Mischa knelt beside the rock pool, staring through the reflecting sky on the surface to the microcosm of underwater activity beneath. A crab’s claws gleamed in the darkness of a crevasse and tendrils of anemone floated around, capturing tiny fish that Mischa could barely see. He leaned in a little closer and planted his hands on the warm, wet rock beneath him. Between a couple of sea snails and an anemone, he glimpsed a tiny, pink hand and grinned with delight.
“There it is. See?” He pointed, his finger hovering just above the surface.
His brother George joined him, pouting his annoyance. “Where?”
A pair of pale arms covered in pink, pearlescent scales reached out from under a crevasse to pull along the rock pool floor. Each arm couldn’t have been much longer than one of Mischa’s fingers. Translucent webbing attached them to a curved, spindly body. A small head with enormous, black eyes popped out from its neck. Its mouth suction-cupped the floor, feeding on whatever else clung to the rock. It crawled out further, revealing two hind legs and a double tail flapping like a trapped butterfly.
“Holy hell, that is ugly.” George shuddered. “What is it?”
“I think it’s a mermaid. Look how pretty its scales are.”
“Not this mermaid shit again.”
Mischa stuck his finger in to touch the creature, but George pulled him back and marched him to the edge of the shore and the ocean beyond.
“Don’t touch it, idiot. That mutated octopus is probably poisonous.”