The second part of chapter 5(was chapter 4, but I broke chapter 3 into two pieces)
Chapter 4, part 1(Now chapter 5.)
I’m approaching 140k words and I’m still having fun.
Tom and Chrissie meet sharks that aren’t sharks and a fight ensues. They take pictures.
I finally had Tom drawn under. Now to the important part of teaching him about his new self and his new world. We started with lovemaking and then;
“Here’s how you Swim with your tail. Move your tail muscles in a whip like motion like this send flips through your tail.“
“How can we speak? How am I seeing?”
“You have new senses. Close your eyes. See how much you still see. Your Changed self has adapted to the new environment. Now chase me, if you can.”
I wasn’t going to Swim too fast. I definitely wanted him to catch me. Which he did, shortly initiating yet another bout of love making. Then I showed him how to stun a fish, which ended up with a kiss and another session. We Swam down to where the lobsters live and we pulled some out of their holes and cracked them open with our claws. We kissed, which ended in more lovemaking. Then we went deep and explored a wreck where we found another quiet nook and well, some nuzzling and lovemaking. We found a quit tidal cove for the night and after some more companionship we started again in the morning. I asked Tom;
“So how do you like your new world?”
“It’s the difference between being a visitor and living there. The perspective is completely different. I wouldn’t have understood before my Change. On the other hand that shark is starting to bother me.”
“I swear I keep seeing the same shark over and over.”
“Well there’s a way to deal with that. Catch me if you can!”
We Swam away along the reef. I taught Tom the various things that were safe to eat and how catch them. Then we went along the reef just Swimming together.
“There it is again.” “The shark?”
“I have an idea. You took pictures of me, but we haven’t got any of the new you. Let’s go back to the lean to.”
We Swam back to the island. At the time I had no way of knowing that that simple suggestion would save our lives.
It was time to feed. The Manager had told us as we left Montauk that the prey was off the Cape involved in mating, something that had worked out well with previous prey as mating tended to distract the prey and the scent given off made the prey easy to find. I had sent Scout ahead to keep an eye on the prey as I gathered the pod. We went to the islet where he was supposed to report.
“Tooth, the prey has gone up top.”
That was not good. At least they were on an island and only had a boat rather than a car. That was the problem with moving into new territory. It was harder to prepare. He had expected that the prey would be distracted. Well he could deal with that.
“Go out and find me four large fish.”
The Manager had prepared for this. All that was required was material. And to wait for the tide. It would be better to strike at low tide. That would render the boat immobile. The girl would HAVE to return to the water. The man would certainly follow. Then they would Feed.
We got back to the lean to. As we crawled out of the beach I asked Chrissie;
“I could release my Change and carry you across.”
“Don’t you dare, mister, I’m keeping you this way as much and as long as possible. If I have my way you won’t see your legs for a month.”
We crawled across the beach and up to the lean to.
“How did you get this stuff out here in the first place?”
“Joe came and got me and brought the stuff out from your shed. By the way, when we get back you will show me that. No more hiding.”
“I may have to move. I hadn’t planned for a new relationship when I set it up. The problem will be setting up a cozy place in the water.”
“I like the way you think. Dad and mom spend far too much time apart. I think that if we work these things out from the start we will go on the right way.”
“By the way, Joe and Helen at the diner want to say thank you, so we’ll have to bring you in. Josh and Mera too.”
“The way I am now?”
“I got the feeling that that would not be a problem.”
“Light the fire, I want to get warm.”
She reached for the camera.
“How do you work this thing? I want to make sure that we get the good pictures.”
She took some pictures of me as I grabbed the matches, tinder and some fresh wood and got the fire started. We nuzzled for a while and just rested and talked for a few hours until I felt an itching in my chest.
“Chrissie I feel as if I’m itching.”
“I am too. We’re drying out. We need to go for a Swim and wet our gills.”
The water was much further this time as the tide had started to go out. We crawled back in anyway and immediately the itching stopped as water started pumping through our gills.
“This could be painful.”
“Very. I stayed out of the water a too long a couple of times when I first Changed and it was not fun. Daddy got really upset at me about that. Finally mom came and got me and took me under sea full time. Well at least you can Change and not have it as a problem.”
“Your problems are my problems. From now on we are together and share.”
“I like the way you talk.”
“As long as we are in the water I want to check on the boat. And put the ignition coil back on the engine.”
“Why, it’s not as if there were an emergency.”
“That shark bothers me. What if he has friends. With a boat we have a means of escaping.”
