I lingered in the water for a while, my feet squishing down into the wet sand, watching him as he pretended to not even see me anymore. I was dumbfounded. Cleary I hadn’t done something right. I thought my amulet was supposed to do the work for me, I just needed to get his attention. I looked down at the shining little green stone, silently asking it what the hell was up. For a minute I looked around for cameras, thinking that maybe this was all just an elaborate prank show after all, but I had no such luck.
The guy just went about cleaning the beach, sweat making his long hair stick to his forehead, and when he was finished he walked out in the water, passing right by me without so much as a sideways glance, and swam out to his boat. The engine started up with a loud gurgling sound, then he was gone.
I headed back over to the little island and was assaulted by giggling when I walked up onto the beach, and I was unable to hide my own smile. “What the hell was that?” Levi asked, holding her stomach as she laughed, her long brown hair tangling around her face in the wind.
I held up my arms and shrugged. “Like I know?” I said. “I did what Alana said but…”
“It sure didn’t work.” Cassandra smiled, her eyes crinkling in the corners.
“Well, obviously.” I said rolling my eyes at them.
Cassandra pulled her long hair over to one side, holding it in her hand so that it wouldn’t fly wild. “Was he literally laughing at you?” She asked. “What did he say?”
“What did you say?” Levi asked as she got her laughter under control, her blue eyes still looking amused.
I smiled, shrugging again. “Yeah, he laughed at me alright.” I admitted with a smile, remembering the hearty sound of it. “He said my tricks wouldn’t work on him.”
Cassandra and Levi instantly looked a little nervous. “He knew what you were?” Cassandra asked wide eyed.
“Sure sounded like it.” I told her. “He said I must be new, and that it wasn’t going to work.”
Levi nodded, chewing the inside of her cheek. “Did you say anything to him?” She asked. “I wonder how he knows about us.” She mused quietly.
My face got a little hot as I recounted my just standing there like a fool. “I didn’t say anything to him. I just watched him until he left. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I can’t figure out why it wouldn’t work on him.”
“Smooth, Serena.” Levi winked at me and I only felt more mortified by it.
I sighed, turning to look in the direction his boat went, and you could just barely see it on the horizon. Aside from the wake that his boat had kicked up, the waters were smooth, and more importantly…completely deserted.
We sat together on the beach, the breeze keeping us cool under the blaring heat of the sun. There was a comfortable silence between us, which I was only semi tempted to break. I have a bad habit of talking when I don’t need to, and I know some people like the quiet, so I kept my lips sealed.
A good chunk of time passed when I glanced over at Cassandra, marveling slightly as her outrageously long blonde hair trailed out behind her on the sand, but then I noticed her amulet. “Cassandra.” I said quickly. “Your stone is fading.”
She ducked her pointed chin down quickly to look and gasped. “How long have we been out of the water?” She asked Levi and Levi looked down at her necklace too.
“Shit!” Levi yelled, clumsily standing and walking towards the water.
I trialed behind them, wading in until we were all in up to our necks, then I checked their amulets again. “They’re glowing brightly now.” I assured them. “I guess that’s how we will know if we’ve been out of the water too long.” I pointed out. “I wonder if we can use that to find out how far away we’re allowed to go.”
Levi looked around, then nodded. “That’s a good idea.” She agreed.
Each of us swam out in a different direction, stopping when our green stones began to dim, letting us know that we were about to be out of range for our magic. What was extremely disheartening was that we were still close enough to see each other when the stones began to give out. We had a triangle of space between us. Levi was out about a mile and a half from the little island, while I was out about the same distance from the larger one. Cassandra was out in the open water towards the horizon when she waved her arms in the air showing that she couldn’t go any further either.
We met back in the middle, all having the same worried looks on our faces. “This is hopeless.” I whispered.
Cassandra nodded. “Yeah, and we have only seen one actual person come through here today.” She said chewing on her bottom lip.
I hated this feeling of hopelessness, so I tried to lighten the mood. “Maybe this area only gets busy at night.” I said in my preppy can-do voice. “I mean, it must, right?”
“Maybe.” Cassandra nodded, and Levi looked unconvinced but she smiled a little anyway.
We floated there for a while and then all of our eyes lit up when we heard a boat coming, the loud ringing of its horn filling the air.
We all turned, and we could finally see it coming out from around the backside of the larger island. It looked like it would be a tight squeeze, but one of us may be able to get close enough without leaving our protected area. “Hurry, Cassandra!” I insisted. “It’ll be too far out in a minute.”
She looked down and the water, and I could see her frightened face in the waters reflection. “I can’t.” She whispered and I brought my hand to my mouth, chewing on my nails.
I looked at Levi and she didn’t seem to be in anymore of a hurry to get to it than Cassandra was so I huffed and ducked down under the water, propelling myself in the direction of the boat.
I repeated Asher’s name in my head over and over as I went.
When I was close enough I rose my head back out of the water, and whistled to get the attention of the two men aboard. They both turned to look over the side of their boat that was a little bigger than the one the guy had been on earlier. They were clearly fishermen by the way they were dressed and the nets and things that cluttered their boat. “What the?” The shorter beefy one said, looking at me and then back to the man beside him.
“What are you doing in these waters, darlin?” The balding guy asked me with a crooked smile.
“Yeah, aint you hear these waters is haunted?” The beefy one added with his friend.
I focused on my mission, and I smiled at them. “I must be lost.” I called to them.
“Well, honey I’d be happy to take you home with me.” The balding one said with a gross wink.
I just grinned, then suddenly I felt a strange sensation take over my body, like I was tingling from head to toe. I felt a surge of power through me, like I was invincible. I turned my eyes back up to the men and they watched in a mix of shock and amazement as I rose out of the water, levitating above it and looking deeply into their eyes.
Neither of them spoke, they just both began to climb over the edge of their boat, cluttering into the water with huge splashes.
I lowered back into the water, going under a few feet, and once my head was under I could hear it. I looked down at my necklace, in awe of the sweet high pitched lulling sound that was calling to the men from it. Even I felt slightly enamored by the sound of it, feeling an intoxicating happiness flow through me. I was mortified to think that I was actually enjoying this, until I looked away from my amulet that was now glowing a bright brilliant green, and looked at the men’s faces again.
I gasped, reaching for them and trying to pull them back above the water. It was clear that they were drowning, but their bodies were frozen. Their eyes were wide and bulging with fear, but they weren’t able to move or scream or do anything but take the pain of the water into their lungs.
It sent me right back to the feeling of my own death, the painful fire lapping down my throat and burning me from the inside out. I screamed, apologizing over and over as their eyes went vacant and their mouths opened as a white smoke like substance came out of them, whirling in the water over to my amulet. It glowed twice as bright and then flashed.
When I opened my eyes the bodies were gone, and when I swam up to the surface, the boat had vanished too.
I floated there, screaming out at nothing.
Levi and Cassandra were at my sides suddenly, both placing their hands on my shoulders, but the contact only made me more upset. “What did I just do?” I asked through a choking sob.
Cassandra dropped her big eyes down, but Levi looked right at me. “What you had to do.” She said firmly.
I wanted to believe her, but I wasn’t sure it was true. I didn’t have to do it, but I did it anyway. If I don’t do this, I’ll become a creature for the rest of eternity. I knew know that if the choice was me dying or me killing more people, I’d take death easily, but death isn’t an option anymore. It’s do this, or be like Armela. A fish or some other thing at Alana’s will forever. I can’t do that. I’m not sure I can do this either though.
I needed to be alone, so I ducked out from under their touches and I swam for the cove, walking up to collapse on the beach and cry into the sand, those poor men’s faces permanently stuck in my brain.