Black Pearl

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How to Flood a Yacht

Phoebe tossed and turned in her sleep. Because she had the power of premonition, it was normal for her to have intense foreshadowing dreams. It didn’t take long for her blank black dream canvas to transition to a yacht. The yacht was incredibly impressive. It was huge, almost 100 feet long and about half as wide. The yacht shined from its fresh polish and took up the center-stage of the ocean. Its honk echoed across the ocean as if declaring it was the boss.

The dream zoomed in on the yacht and onto its deck where Dr. Abhilash was completely immersed in studying the tracking device, still puzzled how a group of mermaids could disappear so quickly and escape to Africa in less than a day. Phoebe had to admit that Abhilash looked kind of ridiculous with such a serious expression when he was wearing tropical swim trunks and had a glob of white sunscreen on the bridge of his nose.

“Abhilash!” said a feminine voice. The dream focused on the woman. Even in her dream, Phoebe vaguely recognized her. It was impossible. Phoebe knew that orange and purple hair from anywhere. And great typhoon! Phoebe thought her eyes would somehow pop out in her dream. Was she wearing a blue bikini under her labcoat? “I brought some grilled seafood.” The woman was holding two sticks of grilled skewered meat in each hand. The dream was so vivid that the smell wafted to all the areas on the boat. Garlic, parsley…maybe some curry...

“Not now, Dr. Queen.” Abhilash said and turned his back against her and continued studying his tracking device. “Can’t you see I’m busy? “ he grumbled.

Dr. Queen tried to entice him by wafting the the kabobs near his face. “Take a break, sweetfish. These kabobs aren’t going to finish themselves.” And when that didn’t work, she pouted her coral pink lips and begged, “Please, Abhilash.”

Abhilash spun on his heels to face her and the expression on his face was anything but pleasant. He snapped, “What is with you, Naia? Lately, all you’ve been trying to do is distract me from my mission! I chose you as my field partner because of you drive and expansive knowledge, not so you would play around and slow me down!”

Dr. Queen stood there speechless for a brief moment in her astounding aqua blue bikini. Her dazed expression then turned to anger and she flung all her her kabobs at Abhilash, who ended up being coated in sticky tropical sauce. Naia stormed off downstairs to the bottom floor of the yacht. After she was gone, all the other scientists stared at Abhilash and giggled.

“It’s NOT funny!” Abhilash said, heat rushing to his cheeks. He took out some napkins from the pockets of his swim trunks and wiped himself down.

The ship honked again.

Approaching the Zambezi river! cried the captain.

“Perfect.” A smile crept upon Abhilasha’s lips. “You can’t run for long, Alima. The world has to discover you eventually.”

A low voice that came from behind him said, “No, it won’t have to. I’ll make sure of it.” Phoebe couldn’t make out the figure clearly but she was definitely sure that it was a young woman. She stood right behind Abhiash so her shadow was all Phoebe could see. Her shadow raised its arms and the waters of the rivers raised along her movement. The scientists screamed. They rushed to their lifejackets and put them on. Abhilash did the same. The waters raised so tall, they towered over the yacht. Abhilash watched in horror. The sunlight was blocked, the murky waters darkened, and WHOOSSH! The waters slammed down on the yacht and the dream ended.

Phoebe woke up to the sound of an annoying voice. “Wake up, Phoebe! Wake up before I pour tea all over you!” It was Maria.

Phoebe sat right up. She panted and her dress was soaked in her sweat. “I__I had a dream.”

Maria shook her head and said, “We don’t have time. The locals said there was a group of strange men that are passing by looking for us. We need to go! NOW!” Maria pulled Phoebe to her feet.

“No, this is important!” Phoebe closed her eyes and remembered her dream. She needed to tell Maria before she would forget. “The scientists, they’re dead! There was this huge tidal wave!” Phoebe stood on her toes and raised her arms up to explain its size.

“They’re not dead.” Maria said gravely. She looked Phoebe with her strong brown eyes. “They’re here. Alima spotted one of them. And weirdly, they’re soaking wet and many of them were wearing bathing suits.” Maria thought about this and said, “Okay, you’re right. Tell me more about the dream.”

Phoebe told Maria about her dream. She mentioned Dr. Queen who was a.k.a Naia, a.k.a the missing Atlantic princess, and how she was working with the scientists who were still trying to track them down. She told her about the mysterious girl who had caused that tidal wave in the Zambezi river.

Maria laughed hysterically. After the first minute or two that passed, Phoebe began to worry. She patted Maria on her back and asked her if she was okay.

Maria aggressively turned on her and snarled, “It’s definitely NOT okay! The princess has betrayed us and her own people, we can’t escape because Garai is still out of it, and__”

“Wait,” Phoebe hushed Maria by putting a finger to her lips. “What happened to Garai when I was sleeping?”

