Chapter 1: A Warm Summer's Day
A Warm Summer’s Day
The bell rang loudly, signaling the end of the school year. Marvin Blumenfeld, having already finished all his finals, was already outside and making his way to his car. Next year, he’d be a senior in college.
It didn’t seem as glamorous as he once thought it’d be.
Marvin unlocked the dark green Jeep that he’d received as a graduation gift from his parents, and slipped into the driver’s seat. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently, before pulling out his phone and pushing the first number in his contacts list.
“Hey, Marv. ”
“Charlotte,” Marvin replied coolly. “Where are you?”
“Geez, Marvin, chill. I’m just helping Delia clean up her cooking station. ”
“Yes, I’m sure that’s all you were doing,” Marvin teased blithely.
“It is. ”
“It isn’t, ” another voice giggled.
Marvin rolls his eyes as Charlotte frantically shushes the giggler.
Cordelia giggled again. “Hey, Marvin. ”
God, he loved Cordelia. And Charlotte. He loved both of them, but if they insisted on always being late, he’d have to do something about it sooner or later.
“Well, could you hurry it up?” he asked. “I’m ready to go.”
“Yeah, yeah, we’re in the hallway now, ” Charlotte said.
“See you in a bit, ” Cordelia added.
“See you,” Marvin replied before hanging up.
Marvin lowered his phone and looked out the window, at the school parking lot. Most of the cars are gone, except for the teachers’ cars, and his Jeep, and the dark blue Ford right in front of it. Marvin pulled his phone back up to his face and sighed with the entirety of his soul before dialing a number.
“Hello, this is Mendel Weisenbachfeld. ”
“Mendel, where the hell are you two?”
“Oh, hey Marvin, ” Mendel replied flippantly, which pissed Marvin off. “Trina’s just finishing up; I’m waiting for her. ”
“Well, hurry up, or else I’m leaving without you.”
Marvin doesn’t let Mendel get another word in before he swiftly hung up and tossed his phone in the passenger seat. He drummed his fingers on the wheel once more, before he rested his head on it.
It was a full ten minutes before Marvin heard the back doors of his Jeep open. His head popped off of the steering wheel as he watched Charlotte open the door for Cordelia before getting in herself.
“About time,” Marvin scoffed playfully.
“Shut up,” Charlotte rolled her eyes. Cordelia giggled at the two friends’ antics.
Marvin started up the Jeep. The engine rattled a little before coming alive with a roar. He had just pulled out of the parking space when Mendel and Trina bolted out of the school building, the latter having changed from her more colorful shirt, jacket, and pants into a simple yellow sundress.
When they got to Mendel’s truck, Marvin rolled down his window.
“What took you so long?” he asks loudly, even though they’re five feet away from each other.
“Sorry, I wanted to change my outfit,” Trina told him, sounding very unapologetic.
Marvin rolled his eyes as Mendel opened his passenger door for Trina before he got in himself. Once Mendel had his truck up and running, he followed Marvin out of the parking lot.
The entire drive took forty-five minutes. The Blumenfelds’ beach house was out on the New York coast. It was very big and had a very nice view of the ocean. When he was younger, Marvin would be sent there with a few of his house staff and live there for the entire summer so that he would be out of his parents’ way while they work.
That wasn’t to say Marvin’s parents hated him. They didn’t; they loved him to death and cherished the time they spent with their son. However, their son was a handful when he was bored(which was most of the time), and they couldn’t always keep up with him.
Marvin parked near the house. He pulled the key from the ignition and pushed open the driver’s door. Once he was out, he saw that Charlotte and Cordelia were already unloading things from the trunk and that Mendel was helping Trina out of his truck. Marvin, seeing that all the other jobs were taken, decided to go ahead and unlock the house.
Marvin stepped into the house, the familiar warmly colored interior making him feel right at home. Dropping the keys into the small glass bowl on the mahogany table in the hallway, Marvin walked into the living space, the nostalgia of the sight bringing forth memories of the better part of his childhood. Memories of running around barefoot on the warm sand, collecting shells that rested on the shore and showing them off to his mother and father, who would always congratulate him on his find.
The rustling of bags shakes Marvin out of his reprieve. He turns to see Charlotte and Cordelia setting down bags and suitcases in the hallway. He instantly moves to help both of them, reflecting their protests with the excuse that he’s just trying to grab his own suitcase. Marvin grabs the faded, brown briefcase that he’s packed most of his clothes into and totes it upstairs to his room.
The room that Marvin would always stay in while he was here had gone through many revisions, though this latest one seemed to be finite. The walls were a dull beige that set the tone of the entire room, as well as tell all you needed to know about the person who inhabited it. There were a bed and a television in the middle of the room, across from each other. A dresser and a closet took up the entire right wall, and there was a big window in the middle of the left wall that had a marvelous view of the ocean and the foliage around it.
Marvin set the suitcase down by the bed before pulling off his collared shirt and throwing it on the floor. He does the same with his pants, kicking them next to the shirt and adjusting the swim trunks that were under them. He pulls the white wife beater down over his abdomen, making sure no skin is visible. After inspecting his appearance a few more times, Marvin nods in satisfaction. He heads downstairs, noting from the distant lack of other people that they must’ve also gone upstairs to change. He turns and walks down the hallway and out the door…
Just in time to see another truck pull up.
This truck is a sleek white Rolls Royce, brand new from the looks of it. It parks further away from Marvin and Mendel’s trucks, near the trees.
Marvin approaches the truck swiftly just as the driver, a short blond male, gets out.
