(Sun Jul 18 2021)
In the entrance to Creative Fires
The inside of the building resembles a living thing with oddly skeletal
struts and webbing forming the walls. The surface is a smooth and glossy
black that looks wet, but never is to the touch. A honeycomb of faintly
glowing cells throb above to illuminate the space.
The doors are automatic and raise straight away into the ceiling upon
detecting a nearby sentient. They can be heard rising in the distance, far
in advance of anyone getting near so that it seems as if they're always
eerily awaiting company.
It is about 80F(26C) degrees.
Tina sort of wanders around the relatively well-ventilated Gilman building, seemingly for the sake of keeping cool. Looking around idly, she stops now and then to nose around but otherwise just appears to pass the time.
It is a rather warm night, and the building offers a bit of much-needed air conditioning indeed as Tina wanders through the mostly-empty hallways with only a few straggling monks, security guards, and orderlies passing her by, doing their rounds to ensure nothing is amiss and that the walkways are clean and presentable for any potential visitors. It's relatively quiet as well, save for the chirping of crickets and the clack of heels along the corridor; until a sound taps along the glass to the north, overlooking the marshy wetness that surrounds this part of the building. It sounds like raindrops pitter-pattering against the window, almost peacefully.
Eyebrows rising, Tina turns her head and meanders over to the glass. She looks relieved and a little bit surprised at the promise of rain, moving sluggishly and with a sweaty sheen on her neck and forehead. As she reaches the glass, she plants her palms on it and peers through.
On the other side of the glass, Tina would see a woman not far away- maybe a few yards from the building. She wears no clothes, and she is perched at the water's edge, gently combing her fingers through her ink-black hair. Just south of her navel, her skin seems to darken from pretty pale white like fresh fallen snow, to murky dark-green, though mostly concealed beneath the semi-stagnant waters she sits in. There's a serene look on her face, and when she notices Tina pressed against the glass, she turns her head and gives the girl a curious look. There is no rain outside- not even a cloud above that may have prematurely released a few little droplets.
Tina hesitates and squints incredulously at the woman, features scrunching up in confusion. She spends a dumbfounded moment standing there, and then she cups her hands to the glass and yells, "Hey! Hey, lady! What are you doing?!"
Maybe the lady in the water can't hear Tina, or maybe that curiosity gets the best of her, because she slips down into the murky depths and disappears for a long, long time. When she reappears, it's a slow emergence from the water's edge closest to the window, the woman's pruny fingers at first finding purchase on the sill to help pull her back up. The young girl would notice that the woman's eyes are dark, murky green just like the barely-visible flesh of her lower half, but they're cloudy- as though she had cataracts, or her eyes were waterlogged. It's like there's water trapped behind another clear layer of paper-thin skin over her eyes. Her hands rise up, pressing against the glass on either side of her face where Tina has placed hers. The staff have gone, the crickets are quiet, but the woman starts to sing a low and solemn sound; a melody composed with a beautiful sadness in mind. It's wordless and haunting, but so lovely, and very, very ancient.
"Holy crap, you're a mermaid!" Tina gawks at the woman, fascinated and apparently feeling safe behind the glass. She smiles excitably and moves her palms up and down on the pane to see if the suspected mermaid will mimic her movements. "Everytings bettah down where it's wettah!"
Though mermaid is a relative term in this day and age, perhaps it can be used as an accurate
description for the singing lady on the other side of the glass. Tina's curiosity is rewarded, too,
because when the girl starts to move her hands up and down the glass, the dark-haired woman does the same, mimicking every motion she makes with a reflected version of her own, and all the while she sings, the tune unbothered by any of the brisk movements. Unbreaking, and inhaled through a set of three gill flaps on either side of her long and lovely throat. She is a beauty, even with those milky eyes of hers, and seems to enjoy the bit of play between the two thus far.
"You gotta be careful or the people from cryptozoology will come and catch you." Tina smiles
exuberantly and brings her face close to the glass to breathe on it, covering it with a patch of
mist. She draws a heart on it with her index finger and grins at the creature. "Or Medvedev, since you've got no clothes on. He's literally the worst."
The 'mermaid' tries to do the same as Tina, leaning in close to the glass and breathing out a soft breath, but no mist forms. Her dark brows furrow, and against she tries, but no such luck on the woman's end. She continues her attempts for a long while, almost long enough to distract Tina from the bubbling of swamp water behind the ebon-haired lass. Almost. Even in the darkness it's easy to see the surface tension on the water breaking, reflected by the various lights posted around the campus. Slowly, ominously, something big and slimy pushes up through the water, as black as the once-singing woman's hair- perhaps even blacker. It's a tentacle, twice as wide as the petite thing on the other side of Tina's window and it continues to rise until it towers above her in the moonlight, dripping viscous swamp water down the length of it and curling over lazily at the smoothly-pointed tip. The woman continues to try to make breath hearts on the glass, seeming to be unaware of the danger lurking no more than three feet behind her.
Tina's smile slowly wanes as she catches sight of the towering tentacle. Eyes widening, she stirs
with panic and bangs her palms on the pane before pointing urgently behind the woman. "Look out! Behind you! Look out, there's something--holy crap!"
