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Against The Tide

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Against The Tide

Fisher lay awake on the bed, a portrait of restlessness within the sleek metallic bed frame. Agitated and sleepless, he perspired heavily in the humidity. His body, lit in the darkness by thin columns of moonlight through the parted blinds, lay sprawled across the twisted, soaked sheets. But it was not the heat that was keeping Fisher awake.
 
He rose and rested his clammy forehead against the coolness of the windowpane. His hand slid open the balcony door and he stepped onto the grooved decking that jutted out from the apartment. In the distance he saw nothing but the familiar flicker of starlight sparkling on the dark, opaque ocean.

Fisher had scarcely slept in weeks. Most nights he simply lay in bed and waited. He looked around at the silent apartments that surrounded him. There was no light. No noise. He sat and laid his head on the table. He held his breath and listened. And then he heard her.

Her voice. It was distinct, unmistakable. Sweet and soft. Barely a whisper. It carried over the water and through the trees to his apartment. She was calling to him again. His heartbeat exploded into a breathless rhythm.
 
Agitated, Fisher moved back into the apartment through the sparse, clinically furnished living room to the kitchen. His heart was pounding. Taking deep breaths, he tried to steady himself by running his hand caressingly over the cold, chrome surface of the refrigerator.

He stared at his reflection. His face was gaunt, sallow, his skin tight, pale and clammy. His eyes were dull, vapid. He peered closer but could see nothing. He opened the door.

Within the refrigerator everything was where it should be. Inside every last item was ordered precisely, stacked perfectly in its place. Fisher glanced at all the stacks of shelves filled with rare, exotic meats. He slid his hands over the vacuum-sealed slabs of cold flesh with his fingertips feeling the thickness and textures of the meat. The sensation was pleasing to the touch. He felt his heartbeat slow. He relaxed.

Fisher returned to the bedroom. He lay down upon his damp bed covers once again and closed his eyes. He breathed slowly and silently as he listened for her voice. His body lay taut and motionless. He ran his hands over the damp sheets below his body. He listened.

For hours he lay there in the darkness, anxiously waiting in silence. Shortly before sunrise, he heard her again, that soft voice rising into the black ether. He restlessly stretched and twisted in ecstasy at the sound of her voice. His tensed hands clung to the bed sheets. He trembled.

He knew he could not maintain this restraint. He knew soon that he would go to the shoreline. He would go to the ocean. He would find her.

The next night was a Sunday, and the Aqua Marina apartment complex was quiet as its inhabitants rested themselves early for the week ahead. Fisher sat on his balcony, sipping iced water as the lights went out around him. He ran his finger up and down the wet, cool condensation on the glass. He glanced at the untouched meal that lay on the table before him. His appetite had deserted him. Everything tasted bland and familiar. Fisher shifted uncomfortably in his chair. A brief, gentle breeze lapped at his neck while his shirt stuck to him in the heat. He listened.

It was after midnight when he heard her. That soft, delicate voice floating up from the water. Its lightness enveloped him. Its innocence intoxicated him. He stood and looked around the complex. He wondered how he could be the only insomniac infected, the only one to notice it. But everything was quiet and still. No light came from any other apartment. He was completely alone.

He sat rigid and motionless on the balcony, consumed with the idea of her. Images coursed through his mind. He wanted to reach out and touch her, feel her, breath in the essence of her.

He had seen her only once. A month earlier he had been on the beach, wandering aimlessly amongst the rocks along the shoreline, staring vacantly out into the ocean. She saw him and smiled with timidity. He saw her glide and move through the water. And then he had heard her voice.

Fisher made up his mind. The next evening he would leave the agonising self-enforced seclusion of his apartment. The next evening he would go to her.

Bathed in the morning light Fisher stood on his balcony and gazed out to the shoreline just beyond the complex. He calmly drank his coffee and watched the other residents depart for their various places of work. During the morning he exercised in the gym. In the afternoon he swam in the pool. While he was not exercising or swimming he tried to read but he was far too restless. He impatiently paced around the apartment waiting for night to fall.
 
That night the sun sank frustratingly slowly above the muggy horizon. Fisher drank a glass of milk and checked his watch as the burning star sank into the cool ocean. As the evening passed into the dead hours he patiently changed into all-black clothing

When the last of the neighbouring lights had gone out he exited his own apartment and left the Aqua Marina complex. It was a short walk through the grounds past the gymnasium, beauty spa and various other in-complex shops, restaurant and cafés. Beyond all this lay the small, artificially constructed foliage that formed a leafy buffer between the Aqua Marina residents and the ocean.

Fisher pushed his way through the foliage. He was not taking the usual path to the beach. He did not want to meet anyone on this journey. He eventually came across an incline of rocks overhanging waves gently crashing against the coast. He stopped and breathed deeply, inhaling in the salty breath of the ocean. Fisher looked out into the distance. The water moved slowly, almost cautiously.

He began to descend down the face of the incline. The rock face was weathered and jagged like dark, discoloured teeth, and the grasping white crests of the swell reached up to the sky like desperate fingertips clawing against the rocks.
 
After some moments he stopped. He did not know where he should be going. He hunched down by a rock and listened, waiting for a signal. Waiting for a sign. It was not long before it came.
 
Her voice rose steadily out of the sea, the softest of melody alongside the rhythm of the water. He lay on the rock listening to the sound, his heart thudding against cold stone. It excited him, beckoning him on further.

