Black Pearl

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A Volcanic Ball of Death

“This is horrible!” Victoria said while pacing around Alima’s undersea chamber. Alima nervously looked around and saw that her bed and her kitchen were slowly freezing into a thick layer of frosty white ice. “Now three more of our competitors are in North America. What if they find her first?” Victoria laid her hand onto Alima’s stove and ice crawled over it as well. Alima cringed.

“Victoria, calm down. We still have time.” Although Alima acted calm, she was really twice as worried as Victoria. Not only did she have the princess to worry about, but she also the fact that she would have to destroy Abhilash as well. Alima had gotten rid of her murderous ways years ago, she can’t go back now.

“We need to find him,” Victoria said. “Maybe he’s hiding her somewhere.”

“And do what with him?” Alima said.

“Torture him until he confesses?” Victoria gave her the look that said obviously.

“We don’t have to do that. I_” Alima paused to think and an idea struck her mind. “I can go out with him. Maybe I can get him to confess.”

“Did you not hear the queen? She said to destroy him, Alima.” Victoria said and the temperature of Alima’s chamber dropped drastically. Alima’s breath came out as a misty cloud. Alima’s body shivered.

“I don’t want to kill anybody!” Alima said.

“Holy sea scorpion, what had that boy done to you?” Victoria got up close to Alima’s face to study it as if she were sick. Alima shook her head in annoyance.

“Look, if it makes you feel better, I’ve invited Ally to aid us in our search.”

“Ally?” Victoria scratched her head. “Is she the girl with the really annoying and squeaky voice?”

“That’s her.” Alima said and began getting dressed. Victoria noticed she was packing a black wet suit and gloves in her bag.

“What is that?” Victoria said and came closer.

“It’s called a wet-suit. It keeps you dry in the water while swimming.” Alima packed in a large pair of goggles.

“Why would you need that?” Victoria asked.

“I’m a marine biologist. Today, I’m studying a sample of mercury contaminated starfish. It’s very fascinating and gross at the same time.” Alima slipped the bag of her shoulders and as she was about to leave the entrance, Victoria asked another thing.

“A marine what-now?” But Alima didn’t have time to explain, she was already a tad late for work.

“Get a job!” she said and exited.

“Miss Tuma!” (This was the last name Alima had gone with) The marine biologist professor read her report. “You’ve done a fine job as always! You found out the starfish were not contaminated with mercury.” Other biologists turned their attention to her and gave her a dirty look. Some even rolled their eyes. The head marine biologist was an old professor. He used to join them on dives but his arthritis eventually got to him. Now, his job was to observe them and inform them of their recordings and other works.

“Professor, it’s simple.” Alima really got some despicable faces this time. All the biologists were burning with envy except Abhilash who was watching her, captivated.

“The starfish did show some signs of mercury poisoning but__” Alima stopped her sentence mid-way to cringe. She thought back to what she saw. “The starfish started ripping off its own limbs while I was observing it in the lab.” Alima remembered how disturbing it was to watch it all happen. The starfish’s insides were falling out.

“Oh dear,” the professor shook his head. He frowned and his wrinkles deepened. “We must do more research.” He then turned to Alima and Abhilash. “You two will suit up and take more samples of starfish. This time, trying to venture out a little more further. We need to know how far the starfish epidemic has spread.”

“Yes sir,” they both said in unison. Alima wasn’t looking forward to working with him but on the bright side, Abhilash was human and couldn’t talk underwater. The two suited up and avoided making eye-contact.

They took a boat ride to the miles away from the sea and slipped on their flippers. “Let’s do this,” he said and jumped into the lukewarm emerald waters.

“Yeah,” she said and dived in.

As they swam, it occurred to Alima that it was her first time swimming with him and she found out that Abhilash was a weak swimmer. He would often stop swimming and catch his breath. It didn’t take long for Alima to become impatient and they arranged a plan that it would be him that would point out the starfish and for Alima to retrieve it. When they had finally collected enough sample starfish, they swam up to the surface and climbed back onto the boat. Both of them took off their goggles and protective face mask. Abhilash’s jaw dropped when he saw Alima’s long, sleek, black hair cascade down the back of her wet-suit.

