She had failed.
She placed the ‘psychic helmet’ on a table and stared at where Derek was. His body lay there, unmoving.
‘Derek,’ was all she managed to say.
Well, at least that vicious, demonic side of him was gone as well.
The body came to life.
It turned around, grinning a vicious grin and laughed.
He laughed at her.
It was him.
Of course, Jenny shuddered in the corner, expecting the beast to rip her head off, but…
He walked away.
She followed him into Gwen’s kitchen, and saw him holding a sharp gleaming knife. Stopping in her tracks, Jenny waited for him to use that knife against her, but he did…something else…
‘YOUR BOYFRIEND IS DEAD YOU HUMAN SCUM.’
Those were his parting words.
He shoved the knife into his own heart, and died right in front of her.
As he fell to the floor, blood staining the checkerboard pattern, Jenny stood with wide eyes, tears dripping down her cheeks.
This mess was all because he had been born a shark. He probably would have been happier if he had been born human, or even if he had been born a mouse or a rabbit. Maybe he should have been born a rabbit. He’d be cuter.
That schizophrenic shark. That experiment of an insane green alien. The puppet of a demonic monster. It had entered her school, spoke with her, befriended her. And she had watched him die.
A water-snake with mechanical legs entered, and Jenny was not surprised at all. It stared for a while before exiting. Yes.
As Jenny tortured herself with her many thoughts, she heard the loud, furious sounds of breaking glass in the other room. Instantly running to the source of the noise, Jenny saw Gwen, doing everything in her power to destroy the machine which had caused Derek’s transformation. She was screaming and shouting angrily, her insanity showing once more.
She turned towards Jenny, calming down and wrapping her scaly arms around the young woman. Her face was wet with tears, which made her scales shimmer in the light.
Gwen explained to Jenny that she was getting letters telling her to shut down the fish-to-human project. Many had bought her machines, but the fish who became humans were too ‘inhuman’ and did such acts as stealing fish food, attempting to perform tricks, staring at opening and closing chests, and trying to return to the sea, causing them to die. Many people were also accusing Gwen of ‘meddling in God’s domain’. Gwen told Jenny she wanted to destroy all traces of the experiment.
‘I see,’ was Jenny’s only response.
‘I suppose you want to go home now,’ said Gwen. ‘The tube’s over there.
Jenny neared the tube, leaving Gwen to think about what she had brought upon Derek and others of ‘his kind’. As Jenny spiralled through the passageway, she swore she could have heard, ‘I may have failed this time, but the great Gwen Wickiton will always bounce back! MUA HA HA HA HA HA!’
After a frantic ride, Jenny plopped back on the beach, feeling the sand crunch under her shoes. As she walked home, facing the cold breezes blowing in her face once again, she began to wonder if there was anything positive about Derek’s demise. Dying a human was part of his dream, Jenny thought. Maybe he wanted to die with her love, as he was afraid she may pick someone over him. It was his own choice too. He asked the dark side to do it and he got it. He got what he wanted. He won.
Jenny’s constant thoughts concerning Derek and his untimely death caused her to have a hard time getting to sleep that night. There was an entire mixture of emotions circling within her gut. Emotions of regret that she was not able to save Derek, emotions of content that Derek actually wanted to die at that time, emotions of pity towards Gwen and her lunacy, emotions of pure hatred for the wicked mental beast in Derek’s mind and emotions of confusion, as she still can’t believe that her boyfriend was a fish.
Jenny chuckled at herself. Just don’t think about it. It was all a bad dream.
As Jenny struggled to get to sleep, her windows suddenly blew open, despite the fact that they were locked. A sudden chill ran down her spine. More of this supernatural crap?
She walked to the window where the air was blowing, feeling like she had entered a scene in Wuthering Heights. Staring at the night-time environment, she let the air wash over it. It seemed to wipe away her guilt, her anger, her pain.
A transparent, gauzy shark floated outside her window. Derek, in his true form. Jenny stared into his ghostly eyes, which seemed to show compassion and sympathy rather than pure killer instinct. She tried to reach out to hug him, but could not touch him.
I was a shark.
I was a human.
Now I am something more.
There was a mermaid before me who became human, who died, but she was given a second chance due to a sacrifice she made for the one she loved. I was given that same second chance, free of that monster that lived in my head.
Sharks don’t have souls. I was given a chance to gain one, through becoming what was called “a son of the air”, going around, doing good deeds. Most people could not see or hear me, but some could.
I spoke to Acacia. She apologised to me and I told her I forgave her.
I spoke to Gwen. I spoke words of comfort to her, as well as those of encouragement towards her next experiment.
I spoke to Jenny. I told her I love her.
Jenny walked back home, shuddering. The cold night breeze blew in her face, the leaves danced across the road, and the moon and stars were hardly noticeable due to the grey clouds. And she had to walk through this night by herself.
That Derek. Just when you think you know someone. A broken bottle.
As she approached her house, she froze with fear. Gwen, wearing a trench coat and shuddering, was standing right on Jenny’s lawn. Jenny slowly backed away from Gwen, but Gwen approached Jenny at the same speed.
‘Derek is in trouble.’ were her first words.
All Jenny could do was stand and say nothing.
‘Follow me.’ She then proceeded to run, and Jenny decided to follow her. Maybe she’d find out what was with Derek, and maybe really give him a piece of her mind
The two abruptly stopped at the beach, with Jenny standing in puzzlement. Gwen pressed a button on a remote control she obtained from her pocket, and a tube with a door rose from the ocean. Just as Jenny turned around, she and Gwen spiralled down into the mansion.