“Um, excuse me,” Marvin says loudly, grabbing the blond’s attention. “Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?”
“Oh, hello! My name’s Chris!” If Chris had picked up on Marvin’s hostile tone, he either doesn’t acknowledge it or doesn’t care. “My friends and I are going to be staying here for the summer.”
“Uh, no, you’re not,” Marvin tells him through a dry laugh. “You see, my friends and I are already staying” he points at his parents’ summer home, “in this house.”
Chris makes a dismissive noise. “No, the house we’re staying in is back that way.” He points toward the trees, which part show a pebbled pathway leading into them.
The sound of other car doors opening draws Marvin’s attention away from Chris. A taller, dark-haired male emerges first, coming to stand just behind Chris. A short, chubby, curly-haired male, a short female with caramel skin, and a tall pale ginger stand near the truck.
“What’s going on out here?” The question is directed at Chris, however, the dark-haired male glares at Marvin.
“Nothing, Jamie,” Chris says, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “I’m just getting acquainted with our summer neighbors.”
Marvin stiffens at the word ‘neighbors’. This is not what he had wanted. This was supposed to be a nice outing with people he knew and who knew him. More people were not supposed to be added to the mix. Marvin is just about to tell them to leave when he’s suddenly interrupted by a loud gasp.
“Are you going swimming?!” the chubby male asks loudly, pointing at his current outfit. The black woman beside him swiftly pulls his arm down.
“Oh, um-” Marvin stutters, trying to find a way out of this conversation. “No, it’s just hot.”
The woman gives him a knowing look. “Well, we are going to swim here later,” she says in a heavily accented voice. “Surely your friends will swim with you if you will not?”
Marvin is honestly at a loss for words. No matter what he says, these people insist themselves upon him. He’s trapped with them.
Thankfully, before Marvin could begin planning his untimely death, the ginger stepped in.
“Shouldn’t we unpack first before making plans?” He comes to stand near Chris and ‘Jamie’. “We can discuss this more at the house, okay?”
To Marvin’s sincere relief, the others nodded. He shot the ginger a grateful look, who returned it with a small, barely noticeable nod. The small group departed up the stone path, waving to Marvin as they left. Marvin didn’t wave back, instead of turning and making his way back towards the summer home.
Hopefully, these new people would rethink their decision of swimming later on and stay at their house.
Unfortunately, Marvin’s hopes were wonderfully dashed.
Marvin sat on a beach chair as he watched his friends splash around in the water with these five newcomers.
Chris Thomas and James Church, two of the three young men he had met earlier, were the masterminds behind this entire trip. Chris’s parents, the Thomases, had recently bought the house in the woods last Christmas, having visited it previously. They had presented it as a graduation gift to their son, who accepted it readily, immediately making plans to invite all of his closest friends. James, who had recently been put under the care of the Thomases and was Chris’s boyfriend, had agreed wholeheartedly to this plan.
Arnold Cunningham and Chris had gone to the same Church camp, quickly becoming friends there. Arnold had met Nabulungi Hatimbi on a mission in Uganda, where he had become somewhat of a prophet for the people there. Marvin wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, but Chris and Nabulungi swear it’s true, so, yeah, that was that.
Speaking of Nabulungi, she was probably Marvin’s begrudging favorite of the new bunch. She was very blunt and brash in an endearing way, reminding him of Charlotte. Nabulungi wasn’t afraid to share her opinion with the world, and boy did she. Her most sought out targets were amongst her friends, though she did send a few light-hearted quips Mendel and Trina’s way.
The only other person in Chris’s group that Marvin could stand beside Nabulungi was Connor McKinley. Connor wasn’t loud like the rest of friends. In fact, he was very quiet and mostly kept to himself. Sure, he splashed around in the water like a child and laughed about it with the others, but he was more than content to sit on the sand and lounge in the sun.
Marvin started, then looked down at Connor, who sat next to his lounge chair.
“So?” he repeated, confused.
“So,” Connor said, craning his neck to look up at Marvin, “what brings you guys out here?”
Marvin thought for a moment. Should he tell this newcomer that he just met exactly what had prompted him to make this decision?
“I just wanted to get away from my parents this summer,” Marvin answered with a forced laugh. “You know?”
To his surprise, Connor nodded.
“Yeah, I totally get what you mean,” Connor replied with a wince. “If your parents are anything like my parents, I can completely understand why you would want to get away from them.”
With that, Connor pushed himself up on his knees before standing and jogging over to where the others were playing in the water, leaving Marvin to his thoughts. ‘If your parents are anything like my parents…” What did Connor mean by that? What could his parents possibly be like to have driven Connor away for two-and-a-half months?
Marvin was torn out of his thoughts by a shrill scream accompanied by frantic splashing. He looked up to see Trina running out of the water, a terrified expression on her face. He hopped off of the lounge chair and rushed to her side, loosely grabbing her trembling arm. Mendel sprinted over as well, and when he reached them, he was out of breath.
“Trina, *pant* are you *pant* okay?” he asked, clutching Trina’s other arm for support.
“No!” Trina yelped, pulling her arm from Marvin’s loose grip. “Something touched my foot underwater. Something hairy!”
“What ?” Cordelia asked, alarmed.
“That cannot possibly be true!” Nabulungi protests. “I was in the exact same spot as Trina and I felt nothing.”
Trina turned to Nabulungi to protest but was cut off by Arnold.
“Guys, I think I see something!” he shouted, bent over the water.
Marvin, as well as Chris, Connor, James, Nabulungi, and Charlotte, rushed over to where Arnold was crouching. They scanned the water, looking for some sort of furry creature, or a creature in general.
