A gift for Aqua

Submitted into Contest #83 in response to: Write a fantasy story about water gods or spirits.... view prompt

6 comments

Fantasy Drama Suspense

Jess carefully made her way down to the place where the ocean lapped upon the shore. The great basket of her mother’s flowers was a beautiful gift and she hoped it and the rainbow of color within would please the Goddess Aqua.

Bare feet wet with the crystal clear sea, then shins, then finally thighs, Jess ventured forth to rest the basket upon the crest of the tiny waves and gave her offering a gentle shove. The basket’s bouquet was picked up by the ocean breeze and blown back toward Jess once more before the loaded wicker coasted away. For a moment the young girl stood and watched, willing her gift a safe but swift journey.

“Aaron is a good man! Aaron is kind and cares for me! All we wish from you oh wise and gracious Aqua is to grant for us a happy life!” Jess called before she turned away from the waves and back toward the shore.

There was a sound that caused the girl to turn toward the basket again, a laugh, musical and magical, strange. Where the basket had once been there bobbed the fair haired face of a child. Jess noted that some of her mother’s flowers adorned the child like a natural tiara.

“Aqua, is that You?” Jess asked, surprised.

“You flatter me!” called back the child as she offered Jess a full lipped smile.

Jess considered for a moment if it were one of the children from the village but there had been no others on the beach that morning and it would have been impossible for someone to swim so close without a sound.

“If you are not the Goddess personified then you must be one of her blessed children…” suggested Jess.

The face among the waves laughed.

“Come! Daughter of the land come frolic with me among the waves!” begged the innocent face.

Without hesitation Jess stepped closer. The cool of the ocean that early caused her to shiver. With a mix of excitement and uncertainty the newly betrothed ventured deeper and deeper into the welcoming embrace of the sea.

With a sudden, swift jerk the face sped away from Jess’ approach. It paused then to call her closer. Two steps and then a third and Jess found she could no longer touch the sandy bottom of the ocean’s floor.

“Daughter of the land come and swim with me…” begged the pretty child’s face.

With strong strokes honed from a childhood of water play Jess tried to catch the creature as it drifted just out of reach.

“Wait! Please wait for me!” cried Jess. “I wish for you to stay that we might play.”

“Silly girl!” laughed the face adored with flowers. “I must play beneath the waves, beneath the water, deep within the sea…”

“Then I must away, back to the safety of the shore, back to my home and the loving arms of my betrothed!” announced Jess.

With that she turned away from the endless horizon and saw just how far from shore she had been coached.

“She is no child of the Goddess,” worried Jess. “Such a creature is a devil of the waves.”

With powerful strokes Jess made a brave attempt to swiftly return to the safety of the sand.

“Where are you hoping to go without hope?” queried the childlike creature.

With a couple of quick kicks the face crowned with the floral rainbow was suddenly floating beside the struggling swimmer.

“I return home, to life, my love and those who I care for…” Jess replied.

“You stay with me,” demanded the childlike face.

Opening its mouth the angelic features revealed a monstrous jaw. Row upon row of tiny fangs caused Jess to squeal in shock. The girl of the land felt slippery serpent tentacles slide about her, around her and then begin to squeeze.

“No! No! No!” gasped Jess as the needle fangs drew nearer to her right shoulder, her neck…

With only one arm free Jess threw back her elbow and caught the creature square in the nose. Black and blue ink burst from the appendage and hissed as it stained the sea-foam. There was a moment of pause as Jess awaited a reaction and the creature stared at her in shock.

“How dare…?” growled the child of the sea.

Jess squeaked again as from within the ocean there appeared a spike, long and black, pointed like a spear. The swimmer renewed her efforts tenfold and smashed that elbow into the childish face. Again and again and again she struck, until Jess sensed the tentacle which grasped her loosen and then slither away. With panicked strokes Jess swiftly created distance between her and the danger of a whole different world. Within ten minutes she found herself back upon the golden sand. Breathing deeply, tears flowing free the girl looked back over her shoulder and saw the bloodied face in the distance. Rising shakily to her feet Jess backed up the shoreline before turning to run all the way to the safety of her home. Never again would she bravely venture amongst the waves alone.

Wiping the smear leaking from its maw the creature clicked, confused. The deadly spike dropped back within, hidden again beneath the calm, crystal, welcoming waters.

“Mother, you suggested the long legged one would be easy prey, a fine first catch, my whistle whetter…”

Beside the tentacled monstrosity with the face of innocence arose a feminine outline within the waves. It smiled the smile of a proud parent and laughed faintly the laugh of the sea breeze.

“FEAR NOT CHILD,” stated the voice of Aqua from within the waves. “CONSIDER THIS ONE PERHAPS THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY…”

Both mother and daughter watched the long legs of Jess, marked by the mermaid’s sting struggle up the sands and away from the shore.

“THERE SHALL BE OTHERS… HUMANITY FORGETS… WE REMEMBER…”

“It shall be as You suggest, mother,” suggested the child of the sea.

Then they were gone, goddess and daughter lost to those if any who watched from the shore. Hungry, waiting, for there would be another time.

March 04, 2021 03:25

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6 comments

Graham Kinross
23:59 May 17, 2023

That’s pretty terrifying, monsters in the water felt like a creepier version of jaws. Cthulu style water monsters picking at humanity, scary.

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J Thorpe
08:30 Apr 03, 2021

Hi Tim, Your story prompted a smile. Instead of people fishing in the ocean, here's the creatures of the deep fishing for land animals. I like it. :) :)

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Tim Law
05:48 Apr 08, 2021

Many thanks Jenny. Yes, this was a fun one to write. A little dark and a bit of a twist on the idea of the mermaid... 👍

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Tim Law
05:48 Apr 08, 2021

Many thanks Jenny. Yes, this was a fun one to write. A little dark and a bit of a twist on the idea of the mermaid... 👍

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Katherine Marie
00:23 Mar 11, 2021

Oh man, this story is creepy in the best way possible! I really like the development of Aqua/Aqua’s daughter from angelic, to threatening, to downright freaky. My main suggestion would be elaborating on the overarching circumstances. Why does Jess seem to worship Aqua? (It’s my understanding that she’s presenting the flowers as a sort of offering, correct?) I think adding some sort of context could help to make the story even more scary. Overall, good job! :)

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Tim Law
10:27 Mar 12, 2021

Thanks Katharine 👍 Great feedback ❤️ Yes the flowers were an offering... I think your idea of exploring the reasoning behind the offering is a great way I can flesh out the story in greater detail 🤔

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