Jenny stumbled about a place that looked exactly how she’d picture a mad scientist’s laboratory. Test tubes, huge machinery, a giant picture of ‘Vitruvian Man’ occupying a wall and a vast bookcase as wide as the eye could see. The walls were dark blue, the colour of the sea and the floor looked like a chessboard. She even saw Derek sitting on a chair, looking like he was trying to keep awake.
‘Derek!’ Jenny yelled, springing him to life.
‘What is this?’
Gwen stared at Jenny, telling her she was about to take off her disguise and to close her eyes. Disguise? Jenny did as Gwen said, and when instructed to open her eyes, she leapt backwards.
Gwen was a horrific alien creature. She was bald, covered with green scales, and had two nostrils instead of a nose. Her hands and feet were webbed and instead of ears, she had two large gills growing out of her head like hands that wanted to hug.
‘Before we talk about Derek,’ Jenny asked, quivering, ‘what are you?’
Gwen raised her arm in the air with pride, and replied ‘I…am a sea-witch!’
Makes sense, thought Jenny.
‘Anyway,’ she continued, ‘Derek is not human. Well, he wasn’t born one. He was the first victim of my fish-to-human experiment.’
The more Jenny stood in this room, the more she began to believe what was occurring. Well, it was better than just sitting home watching TV all day.
‘What fish was he previously?’
Great. More sharks.
‘The very shark that saved you from drowning.’
‘Okay, that’s it! I’m out of here!’
‘Don’t be like that! You gotta appreciate a boy that’d undergo a potentially dangerous experiment for you.’ Jenny turned back. ‘Anyway, Derek didn’t want to be a shark. He thought that sharks had no purpose, and were supposed to be a vicious brutish species when he was trying to be good. He had no companionship from his fellow species, and wanted love more than anything. He thought that being human would help him find love and to make up for his past misdeeds.’
Jenny snickered. She couldn’t believe that there were actually sharks that were kindly people underneath, like in stupid Saturday morning cartoons.
‘Derek has a dark side.’ Gwen continued, ‘A mental monster, instructing him to kill. The whole reason sharks are killers.’
Jenny stood upright when she heard that sentence. Was she really supposed to believe that sharks are predators because they were schizophrenic?
‘It’s the reason I brought you here.’ Gwen sighed, ‘Derek’s dark side is more than just a figment of his imagination. He’s a separate entity, and he wants Derek to become a shark again. Derek wants to battle this creature in his dreams to become completely human, for you.’
Jenny laughed. How many movies was she going to have to live through?
Gwen instructed that she should go into Derek’s dream, to remind him of his love for her, which could help him fight his mental beast, and to help him battle. Apparently, it couldn’t be beat by physical attacks, so Jenny and Derek had to stand up to it to defeat it. Jenny had to wear one of her ‘psychic helmets’ (apparently sea-witches have psychic powers) and read Derek’s mind until her ‘essence’ was transported there; it was a special mode for the helmets. Gwen had her own helmet so she could see what was happening. If it looked like Jenny was in trouble, she would ‘reverse the polarity’ (Jenny had heard that phrase so many times but I never expected to hear someone say it in real life) to get her out.
Most people would have run away as fast as they could if they were offered to battle a demonic shark that lived inside somebody’s brain.
Jenny tried doing just that.
Jenny ran to the door, banging it with all her might, desperately wanting to open it and escape from this nuthouse. But the door was locked.
‘I thought you’d try something like that,’ Gwen explained, ‘so I locked the door. NOW YOU HAVE TO FIGHT THE DARK SIDE! MUA HA HA HA HA HA HA!’
After burying her face in her hands at Gwen’s remark, Jenny turned to the shuddering Derek. That Derek. The same one who sat with her during lunchtime and listened to her.
When Derek went to bed and slept, Jenny donned the helmet, turned towards Derek, twitching and rolling around in his sleep, and switched the machine on.
Then the world went twisted.
Jenny found herself standing on dry, grey land, in a lifeless place which no human should really be in. She saw Derek and a flying shark with eyes like those of a snake. The shark was darting and surveying Derek, but Jenny neared the shark, and slugged him behind his back.
The beastly shark stared at her, eye-to eye. Given the choice between Gwen and this thing, Jenny would definitely pick Gwen.
Well, well, well, he hissed, if it isn’t Derek’s girlfriend! The shark actually smiled, revealing his drill-like teeth. Jenny stood still, as nothing but gibberish escaped her mouth. Just the response I was expecting.
‘Leave…leave…Derek alone…’ Jenny stuttered, trying to sound brave.
YOU can’t defeat me, human. I’m at the top of the food chain, while you’re just a slob. Why did you come here? Haven’t you given Derek enough trouble?
Jenny punched him again, this time in the face, without effort, but he just laughed as if she were just a joke.
‘Leave her alone!’
That was the sound of Derek.
So, you’re actually standing up to me because I’m threatening your little girlfriend?
‘Yes. Don’t try to urge me to kill. I’m not your slave. I’m not your servant. I’m not afraid of you! I don’t have to do what you say anymore!‘
The mental shark growled furiously, before laughing softly.
Impressive. You really have learned something, haven’t you? But you still haven’t won. I still hold the aces around here…’
His abilities were shown once again as he raised his fin in the air triumphantly, causing living human skeletons to burst through the ground. Their eyeballs were still in their sockets, and all of them had the same teeth as the demon shark. The skeletons held Jenny in their arms, squeezing her. They were surprisingly strong for creatures without muscles.
