[Fish (Therian Tales) / Alexa Velez]

Therian Tales

The water falling from the sky was a strange sight. Raindrops splashed into the creature’s vision as dark clouds faded in and out, blending into angry smears. Between shallow breaths, shriveled lungs ached, not knowing how to pull oxygen from this atmosphere. Limbs no longer suspended, gravity was a strange sensation. Lifting a heavy hand to its face, the creature forced its eyes to focus. Fingers appeared, no longer connected by translucent skin. An annoying itch crawled between its knuckles. Rolling over, the world tilted on its side. Confusion thickened as a long stretch of road materialized. Above, a lone traffic light swung violently in the wind. Memories surfaced of the one-eyed storm that dragged the creature from the murky depths.

Crouching low, translucent skin tightened over newly formed knees. A shiver shook its spine as its body, confused by the water that fell from the sky, craved the change. Bones wanted to shift. Organs wanted to twist. But if lungs collapsed, gills would sprout. Trapped between two forms, death would slowly choke.

The creature yearned for its home of water and salt, but the direction was lost. Human homes that resembled colorful corals stood out against gray skies. Broken, boarded, abandoned—safe.

Guiding misshapen feet through shallow water, the creature chose a house intertwined with a fallen tree. Roots snaked toward the heavens; thick upper branches created a door through the roof. Inside, a sunken mattress carried the weight of the tree’s trunk. A pale arm hung limp over the edge of the bed that reeked of a beached whale’s entrails turned inside out. Lightning struck and the shadows jumped. Thunder followed with a fist, and the house buckled under the blow. Dangling on a nail, a lone picture frame enclosed a shattered family of three.

A soft whimper spiked its hearing. In the far corner, a small human girl stared back, eyes wide as a full moon that changed the tide. Although they were the same in size, she seemed to pose a greater threat. Propeller scars burned across the creature’s back—a reminder. A lip curled, flashing rows of needle-like teeth.

The girl watched, fascinated.

A window exploded and a scream took to the skies. The creature’s body seized from the water’s touch. Gasping and thrashing in a bed of glass, red painted the creature’s flesh. Bones cracked. Lungs disintegrated. Dark currents pulled and opened wide, eager to swallow.

The girl stared at the flaps of skin expand and contract along the sides of its neck. She breathed with the creature, matching its feverish pace. It wasn’t meant to exist in a world half submerged—a world she no longer recognized. The girl approached and gently pulled the creature’s limp body through the windblown house to the pool in the backyard.

Chemicals stung on the first inhale, but the creature didn’t care. It was finally something rather than a half-thing. The girl crouched on the edge of the water, watching the creature twist in its new body. The top of its head emerged; two inky orbs reflected a face streaked with tears lost in the wind and rain. She didn’t move when it approached and extended a scaly limb. An invitation. The girl smiled and accepted.

With a violent splash, the creature dragged her under.

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