For some reason that shark was giving me the same vibes that my brother was. I had learned the hard way to pay attention to that. Unfortunately the boat wasn’t going anywhere at low tide as Josh had beached it at high tide and there was no way I could move a 42 foot boat. The boat leaned over a bit at low tide but boats on the Cape were designed for that and there weren’t any rocks to worry about. I Swam down to look at the wheel but it still looked good. Fortunately the boat had tilted on the starboard side and the fenders were down near the shallow water. I pulled myself up and then pulled Chrissie up and put her in her chair. Looking over her shoulder the dark profile of a large fish could be seen. Flopping down through the cabin I crawled over to the box where I kept my spares and pulled out my spare ignition coil. Then I pulled out the toolbox and got the screwdriver out. I grabbed my spare jacket put it on and stuffed the coil and screwdriver in the pockets. If I was going to do a lot of things in Changed form I was going to have to come up with some sort of harness for carrying stuff. From what I could see that would helped with the SAR stuff the other day too.
“Why the jacket?”
I lifted the engine cover and got to work. Fortunately replacing the coil only took about five minutes.
“Turn it over.”
The engine turned over and started.
“Shut it down.”
As the boat was right now the engine might run dry and that was not something that you wanted to try to do for very long. I put the screw driver in the jacket pocket and tossed the jacket down into the cabin. I looked over Chrissie’s shoulder and the shark seemed to be gone.
“Let’s get back to the beach.”
The Swim back to beach was uneventful in the falling tide. We made the long crawl back to the lean to.
“I think that when the tide comes back in I want to leave. Josh said that he was coming back in a week, but I have this feeling that we don’t have a week. There’s just something wrong here.”
“Ok, we can stop off at the bower on the way back and I can show you around.”
“Show me off you mean.”
“Some of that too.”
We did some cuddling and then Chrissie decided to take some more pictures she put the camera up to face and started to click the shutter and then;
“Oh gods, what’s that!”
I turned over and coming down the trail was an apparition that was some combination of fish, frog and man, claws outstretched. I rolled over, grabbed the shotgun and rolled back racking a round as I went and fired. Chrissie clicked the shutter and again as the thing fell and started to melt with the worst stench imaginable.
“Why did you take the pictures?”
“Mom. She used to work at the Fisheries office and said that when something happened to get a picture as soon as possible.”
I racked a shell as another of the things came up and fired. Chrissie took still another picture. The thing fell and started to melt like the first one did. I released my Change, feeling the pain as my legs returned. I stood up and racked another shell and then reached over and picked up my jacket.
“I think I’m going to carry you over to the boat.”
“Why not Swim?”
“Because I have the sneaking suspicion that that’s what whoever’s behind this wants.”
Suddenly two more of the creatures appeared and I fired twice. Chrissie took another picture. They both dropped.
I racked the last round and set the safety.
“Get some more pictures and then we leave. I only have one round left.”
I looked out to the water at a sea of dorsal fins.
“It looks like our shark brought some friends.”
Chrissie took a picture of that too. I picked her up in a fireman’s carry and started up the beach. The whole thing was just too convenient with both the monsters and the sharks showing up at the same time.
We got back to the boat and came along the side. Chrissie climbed up and then I followed.
“This is a crazy question, but did Josh ever take you shooting?”
“No, I was too young for that before my Change. Aunt Eltra didn’t teach me water spells yet either.”
“I was afraid of that.”
If she hadn’t had practice firing a weapon, she probably wouldn’t be able to adjust to handling one with her current hands. I had had trouble with the gun in Changed form and I had pushed thousands of rounds down the tube when I was a kid. Much of that wearing gloves in cold weather.
I could see dorsal fins in the water. Chrissie took another picture.
“How long can you stay on the surface before your gills become a problem?”
“Since we already stressed them today, probably about four hours. Not long enough.”
“We’ll work something out. ” I went below to bring up the two boxes of shells and my everyday shotgun and reloaded the trench gun.
“Chrissie, I’m going to take another look at something I saw on the way in yesterday.”
I thought about those tide pools that I had seen on the way in. If one of them was large enough that Chrissie could rest in it and wet her gills and there was no way for the sharks to get at her we could possibly ride this out. We were running out of good options. I started to fill the jacket pockets with shells. I wasn’t going to get caught dry again if I could help it. I picked up my everyday gun. I walked to the stern of the boat. Sure enough there were four dorsal fins cruising the water behind the boat. I fired a round and I was sure that I had scored a hit and there was a little blood, but no other discernable effect. I then slamfired the gun to empty it. This should have caused havoc because at least two of the shells were hits but it didn’t seem to have any effect at all. Which told me that my suspicions about these sharks were true. I reloaded the everyday gun with specials and tucked it in under the wheelhouse coaming.