‘What are you doing to Jenny?’ Derek questioned.
What do you think?
‘GWEN!’ I screamed. At that moment, Jenny felt like something was trying to pull her out of this nightmare, but the henchmen of Derek’s evil power held her as if she was a teddy bear, their feet becoming roots that clung deep into the ground.
‘LET HER GO!’ Derek cried, stamping his foot on the ground.
No. I’m going to kill her. If you try to rebuke me… The skeletons opened their mouths, saliva dripping down. Just think, Derek. I can kill her and it will be all your fault. You’ll have her lie on your conscience for the rest of your life. Not some insignificant fish, the person you apparently LOVE. I like that word. Derek said nothing.
Or, he continued, you could tell your scaly friend out there to turn you back into a shark. If you do, you probably won’t be loved but I’ll leave you alone, scout’s honour. But if you even THINK about being human again, I’ll be back.
‘Gwen,’ said Derek, ‘she said she couldn’t turn me back. She said I could never be a shark again.’
Jenny shut her eyes, too frightened to speak.
Oh, yes, she did, didn’t she? Well, then I guess I have no choice but to…
‘No!’ Derek screamed.
Derek sighed. ‘Take me instead.’
‘What?’ cried Jenny.
You don’t know what you’re doing.
‘I said, take me instead. I know you want to do it.’
The mental skeletons immediately released Jenny, and wrapped Derek in their clutches.
‘No, Derek, don’t.’
Derek said nothing in reply to Jenny’s protests. As the skeletons leered at him in their grasp, the flying shark turned to Jenny. I’ll have his death lie on your conscience instead.
In a second, Jenny returned to Gwen’s laboratory.
Gwen viewed the ferocious confrontation first-hand.
Using one of her mind-reading helmets, she saw what those two opposing sides were doing. Derek was frightened of this beastly creature, actually upset by the words he spoke of. The Dark Side, ‘Evil Derek’ for lack of a better name, actually had the upper hand. It was his domain, his arena, his world. Derek didn’t stand a ghost of a chance.
As she viewed the clash of the titans, she hung her head, shaking it slowly. She had turned Derek human, and he had just entered this battle to become more human, for happiness, for love. It was Gwen’s experiments had made Derek’s vicious alter ego more feral, and therefore more powerful. Derek’s new form was more lax than his previous, which almost guaranteed death.
If the former shark was to die, Gwen would be to blame. She actually thought he could control it. She had helped the darkness of Derek’s soul gain victory.
How could she have been so stupid…
Samson approached her on those little mechanical legs of his, his head held high in hopes his mother would do the same. All he got in response was to be batted away by a webbed hand.
Gwen’s thoughts during the fight made her remember her nightmares, her doubts, her great grandmother. She was remembered as one of the greatest sea-witches of all time, because of when she made a mermaid human to help her gain love, and an immortal soul.
Gwen was told the whole story when she was young. Stories like those were to help her be proud of her sea-witch heritage, and to influence her to do similar things. This certain story was to remind her that sea-witches always put a price on their spells and ‘experiments’.
Ever since she heard about that experiment, the same image played through her mind throughout the years.
A beautiful human, once a mermaid, stood on the ship, remembering the magnificent, jubilant time she had first become human. Now she was going to lose her life at the first ray of sunlight. She stared into the sky, awaiting the sunrise, knowing that she was doomed to never have the soul she had wanted.
Her beloved prince had enjoyed the wedding, and his bride. They had danced the night away, having the time of their lives, neither of them giving a single thought towards the mermaid. Was this her reward for saving the princes life?
The former mermaid then saw her sisters rising out of the ocean. Their hair once waved in the wind, but now it had been cut short. They gave her a knife, and a reason to use it. If she was to survive, she had to murder the prince she had admired, thrusting the knife into his heart. She would revert to her original form, and continue her original 300 year lifespan. This information was courtesy of the Sea-Witch, who had cut the hair as payment.
The former mermaid entered the prince’s sleeping quarters, laying eyes on who she thought was her true love. She kissed his forehead, and stared at the sky one more time to remind her that time was running out. She heard the prince mention his wife’s name in his sleep, which should have fuelled her anger. She rose the knife in the air, ready to kill.
She wasn’t going to murder the one she loved, even if it was to prolong her underwater life. She darted outside, and threw the knife into the ocean. She sighed, and threw herself in the ocean with it, her body slowly disintegrating.
Gwen wasn’t going to let that happen to Derek. She just didn’t want him to die like the mermaid, hopes of gaining love lost forever. Her great grandmother had actually done something in hopes of preventing the mermaid’s death, something to help her.
She took off her helmet and paced about the room, pondering on a plan.
She was the one Derek loved, the figure that made Derek love humanity. Her presence and support would build Derek’s confidence, hopefully enough to make him overpower his dark side.
But then she remembered the Sea-Witch Rules. Didn’t it forbid revealing the sea-witch species? She picked up the book again, and was relieved when she reminded herself of Rule 35:
‘A Sea-Witch must not reveal herself to a human, UNLESS IT IS NECESSARY.’
Clearing up the questions Jenny undoubtedly held in her mind, which would help her understand why she must save Derek, seemed necessary to Gwen. This might also cause Jenny to love Derek more, as it would give her a better understanding of his emotions. Derek wrote down her address, so Gwen knew where she was going to find her. With this idea, Gwen ran to Derek, awake after facing the vicious fiend, and told him to wait.
