El Pescado Called Wanda

“No. You approved my vacation months ago. I’m already here and I’m not giving it up.” Wanda paced in her small boat while she talked to her boss. She planned the trip for almost a year and began hinting at her boss to soften him up before she officially requested the time off. Now he had the nerve to try and call her in while her boat floated in the middle of the lake on a beautiful, cool, sunny day. “I’m hanging up, Martin. I’ll talk to you in two weeks. Not a day before.” The orange-haired woman tossed the node onto one of the seats and stared out at the calm water. She sighed with contentment, took a deep breath, then jumped over the side without hesitation.

Wanda imagined the water rinsing off her cares as she broke through the surface. She felt renewed as she entered the water as she descended deeper into the lake. She reached the lake floor and began looking for the perfect spot to relax, but something caught her eye. She looked to see a man wriggling violently from side to side looking directly at her.

The underwater stranger appeared to be standing in a block of concrete that reached up to his knees. His hands were cuffed in front of him, fortunately, and shackled to the same concrete block. He was otherwise completely naked. His long brown hair floated around his head, and a beard long enough to reach his belly button grew out of his chin. He smiled like a madman at Wanda.

Wanda waved at the stranger, and he wriggled his cuffed hands at her in return. She swam to him then around to his back. She grabbed the man under his armpits and tried to swim upward with him. He moved, but not very far. The failure prompted Wanda to wonder how she could get him in the boat if she did get him to the surface. Wanda swam around in front of him and put her hands up in front of him to give the universal gesture for ‘wait here’. The stranger smiled and shrugged.

“Of course he’s going to wait here,” Wanda realized. She felt a bit embarrassed as she swam up toward the surface. “He seems pretty calm,” she noted while she climbed into her boat. “I wonder if he’s like me.” She went through her duffel bag and pulled out two silver collars. She latched one around her neck, then jumped back into the water with the other. She latched the second collar around the man’s neck once she reached the bottom, then smiled.

“Hi.” She said. The man’s eyes widened.

“HI!!! We can talk!!” Wanda nodded and touched the silver collar.

“Uhuh. These things are ancient, but they’re still useful. Uh. So… Who are you?”

“I’m Ray, and you?” Wanda grabbed his cuffed hand and shook it gently.

“Wanda. What’re you doing in the lake, Ray?” He shrugged.

“Poor planning. I kept some money I shouldn’t have, thinking there was nothing they could do to me, on account of I’m immortal. A few years later, here I am. Actually, what year is it? These collars are amazing, but I’ve never seen them before.”

“The collars are about 100 years old, we’re in 2358,” Wanda replied. The whole time she swam in place with outstretched arms helping her resist the current.

“Oh,” Ray said. “That long, huh?”

“How long?” Wanda asked.

“300 years.” Ray looked down. “I guess that explains where my suit went. How about you? Can everyone in the future swim under water without any breathing equipment? Or is it just so small I can’t see it?”

“I’m kind of unique,” Wanda said. “But we can talk about that later. I’m sure you want out of here after 300 years.” Wanda swam down and around the concrete block to inspect it.

“Any ideas?” Ray asked.

“One.” Wanda nodded. “Sorry, but you’re going to have to be patient some more. I don’t have any equipment with me that can take care of that. I need to go all the way back home, in another state, then come back. So.. a few days maybe?” Wanda asked. Ray shrugged.

“After 300 years, what’s a few more days?”

“I’ll be back. I promise!” Wanda smiled and swam toward the surface.

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