At first the mermaid mimics Tina's motions, banging happily on the glass and pointing to the girl, her head bobbing from side to side with merriment. It isn't until she sees the urgent look on the teen's face that she finally turns around, a slow cranking motion that brings her body 180 degrees to the other direction. She looks up at the towering tentacle then back to Tina, perfectly still. Her eyes blink- not in the usual way, but sideways, and with a second set of crystal-clear eyelids; then she smiles, and it's horrific. Inside of her mouth are rows upon rows of needle-like teeth, growing smaller and more jagged as they travel from the front of her mouth to the back, stopping just before reaching her throat. The tentacle behind her looks to be retreating, drawing back towards the fountain, but this is a farce- it was gaining momentum for the vicious swing it takes towards the glass, smashing into it beside the mermaid's head and sending spiderwebs crackling all across, top to bottom and left to right. Some shards on the other side pelt the teen in the face, and as the tentacle withdraws to take another swing, the mermaid leans in close.
She breathes a hot breath upon the glass, finally misting it up, and with a water-shriveled pointer finger she draws a heart on the shattered window in the steam- dripping with her own blood from a now-shredded digit.
Tina reels backwards and lets out a startled screech, feet skidding on the floor as she scurries
back. Features twisting in horror, she pushes herself away from the wall she bumps into and
immediately takes off running at a full sprint down the corridor.
Tina starts her sprint just before that tentacle comes smashing against the glass once more,
shattering it entirely and wasting no time in slithering into the abandoned corridor. More of them slip out of the water now, eight total, slamming against every pain of glass that Tina walks past until they retreat to the original broken window. The woman dips herself into the building waist first, squeezing through the shattered pane like a proper invertebrate creature- at least from the stomach down. The sound of each of her suction cupless tentacles make as they squish themselves into the building, which now looks incredibly cramped thanks to the utter mass of the woman-beast, is disgusting. It's the sound one hears when squeezing the last of something out of a tube, like toothpaste or icing, or the guts of an academy student from their body.
Her tentacles drag her at break-neck speed after the frightened teen, slapping against the ground and dragging her along, and even in this cramped, dry space she's faster than Tina. She's stronger. She's reaching-
Tina reaches the bend at the end of the corridor, and on a terrified whim, she hurtles down the
stairs into the basement. Her chest rises and falls frantically with her labored breathing, and
without looking back over her shoulder to gauge the monster's distance, she flings the door to the underground pool cavern open and charges through it. "Help! Somebody! Doctor Baxter, help!"
Oh. No. Poor, sweet baby. Doctor Baxter isn't here. No one is here. Well, you are. And so is she.
A massive tentacle darts out in front of Tina's face, slapping around her head wetly as a second one of the same size takes hold of her body. They drag her back up the stairs, back into the corridor, through a second busted window that the mermaid has already prepared for herself as her body *schlurps* back through, dipping into the water with a satisfied ease as the tentacle clutching Tina's face releases, bidding her to scream her lungs out as her feet dip into the water, then her calves, then her knees as she's carried towards the deep end of the marsh bit by bit.
Tina flails and wriggles with all her might, shrieking in horror the entire time. There doesn't
appear to be anything else she can do.
No fight? No punching? No biting? No last stand against death? Very well, the creature seems to
think as it drags Tina below the murky surface of the water, her screams transformed into mere
bubbles that breach the surface mostly soundlessly.
Down, down, down....
If Tina looked up, she would see the beautiful moon above, distorted by slight ripples in the watercaused by what might be her very last breath. Then, a hooded and robed figure steps up to the water's edge, staring down into the murky depths, directly at the drowning teen.
Tina apparently drowns? There appears to be no other option.
Tina, luckily for her and unluckily for the 'mermaid' does not drown. No.
The hooded figure slams a hand into the water without fear or hesitation, grasping the girl by the ankle and starting to pull her back up to the surface. The fight between man and monster makes Tina feel as though she might be torn in half- perhaps she will be. Then again, perhaps she won't, because when the dark-haired miss sees the figure stealing the child away from her, she allows it; the tentacle retreats back to the depths with ease and the woman remains just visible as Tina is snatched out of the water, held upside down by her ankle by what now becomes rather obviously a Blackfield clergy member. He isn't looking at the teen, though, he's looking at the water and cursing it. "You were told that you were only allowed to devour the males," hisses the monk, brandishing a fist as he throws Tina to the side, her body bouncing once when it hits the grass- enough to force the water from her lungs- before making a final drop onto the lawn.
Tina lands unceremoniously on the ground and begins coughing uncontrollably, gasping for breath. Once she has hacked up the worst of the water, she begins to crawl on all fours in the opposite direction, straight away from the water, features drawn into a mask of utter horror. When some distance has been made like this, she risks glancing over her shoulder.
"Only the -males-!" the Blackfield monk screams at Tina's 'mermaid', who has popped the top half ofher head back out of the water to stare at the robed man with unblinking eyes. "Next time you are found trying to spirit away one of our breeding-age females, or younger, you will find yourself in the noon sun like a beached whale, pinned to an iron cross. Am. I. Clear?" The mermaid only hisses out her many-toothed response before dipping back below the water's surface, disappearing- at least for now.
"And -you-!" the monk then shouts out, wheeling on the only just recovered Tina. "Do you have -any- idea what time it is?? Shrieking like a banshee at all hours of the night! I should slam you in detention for a solid week! SOME of us are trying to sleep, some of us are trying to MEDITATE, and the rest of us, are trying to -relax-," he declares, storming towards her- and then past, flicking water across her face from the sopping-wet arm of his robe. "The next time you decide to die, Miss Cosgrove, I beg that you do so QUIETLY!!" He stops by the fountain then, jabbing a finger in the teen's direction. "To your dorms. Now. Before I toss you back in the marsh!"
"It wasn't my--" Tina begins to protest, but she thinks better of it. Drenched and dejected, she
clambers to her feet and peels some wet hair out of her face. She gives the monk a dull nod and begins to trudge towards the dorms, gym shoes squelching with each step.