by Blue Beanie
An ocean research lab finds an injured, enigmatic merman.
|*Story in progress. It will be continually updated*
Part 1- Discovery
Ocean research lab off the coast of California. Fifteen-hundred feet below the water's surface...
Dr. Emma Grey hurried to prepare the enormous glass tank with the help of her colleagues, filling it completely with salt water. Her co-worker Dr. Andrew Kellar, had contacted her ahead of time for everything to be ready. He and his team found something incredible that was inadvertently caught in one of the large filters outside of the lab. Dr. Grey wasn't informed of what Dr. Kellar found, but for some reason the tank was to have an iron gate covering the top.
It was a half hour after one on Dr. Grey's watch since Dr. Kellar called. She waited patiently as she could, her foot nervously tapping the concrete floor. As she tied her reddish, wavy hair into a ponytail, the laboratory double doors flung wide open. A long casket-like container was wheeled in towards the tank by two movers, followed by Dr. Kellar. He clicked his heels with the largest grin on his face as he approached Dr. Grey.
"What is the big surprise?" Dr. Grey asks, eyeing to the large containers.
First he adjusted his necktie, then says: "Well..." he paused for a moment to instruct some of the assistants to unload the cargo carefully into the tank. Then he continued: "You are not gonna believe this. I am at a loss for words myself."
"Yes, that is a surprise." Dr. Grey lightly giggled.
"Oh, Ms. Grey, that wit of yours. But in all seriousness, this finding is going to blow our scientific minds out of the water."
Both stopped and took a moment to try to comprehend what Dr. Kellar last said.
"Apologies, that pun was not intended." He corrects himself. Then he points to the body being dumped into the large tank.
Dr. Grey saw a long, large, fiery colored fish tail. Then her brown eyes widened when she saw the other half of the body. It was human, male. Short black hair, firm physique and a strong jawline. He seemed like a young man in his late twenties or early thirties. He was obviously unconscious, drugged before being transported. Dr. Grey was absolutely speechless as she gazed at the male creature lying at the bottom of the tank. There were random scales along the spine and lower back, meeting with the rest of the tail's scales. A merman was in their possession. Both scientists felt like kids who discovered a candy shop in the middle of a forest.
"No way, not possible." Dr. Grey turns to Dr. Kellar. "Could it just be a man in one of those silicone tails?"
"Take a close look, Dr. Grey. That is a biological tail. I can hardly believe it myself." Dr. Kellar shrugged his shoulders. "Can you imagine how this is would change everything we know? This is no longer a myth or fairytale."
"A great impact, I'm sure. But what are we going to do with...it, him?" Dr. Grey asks.
Dr. Kellar pointed to the puncture wounds on the male's right arm and ribs. "That was caused by a shark most likely. He's got some bruising on his forehead. See to it that his wounds are mended and make sure his health is in good condition. Second, I need you to run some tests of his blood samples. We need to rack up as much data as we can about this incredible creature. Have a full report on my desk when you're finished." Dr. Kellar said walking toward his office.
Dr. Emma Grey nods her head. She glances back at the astounding find, which was sleeping peacefully at the bottom of the tank. It was so surreal. She then walked away from the tank to do as Dr. Kellar asked.
Part 2-Gaining Some Trust
The digital alarm clock went off at six a.m. the following morning, awakening Dr. Grey from sleep. She groggily moans as she rolled over to turn off the alarm. Then she proceeds to ease her feet into her comfortable cat slippers. Dr. Emma Grey begins her morning routine with looking out her window. There was not much fish activity out in the dark, deep blue. As a result of how deep the research lab was, sunlight was hardly seen. She takes a deep breath and continues going about her morning. After showering and dressing, Dr. Grey fixes herself a shot of espresso and toast with grape jelly spread onto it. Quickly tying up her hair, she walks out of her quarters and heads down to the lab.
As the scientist passes by the tank, her gaze finds the merman still asleep. She examines the stitches on his arm and ribs. The wounds seemed to be healing at a speedy pace. His self healing abilities were amazing. Dr. Grey estimated that the merman wouldn't be needing the stitches by noon. She takes out a small notepad from her lab coat's pocket and writes down her observations. One of the assistants called to her.
"Dr. Grey, Dr. Kellar would like to see you in his office A.S.A.P."
"Thank you." Placing the notepad back into her pocket, Dr. Grey goes to Dr. Kellar's office.
She knocks on his door, then heard him ask her to come in.
"Good morning. Sleep well?" He cheerily asks.
