Chapter 37: Boundaries
Merrick sighs as his gills wavered on the sides of his head. It's been 25 suns since his captivity. It's almost been a whole moon since he's seen Adam's wonderful face...
After the first while Merrick was here, he felt as if he can't trust a single human in this place - Nigel especially. It's not like that man is entirely bad. Merrick can see a lot of pain in that man's eyes, behind that endless hole of ambition and apathy. If he was a good man before, it sure doesn't show now. That foolish man still drags Merrick into that small room to ask him question after question after question. Will that old cod never learn?
Some of the humans are actually friendly, not just Erin. Whenever Merrick is taken in to the laboratory for tests, one of the scientists sneaks in a small, colorful item for Merrick can eat - it's round and has a white stick attached to it, one of those candies he's seen at that sweetshop at the pier on occasion.
Some of the security guards aren't all bad either. Most of them don't care; they're just mindless soldiers following orders. Others are rather rough in their actions though, as if they fear or despise Merrick, like he's some kind of animal who will go on a rampage if they let him too loose. Some of them, however, are kindly and understanding - once in a while, they sneak into the tank room, and smuggle some extra food for Merrick.
Of course, he's made requests to go home, or even contact Adam somehow. Alas, no one is authorized to take him home, and everyone says there are no 'phone' things anywhere in the building, and all personale are strictly prohibited from bringing any 'cellular device' within the premises of the Agency - the only one allowed is Nigel.
And from the way these humans talk, bending even one rule can put them in very deep trouble. Sounds like the Sacred Laws, only less strict.
The door of the room clicked. Merrick's eyes darted to the movement in the refracted image, and saw one of the human guards enter. Merrick groaned irritably; it's Keith - one of the guards that are stationed in the room where Nigel interrogates Merrick. This piece of work doesn't seem to like Merrick at all. He takes pleasure in taunting him, and keeps calling him weird names.
"Aight, Fagfish," Keith said as he worked the large machine. The contraption rumbled into life, and began draining the water in the tank. Merrick looked up as the surface began to lower down. While one tube sucked in all of the water, a few others blew in hot, dry air. Merrick growled as the water drained quickly from his tank.
"Yeah yeah," Keith said as the merman stayed as low as he can, "Lets cut the drama, Ariel." In no time, the last gallon of water was slipped into the holes of the drain bottom, and the air whirling around Merrick had dried him into human form. Keith unsealed the door, and clapped the merman in irons. "Mr Quinlan hasn't arrived yet, so you and I are gonna wait here."
"Whatever." Merrick retorted.
"Don't get an attitude with me, Missy," Keith said, "I've had a very bad morning."
"I can imagine," Merrick replied, "You still can't even get my name right."
"Oh, I'm gettin it right," Keith rolled his tongue below his bottom lip, "Sissy-Boy." Merrick leered angrily at him.
"... What do you even mean?" He asked.
"Mean what?" Keith smirked.
"You call me so many names, and I don't even understand you." He can't explain why, but anything this human says just makes him feel angry - more so than Nigel, believe it or not.
"Yeah, well," Keith shrugged, "I don't get you either."
"And what does that mean?"
"I just don't get how you can get with guys. It just ain't normal, you know?"
"Yeah. Think about it, Fagfish; can two men make a baby? Hm?" Keith asked, raising his brows.
"True, no two of the same gender can make offspring, but I've heard that humans can take in stray children - adoption, isn't it?"
"Sure, but that ain't good for the kid either way?"
"And why not?"
"Look, a kid needs a mommy, and a daddy to function normally," Keith stated, "Simple as that."
"And? You haven't explained how that is."
"Because the kid needs things from both moms AND dads. Two dads or two moms are just gonna screw the kid up."
"That sounds ridiculous." Merrick said
"Hey, it's not the kid's fault they choose to fuck men." Keith mentioned. Merrick felt a tinge of anger.
"... You think..." His blue eyes locked onto Keith's greys, "You think I chose to love Adam..."
"Well," Keith shook his head and shrugged, "You wouldn't be here if you didn't, would ya?"
"You REALLY believe the act of loving men is a CHOICE?" Merrick asked, "Where would you even get such an idea?"
"Like I said, you could have just walked away, and left him behind, and you'd still be in the ocean, fuckin mermaids, probably." Merrick's fist clenched tightly, "Nope. You decided you wanted a man in your ass, and look where ya are now."
"I can assure you," Merrick's eyes outlined with tears, "It is NOT a choice. I didn't CHOOSE to lose everything I had for him."
"See?" Keith sneered at him, "If you went with mermaids, you'd still be alright with life, huh?"
"..." Merrick blinked for a moment, "... You're one of the stupid humans, aren't you?" Keith's sneer faded almost instantly.
"What you say, Ariel?"
"You," Merrick began, "Are one of the stupid humans. Aren't you?" Merrick smirked as Keith's face turned into a focused frown.
"You gonna push your buttons, Sea Queer?"
"Jamal - the human who lives with me and Adam - once told me about these types of humans who are uneducated, and can barely string two thoughts at one time." The angrier Keith looked, the more at ease Merrick felt, "What were they called again?"
"You shut your cock-sucking mouth, Faggot." Keith said, becoming very lethal very quick. He took the baton from his belt, and pressed it to Merrick's chest as the merman leaned his back against the tank.
"Oh yeah..." Merrick said, "They're called Rednecks, aren't they? Hicks? It's sooo hard to tell the difference..."
"I'm WARNING you, Fagfish," Keith hissed as he seethed with wrath, "Keep talkin... I swear to J.H. Christ, I'm warning you."
"Look at you," Merrick shook his head, "Shaking with rage from a few words. Savage beasts with no mind, that's what you all are-"
Keith drew his fist back, launched it at Merrick's face. Merrick yanked his cuffs up, and knocked the baton up. With one hand, Merrick palmed Keith's fist, and the other hand broke free of the UNLOCKED cuff. Whirling around, Keith found himself flying in a half circle, and his face slammed RIGHT onto the tank.
"GHHHFF!" Keith grunted as his arm twisted around, and held at his back, while Merrick held down his other wrist.