The search was proving to be quite futile, however, just as they were beginning to exit the water, Marvin saw something out of the corner of his eye. Something that looked vaguely…
Marvin threw himself down into the water, squinting as some splashed into his face. He scanned the water for whatever he may or may not have seen, because if his eyes weren’t deceiving him, they might have to cut the trip short. Fortunately, or maybe not, he came up with nothing.
Marvin jolted sluggishly when a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him forcefully out of the water.
“Marvin? Are you okay?” Charlotte asked, concerned.
“Did you find what Trina was talking about?” Chris asked, curious.
Marvin shook his head.
“No, but I did find something else,” he replied, glancing at the water. “I think it might’ve been a weird fish or something.”
“Maybe that’s what Trina felt,” James suggested.
Marvin shrugs. “Maybe?”
The group headed towards the shore, deciding that was enough playing for today. They each went with their respective groups back to their respective houses. It’s not until Marvin back in his parents’ house that he realized he didn’t hate today. In fact, he wouldn’t oppose another day like this, excluding the all the later drama.
Now, if only he knew what creature could’ve caused such a huge commotion…
A mysterious figure idled under the water. His eyes were wide with worry and shock, and he ran a hand through his wavy, brown hair in agitation. He almost messed up everything…
He had to tell the other about this.
With that thought, he swam further underwater, bluish-green tail swishing behind him.
Chapter 2: An Accidental Meeting
Whizzer and Kevin mess up. Badly.
An Accidental Meeting
Whizzer swam swiftly through the ocean, breathing erratically from excitement and stress.
He was almost seen, by humans! He could’ve been caught!
He couldn’t wait to tell Kevin about this.
As he swam, Whizzer took in the scenery around him. Colorful sea anemone and coral reefs lit up the ocean floor, and schools of fish swam idly around them. Crustaceans and sea turtles crawled underneath Whizzer’s path, and he was careful not to touch any of them. It wasn’t until he saw the familiar underwater garden that he slowed his pace.
“Hey, I’m home!” Whizzer called out before swimming through the opening in between the garden.
“Whizzer!!” A young girl with blonde hair wearing a sea green shirt swam out to hug the older boy. Whizzer let out an amused grunt as she slammed into his chest.
“Hey, Jo,” Whizzer laughed, wrapping his arms around the girl’s smaller figure. Joelle Price giggled and swam back towards the house. Whizzer smiled and followed.
The house was perfectly quaint. Or perhaps it was quaint and perfect. There were furniture and portraits, and every inhabitant had a room. The walls were pale green and blue and decorated with a starfish pattern.
Whizzer left Joelle in the hallway and swam to the den, where he greeted his parents.
“Hey, stranger.” Kellie Price-Brown swam over to give Whizzer a hug. Whizzer returns it happily.
“Where did you run off to today?” Jacob Price asked.
“Around,” Whizzer replied vaguely, almost laughing at his father’s amused scowl. His mother swatted his head softly, and he stuck his tongue out at her.
“Wow, real mature, Whiz,” a slightly older female voice laughed.
“Shut it, Katie,” Whizzer retorted, turning to see his second youngest sister, Katie Price-Brown, in a short pink dress that didn’t quite cover the entirety of her pinkish-orange tail.
“I can’t believe you were just gonna show up without saying anything to anyone.” Katie’s earfins flickered angrily as she swam up to the second story of their house. Whizzer followed. “Jack and I had to hear about your return from Joey.”
“You know how Mom and Dad are, Kate,” Whizzer tells her. “I have to talk them when I come in. Jo just saw me first, that’s all.”
Katie rolled her eyes and gave Whizzer a playful push.
“Yeah, no, I get it,” she laughed. “Just go say ‘hey’ to Kevin in person, okay?”
Katie swam to her room before Whizzer could reply, and he rolled her eyes at his little sister’s antics. He didn’t dwell on that for too long, though, because the door near him opened.
“Hey, is everything okay out here? I heard arguing…”
Whizzer turned to see his twin brother swim out into the hall, a book in hand and reading goggles over his eyes. He stopped when he noticed Whizzer floating in front of him.
“Whizzer!” Kevin shouted, throwing his arms around his twin brother, who instantly returned it. “I didn’t know you were back!”
“Yeah, I just got here,” Whizzer replied, pulling away from Kevin. “Look, there’s something I really need to tell you about-”
“Dinner will be in fifteen minutes!” their mother called out.
“Shit…” Whizzer whispered. That wasn’t enough time…
“Tell me about what?” Kevin asked, ignoring his brother’s profanity.
“I can’t tell you about it now,” Whizzer explained, “not this close to dinnertime.”
Kevin made to protest, but Whizzer gestured to the book in his hand.
“Is this new?” he asked and smiled as his twin’s face brightened, eager to talk about the book he had recently started. He pulled Whizzer into their shared room, already going on about its details.
The Price-Brown family sat around the dinner table, eating salmon and entertaining soft conversations. Kevin sat on Whizzer’s right, talking animatedly with Kassandra-Jeanette Brown, their eldest sister. Across the table, Katie was locked in conversation with Jackson Price, the eldest boy, about shells. Joelle was alternating between playing with her food and eating it.
The setting is very peaceful, and Whizzer really doesn’t want to ruin it. Luckily, his mother does it for him.
“So, Whizzer, how was your week out of the house?” she asked, effectively shifting everyone’s attention from themselves to him.