He first saw her head rise nervously a moment later. Her eyes peered out above the waterline. He waited for a few moments then slowly and patiently moved toward her as she became more accustomed to his presence. She was more beautiful than in his memories. More beautiful than in his dreams. He loved her. He needed to inhale her, to taste her, consume her. He needed to posses her.
 
As she swam over to him, Fisher could see her long, straw-coloured hair floating behind her like fine tendrils in the dark water. The moonlight shone on her shiny, pale skin as she stared at him, head cocked, with playful curious and trusting eyes.
 
Fisher lowered himself into the freezing water and found his footing. She gracefully glided closer to him and after a moment was soon close enough for him to feel her breath on his face. He could wait no longer. He hooked her arm around his shoulders and lifted her body from the water. She gave off no sign of objection.

He covered her with some sheets he had brought with him from the apartment. He looked at her. Her face was soft and unquestioning. He could not disguise his pleasure. She had surrendered herself to him completely.

Fisher turned away from the shoreline and, grasping her tightly, walked into the dark shadows of the woods. Several times the sheets got caught on branches, the forest’s prickly thin fingers trying to hold them back. But Fisher pushed through, and after a short while they were back at the entrance to the apartment complex.

Whilst still carrying the girl, Fisher moved as quickly as he could along the illuminated stretch of gravel running from the complex mezzanine to the pool area and over to the first fire-escape door. He stopped and took deep breaths. As she stirred in his arms Fisher could feel his excitement growing.
 
A short while later they were back in his apartment. He ran the tap for a while and placed her in the bath while he changed into more relaxed clothes. As he changed his hands shook uncontrollably with nervous anticipation. He could scarcely contain his excitement.

Coming out of the bedroom, he paused and stood within the doorframe, mesmerised by her as she lay in the bath. He walked over and stopped, transfixed by the incredible sight of her dark, crimson tail extending out over the far end of the porcelain tub.

She writhed sensuously in the water making a thick froth of salty waves. Her freckled, glistening skin shone in the soft lighting as her chest rose and fell tantalisingly, breaching the waterline with each breath. She watched Fisher with mischievous interest. She smiled at him innocently and without fear or distrust. Her face was warm and tender, her skin perfect, smooth and untouched.
 
Fisher walked into the room and crouched down to pick her up out of the bath. With a little effort, he lifted her up and carried her through the apartment and into the kitchen. As they walked water ran off her body onto the carpet. He carefully laid her down upon several sheets on top of the dining table. She lay there naked and wet under the muted kitchen lights while he began to pace around the kitchen. She looked up at him with confusion.
 
Circling her, Fisher rubbed his sweaty palms together. He was almost shivering with exhilaration. He glanced at her delicate mouth, her hair and her skin. He stared feverishly at her scales.

Fisher tried to swallow. His throat was dry and his tongue felt like sandpaper. His pulse raced. His breathing was rapid and shallow.

He knew there was no turning back. He couldn’t stop himself. His dark urges, long kept at bay, were now uncontrollable, like an overwhelming tide against which he could no longer fight, his better angels shouted down by the demons within him. He moved toward the table. 

She smiled at him uncertainly, but lay calm and still. He delicately placed his hand to the side of her face. Her skin was smooth, warm and exciting to the touch. He slowly moved his hand from her cheek to her jaw, down along the crook of her neck and onto her chest. He continued along the side of her breast with his fingertips, shuddering as he felt her soft, goose pimpled flesh. He proceeded further, spreading his fingers and feeling her taut, toned stomach. He held his palm spread out on her skin. He took a moment to steady himself and moved lower.

As the firm, milky skin gave way to rippled and grooved scales his excitement surged and hardened in reaction to the incredible textural transition. Fisher was barely in command of himself now. His pale, clammy hands shook uncontrollably as he reached into his pocket and removed a sharp, serrated steel knife. For the first time she looked afraid and tried to move away from him, but Fisher easily held her down with his free hand.

He ferociously kicked away a chair and leapt up on top of her on the dining table. He straddled her, gripping the knife with one hand and holding her down with the other. She squirmed beneath him, scared and unsure of what was happening.

He slowly and steadily cut into the scaly tissue. He pressed hard on the knife to cut a deep, wide slit in her. She screamed with pain, by the sound was blocked out by Fisher’s pulse pounding at the side of his head like a deafening drum. Shaking, he slid his fingers into the opening and felt the warm, moist flesh beneath. He was manic and transfixed, operating solely and completely in the stark moment of the act.

His heartbeat thundered as he touched her. Her body went limp as she relaxed her struggle against him. Her eyes glazed over with pain and submission. She ceased her protesting cries. At the sign of her reluctant acquiescence, Fisher breathed hard and quick as he sunk his excitement into her, all the while making further incisions elsewhere with the knife, slicing away in a frenzy of deranged passion.

Later, when it was over, Fisher made himself a coffee and sat bloody and naked on the sofa. He casually gazed over at the corpse. His immediate appetite had been satisfied, but his full intentions remained unfulfilled. He would not be content until he had consumed her completely. But as he stared at her, he realised fully just how much meat lay on the kitchen table. His mind raced with a blur of ideas. 

He stood and walked out to the balcony. The moon hid behind thick clouds of smoky silver. The ocean was dead calm. He stared out to the water and listened.

In the sprawling distance Fisher saw only darkness. And heard nothing

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