"See? You can't even make sure I'm restrained. You really are a stupid one, aren't you?"
"Let go, you fuckin Tuna! Let go or I whoop your queer ass!"
"Of course, Yuri - she's ANOTHER human who lives with us, training to be a healer-"
"Yeah, a Nigger and a Chink, you gotta hell of a-" Merrick grabbed the back of his head, and banged it against the glass twice, "KFFSSSHH!"
"And SHE said," Merrick interrupted; he knows those words are offensive, and just hearing them makes his blood boil more, "That the word 'Rednecks' is politically incorrect. It might make someone angry."
"Get off me before I beat the shit outta you!" Keith snarled.
"You know what I think, Human?" Merrick panted as he felt rage surge inside him, "I think you're every bit of what Jamal described," Merrick ground the human's face against the tank, "A low, stinking, stupid, rancid, angry, inbred-"
Keith thrust his leg back, and kicked Merrick's knee. "Ah!!" The merman staggered back, giving Keith a chance to counterattack. Keith whipped around, and made to clock Merrick in the face. The Adra Triton's eyes locked onto Keith's form, and locked his first two knuckles into place. With a lightning quick move, Merrick cracked Keith's fist-wrist.
"GHAAAHHH!" Keith shouted in pain as he was thrown off balance for only a second. Merrick took that second to flatten his hand, and chucked at Keith's neck, and sent that man crashing to the floor. Before he could react at all, Merrick's leg planted RIGHT onto the back of his knees, one hand pining down Keith's other wrist, and the other grasping Keith's orange hair.
"Redneck." Merrick growled.
"I'mma kill you, Pussy-Ass Bitch!" Keith snarled, which turned into a grunt and a small nosebleed when Merrick bashed his head into the floor. Merrick lowered his head right next to Keith's ear.
"In the sea," Merrick hissed, "I was the second greatest hunter of my pod," Keith squirmed and grunted as his free wrist seared with pain, "Eclipsed ONLY by my Father."
"I don't givva shit, Faggot!" Keith stubbornly goaded.
"I don't need a weapon," Merrick continued, "I can kill any creature with just ONE strike," He snarled, "Especially a brainless savage like you." Keith spat some blood as he continued to struggle violently, "So enlighten me, Human," Merrick smirked as he yanked Keith's hair up, "Exactly how am I inferior to you simply by finding males attractive, hm?" Merrick's fingers tightened into that orange hair, "How does my Adam fucking my ass make me sink below you, when I can reduce you to a mangled lump on the ground? How am I a NOTHING just because I swallow his dick every time the sun rises?"
"Fuck you, Fagfish!" Keith spat out, "Get the fuck off me so I can kick your royal queer ass!"
"Ok, that's enough." Came a third voice. Merrick looked up, and saw Daniel entering from the door, "I know he has it coming, but I'm gonna need you to get off him." He said. Merrick leered at him, before quickly getting up from Keith.
Keith scrambled, and grabbed his baton. He advanced toward Merrick with it raised, "WHOA, whoa whoa whoa whoa," Daniel grabbed his arm, and pulled him back, "Easy there, Keith. You already tried that, didn't work." Keith turned around, his eyes bulging with disbelief.
"You was watching," Keith said, "You was watching, and you didn't even come to help me?!"
"Help you what? You were provoking him. Are you really surprised he got at you? If he was restrained, you probably-"
"He was gonna kill me, you know that-" He attempted to point, but his sprained wrist stopped him, "Goddammit piece of shit!" He snarled as his wrist pounded with pain.
"Why don't you get patched up, I'll take over." Daniel stated. Keith grumbled as he exited the place.
"Useless waste of flesh..." Merrick mumbled as Daniel approached him.
"I know, I know," Daniel said as he clicked the other cuff onto Merrick's wrist. They sat down at the table, and waited. A pause went by before Merrick broke the silence.
"So what about that other human?"
"That man with the glasses and white coat. He's one of those, 'Scientists', right?" Merrick said. Daniel felt his face go a little hot.
"I- Wait- What?? What do you mean?"
"Did you CHOOSE to be with him?" Merrick asked without looking at him.
"I um... I don't know what you mean-"
"Oh, don't lie to me." Merrick shook his head, "I've seen the two of you..." Daniel sighed, before he mumbled.
"No one's supposed to know about us, actually..."
"Why? Is being gay forbidden here too? Otherwise you get kicked out of here?"
"Not particularly; I was kicked out already when I came out of the closet 15 years ago..." Daniel kept his tone low, "But it's a solid policy that relations don't happen between the staff here. Otherwise we get into serious trouble."
"Yet you and him kiss every opportunity you get, don't you..." Merrick asked.
"See, you didn't choose, did you?"
"No..." Daniel said, "After a while of working as a security guard, I bumped into him one time between the halls." Daniel adjusted his cap, "I knew it was wrong to even think about going out with someone from the Agency, but he was just so damn adorable..." Merrick cracked a smile as Daniel spoke, "I avoided him as much as I could, but he's a workaholic. If he could have a bed in the laboratory, he'd live in there. Kept bumping into him, and eventually..." Daniel blushed, "We uh... Bumped into each other again... In the showers here..." Merrick giggled at that, "One thing led to another and... I asked him out, after we kissed in the shower..." Merrick put his forearm over his lap to cover up his stirring member, "We want to move in together, but if we change our addresses, that would be a dead give-away... So I just stay at his place most of the time, and I have to keep paying rent for an apartment I barely live in anymore."
"... You said you were, 'kicked out when you came out of the closet'," Merrick turned his head, "Does that mean you were banished from your family?"
Daniel sighed, and nodded, "Yeah... My parents were religious, and... They gave me a choice. I could either go to Straight Camp and be converted, or I could get out."
"Yes..." Merrick sniffled, "I know how you feel."
"What," Daniel turned to the merman, "Were you kicked out too?" Merrick nodded, and wiped a little tear.
"I was banished from my pod..." Merrick held himself steady, "I mated with a male, and with a human. That's two of our Laws right there..." He shook his head and put his hand over his eyes, "I had a second chance... I could have stayed with my pod... I could have stayed with them..."
"But you loved him too much..." Daniel added. Merrick steadied himself again.
