The mermaid turned around on its knees as Lil passed the puddle of water formed around the tank and pushed hard against the stiff wooden window.
The window opened with a screeching sound and a burst of wind blew in.
Fortunately, the window was rather large.
Lil looked down, the sunset-coloured sea was very close.
So close even, that when the waves hit the stern hard, foam would bounce up to the window.
Lil looked back.
The mermaid was now flat on the ground, supporting its upper body with its arms pressed on the floor while its tail was stretched behind it.
Lil noticed that its upper body appeared larger than the body of a human.
She initially pondered whether to carry the mermaid with Ed or not, but seeing how the mermaid moved well, such worries became negligible.
The mermaid seemed accustomed to moving with its tail and arms in a manner similar to that of seals.
Lil stood beside the window in a daze.
As soon as the mermaid put its hand on the windowsill and checked outside, it slid into the sea.
Its nimble tail fin whipped elastically through the air and disappeared into the sea with a splash.
Immediately after, Lil, who had been clutching her chest, sat on the windowsill and looked around to see if anyone had witnessed it.
“What are you doing”
“Seeing if there’s someone there.”
“At this angle, even the masthead won’t see our position on the stern.”
Lil, still sitting on the windowsill, smiled proudly upon checking the faint light in the sea.
Full of joy, she asked contently.
“Are there times when mermaids glow and times they don’t”
“I think they’ll light up when it’s dark because they can’t light their surroundings with fire.”
Lil tilted her head while watching the blue light just in front of the stern.
“But why is she still here”
“Oh, that’s probably…”
Ed, standing behind her, unbuckled Lil’s belt.
No, to be exact, he disarmed her as her gun and bullets were attached to that belt.
Lil, who held the window frame with both arms, was helplessly deprived of her weapon.
“What… what are you doing…”
Lil tried to quickly push her upper body back, but Ed was much quicker.
“She’s waiting for us.”
Kick them well.”
Her pushed body flew in the air for a moment.
Lil held her breath, not understanding what just happened.
– Splash! –
The cold seawater came rushing in, wetting her shirt and pants.
Although there was no blow because the altitude wasn’t high, her body was taken aback by the sudden impact with the water.
Lil’s head, wrapped in bubbles, soared up.
Lil hastily wiped her face and took a deep breath.
‘That guy’s obviously mad! He seemed to be getting crazier every time!’
She cursed and smoothened her shoulders.
Suddenly, there was a splash beside her.
Lil looked at her side with a fearsome mood as Ed moved near her and ruffled his hair.
‘He looks so peaceful and relaxed as if he just came out to enjoy a good swim.’
Wary of someone hearing them, Lil screamed in whispers.
“Are your palms okay”
“Don’t they sting”
Lil didn’t know what Ed was talking about, so she showed an expression of frustration that couldn’t be expressed in her voice.
“You’re the one who pushed me into the sea.
But now you’re suddenly asking about my palms”
Ed just stared at Lil.
Lil started swimming towards Ed with the intention of smacking him.
She was annoyed, but she became even more enraged upon seeing his half-lying position with the back of his head on the surface of the water.
Lil spoke as starkly as possible.
“What are you doing!”
“Don’t you want to see it”
“How beautiful the freedom is you’ve given her.”
Suddenly, a long blue light drew a parabola between them before blurring again.
Lil stopped splashing water towards Ed.
The bright, streamlined light hovered around them in elegant curves.
The mermaid’s face they saw a while ago was reflected under the waves.
“See you down there, Captain.
The anchor line on the port side.”
Ed left only those words and dived.
She watched the tail approach Ed and swim away deeply.
Lil, an ordinary human being, couldn’t afford to be as reckless as Ed.
Fear preceded her curiosity.
The vast nature of the sea, predators she probably never seen before, and a new unknown civilization that felt unthinkable not long ago.
She wasn’t a coward, but she wasn’t overly brave either, so her fear was natural.
However, Ed gave her an unexpected treat to chew on.
‘How beautiful is this freedom’
The threat seemed too delicious to not be eaten.
Lil had already strayed away from them a bit but was tossed and swept by the current.
She quickly dived down.
The sound of bubbling water was all she could hear.
Lil opened her eyes.
At dusk, the sea was a deep blue.
Although it was still bright just below the surface of the water, Lil couldn’t see anything from the waist down.
The situation felt pretty bizarre to her, who has never dived after the sun went down.
She tasted the horrors common to divers on their first night.
In this darkness, one will never know when a shark will come by and rip off a lower limb.
After reflexively bending her knees, Lil looked around the port side to search for the anchor line.
She could see the Marian’s anchor line nearby.
As she turned to fully face the line, the current from Ed’s legs hit her cheek.
He had already reached it.
Lil stretched her arms and swam toward him.
Although the water temperature was starting to cool, the tide flowing from the tip of her toe to her head was warm.
Lil rode the forward flow and grabbed Ed’s ankle.
Ed, who was holding the line with one hand, looked back at her.
When Lil extended her hand with the intention to grab it herself, Ed pulled her wrist and put it on the rope for her.
When Lil grabbed the rope with seaweed and sparsely attached barnacles, Ed pointed down.
It was a gesture full of excitement.
She was envious of his reckless personality, he was someone who could just chase his curiosity in every situation.
Lil was forced to follow Ed, who turned his back on her without waiting for a response.
The intense pressure clogged her ears, and her crushed hearing couldn’t let her sense anything.
The same was true for her vision.
Lil didn’t know if she had her eyes open or closed.
In that state, floating without gravity, she felt like dust blowing around a huge world.
Lil, thrown into stillness, traced the rope with her fingertips.
The only thing she could rely on in this darkness was the rope she held.
Before long, the mermaid below them got closer and closer.
Not because they were descending, but because it was rising toward them.
The ascending light gradually spread.
At some point, Lil came to a standstill, unable to go any further.
At first glance, the mermaid’s movement, surrounded by a gentle glow, seemed holy.
Making the pitch-black darkness bow its head and retreat.
The closer the mermaid’s body drew, the more intense it became.
It was as if its power was driving out the darkness.
Lil stared at its beautiful movement as if possessed.
Like a prisoner who has been imprisoned for a long time and getting intoxicated by the fresh air outside, the mermaid who had gathered a lot of seawater around her inhaled the seawater’s essence in her arms.
its sensory hairs fluttered gently.
Eventually, the mermaid released the water and gracefully wagged her tail, its movements comparable to a slow dance.
It seemed to be able to hear music that Lil couldn’t.
Like a child in a flower garden dancing without paying attention to anyone’s gaze, it came to the mermaid so simply.
Even if it wasn’t possible, Lil felt like she could explode from amazement.
The mermaid didn’t just shine alone.
Instead, it illuminated the sea’s darkness like a sun under the sea.
Its light slowly wrapped around Lil and Ed.
Suddenly, something fluttered beside her temple.
When Lil turned around, she saw a manta ray the size of a house slowly turning over on its wide belly.
The flat rhombus-shaped creature passed over their heads, flapping its pectoral fins.
Under its smiling expression, five pairs of gills opened and closed like bars.
Lil unwittingly pulled Ed’s arm in front of her, making him raise his head along with her.
A tail longer than its body passed through the water like a snake.
This time, it was Ed who tugged Lil’s arm.
He tried to make eye contact, while pointing ahead with a smile.
However, Lil was still distracted by the giant manta ray flapping its wings.