"Yes, thank you." Dr. Grey sits down on the office couch. She notices a five by seven inch black tablet in his hands. "So, the blood test results came back?"
"Yes. This file also has an x-ray of our unconscious friend there. I gave directions to take it after you went to bed last night. Here, I will send this to the larger screen on the wall." With a few taps on the tablet, the information was transferred there. "He is definitely an interesting specimen. He has a remarkable healing ability, which means he can take some heavy damage and recover as if the damage never happened. His DNA has quite a cocktail of several marine animal abilities along with some human DNA. Camouflage, speed, strength...his bones are ten times sturdier than a human's. Seems like he could very possibly do some damage himself. Just doesn't seem he could have acquired all this biologically."
"Do you think that this merman was made?" Dr. Grey asks.
"Actually, I am glad you brought that up." He moves on from the x-ray snapshot to some close up images of the back of the merman's neck. It revealed a slightly weathered tattoo of what looked similar to a bar code. The five fair lines were in an italic style, in a denim blue color. "We spotted this while x-raying him. It convinces me that this "merman" is an escaped lab rat."
"Someone must be looking for him. With his injuries though, I imagine it took considerable effort to escape from where he was being held to obtain freedom."
"When he wakes up, it may become difficult to learn more about him. We are going to have to come up with a reasonable way to do so." Dr. Kellar says.
"It could be very possible to communicate with him. He is half human anyway." Dr. Grey suggests.
"Hmm. Good thinking. We'll start making arrangements for that soon. In the meantime, I will have some extra tests done to make sure he is alright. Thank you, Emma. That will be all."
Dr. Grey rises up from the couch and walks back to her desk. The desk being close by the tank, Dr. Grey had a good view of the merman. She sits down in her seat, then catches up on some paperwork. Inside the tank, the merman's finger gave a minor twitch and his tail began to sway. Dr. Grey places some finished work into the side drawer of her desk. Her ponytail felt a little tight, so she pulled it off to give her head a break. Emma's red hair draped over shoulders and she sighs with relief.
"Mmm. Much better." She thought to herself. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought there was someone standing near her desk. She turns her attention to who she thought was either a lab assistant or Dr. Kellar. But it was neither. However, she realized it was the merman, who was staring at her.
"Hey, you're awake." Dr. Grey says quietly. She carefully approaches the thick glass, and looks up at the merman's face. The merman backed away a little out of fear.
"It's alright. It's okay. You're safe, I promise." She says reassuringly. Emma Grey got a good look at the color of his eyes. They were a bright shade of amber, just as vibrant as the color of his tail. She could tell those eyes have seen so much. The merman tilts his head, looking somewhat bewildered, as if he had never seen a woman before. Emma figured he most likely hasn't. She gently places her hand against the glass, hoping the merman would respond somehow. He looks at her delicate hand and raises his own, perfectly lining his up with hers. Suddenly, he backs away and goes to the other side of the tank. Dr. Grey hears foot steps behind her. Turning around, she finds Dr. Kellar walking up to her.
"He seems to like you." He says.
"Andy, were you here the whole time?"
"No, just the last minute. How would you like to be the first to talk to him?" Dr. Kellar asks.
"Me? Really?" Dr. Grey asks with surprise.
"Well, yes. It would be appropriate for him to talk with someone he is comfortable with. He knows you more than he does us. Right?"
"Yeah." She agrees.
"Then its settled. This afternoon, we make first contact. I will get a team together to make sure everything goes smoothly and safely."
There were vibrations from the footsteps on the metal deck sounding through the water. The merman looks up and sees a pair of feet standing on the deck. The merman narrows his gaze. Another pair of feet was wearing black rubber flippers. The flippers belonged to Dr. Grey. She jumped in the water wearing a wet suit and a diving mask. She surveyed the tank and found the merman looking back up at her. Emma could see the merman was unsettled. The other pair of feet stood guard. Another scientist, dressed in a wetsuit, held a tranquil dart gun. Dr. Kellar, the scientists, and marine biologists stood watching from outside observing the merman's reaction to Dr. Grey's presence in the tank. Everyone was quiet, waiting for Dr. Grey to make the first move.
"Alright everyone, be calm. If anything goes awry, get Dr. Grey out of there immediately." Dr. Kellar notifies everyone. He talks to Emma through the diving mask's walkie-talkie. "Did you get that?"
"Copy that. Stand by." Dr. Grey answers. "Attempting approach...now." She met eyes with the merman who was inching his back towards the glass.
"It's okay..." Emma tries to calm the merman, motioning softly with her hands. "It is alright. I just want to talk to you, if I can."
