People started fanning out. There had been six adults and six kids, including Jory. The rest of the kids huddled close and swam down toward the reef. Yurri stayed with them. His wife Kenia—Aaron’s aunt—swam over to them. She looked like a cuttlefish as well, only with different coloring from Yurri. So how in the world did Aaron have green scales?
“Sorry to be introduced like this,” she said to Erica. “You two should stick together. You’re a good swimmer but I don’t want you getting eaten on your first day under the sea.”
Erica got her head back in the game. She gestured behind them, away from the party. “We’ll look this way?”
“Good idea. I’m going to talk to the rest of the family.”
Erica and Aaron swam off. “How far could he have gone?”
“Not far. That’s what worries me.”
“Do you think he saw a pretty girl and he’s off flirting somewhere?”
“I wouldn’t put it past him. Though with the ball I’d think he’d at least bring it back.”
The coral dropped away about forty feet farther down. Erica glanced up at the surface and they descended. She had to be down at least a hundred feet now. It was miraculous that she could even see – was that the moon? Amazing…
By the moonlight, Erica thought she saw a flash between a pair of rocks, like light on silver. She pointed. “Was that a fin?”
They started over. There were more coral towers here. Erica and Aaron swam between them. Erica watched above her as well as below. The sensation of hair standing up crawled all over her skin.
Jory huddled between the rocks. At first Erica felt relieved – he was just a kid, barely her nephew’s age – but by the look on his face he wasn’t playing some kind of stupid hide and go seek game. His skin had the shiny pallor of wax. He had his arms pressed against his sides. The water clouded with blood around his waist.
Aaron reached for him. “Come on. We have to go.”
“No. It’s out there. You need to get help.”
Erica kept her eyes open. “I don’t see anything.”
“Jory, you can’t stay here.”
“It’s out there. Come back with people.”
“You’ll be dead by the time we get back. We have to move.”
Erica used her navy voice: “Jory get your ass out of those rocks or I’ll make a tuna fish sandwich out of it!” Jory was so shocked that he didn’t resist as Aaron pulled him out.
Photo source: Scott Duncan Blog, used without permission