“Oh, well…” Whizzer began his tale, telling of his expedition out to the ocean over the previous week. It had mostly uneventful, though he did manage to find some very beautiful seashells that he had promised to grab for Katie’s collection, though he couldn’t take all of them because a shark had found him and he had to make a run for it. He had managed to escape unscathed by swimming towards a pirate ship--
“A pirate ship?” Whizzer looked up to see his father giving him a stern, yet concerned, look. He looked around the table to see everyone else giving him a worried look. Realizing his mistake, he quickly remedied it.
“No, no, see, it had already sunk,” Whizzer told them, “so I hid in it to escape the shark.”
Jack pressed a hand to his mouth. “Those poor humans,” he said softly. Kassie-Jean nodded solemnly.
Their father, upon hearing this, scowled angrily.
“‘Those poor humans’ have been terrorizing us for decades,” he said roughly. “They’ve polluted our waters with their wretched oil, causing harm not only to us but to our beloved creatures as well! The fewer humans populating this godforsaken Earth, the better!”
With that, Jacob Price exited the dining room, leaving no space for an argument. Kellie Price-Brown gave each of her children a sympathetic look before grabbing Joelle and swimming her up to her room. This signified that dinner was over, and everyone grabbed their nearly empty platters and set them at the windows so that they would be clean by morning. As they cleaned up, Whizzer noticed that Jack was moving very sluggishly. He wasn’t the only one who noticed.
“Don’t worry, Jackie,” Kassie-Jean said, placing a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure the humans were alright.”
Whizzer swam over to Jack’s other side. “If it makes you feel better, I didn’t notice any traces of humans while I hiding,” he told his older brother. “They might’ve gotten away safely.”
Whizzer may not have been entirely sure of this fact, but seeing the small smile that appeared on Jack’s face when he said that made up for what may or may not have been the truth.
It was very late in the night, or rather, very early in the morning. Anyway, Whizzer was still up. He laid in bed and stared up the ceiling in deep thought. Then, he turned to face his sleeping brother.
Whizzer couldn’t keep what had happened to himself for very long. He had to tell someone, and that someone would have to be Kevin. He just didn’t know how he’d react.
He would never know unless he tried.
Whizzer swam over to Kevin’s bed, floating over his brother. It took all of ten seconds for his brother to notice his presence, and another five for him to finally open his eyes.
“Whaaaat?” Kevin groaned, sitting up slightly.
“I need to talk to you about something,” Whizzer told him, moving to sit across from him.
Kevin instantly sat up. “Talk? About what?”
Whizzer hesitated, his brother’s soft brown eyes boring into his own.
“Well, remember when I brought up that pirate ship?”
“And then Jack brought up humans?”
Kevin nodded, a little slower this time. “Yeah, I remember,” he said softly. “Dad was really mad.”
Whizzer nodded. “Yeah… I don’t get why, though.”
Kevin gave Whizzer a weird look. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Didn’t you hear what Dad said at dinner? About what the humans have been doing?”
“No, no, I understand that, but…” Whizzer sighed. “It’s not like he’s ever met any humans.”
Kevin cocked an eyebrow at him. “Have you?”
It was silent. Whizzer turned his face away from Kevin’s.
Whizzer turned back to see Kevin giving him an incredulous look.
“Well, I didn’t meet them,” Whizzer said, pushing himself off of Kevin’s bed. “I saw them.”
Kevin’s eyes widened as he practically jumped out of bed.
“You what?” Panicked mocha eyes forcefully met calm chocolate ones. “Whizzer--”
He was cut off by Whizzer pressing his hand to his mouth.
“Kevin, calm down!” he whisper-yelled. “I saw them. They didn’t see me.”
“At least, I don’t think they did.”
Kevin made a panicked noise behind Whizzer’s hand. Whizzer sighed.
“This is kinda what I wanted to talk to you about. The humans that I saw, they didn’t seem to be treating the water that badly. In fact, they were playing in it! They were smiling and laughing, just like we do. They weren’t acting like Dad describes them at all. In fact, they acted kinda like us.”
During this conversation, Whizzer had removed his hand, revealing a confused yet intrigued look on Kevin’s face.
“Yeah,” Whizzer said, pulling his brother over to his bed. “I don’t think we’re that different.”
The two of them lay on Whizzer’s bed in silence, contemplating what they’d just discussed. Then, Whizzer pushed himself up.
“We should go up there.”
“W-What?!” Kevin popped up instantly, swimming in front of his brother. “We can’t do that!”
“Why not?” Whizzer rummaged through the drawers and pulled out an aqua shirt and a blue hoodie. He handed the hoodie to Kevin and started putting on the aqua shirt. “We’ve already established that it’s safe.”
“No, we haven’t,” Kevin protested, wringing the hoodie in his hands. “We don’t know what they’d do if they saw two mermaids coming out of the water.”
“Then we won’t let them know,” Whizzer told him. “We’ll make it work.”
Kevin made to protest again but Whizzer stopped him, a pleading look on his face.
“Please, Kevin?” he asked softly, brown eyes shining.
His brother’s face seemed to be shifting between many different emotions(panic, frustration, curiosity) before finally settling on resignation.
Kevin looked up at Whizzer and nodded.
Whizzer swam through the water quickly, Kevin reluctantly following him. They had successfully snuck out of the house and were now making their way up to the surface. The whole ordeal was silent, though Whizzer could practically feel his twin brother worrying behind him. He frowned, wishing there was a way to assuage his twin’s anxiety. However, he knew Kevin’s fears about humans wouldn’t be swayed until he saw one himself.
