Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Mermaid House: Part Twenty

THE DEAD CAN'T live again.
    Leander stepped back, toward the ocean. "You can't have me then. What did you give Owen for his life? Or Johnny? Or Violet? How many rules have you broken?"
    "You are not in my good graces now." Amphitrite tracked him slowly as he backed away. "But I shall tell you what I gave them -- Owen Thyme's father would have soon succumbed to a growth in his brain, but my element destroyed it. As for Joukainen...well, I took him instead of his girl. And you know what Violet wanted, brave boy?"
    He felt the tides around his feet as he stared at the sweetly smiling monster whose words were like a macabre prayer. Amphitrite continued, "She wanted to live forever, the selfish little thing."
    Leander looked at Violet, curled on the sand. She was still, one small hand outflung. Her denim jacket and jeans were soaked from the tide. How long had she existed like this?
    His throat hurt. He suddenly very much wanted his home, his grief, the TV dinners and old movies, the boredom of school, his mother's embrace.
    Violet would never have those again.
    "Give Violet her life back. Or I'll step into this riptide -- it is a riptide isn't it? And you can't go back in here, can you? There are...others, in this ocean, who kicked you out."
    Amphitrite suddenly wasn't so pretty, baring teeth like needles. He took another step back, almost fell into the strong swirl of the water.
    "Stop!" She moved with dragonfly swiftness and stood with her toes just barely touching the foam drifting in and out. "I cannot make her alive again. I can make her a more realistic replica of human life. No one will notice, if she is careful. And she will eventually feel again, warmth and chill, pain and comfort, even if it is only her reality." She stretched out a hand. "I will even allow you to see the deal done."
    He looked up at the stars, the last thing he'd see as a human.
    He reached out and clasped her cold, cold hand.
(Illustration: Herbert Draper)

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