Maria explained to her the real reason why Garai had went on the mission and her desire of the prize. Garai had a freak out and Ally was able to calm her down but the matters became worse when Rufaro, the old man, passed away in his sleep this morning. Now, Garai was in no shape in performing magic.

“That’s it?” Phoebe slumped. “We’re going to give up and surrender?”

“No.” Maria and turned around to look at the front door. “Alima has decided to give herself up.”

Phoebe jumped. She grabbed Maria by the shoulders and hissed. Her claws shot out from her fingertips, piercing Maria through the fabric of her shirt. Her eyes were bloodshot red and she said to her, “Tell me, you didn’t let her do it.”

Maria gulped but she told the truth. “I did. She knows what she’s doing.”

Phoebe let her go and Maria fell to the floor. Phoebe was about to leave the room to look for Alima but Maria grabbed her leg. “Don’t. Trust her for once.”

And with that, Phoebe reluctantly sat down next to Maria and they waited in silence.

Earlier in the day, Abhilash had already came to Garai’s house. Alima had agreed to turn herself in. The two walked a long way from the village to the river where they stayed. There few agents there, less than half of the original thirty. The scientists sat by the river tending their tents, hanging their laundry, and cooked food. To Alima’s surprise, they all seemed miserable and were they wearing bathing suits?

“One of your mermaid friends created a killer tidal wave that destroyed our yacht.” Abhilash said and looked at Alima, silently blaming her with his burning accusative eyes.

“No!” Alima stood up. She was outraged. All of her friends were inside the house. Also, the only one who could do river magic was Garai and she was at the house the whole entire time. “That is a lie!” Alima shouted.

“Quiet down,” Abhilash scolded. Alima found it strange how he seemed more on the edge than he normally was when stressed.

“It doesn’t matter,” Alima said and scanned the other scientists who were watching her closely. “I’m here now. What do you want?”

“I want answers, and lots of them.” Alima could sense the his eternal flame swelling, burning hotter than before. He was finally going to get what he had long sought, answers about the big world that humans were blind to.

“Ask me anything.” Alima said. She secretly felt sick. Her shoulders felt like they weighed a ton and threatened to drag her down. She realized that with every question she’ll answer, she would be stabbing her own people’s tails, one shank at a time.

Abhilash took out his clipboard from underneath a rock and clicked his pen, ready to write. “Okay, so tell me, Alima, what is the typical lifespan of a mermaid?”

“Mermaids aren’t so different from humans and other creatures. It all depends on the region, environmental qualities, diet, etc.”

Abhilash thumped his foot rapidly. He often did this when he was impatient. “What is the diet of a mermaid?”

Alima breathed out a shaky breath. “It’s usually fish.” Alima needed Abhilash to believe mermaids were harmless, but that was far from the truth. Still, Abhilash bought it.

“Are there different species of mermaids?”

Alima gritted her teeth and said, “There are two types of mermaids: freshwater and saltwater. You can think of it like crocodiles. And there are some mermaids that can adapt to both.” Like Garai, Alima almost added in.

Abhilash scribbled some words onto his clipboard and then asked, “Tell me,” he said, chewing the end of his pen. “Which one is the strongest?”

Alima shrugged. “I can’t say. Recently, I’ve found a new respect for river mermaids. Their magic is quite crafty.” Alima spun around and saw that the scientists were still paying close attention to them and their conversation. Alima found it extremely uncomfortable. Now she knew what the marine animals felt like at the lab, they were closely monitored through one way mirrors, they were measured and prodded. “This conversation has been great and all but I must get going. My friends are probably worried.”

As Alima turned to make a swift getaway, Abhilash grabbed her hand and pulled her back. She fell onto a large grey rock and sat down. “Have a seat, Alima.” He chuckled grimly. “You’re not going anytime soon.”

Alima said in her lowest and most threatening voice. It rang with magic. “I already answered you stupid questions. I want to leave, now.

Abhilash smiled in her face and said, “You don’t scare me. I have spent almost my entire life on this project.”

“What project?” Alima said. She thought back to the day of their date. “I thought you were in India teaching the slum children.”

Abhilash let out another laugh and he sighed. Alima was definitely freaked out. “I lied, duh! But about my project, I just want to get to know your kind, that’s all,” Abhilash said. Alima cringed. She found his smooth tone repulsing. It was anything but soothing to the ear.

She shook her head and said, “My people are meant to stay hidden and unknown. You can’t change that. I won’t allow it.”

Abhilash gestured the the scientists in the background. “We’re not the bad guys, Alima. We just love discovering the unknown!”

Alima pulled him closer so he would have no choice but to look her directly in the eyes. She said slowly and carefully, “You are risking an interracial war. You’re stopping us from the one reason why we came here to your world. We’re looking for a mermaid princess. The queen is already furious enough, and she thinks it’s you. Abhilash,” Alima tightened her her grip on his shoulders. Her fierce grey eyes widened. “The queen thinks you’ve kidnapped her.”