Whizzer liked to think he knew Kevin just as well as he knew himself. Kevin was kind, compassionate soul who always strived to see the good in everybody and everything. That’s why he told him about the events that had taken place hours before. Both brothers had a strong, unwavering trust for each other, always standing up or taking the fall for the other. Whizzer knew that even though he was very apprehensive about going up to the surface, Kevin trusted that Whizzer wouldn’t let either of them get caught. All Whizzer had to do was make sure that didn’t happen.
They reached the surface, and Kevin pressed himself into Whizzer’s side. Both stared up at the slightly blurred night sky with apprehension and wonder. This moment felt like a dream, a fantasy. Neither had been this close to the surface before, and they were quite nervous about what would happen if they breached it. The twins floated in silence, each silently hoping the other would take the initiative.
Finally, Whizzer sighed.
“Look, this isn’t going to go anywhere unless we do something,” he said.
Kevin looked up at the blurry night sky, then back at Whizzer with wide brown eyes.
Whizzer rolled his eyes. “I’ll go first,” he reassured. Kevin nodded and moved to the side with a sheepish expression.
Whizzer took a deep breath, then raised his hand above the water. He quickly pulled it back down with a yelp.
Kevin was at his side instantly.
“What’s wrong?! Are you okay?! What happened?!”
Whizzer takes another breath, then puts his hands on Kevin’s shoulders in an attempt to calm him.
“It’s okay, I’m okay,” he said loudly over Kevin’s worried shouts. “It was just cold.”
Kevin continued to look him over worriedly. “Are-Are you sure?” he asked shakily.
Whizzer nodded. “I’m completely sure,” he said, looking back up at the water. He took another deep breath and shook himself out.
“Alright, let’s try this again,” Whizzer said, before pushing most of his top half above the water.
It all happened at once. Ice cold air rushed everywhere; his nose, his earfins, his gills, his eyes, and especially his chest. He was caught wildly off guard, panting and shivering as the cold air pressed in on him from every side. It was horrible and uncomfortable, and he was highly tempted to go back underwater.
And then, it stopped. Whizzer struggled to catch his breath, shaking from the aftermath of the frigid torrent that he just suffered from. He flinched when he felt a hand touch his tail. He looked down and saw it was Kevin.
“Are you alright?!” His voice was muffled slightly by the water, but the feelings of worry and terror were still recognizable.
Whizzer, still shaking from the experience, nodded spastically.
“Y-Yeah,” he stuttered. “Yeah, I’m al-I’m alright.” He took another minute to catch his breath, then turned to address Kevin, informing him that it was his turn.
“Um, are you sure?” Kevin stammered softly.
“Of course I’m sure,” Whizzer told him. “Besides, it only feels bad for a little bit.”
Kevin licked his lips nervously, then nodded. Whizzer nodded in return, floating backward to give his twin some room. Kevin took a deep breath and pushed himself above the water.
If Whizzer thought the experience was bad, it was nothing compared to watching someone else experience it. As soon as Kevin breached the surface, the wind seemed to have been knocked out of him by the rush of cold air. He shivered and trembled and panted, trying to get used the frigid temperature of the air. Kevin’s skin seemed to have lost most of its color, and his earfins drooped dramatically.
Thankfully, it only took a few seconds for Kevin to become fully customed to the cold air, and the shivering stopped, but the panting continued. His skin was regaining its tan tone again as well.
“Kevin, are you okay?” Whizzer asked softly, not wanting to shock Kevin further. Kevin nodded shakily and sucked in another breath.
“Can you swim?” Kevin floated toward Whizzer, stopping just in front of him. “Okay, good, come on.”
The two swam towards the shore, stopping three feet away from it.
“This is where I saw the humans playing,” Whizzer told Kevin, swimming around the space.
“Right here?” Whizzer nodded. “But it’s so far from the land.”
“I know, that’s why I got so close in the first place,” Whizzer said. He regretted as soon as he saw the playful smirk on his twin’s face.
“Aww, you were worried,” Kevin said teasingly, floating closer to Whizzer, who made a dismissive noise.
“I was not!” he protested loudly. “I was just curious.”
“And worried,” Kevin retorted playfully, only to receive water directly in his face,
“Oh, what do you know?” Whizzer bought his hands up to block the splash Kevin sent his way.
“I know you!” Kevin shouted, pushing himself back to avoid Whizzer’s splash.
The two boys continued splashing at each other, laughing loudly and yelling playful insults. They must’ve played for at least an hour before Whizzer felt an uncomfortable sensation on his back. He looked to see Kevin staring at the land in horror. Whizzer turned to see a human standing there on the land.
It was silent for a while. Whizzer and Kevin floated there in shock while the human stared at them. Then the human moved closer and put his hands up.
Kevin made a distressed sound and dived under the water, Whizzer immediately following after him frantically.
They messed up.
They messed up badly.
Marvin stood there in shock, staring at the space in the water where the two creatures just were. He fell to his knees and looked up at the sky.
“WHAT THE FUCK?!”
Chapter 3: A Question Without An Answer
Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for...
A Question Without An Answer
Marvin couldn’t believe what he had just seen.
Actually, no, he didn’t want to believe what he had just seen.
During the previous night, Marvin had been having some trouble sleeping. Not wanting to wake anyone, he had decided to step outside to get some fresh air, hoping that it would help. Instead, he found what seemed to be two similar looking males splashing around like children in the water. He was about to ask them what they were doing there when one saw him. He immediately went still, and soon, his friend(? twin?) noticed him as well. All three were caught in a silent staring match, both looking horrified at being seen. Marvin, not wanting to scare them further, put his hands up in what he assumed was a calming manner. Unfortunately, this only served to startle them forward, causing them to dive under the water, revealing twin bluish-green tails.