“I can feel you staring you know,” Alima said without turning around. She placed her goggles and mask in her bag and then turned around to face him. She wasn’t mad. How could she? The weather was absolutely gorgeous. She felt the sea breeze mess up her hair and the perfect golden sun beam down on her with warmth, and light blue sky was clear. To her, it felt as if it was just yesterday that she had came back on land.

“Sorry,” Abhilash quickly blurred out. “There’s just something about you...never mind,” he said and stared off into the sea. There was an uncomfortable silence between them. And all that can be heard were the gentle waves and the soft creaks of the rocking boat.

“Go on,” Alima urged him with her sharp grey eyes. “What about me?” Alima wanted to know if he knew what she really was. Only then can she decide if she should really destroy him, which was something she did not, with all of her heart, want to do. Abhilash rubbed his face with his large hands and then he laughed.

“Wow, this is awkward. Listen, I’m sorry for spilling the water on you. It was a total accident, I swear!” he raised his bronzed right hand. But as much as Alima wanted to believe him, his claim that it was just an ‘accident’ would not explain why it the cup was filled to its brim with seawater. When Alima did not reply back he threw up both of his hands in the air as if he was being confronted by the police.

“What can I say? I’m a clumsy man. Please don’t be mad.” Alima shot him another hard look, hoping to pry a confession out of him. After that, he sighed.

“I’m really really sorry!” he apologized. Alima crossed her arms across her chest and leaned her back against the edge of the boat.

“Oh please don’t make me play the guessing game. I hate it when women do that.” Alima was able to hide her smile. She was enjoying toying with him. He didn’t seem like he was the type of man who would hold an obsession. But when he talked about his interest for mermaids, it scared her.

Abhilash snapped his fingers and grinned. “I know why you’re mad! It was the dress! I ruined your dress! I can pay for another one if you like.”

After Alima still didn’t answer him, he tried again. “Was I too sloppy when I ate?” He received a head shake from her.

“Was it when I was talking about how I loved the children?” Alima did another headshake. She thought it was cute that he was trying so hard to make it up to her.

“Oh…” Abhilash’s voice was grave. “It was when I was talking about my love for mermaids, wasn’t it? It’s not an obsession. I’m just fascinated that’s all. I’m sorry if I creeped you out.”

Alima carefully let out a quiet sigh of relief. But it was too soon. She remembered about the portrait. How could she ask him about that? She let it slide for now. Her new submission: she must befriend him. Maybe then he would confess to where the princess was. But what if he didn’t abduct her? Questions flooded her mind.

Alima forced herself to laugh. She hoped that she was a good actress. “I’m just playing with you. I’m not mad. If anything, I’m a bit embarrassed. I’m sorry I ditched you on our date.”

“It’s fine.” He said. “Maybe someday we can go on another one?” He winked at her and she rolled her eyes.

“Maybe,” she said and shrugged. She looked down at her phone and saw that they only had less than an hour to get back to the lab. “We need to get back, now,” she said and started the boat engine. The engine hummed and they rode back.

It was evening and Alima had gone back to her chamber to drag Victoria along. She and Ally had swapped numbers a while back and Ally had invited them both over for dinner. Since Alima and Victoria weren’t able to digest human food, they brought their own food with them. Alima and Victoria were standing on the doorstep and rang the bell. In Alima’s hand was a bag of dead fish in which Alima had hunted at the last minute.

The door opened. Ally was stood in front of them. She was dressed casually in shorts and a pink tank-top. Her blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail and her hazel brown eyes were bright and cheery as usual.

“Alima! It’s so nice to see you! And…” she stared at Victoria and Victoria stared back numbly. “This is Victoria,” Alima said and wrapped her arm around Victoria, giving her a quick squeeze. “I named her.”