Abhilash was stunned. It was all so much to take in. He was accused of kidnapping. He never did such a thing! He stuttered, “B-But I didn’t do it!”

“He’s right,” said a woman who came out of one of the tents. “I came here out of my own free will.” Alima recognized her immediately. It was Princess Naia. She was perfectly intact and unharmed. Her long orange and purple hair was perfect as always and she was wearing a aqua blue bikini under her labcoat.

“Princess Naia…” Alima slowly went up towards her. She felt like this was all a dream. She couldn’t be real. Alima was now faced to face with the princess. She could feel the heat from her body. She was real.

The princess smiled. Her words zipped out of her mouth as if she was in a rush. “As you can see, I’m perfectly fine. Tell your girls that and my sister too. Good-bye!” The princess wiggled her fingers and she turned to hide back in her tent. On instinct, Alima grabbed her and with her right hand, she slapped her. The sound of the loud clap of her cheek resonated across the camp site.

Alima’s mouth went dry. She too, was shocked that she had struck royalty. Alima uttered, “You disappoint me, princess.”

The princess’s jaw dropped for a moment and she pulled it back up. Her coral lips tightened into a cruel smile. “I don’t care,” she said with a weak voice. “That’s exactly why I came here. Everyone was disappointed with me: my sister, the dukes, the council. I couldn’t take it anymore.” Her voice broke but she kept her composure. “Go ahead, drag me back home. Let me continue to live my immortal life as a disappointment.”

Alima was speechless once again. Her head was trapped in a civil war between her choices. She could either obey her orders and take the princess home, or she could leave now and not breathe a word about this to her friends. As Alima was deep in thought, Abhilash interrupted the silence.

“Naia, you’re one of them?” Abhilash looked like he was the happiest guy in the world. “Great! This means more information, another test subject, a new specimen, and__” A muddy tide from the Zambezi river flooded the campsite, dragging most of the scientists into the river. Alima was knocked down by the tide as well but a girl pulled her up. She was eastern Asian, short, and had almost a goddess like complexion. Her long coal colored hair was tied up in a bun with a golden silk scarf. Her lips were a delicate pink, her skin was almost fair as a ghost. She wore a crimson colored qipao (a modern chinese dress with a neck collar) that had a fascinating cherry tree design. The girl reminded Alima of a Hong Kong party girl crossed with a ghost.

“Siren girl, can you fly?” The girl radiated an energy of fierce determination. Alima nodded but she wondered, how did she figure out that she was a siren?

“Yes, but…” It had been an a very long time since Alima had reverted to her true form.

“Do it now!” The girl said urgently.

Alima concentrated. She felt her body morph. Her arms stretched and brown feathers popped out ten at a time. Her torso grew as well and they were also covered with fine brown feathers. And lastly, her lengthened and her toes shifted and morphed into talons. Alima was now a bird from the shoulders down.

The girl hopped on her back. “Take off!” The girl demanded. Alima thought about Naia. Shouldn’t they bring her back? As if she was reading her mind, the girl said, “We give her one more chance to escape. We can hunt her down and then deliver her to the queen.”

Alima didn’t want to admit it but she felt relieved. She felt a tad guilty when she slapped Naia. She watched Naia grow when she was a young mermaid. She knew that Naia was not a natural leader. She grew up in her sister’s shadow. The waters flooded out of the river. It reached the top of her bird legs.

“GO!” The girl shouted. Alima flapped her wings and they took off.

Alima landed on the roof of Garai’s home. The two girls carefully slid off and entered the house where the girls (and Freddy) awaited them. They hoarded around Alima and pestered her with all sorts of questions until their eyes slid to the stranger behind her.

“Who is she?” Ally asked.

Phoebe stared at her with a sense of familiarity. “I saw you in my dreams. You flooded the yacht.”

The girl nodded and said, “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Xi Shi, the seventh mermaid assigned by the queen. I know there’s a lot of explaining I have to do but we have to get out of this continent, first.”

“Again?” Maria whined. “We were barely here for a day!”

“How about the Caribbean?” Everyone turned to Garai who stood in the back. She was tired. Her eyes were deep with purple bags and her walk was slow. “Maria will be comfortable there.”

“Sure, Garai.” Victoria said softly. “If that’s what you want.”

Alima was puzzled. Since when did Victoria care about Garai?

“So it’s settled.” Freddy said. “The Caribbeans?”

Xi Shi gave Freddy a strange look. “You’re human…” Freddy nodded. “I’ll do the spell.” Xi Shi said. She chanted a few words and the water from the tea cups that sat on the table behind them rose and joined together. They swirled and created a vortex. “Jump on in.” But there was no need. The vortex sucked them all in and they disappeared.

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