Come on, Derek. Now’s your chance. Kill that wretched girl.
The beast within me spoke once again. I saw his shadow form once more, only he was standing on his tail, as if it was a pair of legs. I shook my new fist at him.
Don’t be angry at me. Just do what I say. Look at that bottle in that bin over there. Pick it up.
I shook my head at his orders.
I actually proceeded to do what he commanded that time, running up to the dustbin and picking up the bottle.
Break the bottle.
With the bottle in my hand, I threw it to the ground, smashing it to pieces.
I neared the building once more, broken bottle in hand.. But suddenly, Jenny ran up to me, shocked at what I was going to do. My intents to kill slowly faded as I saw her expression.
‘No!’ I told my dark half while throwing the bottle to the ground, ‘I’m not your slave anymore.’
With that, the malevolent shadow morphed back into a regular human shadow.
‘Derek,’ Jenny crossed her arms. ‘What the hell?’
Burying her face in her hand, Jenny snarled like…like a beast. ‘Not only do you stand me up in front of everyone, you wave glass in my face!’
‘No! You…’ Her expression didn’t change. I knew I was defeated.
I walked away from the dance, ashamed to show my face at that moment. The image of Jenny’s snarl still in my mind, I sat down on the beach, watching the reflection of the moon on the rippling waves. The monster inside me was still here, mocking me and ordering me around.
During my short time as a human, it brought me more regret. Just because of my former species, I missed out on so many things. Why couldn’t I have been born a human? Why did God make me a shark?
During my time on dry land, I had learned about the LOVING God humans worshipped. It had actually made me hopeful. I mean, I actually felt secure that there is someone who LOVES me, no matter what others think of me. And this God, he promised people to go to a better place when they die. I had actually prayed to him at times, asking Him if he would help me overcome the beast in my mind.
I remembered the sort of childhood little Lucy had led. She got cheery story-time books read to her, an entire room with innocent, childhood icons, and a LOVING mother. Why did she get a parent who LOVED her and wanted her to do good? I don’t remember my parents.
If I had been this way my whole life, this vicious beast within me wouldn’t even have had existed. I would have had a LOVING family, support and companionship from my fellow species and I wouldn’t have held that bottle.
Yes, that would be perfect. I would have two kind and caring parents, a kind and beautiful mother to give me comfort when things go wrong, and a father who wanted nothing more than for me to make something of myself. I would play games with them, learn from them, give them presents and feel so lucky that I had a family. Also, perhaps I would have brothers and sisters to play with and help every day.
I could have had all that.
But I was merely transformed, and this monster still lived, more furious than ever. I thought that doing good would lessen his power but his echoing voice still remained in my head. Although I tried to ignore him, and didn’t do as he said, my anger against him remained. But what if I someday succumb to him, and become a human shark? What if I become evil and terrifying and start murdering? And what about Jenny? Would she still accept me?
I just sat there on the beach, crying my eyes out, due to my thoughts. Crying lifted that weight, but only slightly. What lightened my spirits a little more was that somebody came up to me and said, ‘Poor guy.’ At least I got something I wanted.
I looked around the area. Good. The coast was clear. I got out of my pocket a small remote control. Pressing a noticeable button, the entrance to Gwen’s home appeared out of the water. I travelled down the tube, and entered the house once again.
I smiled as I saw Gwen reclining on her couch, listening to music. As soon as she saw me, she turned off her music, smiled and asked how the dance was.
‘It was going good,’ I explained, ‘until…until he spoke.’
Gwen’s eyes bulged in terror. ‘Who’s he?’
I sighed. ‘The voices. He told me to kill back when I was a shark, and he’s still doing it now.’
‘Oh dear.’ Gwen told me, ‘Derek, I need to tell you something.’ Gwen stood up and started wandering around the room as she told me the news.
‘You see Derek, humans have two sides to them, a good side and an evil side. For sharks, like you used to be, it’s quite similar. Sharks are actually two people, one existing inside the mind, the dark side. Most sharks succumb to this side, hence their destructive nature.’ She picked up a book, the one I had studied in English. ‘This is similar to this story, in the sense that a person’s dark side is a separate entity. Like Mr. Hyde was the embodiment of Dr. Jekyll’s dark side, this creature inside you is the embodiment of your own dark side. All your evil and hatred, with a mind of its own. I thought I could destroy it by turning you into a human, Derek.’
‘But,’ I added, ‘it just seems like he’s become more furious at me.’
‘And now,’ Gwen continued, the trepidation in her voice increasing with each word she spoke, ‘I think this could really ruin your chances with Jenny. You may die…just like…just like the mermaid.’
‘So, is there anything I can do?’ I asked.
‘There are three choices, Derek.’ Gwen explained, ‘You can remain this way, trying to cope with this dark side, but chances are you will eventually succumb to him.’ She then pointed to the machine that caused my transformation in the first place. ‘Another option is, you could revert back to your original form. It’s what the beast within you wants, and after you do it, he might be less frequent.’
‘And my third choice?’
‘I have a theory,’ she replied, ‘that it’s more likely he can be defeated from the inside rather than the outside.’
What did she mean?
‘My ancestors,’ she continued, ‘researched shark’s inner demons and used magic to enter shark’s minds to fight them. Unfortunately, they later found out that these demons could only be defeated by their ‘owners’ in their dreams…and sharks can’t sleep.
‘Since I wanted to scientifically reproduce every sea-witch ability, I started to work on ‘Project Looking Glass’.’