"Staying with my pod would have meant never seeing my Adam again... And I couldn't live with that, even if I tried - and I have."
"Yeah, it's always the same..." Daniel said, "Being gay is wrong because that's what God says. A man and a-"
"That's why most people think being gay is wrong - because they claim it's the will of God that only a man and woman get together, and doing so is an abomination to God."
"That's not why I was banished, though." Merrick said as he shook his head, "I was banished because I broke two of our Laws. These Laws weren't instigated by the Sea Mother," Merrick stated.
"Sea Mother? Is that what merfolk worship? What, is She your goddess or something?"
"Yes," Merrick said, "To mate with that of the same gender is not a question of morality - it has NOTHING to do with the Sea Mother's will. It's simply one of the Laws that were established centuries ago. That's all. We would NEVER use Her name as a means to justify whatever we do or think."
"Yeah, well." Daniel shrugged, "It's the exact opposite with us. Homosexuality is taboo because the 'Word of God' says so."
"Well, for all I know, that's the case," Merrick said, "I don't know much of anything about the Land Father."
"Land Father?" Daniel asked.
"It's what we merfolk call the human god," Merrick answered, "We are told that the Land Father doesn't know how to love. So maybe he's jealous that it comes easy for some humans..."
"Heck if I know," Daniel said, "I stopped caring about the subject a long time ago."
Just then, Daniel's talkie made a noise, "Oop, hang on," Daniel stood up, walked a little way, and held is walkie up to his ear, "Yeah?" Merrick tried to listen in, but he can't hear a thing, "Oh? So... Ok, so not today then... Understood, thanks." Daniel put his walkie back on his utility belt, and turned back to Merrick.
"That was Erin. It looks like Mr Quinlan's not coming in today. He has a Dr appointment, and it's going to take all day."
"Ah. So... Am I going back in the tank?"
"Well," Daniel scratched his cheek, "That's what I'm SUPPOSED to do..." He said, "But I bet you'd get bored in there..." Merrick nodded, "How bout I take you to the Wreck Room, huh?"
"What's a Wreck Room?" Merrick asked as he tilted his head.
Erin sighs as she types away on the computer. Nigel isn't coming in today, but that doesn't mean she can stop working as his assistant.
[-Mermaids can sing, mermen cannot. Mermen can talk to animals, mermaids cannot.
-Merrick is a prince, his father and mother are the leaders of his 'pod'. The Pod is the group of merfolk, and his sister is the princess.
-Merrick used a trident - does his father wield one as well?
-His mother is potentially very powerful - he said she once conjured a lightning storm.
-Merfolk revere the moon - Merrick claims to be religious and spiritual, as he says he dearly wants to pray to the moon for peace.
-Merfolk find their mates during a lunar eclipse, and fell in love with 'Adam' by accident, it seems.
-Merfolk need to eat and prepare their bodies to be able to swim in different waters, yet Merrick claims he is able to do so easily without preparation.
-This one mermaid, Belinda, is]
She paused. Erin hesitated, as she turned, and looked at the file with the pictures of the tan woman with pink hair. She shook her head, and held down the Backspace key until Belinda's bit was erased.
[-A pod is kept together by a merman or mermaid with powers to trace each member of the pod - A shepherd, maybe?
-Merrick speaks as if he is no longer a part of the pod - could he be a rogue?
-Merrick becomes tense when I mentioned his tattoo - the heart behind his neck.]
This is only half of the information she has learned from Merrick. Erin sighed as she stopped typing, and leaned down. She put her face to the desk, and put her hands on the back of her head. Her hands moved to her face, and rubbed her forehead and eyebrows. She held her forehead, and whimpered silently as her stomach panged with guilt.
As Nigel 'nicely' interrogates and tortures Merrick, she comes as the messenger of peace, and just talk with him, brings him treats, play the understanding spirit of kindness, and secretly remember every word he says, and watch every single surveillance video every day and night.
A tear moves from her eyes as she digs her fingers into her hair.
"This place has a lot of work going on," Daniel said, "Half the time, some of us have to stay here. All work and no play can get a bit... Uneasy." He escorts Merrick with his cuffs equipped onto him.
"So this is just a place for humans at work to play?"
"Yeah, more or less." Daniel opened the door, and took Merrick in. "Hey, look whose comin to the party!"
A few of the other guards, and a couple of scientists sitting around a couple of pizza boxes looked, and smiled as they see Daniel enter. The room had a couple of plasma-screen TV's, a few large machines with a glass wall and many kinds of colorful snack times behind it, a few old arcade games, and a couple of large, bulky tables here and there.
"Hey Daniel!" Said Sarah, one of the security guards present. Her eyes went to the naked blonde male with him, "Wait... Isn't that-"
"Yeah, it's him," Daniel closed the door, "Mr Quinlan's out today, so I thought Merrick can hang with us for a while!"
"Daniel, you know he's not supposed to be in here!" One of the scientists said.
"Ah come on, few hours with us won't change anything." Daniel said, "Plus he's chained, what's he gonna do?"
"Eh, loosen up," Said another one of the guards, "C'mere, sit over here." He got picked up one of the paper plates and added a couple of slices of pizza onto it, as well as taking up a soda. Like a hesitant cat, Merrick walked over to the couch. He looked at the guard offering him the food.
"Wait... I was already fed today. I thought I was only allowed one ration."
"Well, don't tell Mr Quinlan then." The guard said. Merrick smiled as he sat down, with the plate on his lap, "There ya go, relax, kid." Merrick's stomach growled as he moved up one of the slices to his mouth.
"Ever played Air Hockey before?" Jacob asked as he and Merrick looked at one of the large, bulky tables. One of the rare times that Jacob is anywhere else besides the laboratory.
"Well, here, check it out." He had Sarah at the other side of the table. He turned it on, and got the plastic puck ready. He put it on the white surface, and snapped it suddenly to send it racing across! Merrick jumped from the fast shot across the table before him. Sarah blocked the puck with a thrust of her mallet, making it shoot back to Jacob.
"The GOAL is TO block the PUCK from coming INTO THE slit!" Jacob hit the puck again, and sent it claking into Sarah's goal, "Get it?"
