Great! I'm Half-Fish!

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Chapter 3

Sean woke up feeling like not one, but several buildings had fallen on him. It hurt to breathe, more or less move. He also realized that he was not only soaking wet but still in the water. What was he doing in water? Had he fallen asleep in the bath or something? But then his memories, well, memory, from the night before intruded in on his thoughts. Right. He had somehow fallen off the cliff. What had he been doing on the cliff? Did someone push him? He tried but couldn’t remember anything before that. The last thing he remembered was sitting by his window. Nothing else came to mind. Sean gave up on trying and decided to focus on his present predicament.

It was nothing short of a miracle that he hadn’t hit the rocks although with how he had felt hitting the water, he wasn’t sure that the rocks would have been worse. He tried to lift his head but that hurt so much he quickly stopped trying. Instead, he figured he would take stock of himself as much as he could lying down. He was obviously lying on something, a rock, no doubt, with most of his legs still being in the water. The water tugged at him, trying to pull him into its embrace but a sufficient amount of him was on the rock that prevented that. The sun wasn’t directly above him so it was still early. He tried to figure out more from his prone position but couldn’t. Beyond the water splashing on the rock, he couldn’t hear anything. Then that thought stopped him cold.

He had assumed that he was washed up on one of the rocks at the foot of the cliff but if that was so, then he should be able to hear the waves on the beach and the sound of the water on the other rocks, but there was nothing. He should have even heard people and surely someone should have recognized a person, lying on a bit of rock. But there was none of that. The realization was enough for Sean to force himself to sit up, even though he was feeling like Pancake Sean. Sitting up didn’t help because as soon as he did, he slipped off the rock and into the water and immediately began to sink.

“Ahhh!” yelled Sean as he realized just how deep the water he was in, was. He tried to move his arms and legs but they almost refused to comply. They waved around in weak little motions that didn’t keep him afloat one bit. Sean found it ironic that he would survive falling off a cliff only to die the next morning from sliding off a rock. In fact, he would have died if not for the pair of arms which grabbed him and pulled him up and settled him back on the rock.

“Easy sport,” said a voice soothingly. The hands pulled him back more onto the rock and propped him up on a higher part of it. Sean took a few moments to breathe and calm himself down from his second near-death experience and then he looked for the person who had helped him. He heard a splash and then the person came around from behind him and into his line of vision, clinging to the rock.

Sean stared. It was…well…a blond version of himself. Only the blond had his hair cut short and spiky and had larger eyes that were green in color. His face was also a lot harder and a lot sharper than Sean’s but they still shared the same kind of angles, the same straight nose and the same kind of mouth.

“Hey,” said the blond. His voice was also deeper than Sean’s and it was older sounding.

“Hey,” Sean managed to reply. “Um, who are you?”

“Ah,” said the blond. He looked like he definitely didn’t want to answer the question. “Well, we’ll come to that. But first, how are you?”

“I feel like shit,” Sean told him flatly.

The blond winced. “Well,” he said, “You did fall off of a cliff.”

Sean was about to ask him how he knew that but decided to ask a question he deemed a little more important.

“Where am I?”

“Oh, you’re sort of out in the open sea. Well not really, but we are far past the breaker zone. And you are on a large rock that just happens to be here.”

“I realized,” said Sean rather dryly. But he couldn’t really make the comment sarcastic because his head was pounding. “Uh, is there any way I could, you know, get back to the beach?”

The blond laughed. “Sure,” he said, “But you might want to recover a bit more first.”

Sean opened his mouth to say something, realized he had nothing to say, and closed it. After a moment though, he said, “Well, if I have to stay here for a bit, you might want to tell me who you are and how you knew that I fell off of the cliff.”

The blond took a deep breath and then let it out as a sigh. He shifted to get a better grip on the rock and then began to speak. “My name is Rakcigion,” he said, “and…well… I’m your father.”

Sean’s brain froze and refused to get started. After a while, he realized that he had been staring blanked eyed at the blond for some time.

“Earth to Sean,” said Rakcigion gently, “Are you in there?”

Sean blinked a few times and felt his brain start to reboot. “Uh, yeah,” he stuttered. He blinked a few more times and then everything actually caught up with him.

“YOU’RE MY WHAT?!!!!!!”

Rakcigion winced. He took one look at Sean’s death glare and pushed away from the rock. He floated back a little way and ran his hands through his hair. When he dropped his hands though, he looked at Sean and said seriously, “Luke, I am your father.”

Sean’s jaw dropped and he didn’t know if it was from the Star Wars reference or the audacity of the person in front of him.

“You…. you…what?!”

Rakcigion sighed again. “Yeah,” he said, “I am. “

Sean shook his head. “You can’t be. You don’t look like you’re past twenty and mom is forty-something and she said my father was older than she was. Heck, you don’t look all that much older than me! Who are you? Really?”