“Chrissie I think that these sharks are weresharks. Or at least some kind of thing made to look like a shark. They are too smart and not acting like sharks at all. I think that somebody or something wants us dead. Stay tight I’ll be right back.”
I looked down the side of the boat and when there were no signs of a shark dropped down and sprinted toward the shore. A shark showed up just as I reached the beach. I didn’t fire because I didn’t want expend ammo unless I needed to. My goal wasn’t to kill the sharks, but to get Chrissie and I out of there. I walked toward the tidal pools. The first two were too small. While big enough that Chrissie could Swim in them they didn’t exchange enough water for Chrissie to breathe in. The third though had possibilities. It had narrow gap where the water flowed in and out that looked just small enough that the sharks couldn’t use it. It also wouldn’t give the sharks much mobility if they did try to use it. The problem would be timing. Too early and it wouldn’t help and too late and getting back into the boat could be a problem because of the shark filled waters. I went back to the boat.
“Chrissie! Come to the bow!”
She clambered over the boat. I put the gun down.
“Here, drop off the bow of the boat into my arms”
“Take this first!”
She handed me the camera and then she dropped off and I caught her. She kissed me.
I picked up the shotgun and slung it over my shoulder and then picked Chrissie up. I took her over to the tide pool.
“Swim in here for as long as you can. If any sharks show up I’ll shoot them.”
She plunged in and I went over next to the tide pool next to the ocean. About ten minutes later a shark showed up swimming as if it was a dog chasing a scent. As it got closer I fired once and then twice and I could see that I had hit it at least once and that this time it had really been hurt. I slipped two more rounds into the tube.
Chrissie’s head popped up.
“I think I killed one of them. I think it was chasing your scent.”
“That could be. Newly bonded put pheronomes into the water and mers respond to them. It can lead to orgies. That’s one reason people closing the deal tend to do it far away from the bower. That’s so that everyone isn’t overcome with sex.”
“If that’s the case, do you want to come out? I was just trying to give you some reserve time to keep you absolutely having to wet your gills for as long as possible.”
“I’ll stay. It’s likely that the next one will also be by themselves. I’ll come out if more than two at a time show up.”
She dropped back down and I waited for the next customer to show up. One did and before firing I looked around to see if he brought any friends. Sure enough he had and I waited for the second one to get into the shallow water to let him have it and then gave two rounds to the shark sniffing around the pool and shortly thereafter it stopped moving. The body washed ashore. I took its picture. Then a strange thing happened. The body Changed and became a woman’s body. Chrissie popped up again.
“I think that you want to come out now. If they didn’t want us dead before, they surely will now. To keep their secret. Sit up here. I will be right back.”
The camera was almost out of film so I ran back to the boat and looked to see if the sharks had left a guard. They hadn’t. The water was only eighteen inches deep, still too shallow for the sharks anyway. So I waded along the side of the boat climbed up and grabbed an additional roll of film and jumped back off the bow of the boat. As I running back Chrissie yelled
As I cleared the dune there were two naked men striding toward Chrissie, I suppose to drag her into the water. I wondered just how stupid that was as I brought the gun up and fired at the closer one, dropping him like a stone. The other turned and ran. I didn’t bother shooting him.
“I wondered if they were going to try that. That was just stupid.”
“They could have dragged me into the water!”
“Only if you let them. Those claws on your hands would have ripped them to shreds. And they wouldn’t have had enough time before I got back to get you into the water.”
I pulled the camera from my pocket and took a picture of the dead man and then I reloaded the camera and took pictures of the dead woman.
“When we leave they will probably police the bodies.”
“My guess is by eating them. After all they are sharks. Here take the camera. Why don’t we go back to the boat for a couple of hours. ”
I took Chrissie over to the boat and then went over to the lean to for the lantern, my clothes and the blankets. I put the blankets down and put Chrissie on them.
It had been heading toward late afternoon.
“How long do you need to be in the pool to wet your gills?”
“Probably at least ten minutes. Twenty would be better, why?”
“I’m trying to schedule to make this all work. You were in the pool for ten minutes or so before they picked up on your scent and if they don’t think that you are back in the pool it’s going to take longer to react. I’ll be right back.”
I went over to the boat and climbed back aboard and grabbed some towels. I jumped of the front and handed the towels to Chrissie.
“Rub yourself with these. They like your scent, we’ll give them your scent.”
She rubbed herself with the towels.
“I feel so useless.”
