show up again. People couldn’t hold their breath for that long, and he assumed the man must have gotten on land at some other point — but where? He left eventually deciding that he would like his fish sample alive rather than let them die because of his curiosity in the tiny dishes he had collected them in.

Although he was certain he had seen things, a part of his mind was suggesting otherwise. For instance, he was sure there really wasn’t any way to get to the beach unless you came out through the factory’s back door like he did. There was jumping off the overhead bridge, but who would do that? He also hadn’t seen a boat on sure or floating somewhere on the water.

It didn’t make sense, but since when did anything when he went through five packs of cigarettes a day and operated on two to three hours of sleep?

Ryan let out a sigh, closing his eyes. He let the cool air run through his hair. A truck passed by, and he opened his eyes, moving away from the balcony area as a cough left his body. He closed the door behind him before heading back to the study. He walked over to his study desk, flipping his journal open before letting his pointing finger scroll through the data. He was close, so close, but he didn’t have money to take his research any further.

He sighed, running a hand through his dark hair. It had grown long since his stay in California. He didn’t have time to go out and get a haircut, and he wasn’t bothered about doing it himself. He tapped his finger against a number in his journal repeatedly before leaving his desk and walking out of his study room again. Ryan was starting to think that maybe he shouldn’t have done this independently. If he’d been part of a team or organization it would have been a lot easier to get funding, even though most companies wouldn’t like what he was researching.

Another low sigh left his lips as he looked towards the open windows that dotted the hallway. It was evening, and the day was coming to an end — Ryan didn’t like it. Every passing day was a just a reminder that his time here and the money he had left for his research were running out.

Ryan made his way to his bedroom and sat at the edge of his bed before picking up his phone from his bedside table. He checked his notifications, sending a reply to his friend before putting it away and staring out into his semi-furnished room. Everyone was expecting him to be back home soon. He had been moving from city to city to continue his research, and they expected him to come back to his hometown and forget about all his hard work. And the sad part was, he might actually do just that.

He was feeling defeated, and his lack of progress spanning the last few months didn’t help things.

I’ll just keep working. Maybe I can file for another grant soon. I sent some requests a month ago, I should get a reply soon. He thought, bringing his hands to his face before running them through his long dark hair in a swift motion. I should visit the beach tomorrow as well.

Ryan needed more samples. He might even have to use a boat to get further into the ocean and collect fish samples there. He kept two large tanks each in two of the bedrooms to keep the fish he collected for study and observation.

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