Water desperate for survival in oceans dying from pollution.
With a mighty splash, Lync swirled into his new environment. Before he could focus, his system expelled stale water and absorbed fresh giving him a rush that further disoriented him.
Gliding loosely, Lync stayed beneath the surface. His composition became the transparent and fresh new water around him. Absorbing it replenished his energy. Saltwater and oxygen were all it took to sustain him, and this saltwater he liked. Invisible, he blended with the surrounding waters.
He glanced around; he had gone from ocean to small confinement tank to this larger containment area that he suspected was a human swimming pool. Dumped along with the morning’s catch of lobsters and crabs from a holding tub into this? Damnation, he had not expected to be scooped up and trapped when he had glided past the fishing trawler just before dawn.
This should not have happened! Hydrolinks were cautious of water being sucked from the ocean for human projects. He had stayed well away from dredging pipes, siphons, and any other type of human equipment to protect from the possibility of being vacuumed up. To his knowledge this had never transpired before, although if it had, the hydrolinks would have sacrificed all for the good of their race. His fate? Gone from the ocean without a trace and no human would know they had taken him along with the ocean water.
“Sweet-waters!” Hydrolinks easily slipped through nets and traps humans used. To his knowledge, they did not by practice scoop holding tanks of surface water.
Beneath him lobsters and crabs that had also been dumped scuttled along the smooth foundation seeking shelter. There was none. Not one rock or weeded area to hide them. Drifting with the unique currents, Lync liked the invigorating flow. The water he found himself in had a quality much like his home had been when he was young. Though warm, not tropically warm as some water he occasionally inhabited. Lync had traveled many areas, from the hot tropics to the frozen arctic, but this confined water was totally foreign. The word “artificial” came to mind as he inspected the tiles of deep mottled colors of varying blues and pinks that comprised the surface of this nonsymmetrical enclosure.
Looking around the area above the surface, Lync could see flowers and cloth-covered tables leading into a green space beyond glass doors. Everything was set with what was referred to as elegance for a stylish party. He had caught glimpses of similar festivities on cruise ships, yachts, docks and beaches near the ocean as he studied the human species.
One of the greatest sources of his learning came from the ships that sank to the ocean floor. With books and writings that briefly survived the salt water, he had taught himself to read languages and learned the customs of the human race.
Suddenly, at the water’s edge, a man appeared. “Oh shit! André! What in blazes have you done to Shannon’s pool?”
English! He had eavesdropped on enough conversations and the man had said, pool. Damn! That confirmed it. A human pool with no shoreline, but it had a shallow and deeper end with smooth curving edges like a tidal pool. A tidal pool with no escape. This was Shannon’s pool! So, who and where was this Shannon?
Another man approached, a long object swinging from one hand. “The pool, it is salt water, no? It makes z wonderful holding tank for tonight’s fare. Lobsters and crabs specially caught just off this coast and professionally delivered for your gala. No? Ah—”
The other man crossed his arms looking to the transparent roof before giving a pointed stare. “Lose the accent, André, save it for the guests.” He shook his head. “Shannon’s not going to be happy.”
Good, neither was Lync, and—maybe something could be done to change that. Taking him back to the ocean would be best for all.
“Ah, but Victor, think of the unique experience!” He waved both arms. “The guests, they pluck their entrée from the water. I, your chef, turn their catch into scrumptious cuisine.” The flamboyant man kissed his fingers and pretended to throw something into the air.
Victor frowned. “Have you forgotten?” His voice leaked condescension, as he placed his hands on his hips. “The written contract—you signed and agreed to adhere to—states vegetarian foods?”
The chef brandished what Lync now recognized as a long-handled fork, his voice flat. “Sacré bleu!” He smacked his forehead with his free hand. “Some vegetarians eat seafood.”
“Shannon doesn’t! This—” Victor indicated the area, turning in emphasis— “May be a mansion, but it’s her home and you aren’t cooking those on her grill. We better get them out of here before she finds out.”
André’s shoulders sagged. “Too late.”
Everything in him stilled, as a human female came into Lync’s view. She stopped by the men, her vibrant beauty compelling his waters. She looked into the pool and took a step back. Her long dark hair flowing around her, her lovely face contoured with disbelief as she stared into the water he now inhabited. For an instant Lync wondered if she had seen him. He relaxed, humans could not see hydrolinks, or at least they had never given any indication that they could. No, he felt safe on that front, because in the centuries he had existed, a human had never acknowledged him.
