Fish Out of Water: American Merfolk

Bad Day

Bad day. Started out alright, but as the day way went on, began to turn into that sort of painful achy mush that makes kids go home and write angst-filled poetry about what a craptastic day they've been having.

I don't think anyone would write poetry, fiction or not, about my current situation. Here I was, clinging to the ceiling for dear life, in hopes that no one in the locker room would look up and see me.

Why am I on the ceiling, you wonder?

Well, let me start by saying that I'm not normal. Let me explain. I'm not normal, but not in the 'you can't relate to me, no one understands me' not normal. I'm not normal in the 'I'm one of three special humans with a stupid, aggravating, annoying....otherworldly reaction to water, fresh or salt.' I don't like to use the term magical. Magical seems like it'd warrant, I dunno, pixie dust and ominous Latin chanting in the background. There was nothing magical about this situation. At all.

If you couldn't guess, my situation's complicated.

A drip of water ran the length of my snout, (yes, I have a snout. Let me say it again: it's complicated) dangling gently off the edge before plummeting toward the tile floor below me. I held my breath as one of the other boys looked around, my heart hammering and my gut flashing with an fearful ache as he walked below me. I felt my claws begin to make a sharp but mostly inaudible squeaking noise, like nails on a chalkboard, and I felt myself slowing beginning to slip and loose my grip.

Back there, when I mention a snout, I really meant it, a full blown snout, complete with shark senses and everything. The scent of body odor and sweat was so thick in the room that I felt like it should be visible, like those putrid green stink lines that you see in the cartoons wafting up to the ceiling.

"Hey," I heard of the other boys nearest to me ask one of his buddies, a thick, muscled jock of a kid that looked like he'd been pumping chems since the beginning of grade school. "Anyone seen Spider?" I held my breath and waited for someone to glance up and make the biggest freak-out ever, my claws tightening in their spot. I'd make a break for it if they spotted me and hide out off the coast of the city for the remainder of the week and into summer break before the rumors died down and my friends came to search for me.

Against my wildly irrational train of thought, the jock in question shrugged and said something about me leaving early for something. I breathed a sigh of relief, but the other guy began to walk over to the bathroom stall that I was above and looked around. Despite my overwhelming fear of being discovered, I laughed to myself. What did this guy think he'd find: some secret trap door beneath the floor that lead to some deep dark dungeon where I was working on some genetic mutations?

Another bead of water made its slow and painfully itchy way down my rough gray skin and my claws continued to squeak and grind and be of no use to me, and they only made dents in the tiles instead of being deep enough to hold me in place.

I prayed to...whatever higher power there was up there that something would come along to get all these hormonal jocks out of the locker room so I could grab my stuff out of my locker and either a) speed-dry myself I could change back to normal or b) make a break for the coast. I really, really hoped I would have a chance to get to option a. I didn't even have a clue as to how I was going to make it to the coast from where I was situated.

Thankfully, there were higher powers. However, as I was about to find out, the higher powers weren't so pleased with me and decided to make my situation both far greater and far worse.

A sharp rattling came from one of doors to the outside of the school. With a sharp scream of metal and a tearing of hinges, the thin door was ripped off of its hinges by a huge gust of wind. It slammed into the two nearest guys, knocking them to the floor and flattening them with surprising force.

In the ensuing chaos, I willed my aching muscles to relax and I jumped down from my perch. Gathering up my backpack and my clothes, I peered down. There were no visible feet, and that meant that most of the people were busy investigating the two injured on the floor to the far right of me. The others talked rapidly to each other, all wondering how the door had gotten blown open and if the two boys were ok.

I only knew the answer to the first and I didn't like it. Sudden, and often deadly, bursts of wind always meant trouble in the city of Blue Reef. It also meant that I'd be dealing with said trouble, sooner than later. I groaned. I had a quiz tomorrow in math! Couldn't the dark forces wait, like, an extra hour or two before giving me a warning? I really didn't want to have to deal with...whatever was going to turn up later until after I was finished studying.

I creaked open the stall and found that most weren't even glancing in my direction. Perfect. Gathering my wits, I dashed out of the locker-room and into the small hallway to the exit. Trying to keep my breathing under control, I froze in sheer terror.

Crap. So much for thinking ahead, Spider. I thought to myself. Now that you're ground side, where were you planning on going on this fine blustery day, hmm? Out for a stroll amongst your fellow students, proudly portraying your fins, your rough shark's skin?

I gritted my teeth, all 90 or so of them. Well, it was either wait for the commotion to die down and get spotted, or make a brake for it and find a new hiding spot in which to dry out.

When I heard a scuffle behind me and the clatter of lockers being shut, I'll be honest. I panicked and almost stood there, too afraid to move as one of the jocks closets to be began to register what he was looking at.

Then I bolted. I dashed through the door and out into the hallway leading to the gym.

It was like things were happening in slow motion. I turned, and collided with two other people that appeared out of nowhere. We all fell to the floor in a heap, groans of slight pain and shock coming from all three of us. One of the bodies shifted uncomfortably and they scrambled to their feet, a hiss of pain coming to my ears as their exposed skin was dragged around one of my wayward arms. I desperately tried to reign in my emotions, but they fell across me like a tidal wave (no pun intended).

I was a cocktail of nervousness, anticipation, and fear; I was just waiting for that first scream that would make the news crews, scientists, and the army scramble all over our little town and turn into the next biggest thing.

Instead, I heard a sigh of frustration and a murmur of "Oh for god's sake, Spider."

I looked up.