The One Tree / It Broke
So, here's a few funny things.
I write a lot. I don't post ANY of it up on here though! The problem? I spend a lot of time planning for my job (primary school teachers write a lot more than you'd think); I spend time making resources; and, the main place my writing goes, I plan, write and resource a weekly Dungeons and Dragons episode. I can't think of a better way of describing it; something punchy, hopefully ending on a cliffhanger or twist of some sort, and something that doesn't keep my players up until all hours.
I've got a partial answer to this; I'm spending a lot of time updating the Wikia for my D&D campaign. It's kind of a sleeper project. I'm hoping that I'll be able to use it to write the sequel to Poisonroot, as a resource document for the world the characters live in. Zar is proving to be far more interesting than Lyria as a country, mainly due to its capital, and I want to make sure that Trip and Victor spend some time there. Probably Lauren and Anila as well.
The Wikia is at The One Tree Wiki and that's where a lot of my writing lies right now.
As for today? It's half term. I've got a 'week off' (not really a week off, just a week when I save up all my work until the Thursday and Friday and then do it all in one big chunk). Accordingly, I've written things. The piece after the jump is totally based off an image randomly seen for about ten seconds on the deviantArt front page of a diver finding a mermaid; the prompt for the piece was a competition by the Scribblists called 'It Broke'. My immediate thought was condoms; interestingly, my wife's first thought was of words broken hearts and dreams. Anyway, the brief was entertainingly short, only 800-1000 words. I clocked in at 998. Like a boss.
I stared at Jenick for a moment, marvelling at his calmness. Then I really looked; his eyes were a little too focused, as if willing me to accept the lie.
"What do you mean, 'It broke'? You were eight hundred feet down, oxygen leaking out; that line didn't just break." I turned the smooth air-hose over in my hands.
"What I said. It just broke. And then I swam back up to the surface." He shrugged and turned away. "No biggie."
I found the break; a single line scored into the hose, large enough to start a deadly oxygen leak; somehow he had made it back to the surface without any panic or, apparently, any need to inform us about it.
"This isn't over, Jenick!" I shouted at his receding back. He shrugged again and pushed through the swing doors and went out onto the pier.
I stared after him for a moment, wondering. What was he hiding? There was no doubt in my mind that either he had found something down there he wasn't willing to share, or there was another, more chilling, reason behind it. It wasn't unheard of for divers to find salvage that was worth money, but company policy said that it had to be reported and split between all of us. Jenick apparently had other plans. Perhaps he had even sliced the hose himself to give him an excuse to abandon the dive early...
I heard a tiny squeak that made my teeth ache and looked down; I had twisted the airhose, folding it and refolding it. Scowling, I threw it down and went into the office.
Morgan was there, head in a newspaper, smoking one of those foul cigars. Clouds of smoke fugged the room. Wrinkling my nose in disgust, I sat in the single chair in front of his desk.
"What?" His voice was razors and gravel. Throat cancer will do that to you.
"I want Jenick's dive."
"He came back up, said something slashed his air hose; I want to..." I made vague motions with my hands. "Y'know, check it's ok. In case we dive there again."
He held my gaze for a moment, then nodded. "On your own dime and time, though."
"Thanks," I said, already out of my chair. He nodded and went back to the newspaper.
Jenick was safely off the pier when I left in the boat, and by the time I finished setting up for the dive the sun was starting to set;. Once the safety checks were complete, I nodded to Piers and took a last look around. The comforting hiss of oxygen mix started to come in through the rubber hose connecting me to Piers and his machinery.
It was late to be going down, but I just wanted a look around. A few stray birds were flying idly over the beach, hunting for scraps left by tourists, and I could see a pair of teenagers holding hands as they walked along the seafront. Cute.
I turned and began to climb down the ladder.
The thick suit did little to shield me from the icy cold water, and I instantly regretted diving this late, but if I bottled it now Jenick might get to keep whatever secret he found. Instead I moved my arms and legs, quickly propelling myself down and forward. On my wrist, the GPSwatch Morgan insisted we all wear glowed a sickly green, telling me the distance and depth of myself and my target.
The silence; that was what drew me to this job, what kept me coming in. Sure, we did a vital job; clearing the Kanshu Bay of wrecks, hundreds of years of warfare piled on top of one another until regular boats struggled to move. But the silence, the closeness, the solitary nature of being a deep-sea diver, these were all things that appealed to me. Small fish, surprised by this intrusion into their world, nudged against the solid glass helmet and then retreated, disinterested.
The ghostly ping, transmitted to my helmet receiver, startled me by its suddeness. I took another look at the GPSwatch; something was responding to the micro-radar. Curious. Active to within only twenty metres or so, there was nothing out here big enough to trigger it.
Then I saw it. Or saw something; a shadow flitted across the small arc of light thrown by my shoulder-torches.
The radar pinged softly again. Off to the right this time. I narrowed my eyes and cued the radio.
"Jenick? That you?"
Crackles, then Piers' Texan drawl: "I'm here. You need sump'n?"
"There's something down here, something moving. I'm gonna check it out."
Floating a scant metre above the seabed I began to move forwards. Movement, ahead of me, something silvery this time in the light.
"What are you?" I whispered.
A rock wall loomed out of the darkness and I brought myself down to the sea bed. There, at the bottom, lay a small cave; too small for me, but the eddies of dust at its mouth suggested whatever I was hunting had come in here.
I bent to look inside, angling my torch for a better view, and then I saw it.
Huddled at the back of the cave, shielding her eyes from the harsh light, was a naked woman; her greenish hair fanned out behind her and her elfin features seemed totally out of place, but then she brought the lower half of her body around, protecting herself: a long fish's tail.
"Wha's that you say?" replied Piers, but I ignored him, instead beckoning to her.
"Come on out. I won't hurt you."
There was no way she could have heard me, but she slowly uncoiled and swam towards me. My mind raced; this discovery was beyond all others, would make history; I'd be forever remembered as the man who discovered mermaids-
That was the moment she pulled the rock-knife from her hair and sliced the air-hose.