“Chrissie, you’re not useless. It’s just that I’ve had to deal and face things like this before. When this is over I will teach you how to use a gun, we will both get water magic training from your aunt and we will both be better prepared for next time. As it is we both got lucky. I brought the gun down because of the flashlight and you suggested we go up top. If neither of us had done those things we would have been shark food by now. And we have pictures of what happened, which may be important. When this is over I will talk with Mike Wendall and Boris about these monsters. Hand me those towels. Since the sharks seem to track you by smell, we will use them to confuse the sharks.”
I ran to the beach in front of the lean to and threw one of the towels in the water and then ran to the other side of the islet and threw the other towel in the water. Then since I had to take a leak anyway I did that too.
The situation had gone from bad to worse. The prey had become an adversary and an effective and lethal one at that. So Far, Scout and three others of the pod were dead at the muzzle of that gun. And the adversary had been obviously been careful with ammunition and only fired at targets to ensure kills when he needed to protect the girl and himself and not just to kill random members of the pod. This adversary was DANGEROUS and yet at this point I had no choice but to go on. Because the adversary had EVIDENCE. Those photographs would have implications far and above the current situation if the enemy saw them. At this point I could see only one strategy that would work. It would be very risky but at this point that was meaningless because the Manager was certain to destroy me anyway if the EVIDENCE reached the enemy. I called the pod members and swam to meet them. Time was of the essence. If the strategy worked I could only hope that the adversary did not have a second gun.
Two and a half hours later I took Chrissie back to the pool. Surprisingly no sharks showed up. I left Chrissie in the pool for half an hour with nothing interfering. I didn’t think that for one second that that meant that they were giving up, just that the battlefield was shifting and that there was only one place that mattered right now, the boat. Whoever was in charge on the other side had finally started thinking rather than acting. In any case it was time to get ready to leave. I was pissed that whoever on the other side had decided to ruin my time with Chrissie and now they were going to pay. Chrissie’s head popped up.
“Chrissie, are you good until we can get the boat off?”
“Yes I got my gills well flushed this time.”
She came to the side of the pool and I picked her up and put her back down on the top of a dune.
“I’ll be right back.”
I walked down to the tide pool and took another leak.
“Was that really necessary?”
“I don’t know, but if they think that both of us are in the pool they might divide their people.”
The water had reached three feet by the fenders and it was time to get aboard. I put Chrissie into the shallow water next to the boat.
“Swim to the fender and pull yourself aboard. I’ll cover you.” Chrissie Swam along the boat and started to climb aboard. I swung left along the beach as she Swam and when two sharks showed up I put two rounds into each of them. As Chrissie climbed aboard I pulled the hook and put it on the bow of the boat. Then I reloaded and started down along the boat. Two more sharks showed up and I put two rounds into each of them. As I reached the fender I stopped to reload and that was when yet another shark charged, hitting me and forcing me to drop the gun. Another shark was following so I grabbed the fender and got out of the water. Chrissie had a worried expression on her face as I came over the gunwale.
“I’m Ok. All they did was knock the gun into the water.”
I looked back over the gunwale and two sharks were cruising back and forth around the gun as if telling me that there was no way that I could recover it. The stern of the boat was afloat now. A couple of hours more and we could leave. If they were going try something it would have to be soon. I went over, checked the action on the everyday gun and set it next to the engine cover. Then I pulled the boathook from its slot and set next to the wheelhouse. In the gathering twilight I put Chrissie in her seat.
“Be ready. When the time comes we will want to move fast.”
I picked up the brass from earlier and tossed it over the side. The last thing I wanted was small round objects and my bare feet. Then I went down and got one of my spare shirts for Chrissie.
“This will help you keep warm.”
“Thank you. Tom!!”
Five naked men had scrambled over the bow. I turned around, picked up the everyday shotgun, turned around, ran to the front of the wheelhouse and pushed the barrel of the gun through the wheelhouse window and slamfired, dropping three of them. I quickly grabbed some more shells and slammed them in the tube as the last two charged around the wheelhouse. I couldn’t swing the full length barrel of the shotgun fast enough so I dropped it and grabbed the boathook, slamming it into the chest of the one coming around the port side of the wheelhouse, forcing him overboard. As I turned to engage the last one there was a scream. Chrissie had reached out with her clawed hands and raked the throat and chest of the last one, turning his throat and chest into a mass of bloody pulp. I slammed the boathook into his chest, forcing him overboard. I picked up the shotgun and looked over the stern at the pack of sharks there. I fired the gun dry into them and reloaded. High tide was about an hour or so away, but as we waited they didn’t try again. I went forward and stowed the hook, put the boathook back away and then Chrissie started the engine and put the boat in reverse. The boat slid right back off the beach.
