The Mermaid That's Sweetest

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3] A Vicious Attack

3] A Vicious Attack

After I’ve gone into the hospital that morning, I find Halina stumbling out with a bandage wrapped around her neck. She’s supported by the girls that slept in the hospital overnight with her. Halina is crying as they help her stay upright and her eyes are puffy and red as if she’s been crying all night.

“What happened?” I run in front of her and she collapses onto my shoulder.

“The island walk went wayward,” Roanne explains to me, in a heated whisper, “We ran into an Erebos, when we tried to kill it, he caught a hold of Halina and…”

“I don’t want to think about it!” Halina lifts off me, hiccupping on a breath, she watches how my face pales and she gulps, “…Lily… what is it?”

“Nothing,” I speak too quickly.

“I was nearly killed,” Halina yells it at me, “What do you mean, nothing?”

“She’s been hysterical all night,” Zandy, another Mermaid tries to comfort me, “We need to get her to safety.”

I reach forward and put my hand on Halina’s head… she’s burning up.

“You’ve been poisoned,” I reason, “Sorry, Halina, I didn’t mean nothing as in nothing… I just… I’m shocked…. I – I –”

“What do you mean I’ve been poisoned?” Halina breathes in a panic and I stand back.

“Take her to bed and I’ll get some advice from the doctor, I’m sure there’s an easy solution… an easy cure… we cure everything, don’t worry, Halina,” I try to sound upbeat.

As the girls take her away, I lose my smile and my heart drops to my stomach.

The Erebos I saved had hurt Halina!

The most disturbing part about my reaction was not my immediate worry… but…

I couldn’t say it, it was sickening.

I keep it to myself. Some sick, strange part of me was jealous that he bit her.

My friend was hurt and I was envious of her pain…? What in the world? I turn to go into the hospital and I wonder if there is a cure for delusional thinking as well.

Ironically, I get my answer not two minutes later.

I find Doctor Iris in one of the medical rooms cleaning reusable bandages. She immediately tells me the issue, “I didn’t tell Halina she was poisoned, she’s been too upset. You shouldn’t have said anything, Lily. However, it’s fine, I’ve sent Hunters out to kill the Erebos and retrieve a scale – drying and crushing it into a powder will act as an antidote.”

That’s when I pipe up.

“…can you call off the Hunters?” I ask, trying to appear as normal as possible.

Iris turns to me, her blonde hair was in a neat bun, her sandy brows were touching her hair line.

“Excuse me?” she asks, confused.

“I actually know where he is because… he’s dead already. He died from a fatal wound,” I explain, “I found his body last night, I haven’t told anyone. I can take the scale if the birds haven’t got to him already and I’ll make the antidote.”

“That is an unexpected surprise, I’ll say,” Iris murmurs, “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

“He was dead, so I didn’t think it was important,” I shrug, “Now, obviously... it is.”

“Okay, I’ll call the Hunters off,” she sighs and murmurs, “When you approach the body, take note of his features. It’s a good lesson. An Erebos has compelling eyes… and a tail that is longer and more attractive… their hair is also unusually shiny and well kept. It’s all a part of their survival. They drive anyone insane if they’ve gazed upon an Erebos and survived. It’s a kind of delusion, it’s not real attraction. It’s deadly,” Iris is so short and proper as she explains this.

I nod as I walk backwards.

“I should get the scale soon, Iris,” I explain.

“Have the day off, we don’t have many patients expected today… but there will be plenty more next week, as you well know, when the seas are Rough – the injured Merka’s start piling in, you know how keen they are about wanting to catch and kill an Erebos if they can,” she turns back to her work and I also turn and leave.

A delusional pull towards him.

It made sense now, that I had been upset that Halina had been bitten… and I hadn’t.

He was driving me insane.

Perhaps this whole time, the dream I had been having, was a natural warning about the Erebos. They compelled you. They muddled your sane mind. Then once you fell for it, they feasted on you.

I ponder if that means people enjoy being shredded apart, in a deluded sense of approval.

On that note, I conclude that my thoughts had definitely been warped since last night.

As I head towards the Orphanage for the Darvs, I overhear a couple walking by me.

“…isn’t it so crazy…?” the girl sighs.

“It’s indescribable,” the Merka responds, “I couldn’t think straight when I looked into your eyes.”

“Same, you just captured my soul and never let me go. I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetness.”

I pause and look over at them as they walk hand in hand.

A chill runs down my spine but this time, it’s pure anxiety.

More strangeness.

I head out of the village and towards the dirt path. I try to shake the chill in my back.

It amplifies, however and it gets so bad, my mind scrambles to the point I forget where I’m going and what I’m doing.

I look up and I look around.

My eyes keep searching.

Searching.

For what?

I gasp as I feel a stab of ice in the back of my neck, like a muscle cramp.

I look over my shoulder.

And I see him.

In the tree line.

He’s smirking at me.

He’s come back!

Dressed in someone’s stolen work pants, the Erebos is shirtless like all the other Merka that roamed the Belle Island.

He’s waiting for me, beckoning me over with his unbreakable gaze.

The one thing I can’t shake is how my mind suddenly clears… and all my normal thoughts rush back into me.

He turns and walks into the shrub and trees.

Like a lunatic, I sprint after him.

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