I’d opened my eyes and found myself in almost total darkness, but what was scarier than that was the fact that I was still under water, in some kind of cavern. Suddenly there was a flash a green light and the monster appeared in front of me.
I made the mistake of gasping and when I did my lungs started to fill with water all over again.
Now before this, I’d always said the worst way to die had to be dying in a fire, but now…
I flailed around, trying to swim away but the monster held up a webbed hand and my body was frozen like glass, but the water still flowed into me, setting my insides into the most pain I’d ever felt all over again.
“Would you like to breathe?” A sweet high pitched female voice whispered and my eyes shot around the cave looking for who the voice came from. “I said, do you want to breathe?” The monster lingered in front of me, floating effortlessly with its solid white eyeballs. It lowered its hand and I could move my body again, so I nodded furiously. “Very well, it will come at price though…do you take my deal?” The thing was an inch away from my face and I nodded again. Anything to get the pain to stop. “Good.” The voice whispered, then the monster in front of me opened up its black lipped mouth and blew a bubble out, watching as it glided across the water between us.
The second the bubble popped against my mouth, air was suddenly filling my lungs again, the pain stopping instantly and I swam in place without using any real effort. “What’s going on?” I asked, backing into the cave wall to get away from the thing, and holding my throat when my voice came out completely normal. “Where am I?”
I looked around the cave and saw all the little potion bottles that filled the thousands of holes in the rock walls of the cavern. In the center of the space there was a giant green glowing orb of light that just floated there, drawing my eyes in to look at it. The light inside it seemed to pulse and I leaned away from the wall, pushing mindlessly towards the light, until the monster swam in my way, cutting me off. “Now, now.” It whispered. “We need to talk first, don’t we?” It asked me. “You wanted to know where you are….” The voice echoed the room. “You’re in Culliver’s Cove.” It said. “I’ve brought you here because you and I need each other.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked skeptically, not sure at this point if I was in the middle of some kind of sick dream.
“Let me ask you a question…Serena.”
“How do you know my name?” I asked quickly, my heart hammering in my chest.
The monster shook its head at me, the tangles of black hair getting wound around its ugly face. “Do you think I’m beautiful?” It asked me, swimming out towards the light where I could see it better. The green hue did nothing for its hideousness. The upper body was thin, but the skin was sickly looking, hanging loose and soft. The shoulders seemed to hunch over, making the back looked humped up. The tangle of hair swept away from the face and I could tell it almost had a human looking face if it weren’t for all of the scaly patches across its skin. The most disturbing part of it, aside from the tiny little dagger teeth, was its lower half. It looked like…tentacles? But there weren’t eight of them like an octopus, instead there were six black and grey sludgy looking tentacles flailing around in the water slowly. “I know you don’t think so right now.” The voice came again. “I could be though, with your help.” I floated there speechless, caught between staring at the thing or the orb behind it. “Will you help me?”
“How?” I whispered, shaking my head slightly.
“Oh, my darling, it’s simple.” The sweet voice cooed. “Do you want to go back to your life?”
“Just what I said…Do you wish to return to your life?” It asked. “I could help you. I can give you your life back. You could live again, go home to your wealthy parents and friends…You could go back to Asher.”
The mention of his name made my heart leap. “How do you know about him?” I demanded.
“I know all sorts of things, Serena.” The voice came to me as the monster swam back and forth in a path in front of the orb, its blank white eyes seeming to glare into my soul as the things mouth opened up, revealing its teeth again. “I know that you’d do anything to get back to your life, and I want to help you.” The monster stopped moving and turned its head to the orb and I followed its gaze, happy for another opportunity to stare at it. The green light faded and it was replaced with Asher’s face. I gasped and swam closer, my body shaking slightly. Asher and my friends were standing on the edge of a dock, all of them crying while search crews were out in the water…divers looking for the body they wouldn’t find. I went to reach my hand out to touch his face when his image faded back out and the green light reappeared. “They miss you.”
“What do I have to do?” I asked, pulling my eyes away from the green light and staring into the white of the monster’s eyes.
“Give me two years…” It whispered. “Two years, and 100 souls.”
My eyes widened and I swam back away from it, smacking into a wall again, then shoving to the other side as a big ugly fish with a slack jaw full of teeth and a little light hanging in front of its face swam towards me. “What are you talking about?” I asked, fear finally starting to overpower my limbs.
“Don’t be so dramatic.” The voice teased me. “It’s not hard.” It said. “I will give you the tools you need, all you have to do is bring the souls to me. Any 100 souls you please, and then when your two years are up, and I have my souls, I’ll set you free.”
