Black Pearl

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Meeting Royalty

“Hello Greg, I need a favor…”

The night before the girl’s departure to deliver Naia to the Atlantic queen, Garai made one last call. Gripping the homephone close to her ear with both hands, she looked around cautiously to check for any eavesdroppers. Turning her head left to right and all around, she saw that there was nobody.

An amused laugh was heard from the other side. “You’ve got to stop calling me like this. If this continues, my crewmates will kill me. We’re not allowed to call and fish.”

Hearing the sound of his voice brought a smile to her face. It always did. She’d been calling him daily and they’ve gotten to know each other well. They’d exchanged stories from their homeland, jokes, and even some secrets. It was a nice far-distance relationship.

“Sorry about that,” Garai apologized. “But I really do need a__” But Greg immediately interrupted her in mid sentence. He had exciting news to share.

“Oh! I just remembered something I was dying to tell you!” Greg’s voice heightened and buzzed with energy.

“Greg,” Garai said more urgently but he it was as if he didn’t hear her at all.

“My old mate, Antoine, you remember him right?”

“Yes, but__”

“His wedding’s in a week and I still don’t have a date. I was thinking__”

“Greg!” Garai said more loudly.

He sucked in his breath and asked her, “Will you go with me as my date?”

“Oh…” Was the only word that popped in Garai’s mind. The question had hit her smack dab in the face and shook up her feelings. If Greg had asked Garai this at the right time, she’d be elated and tell the girls immediately. But the mission wasn’t over yet. She still needed to deliver Princess Naia and who knows how long that will take with all the drama that was already going on.

Greg was on the other side, still waiting for an answer. She took a moment to remove the phone away from her face. It dangled at her side and she sighed. Then when she collected herself, she put the phone back to her ear and she said, “If I go, promise you’ll do something for me.”

“What is it?” Greg said, sounding somewhat disappointed yet equally as curious.

“I need you to take care of a friend for me. His name’s Freddy. You met him before but it was when...you know...the shower.” Garai felt her cheeks flush a bit from embarrassment. “Can you keep him safe for me?”

Even with the static from their long distance phone call, Greg could sense the somber tone in her voice. But he didn’t pry. “Of course. But on another condition.”

“What now Greg?” Her body tensed from all the stress she was already dealing with. First the mission, then her missing friends’ safety, and then the death of her old friend Rufaro, what could he possibly want from her now? He’d already asked her to be his date at Antoine’s wedding.

“I want you to come back as my girlfriend.”

“Greg…”

Victoria’s voice bellowed from the back of the living room. “GAAAARRRAIIII! WE NEED TO GO!”

Garai sighed and let her back slump against the wall of the living room. “I’ll see you soon when I drop Freddy off. Are you still at the coast of France?”

Greg said a sad “oui”.

“Thanks Greg.” She hung up the phone. Never before had she ever been so emotionally exhausted. She gripped the table for support and clawed the underside of the wood, leaving behind individual ridges imprinted in the wood. It bothered her that she’d didn’t answer his last question. Garai shook her head of her worrisome thoughts. Now was not the time. She was to finish this mission no matter what.

Garai turned her attention back to Freddy and shouted, “FREDDY! YOU’RE GOING TO A BABYSITTER!”

The Arabian sea had been under siege. Alima’s army of sirens swam in perfect formation as they rampaged the towns, cities, and the modern sea buildings, driving every sane merfolk out of their home-waters. The haunting repetitive melodies resonated throughout the sea, which completed their formula of chaos. Fish swam backwards. Children cried. Screams were heard left and right. It was the merfolks’ worst nightmare come true; the sirens have returned. And they were making a comeback.

Katie and Ally were making an exhausting effort to get closer to the beasts, as they evaded the torpedos of merfolks jetting their way past them. Ally winced as a fellow mermaid’s tail flicked her in the arm as she frantically swam for her life.

“Ow! Watch it!” Ally yelped and she examined the injury from the whiplash.

Katie shook her head at her and stared off into the distance to scan for the sirens. The murky silhouettes were augmenting in size. Their song, though not hurting her nor her friend, were as she could tell, growing stronger by the passing minutes. She did a 360 and felt nauseous. There must’ve been hundreds of them. Alima was in there, somewhere. They needed to find her. She couldn’t have changed, right? How could a person change within a few days? Her hopeful thoughts of her friend simultaneously began to diminish as they came to her mind. The evidence was piling up.

As if reading her mind, Ally nudged her with her index finger and said, “I’m sure there’s a reason.”

“What reason, Ally?” Katie looked back to the eerie black silhouettes and back to her. “Look at what’s happening around you. The merfolk have abandoned their homes, the sea-life is dead, everyone is afraid. She’s the one who’s doing this Ally.”

Ally let out a snort and put her hands on the sides of where her waist met with her tail. “There has to be a reason,” she insisted, this time more firm.

Katie ran her hand through her salty colorfully dyed hair. Katie couldn’t understand how Ally was so sure. Then again, Ally did know Alima longer than her. But still, what reason could be behind all this destruction? Katie took a moment to carefully analyze her friend. Ally was watching the emerging silhouettes in the distance. On her face she wore the familiar mask of hope, the hope that her old friend had not returned to her old ways––that she was good and always had been.

With a sigh, Katie recollected her composure and said, “Let’s see if you’re right.”

Immediately, Ally turned back around to face Katie. Her eyes widened in disbelief for a brief moment and then eased into a confident gaze.

Together, they swam like never before like two freshly shot torpedos in the water towards the army. Feeling the rush of the salty sea against their bodies and the ache in their tails, they pushed through and before they knew it, the were face to face with the army of sirens, knowing that every siren in existence was right there, staring at them eye to eye.

They were much more intimidating close up. The details of their foreign bodies were much more clearer: their black tails, brown bird wings, long talons. They weren’t very much like mermaids. And not to mention the deathly gleam in their eye that somehow managed to sparkle even though their eyes were dark as their souls and the souls they’d consumed.

The sirens fully enclosed Katie and Ally in a full circle, preventing their chances of escape. Their harmonic song was much louder, louder than the rock concert Ally attended once before the days of her adventure. The girls winced. The dull pain that was already there in their ears worsened and their ears throbbed, which led to a massive headache. Katie groaned and plugged up her ears with her fingers while Ally cupped her ears with the palm of her hands.

“Alima!” Ally cried out. The sirens continued to sing. Her voice was useless against the song.

“Alima!” Katie cried. But her voice, too, was deemed useless.

They cried again and again, until their throats became sore. After what should’ve been their one-hundredth call, they realized that they were wasting time. They shouldn’t be trying to out do the song, instead, the song needed to be put to a stop.

Ally held her hands out and pushed, igniting the inner circle in flames. Hell-fire orange flames flickered inside the circle and disappeared. No siren was harmed but their feathers were left singed. The singing had halted and the sirens were silenced.

“Nice work,” Katie said.

Ally took the complement and returned her attention back to the sirens. She cleared her throat and said, “We wish to see Alima.”

The sirens whispered amongst each other and whispered to the fellow siren behind her and the siren behind her and so on. It was a very long game of telephone. An indent began to form through the circle and the sirens bowed their heads low as their highness made her way towards the center. Both Katie and Ally held their breath as the queen finally set her tail into the center and said, “You asked to see the queen?”

They looked at each other and choked down a swig of sea.

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