“It’s been a while since I’ve had sushi…,” Fred pondered his lunch choices. He sat on a wrought iron bench enjoying the sun against his skin. The lean, athletic man in a grey sweatsuit stared at a row of trees in front of him with unfocused eyes. He faced the trees but his mind was distracted; he wasn’t actually looking. “yeah but Ted won’t eat it…,” he reminded himself. Ted, his older brother, despised seafood; they had plans to get lunch together.
As his mind tried to remember a restaurant that had sushi and something Ted would eat Fred’s eyes focused on something. He spotted movement in the tree shadows ahead. Someone appeared there. They did not walk out from behind a tree, they walked out of the darkness, the shadow and stepped forward into the light.
It was a young woman, college-aged maybe. She wore blue jeans and purple hoodie; she pulled the hood down and looked left and right. Her black hair was short and spiked upward.
“Huh,” Fred said to himself with a short exhale. He knew he did not imagine it but did not yet know what to make of the situation. He watched the woman walk up to the nearest joggers and engage them in conversation. She showed them something that Fred could not see, but the couple shook their heads and shrugged. The woman nodded apologetically and stepped out of their way while searching for someone else. Her eyes landed on Fred and she began to approach him. “It’s going to be an interesting day,” he mumbled.
“Good morning!” she said with a friendly smile when she was close enough. She stopped right in front of the seated man. “I’m looking for something, but I’m a bit lost.” She pushed out her hand and presented her phone; it was unlike any phone Fred had seen. It was a small, thin, clear piece of glass that showed a bright, perfect picture of a white building. “Do you know anything about a company that was based here years and years ago back named Sharp Development?” she asked. Fred’s eyes widened at the picture and he flinched at the name. He looked up into the woman’s dark brown eyes.
“Wh… why?” he asked with a cracked voice. His mouth went dry as soon as he saw the building his brother had been casing for weeks. Ted was an urban explorer and liked to search through abandoned buildings. The Sharp Development complex on the East side of time lay abandoned for so long people tended to forget it was there. Ted liked to stay clear of the law when exploring but even with Fred’s help he could not find any information on the company. He doubted it was a coincidence this woman showed up on the same day his brother picked to go explore it.
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “I’m here to make it less dangerous.” Fred stood up. Ted was in danger.
“Dangerous how?” he asked, then immediately started walking away; he encouraged the woman to follow with a tilt of his head. He felt relieved when she did.
“I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you,” she said as she kept up with his hurried pace. They were not-quite-running to the parking lot. “It’s a short drive,” he said as he climbed into the side of an army-green Jeep. The woman hopped into the passenger seat. “My brother went to go explore today. He’s in danger?” Fred asked as he started the car. The woman nodded.
“We’re on the way,” he said once they hit a 4-lane main road. “Doesn’t matter if I believe you or not. So what’s the danger?” he asked.
“Mermaid,” she said simply. Fred laughed aloud in disbelief but his foot weighed heavier on the gas. Mermaids were horrible, nightmarish, fictional creatures. If anyone else but a woman that walked out of nowhere had told him that he wouldn’t have believed it.
“You’re telling me this Sharp Development company has control over a mermaid?” he asked. She shook her head.
“They couldn’t. She kept eating the staff so they abandoned the project.”
“And who are you?” he asked as he made a sharp turn. He pulled into a long, narrow, uphill path and drove upward.
“My name’s Jenny. I’m someone that can help.”