She maintained a reasonable distance as to avoid the merman feeling trapped. The merman looked behind him and there were the observers, who were practically pressing their noses up to the glass.
"Guys, please give him his space. I need him to be comfortable. Back up."
All backed up at least six steps away from the tank.
"It's okay. It is just you and me." She says calmly to him.
The merman relaxed his tensed muscles and calmed down. The merman pointed up to the surface and began swimming up. Dr. Grey followed him. She brought her head out of the water and faced the amazing creature that was before her. His appearance was even more captivating up close.
"Wow.." Emma thought with amazement.
The merman wasn't saying anything, except for eyeing Dr. Grey curiously. Emma figured she should start the conversation. Dr. Grey points to herself and introduces her name.
"Emma." She smiles softly, patiently waiting for some reply. Then, Dr. Grey saw the merman take a deep breath.
"Emma." The merman reiterated with his deep, mellow voice. "You have beautiful green eyes."
Dr. Grey was taken by surprise and she blushed a little in her cheeks. She wasn't expecting a compliment to be one of the first things he'd say. "Um, thank you. Sorry, but, you can speak? English, I mean."
"I understand it."
"Oh." Emma nods with understanding.
The merman looks at the bunch of people who were watching from outside.
"Can they hear you?" He asks.
"Yes. Um, they can hear the conversation from the mask."
"I don't want to talk to them. Just you." He demands.
Emma breathes deeply and says through the mask: "I am going to take it off, guys. Give us a moment."
"Grey, I don't feel comfortable leaving you in there alone." Dr. Kellar insisted.
"Andy, I will be fine. I promise. Ten minutes, and if I don't come out then, you can pull me out." Dr. Grey assured him.
Andrew Kellar grumbled as he turned off the walkie-talkie. Everyone remains observing. Emma found herself alone with the merman.
"What's your name?" Emma asks.
"Ehren." The merman replies. "It means, 'honorable.'"
"It's beautiful. 'Emma' means...hmmm...well, I don't know." Emma laughs.
Ehren found her humor amusing. "How long do you intend to keep me here?" he asks.
"Well, we intend to care for you until your wounds completely heal. Also, we hope to learn more about you. Can I ask you something?"
"Where did you come from?"
Ehren lowers his head, shying away from the question. "Sorry. I don't want to talk about that right now."
"Okay, I understand. You can tell me when you're ready. And possibly when there isn't a large crowd..." Dr. Grey sees Andy giving her the signal to get out. Emma sighs. "I have to go."
She starts swimming to the iron deck. Ehren calls out to her: "Emma..."
Emma turns around.
"Thank you, for your kindness and making me feel safe. And, it was nice to meet you, officially." Ehren smiles.
Emma responds with her own smile. "You too."
Ehren watched Emma climb out of the tank and walk out of the room. There was a funny feeling in his heart he felt for the first time in a long while.
Part 3-Sleep Over
Later that night, Emma Grey snuggled under the covers of her bed and immersed herself in her favorite mystery book, "Death On The Nile" by Agatha Christie. As Hercule Poirot attempted to convince Jacqueline de Bellefort that her actions were wrong, Emma thought she heard a noise that sounded like creaking metal. She continued to listen to identify where it was coming from. Except the noise had quickly dissipated and did not continue to creak. Emma dismissed it and returned to reading her book. Within another ten minutes, there was a gentle knock on her door. Emma gets up, puts on her slippers and robe, then goes to open the door.
"Who is...woah! Ehren!" Emma was caught completely off guard, finding a naked Ehren standing there. She immediately diverts her eyes to the ceiling.
"Hi, Emma." Ehren smiles. He was excited to see her. Noticing that Emma was trying to avoid looking at him, he asks: "What's wrong?"
"You're naked! You have legs! And I have a question for you. How did no one see you like this?" Emma quickly grabs Ehren's arm, pulls him into her quarters and shuts the door.
Ehren looks around the room with a child-like interest while Emma hastens to the closet to get him an extra robe. She comes back with a large, burgundy robe and tosses it to Ehren. "Here, put this on."
"Ah, right. Humans wear clothes. Is it because they are ashamed of their bodies?" He asks innocently as he puts his arms though the sleeves.
"Well, no. It's just common decency. Although, some people are more confident than others." She assists him in tying the robe together.
Ehren sits on the edge of Emma's bed. He sees a perplexed expression on her face. "I suppose your wondering how I got here."
"The thought crossed my mind." Emma sits next to him.