Rakcigion gave him a wry grin. “I age well?” he offered.

“Don’t give me that shit!” said Sean, feeling thoroughly rattled, what between falling off a cliff and meeting someone who was claiming to be his father. And unfortunately looked very much like himself.

Rakcigion drifted back to the rock and clung to it. “Sean,” he began.

“How do you know my name?” interrupted Sean, “I never told you.”

“Your friends were calling you when you went under at the pool yesterday,” Rakcigion told him.

Sean blinked at him. “How…” he began but then broke off and asked instead, “You were at the pool yesterday?”

“In the general vicinity,” he replied simply.

“I didn’t see you,” said Sean, tersely.

“No,” agreed Rakcigion, “You did feel me though.”

Sean frowned at him. “What?”

Rakcigion raised an eyebrow at him. “Who do you think pushed you to safety?”

Sean jerked. “You?” he breathed in disbelief. “So, there was someone….” Then he shook his head. “But how didn’t we see you? And how could you get away from the undertow?”

“Same way, I suppose, that I did when I saved you when you fell off the cliff.”

Sean stiffened. “How did you save me? And why am I out here instead of at the beach?”

“One,” said the blonde, “You’re here because of my own particularly selfish desires to see you properly as well as the fact that it was best to keep you in the water and two,” he continued before Sean could get a word in edgewise, “I was in the water at the time and saw you go over.”

Sean allowed his words to soak in for a moment and then said slowly, “How can keeping me in the water be good for me and why were you in the water at the time?” He stopped and then added, “And if you really are my father, where the hell were you for the last, what, sixteen years?”

Rakcigion watched him intently for a moment and then said, “The answers for all those questions are actually entwined. There really is only one major answer for them.”

“And that is…?” asked Sean tersely.

Instead of saying anything, Rakcigion, let go of the rock and drifted backward, and then he turned to the side. He hung suspended in the water for a moment and then, in the water in front of him, the large tail of a fish lifted out of the water and flopped back in.

“Whoa!” yelled Sean, startled. “What was that!” he asked Rakcigion, wide-eyed.

Rakcigion laughed. “Me, Sean.”

Sean stared at him, uncomprehending. Rakcigion saw the look and then drifted over and pulled himself up to sit on the rock. Sean stared at him. He blinked again a few times and then slowly followed the sliver, scaled thing that was his bottom half down into the water and connected it with the fishtail which was rising intermittently from the water now. It took the circuits in his brain a few good tries before they connected what he was seeing to what it meant. When the realization hit, the world started tilting and black spots suddenly crowded his vision.

The next thing he was fully aware of was the stifling coldness of the ocean. He broke the surface and rose gasping and found himself being restrained. He fought against whatever was holding him down.

“Sean!” shouted Rakcigion. Sean paid no attention. He just continued to blindly struggle. “Sean!” shouted Rakcigion again. Sean still didn’t respond. Then he felt someone pin his arms and a voice say with authority, “Sean!”

The voice broke through his frantic haze. He realized he was in the water and it was Rakcigion who was holding him. Rakcigion. Sean remembered. He started to struggle again but it was to no avail. He was pinned, he was weak and he hurt so much. He felt like crying. Scratch that. He was crying.

He drew in one hiccupping sob after another and just seemed to dissolve into a puddle of tear-dripping, snot-emitting boy. The iron grip on his arms let up and Sean was spun around gently in the water and then the arms came up again and hugged him. Sean buried his head helplessly in Rakcigion’s chest and wept.

After a while, he became aware that Rakcigion was talking gently. “Shh,” he was saying, “It’s alright, it’s alright. It’s going to be okay.” He continued like that for a while and Sean continued to cry for a while. Finally though, his tears subsided. He ducked his head and swished his face gently in the water and then wiped it with one hand. Rakcigion was holding on to his other hand by his upper arm, to keep him from sinking. When he was done, he looked up, hesitantly to see Rakcigion.

Rakcigion had a strangely patient look on his face. “Better?” he asked him.

Sean nodded. He was more exhausted but for some reason, he did feel better. Then he looked down between them. The water was clear and the sun was bright, giving him pretty good visibility through the water. He could see Rakcigion’s tail undulating lazily in the water, keeping them both afloat. He stared at the tail for a while and then said, “I suppose you don’t eat people?”

Rakcigion grinned. “I only eat the ones I don’t like.”

Sean shot him a look. Rakcigion chuckled and then gently pushed him back to the rock and onto it. Sean sat cross-legged on the rock, trying not to fall over, or go to sleep and said, “So….”

“So,” Rakcigion prompted.

“So you’re a mermaid.”

Rakcigion grimaced. “Merman,” he corrected.

“Oh, right.” … “So you’re a merman.”

“Yes.”

“You have a tail.”