“Now, Shannon, let me explain—”
“Victor, I loaned you my property for your event, and I said I wouldn’t interfere, but…” Tilting her head sideways caused her dark hair to glide down over her shoulder and arm; she continued in an overly soft voice, “You better explain my pool?”
His stance tense, Victor countered. “I didn’t know André was going to do it, but I can tell you the tank of crabs and lobsters they dumped in it shouldn’t harm your pool’s systems.”
“You see?” André, his smile smug, crossed his arms. “No damage.”
Victor frowned, before warning, “André!”
She rolled her eyes, “Oh that helps. This is my swimming pool, not a fish tank.”
Interested in the human conflict before him, Lync waited. The outcome of this debate could help his escape. Victor took the fork from a silent André. He lightly prodded at a lobster on the top step. With its claws banded together, negating defense, it backed away then scurried down the stairs into deeper waters. “I’ll take care of it, Shannon. Dan-ny!”
The chef took back his fork, and muttered, “Melted butter and garlic would take better care of them.”
Shannon blew out a gentle breath and narrowed her eyes. The woman was beautiful even when she looked for all intents and purposes as if she were about to strangle the man.
From outside the glass doors another man quickly approached, “Hi, Shannon, what’s up?” His tone was respectful as he looked from her to Victor.
“Danny, since you’re helping me, can you see that these are removed, pronto?”
“Sure, Victor, be happy to.”
Lync hoped so, because he needed the freedom of the ocean. Hydrolinks did not have contact with humans, and he was not about to change that. He had unexpectedly ended up here, but that didn’t mean he was staying.
Shannon caught Danny’s arm. “Wait…” She twisted her head to give the chef a hard look. “You swear these aren’t domestic?” Lync watched Shannon closely; he could see she was very upset and forcing an outward calm.
The chef looked insulted, as he sputtered without words then placed his open hand over his chest. “I serve only z most flavorful seafood.” He dropped his hand as she gave him a direct look. “Of course they’re wild, trapped just off the beach early this morning.”
“André.” Victor was clearly angry. “Those weren’t on the menu!”
“Those.” He straightened. “Were a brilliant afterthought!”
“They were a dumb expense!”
“Fine!” André threw up his arms palms upwards and shouted, “I quit!”
Victor’s mouth dropped open, as if he was horrified. Lync studied the human drama as they stood next to the pool and decided it would be amusing if he were under different circumstances.
“André.” Shannon’s calm compelling voice turned the man to her, as she gave him a brief diplomatic smile. “I’m sorry, but seafood will offend some of the guests.” The chef opened his mouth, but Lync heard no words escape his lips as he uncomfortably crossed and uncrossed his arms. Shannon gently smiled. “I am looking forward to the culinary delights you plan for Victor’s wildlife rescue fundraiser.”
With a nod André squared his shoulders as he spun around, calling as he walked back the way he had come, “I shall amaze you.”
“I know you will.” For a moment Shannon watched the chef’s retreat. “Danny.” She gave him a radiant smile that grabbed Lync’s full attention, “Would you please fill the two beer tubs full of ocean water?”
“You’ve got it,” Danny yelled over his shoulder as he jogged out of Lync’s sight.
Victor chuckled, “Only you could have done that, thank you.”
Lync read concern in Shannon’s sea-colored eyes, causing his flow to quicken as he watched her glace back over her shoulder towards the cook.
“You’re welcome.” Shannon’s gaze shifted away and back while the man with her continued to smirk. “But, it doesn’t fix my problem, I’ve got lobsters and crabs in my pool.”
“Kind of obvious, but I’m relieved it’s your pool. I know you’ll treat them with respect.” He looked to the smoky area where the chef worked. “If he weren’t my brother-in-law I’d fire him.”
“But Victor, he cooks better than you.”
“Hey, I’m good with a grill.” Looking at the pool Victor began to laugh in earnest. “You know, he could be onto something.”
She moved several paces along the pool’s edge staring towards its bottom, then suddenly smiled, but hid it as she turned back. “Victor, stop laughing, I am not turning my pool into a fish tank!”
“So what do you plan to do with them once they’re in the tubs?”
“They’re wild, and you’re the veterinarian, you tell me.”
“Simple, return them to where they were caught.”