“Free from what?” I asked, looking around for the way out, intending to just swim away.
A laugh filled my ears. “You remember that deal I asked you to accept?” It asked me. “You agreed to it without even knowing what it was, and I gave you breath, now you are in my debt.” My heart sank in my chest. “If you agree to help me get my souls, then I will set you free…but, if you chose to deny my request, you’ll be like that.” The monster raised up its hand and pointed to the hideous fish.
“What?” I said, unable to rationalize in my mind what was happening here.
“Idiot, girl!” The voice boomed, frustration creeping into its voice. “You help me or I turn you into whatever type of hideous creature I deem appropriate!” The voice seemed to calm, and the monster began its slow sway back and forth in front of the orb again. “You make this deal with me, and in two years you’re back home, in his arms.” It said, Asher’s crying face appearing on the orb again. “You don’t have to do it alone.” It said. “You’ll have help.” I started to question but the voice continued. “Help me.” It whispered, the thing an inch from my face now. “I’m giving you a second chance…just say yes.”
I knew it was wrong, but I nodded my head anyway. “Ok.” I whispered, and Asher’s face vanished, the green light coming back and pulsing vigorously. “What do I do?” I asked the orb more so than the monster beside me.
“Go ahead.” The voice whispered, and my pull towards the green glow got stronger. “Touch it.”
I reached out my hand, and gently brought my hand down on it. I expected it to be hard, like a marble or ball, but instead it was gooey, the orb morphing around my hand and growing brighter. I felt a strange sensation take over my body, like electricity pulsing furiously through my veins, making my skin glow with a tinge of green. I tried to yank my hand away, but the orb held onto it, pushing its power through me, making my hair feel like it was all standing on end. I looked over to the monster and fear struck me again as its white eyes began to glow green, light shining from them through the watery darkness, and it began to laugh.
Its body was being swarmed by little green bubbles, blocking my view of it momentarily, and then they began to pop, one at a time and the woman appeared. “My circle is complete!” The woman’s high voice I heard earlier came out of her mouth and she smiled at me, her eyes still white until she blinked and there was a flash of light so bright I flinched. On her que the orb released me, and the woman walked over to me on human legs across the cavern floor. “Thank you, my darling.” She whispered to me as my own body stopped floating in the water and I lowered weightlessly to cavern floor.
She’d been transformed. Her skin was all a porcelain ivory color, and her wild black hair was more tamed, and smooth as it floated around her. Her face was beautiful. Perfectly angular and youthful, her dark brown eyes piercing mine as she smiled beautifully. “Woah.” I whispered, unable to say anything else. She grinned wider, walking over to a dark spot in the cavern I couldn’t see, then reemerging with a silky looking black robe on that didn’t seem to be affected by the water at all. It clung to her body like it would if she were walking around on dry land.
In her hand she held a mirror. “Woah is right.” She purred as she handed it over to me.
I took it with shaking hands and looked into it, shocked by my reflection, bringing my free hand up to touch my angelic face.
I’ve never been ugly, and most would have said I was beautiful before, but now…I still looked like me, but even more gorgeous than before. My skin had a flawless glow to it, and my cheekbones were high, accentuating my big green eyes and jet black long lashes. My lips were thick and looked like they had a heavy layer of gloss over them, even though all of my makeup should have been smeared and washed off by now. I looked like an expertly photo shopped version of the me I was before.
When I pulled my eyes away from my face, I caught sight of something new around my neck.
I looked down, trying to lift the teardrop shaped amulet from the hollow of my neck, but it wouldn’t move, like it was infused to my skin. It was on an immovable gold chain, and in the center piece was a little green stone that glowed like the orb, pulsing with my heartbeat.
“I think we’re going to make a great team.” The sea witch told me, coming to brush her delicate hand across my shoulder. When she touched skin, I looked down, realizing that the cute cotton dress I’d had on earlier was gone, and now I was in a flowing white gown. It hung down my body just like her robe was, unaffected by the flowing water around us. It was strapless and there was a golden sash tied around my waist. I couldn’t stop thinking I probably looked like I was dressed up as a Greek Goddess for Halloween or something. “You’re not dressed up.” The sea witch said, reading my mind. “You are a goddess now.” She cooed. “My little goddess of the sea.”
“I don’t understand.” I admitted to her, still feeling really weird about being able to talk and breathe under water like it was nothing. I caught myself holding my breath even though it was unnecessary.
“You will in time.” She assured me.
“But-.” I tried to abject but she shushed me.
“Now it’s time to meet your sisters.”