"I think so..." Merrick replied. He and Sarah took places. He tilted his head, and put a hand onto the table. His eyes widened as he could feel the tiny flow of air from the many dots all over the table. He smile as he waved his hand around the airs several times.
"Yeah, kinda cool, isn't it?" Jacob asked with a smile. Merrick grabbed his mallet, and saw Jacob get another puck onto the surface, "Ready?" Merrick nodded, and Jacob hit the puck. Merrick's reflexes kicked in, and darted his mallet to the side. The puck hit and bounded off of the mallet, and raced back to Jacob. Jacob blocked the puck again, before Merrick sent it flying over to the goal. Jacob looked up, dumbfounded from the quick defeat. A couple of the other people looked, and turned. Jacob hasn't lost a game of Air Hockey ever since he joined the Agency a couple of years ago.
"Whoa..." Merrick smirked as the scientist brought another puck onto the surface. The two of them came into a locked battle. The other people gathered and watched as Merrick's quick hand blocked the puck every single time.
"Yes, these creatures DO exist," Merrick said with a nod when one of the scientists asked about the Loch Ness Monster, "Although, we call them 'Niseags'. They're dangerous in the ocean, but the ones in the waters you stated are a lot more calm."
"Wait," Said the scientist, "There's more than one, alive?? In existence???"
"Yes, there is." Merrick answered.
"But how? We have never found evidence that suggests a continued species."
"I was once told that you humans know very little about the ocean," He stated, "How can ANYONE be so conclusive about a world they don't know?"
TAC TAC TAC, CLICK CLICK
"Ahh!" Merrick gritted his teeth as the yellow ball on the screen died again.
WOO WOoo woo - WAP WAP
Pacman vanished once more into the digital blackness after falling prey to orange ghost.
"I just can't win this thing!" Merrick said as Sarah started the game again.
"But aggravatingly addictive, isn't it?"
"YEEES!" Merrick answered while he worked at the game again.
"But he wouldn't leave," Merrick said, "He tried to save me as I was being sucked in, but I knew he'd only get swallowed too." He shook his head, "So I just told him to warn the pod, and get out of there..." He looked up at the captivated humans, "Next thing I knew, I let myself fall into the darkness, into the Ghost Whale's jaws."
"And after that? What did it look like on the inside?" Jacob inquired.
"I don't know." Merrick said, "All I saw was darkness..."
"So, how did you get out?"
"... It was my Mother." Merrick said, "I don't know how, but she turned the Ghost Whale inside out. I remember I was suddenly surrounded by all sorts of deepfish, swimming away from the ribs of a whale as fast as they can. And I saw my best friend's mate holding my sister. My Mother came up behind me, and guided me away from the skeleton."
"And what happened to the Ghost Whale?"
"It disappeared. The moon came back, and it disappeared. There is the possibility that since it has seen my Mother, it'll eventually come back for her."
"That kind of sounds like a Japanese legend." Said one of the scientists.
"Trust me," Merrick said, "I WISH it was just a legend."
Daniel and Merrick make their way down the hall, towards the tank room.
"Thank you, for today." Merrick said, "Almost made me forgot why I'm here..." Daniel smiled as he unlocked the cell door, and escorted Merrick to the empty tank.
"No problem..." He really wishes he could let this kid go free. He really does.
Daniel unlocked the cuffs before Merrick climbed into the tank. Daniel turned the crank, and the machine roared into life to filter and transfer the water back into Merrick's tank. Daniel watched as the tank filled up, and Merrick soon transformed again.
He waved goodbye, and left to lock the place up for the night.
---The Next Morning---
Merrick loops around the tank. It may be smaller than he'd like, but it's just big enough for him to move and get a little excise. Though some long-distance swimming would feel really great right about now, or maybe at lease some fish and an otter to have for company.
As he looped around, he noticed the door of the room had opened. He frowned and growled as Nigel walked into the room with one of the guards.
"Having fun?" Nigel asked, knowing full-well Merrick can't hear him in the tank. Daniel went to the machine to adjust and switch the notches to activate the machine, and turn the wheel to have the water drain the tank.
It didn't take long for the water to disappear from Merrick's tank, but he was still was in his true form.
"Why is he still like this? What happened to the air pumps?" Nigel asked. Daniel tapped and tinked at the air control, yet the air motors are not working.
"I think it might be broken. I can't get it to work."
"Fine. Call one of the other guards and get some towels. I'll wait in the appointed room." With that, Nigel turned and left.
Merrick grunts as he is pinned down and restrained tightly in this broad, empty room, with a large tub of water held overhead by some grotesque contraption.
"Now, we're going to try something a little different," Nigel said, "It's a VERY old tactic, but it's more or less efficient either way."
"And what would that be?" Merrick asked.
"It's an ancient technique called the Chinese Water Torture." He began, "It's simple, but it can take forever. See," Nigel gestured for the container, "What this thing does is drip a single drop of water every 30 seconds. The victim is left there for hours at a time - even a full day, if the will is strong, until they beg for it to stop."
"..." Merrick scoffed, "Where's the torment in that? It's just water, not lava or anything. It can't do any damage."
"Maybe not physically." Nigel said, before he knelt down, "But that's not the Water Torture is for. It's the consistency that does the damage." Nigel said in his low, death-tone, "Nothing else is happening, no one else is around. It's just you, and the water that keeps dripping and dripping and dripping to no end. Meanwhile, you're not moving, no food, no trips to the toilet. You're just forced here... Until you go mad. In our experience, it doesn't take more than a couple of hours for the victim to start begging like an insane asylum."
"So that's your brilliant plan?" Merrick sneered, "Leave a merman here with a water machine for hours until I lose my mind? YOU'RE the one who's insane, Human."
"Heh." Nigel said, "We'll see, won't we, Merrick." Nigel stood up, and left the room. The scientist there, turned on the machine, and a single, cold drop of water fell from the contraption. A dot of blue appeared at the center of Merrick's forehead where the drop touched him. The scientist left, taking a look of pity upon the blonde male, and left him.
