Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Mermaid House: Part Eighteen

    Then Leander was breathing again, choking up water, blind and cold as he lay on the sand. A voice was telling him roughly, "Idiot."
    He opened his eyes, saw the night sky. He could hear the ocean. Crouched beside him was a dead boy in soaked jeans and a T-shirt. Owen Thyme said, "You need to get away now."
    Leander whispered, "You're dead."
    "I'm dead because of that monster you nearly made a deal with."
    Leander slid into a crouch, spat out sea water. "You're the thing in the well...the snake..."
    Owen Thyme raised his head. His eyes were black. "I belong to Amphitrite."
    "Owen." Leander felt his voice choke into a snarl. "Tell me what will kill her."
    "I can't tell you." A dark flower petal slid from between Owen Thyme's lips. He coughed and more petals emerged, like flakes of dried blood. He stared as they fluttered away. "You've got a chance to get away, Leander Cyrus. Take it."
    Leander staggered to his feet. "Not without Violet."
    "Goddamn it!" Owen pushed his hands through his wet hair. He looked up and whispered, "I can't help you, can I? Remember this then: If they take, they have to give someting back."
    Leander heard Violet call his name. He whirled and pelted across the sand.
    In the shadows of the tall rocks, someone grabbed his hand.
    Violet flung her arms around him. He held her tightly, believing in her warm reality, and she kissed him. He tasted the salt of tears, whispered, "I won't let her take you."
    They ran as clouds twined across the moon. They fled past the elegant, glass bathhouse flickering from glittering reality to scattered ruins. The shadows seemed to glide after them, spiky and silver-eyed, whispering.
    Leander, looking over his shoulder, didn't see it coming.
(Illustration: John William Waterhouse)

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