“There won’t be any repercussions on them or their habitat when we return them to the wild?”
Lync was surprised by her trepidation. She wanted to free them, but she also showed concern for their well-being once they were returned to the ocean. Generally, humans were not compassionate about sea life, but Shannon clearly cared about the fate of a few crustaceans in her pool. This was unique; she was unique.
Hydrolinks had not acknowledged humans since they had left the water to inhabit the land. Humans had forgotten their roots, and hydrolinks did not remind them. Long before Darwin’s theory, there was true molecular evolution and genetic drift. Humans had not figured out the theoretical flaws in hereditary mutation and reproduction.
His waters stilled, to humans at the moment he was simply a blob of water, but given a reason and his former strength he could take the water-formed human shape that hydrolinks assumed for reproduction. Sadly, reproduction and his human shape now took potency that was beyond his ability achieve.
Humans, despite their multitude of faults, had no problems reproducing. Hydrolinks on the other hand… He shivered away from that failed topic and threat of extinction. Humans walked on land and hydrolinks remained water. It was a peaceful coexistence because hydrolinks kept it that way. Humans fought over sunken treasure, stole from each other and overfished the waters proving they were materialistic and greedy. Keeping them oblivious to some ocean life was best. That is the way the oceans and lands worked best for human and hydrolink alike.
“None at all that I can see,” Vic answered Shannon’s query, glanced at the pool and then began to chuckle. “although, I believe you’ve got a larger problem to contend with.”
Larger problem? Lync paused, what problem could be larger than him? Still drifting as shapeless water, he knew Vic had not seen him, but that did not stop Lync from sinking lower in the pool to be sure he went undetected. His attraction for Shannon was threatening him with his humanoid form, but they wouldn’t see that either, unless he surfaced out of the water. He had not been that solid in decades. For now, he just wanted to watch the humans and try to figure out how to get them to take him from the pool to the ocean.
Shannon blew out a mock exasperated sigh, before giving Vic a compelling smile. “That wouldn’t be—How to get the bands off their claws without me hurting them, or them hurting me?”
“Cooking comes to mind.”
With her hands firmly on her hips, Shannon’s eyes sparkled. “I believe I may need to have a little chat with your wife about your perverse sense of humor. Just for the record, these won’t be boiled.”
“Then I’d keep my fingers away from their claws if I were you.”
There was humor in her melodic voice, “Victor, I’m going to smack you!”
“Don’t smack me. They’re the ones that are going to be feisty.”
Shannon turned back towards the pool, smiling and pacing along its edge in contemplation. “Yes, I’m expecting that, so since you’re the vet and used to rather feisty patients.” She stopped, turned to him. That’s when Lync decided her smile might just enslave him too. “I think you better come with us when we release them, Vic.”
“Hey, I’m busy here.”
Lync moved closer for a better view, as she paced back towards the pool. “I’ll hold them and just before we put them into the ocean you can cut the bands.”
Victor moved away. “I think I hear someone calling me.”
“Victor!” There was amused authority in her voice. “What if I donate the price of your brother-in-law’s little fishing expedition and take that invoice off your hands?”
Victor slowly turned, and held up his hands in surrender. “All right, all right, I’ll help. You get them into the tanks and I’ll cut the bands before you free them.” He dropped his hands and walked away, his voice carrying back to Lync. “You really are good people, Shannon. Thank you.”
Her gentle laughter faded as she dropped down to sit beside the pool. For long moments, Lync was intrigued by her fingers playing over the water as she stretched out on her stomach to observe the lobsters and crabs moving along the pool bottom. Suddenly, she sat up and glanced towards the green area, as the clicking of an engine approached. Lync moved closer to the surface, then, as if his movement caught her attention, Shannon went very still watching him. He deflated as he realized it was the crab scuffle below him. Lync wanted to captivate her. She glanced aside, sinking his expectant waters. Dejected, he accepted she was human and it was a good thing she could not see him. Still, he wanted her to look at him.
Hampered by his limited viewpoint, Lync watched Danny jump out of a truck and open the sliding glass doors wider before backing the truck through. His waters almost shuddered bubbles with the sharp engine click as it reverberated in the pool. The noise of boat engines dissipated in the ocean. Shannon stood, and it was a relief when the engine stopped.