"That iron gate was easy to get pass. No one was in the room, so I bent the bars. Then I jumped onto that metal deck and let my tail dry up. It did take me a moment to balance on my feet, though. I hardly use them. Everyone seemed to be asleep in their rooms, so I was able to walk around without being noticed."
"You bent the iron bars?" Emma asks with surprise.
"One of my many physical abilities." Ehren replied.
"So, how did you know that these were my quarters?"
Ehren blushed a little. "Actually, I knew because...I recognized the rhythm of your heartbeat. You seemed excited at the time."
"My heartbeat. You can hear that?"
Ehren nodded. "I'm sorry. Maybe I shouldn't have said that to you. You must feel like I violated something."
Emma puts her hand on his shoulder. "Oh, no. It is okay, I'm not offended. I guess I was excited while I was reading my book."
Ehren looks at Emma's bed and feels the cushy blanket. "Is this where you sleep?"
"I have never slept in one before." He lies on the bed and stretches himself out on it. "Would it be alright if I stayed here? Just for the night?"
Emma could see that Ehren didn't want to be alone in that huge tank. She could relate to him in a way. When she was a kid, she never wanted to be alone during a thunderstorm or after a bad dream.
"Okay, fine. Just tonight. Go ahead and get under the covers." Emma says to Ehren, leading by example.
As soon as they were both in bed, Emma turns off the bedside lamp. Ehren cuddles up against her back. As he doses off to sleep, he could hear her heartbeat take off like speeding sailfish. Emma assessed her current situation. There was an attractive stranger, whom she has only known for a day, snuggling next to her. Even she was wondering to herself why she allowed it to happen. She mentally debated if she should stay or go sleep on the couch.
"Am I really thinking about this? Its practically every woman's dream to sleep next to a gorgeous guy, what's my problem? Am I over-thinking this? Or am I freaking out because he's naked under that robe and he's a merman? Oh, God, what am I doing?" Emma was wearing herself out from mentally jumping all over the place.
"Are you okay?" Emma hears Ehren whisper to her.
"Yes!" she answers a bit startled. Emma turns over and faces him. "Yes, I'm alright. I'm okay. You?"
Sighing with contentment, Ehren unequivocally replies: "Happy. This night definitely beats my troubled past."
"Ehren, can I ask you about the tattoo on your neck?" Emma asks quietly.
"The five lines?"
Ehren uncomfortably clears his throat. "Uh, well, it...it's my number. Um, I'm number five."
"Five of what?"
"I was made, Emma. I was the fifth test subject. I remember living in a tank made of tungsten my whole life. The humans who made me felt that I was a success, exactly what they wanted. An living weapon. But, the others..." Ehren winces mournfully. "The others were thrown out like garbage. As for me, I was put through rigorous tests, many lead me to exhaustion. Treatment was beyond kind. I planned to escape a few months ago, but the opportunity didn't present itself. I was being constantly monitored by guards and cameras. Within the last few days, I became even more motivated to make a bold break for freedom. One of the guards was momentarily distracted, and I pulled him into the tank, then made my escape. There was an attempt to hinder me from getting out, but I used my strength ability to bust through the steel wall of the front door. I remember swimming so fast and far away from that dark place. So fast, that I accidentally ran into an irritable short-finned Mako. He became angry and attacked me. I defended myself, leaving a cloud of blood and meat. The next thing I remember was ending up here."
"I'm so sorry, Ehren." Emma tells him. "The people that made you, do you know who they were?"
Ehren shakes his head. "Not really. But they seemed bent on making weapon to use on someone. But, there was one human there who had a heavy presence whenever he'd walk into a room. Like smaller fish scattering when they knew a predator was near. He always stayed in the shadows. All I ever saw was his black shoes." Yawning softly, Ehren closes his eyes.
"Ehren?" Emma asks quietly.
Emma wiggles a little further under the blanket. "I was wondering what else you can do besides bend bars?"
Grinning slightly, he replies: "Many things. But, I think I can show you one of them." As he opened his eyes, they began to glow a yellowish hue.
"Oh, wow! That is amazing. Enhanced eyesight?" Emma asks with excitement.
"Yeah, it allows me to see objects at night."
Wonderously gazing at his illuminated eyes, Emma felt as if she was watching fireflies flickering above a field of grass. "Night vision. Wow."
She watched as the glow in Ehren's eyes faded back to normal. He closes his eyes for the last time and falls asleep, snoring softly. "He sleeps prettily. Didn't think it was possible for anyone to sleep like that." She thought to herself. Then she whispers to the merman. "Goodnight, Ehren. Sleep well."
*To Be Continued* *More parts to follow*