So, mermaids, Marvin mused. I’ve discovered mermaids.
Maybe he shouldn’t call them mermaids. He should probably be calling them mermen, because they were male. Yeah, that was a good idea. He’d discovered mermen.
Somehow, analyzing the situation didn’t make it better.
After kneeling on the sand for what felt like an eternity(though it was only thirty minutes), Marvin made his way back into the house, all the while shooting glances behind him to see if the mermen had returned.
So now he was currently standing inside at the window, watching the water, silently hoping that the two mermen would return so he could get some answers--
Marvin turned sharply to see Mendel standing there, a worried expression on his face.
“God, what?” he asked angrily, turning back to the window.
“Well, I heard you shout, I thought I’d check on you,” Mendel began, but Marvin cut him off.
“I’m gonna stop you there, because you are not psychiatiristing me on my vacation.”
“Marvin, I’m just worried about you--”
“Well, don’t be,” Marvin interrupted again. “I was just having trouble sleeping, and I went outside for some fresh air. I’m fine.”
Mendel gave him an unconvinced look, but dropped the subject, to Marvin’s relief. He continued staring out of the window, still contemplating what had happened. He had encountered mermen. Then he scared away said mermen. And now…
Marvin was… worried about said mermen.
Well, maybe not worried, per say, but he was curious and concerned about where they went. He’d apparently startled them greatly, if the first merman’s distressed, dolphin-like squeak was anything to go by. He remembered the moment where the second merman realized what was happening. His eyes went wide and he looked very surprised by the fact he was seen, though Marvin supposed that if he was in that situation, he would be too. And then, they dove underwater, tails splashing behind them, and Marvin was left alone on the beach, wondering where they went--
Marvin turned sharply to see Cordelia standing there next to him. She took a step back in surprise.
“Whoa. You okay?” she asks, leaning on his shoulder. “You were brooding very hard over here.”
Marvin rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t brooding,” he mumbled, “I was just thinking.”
“That’s what I just said, silly.”
Cordelia giggled as Marvin pushed her off his shoulder playfully.
“But seriously, what’s up?” she asked, donning a concerned expression.
“It’s nothing,” Marvin lied, turning back to the window.
Cordelia frowned. “It’s not…” She lowered her voice. “Other you, is it?”
Marvin turned to Cordelia sharply. “No! I just…” He took a deep breath to calm himself down.
“I just saw something troubling,” he finished.
“What did you see?” Cordelia asked, alarmed.
Marvin sighed. “I’ll tell you later, okay?”
Cordelia gave him a look. “You better,” she huffed, before going to sit next to Charlotte.
Marvin watched her go, then turned away from the window. Charlotte, Cordelia and Mendel were sitting on the couch and Trina was on the armrest. They were conversing silently while the morning news played in the background. Marvin contemplated sitting down, but was interrupted by a knock on the door. Seeing as he was already up, he decided to open the door.
It was Chris Thomas.
“Hello, neighbor,” the blond said with a grin.
Marvin took a step back. “Oh, um, hey,” he said, attempting to make it seem like he wasn’t attempting to shy away from the other man.
“I’m going to cut right to the chase if you don’t mind,” Chris told him and, without waiting for an answer, continued. “My friends and I were going to go out for breakfast, and we wanted to know if you and your friends wanted to join us.”
Marvin opened his mouth to refuse, and then stopped. He thought it over for a little bit. Maybe this was what he needed. It would possibly help him get his mind off the two merman. He nodded.
“You know what? You know what? I will come with,” Marvin said, a wan smile on his face. “I’ll make sure to bring my friends as well.”
“Cool!” Chris handed him a small slip of paper with an address written on it. “Naba’s dad owns a café that isn’t that far from here. That’s where we’re going.”
Marvin took the paper. “We’ll be there,” he said, folding the paper.
“Awesome!” Chris cheered, before throwing his arms around the taller male, who stiffened immediately. Marvin wasn’t much for hugging, though it seemed that Chris didn’t notice this.
Finally, after what felt like a year, the small blond released him and, with a wave, went on his merry way. Marvin watched him leave for awhile before closing the door and going back inside…
And immediately running into Charlotte.
“What’s this I hear?” she teased. “Marvin Blumenfeld, introvert extraordinaire, wants to go out?”
Marvin rolled his eyes and fought a smile. “I’m not an introvert, I just don’t like going out.”
“That’s basically what an introvert is, Marv,” Charlotte laughed, then turned down the hall, presumably to get ready.
Marvin glanced at the paper. It read “Ugandan Spice”. Marvin’s lips quirked. He then went to his room to get ready.
Kevin and Whizzer swam through the water as quickly as they could, their nerves standing on end. They had been seen! By a human! What if that human told other humans? What if those humans decided to investigate? What if those humans discovered their family?!
They were going to be in so much trouble!
Kevin glanced over at Whizzer. His twin was staring straight ahead as they swam, though Kevin could see all the emotions running through them. Shock, surprise, anger.
Kevin wished that he had talked Whizzer out of this decision. They wouldn’t have been caught if Kevin was a better sibling who could say no. He wished he could be more like his older sister, KJ. She wouldn’t have let them get into such danger, not like he did. Gosh, he was so stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid--
“Kevin! Calm down! You’re hyperventilating!”
Whizzer’s voice sounded far away and echoey, but the words rang loud and clear. Kevin could hear the quick, short puffs of breath pushing their way through his body. He could feel his brother’s hands on his shoulder. He could taste salt water on his tongue, could smell breakfast being made, could see their house fifteen strokes away. Kevin took a deep breath and let it out, feeling his body relax a little.