Danny pulled two short handled nets from the truck box. This was fine for catching crabs and lobsters, but not so good for him. Lync began to worry. Nets would not help him. He could survive for a limited time in a lot less water, but these nets scooped and held nothing in the way of water. Getting into the tank was now a real problem and he wondered if they would dump the tanks into the ocean.
That thought hung right there, as Shannon slipped her shorts down her legs. In the next instant his waters quickened when she lifted off her shirt to reveal a bathing suit. It did not matter that she was human, Lync enjoyed the view. He thought of playing with her which stimulated his flow of liquid into his almost humanoid form. The pleasure of hardening stunned him; he had not been active in a long, long, time. Shocked by his strong reaction, he drifted nearer to where she stood. Contact was forbidden, but decades ago he had played with a surfer.
It had been after most hydrolink females had lost productivity, and he was still occasionally stimulated towards reproduction. Hit by a huge wave the female surfer had come off her board disoriented; she was about to drown. Lync had taken her to the surface and stimulated her with his current as he coursed his way around and over her body. Her treading motion had stilled, and her expectant response had told him she enjoyed his touch. It had made him wonder what would have become of his forbidden actions had her companions not reached her so quickly.
Shannon took the net offered and slowly moved into the water before him, beckoning him with her fluid motions that reminded him of his own kind.
“Danny, I’ll net them. You can put them in the tank and trade me your empty net.”
“Works for me, boss.”
Her smile flashed. “Of course it does, you’re not the one getting wet.”
Danny brandished his net, returning her smile, as he glanced over to the glass doors to where Lync saw the chef was working. Danny bowed before her. “Iz your pool.”
Shannon scooped a single crab into her net before handing it to Danny. “Danny, put the crabs in one tub lobsters in the other. We’ll release the crabs first and let the lobsters go in deeper water.”
“Right, no sense releasing them from being human dinner just to become lobster bait.”
Lync watched in frustration as she netted only one or two crabs or lobsters at a time, and gave them to Danny in exchange for his empty net. Worry agitated Lync’s waters. The way Shannon was going about this; she was catching all of the pool’s unwanted inhabitants, except him. Had she filled the net to bursting as cruel humans did, he might have found enough water among the hard-shelled creatures to protect him while they were all dumped safely into the tank. He wouldn’t survive long with so little water but felt he could make it to the tank.
Exposing himself was not done, and would create a shock he did not need, but he could not stay here. Restless with his dilemma, Lync moved back and forth near Shannon, trying to devise a way to escape her pool. Blending with the pool water was not going to get him noticed and released.
Suddenly, his waters stilled, as Shannon dove beneath the saltwater surface. Her long hair flowed freely around her as she swam to the bottom and handily netted a pair of crabs in the deeper water. Lync wanted her, and moved forward, but forced himself to stop. Touching her would startle her, and there were others watching.
Blinking, she blindly handed the net up. Danny took the net and grimaced. “Stings does it?”
To Lync’s surprise Shannon nodded. “Just a little, but I prefer salt in my eyes to chlorine.”
“That’s why I’m your maintenance man. I’ll back off on the salt.”
“Super, I didn’t realize you could do that.”
“Consider it done.”
It was admirable that she had deliberately hurt herself, and she had been efficient in her task of catching the scuttling creatures. Lync noted she was down to her last two lobsters, and he was desperate. Flowing over to her as she stood in shallower water, he swirled around her ankles and legs. She paused and twisted, trying to see what was disturbing the water. Unable to see him, she carried on trapping the last lobster. Frightened, it backed into a drain vent, and became trapped there by the currents. Immediately concerned, Shannon reached in and grabbed the lobster with her bare hand. It told him she was caring and softened his flow towards this woman. Too bad she could not see and care for him. Instead she was leaving the pool, abandoning him. Lync fought the desperate need to expose himself, to let her know he was trapped in her pool.
“See any others?” she asked Danny as he circled the water’s edge looking into the pool.
“No, you got them all.”
“Means I counted correctly.”
“Danny, there may be a blockage someplace in the pool filters,” Shannon commented, “I felt a stronger flow over there.”
“I’ll check it later.”
“Thanks, let’s get Victor and go.” Shannon smiled as she got into the truck.
But she had not gotten him! Lync shuddered. He was at a loss. He was not a blockage in the filters, he was a living breathing hydrolink. Stranded alone in confined waters unable to get free as the engine started and the truck pulled away.
Lync swirled in agitation, then stilled with disbelief. Damn, he truly was trapped!