Gwen sighed, holding up what looked like a blue headband. ‘ I invented this quite a while ago. ‘The White Rabbit’. This machine will allow you to enter your own mind when you sleep so you could face your dark side head on. Since he is practically physical, you can fight him in your dreams, sorta like Nightmare on Elm Street. You may defeat him, you may not, but it may be the only way to be completely human.’
I imagined what it would be like if my dark side had been vanquished and I was a complete human being. I could finally win Jenny’s heart, we would be an official couple, remembered throughout the ages, and perhaps…perhaps we could get married and be together for the rest of our lives. We would have children; not vicious shark children that would tear a man to shreds, but human children, eager to learn and be good citizens. I would have a LOVING family, the one I’ve always wanted. I would grow old with Jenny, and die a human being, the majority of my life spent not as a shark.
A goal I’d always dreamed of obtaining.
‘How do I defeat him?’ I questioned.
‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you!’ Gwen cried, raising her webbed hand in the air, ‘This demon in your mind is mental, so it cannot be harmed by physical means. You have to stand up to it. However, since you are in its realm, it can kill you. If it looks like you’re in trouble, I’ll wake you up.’
‘I have to defeat him tonight. If it looks like I’m in trouble, do something to help me out. Also, Gwen, why did you wait until now to tell me this?’
‘I thought that your humanity could contain it at first.’
‘And I don’t really think this whole ordeal makes sense.’
‘You’re talking to a character from a fairy tale, Derek. I don’t think anything makes sense anymore. Anyway, good luck.’
I thanked Gwen for caring.
I darted into my bed, attempting to get to sleep. When asleep, Gwen instructed, I would face my dark side, as I would be inside my mind. Soon my wish was granted. I fell into a deep sleep, and when I opened my eyes, I was…
I was there.
The sky was blanketed in dark grey clouds, with the low rumbling of thunder in the distance. The ground was of an even darker grey than the sky; it was dry, and was patterned with deep indentations. The only life in this barren waste were a few naked trees, which looked like…it can’t be…they were screaming in pain; their ‘arms’ clenching their ‘stomachs’, their hollows shrieking. Harsh wind blew in my face as I further observed my dark side’s domain, causing dust to dance in the air.
I turned around, and I saw a beautiful land which contrasted greatly with this dismal place. A light blue, cloudless sky with the sun grinning childishly. A beautiful emerald green field, where flowers peeked out from the long grass. But that lovely place was surrounded by a tall black iron fence. What was it?
It’s your domain, with all your naive fantasies. This place belongs to me.
I heard his voice yet again, yet he wasn’t visible just yet. As I looked around for the source of the voice, I saw…
Jenny was there in the distance, her back turned to me. She was just standing there, looking at the clouds. I neared her cautiously and slowly. But just as I came close…
She burst into flames.
Burst into flames and disappeared.
I turned around and saw him.
He almost looked like my old shark form. Same size, same shade of grey, same fin, same everything. But his eyes burnt. His pupil looked like a thin red fin, his sclera a vivid yellow. Those demonic eyes narrowed as he stared at me more, his mouth in an angry snarl.
I’ve been waiting for this day for so long, he growled, saliva dripping from his mouth.
‘Just leave me and Jenny alone!’ I shouted at the beast I had waited so long to face.
`I can’t believe you, really I can’t.’ the demon continued, `Most sharks would be happy about their species, while YOU become some guinea pig just to become a pathetic human! With that, he whacked me with his tail, knocking me to the ground.
‘Urm…er…h-humans are superior to sharks.’
He let out a loud laugh, one that echoed throughout the whole area.
Haven’t you looked around that school you’ve attended? Haven’t you looked at all the lazy, worthless specimens watching the world go by? You want purpose, yet you also want to be like them?
You had a purpose, Derek. You were supposed to keep the fish population in check, make people less foolhardy about going into the deep. Now you just want to spend all your time watching television and playing video games. Acacia was right about you.
‘There ARE good humans. I just thought I could be like the good ones, maybe.’ I timidly spoke.
FOOL! There are no good humans. The humans that claim they are good have evil intent locked away, which awaits freedom, and escapes. But who will save us from this evil? GOD? No. God is a lie, fabricated by humanity. Evangelists and ministers alike gain so much income from the lie of God…they don’t LOVE, they only want to exploit him. If God was real, why do we suffer? Why do YOU suffer? Why were you born a shark, the species you hate? Humanity is not a species of love, so the lie of a God is useless. There is no heavenly force LOVING you, Derek, forget those infantile promises.
You want to destroy me to become completely human, to shed every iota of your former species. It’s pointless. Useless. Unnecessary. Sharks are more civilised than those pathetic animals we call humans. We sharks have a reason to kill, to stay alive. Humans kill for no reason at all. They ENJOY murder. Therefore, if you want to be human, you must LOVE death. When somebody kills in a movie, the humans praise him as if he were their messiah. They even enjoy the many massacres sharks bring, it gives them entertainment. That’s how you gain LOVE, by killing. The crowd will cheer!
The demon chuckled with glee.
That’s all you can say, isn’t it? Why are you fighting?
You don’t care about her. You just want her to be part of your little pity party so you can feel better about yourself. You’re selfish, you’re lazy…in fact, you are just like a human.
Forget it, Derek, you can’t defeat me. You’re still trapped in your happy little wonderland where you think all the mean baddies get defeated, and then you get everything you want, and everybody will LOVE and accept you. What tommyrot. This is the real world Derek. Not some happy-sappy fairytale where everything goes right and everybody’s nice and happy. This is a world where murder is useful, sometimes even necessary. Nice guys finish last, you know.