“I gather merfolk usually do.”

“Right. Um. You’re claiming to be my dad.”

“Yes.”

“Proof?”

“Well there is the non-inconsequential fact that we look very alike.”

“Yes, but besides that.”

“The fact that you can’t float.”

Sean started. “How…?”

Rakcigion snorted. “I could tell from yesterday at the pool. And you’re an excellent swimmer.”

“So how does that link me to you?” Sean asked.

“Being the son of a merman, of course you’d be able to swim well. And I can’t float either.”

Sean stared at him. “You can’t?”

“No. I’m a merman. Floating’s overrated for us. The minute my tail stops moving, I’ll sink. We’re denser than humans. We have thicker bones and we fill our lungs with water sometimes.”

“Oh…” Sean’s mind reeled. He was sure he saw a few black spots here and there.

“Earth to Sean?”

Sean snapped back his gaze to Rakcigion and only then realized that he had been drifting.

“And also, there is the fact that you fell off a cliff and hit the water at a speed that should have broken more than a few bones if it hadn’t outright killed you.”

“Right…” Sean said, “Um, how did I survive that?”

“Your body can take pressures where a normal human being would be squished to the size of a coke can. You’re a bit more durable.”

“I see,” said Sean.

“You don’t,” Rakcigion told him.

Sean shook his head. Rakcigion sighed. Sean paused for a moment and let his brain settle down. Finally he asked, “Why did I fall off a cliff in the first place?”

“You have merblood in you,” Rakcigion told him.

“That doesn’t answer a single thing,” Sean told him.

“Mermaids,” Rakcigion told him.

“That doesn’t answer anything either!” said Sean exasperated.

“You heard the Maid Songs,” Rakcigion said, “They called to you. They called you. You’ve never experienced it before so you didn’t know how to resist. It called you and you went to it. And fell off a cliff on the way.”

Sean scowled at him. Or tried to. His face hurt too much. “So singing mermaids called me to my death?”

“No, that’s sirens and they don’t exist by the way. The maids were just singing. It doesn’t bother us. But it does draw sea creatures to the sea. It is an expression of the sea and you connected with it and you were drawn to it. It’s like answering the call of the sea.”

“I don’t get half of that,” Sean told him, “And why would it happen now? Why not when I was younger?”

Rakcigion shrugged. “Maybe your mer-side took longer to mature and is only showing up now. We do age slower than humans.”

“Oh,” said Sean faintly, “Okay.”

Rakcigion eyed him. “Are you going to faint on me again?”

“I’m talking to a merman,” Sean informed him.

“Ye-es,” said Rakcigion.

“This is not strange at all.”

“I think you have a concussion,” Rakcigion said decidedly.

“You’re not listening to a word I’m saying,” Sean accused him, feeling strangely lightheaded all of a sudden. He wanted to float. And ride a whale.

“You’re concussed,” said Rakcigion dryly.

Sean idly wondered if a merman could say anything ‘dryly’.

“Earth to Sean!”

Sean snapped back to reality.

Rakcigion was looking at him. “We should get you home,” he said. “I don’t think the water is helping anymore. And your mother just might kill me if I don’t bring you back home soon.”

At the mention of his mother, Sean sat up straight. “Mom!” he said in horror. “She must be having a heart attack!”

“Or attacking the hearts of those who come near her right now,” Rakcigion said seriously.

Sean mentally agreed with him. Out loud though he said, “I have to get back to her!”

“So you do,” said Rakcigion, “and I’m going to take you because there’s no way you’re getting there on your own.”

Sean gave a weak nod in agreement. The spurt of horror at the mention of his mother had really taken a lot out of him. He started to tilt on the rock. Rakcigion reached up and gently pulled him into the water. Then he hooked Sean under his armpits and started to tow him toward the shoreline. Sean wasn’t really aware of how long it took them to get there but he had an idea it was far faster than it should have been.

The next thing he knew was that he was scraping along sand and then hands released him. He tumbled into the surf. Then he was set upright and given a little push along with the next wave coming in. Sean staggered up onto the beach and took a few moments to realize that he was in front of his own house.

He walked in a very shaky line up the beach, to the house, and then knocked on the door after his hand slipped off the doorknob twice. His mother opened the door with an anxious look on her face. When she saw him, she cried out and grabbed him in a tight hug. Then she yanked him inside.

“Sean!” she exclaimed. “Where have you been?!”

“I fell off a cliff,” Sean told her.

“What!” she said, horrified.

“Can I lie down?” he asked her. His mother, noticing that he was tilting in an alarming manner, guided him to the sofa and helped him to lie down.

“What happened?” she asked him more gently.

“I didn’t die,” Sean mumbled and fell fast asleep.

His mother gave a worried sigh as she looked down on the sleeping boy and then went to call the police to inform them that her missing child was back home.

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