--- 10 Hours Later ---
Nigel smiled with glee as he looks over the two, detailed pages of the information Erin had strung together. "Nice..." He commented, "Very nice..."
"This is all of the information I've gotten together..." Erin said, her eyes sunken, her skin looking poor, her hair lacking its usual graceful curl style.
"This bit about the Ghost Whale is fascinating," Nigel said, "A phantom sperm whale appearing during a New Moon. I wonder what other sorts of creatures..." He looked, and noticed his assistant yawning and rubbing her eyes, "Erin, you doing ok?"
"Yes, I..." She yawned again, and continued, "I just haven't been sleeping well lately. I've just been feeling out of sorts."
"Well, I hope you get yourself together so..." Nigel stopped. He felt his chest as that racking came upon him again.
"Hggm- Ehhggmm!" Nigel coughed, "One moment," Nigel grabbed for a paper towel, and began coughing horrendously.
"Mr- Nigel, are you alright?!" Erin said as she came up to him. Nigel's eyes clenched shut as he gagged violently into the bit of paper. He leaned and hacked nonstop for two and a half minutes.
Erin gasped as she saw the paper towel half covered in blood. "Mr Quinlan, you-"
"Nigel," He said, coughing a little again, "And I'm fine," His voice his distorted from the rough session he had just had.
"No, you're not fine," Erin persisted, "We need you to-"
"KNOW your place," Nigel snapped, giving her a deadly gaze, "I. Am. Fine." He snarled lethally, like an old injured wolf ready to rip her arm off. Erin shook, but nodded slowly. "Good. Now, let's see how the damn fish is fairing."
Nigel and Erin go to the chamber of which Merrick is being detained for the Chinese Water Torture, with the scientist over looking the session. "So, how's the treatment going?" The scientist looked Nigel, looking a little unease, "Is he showing any signs of breaking?" He asked roughly.
"Um... N-No..." The scientist responded.
"What??" Nigel looked, and saw that Merrick's head is completely wet - soaked and fish-like. His eyes and gills are closed, and the look of utmost tranquility portrays on his face, "What." Nigel yanked the door opened, and burst into the room. Merrick opened his eyes to see his flustered captor glaring at him.
The merman smiled softly, "Is this really supposed to be a torture?" He asked, "I have never felt more peaceful in my life." The look of cold fury in Nigel's face gives Merrick a huge feeling of amused satisfaction, "I told you, Human." Merrick said, "I'm a creature of water. What made you think that this sort of torture would EVER work on me?"
"Get him in the interrogation room. One hour." Nigel said before he turned and left.
"Foolish savage." Merrick mumbled. He looked up at Erin, still smiling calmly, "Is he a Redneck too?"
Erin couldn't help but chuckle - Keith was REALLY pissed off when she last saw him.
Merrick is escorted, as usual, into the interrogation room, where that old, condescending human waits at the table, with a pitcher of water, a single glass, and a box. Merrick's eyes stayed locked on that pitcher - sure, he's doing fine with the water in the tank, but it's distilled, as opposed to the fresh morsel in the pitcher - like a breath of fresh air after sleeping in a stuffy garage.
He was seated down to face Nigel once more, leering at Nigel. Nigel poured himself a glass of water, like always, and set it aside.
"So. Merrick," Nigel began, "What can you tell me about merfolk fashion?"
"Nothing. A lot less than what you humans insist on throwing on yourselves. It's a wonder how you're able to move at all."
"Heh heh heh, yeah. I suppose you're right. I'm just wondering," Nigel opened the box, and pulled out a picture of The Little Mermaid's VHS poster, "She how this mermaid wears these purple shells over her breasts?"
"You mean that ridiculous rendition of merfolk?" He said with his arms crossed, "I swear, some of you humans are just impossible."
"Fair enough, but I'm asking about what merfolk WEAR." Nigel said
"I know. I'm still not answering."
"I see..." Instead of drinking the water, as Merrick expected, Nigel put his hand into the box, "I ask because, I found these, and..." Nigel took out a large scallop shell fragment with silver designs etched onto it. Merrick's eyes locked onto as his stomach sank. Nigel placed it onto the table, and took out a few large shards of the shell, and placed them carefully on the table, arranged so to show how it would look like before it was broken.
"There's another one too - a pair." Nigel said as he took another half broken shell out of the box, and placed its other half onto the table. Merrick took one of the pieces, and looked at the shell, tracing his fingertips along the ornate, silver designs.
"They seem to mean something to you..." Nigel commented as he watched Merrick closely, watching as he held the broken shell, "Huh, Merrick?"
Merrick's eyes watered as he remembered when he pulled himself from the beach. When the mark on the back of his neck prickled on his flesh, still fresh from his mother's magic. It was pouring rain, and he... He threw these shells off of him. They broke to pieces on a rock. He recalls having to drag himself from the beach, pulling himself to Adam's dwelling, with it constantly raining the whole time.
"Or," Nigel said. Merrick looked up, his heart racing, "How about these?" Nigel lifted up a belt of small shark teeth, strung together by old, but firm fishing line. Two of them. Merrick took one of the tooth belts. He remembers ripping these off his body, and thrusting them away from him as well. These tooth belts have been mended since then.
The merman held these precious, painful remnants together - the broken white and silver shell and the crusty line of shark teeth.
"So how about it, Merrick?" Nigel asked. Merrick's blue eyes immediately glared at the old human, "How often did you wear these items?"
Merrick swung his arm, and sent the shell flying to the wall to his right. It smashed into pieces from the impact, "These mean NOTHING." Merrick said, his fiery blue eyes locked onto Nigel's.
"Heh, yeah..." Nigel said calmly, "I suppose you don't, considering." Merrick tensed as he glared at him more.
"Considering how long you stay at a human house." Nigel said, "We've been watching you for a long time, and in all of the year and a half you have been living there, not once have you gone into the ocean." He explained. Merrick's eyes narrowed, "I'm lead to believe that you, at one point in time, had a family." Merrick's fist clenched around the tooth-belt, "And yet, you remain out of the ocean, away from your kind. Did you decide you'd rather live with a human than be with your family?" Tears of rage seeped from Merrick's eyes as he breathed deeply.