With those last words, he darted right up to me and stared angrily at my face. He then swam through imaginary waters, darting towards me once again, which I dodged by the skin of my teeth. He still persevered to fight, darting towards me with his jaws wideo open. I got a close look at his teeth, which resembled drills rather than regular shark teeth. He swiped at me with one of his fins, which seemed to elongate as long as an arm.
You think I’m going to kill you now, don’t you Derek? Well, guess what, I’m not going to. Want to know why? I want to give you a second chance. Wake up, face reality. Tell that sea witch to turn you back into a shark. Return to your old life.’
All of a sudden, the ground beneath me EXPLODED. I was thrown into the sky, falling, falling into a dark abyss…
Then I woke up.
I could still hear him…
I only want what’s best for you, Derek, he told me, because I am you.
So Jenny had met a nice boy.
Doing so had been one of the items on the big list of things to do before going to university, her ‘bucket list’, but she didn’t expect it to actually happen. She liked to think of herself as unattainable, independent. It’s only boys without girlfriends that are pathetic. Girls without boyfriends are liberated.
Was Derek her boyfriend? Well, he was a boy, and he was a friend, but no, no. Just a chap to have a nice natter to just make the school day more bearable.
Still, she did take a little advantage of him. She requested that he come with her while she was babysitting Mrs. O’ Peerin’s child Lucy. Babysitting did give her that extra bit of cash for her CDs and various knick-knacks, but still. Having grown tired of that little brat…er…girl, she thought if she had someone else by her side, the task would become more tolerable. Derek was more than happy to come along, he said he would do anything.
So that Saturday night, while Mrs. O’Peerin was off to the cinema to forget her divorced husband, Jenny walked along to the house, Derek by her side.
‘Are you sure you can handle this, Derek?’
‘I’m pretty sure I’ve been through worse.’
‘I thought you’d be good at this, since you are pretty much a big kid yourself.’
As they both entered Lucy O’ Peerin’s screaming caused Derek to jump, which was followed by him landing on the floor. That moment of physical comedy did end Lucy’s cries, which were replaced by a small laugh.
‘Do it again!’ cried the kid.
Jenny rolled her eyes and decided Derek had the situation in hand. Lucy seemed to get along with Derek from what I could see, with him putting on her favourite Happy Green Dinosaur DVD, and reading her a Happy Green Dinosaur bedtime story.
Happy Green Dinosaur. Jenny sighed with relief that she no longer had to bother with that tripe, as she lay down on the couch and waited for the mother.
I pick up her favourite story: Happy Green Dinosaur in the Land of Kitties and Puppies, and see it as what could have been.
I could have heard this story at bedtime. I could have had LOVING parents, reading this to me with a smile, and giving me a good-night kiss. But that could never be. I was born a predator, without the LOVING privileges of humanity.
As I began to read, I began to escape…
I’m no longer in the bedroom, I’m with Happy Green Dinosaur in the Land of Kitties and Puppies. I see bright sunshine, trees with lush green leaves and great big smiles and of course, pink kittens and brown dogs everywhere.
Happy Green Dinosaur is there, as are his friends, the children from Fa-La-La Town, who are singing songs about how important it is to smile, be happy and eat greens.
I want to stay here. I want to escape with Jenny here. Here, I am free. Here, there is no murder or nightmares, no voices bellowing in my head. Here, there is nothing but joy, an escape from the miserable reality.
I walk, no, dance around this new place, my eyes greedily scrutinising this new world. I then run up to Happy Green Dinosaur, his eyes full of tenderness and LOVE.
I say ‘Hello.’ He laughs with joy.
He laughs with joy.
Why does it sound so maniacal?
‘Still dreaming about your perfect little wonderland, aren’t you?’ he questions, his voice now grisly and full of evil intent.
He pounces on me, his eyes full of flame and his teeth jagged with thick saliva dribbling off them. He laughs another insane laugh before opening his massive jaws and swallowing me whole.
I brought myself back to reality, my face wet with tears.
Derek had seemed quite happy when Jenny had brought him here (and so was she as he was saving her a job) but he appeared to be crying after he had put Lucy to sleep.
‘I just wanted a childhood like hers.’ he told her through empty tears.
‘Oh boy,’ said Jenny, rolling her eyes, ‘you sound like a Disney movie.’
Wiping away the tears, Derek turned back to Jenny, ‘I’m sorry.’
‘Let’s just wait until Mrs. O’Peerin gets home, shall we?’
So they both sat on the couch, kicking their feet about in boredom, until Mrs. O’Peerin, that fat old woman, arrived and gave Jenny her payment. As Jenny gave Derek his cut, she asked, ‘So I guess we’re friends now.’
‘I think we are.’
‘So…maybe sometime you might like to come over?’
And he did.
When they were at Jenny’s house, they watched a movie, the 60’s Batman one. The two spent that time in unmoving silence, but there was this one scene that made Derek squirm. After playing ‘Monstrous Alien Monstrosities: Part Deux’, where Jenny won merely because all Derek did was push the buttons without rhyme or reason,Jenny decided to ask Derek something she knew she was going to regret:
‘Would you come with me to that dance on Friday?’
Derek’s face adorned a large, almost disturbing grin at that moment. He immediately began crying out ‘YES YES!’ frantically, but soon calmed down, telling me he was going to ask her the same thing and that with her, he was more happy than he can ever remember being. He even joyously danced the way home.
Well, a date’s a date.
