Above High Waters

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Chapter 5

“It’s you again,” Ryan said as he looked on at the man in the water. The person looked partially shocked, but the look of shock was soon replaced with a smile.

What’s he smiling for? Ryan wondered as he cocked his brows in confusion. He had been sorting out his samples further away from the water when he had heard splashing just below the water. He had headed to look, and after a while of the body moving just below the water’s surface the head of the man had broken through.

“Who are you?” Ryan asked, watching the tail being raised from the water a bit when the man swam and leaned on a rock closer to shore. Ryan’s eyes moved to the fishtail that was now on full display. Last time he had been too shocked to get a closer look, but now he could. It looked extremely realistic. Whoever made this man’s costume is good. Ryan taught as he walked closer to the edge of the shore, getting the tip of his shoes wet as the waves came and went.

Ryan’s frown deepened when he watched the man leave the rock to try and crawl to the shore. He stepped back, and his eyes went wide as the tail morphed into legs in what looked like a painful process. The man looked shocked by what was happening, but a small smile formed on his lips when he looked down to see his legs.

“I...” Ryan trailed, watching as the man with honey-colored hair looked back at him. Were those special effects, or...? Ryan didn’t want to sound stupid to himself, but a part of him was starting to wonder if the person in front of him was an actual person. For one thing, the man was now stark naked on the beach oil-stained sand, and for another thing, the man looked confused and childlike as he looked about.

Regardless of how weird things seemed, fear was nowhere in Ryan’s mind. It was a naked man on the beach. What could he possibly do to him?

“Maybe we should get you to the hospital,” Ryan said as he walked over to the man’s body that was still laying on the floor.

“Hos–hospital?” the man seemed to say like he was asking a question.

“Yes, a hospital,” Ryan repeated, watching as the man tried to move his legs. They only gave way and he remained lying on the floor. Ryan was beginning to wonder if the man’s skin didn’t feel burnt up by the hot sand. With a little hesitance, Ryan made to squat by the man, and it was then his eyes grew wide. His skin was — pore-free? It looked that way. Silky smooth and free from any hair apart from the one at the top of his head, eyelids, and brows. Ryan kept staring, and he flinched when he noticed the three gapping slashes at the side of the man’s neck.

At first, he thought it was an injury, but on further inspection he watched it heave and open with each breath the man took. “What are you?” Ryan found himself asking, completely stupefied by the man in front of him.

Was he even a man?

The man seemed to try and move from its lying position again but with little success. He let out a small whine, making Ryan frown. It sounded like a dolphin.

“You can’t sit up? Do you need help?” Ryan asked, and the man’s face seemed to brighten up. It was then Ryan noticed the oddly colored eyes. Goldish brown with some hints of red.

“Help?” the man said. His voice sounded young, and if Ryan had to place an age range on him it would be between eighteen to twenty, and nothing more. “Help!” the man repeated, smiling at Ryan, and Ryan could only look up in confusion.

“Yes, help,” Ryan muttered, reaching out to grab the man’s shoulder. He lifted him up, steadying him with his other hand until he stopped wobbling and was sitting up straight. Ryan tried his best not to look between the man’s legs. He wasn’t even bothering to keep his nakedness out of view.

“Oh,” the young man muttered when Ryan let go of his shoulders and he was still sitting up straight.

Oh? Ryan muttered, making the man look over at him. Ryan chuckled, laughing at the look on the man’s face. Is he serious?

Well, the man seemed to be since he was looking on at Ryan with an expression that could only be defined as confusion. Ryan stayed in his squat position looking on at the man sitting on the beach sand butt naked.

“What are you?” Ryan repeated, realizing the man had never answered him. The person stared at him for a bit, opening his mouth before closing it again.

“Water,” he eventually said, and Ryan rose a brow before chuckling.

“You’re water?” Ryan asked, and the man seemed to realize he had made a mistake somewhere.

“Person. Water person,” the man seemed to struggle to put together before his eyes went wide like he had just realized something. “Fish, a fish person,” he said, smiling as he looked over at Ryan again.

“A fish person?” Ryan asked, watching as the man bobbed his head in a nodding motion, and it was then it clicked.

A mermaid—merman? He wondered, before staring back at the man. He then reached out, startling the man a bit when he put his hand on the man’s pale chest. Ryan took his hand away after a while before standing up. His heart rate — It’s fast. like a fish’s. The sudden realization that he was probably not talking to a cosplayer started to overwhelm him.