“That’s great! Come on in!” Ally led them into the house. “Have a seat,” Ally walked them to the dinner table and they sat. “You can leave the fish on the kitchen counter. Freddy will cook it.”

“Freddy can cook?” Alima lifted a brow.

“Yeah!” Ally’s voice broke and Victoria cringed but Ally didn’t seem to notice. “Freddy had to learn to cook since Mom and Dad aren’t here.”

“Where are they?” Alima asked. Ally got up to go to the kitchen to prepare some appetizers and continued speaking from there.

“My parents won a trip around the world around a year ago. They haven’t came back yet.” Ally came back carrying a tray of raw salmon in her hands. Ally then went off to get a postcard. The postcard had writing in it and a little photo of a man and a woman. Just by looking at them, it was obvious that Ally had inherited her father’s traits. She had his pointed chin, his warm hazel eyes, and especially his nose. Her mother on the other hand, looked a lot like Freddy. He had inherited her shy lips and her thoughtful expression. It was as if she was always thinking.

“This was when they were in Peru. I think they’re coming back soon.” The sides of Ally’s lips curved into a nostalgic smile and she tucked the picture back into the postcard. “I think I’m going to check up on Freddy.” When she left, Victoria and Alima were alone at the table.

“She’s a sweet girl,” Alima said and nudged Victoria with her knee.

“Fine, she is a sweet girl.” Victoria finally admitted. “But still, why are we here? I know you can’t care less about formal dinners.”

“We’re here because we need all the help we can get. Let’s face it, there’s only two of us against five other mermaids. If we get Ally and Freddy to help us, we might just stand a chance!”

“Are you sure the girl would be of any good use?” Victoria asked Alima. It made sense that she was sceptical. Ally didn’t seem like much at a first glance. She was a bit on the thin side and didn’t have a lot of muscle. She was also the typical blonde, being that she was: peppy and cheerful but not very much on the smart side.

“Believe me when I say that I sense potential in this girl. I felt it the second I pushed her into the cold night waters that fateful night on the dock.”

BOOM! There was an explosion from the kitchen. Thick gray smoke crawled from the kitchen and into the dining room. Alima and Victoria held in their breaths as they charged into the kitchen. The smoke stung their eyes and they blinked away their tears. The whole kitchen was charred black and Freddy held a burnt pan in his hand with sad little black clumps that remained. His apron was smothered in grey ash and soot and his brown, sun tinted hair was singed. And next to him was Ally who had her hands out in front of her body. Unlike Freddy and the whole kitchen, she was completely fine and didn’t have one speck of soot on her.

“I__I__I” Ally stuttered and she fainted with no one to catch her. Victoria laughed and slowly clapped with her hands.

“Well Alima, I was wrong for doubting you and your senses.” Victoria snickered and prodded the unconscious Ally with her foot. “She’s a ball of volcanic death.”

Alima ignored her and bent down to touch Ally’s forehead. The moment Alima’s skin grazed her, she winced and flinched. “She’s burning!” Alima turned to Victoria and commanded, “Cool her down but don’t freeze her!” The wooden floor started to sizzle and burn. Little orange flames lit up around her body and Alima barked, “Do it! Do it now!”

“Stop yelling at me!” Victoria shouted. Freddy collapsed next and his pan dropped to the dissipating floor.

“Do it,” Alima said more calmly. Victoria took a deep breath and waved her hand. The entire kitchen became encased in ice. It worse than the last time. Massive icicles hung from the ceiling like pointy cold deadly daggers. The microwave in the corner may as well have been a mini-glacier. And Freddy was a sad flat snowman with no carrot or coal.

“You did it…” Alima said in disbelief.

“I did it…” Victoria said.

But it was too good to be true. They heard a roar of a flame from behind them and they screamed in frustration.

“I’ll sing to the flames,” Alima said. Victoria folded her hands and cracked her knuckles and stretched her arms.

“I’ll commence freezing in three,…”

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