February 8, 2016 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures
MeaZea and WooFZee wait by the river bed for a long while, but nothing happens. The stars slowly blink out. The sun starts to rise, casting the world in a glow of pink and red. MeaZea asks, “what are we supposed to do to help him?”
“It has to do with the riddles, I’m sure of it.” WooFZee growls, frustrated that he can’t come up with any better answer than that. “I just – I don’t know what!”
“Well, we’ve already found the river. And we know that we’re looking for a star. So that means the only other option would be the first riddle,” says MeaZea, running her hands along the side of WooFZee’s neck. She hates seeing her friend so upset.
WooFZee walks up to the edge of the river. Hesitantly, he puts his paw over the water…and then steps down. It’s not cold, and that might be the strangest thing. The water is a little on the warm side, thick and viscous. It feels more like stepping into slightly watered down mud than anything else.
“I don’t like this,” says MeaZea, softly. She doesn’t argue when WooFZee continues to walk into the river. The bed isn’t made up of stones but it doesn’t feel like sand, either. The footing sinks beneath his paws, growing deeper with each step.
The wolf is almost up to his knees when the world turns to static.
“Down, down, down you go,” hisses a voice that’s neither human nor animal. It seems to move with the suddenly wild shadows. “Down beneath the murky flow.”
“Who’s there?” MeaZea straightens up, hand reaching for the hilt of her katana. It’s gone.
“If you do dare to cross…” The shadows bolt upwards, shooting towards the sky. They devour the sun and turn the world dark. “Know that something dear will most certainly be lost.”
A pair of gleaming, yellow eyes flash in the depths of the river. They look like they belong to a feline, but they’re gone in mere moments.
“We need to turn back,” screams MeaZea, but the realization comes too late. The ground vanishes beneath WooFZee’s paws, plunging the duo down beneath the murky depths.
There’s something wrong with the water, more than just its appearance. MeaZea, she can’t breathe. She’s a mermaid and the water should run through her body as easily as air, but this – it doesn’t. It gets stuck in her throat, choking her, strangling her.
She gasps and flails, struggling to get to the surface. It seems to be miles and miles above her. The world is starting to go black around the edges. The water wraps itself around MeaZea, like it’s trying to hold her still, like it never wants to let her go.
“What are you willing to give up?” That static voice surrounds MeaZea. A glint of light appears in the distance – the sun; the surface; it’s safety. “What are you willing to lose forever?”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author