The night of the dance came quickly, even with all the slow classes in between, and Jenny was ready. She wore a red, sparkling sleeveless dress, which was short enough so her legs would be visible. She had ditched the pony-tail, letting her long black hair flow in the wind. She had even applied some glitter to my hair, in hopes of looking more…bewitching.
Grandpa had given her a lift, and his old banger did nothing to diminish the compliments she received from the other students. She knew that would be the reaction, and so walked slowly to where Derek was waiting for eher.
Derek looked a little less attractive, only donning a short-sleeved blue shirt and smart black trousers, nervously sipping a coke.
He said nothing, but Jenny still took his hand.
As she held his hand, adrenaline rushed through her veins. As the music played, the two took over the dance room floor, rapidly dancing like nobody’s business. They held each other close as they twirled around the dance floor.
Derek said ‘Ow.’
Still, Jenny chose to ignore that as she led Derek through the crowds of people, knowing that the crowd would pay her more compliments. While Derek was jiggling about his legs in hopes of making something resembling a dance, Jenny helped him glide throughout the room, and soon, they became one. Just as Derek seemed to be tripping over again, Jenny caught him.
They ceased dancing, Jenny holding Derek in her arms.
Jenny saw Derek pucker up his lips, so she did too. They neared each other and…
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, giving Jenny a quick hug before bolting out of the hall.
Everybody stared in puzzlement.
Jenny ran after Derek, outside into the cold night air.
What was with him? was the thought that kept repeating itself through her head.
What was with him?
She ran outside and when she saw Derek…
He was holding a broken bottle in his hand.
Sleep should be quick. Sleep should be empty.
The night before my first day at school, and not only did I spend most of it struggling to snooze, but the sleep I did get… I knew I was asleep because I felt nothing. While I didn’t feel, however, I saw plenty. Well, I’m not sure what I saw, and I don’t think I remember everything, but I know it was noteworthy. I recall seeing the ocean again, but only for a few fleeting seconds, and that was replaced by grey spirals, swirling and rocking about. More of those fanged grins. I did see Jenny though, only in short bursts, and I think she was…
That surreal slideshow was brought to an abrupt halt as Gwen entered my bedroom, a plate of baked beans on toast resting in her webbed hand. Toast was a human food I had little fondness for, it reminded me of when I had fish’s bones caught in my teeth, but I still gobbled it down, for fear of offending her. After I did, she grabbed me by the arm and slammed me down onto the floor.
‘Gotta get up!’ she said, leaping up and down, ‘One thing to know about being a human is that success requires getting up early! I should know.’
After I got up on my feet, still feeling the sharp pain in my soles, I took a shower – strange how after living most of my life in water, this certain water could feel so refreshing – and dressed myself in the t-shirt, the jeans, the shoes. A quick look in the mirror just to check…yes. Just like anyone else I see on the surface. No dark shadow lurking in search of prey. A normal eighteen-year-old man ready to just go to school.
After handing me a backpack and an apple (‘Couldn’t have become pet without one,’ Gwen had said), Gwen took me to a tube, waiting for me next to a picture of a man with several arms. It devoured me. All of a sudden, I felt like I was swimming again, only I was doing it not of my will, being taken somewhere quickly by an unseen force. After looping and spinning and diving, I leapt out of the sea, and landed on the sand of the beach. Often had I seen this place, but had never actually been on it. The sand felt as the toast tasted, only colder, so I didn’t want to sit among it for very long. I had school to get to, so I left the beach, and neared that town. It lacked the blues and greens of my old home, with no plantlife or little animals floating about; blocks of dark brown sat on a field of grey, all underneath a big mass of white. No sounds except for the wind and the seagull screeching.
My desire to explore this new world overpowering me, I ran towards that town, but that running subsided when I took a look at its contents. Those dull brown giants populating the place…they leered at me, groaning, as I passed, as if they knew what I had done.
You be quiet.
How can I shut up after what you’ve got yourself into?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Acacia. No, it wasn’t her, it was a fake, soft shark, looking at me through a wide window. It looked just like Acacia though, same grin, same eyes.
From my pocket, I took out the map Gwen printed out for me. The school wasn’t far from where I was. Just move pass these buildings- these smirking, creaking buildings – cross a road, with its roaring beasts darting past, and come to a place where I see people. All sorts of people. People walking past brighter buildings.
My head throbbed.
As those fierce vehicles subsided, I walked across the road, my feet still stinging, and waved to one of the people – a rather portly person smaller than me. When he smiled and waves back, that throbbing in my cranium disappeared. Planting myself into the morass of people entering the school – a huge lump of a building– nobody looked at me. Good.
Just keep moving.
Jenny had started the morning listening to her grandpa talk about Gwen Wickiton – about the ‘codswallop’ she was talking about – but that was the only time that week she had thought of Gwen or slimy undersea thingies. Things had finally gotten round to going the way they should be going. Morning maths classes as usual. Numbers and fractions and the like. Still time for a bit of dawdling though.
After making sure she had all her textbooks and notepads for doodling on, she heard a bump and an ‘OW!’ behind her. Knowing she would have that miniature guilt if she passed by a fellow student in pain, she turned around to see a young man about her age, landed on his bum, rubbing his head. Though he was trying to get up himself, Jenny still approached him and gave him her hand. His eyes bulged as he landed on his feet, but he still chuckled afterwards.
‘T-t-thank you,’ he replied, clutching himself as if trying to keep warm.
‘No problem,’ said Jenny, smiling.
‘Oh,’ he replied, still fidgeting.