Nigel put the box aside, and picked up the glass of water. "Now, next question, and I'll give you a drink." Merrick didn't say a word.
"How about that tattoo of yours?"
Those blue eyes widened. Nigel smiled softly, "Humans have tattoos all the time. It's their way of decorating their skin. But what does it mean to merfolk?" The blonde's angry silence was all that came from the younger man, "I notice it's an ornate design of a heart. What does that mean, Merrick Piscien?" Merrick felt himself shake with bloodlust, "Is it a mark of honor among merfolk?"
"Shut. Your. Mouth." Merrick said, barely able to contain his wrath.
"A mark of honor, or not?" Nigel said, "And a heart. Were you, say..." Nigel quirked a smile, "The best lover of your pod, perhaps?" He asked. A few drops of blood seeped between Merrick's fingers, where he was gripping the shark-tooth belt.
"Not gonna answer me? You look a little tense. Correct me if I'm wrong, please." Nigel said.
"Every spot of you is wrong, Human." Merrick snarled, feeling his throat thicken.
"Alright then." Nigel brought the glass of water to his chapped lips.
A loud, wild screech came from Merrick's mouth. The glass cup and pitcher shattered into shards, "Ahhh!" Nigel jumbled in his seat as the icy water spilled from the sudden burst of glass. The guards had flinched from the noise, backed up against the wall for the moment.
Nigel starred at Merrick through half-squinted eyes. Merrick's throat is rumbling and hissing lowly as he glared at him with eyes of hatred. He looked down at the many shards of glass on the table. He picked up the biggest of the wreck, and examined it. Every inch of it is cracked, with very small reminder of the perfect surface it once had.
"Now..." He said as he turned it over, and looked at the door. The small, rectangular window of the door is shattered as well, "That is interesting..."
"Let..." Merrick seethed, "Me. Go." He snarled lethally. Nigel smirked and shook his head.
"Oh no, Mr Piscien." He stood up, "Or should I say, Merrick THE Piscien."
Merrick gasped as he looked up at Nigel, "How do you-"
"I think I'm going to go with Plan B now." Nigel said. He snapped his fingers, and the two guards that are in the room seized his arms.
"What are you doing now?!" Merrick demanded. Nigel ignored him, and brought a walkie to his mouth.
"Prepare the Reef Tank, and all of the needed facilities and equipment. We're doing this the 'Natural' way."
"What are you talking about?!" Merrick yelled, "Just let me go! Let me go before I KILL YOU!!!" He roared as the guards took him away, kicking and screaming. "I SWEAR BY THE LEVIATHAN, I WILL KILL YOU!!" Nigel just kept walking his opposite direction, not even turning his head, "YOU MONSTER! FACE ME NOW!!!"
---The Next Day---
"Rrrgh! Nnggh!" Because Merrick has revealed he can emit dangerous sound waves, he is now required to be escorted with his mouth sealed. Two new guards are taking him to a new direction of the Agency's building. Merrick eventually stopped struggling, and just walked until they came to a pair of large doors.
One guard kept Merrick bound, while the other went to open the doors. Once unlocked, the guards took him out, where he felt the first rush of fresh air in almost an entire moon.
The smell of the ocean immediately met with Merrick's nostrils. He gasped as he looked over the ocean, the wonderful, beautiful ocean. He struggled harshly against the guards, whimpering and groaning as if the sea itself is pulling him like a magnet. The guards can barely keep a grip on him, he's so strong.
"Dang it, cool your jets!" Said the guard as he yanked Merrick back. They forced Merrick over to this small area with testing facilities, monitoring machines, and other various equipment. Merrick growled as he spotted Nigel overseeing the scientists priming their contraptions.
Then again, are they letting him go?
Merrick could barely hold himself still as the scientists placed several conductors and electrodes around his body - one on his forehead, one on his throat, one on his chest and belly, two for each arm, two for each hand as well, one on his right thigh, and another on his left calf. These things stick to him firmly, and they tingle a little. Merrick can feel some lightning channeling inside them, and peaking inside him on a small degree.
"Ok, so this is what we're going to do," Nigel said, "We're going to examine you in your natural habitat. Know what that means?" Merrick shook his head, still unable to speak, "It means we're going to study you in the ocean." Merrick rolled his eyes, "Oh, you think you're actually going home." Merrick stared at him, "Well, you're not. Sorry." Merrick scoffed around his gag - these stupid humans are underestimating his speed. "We're going to examine you for a few hours, and then you're going back into the tank." Nigel instructed.
The guard took Merrick to the edge of the rock. He removed the gag, and shoved Merrick off before he can say a word.
Merrick dove straight into the water, and kicked his tail hard.
"We have a visual." Said one of the scientists as a 3-D image of the merman appeared on several of the 20 screens set up in their area. Nigel looked it over, and nodded. The other screens turned on, and showed the reef, seaweed, and oceanic environment. Two of them showed Merrick racing by. Another one saw him up above, while another saw him
"So far so good." He said, "How far as he traveled?"
"... 748 yards, sir." Said another scientist. Nigel raised his eyebrows.
"He's fast. Keep a close eye on everything."
Merrick sent a signal up ahead. He flew through the water, waving his tail up and down as much as he can, 'Hang on, Adam,' He thought to himself, 'I'm coming!' He swam quickly as he savored the much-adored taste of the ocean.
Monitoring his throat, the scientist compared it to other analyses, "He's emitting a very subtle soundwave as he's moving. I think it might be a type of sonar, sir."
As Merrick moved, he can sense many strange... Energy clusters around. It's agitating his senses a little. He signaled over and over again, and eventually traced one of the clusters. He swam towards the source, and found an odd-looking crab. He narrowed his eyes as he came up close to it. It's not moving at all, it's just staring at him. Usually crabs scurry to the side if you get too close.
One of its eyes moved slowly to the side. Merrick's throat flexed as he emitted a scraggly noise directly at the crab. Not even a reaction.
"Heh. Looks like he's on to us..." Nigel said with a sneer at Merrick's face looms closer to one of the hidden radio cameras. The merman's face winced, as the machines show that he is cracking a high-frequency noise. Suddenly, that screen distorted, and lost its signal.