“Gun it Chrissie, let’s get out of here.”
“Aye aye Captain. Where too?”
“The harbor. I don’t think that I want to chance the open water right now.
I headed toward the island where Chrissie and Tom had had their fun on the beach. It was obvious that this time Chrissie had gotten what she wanted as the joining and the sex could almost be tasted in the water. The second time I checked by they seemed to be Swimming all over the place as Chrissie started to show Tom his new world and the third time they looked as if they had gone up top for some quiet nuzzling. In a way I was a little jealous as both my sisters had now found somebody.
I don’t think that Josh fully understood the implications of Chrissie’s and Tom’s joining. This was no mere bonding of even high fae, but the start of a new royal fae family by the alliance of two strong fae families. Both Tom and Chrissie were royal fae even if they didn’t know it themselves. Mera had known this and had been in contact with Tom’s family but the details hadn’t been worked out and if anything happened to either Tom or Chrissie at this point, the fae in New England could end up in a state of war. While I appreciated that Tom’s and Chrissie’s issues needed to be settled for us all, I wish that Josh had waited until I could get things back to normal after the storm. There was just too much that didn’t feel right.
After my mother had died I tried to explore new methods and magics for underwater combat. The two that had been guarding my mother had been my best people and knew better than to go anywhere near anything that could trigger a feeding frenzy and yet they were caught up in a mass shark attack. Try as I might I couldn’t think of anything that could make me or any of my people strong enough to overcome something like that. I wish that I had a way to work metals. I had started some experiments but I just didn’t know enough to know what I didn’t know.
As I approached where the two lovebirds had been marooned I smelled blood in the water. Strange blood at that. It wasn’t mer or human precisely, almost a mix of human and shark. Whatever it was it meant trouble. I sent a call out to my sweep partners and Swam as fast I could to the island. Something had gone terribly wrong. I passed a body, still fresh, and another one. Neither one was anybody in my pod so I knew that somebody else was in the game. These weren’t mer and weren’t wearing clothes. Neither dad nor the harbormaster had told me of anybody new on the water and normal people didn’t swim in November. I raced to where Tom’s boat had been and while the marks of its landing were still there, the boat was not. There were four more bodies though. As well as some shotgun shells. Then I saw it, the shotgun in the water. Josh had tried to explain guns to me many times and had mentioned this gun’s history. It appeared that Tom had added to its story. I could smell that it had been fired just a short time ago. I put the gun in the bag I carried as Velt, my portside sweep came up.
“It looks like Tom and Chrissie were in a fight. Check up top. Tell me what you find.”
Strillia my Starboard sweep came around from the island.
“I thought I smelled Chrissie, but it was this instead.”
She handed me a towel. Female mers newly joined tended to put a lot of hormones in the water that caused arousal and led to sex. That tended to have interesting consequences and interesting odors. That’s why mers closing the deal tended to find a quiet beach far away from the bower. That towel was loaded with Chrissie and what was coming through her skin. I was beginning to develop a great deal of respect for my nephew in law.
“Did you find anything else.”
“Two more bodies. Both killed with a shotgun.”
Even if we couldn’t use guns that didn’t mean that we hadn’t seen what they could do. It wasn’t unusual for landers to kill sharks and other large fish after their hauls. It looked like Tom had been busy.
“Were any of the bodies wearing anything?”
“No, strangely enough.”
Velt came back.
“What did you find?”
“It was obvious that they left in a hurry. At least when they did leave. It looks as if they were walking around for several hours and waiting for something. The tide is my guess, so that they could get the boat off. They left most of Tom’s clothes in the lean to, Tom’s pot , boat lantern, matches and blankets scattered around. Also a bunch of these.” He held up another shotgun shell, all brass, this time.
“They had all been fired. There was also another body. Killed by a shotgun.”
“Why take the boat at all? Why not Swim?”
Strillia’s question was a very good one and for some reason the potential answer gave me a chill in my tail.
“There’s only one way to find out, and that’s ask.”
After leaving Stelletti’s I went back to checking into the protection racket. From what I could tell most of the businesses were the legit or semi legit parts of the outfit. As I was going around it seemed as if the protection racket had gone up in smoke with the warehouse. Still I got the word out that I was very interested in those folks and that upstairs wanted those people too. As it was getting toward evening I headed back to Bennies. There at the table were Sillia, Mera, Mary, Mike and Nera along with Linda and somebody I didn’t know in an army officers’ uniform.
“Hello dear, I’m here to take you out for dinner. Linda, who’s this?”