‘It’s just…you reminded me of an old friend just then.’
‘Did I?’ Why not? It was still dawdling time, and it wasn’t like there was anyone else to talk to. ‘What was your old friend like?’
‘Well,’ replied the guy, giving himself a moment of pondering, ‘she was interesting.’
‘Oh,’ said Jenny, walking beside him, ‘So do you think I’m interesting?’
‘Are you new here? I don’t think…’
‘Yeah, I’m new. I had to…relocate…because…I…my…wasn’t happy where I was…’
‘Don’t we all feel like that?’ replied Jenny, holding her head up to the ceiling as brief memories slipped through her brain. ‘What’s your name anyway?’
‘My…Derek. My name’s Derek.’
‘Nice to meet you, Derek. I’m Jenny.’
Derek, of course, rubbed the back of his neck. ‘It’s nice to meet you too, Jenny…er…’
‘Wel, I’d love to chat, but I’ve got biology to get to.’
‘Oh, okay…I’ve got English…’
And the two departed.
While I entered the class shuddering, a small piece of energy also erupted inside me, as Jenny’s ‘Hello’ echoed in my ears. I knew it. I knew she would accept me! As I looked for my seat, I thought on what we would do together now that I was free of the confines of the ocean and she knew who I was. Perhaps we could even go swimming together.
But Jenny wasn’t here right now. Now I found myself in an ‘English class’. Gwen had told me I would like it since I enjoyed reading all her books so much. As odd as it was looking at a piece of paper and having it speak to you without actually saying anything, the voices that entered my mind when reading those books were worth listening to. I began to shine a small bit of doubt on that philosophy though, when I noticed my fellow students seemingly ready to start dropping off.
Just look at them, Derek. Sloppy, useless idiots. You’d be doing them a favour by offing them, won’t you?
Just as the temptation to yell at my inner killer crept up, the teacher entered. When I first saw him, I almost thought I was underwater again, as the man’s face so resembled a swordfish. Did Gwen have other experiments?
I would like to say what the man said, but I cannot remember. His voice reminded me of the sounds my underwater victims made as I chewed them up, so I tried not to listen. I did, however, listen to the book he passed around: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The book certainly spoke to me; I’ve felt alone as this ‘Mr Utterson’ has. Still, even with what Gwen apparently inserted into my brain, I found myself unable to understand some of the words.
And all the time I was staring at the book, the swordfish man seemed to be staring at me, one eye wider than the other, his wrinkles accentuated. The thought occurred that perhaps I should ask him why, but I know from experience that asking ‘why’ can lead to trouble. I once asked a fellow shark what he was up to, and it didn’t end well.
Not having to move all the time now did give me some opportunities to relax, but all throughout that class, my new legs begged for me to move them. Lunchtime soon made its appearance though, and it was then I ran into Jenny again, sitting at the same table she was.
‘Oh, fancy meeting you again,’ said Jenny, raising her face from her half-eaten sandwich.
‘Yeah,’ I said, before I noticed what she was eating, ‘Is that fish?’
‘It’s tuna,’ she replied, which caused a slight grumble in my stomach, ‘You want some?’
‘No, just wondering.’
‘Ah,’ she said, taking another slow, meticulous bite, ‘Enjoying your first day?’
‘It’s a little boring.’
Jenny chuckled. ‘How interesting. Oh yeah, and did you know that water is wet?’
We laughed together. Laughter has been a sound that has stung in the past, but here, it seemed to remove that sting. ‘Well, at least I’m doing something with my life.’
‘Pfft. Doing something with your life is overrated.’
‘Yes, I’ve found that doing nothing can feel quite good.’
‘Yeah, that’s true.’
Both of us continued our lunches, with me devouring my cucumber sandwich – average – and bar of chocolate – oh yes – stopping to chatter every so often. Until…
‘Well, gotta go, Derek.’
‘Nice talking to you.’
‘You too. You’re nice – which is more than can be said for most people around here.’
Once again I was reminded that my urge to keep on moving had been vanquished, as my body insisted on sitting where I was after Jenny departed. My stomach was usually so full of pain and the huge weight of guilt, and that one closing comment from Jenny made all that vanish. Though for how long remains to be seen.
That’s right. You think that.
I continued to attend this school for the next few weeks. The lessons involved merely sitting, absorbing information, and then proving you absorbed that information. The information was usually worth absorbing though, but it is a shame these books can’t be like television. When watching that box with the drawings that move, I was not tested afterwards. In fact, it usually cleared my brain, and such a thing should be advised when mine is inhabited.
What I really came to school for was the lunchtime chats. Almost every lunchtime I would run into Jenny, and we would talk until it was time for more information absorbing. Most of the time, the conversations would be pleasant diversions; she would talk about her grandfather, her life and aspirations, and I would speak to her about my life and aspirations (sadly, I didn’t have the grandfather to compare hers to). One day, she did mention Gwen…
‘Have you heard about her, Derek?’
I chose not to respond, and instead munched on the cucumbers.
‘Well, she came into this school one day, and geez, did she creep me out.’
I still chose to remain silent. I knew that not objecting would offend Gwen but objecting would offend Jenny, so I thought, since Gwen wouldn’t likely know about this conversation, the best course of action was to say nothing.
‘Well, aren’t you going to say anything?’
‘I don’t really know what to say.’
‘Hmm,’ replied Jenny, and the rest of the lunch period continued in silence.
The next day though, Jenny asked me if, the day following, I would help her with something. An opportunity.
Of course it is.