Black Pearl

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Xi Shi Stabs Herself

Freddy panicked. He tried to kick and squirm his way out of Cassandra’s grasps but she was hooked onto him good and it wasn’t likely that she was planning to let go anytime soon. Help! Freddy wanted to say, but all that came out were more bubbles filled with precious air, his air. Freddy was sinking. The water blue waters around him grew darker. His eyelids grew heavier. Suddenly, the sharp pain of oxygen deprivation didn’t hurt so much anymore. Freddy just felt sleepy...so sleepy.

But just before Freddy was about to drift off into unconsciousness, he felt someone grab him under his arms and pulling him up. He was rising! Freddy reached the surface and coughed. His body rejected the seawater and he was able to breathe. He gasped like a fish, desperately inhaling all the air he could get.

“I’m so sorry Freddy!” He recognized that voice. It was his sister, Ally. “I’ll get you out of here soon, don’t die!” Freddy had the urge to laugh. As if, he thought. Death is so not an option. Freddy slowly opened his eyes and saw her. Ally’s expression was grim and her cheeks were puffed as she hauled him to shore. Her blonde hair was a mess. From the distance, Freddy could hear Maria splashing about and heard her throwing punches while shouting, “Estúpido! Eres tan estúpido, Cassandra! Comer mi puño!”

Only at that moment Freddy wished he had taken extra classes of Spanish. Finally, Ally had reached the shore. Freddy’s skin was grazed from the wet sand that scratched his arms and the back of his neck. His eyes burned. Freddy coughed some more and said in his raspy voice, “Remind me to stay away from pretty mermaids. They’re too much trouble.”

Ally immediately hugged him and clawed at her arms. “No more hugs!” Ally immediately let go and Freddy’s head clashed against the wet sand shore. “Sorry.” Ally said.

Freddy felt kind of bad for doing that but after Cassandra’s hug of death, he wasn’t exactly in the mood for any physical contact. He heard a splash near him. Maria dragged herself onto shore, her blue tail flopped against the sand. Although Freddy’s vision was blurry, he saw that she had a few bruises on her face. But other than that, she seemed fine.

“I don’t think she’ll be coming back.” Maria said and rubbed her swollen cheek. “I’m really sorry I forgot to warn you about Cassandra. It’s been so long since I’ve been home.”

Freddy forced himself to sit up and he winced. Every time he breathed, his lungs begged for mercy. “Was that your sister or something?”

Maria breathed out hard through her nose and said, “If she was, I would’ve killed her already. No, Cassandra is an old amiga. We used to sink ships together.”

Ally smiled slightly while rubbing Freddy’s back. “Now I see why you chose to come on land. Sinking ships for five hundred years or so must’ve bored you out.”

“You have no idea. It was the same-old same-old. It was always went something like this: We summon a monsoon. They beg for mercy. We show them no mercy. A whole bunch of people die. You know, it was a routine.” Maria shrugged. Freddy learned by spending a couple of weeks with mermaids that mass killings were purely recreational. Apparently, there was nothing immoral with that.

“Hey,” Freddy said trying to mask his passive aggression. “I’d love to stay and hear about your fun murder stories about back in the day but I had just survived assault-by-mermaid and I’d sure appreciate it if you both would take me to the beach house. I’m hungry.” Freddy said this all with a smile. Ally and Maria had the most priceless expression on their faces. It was a cross between shock and being disturbed. Freddy lifted a brow. “Oh, I forgot to say please. Please,” he added with a forced smile. Immediately, Ally and Maria both got to work. They fanned their tails so they could dry off and they each took one of Freddy’s arms, wrapped them around their shoulders, and proceeded to carry him to the beach house.

By the time Maria, Ally, and Freddy entered the house, they found out that all the other girls were already there. And because everyone was starving, they decided to have a family dinner together. After rummaging through the fridge and heating up the leftovers, they ate in silence at the table. Ally hated silence. She had to say something. Everyone was either awkwardly picking at their food or glaring at each other immensely.

Ally dropped her spoonful of soup which fell back into her ceramic bowl with a clack sound. She chirped, “So! How is everybody?”

