by Alex Arki
An injured and vicious Bahari merman is caught in a net and taken in by a family.
| "Nasty bugger..." Mr. Kowalski grumbled, bandaging his arm. This was his third attempt to get the fish net off of the Bahari's tail, but the male had struck him with five huge claws. Fortunately, Mr. Kowalski was wearing a sweater and received minor damage. His sweater wasn't so lucky, as the sleeve was completely torn off. Baharis were called sea tigers for a reason. The one in question was an adolescent male. He still looked young at fourteen or fifteen. He was old enough to know that humans were threats and potential prey. He was in the middle of his color-changing phase. His royal purple juvenile coloration was transitioning into a brilliant honey color. His facial stripes had already come in and were a bright contrasting teal blue. He really was an excellent specimen. He was lean, but strong and large. He wasn't done growing yet, being twelve feet long. But that would eventually change. Male Baharis grew to be eighteen or twenty feet long! Plenty big enough to eat a human whole. They were the perfect predator. Strong, fast, big, and intelligent.
Finally, Mr. Kowalski had enough. Being a fisherman, he knew how to deal with Baharis. Rushing to the boat's cabin, he fetched a moose tranquilizer and loaded it into his .22. He always carried one in case a Bahari ever tried to hunt his fishing boat. Taking aim, he fired it into the meaty trunk of his tail, avoiding his abdomen and genital region. The Bahari hissed and lashed out at him with fury, but the man was just beyond the extent of his wicked claws. It didn't take long for the sedative to take effect and the merman slowly collapsed and fell into a deep, calm sleep against his will. Mr. Kowalski sighed. Now what was he going do? He was too kind of a man to just throw the beast overboard. With a tail injury this bad, the young Bahari risked infection. If his wound became any worse, he could no longer swim. The beast would starve to death. Even if it was a vicious sea tiger, the poor thing needed his tail to at least by binded. He decided to take it home and have it live in their in-ground pool until his torn fin healed.
With the help of his crew mates, Mr. Kowalski lined the back of his pickup with a plastic tarp, filled it with water, and it took fifteen men to lift the beast into the truck. Thankfully, his house wasn't far from the marina. He went a couple of miles up the river to his home. His California home was in a town called Cook's Landing. It was a small fishing town just south of the Oregon state line. Being settled on the bank of an estuary, salmon and other migrating fish made this a bustling little fish port. It's rich history of pirates, indians, and merfolk made it an almost enchanting little place. When he arrived , he had some of his crew help him get the beast in the pool, after draining it of the chlorinated water and putting in fresh new water. They were just finishing up when his wife drove up and saw what was going on.
Mrs. Kowalski, needless to say, was not happy about having such a vicious creature living so close to the house, especially with a three year old daughter running around! After a long and repetitive arguement, they finally came to an agreement. Mr. Kowalski would built a fence around the pool to keep their daughter from getting too close, and he could keep the creature until it was ready to be put back in the sea. That night, Mr. Kowalski built a nice fence around the pool's walkway. It resembled the enclosure of am animal at Sea World. And when the merman woke up, he was very unhappy. He snarled and circled the water like a shark. It was so small and stagnant in the pool! To get the creature to calm down, Mr. Kowalski dumped a dead deer from down the road into the pool. The Bahari yanked it beneath the surface and began ripping it apart with his large fangs and thick claws. In no time, the only hint of a deer being in the water was a cloud of red tint and a bulge in the merman's belly.
"I can't understand why you would try and help such a horrible creature." His wife scoffed. "It's a menace."
"It's my fault he got himself all cut up, so I have to help him. It's the only way to right the wrong." Mrs. Kowalski shook her head and went to tend to her daughter, Cindy. Little Cindy was the pride and joy of the Kowalski couple. She was just too cute with her crly brown hair and freckled face. However, to Mrs. Kowalski's disliking, she took after her father, mostly. She liked to explore and make messes and play in the dirt and mud. No matter what she told her or how many times she said no, Cindy rarely listened to her mother. And her father just adored her for the way she was. He spoiled her rotten, and she never failed to put a smile on his scruffy face.
The little preschooler was incredibly curious and inquisitive. She also lacked the fear of any living creature. Everything was always good in her mind. So when she saw ripples in the swimming pool, she wanted to know what was in it. One afternoon, she was outside playing and saw a large flipper. Squeezing through the fence, she investigated the pool. When she reached the edge, she gasped. There was a giant fish is their pool! She stared at the fish for a long time. He didn't move much, so to get him to move, she picked up a rock and dropped it over the edge and into the water. The Bahari was quick as lighting, striking out at the rock and scratching the edge of the pool with its claws. Cindy jumped back in surprise and gawked when its hardened gaze whipped up at her through the clear water.
