“What is it?” I didn’t recognize my own voice. I sounded like an overexcited little girl who spotted a unicorn in the woods. And then that unicorn winked at her.
“I don’t know” she said “It’s pretty cool though.”
I’ve heard people say that fish are silver, which is bullshit because they’re grey. The creature we were looking at really was silver. The sunlight was bouncing off its scales (?) and the water and back and forth, making it glitter like a diamond. It was hard to get a good look at it because it was so glittery. Maybe it wasn’t silver, maybe it was more like polished chrome. Or maybe it was something else altogether because it was throwing off colors like a prism.
We were on a cliff/scenic overlook/whatever, it was down below in the water so it was hard to know how big it was without something to get a sense of scale but I got the impression that it was massive. Despite that bulk it moved with a lazy kind of grace that made me think that it could turn on a dime or flip completely over or jump out of the water into the air like a happy dolphin.
It wasn’t a whale or a long-necked thing like the Loch Ness monster or a sea serpent but it had elements of all three of those things. There was some seal in there too. And maybe a little dragon. Are water dragons a thing? I’m doing a terrible job of describing it, but that’s because it’s indescribable so get off my back. Whenever someone says that something is beyond their ability to describe they usually mean that it’s something terrible or scary or just weird, this was indescribably delightful.
My new friend/kidnapper/slayer sister/whatever was sitting on a large rock watching the creature swim laps below us “I figured you could do to seeing something nice right about now. I remember how I felt the first time. It’s mostly bad, but it’s not ALL bad. Some mythical creatures have survived that are quite wondrous.”
I felt like a slack-jawed yokel “How?”
“Some kind of invisibility or shroud, I don’t know the mechanics of it all. Anyone else looking down there, anyone normal, wouldn’t see it, all they would see is some water moving around. They’d assume it was a school of fish or a current and go about their day. It’s too bad that I can’t carry a tune. I’ve heard that if you sing to them sometimes they’ll sing back to you, it’s supposed to be quite beautiful. If you like that sort of thing.”
I don’t know why, but I started whistling the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show. I don’t think I’ve ever even watched that show but for some reason that’s what came into my mind at that moment. The creature clearly reacted to the sound, changing its path into more of a figure eight with a fat bottom.
I couldn’t keep the incredulity out of my voice “It can hear me all the way up here?”
“Oh yeah” she nodded “they have great hearing, or so I’m told anyway.”
I had grand visions of myself belting out a song and the fantastic beast below singing out like a whale in a duet of sorts, I’m a great singer, I was in show choir and I crush it at karaoke. But I was too self-conscious to try with my new friend sitting there watching. I doubt I would have been able to even if I was alone. Singing outside on a cliff? Get real. This is actual life, not the Sound of Music.
I looked over at her and realized that she seems older but when you really look at her she’s actually pretty young. She’s younger than me for sure and maybe a lot younger.
She saw me staring at her and traced one of her scars “Don’t worry, they didn’t do most of this to me, just regular old people in regular old life.”
“I wasn’t thinking that, how long, have you been . . . like this?”
“Three years, give or take.”
“And how many others have you met?”
That was the first time I saw her seem at all uncomfortable or less than totally self-assured “Ah, you know, just a few. But . . . uh, one of them I didn’t really meet . . . so much . . . as, uh, came upon her body after she was murdered. Another one was killed not long after we met.”
I tried and failed to keep the concern out of my voice “Oh.”
She smiled grimly “Yeah, oh. You can see them and they can see you. Even if you don’t want to kill them they’re going to think that you do want to kill, or they’ll just want to kill you anyway because some monsters are real monsters. So you should probably learn to fight or go live off the grid away from everyone or something. Are you rich? I think if you were rich you could hire a bunch of guys with guns and that would work out well.”
“Uh no, I’m not rich. I think I have eight hundred bucks in my account.”
Her grim smile turned wry “Well you have me beat by about eight hundred then. Too bad, I really think being rich would make things a lot easier in the monster fighting world. So . . . uh, what would you like to do next? I can take you back to KC if you want. Or I can take you somewhere else if you want to run away. Your boss sounds like a bad guy so I could try and kill him. Or I could help you try to kill him if you want.”
The idea of running away was very tempting but I couldn’t “Take me back. He has to pay for what he’s done.”
“Revenge isn’t a great path to go down . . . it’s, uh . . . I’ve been down that . . . before, and, uh, it doesn’t really work out.”
I turned and headed back to her POS car “I’m not afraid of him. He’s already dead right, I’m just going to put the body in the ground where it belongs.”
“Well there won’t be a body, he’ll turn to dust.”
“I know” I said as I got into the passenger seat “but that was a good line.”