"Sir, we've lost visual on one of the cameras!"
"That's fine. There are too many cameras to break for him to bother with."
"Human tricks..." Merrick mumbled. He swam forth, and signaled again. Something doesn't feel right. Whenever he's in the ocean, can feel the vastness of the sea itself. But now the ocean feels... Cramped.
Merrick swam around, and gasped as he saw a shark in the distance - a LIVE one. It swam closer and closer to him, its teeth looking ready to attack.
"Well now..." Nigel said he watched Merrick in one place, and the shark in another, "Did we order a shark?"
"No, sir," Said another scientist, "It must've been in the area when we set things up here."
The shark increased its speed at Merrick, getting ready to strike. Merrick looped out of the way of the shark's path rumbling a strange sound as the shark turned its way towards the merman.
However, the shark immediately slowed down as Merrick swam about it, signaling it with strange noises that seemed to have a mellowing effect on the predator.
"Hm... Looks like he CAN talk to animals..." Nigel muttered as the merman swam around the shark, which seemed to have lost interest in devouring him.
The shark was soon convinced to swim in another direction. Merrick kicked his tail a little too fast, as he almost ran into a Box Jellyfish. He whirled around it, signaling the Jelly several times over, and even made to push it.
He has a few suspicions about the situation. Something doesn't feel right in this, and if he's right about this...
"What is he doing..." Nigel said as he watched Merrick loop around the Jellyfish, and pushed it away.
"Sir, he's almost reached the edge," Reported one of the scientists, "Should I rise the mechanism?"
"Yes" Nigel replied, "Wouldn't want him jumping over..."
As he traveled further, Merrick's signals became less and less reaching. As a matter of face, they kept bouncing his own sound back at him.
Merrick gasped as he felt the moan of a large machine, all around him. He swam faster and faster, until his signals came up right onto his face!
He thrust his hand out, and his palm hit a solid wall!
"What?!" Merrick's eyes widened, as he felt around an invisible wall, "No" He swam to the right and felt the invisible wall again, "No. No, no no! PLEASE don't do this to me!" He whimpered as he swam further to the side, keeping a webbed hand long the wall. "No!!"
Merrick swam until his arm fell through. He found a perfectly round opening on the glass wall, but immediately concluded that it is way too small for him to fit. He put his face to it, and signaled loud.
"HEEELLLLPPPPP! HEEELLLLP MEEE! I AM A PISCIEN MERMAN! I HAVE BEEN CAPTURED BY HUMANS! HELP ME!!"
"What's he doing now?" Nigel said as the merman let out strange cries from the very edge of the Reef Tank.
"I think he might be calling for others." The scientist said, "Should we bring him in?"
"No, let him be..." Nigel said, "The more the merrier, after all..."
One mile long, one mile wide, or measured for the area, the Reef Tank his a piece of natural ocean for the Agency to study any particular sea creature out in a natural environment.
"MOTHER!!!" Merrick called out, white wisps starting to come from his eyes as can sense no mermaid or merman anywhere close by, "FATHER!! PLEASE ANSWER ME!!" He called out. There is not a single trace. Merfolk would never come near a place with just such energy reading as this glass box, "SISTER!! BRISHEN!! ANYONE!!!!" He called as he wept.
"ANYONE!! PLEASE ANSWER ME!!" Merrick's calls became lower and lower as he lowered his head.
"Anyone..." He moaned, "Adam..."
Suddenly, he felt something. He gasped as he looked up, but he immediately backed away, "No... Here too..."
"Sir, his heart levels are elevating dramatically." Said one of the scientists, "His adrenaline is going crazy."
"What's going on..." Nigel pondered.
"You... You know I'm here as well?" Merrick muttered as he drifted back. Out in the distance, coming closer is a green, reptilian sea creature. It propelled itself with a spiraling tail, and claw-like flippers. Its golden eyes glowed in the dark blue, before its whirled, straight-standing horns on its goat-like head.
"By the Depths..." Merrick muttered as the creature reached the small opening. His heart pounded as the creature stared at him with one of its eyes, "It can't be..."
The Capricorn looked at the merman as it is unable to reach him from behind the glass.
"Sir, several of our cameras are starting to fail."
"Is he causing this? Is he making them fritz out?"
"Negative. The merman is staying quiet for the timing being."
Nigel leered at one of the screens, "..." He can barely spot a strange animal on the buzzing, fuzzy screens.
"Why..." Merrick drifted backward more, "You look different... Each time I see you, YOU look different!!" He said at the Capricorn. The creature responded with an eerie bleat that Merrick can't understand.
"Can you help me?!" Merrick begged, "The humans have been torturing me!" Again, the Capricorn didn't show any indication that it understood him. "If you can't save me without guiding me to death, then stay away!!"
Terror got the better of him, and Merrick swam the other direction.
"Sir, he's returning!" One of the scientists said. Half of the screens are still malfunctioning and can't maintain a clear image, "The readings suggests that he's terrified."
"Huh, so it looks like Fagfish IS afraid of something." Keith said.
"Lets head to the shore," Nigel said, "We've got plenty of data, but I want to know why he's so scared."
Merrick kicked his tail as hard as he can to the shallower waters. Whether he's moving back to those humans or not, he doesn't care!
'I'd rather endure and survive to see Adam than die mercifully by the Capricorn!' He thought.
Soon, Merrick swam up to the beach, and pulled himself out of the tides with the rocks and sand. He panted as he laid himself down onto a boulder. He growled and moaned as he heard the humans quickly approaching. He rumbled lowly as he readied his right hand...
"Merrick!" Nigel called out as he came to the aquatic male, "What happened?!" Merrick didn't respond. He just simply laid there, his eyes closed, as if he fainted, "You're not fooling me," Nigel knelt down and shook him.
"What happened out there?! What did you see??" He urged him, "You were out there, and suddenly you were terrified, WHAT did you see?!"
"Ngghh..." Merrick groaned.
"WHAT WAS OUT THERE?!"
Merrick's eyes flew open and glared at Nigel, "RgghhAAA!" His hand flew up, and slapped Nigel RIGHT on the face!
