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Moar Chapter I

Decided I didn't want to end the chapter there at all. Here's the second half of it. 3749 words as of right now.

Once outside the door, Kaylee blinked in the bright sunlight, shading her eyes. She noticed that the condo was painted pale pink, contrasting with the blue and yellow units on either side. Now, Kaylee was not really about pink, but she supposed she could tolerate it for a week in service of hanging out on the beach and playing in the ocean.

There was a sidewalk around each row of five condos, and the rows were arranged more or less like and I Ching figure, with the parking lots between them. At the ends of the rows there were little patches of grass with things like picnic tables and palm trees on them. The island was flat--which seemed very strange to Kaylee, coming as she did from Michigan, where there seemed to be a lot of small-to-medium-sized hills--and it seemed the wind had carried sand to drift across most of it, so there would be little piles of sand nestled into the hollows of the sidewalk curbs here and there, and drifted up against the sides of the buildings.

Through the maze of condominiums, to the east, could be seen glimpses of light on water and occasionally the striped top of a beach umbrella. The girls and Matty headed for it, cutting across parking lots instead of keeping to the sidewalks.

They came around the corner of a pastel green condo and there it was before them: hundreds of yards of sparkling white sand, miles and miles of glittering blue-green water, lighter and crystal-clear closer to shore, then dropping off to deepen into fathomless dark farther away. The light dancing on the waves seemed to draw Kaylee out, further and further across the wide expanse of sea toward the horizon. She felt her nostrils flare wide as she breathed deeply, taking in the fresh salt scent of it, feeling somehow--strangely--as if it had hold of her, somewhere deep inside the core of her body, pulling steadily but inexorably out to sea.

Matty was tapping her on the shoulder. "Kay," he said. "Kay, you okay?"

Kaylee blinked and shook her head. "Fine. I'm. What?"

"Ooh, they have Italian ice!" cried Alicia. Kaylee looked where she was pointing.

"Oh," she said, involuntarily. The snack bar. She hadn't even seen it there; it was a large, whitewashed building with a blue roof, a counter with a huge chalkboard menu on the side mostly facing toward them. She could see one of the other sides. There was an open doorway with a sign above it reading "Restrooms".

"There's the lifeguard tower," said Alicia, shading her eyes and looking to the right down the beach. It was a standard lifeguard tower, tall and white with lifesaver rings hanging from the sides. There was a blond lifeguard, aside from whom the beach was nearly deserted, sitting on the top of it.

"He's glisteny," said Kaylee.

"He looks like part of a complete breakfast," Alicia agreed.

"Gross," said Matty.

"Let's go over there," said Kaylee, not taking any notice of him. She reached down and slipped off her flip flops, dangling them by their straps from her middle and index fingers, and hoisted her beach bag more comfortably on her right shoulder. The three of them padded off across the warm sand toward the lifeguard tower. It wasn't much of a walk, just far enough for the lifeguard to be close to the snack bar--presumably the closest phone in case 911 needed to be called--without the building obstructing his view of the swimming area, which was visibly marked off, Kaylee could now see, with buoys.

They stopped about thirty feet away from the lifeguard tower, slightly in front of it, and dropped their bags. Kaylee shook out her towel, feeling the wind tug at it a little, and let it flap open before attempting to lay it out flat on the ground. This never works. If there is no wind, the towel will snap out in front of you and then fall too quickly vertical again, never to settle in a horizontal swath on the ground; and if there is wind, the towel will be blown sideways as you let it down, to crumple sadly in on itself, wrinkled and twisted as if you were going to tie it into a makeshift rope with bedsheets to escape from the tallest tower of Swamp Castle (the fourth one, the one that stayed up). And indeed, this was what happened to Kaylee. Not the part about the castle and the bedsheets, the part about the towel crumpling up on the ground.

She tried to smooth it out flat, but the breeze kept twitching the corners over onto the rest of it, and sand was getting everywhere.

"You know what?" said Alicia, wrestling with her own towel in much the same fashion. "Let's just put the towels away. We don't need them laid out unless we're going to lie out in the sun."

Kaylee nodded, shaking her towel out and bundling it away into her beach bag. She turned to help Matty with his.

Matty's towel lay perfectly flat on the sand. Its corners did not budge with the freshening breeze.

"What do you have, telekinesis or something?" said Alicia.

"What?" said Matty innocently.

Kaylee sighed. "I hate you, Matty," she said.

Matty grinned. "You're just jealous 'cause I'm pro and you're a noob."

