HH Com Rd 2 - #25 (436)

Hook here

Coral raced through the underwater village, cutting through every shortcut she knew of, thrashing her tail to spur herself on faster. She hurdled over a short seaweed hedge and then threw her body through a tall one. This bush was thick. Blinded by the weed, her vision went to blurry greens and browns. Her brain thumped in time with her heart, and she fuzzily wondered if she was still moving at all.

Her hands clawed at the weed, and then she was through. She had only enough time to reverse her position from headfirst to fin-first before she slammed into an invisible wall. Coral spat out her spent air filter and gasped. The shock of air hitting her lungs made her cough, as the floor came up under her.

The transition from outside to inside was a blur of blue-green to beige, and dryers next to the door clicked on, blowing warm air at her prone body. Drain holes appeared in the floor, sucking up the puddle of water she still lay in. Only her eyes stayed wet, and she struggled to remove her tail. Not having recovered her breath properly, she choked on her tears.
Frustrated, she stopped with one leg free of the prosthetic.

She sat up, propping herself against the wall. Taking in deep breaths, she forced herself into a false calm. In a daze, she finished removing the tail and hung it up in the closet next to the door. Jeans and a t-shirt were waiting where she'd left them, and a suitcase was tucked neatly against the wall.

The fog lifted a bit as she undid her seashell bra and pulled her clothes on. Feeling dry and somewhat normal, she wandered down the hallway. Her toes tugged the lush carpet as she walked, anchoring her to warmth and home.

Milo was sitting on her couch, watching her phonevision. She plopped herself down, resting her head in his lap. She closed her eyes. Her temples still pulsed in time with her heartbeat.

"Rough day at work?"

"Oh, the usual." Eight hours of not speaking made her voice sound rusty. Her coughing fit hadn't helped. She opened her eyes, looking up into his smile. "Anything good on the PV?"

His hand stroked her hair, and she closed her eyes again, breathing. Just breathing. "There's a football game coming on."

She laughed. "Almost makes dinner at my parents sound like fun."

His voice was cautious. "Any problems today?"

She tensed and considered lying. She just wanted to lie there, enjoying Milo's warmth, enjoy being dry, enjoy being able to move her legs for the first time in hours. She sighed and sat up.

"Yeah, my air filter went bad again. On the way home." She didn't quite meet his eyes.

He sighed too, and then shrugged. "At least you took extra ones with you today."

Coral's gaze darted around the room, landed on him, then bounced away again.
"Um. I left my purse at work."

She pretended to watch a commercial on the muted PV for a minute and then risked a glance at Milo. He was staring at her intently. (your story gets interesting right here-->) "Do you want to die?" he asked, finally.

"Sometimes," Coral joked, but her remark only intensified the look on his face. "Look." She stood up. "I've managed to live here for twenty-six years without drowning. I'm kind of good at it."

Milo crossed his arms. "That's true." He was quiet for a moment. "How close were you to home before it became difficult for you to breathe?"

She shrugged. "About halfway..."

He narrowed his eyes. "Hm..." He stood suddenly, and Coral stepped back. "I'll get my bag. Be right back."

Coral stood, blinking at his back, until she registered what he meant.

"No," she called after him, and paused to wait for him to come back. "You're my boyfriend, not my doctor," she told him when he returned. She edged behind the coffee table.

"Fiance," he corrected, flashing her a smile that she judged as condescending. He held up a stethoscope and a small flashlight as if to show her they were harmless. "I just want to check for possible brain damage."

Funny, that's what KY says to me on Saturday mornings after an all night binge at Adult Swim.

This is a clever idea but there's too much windup with no pay off. "Do you want to die" isn't really a casual question if you're a loved one of someone who's clearly a numbskull. Anger is fear, and I would think this doc would be afraid and angry that she IS going to keel over and buy the (kelp) farm. Plus, you have a great opportunity to kick the plot into high gear if she doesn't forget her purse; it's been stolen.

If you sent me a query with your hook (which was good) I'd read the pages you'd sent but I'd want the action to start soon.


Zany Mom said...

When we see submissions like this, I understand what Miss Snark is saying when she says 'start here.' Lots of set-up.

Time to chop-chop!

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark doesn't read science fiction; as someone who does, I found the beginning of this pretty fascinating. She's right that the story needs to start soon, but I think this does a good job of drawing me into the world and getting me interested in it.

Anonymous said...

The one thing I don't get about this story and still don't get is this: Why can't Coral breathe water? Yeah, she's deformed with legs, I get that, but, in my mind, at least, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck--so, legs and breathes air would == human.

Or, is that the "twist" to this story? She's not really a mermaid at all, she's just a human living with them?

Anonymous said...

"Coral raced THROUGH the underwater village, cutting THROUGH every shortcut she knew of, thrashing her tail to spur herself on faster. She hurdled over a short seaweed hedge and then THREW her body THROUGH a tall one."

This type of word repetition really bugs me.

McKoala said...

Kind of an exciting start then, ploof, flat on the sofa watching telly with Milo and nothing happening. Keep the excitement going if you can! Could you have her crawl in, dazed and semi-conscious, forget to take her tail off, whatever - anything for more tension?

writtenwyrdd said...

This was okay, but very cliched. The bit about the prosthetic tail piqued my interest. Before that, you didn't say she had trouble breathing. If you make it clear she is having trouble breathing and tighten up the first section, you may be able to keep this. Otherwise, I have to agree--snip the swimming scene out.

This could be good. Keep at it, I'd probably want to read it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input, everybody. This exercise has definitely given me a lot of food for thought.

Thanks especially to Miss Snark for your honest reaction to my writing.