It was a warm afternoon off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. I was surfing and having a really good time. The waves were great today. I looked around the open waters and noticed that the beach goers had all left and only one boat remained out, perhaps thirty or forty feet away from me. A family of three was on the decent sized sailboat, a mother, father, and a young girl. They all wore these strange, darkened glasses. It was then I remembered what was to happen today. A solar eclipse! I had to get home before it began and it hurt my eyes. Everyone who wanted to watch it directly had to be wearing those protective glasses.
The sky began to get darker as I paddled my way to shore, my stomach flat on my surf board. But before I could reach the shore, something flipped my board, making me take a dip into the glistening ocean. I tried to cry out, but I was pulled under by something. Opening my mouth only resulted in salt water to enter through it, as well as my nose. I coughed as I was somehow brought above the surface. I felt hands grabbing me everywhere, some holding my mouth open. I fought back with everything I had, but it still wasn't enough. I felt a strange, warm liquid trickle down my throat. I gagged on it, trying to spit it out. Hands forced my mouth shut and I swallowed. Then I was shoved under water again. I heard unfamiliar voices through my waterlogged ears and I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying.
As soon as it had begun, this odd attack ended. I splashed free and broke the surface, gasping for air. I had somehow ended up closer to the sailboat. I noticed the little girl up on the side of the ship, a doll clutched in her grasp. She was babbling on and on about how cool the solar eclipse had been. Wait... was it over? Sure enough, the sun had returned.
When I looked back at the sailboat, the girl was gone. Splashes broke the silence and I saw the little girl had fallen overboard. I swam hurriedly over to her and put one of my arms underneath her armpit. I noticed her little readheaded doll bobbing in the sea beside her, so I picked that up as well. I moved quickly to the shore, swimming faster than I ever remember being able to.
I dragged myself, the girl, and her doll onto the sand. Then I tried to stand, but I couldn't feel my feet. I looked down at my legs and gasped. I no longer had legs or feet! In their place was a giant fish tail... like a mermaid. I looked around, panicked. Surely this wasn't happening. This had to be a dream. Beside me, the girl began to stir. I heard the yelling voice of her father and looked out to see the boat coming to shore.
No... this is real. And I can't be seen like this! I took off back into the ocean. Little did I know, I wouldn't be walking on land again for a very long time.
I wandered around the ocean with no clear idea of where I was going or what I was going to do about my situation. But then I had been surrounded by a bunch of other mermaids and mermen.
"Come with us and you will be happy." said one mermaid.
"What happened? What have you done to me?!" I had asked, scared.
"Come with us... we'll take you to our pod leader. He will explain everything." said a merman.
So I really had no choice but to follow them... where else would I have gone? We swam quite a long way before the scenery began to change around me. The area became lighter, even though we were down pretty deep. I stared in awe as structures almost like buildings rose up in the distance. As we got closer I realized it was a whole civilization made of coral and other sea items. Many more mermaids and mermen swam around, seeming to be going about their everyday lives.
"Wow..." I murmured.
"Follow me." said a merman, the other four broke away from him and drifted away to go do other things. I did as he said, following him to the tallest coral structure.
"My name is Daniel. I know this all seems very new and surely strange to you. But the pod leader can answer any of your questions."
All I could do was nod as we entered the coral. A single, armored merman greeted us.
"Daniel. Is this the new recruit?" he asked. Daniel nodded.
"Yes. Nice to see you, Luke." he replied. Luke bowed his head and stepped aside. Daniel motioned for me to follow and we soon emerged into a large room with a older merman pacing back and forth, a mermaid watching him with concern on her face.
"Relax Michael, I'm sure he will be here soon."
"We are here. I'm sorry for the delay." Daniel spoke up, causing the other to stop.
"Ah, Daniel. Finally." he swam over to us. As he came closer, more of my situation began to hit me. I could now see, hear, and breath clearly underwater. Wow...
"Hello. I am Michael. This must be quite odd for a human like you but I can- you know what? I'm not doing the speech this time. What would you like to know?" he began talking to me all regal like, but that didn't last long. His face fell tiredly as he looked at me.
"Um... well.... why? How? What??" I had a LOT of questions.
"Michael... just explain the whole thing." the mermaid sighed.
"Alright fine. Well our pod has been very weak and small for many years. So thanks to our oracle Simon, we have developed a ritual of... changing humans over. But this ritual is so specific that it can only be done on solar eclipses."
Oh alright... that makes sense. NOT. I had to bite my tongue to not sass this guy because if he was the "pod leader" then he was probably well respected.
"Can you guys not, like.... reproduce...?" I asked. Michael, Daniel, and the mermaid all looked saddened by this question.
"No..." the mermaid answered.
"Many years ago, perhaps centuries now... a curse was laid on the pod. A curse that causes our genetics to not be passed down. No children have been bared in this pod for... as long as I can remember. So we are forced to colonize with humans." Michael said. I still wasn't satisfied, but he seemed to be at his maxium of handling this conversation. He swished around to go towards a table at the far corner of the room.
"Any other questions shall be directed towards Simon. You will be living with Daniel. Show him around please."
Daniel nodded curtly from beside me and we turned to leave.
"Oh," Michael's voice made us look back for a moment, "I almost forgot. Your name?"
I forced a polite smile.
"My name is Joel."