Okay, what now? He tried to ask himself, pacing about the beach as the man sitting on the sand just looked on at him. He turned with a sigh, casting his gaze to the man that had a wide smile on his face.

“Why are you here?” Ryan then asked, tucking his hands into the pockets of his faded jeans. The merman looked on at him, pursing his lips a bit before smiling.

“Help!” he simply yelped like a child making Ryan lose his ‘serious face’ as he started laughing.

“Oh my God you’re hopeless,” Ryan said, approaching the man again before squatting beside him. “Help for what?” he mumbled, and after a while of thinking it over he reached out to touch the man’s hair. It didn’t feel like human hair, more like dog’s fur, and it suddenly made a lot of sense to Ryan why the man’s hair looked shiny and radiant. A low crackling noise soon erupted through the merman’s body and Ryan took his hand away in shock.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Ryan sighed, before sitting down on the sand again.

“No, pat!” the man said, shuffling close until he could duck his head under Ryan’s hand. “Pat.”

Ryan pet the man’s head again and the sound from before came back. Damn, this is a weird day. He thought to himself, and after a while of running his hand through the man’s hair, he made to get up.

“You should be going,” Ryan said, dusting the sand off his trousers.

“Help?” the man said ignoring Ryan’s words.

“Help for what?” Ryan frowned, getting a bit irritated. He was getting tired and the evening was drawing near. It had been around four thirty when he checked his watched last. Plus, maybe if he knocked himself our hard enough with alcohol he would forget about his weird encounter today.

He was looking forward to that.

“The water,” the young man said. “Help.”

Ryan looked over at the water and then back at the man then it made sense. The water was almost unlivable. If the man lived in the water, it didn’t seem wise to toss him back into the cease poll of poison and algae that was sucking up the water’s oxygen.

“Help?” Ryan turned to the man again, and so that he was pointing over at his kit. Ryan looked back at him, wondering if the man had ever seen him try to treat the small amounts of water he collected.

“Help,” the man said again, and Ryan walked back to him before squatting.

“Will you follow me?” Ryan asked in a low tone and the man coked his head to the side, letting Ryan get a better view of his oddly colored eyes. “If you follow me I’ll try and help.” And with those words, the merman reached out for Ryan and it seemed like he wanted to be carried.

“Okay, maybe I should have thought this through,” Ryan sighed, looking down at the man clinging to him. He started to think of what to do. Usually, the floor was empty so maybe he could make it to his car in the parking lot without anyone wondering what he was doing with a naked man.

Extra clothes. He always brought some extra clothes, he could just give the merman that just in case.

Ryan somehow managed to raise the man up along with himself, before steading him on the floor.

“Hold this,” Ryan said, giving the man a handful of his shirt. Today he was thankful he’d worn one of his oversized shirts he just tucked into his trousers. The merman complied, gripping on to it, and stumbling a bit as Ryan started to walk towards his equipment. It was tricky trying to list his kit without making the merman trip and fall to the ground, but they managed it with some stumbling.

“Just hold on tight and follow me, okay?” Ryan said, and the shorter man nodded against his shirt. Ryan knew his clothes would be filled with sand, but he was too mystified by the situation he was in to be angry. The merman stood about a few inches taller than him, but then again almost everyone did. Ryan was a tall lanky man standing at 6′5.

Ryan started to make his way towards the back door that led to the beach, and the merman flowed behind, missing his step a few times. They made it to the building, and Ryan got him to some clothes before they made their way out into the main parking lot.

As Ryan started the car, and the man yelped a bit as his eyes darted around the dashboard, Ryan smiled.

“What’s your name?” Ryan asked, and the merman looked over at him and simply stared on.

“What are you called?” Ryan tried again, and it seemed like he was understood that time.

“Omi,” the younger man said looking at the scenery started to move as Ryan drove out of the parking lot.

“That’s a pretty name,” Ryan said with a smile as he looked over at the man who was now in his clothes. A pair of summer shorts and a white top, nothing too fancy. “My name’s Ryan.”

Ryan watched as the young man tried to repeat the pronunciation with some difficulty.

“Or just call me Ry,” he said, laughing. The man turned to him with wide eyes, blinking.

“Ry?”

“Yes, Ry,” Ryan confirmed.

“Ry,” Omi muttered under his breath, trying to get a better feel of the name. Ryan just chuckled again before turning his eyes back to the road. He wasn’t sure what he was doing with a stranger that he was now sure wasn’t a human, but he tried not to think too much about it. He could yell at himself later.

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