Alicia rolled her eyes. "Yes, Matty, the uber-pwnage of your leet towel placing skills is legend throughout the land. Before we know it, you will move on to level 80 sunbathing and will pwn us pitiful noobs so hard we cry for our mamas. Can we get in the water now?"

Matty waved a hand magnanimously toward the shoreline, continuing to grin smugly.

"Nerf bratty little brothers, they're overpowered," Kaylee muttered as the three of them strode toward the shallows.

Kaylee had intended to wade in slowly, but as the first wave broke over her ankles a thrill went up her spine. She took to her heels, splashing merrily out until she was in up to her waist. As the others followed, Kaylee splashed Matty, soaking his hair and leaving him sputtering.

"Ack!" He spat repeatedly. "Oh my god, you guys. Don't get any water in your mouth!"

"Why?" said Kaylee. She stuck a finger in her mouth. "Oh, come on, Matty, it's not that bad." It actually tasted kind of good--salty, yes, and very different from Michigan lake water, but right somehow.

Alicia did likewise, and pulled a face. "Ew, yes it is, Kaylee."

"Wuss," Kaylee called her, splashing her thoroughly. She waded further out; the cool water was up to her chest now. If asked, she couldn't have explained it, but the longer she was in the water, the more she wanted to just plunge in and swim out as far as she could go. As she looked out at the horizon, she felt that pull again as she had felt it when she first saw the ocean. It was like a string attached to her heart leading out, out, past the curve of the earth, and never ending, like a drive to go as far and as fast as possible, without stopping. It felt strange; she was fighting it, because she knew it was a bad idea to just take off swimming into the open ocean, but she was starting to have a hard time remembering why.
Alicia caught up to her and splashed her back. Kaylee blinked, dazzled by the sun sparkling off the droplets of sea water in her eyelashes. There was water in her hair, and it was dripping slowly down her back; she was aware of every drop of it, every single drop speaking straight to her heart, telling her to go, to swim, off away East and never come back. She shook her head, trying to clear it; as if in slow motion, the drops of water flying from the ends of her hair spattered the surface of the sea, and her nostrils flared, catching again the fresh salt scent of the sea air.

Maybe she could just swim out a little way.

"Race you to the buoy," she gasped, already on her way down into a shallow dive.

The moment her head broke the surface, her eyes--closed against the salt--flew open, and there was no sting. A shiver ran across her skin and she kicked hard, pulling with her arms and propelling herself swiftly forward. She felt different somehow--sleeker, faster, her skin sliding more smoothly against the slick softness of the salt water. Like an arrow shot from a bow she shot through the water, under the waves, as if she was flying, floating, effortless, until suddenly the buoy was above her, standing out orange and black against a three dimensional blue-green world. With a kick, Kaylee popped up next to it, sucking in a breath she hadn't felt the need of, and looked back to see how far behind her Alicia and Matty were.
Matty was still in the shallows, shaking his head; as she watched he dropped back onto his back to float lazily on the heaving surface. Alicia was about a quarter of the way from Matty to the buoy, pulling hard in a basic freestyle stroke but not gaining a whole lot of distance, at least not from Kaylee's perspective.

Kaylee laughed delightedly. "'Licia!" she cried. "I beat you!"

Alicia's body shifted as she dropped into a vertical position, treading water and shading her eyes to see Kaylee beside the buoy. Her mouth dropped open, comically, and an instant later she was sinking under the surface briefly only to pop up again and start stroking harder toward Kaylee's position.

Kaylee ducked back under and shot toward Alicia, meeting her somewhat more than halfway; she popped out of the water again, catching Alicia by the shoulders and lifting her into the open air. "What's wrong, Leesh?"

"Kaylee," Alicia gasped, her eyes wide and frightened. "Kaylee, oh my god, what are you?"

"What?" said Kaylee, bewildered.

"Look at your hands," said Alicia. Kaylee looked.

And dropped them from Alicia's shoulders in shock--her hands were pale sea green, partially covered in scales, her broad palms the same shape but her fingers substantially lengthened with translucent web-like fins stretched between them. She drifted slightly back, away from Alicia, staring at her changed hands, her mouth working silently, fearfully, as their color began to change until her skin--and her scales--blended almost indistinguishably with the water around her.

"What," she croaked, swallowed, tried again. "What the hell is happening to me?"



( 1 found this pack — howl )
Nov. 25th, 2008 05:21 am (UTC)

Chi demands MOAR!
( 1 found this pack — howl )

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