The Bahari gave a warning click and rose from the depths. His bright magenta eyes pierced through the water as he surfaced. He towered over the human by six feet, the other seven feet still submerged. But being a young Bahari, he was equally curious. He had never seen a tiny human before. Leaning in close, he sniffed at her. His imposing figure and deadly weaponry made no impression on the girl. She was dazzled by his pretty colors! With her tiny little hand, she pointed to his stripes, babbling words of wonder and awe. The Bahari smelled no threat on the child and became more calm. She seemed to think he was impressive, and he puffed out his chest in pride. When Cindy smiled and giggle, he found himself smiling, too. What an adorable little creature she was! He quickly grew fond of her, letting her feel his smooth skin and silky hair. The noises she made were like the happy chirps a Bahari guppy. The merman then reclined in the water, floating on his back. He gave a calm chirp, offering his tail for her to rub. Cindy eagerly touched and stroked his muscular tail. However, he yelped in pain and hissed when she touched the bandaged part. She retracted in surprise, and was more careful.
Cindy saw that the merman was hurt, and frowned sadly. She wished she could help make it better! After a while of rubbing and relaxing, Cindy decided she wanted to swim with the merman. She took off her clothes because she didn't want to get them wet, and gave a loud whine as she stood on the edge of the pool. The Bahari heard her pitiful cry and looked over to see her reaching her arms out to him, like guppies would do when they wanted to be held. He hesitated, but only because this was not his guppy. The longer he waited, the more upset Cindy became. Her whines became more unhappy and louder, and she toddled closer to the edge. Of course, this then led to the inevitable of her slipping and falling in the pool! The Bahari was very quick, and as soon as he saw the child falling, he swiftly jumped to grabbed her just in time to keep her head above the water. Cindy let out a shock gasp and clung tightly to his arm. He could feel her little body shaking and could smell the fear and panic on her. He clicked softly and held her closer to his chest, keeping her head above the water and stroking her head. He had to pet her carefully, though, since he didn't want to accidentally cut her with his claws. Cindy gave a little HIC and a whimper and nuzzled her face in his large chest, and before the merman could stop himself, he imprinted on her. The merman lowered his face down to her and nuzzled her gently. He took in her scent and subconsciously formed a protective bond with her. She was his guppy now.
Mrs. Kowalski heard Cindy's cry. And then the splash. The woman's heart leapt into her throat and she instinctively bolted to the door.
"Cindy!!" she cried, running across the yard to the fenced in pool. She saw the opening in the fence and the little footprints in the dusty dirt. She knew that the beast had Cindy. She was probably dead in the Bahari's belly. The woman fell to her knees, shaking. She cursed and screamed at the sea tiger, but only silence answered her. The sound of a human screaming at him brought out this protective side. At seeing a human being aggressive, he pulled Cindy close to him, letting out a low hiss of warning. His claws were each six inches long, sharp as knives, and stronger than steel. He was going to protect his guppy from this threat. At seeing that her daughter was still alive, but in the claws of the sea tiger, Mrs. Kowalski went into a screaming fury. She grabbed the nearest object, which was the pool cleaner, and tried to beat the monster with it. The merman snarled and hissed and swatted at her, keeping Cindy close and under his protection. When Mr. Kowalski heard his wife's screams, he jumped up to see what the matter was. As soon as he saw the scene, he quickly rushed over and he saw his daughter with the Bahari, but she was unharmed. The sea tiger was, however, baring his fangs and glaring at his wife!
"Scarlett, get back!" he yelled to his wife. He waved his arms in a backwards motion to get his wife to back up. Although hesitant, she gradually drew back out of the fence. Both parents watched their child as the merman made sure the humans were far enough away to not be a threat and to resume comforting and grooming Cindy. Scarlett fearfully grabbed her husband's arm.
"He's going to eat her!" She whispered urgently. But he stood his ground.
"No, look..." He replied. They watched as the merman gently stroked Cindy's hair and softly chirped at her until she'd calmed down. She then began splashing an arm in the water gleefully, and the merman smiled. It was nice to have somebody around. He'd been so sad and lonely since he'd been put in this cramped little pool. Now that he had a guppy to love and take care of, he was a lot more mellow and content. The merman then rolled onto his back and lifted Cindy up onto his abdomen. He proceeded to float in the pool with Cindy riding on his belly, gently pushing himself along with his injured tail. Mr. Kowalski thought as he watched the sea tiger with his daughter. He knew that males were normally the ones to care for their young while females hunted. He also knew that they will adopt orphaned guppies. He had an idea. If Cindy could tame him, and when he grew big and strong enough to go back to the wild, he could potentially use him to get better fishing. There were plenty of stories about people training Baharis and using them to fish. Most of them ended up badly, though. Baharis saw people as prey and would often drown and eat them.
Cindy's fear had vanished as if it had never been there. She sat up and examined his upper chest with her little fingers. The Bahari watched her with a lazy, laid-back gaze and used his knuckles to rub her back, so his claws wouldn't hurt her delicate, soft skin.
Cindy's father told her mother about his idea and she thought it over. The sea tiger seemed to pose no threat now. Maybe it would work, and maybe it wouldn't. She barely liked the idea of keeping the thing anywhere near the house in the first place! But after some sweet talking and prospect of all the wealth that would come from all the great fishing he'd make, she reluctantly agreed to let the beast live there.