“Sal, This is Major Duthie, He’s here to talk to Mike about the case that they both worked on in Europe and some things that he found while he was attached there.
“Roscoe this is my partner Sal.”
“Glad to meet you, I’ve been hearing good stuff about you all day.”
I handed my notebook and the case files to Mike.
“I did some checking around. The protection racket seems to have gone up in smoke with the warehouse and doesn’t seem to have been restarted. I did put the word out that if anybody tried to shakedown anybody to let me know. I went up to Jones Beach-“
“Sillia, it was business. That’s where the Long Island NY State Police troop is. Anyway, dirty minded mermaids aside, I checked in at the State Police and there were three more similar cases to Vinnie’s. I also talked to Mr. Steletti about the possibility of these attacks and told him to let me know if anybody tried to shake him down.
The other three shark attack cases were all high society Gold Coast types which is why we never heard of them. After I check in tomorrow I think I’ll run out there and do some follow up.”
“Sal, on your way down in the morning, could you go over to the Coney Island subway station and pick up my husband. He’s coming down on the morning train.”
Mera handed me the telegram.
“Ok, I know what he looks like from the picture that Mike took. I’ll keep an eye out for him tomorrow. Sillia, let’s get something to eat.”
The ride back to New York was more or less a reverse of the ride out to the Cape- train to Boston, Night Express to the city. I picked up a paper, but the hurricane, a warehouse fire in Brooklyn and something the navy was doing with a drydock were the big stories. I guess my wife kept herself out of the papers this time. I got into Grand Central in the early morning and took the IRT down to Union Square where I changed to the BRT for Coney Island. I figured that I would grab breakfast and a cab at Coney Island but when I got there;
“I’m Sal del Vecchio, your wife asked me to pick you up.”
He had look of the young earnest Federal agent of the kind that my wife just loved bringing home from work all over him and I realized that I hadn’t been as explicit in warning Mr. Smith about my wife as I should have been. The fact that I had had other things to think about didn’t mitigate my responsibility. I had hoped that dealing with Mike and Nera would keep her occupied but apparently not enough.
“I was hoping to have breakfast across the street.”
“I’ve got a better place, trust me. Follow me to the car.”
He led me to the fanciest car that I had ever seen.
“A bit fancy for a government car.”
“Our task force is using it as an undercover vehicle.”
“So just what has my wife been up too.”
As we drove down he told me about the Rockaway bower, the chemical dumping, the warehouse fire and his speculations about sharks and fae being murdered. I was beginning to understand that perhaps I had left in too much of a hurry after all. He also told me about Mike and Nera and his bonding with his girl. All in all I was surprised that I had only been gone less than a week. We pulled up in front of a small restaurant. Looking down the street I could see the dock where I had left my boat and in the distance what appeared to be a huge rusty wall.
“Is that the drydock the navy was playing with?”
“Yes my dad and his friends put it there the day before yesterday. It was one of his bigger shows.”
We walked in and there she was, still the vision of my life. She was sitting with Mike and Nera, neither of whom were clothed and pretty brunette mermaid that I didn’t know.
“Hello dear, so what have you been up to? Hi Mike. I see that there have been some Changes in your life.”
“Yes Josh, I’m taking good care of him.”
As amazing as it seemed, from all appearances Nera WAS taking good care of him. He looked wonderful.
“So anyway what’s been going on?”
Mera handed me a briefing book. I started to thumb through it.
“A lot of very strange stuff, Josh. I’m glad that you are back so that you can help us make sense of it.”
“What’s good for breakfast?”
We were cruising back toward the harbor. At full speed the boat would get back in four hours and it was dark, so I wasn’t worried about anybody seeing Chrissie. For that matter I was sure that everybody in town knew about Chrissie anyway. Out of town there might be some issues. I went below and put on some clothes anyway.
“Chrissie, do you have any clothes at Josh’s?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know if daddy kept any, why?”
“Well if I can work out the logistics, I was thinking that I would take you up to Vermont. I know that it sounds crazy, but those shark things aren’t going to stop now unless they can’t find us at all until the pictures get into the right hands. That means that we have to think of the obvious thing to do and then do something completely different. So do you think you can Swim in fresh water?”
“What are you getting at?”
“Those things, or something that controlled those things wanted us dead. I don’t know why, but I do know that until I know who they are and what they are really after we are not going to be an easy target. When I do find out who they are then I will do everything I can to destroy them to protect you and our future.”
We pulled into the harbor and slowed down as we approached my slip. I tied up as Chrissie shut the engine down.
“I’ll be right back, I want to check in at the harbormasters office.”