Freddy viciously passive-aggressively sawed his carrots into micro pieces and said with a tight face, “I’ve never felt better. I was seduced by a hispanic mermaid who almost drowned me to death!” He turned to the next girl beside him to the right which was Phoebe who glared at Alima.

“I’m pissed because my best friend has gone soft.” She overemphasized the last word. Ally noticed her hands had balled into fists that shook out of her anger. Alima barked back at her in defense.

“I’m sorry! But Naia was being so pathetic at the moment that I couldn’t bear to drag her back.” Alima looked down at her own feet and said in a much lower volume, “I wanted for her to have her dignity when we capture her.”

“Do you mean Princess Naia?” Ally asked.

“Yes,” Garai glared at Alima back with deadly coldness. “We would’ve been finished with this stupid mission already if Alima and Miss ‘my culture respects dignity’ hadn’t decided to give the princess another chance. They’ve endangered us all!” Garai raised her voice. Everybody at the table winced. Alima was still looking down at her feet. “You took our only chance of succeeding this mission and threw it in the abyss. It was stupid.”

There was a complete silence. Everyone didn’t blame Garai for her anger. She deserved to be angry. Rufaro was dead. If Alima had just taken Naia back to the girls, they all would’ve delivered her back to the Atlantic Queen already and have gotten their prize. They wouldn’t be here still hiding from the scientists.

“Who’s to blame doesn’t matter now. We need to focus on finding the princess again.” Xi Shi said while braiding her sleek long squid ink hair. “I have an idea.”

Victoria scoffed. “Why should we trust you? If anything, you were the one that convinced Alima to leave Naia. And we barely know you! How do we know that you’re not a spy for the scientists?”

Xi Shi stood up from her chair, went to the kitchen, and came back with a six-inch knife. Everyone at the table stared at her nervously as she made her way back to her seat. She didn’t sit down. “You can trust me because the scientists you fear have nothing I want to offer. I seek no material goods. I seek only death.” Xi Shi grasped the knife with both hands and plunged it into her torso. Ally cried a shrill scream. Freddy passed out on the table. Everyone else just turned pale from terror. Xi Shi’s face had contorted due to the pain but with a gasp, she yanked the knife right out. It was clean of any residue. Her torso was clean too. There were no cuts, but her qipao dress was torn. “I’m already dead.”

“What are you?” Maria asked. She gnawed on her lower lip.

Xi Shi smiled. Her small red lips shined. “I was born human,” she said as she played with the knife her hand, playfully tracing her finger across it back and forth. “506 B.C during the Spring and Autumn period of China, to be exact. Back in the day, China was separated into many states, of which you can think of them as kingdoms. There was always wars going on.”

“Get to the point,” Victoria snapped.

Xi Shi frowned upon her but nevertheless, she continued. “I was the woman who righteously and single-handedly overthrew an entire kingdom for my people. And how does the universe repay me? I drown in a river and get turned into an immortal mermaid!” Xi Shi shouted at the ceiling.

“She’s lost it,” Maria whispered to Ally.

After an uncomfortable round of silence, Alima said softly, “The river fell in love with you so it made you into a mermaid.”

Xi Shi shook her head with a sad smile on her face. “All I ask of the queen is for death.” Xi Shi turned so she could face everyone at the table. “I want this prize as much as any one of you. If not, maybe more.” Xi Shi took a deep breath and added something more. Her voice was low and grave. “Think twice before you accuse anyone of treason. I know for sure where my loyalties lie. I led an emperor to his doom for my people.” She cocked her head to the side as of a bird would when judging. “Do you?” She looked straight at Victoria. She waited for Victoria’s reaction which was exactly what she intended. Victoria gritted her teeth but remained silent. Xi Shi was satisfied. She sat down at her seat and sipped her tea gracefully.

Ally mouthed, wow, and sighed. The fact that one of their new allies was dead was a bit hard to take in. Then again, her Uncle Matthew was a vampire. What a unique adventure, Ally thought. “So, anybody else?” Ally asked.

“Si,” Maria said and stood up from the table. She pulled up her pant leg and show to show everyone at the table. Freddy finally woke up from his faint and raised his head from the table groggily. “I have approximately until sunset until I lose my legs, permanently.” At first, no one saw anything wrong until they looked closer. There it was on her foot, a shiny blue fish scale.

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