“I’m f-fine,” he stammered, “I’m okay.”
Whizzer met his eyes, a crease between his eyebrows.
“I’m sorry,” Whizzer said, “about all of this.”
“What are you sorry for?” Kevin asked shakily.
“We weren’t supposed to be up there that long,” Whizzer lamented. “And then we were seen…”
“No, I should’ve talked you out of it,” Kevin protested. “I knew it was a bad idea, but I still let you do it.”
“I probably would’ve done it, anyway!” Whizzer said loudly. “I never should’ve dragged you into this!”
Kevin and Whizzer turned to see their mother staring at them through the open window, a worried and confused expression on her face.
“What are you two doing out there?” she asked.
Kevin was at a loss for words. This was his mother, he couldn’t just lie to her. However, they couldn’t just tell her they’d been up on the surface.
Luckily, Whizzer was better at coming up with plans.
“Kevin had a nightmare, so we swam around for a while,” he said, gesturing to the space outside their house.
Kellie gasped softly. “Honey, are you alright?”
Kevin nodded silently, as he often did after having a bad nightmare, which wasn’t far off from what this ordeal felt like.
“Are you sure?” she asked, somewhat leaning out of the window. “You don’t want to talk about it or anything?”
Kevin shook his head, his heart nearly beating out of his chest.
“Alright,” Kellie said, letting the situation drop. “Both of you should come in and have breakfast.”
“Yeah, okay.” Whizzer, who had been uncharacteristically quiet during the entire exchange, spoke up suddenly, which made Kevin flinch slightly. Their mom nodded and swam away from the window.
Kevin started swimming toward the house, but Whizzer held his arm out in front of him. Kevin looked over to see a very serious expression on his twin’s face.
“You know this isn’t your fault, right?”
He gave Whizzer a quizzical look, and Whizzer sighed.
“Look, just…” He dragged a hand down the right side of his face in agitation. “Let other people take the blame for their mistakes, okay?”
Whizzer then swam toward the house without waiting for an answer. Kevin trailed behind him, his brother’s words swirling in his head.
Usually, Marvin never really liked going out, not even with friends. The places they liked to visit were either too loud and bustling, allowing unwanted gossip and anxiety, or too quiet to the point where he could hear himself think.
However, Ugandan Spice was neither of those things.
It was quiet and quaint, yes, but the muffled bustle of the kitchen staff gave it a nice medium. It kept him in the moment and took his mind off of the…
Well, you know.
They had arrived just in time to taste the African-themed breakfast dishes. Marvin, who was usually apprehensive when trying new things, decided to take his chances with the baked plantain frittata. It was, to Marvin’s pleasant surprise, very well-made, and Nabulungi beamed at him over her easy mandazi when she saw him dig into it.
So far, the breakfast was going great. Most of the meal was spent in silence, disregarding the soft small talk that served as background. It might even be one of the best meals Marvin had ever had--
“Yesterday was weird, wasn’t it?”
Marvin choked on his frittata, barely covering it with a cough.
“What do you mean?” Nabulungi asked her boyfriend, who now had the attention of the entire table.
“I mean the weird fish thing,” Arnold elaborated, and everyone’s faces switched from confusion to realization.
“Oh yeah, that thing,” Chris said, nodding. “What was that thing?”
“I don’t care what is was,” Trina said. “All I know is that it was hairy and it touched me!”
“What kind of a fish is hairy?” Nabulungi asked, eyebrow raised.
“Maybe it was a sea monster,” Cordelia teased. Trina squeaked in fear and shrunk into Mendel, who put his arm around her.
“Sea monsters aren’t real, babe,” Charlotte said, giving her girlfriend a fond smile.
“How would you know?” Cordelia shot back playfully. “You’ve never seen one.”
Charlotte smirked, about to reply--
“They’re not monsters!”
Everyone turned to look at Marvin, who now resembled a deer caught in the headlights.
“Um, I mean…” he stammered, at a loss for words.
“‘They’?” Mendel asked, confusion clear on his face.
Marvin’s eyes darted around the table, attempting to look everywhere but the eyes watching him silently, awaiting his answer.
“Marvin?” His eyes locked with Cordelia and Charlotte’s worried ones. Marvin struggled to find his words as he stared at his half eaten frittata in horror. Then, without warning, Marvin pushed his chair away from the table and ran out of the diner, ignoring his friends’ cries behind him.
Kevin had never kept a secret from his family before. It was emotionally taxing.
From breakfast to lunch time, Kevin stayed quiet and dodged questions from his parents. It was hard ignoring the concerned looks from his mother and the suspicious glances from his father, but one glance at Whizzer’s worried face kept him quiet. They were now up in their room, stewing in worry and fear that someone would figure out their secret.
“What are we going do?” Kevin asked Whizzer, who was pacing the room.
“I don’t know,” Whizzer said.
“What if someone finds out?” Kevin asked. “What if we get in trouble?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t know, Kevin!” Whizzer snapped, running a hand through his hair agitatedly. “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t know what we’re going to do, okay?!”
Kevin jumped and Whizzer turned sharply towards their bedroom door, their hearts in their throats.
“Guys? Are you okay in there?”
Kevin and Whizzer exchanged an apprehensive look, before Whizzer pulled the door open to reveal a concerned Katie. She swam in and sat by Kevin. Whizzer closed the door and swam over to the both of them.
“So, what’s going on?” she asked, regarding both of them. “And don’t even think about lying, because I’ll know.”
“Whizzer and I went to the surface,” Kevin blurted out.