“I’m going to wait in the water right here.”
She splashed in as I walked over to the office.
“Hi Tom! We didn’t expect you back so soon.”
“Hi Jennie. Is the harbormaster around? Or Noro? It’s important.”
“They went out to eat across the street.”
I went back to the boat, went below and grabbed my spare jacket and came back up. I then wound the camera back and took the film roll out, putting it in my pocket with the other roll.
“Chrissie, come up.”
She climbed back out of the water.
“Here put this on. It’s getting cold and I’m taking you across the street.”
Chrissie put the jacket on and I picked her up and carried her down the dock and across the street and into the diner.
“Hi Helen, are the Harbormaster and Chrissie’s grandfather still here?”
“Hi, Tom! You brought Chrissie! We didn’t expect you this early though.”
“Yeah, well we were interrupted, which is why I’m trying to chase down the harbormaster and Chrissie’s grandfather. “
“That table right over there. What’s your order?”
“I haven’t had steak in so long.”
“Ok, two steaks.”
I carried Chrissie over to the table.
“Tom, Chrissie, we didn’t expect you back yet.”
“We were interrupted.”
I told them what happened and what I was thinking.
“Chrissie, is this true?”
“Yes, Somebody or something sent either Changed sharks or weresharks out there to kill us. We took pictures”
“Could these have been the same sharks that killed Lilly?”
“I don’t know, but my guess is yes. These things were targeting us. If they were sharks they ignored their usual prey to get to us and acted in concert along with Changing and working with monsters that dissolved to attempt to force us into the water so that it would look like a shark attack.”
“So what do you want to do now?”
“First thing is to get these pictures developed as soon as possible and mail a set to Mike Wendell, Second, to send a telegram to Mike telling him what happened and a telegram to my parents telling them that I’m coming. Third go over to the yard and see if Joe has a boat house we can sleep in and clothes for Chrissie and to get him to pull my boat from the water and hide it. Fourth get started for Vermont first thing in morning.”
“Because whoever these people are, the last thing that they will expect is for me to take a mermaid to Vermont. So far we’ve kept ahead of these people by not doing things their way and being a moving target.”
“We could protect you in the bower.”
“I think that they would smell us there. Or anywhere on the water. The sharks were tracing Chrissie by scent and scent carries in the water. And once they knew where we were, who knows what these people could come up with. One ship taken over by werewolves like my brother did and deliberately wrecked or full of explosives and blown up over the bower could kill hundreds or thousands of people. From what I saw, the people behind this could go to any lengths to stop us from telling our story.“
“Chrissie, do you agree with this?”
“Grandfather, these people came at us with an attack that was more or less suicidal to keep us from escaping. So, yes.”
I pulled the film rolls out of my pocket.
“Mr. Warshowski, is there any chance that you could have these developed, tonight. And have at least six sets of prints made.”
“Hand them over, I’ll have Jennie run them over to the police lab over in Hyannis.”
I handed him the film rolls.
“Have Jennie run by the yard on her way back and drop the prints off. Tell her to keep one set for you.”
“I’ll be right back.”
Helen came over with our orders followed by the kids who marched over and said.
“Hello Chrissie, we wanted to thank you and Tom for saving us the other day and that we think that you are the best mermaid ever.”
And then they left.
“That was well behaved.”
“Well I told them if they scared Chrissie she might not come back. That worked.”
We started eating. While we ate I asked Noro the question that I had asked Chrissie earlier;
“Noro can merfolk Swim in fresh water?”
“Not really, the gills don’t function correctly and there are some chemical imbalances”
“I was afraid of that. I’ll ask my parents to set something up. That is if they aren’t already working on something. Which I suspect they are. ”
“Yes, when I went up last week, mom was all agog over having Chrissie over and they know what she is, so I expect that they are making arrangements. I don’t think that anybody expected things to move this fast though.”
“I wish that I could argue that you could stay in the bower, but unfortunately we are up against you and Chrissie’s current condition. When mers join, the female throws out large amounts of sexual hormones into the water, which you have noticed. This typically lasts about a week. One part of that is it keeps the male VERY interested but it also leaves a distinctive scent in the water which a potential predator could follow. Fortunately for mers, very few predators are interested in chasing them around. These intelligent shark things are changing the game. I just wish that I hadn’t been so caught up in grief that I hadn’t picked up on them earlier.”
“Grandfather, you can’t blame yourself for this.”
“Chrissie’s right. I suspect that we were the first victims to escape and that was by sheer luck. If I hadn’t been playing around with my flashlight and Chrissie hadn’t wanted a picture of me we would have been shark food and yet another mysterious attack. Those things were being very careful to make it look like a natural incident. Now that we know, we can be alert for these “coincidences.”
