It was on a sunny day when Paul first saw him, he had been sitting on the beach with a notebook in hand when he had first spotted the figure. The man, or boy rather. From what little Paul could see, he looked to be about Paul’s age, maybe older by a couple years. His hair was long and fair, looking soft even wet as it was. He had an aquiline nose and a firm chin. He was handsome, definitely. But being handsome didn’t give him the right to stare at Paul like a creep.
“Oi!” Paul shouted at him, watching the boy give a startled jump. “What do you want?”
The boy said nothing and only hid behind the rock with wide eyes.
Paul rolled his own, snapped his notebook closed, and stood up with a huff. He walked towards the rock, it was in the ocean but he could easily looked at the back of it. But when he reached it Paul gasped in confusion. The man was gone, there was only a patch of sandy land where the rock rested left. Where could he have gone without Paul seeing him? Paul shook his head and decided to wait a while to see if his mysterious stalker would be back. But the boy never came back, so feeling rather disappointed for a reason he couldn’t pinpoint, Paul headed back home.
He was back. Looking at Paul from behind his rock. Just as he had been doing the entire week. Paul hadn’t tried to approach him since the second day, after the boy had vanished again. He also hadn’t appeared the third day, making Paul worry that he’d never see the boy again, the lad had been back on the fourth day and Paul had decided to leave him alone. He was sure his admirer would approach him eventually. They all did, although they were usually girls.
Paul pretended not to see him, like the had been doing the last few days but eventually he turned and stared right back at the man behind the rock. Said man’s eyes widened but he didn’t hide again. He just tilted his head and looked into Paul’s eyes.
Paul looked too. The boy was wearing some kind of necklace. It looked expensive and heavy. Blue stones that seemed to whirl were held together by a thin golden chain. It hardly seemed like something a man would wear, especially in a place like Liverpool. But then again, maybe the lad wasn’t from Liverpool. Maybe he had come with some merchants and would leave soon. Paul was distracted by the boy raising a bit, now being more visible from behind the rock. Now that he could see more, Paul frowned to discover a bare shoulder and part of a bare chest. Surely the man wasn’t shirtless? Or worse yet, naked?
The water was very cold, it always tended to be. Paul liked the wind but he never actually went into the water, the last thing he needed was to catch a cold.
He other boy kept looking at him, his gaze curious and his eyes opened in wonder. Paul said nothing, but he couldn’t seem to keep his gaze away. There was something almost hypnotizing about the the other’s eyes, they drew Paul near without his consent.
It wasn’t until the mysterious man flinched away that Paul realized he was standing on the water, close to the rock, with a hand extended towards the other man. As he snapped out the trance, he too flinched away. By the time he had looked up again the man had disappeared.
Paul kept away from the coast in the days that followed, still unsettled by what had happened last time. Paul usually headed right for the beach as soon as he left work in the library, but in the days that followed he did all sorts of things to keep occupied. He focused on helping his dad around the house, and hanging out more with his brother, Mike. He did the shopping and the laundry, he helped his brother with his literacy homework, and wrote more ideas for his songs in his notebook.
But one day, as he was leaving the baker’s shop, something made his head turn and look towards the beach. He couldn’t tell what it was just yet, he just knew that he had to follow it. He walked faster and faster until he was basically running, his right hand crushing the loaves on bread he had been holding in a paper bag.
Eventually he got to his usual spot, a distant and isolated area. By then he could hear it. What brought him there. It was a song. He couldn’t understand any of the words but he could feel the melody rush through his body and take a hold of his soul. He followed the sound and found the boy, the man. He was behind the rock, his bare upper body laying rather comfortably on the sand, anything below his waist hidden beneath the water. His arms laid under the sand, buried there as if seeking warmth. His head was facing the horizon and his eyes appeared to be closed, but there was no doubt that he was the one singing.
There was water between them but Paul didn’t care, he stepped into it. He sound of him splashing the water, made the mysterious man snap up. His head turned as his upper body lifted and his eyes were wide, cautious and fearful.
“Don’t leave!” Paul shouted, his voice shaking.
The other man stopped sinking into the water and tilted his head as he observed his companion.
“Please,” Paul continued, his voice calmer. “Don’t stop. I, I like your song.”
The other man observed him for a moment, his head tilted in a rather endearing way. Then he seemed to relax, although he still didn’t come out from the water, making Paul briefly worry about the temperature, but the lad didn’t seem to mind.
Then he started singing again. And Paul smiled and closed his eyes to enjoy the tune. It was gorgeous, soft yet firm, there was something enchanting in it, as if it was more than just music. It was...magical, perfection. There could be no other word for it.
The other man had also closed his eyes as he sang, and neither of the two boys noticed that Paul had been getting closer, again without his consent. It wasn’t until a warm hand touched a cold yet soft shoulder that the two opened their eyes with a snap.
They held gazes but for a moment before something extraordinary and terrifying happened. The innocent gaze of the mysterious man was suddenly made monstrous. His pupils overtook his eyes as they narrowed, and his mouth let out an angry hiss, revealing a jaw made up of sharp teeth that were incredibly numerous, he almost seemed to have multiple rows on teeth!
Paul flinched back with a scream of terror and the other man jumped back onto the water. But not before astounding Paul one more time.
His eyes took time to process what he had witnessed, and to take in the reality of what he had just seen. A tail, Paul had seen a tail.