“Wow,” Whizzer said, clearly unimpressed.
“I’m sorry, I’m not good at keeping secrets,” Kevin said softly, staring down at the floor.
“Wait…” Kevin looked up to see Katie staring at them with wide brown eyes.
“You guys went to the surface?” she asked in a hushed tone.
Kevin glanced at Whizzer, who looked just as worried as he felt, and watched as he turns back to their sister and nods.
“That’s so cool!” Katie exclaimed loudly, prompting both boys to shush her frantically. “What was it like?” she asked at a more reasonable voice level.
Kevin and Whizzer looked at her incredulously.
“You’re not gonna tell?” Kevin asked hesitantly.
“No, of course not,” Katie said dismissively, “now tell me what it was like.”
All the tension Kevin had been feeling moments prior melted away. Of course they could trust Katie, she was the adventurous rule-breaker. She’d keep their secret safe.
“Well, it was cold at first, but other than that, it’s not so different,” Kevin told her, grateful to have someone else to discuss the event with.
“Why are you so interested in this, anyway?” Whizzer asked, regarding Katie with disbelief.
“I happen to find humans very interesting,” Katie replied, her voice taking on a defensive tone. “I know that Dad hates humans, but Mom always says that you can’t form a proper opinion on something unless you know it personally, and none of us know what humans are like, not really.
“I wanna know about them,” she said softly.
Kevin felt Whizzer soften next to him, and he knew they were both on the same page.
“Listen, Katie, when we went up to the surface…” Kevin began, but trailed off out of anxiety.
“We saw a human,” Whizzer finished.
Katie gasped. “Really?!” she whisper-yelled.
“Yeah, well…” Kevin tried to remember exactly what happened. “It was more like the human saw us.”
“Well, you should go back up there and try talking to the human,” Katie suggested happily.
“That’s a good idea, actually,” Kevin replied, turning to Whizzer with a hopeful expression. Whizzer met it with a smirk.
“Alright, we’ll go back to the surface to talk to the human tonight,” he said.
Katie let out a whoop. “I can’t wait to meet a human,” she said happily. Whizzer gave her a weird look.
“Who said you could go?” he asked, eyebrow raised.
Katie’s face fell slightly. “Why can’t I?” she asked sadly.
“Well, what if Dad’s right, and this human tries to do something bad?” Kevin replied. “We don’t want you getting hurt.”
“I can take care of myself!” Katie protested.
“You’re fifteen, Katie!” Whizzer retorted angrily.
“Besides,” Kevin cut in, sensing an argument. “We’ll need someone down here to keep Dad from finding out what we’re doing. And you’re good at keeping secrets.”
Katie pouted. “Yeah, I guess I could help you with that,” she mumbled. Kevin smiled at her reassuringly, and Katie returned it reluctantly.
Katie brightened instantly.
“Coming, Momma!” she exclaimed, already swimming downstairs.
Kevin rolled his eyes at his sister’s antics and followed his brother downstairs.
As soon as Marvin returned to the beach house, he holed himself in his room. He ignored his friends’ requests to ‘please come out and get some fresh air, we promise we won’t ask you anymore questions’, and didn’t even leave when he heard his friends leaving to enjoy the beach by their house. He was too angry with himself to even tolerate his friends’ childishness.
Why did he say ‘they’? Why did he say anything? He could usually stop himself from blurting things out…
Was he regressing?
Marvin started. He turned towards the door, watching it silently.
“Marvin, I know you’re in there,” Cordelia continued.
Marvin didn’t say anything, not trusting himself to speak.
“Look, I know you probably don’t want to talk.” damn, she could read him like a book. They weren’t even in the same room. “But we’re all just worried about you. If it’s other you, you can talk to us about it. We won’t get angry, promise. Just… Come talk to us when you’re ready.”
Marvin listened as Cordelia’s footsteps retreated from his door, then let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He felt bad about ignoring Cordelia, especially since he told her he’d explain things to her. But he knew he couldn’t tell her about this. He couldn’t bear to see her face if he did tell her, she’d think he regressing to his old ways. He wasn’t, at least, he didn’t think he was…
Marvin heard the soft clicks of light switches being turned off, indicating that everyone was heading of to bed to get some sleep. Marvin, realizing there was no point in staying up, decided to do the same…
For about thirty minutes.
Marvin couldn’t get to sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking about what happened earlier that day - and not just at the diner. Those two mermen he had seen, they were still consistently on his mind. Would they come back? And if so, would they be looking for him? Would they try to talk to him? Could they even talk?
The feeling of sand under his sock-clad feet startled Marvin, and he was surprised to find that he walked outside without knowing. He filed that away for later.
Marvin walked up the shore and dropped to his knees slowly. He stared out into the ocean, silently asking it for an answer, or a sign…
Marvin closed his eyes tightly and, for the first time for as long as he could remember, he prayed.
Please, I don’t care how long I have to stay out here. I’ll wait here until morning if I have to… Just please, show me a sign that I’m not crazy…
Marvin stayed there on his knees for what felt like years, waiting, praying, hopi-
Marvin’s eyes snapped open, and he stared wide-eyed at the two creatures - no, mermen - in the water before him. They both looked the same, bluish-green fins in place of ears, and scales of the same color spattered in random places on their arms and torsos. Their brown hair was wet and floppy, and their brown eyes were alight with curiosity and excitement. The one on the left raised a tentative hand.
“Hello,” he said, voice soft and cautious.
Marvin let out a breath he’d been holding. They were real, he wasn’t crazy.
He wasn’t crazy.