We finished eating and I carried Chrissie out and over to my truck.
“Where are we going?”
“Western Union and then to my shack and then the yard.”
I walked into the Western Union office and sent the following to Mike’s office:
Chrissie OK stop
Tell Josh stop.
Closed deal stop
Swimming terrible stop
Picnic spoiled by ants Stop
Bloody water stop
Fishing bad shark fin soup on menu stop
Have gone to mothers Stop
Gun left at island please retrieve Stop
Take your time Stop
May need special hardware Stop
Photographs left at joes Stop
Details following Stop
Replaced gun at bannermans Stop
It was cryptic, but I didn’t want to risk somebody figuring out what I was planning. I followed that with a telegram to my parents telling them that I was bringing Chrissie up and to make arrangements.
Then we went over to my shack. I carried Chrissie in and put her on the cot.
“This is primitive.”
“When I was setting this up I didn’t know about you.”
“What are all those boxes?”
“My tools for the shop. I brought them down right before the storm and I have been distracted ever since.”
“Did I have something to do with that?”
“You had everything to do with that.”
“You have only one little machine though.”
“My dad bought my old shop and is paying to set up my new one down here, so in a way it’s a family venture.”
“Oh good, we can get grandfather to help too. He likes tools. For that matter I wonder if he and the harbormaster don’t still have their shop. They were always reworking engines until the harbormaster’s wife died and grandma was killed.”
“Let’s go see Joe about a place to Swim.”
I carried Chrissie out and we drove over to the yard.
“Hi Tom! Chrissie! We didn’t expect you back so soon.”
“Hi Moira. We were interrupted. Is Joe around? I think that I need to tell both of you at the same time.”
“He’s in the back of the yard. He should be back shortly. What’s wrong?”
“May I bring Chrissie into the office and use your typewriter? I need to type up some letters. Jennie from the harbormaster’s office should be bringing some pictures by and I need to type up a letter to go with them.”
“Sure. You sound very serious.”
“It is very serious, deadly serious.”
I carried Chrissie into the office and put her on the sofa. Then I started to type up the letter in congressional staffer government style; being concise yet detailed and sticking to just what was pertinent. Shortly thereafter Joe showed up
“Tom! You’re back!! Hi sis! Why are you back so early. We didn’t expect you until Josh got back.”
I began to sense a conspiracy of wide scope surrounding my marooning. Not that I was going to complain about that part.
“We were rudely interrupted. By some fish with teeth and some monsters. Jennie from the harbormaster’s office should be bringing pictures soon, but to put things in a nutshell we were attacked by sharks that were not sharks and monsters that dissolved when you kill them.”
“Is this true, sis?”
“Yes. We were very lucky. If Tom hadn’t attached his flashlight to his shotgun and I hadn’t wanted a picture we would have been wereshark food right now. Somebody or something wanted us dead. Tom thinks that now that whatever it is knows that we took pictures that they will REALLY want us dead.”
“So what do you need from us?”
“Do you have a space where Chrissie and I could Swim for the night. One that is at least semi contained like a flooded drydock or boathouse. Second I need a long dress for Chrissie like the one your mother wears. Third I want you to make my boat disappear for a while.”
“Why, where are you going?”
“I’m taking Chrissie up to the farm in Vermont to cut the scent trail. The things and the people probably expect me to stay near the water. I’ve kept Chrissie and me alive by NOT playing the game the way they expect and that means going in directions they don’t expect, doing things in ways they don’t think about and above all being a moving target until I have ways to hit back.”
Right after that Jennie came in with the pictures.
“Hi folks, here’s the pictures.”
“Have you seen them?”
“Yes, what a horror show. The police want to go out and investigate.”
“They probably won’t find much. From what Mike has told me these people are very good at cleaning up after themselves or what they leave is a horror show of victims. They’ll probably come back and eat the bodies.”
“They are sharks, so what else would they do?”
I took the envelopes and started writing addresses. Mike’s office, Boris’s Sheriff office, and my parent’s farm.
“Joe, this is your set.”
Joe set us up in a boat house that was currently empty but flooded and Moira went over to Josh’s to borrow one of Mera’s dresses.
I Changed and slipped into the pool and that’s when the day finally caught up with me and the shakes started. Chrissie held me in her arms as I shook and kissed me as horror of the day passed over me until the shakes stopped and we made love. And then we slept. The next morning I Changed and Chrissie put on the dress and we got on the road to Vermont.