"GHAAHH!" Nigel cried in pain as the slap threw him off the merman. The old man fell to the sand, and clutched his face, "AAHHH! What have you d- AHHHH!"
"Mr Quinlan!" One of the humans came up to them, and went to Nigel, "Mr Quinlan, what's going-" He pulled his hands away, and he gasped as he saw several transparent lines around Nigel's left cheek, ear, and along his neck, outline by red.
"Oh my God, MEDIC! Get the Medic over here! NOW!!!" He called out. He looked at Merrick's hand, and saw the same jellyfish tentacles around his wrist as well, yet they have no effect on the merman's shimmering blue flesh.
Nigel writhed and wailed in pain as the stingers quickly took their toll on him. A medical human came knelt on the sand and quickly rummaged through his equipment, "What is it?! What are we dealing with?!"
"Box Jellyfish! Hurry!"
Merrick sneered as Nigel coughed and gagged, a spurt of blood splashed from his mouth.
"Night-night, Faggot!!" Merrick whipped around, and saw Keith. Before he can say anything, Keith took a blunt object to the merman, and everything went black.
"NNnnngghhh..." Merrick moaned. His head hurts, a lot. He slowly opened his eyes, squinting as he is surround by a lot of light. He can feel his wrists and tail held down. He groaned as he could make out a humanoid face.
"Well..." Came that familiar, raspy voice, "Finally awake?" Nigel asked. Merrick's eyes adjusted, and focused in. Nigel's face is heavily patched up - gauze is tied down on his cheek, his left ear is wrapped up, and his neck is securely fastened.
"Nigel..." Merrick smirked, "Are you alright? You look rather broken."
"Thanks to you, I nearly died." Nigel said, "Jellyfish venom. What kind of a cheap trick was that?"
"Aw, I'm sorry, Nigel," Merrick groaned, "Next time, I'll kill you quickly so you won't be so uncomfortable."
"Hmph." Nigel stared a deathly gaze over the merman, "You think you're funny, don't ya?" He said as he suddenly grabbed Merrick's neck, "You think you're SO hilarious, don't ya???" Merrick gagged slightly as Nigel pressed his fingers around his throat, "Well I hope ya got a good laugh!" He let go of Merrick a little too soon, remembering to compose himself.
"You know, I overlooked that little stunt you pulled with Keith because he provoked you. And I even was kind enough to ignore your little session in the Wreck Room when I was out the other day." Nigel seethed, "And then you try to kill me?"
"That is the penalty for doing what you've done to me." Merrick growled, "If you would have just let me go, I wouldn't have given you another thought."
"Hmph, yeah well," There came some light footsteps, "Now you've gone and made things worse for yourself."
"Hello again, Merrick." Came a calm, poisonous tone. Merrick gasped as he turned his head, and saw Dr Kaiser right next to him.
"No, not you!"
"On behalf of the entire Agency of Oceanic Research," Kaiser smiled under his paper mask, "I thank you for your most generous donation..."
"What? What are you talking about???" Merrick struggled in his bonds.
"The lab is out of samples, Merrick," Nigel explained, "They need more. A LOT more."
"What... No..." Merrick shook his head, "No!"
"This is the penalty for doing what you did to me, Merrick." Nigel said, "And once you're done here, you can spend another warm night in the heat cell."
"NOO!!" The merman flailed on the table, "Stop this now! JUST LET ME GO!!"
"Dr Kaiser," Nigel said as he straightened out, "Get any and everything you need off of him to get some results. Just keep alive and MOSTLY in one piece."
"I'll contain my excitement..." Kaiser said as he pulled a tray of shiny, very sharp tools to him. He looked to the terrified merman as he picked up a scalpel, "And unfortunately, Nigel has forbid me from using any aesthetics. The faster we get this done-"
"LET ME GO!!!" Merrick shrieked as Nigel walked out the door, "LET ME GO, YOU MONSTER! LET ME GO OR I'LL KILL YOU!!!"
Erin walks towards the lab with some folders - he had sent in a request to have a door-window repaired, and she needs his signature to authorize it. She spots Nigel coming her way, along with hearing some yelling, "Oh, Nigel, I-" She gasped as she saw his face heavily bandaged, "Oh my God, Nigel! What happened to you??"
"Oh this?" Nigel felt his gauze, "Just Merrick's idea of a little prank."
"Nigel, what does that mean-" She jumped as she heard a loud screech from the lab, which was hushed just as suddenly. "What was that?!"
"Just being fussy. Now, do you have the order forms to repair the door?"
"Nigel, what is going on?!" Erin said.
"The lab needs more samples, and Merrick is just a crybaby."
"What?!" Erin looked to the door, and gasped, "You mean they're dissecting him?!"
"Not yet." Nigel said, "But he's REALLY pushing his luck now."
"Nigel, you can't do this!!" Erin exclaimed, "He's a living being, he has rights-"
"Rights?!" Nigel yelled. He grabbed Erin's shoulder firmly. She grunted in pain as his grip pushed to the point of breaking, spraining, or dislocating her shoulder if she made the wrong move. He forced her back and pinned Erin against the wall. Getting right up to her face, he seethed with rage.
"IT is not a human, Miss Conally! IT is a fish! IT is an undiscovered fish! IT does not know its place! I am at my wits end with IT, so I am doing as I see fit to get my answers! And I am in a VERY foul mood, so if you want to keep your job, your life, and all that is dear to you, I highly suggest you don't even THINK about lecturing me on how to run my Agency!"
Nigel let her go, and stormed down the hall. Shaking head to foot, Erin threw the folders to the floor, and went to the doors. She pushed at the heavy lab doors, but alas found them locked. "No..." She banged on the doors as the scientists crowed around the merman. "Open the door! LET ME IN!!" Erin fought the doors for several minutes, but they would not open. "HEEEYY! STOP!!!" She cried out, "LISTEN TO ME!!"
None of them would even look at the door. Erin sobbed as she watched the white tailfin cringe and tense. "Gawwd..." She sniffled and put her forehead against the door's window, "I'm sorry, Merrick..." She cried as she can still distinctly make out the muffled screams of the merman, "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry..." She cried as she stood helpless to stop the scientists around the merman.