Under Water

This comes from a conversation I had with Inspector Caracal & Lilfluff on Mastodon. 

Content warning: Attempted murder.  


The school pool was empty, which meant, technically, Aelia should not have been in it.

She needed to swim off some stress, though, and she needed to make sure she was in decent shape when the match came.  They’d lost against Rotterville-Hampton the last three times, and that was just not happening again.

She was intent on swimming, ignoring everything but the lane in front of her, when she felt a tug on her ankle.  Before she really registered it, she was being pulled under, down to the bottom of the deep end.

Aelia was not a weak girl; she kicked out and felt herself catch someone in something bony, twisted and pushed off, trying to get up to the air.  Whoever – no, there, she could see someone, a man.  An older man, at least, older than her.

Shit.  Not a prank.

She knew, knew, that she shouldn’t panic, but there had been two murders in public pools in the last three months.  For a moment, all Aelia should see was her own broken corpse floating limply in the water.

Then she kicked.  She flailed and punched and struggled, but the bastard got his hand around her throat and pushed her further under, down to the bottom of the pool  She started seeing spots.  Her face felt tight, as if her lungs were straining.  Her stomach, all the way down to her hips, felt suddenly wrong, bloated like a victim of starvation.

She lashed out with one last hopeless strike and caught her assailant across the face. Suddenly, the hands on her throat loosened.  She lashed out again, and again, until she was free, until she was pushing herself up to the surface, until she was gasping in lungfulls of air.

The water was full of blood, a roiling, splashy mess of blood.  Three blueish-green bubbles the size of a basketball bounced around the water, thrown this way and that by the splashing.

He was dying down there, she realized.  He hadn’t come up yet, at least.

“Help!”  She swam to the edge in three quick strokes and shouted again as she pulled herself out.  “Someone help! Fire! Police! Help!”

She grabbed the shepherd’s crook and aimed it down into the water, careful not to hit the bubbles.  She caught it around his chest and pulled, tugging him upwards with all of her weight.  “Damn, you’re heavy.  POLICE!  Help!  Someone, HELP!”

She had dragged her assailant out of the water by the time anyone – the principal’s secretary – got there.  She was working on compressions, his head turned to the side, staring, as she did, at the long lacerations across his face and throat.

Something had ripped him open.  Something had nearly destroyed his face.


The secretary screamed just as Aelia got sight of the scaly claws she was using to compress the man’s chest.


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