Written by Evilkat
Ivan Newlands hummed softly to himself as he made his way through the forest, his earphones roaring in his ears, his music beating loudly, blocking out any and all sounds around him. It was a rather damp October morning, the rain still drizzling lightly above him, the forest soggy, he often came here to escape from his home life. His father yelling at his mother once more, something ridiculous he was sure. Ducking under a low branch Ivan looked about the wilderness in front of him, deciding to visit the creek, he kept to his left and weaved in and out of the thick trees. He stopped walking when his songs stopped in the middle of the track. Taking his phone out of pocket, he could only sigh out when he saw that his phone had died. Puffing out his cheeks, he yanked his headphones out of his ears and shoved them into his pocket. He knew he should of charged his phone.
Walking further towards the creek, Ivan listened to the soft pitter patter of the drizzling rain on the leaves and the accompanying creek. Knowing he couldn't be too far now, Ivan picked up his pace a bit, there was something he always did whenever he visited this creek. Going from a jog to a sprint, he felt himself break into a run now, his legs pounding heavily on the wet ground he was getting closer, he could see it, a branch hanging just at the edge of the creek. Narrowing his eyes, he picked up his speed. The branch now just close enough, he jumped, grabbing a hold of the sturdy branch, he swung his body with all his might, and let go of the branch, flying briefly through the air, he landed heavily on the other side, wet leaves and dirt now clinging to his jacket, he smiled and stood up, Getting across may be fun, but going back was a pain as there was no other branch on the other side to swing off of so that meant he had to clamber through the soggy muddy creek bottom and climb up the old fashion way, but, he'd worry about that on his way back.
Going straight, he wondered if his parents finally stopped fighting, sighing out he shoved his hands into his pockets and instantly stopped walking, and started to pat his coat pockets, then his pants pockets, he groaned out, his phone wasn't with him, It must of fallen out when he swung off of that branch. Letting out an irritable growl, he immediately backtracked towards the creek.
Once there, he peered down and grumbled out when he saw his phone landed face down in the sticky mud. Sitting down by the edge of the creek, he slid down careful not to hit any rocks on the way down. Landing safely, Ivan started to wade carefully through the mud, he hated crossing the creek this time of the year, the mud was always super adsorbent like quicksand, if you weren't careful you could lose a shoe. Seeing his phone within reaching distance, he did his best to reach down to grab it but the mud was giving him quite a fight today. Yanking his leg out of slop he forced it forward and did the same with his other leg, Finally, he managed to lean down and grab his phone. It was dirty, as expected, but it still worked.
Figuring his walk was pretty much done for, he decided that it was probably time to go home. Making sure his phone was now safe in his front pocket, Ivan started to march towards the other side of the creek. About halfway there he felt himself get stuck once again. Unlike last time, it was just his left leg that didn't want to move out of mud. Kicking and struggling, he looked down at his leg in desperation and then screamed out. A hand had a hold of his ankle. Still screaming, he twisted around and the hand let go allowing Ivan to fall back into the mud. Ivan sat there, breathing heavily, he almost wanted to wish he imagined it, but he knew he didn't as the hand was still in front of him. It was a thin pale hand, the nails on the hand were unnaturally sharp and pointed but also long. The hand twitched once before slinking away into the muddy depths. Ivan then narrowed his eyes and stood up.
"Is this some sort of joke? Who does that?! GET OUT OF THE MUD NOW!" He screamed out his vocal cords almost stretching at the end of sentence. The mud did not move it didn't even look like anything was under it. After about thirty seconds of silence, Ivan marched over to the mud and started to dig away at it. Now it started to move, it was squirming violently until once Ivan dug enough at it, something came out of nowhere, slapping Ivan right in the face with all it's force, making the teen see stars. It was way to heavy to be a hand that's for sure. Once the stars faded, Ivan turned to see what exactly hit him, and he got his second shock of the day.
He was looking at, what seemed to be, a giant fish's tail. The tail moved up again, going to hit him once more, being quick, he jumped out of the way before the tail could smack him silly. Landing on the muddy ground again, he watched as the other half of the mud started to move. Two human like arms and hands came up first, and then, like a zombie coming out of it's grave, a humanoid figure rose up. Well, the torso and head of a humanoid figure that is. The hands came up and started to wipe the mud away from this thing's face. He then found himself looking into two ungodly bright blue eyes. Scrambling to back away, Ivan watched in horror as the thing started to crawl towards him, using it's long fingernails to dig into the mud and drag its lower half so it could get closer to Ivan.
Ivan was quick to jump up and just run, scrambling up the side of the creek and making it on the other side in record time, he ran even faster, his heart pounding madly in his chest, adrenaline kicking in, he just kept running until he was back home. Throwing himself inside, he slammed the door behind him and just leaned against the door.
"Ivan!" His mother gasped from the kitchen table, she gawked at his filthy state. Hurrying over to him she ushered him in.
"You're freezing! Go get into the shower now!" She huffed at him, toeing his shoes off at the front mat, he made his way into the bathroom and turned of the hot water. Still shaking horribly, Ivan looked at himself in the mirror, his face was pale making his freckles seem brighter than ever. Pulling at the bottom of his eyes he just rubbed his face, what he saw couldn't be real, it just couldn't of been. Steam started to fill up the bathroom, pulling off his muddy clothes and stepping into the shower he shut his eyes and could only put his hands to his face. Once the warmth returned to his body, which he really hadn't even noticed he lost, he decided that whatever was in that creek wasn't real, it couldn't off been real. Right?
Curiosity killed the cat, that's what Ivan's father always told him when he was little to deter him from doing anything too stupid when he was a child. However over the years he learned that it was ok to be curious, like right now, he was still pretty fucking curious on what he saw earlier that day. A part of him actually wanted to go back just to be sure he saw that thing correctly, and that's just what he was doing. Still, he wasn't dumb, he brought a steak knife with him just to be safe, if that thing was going to attack him again, he was ready for it.
Ivan was already about halfway there, even though he was armed, he was pretty nervous about seeing that thing again. Those eyes, that tail, it wasn't natural. Shaking a bit, he ducked under a tree branch and held his breath, off in the distance, he could see the tree he uses to swing off of. Breathing in and out heavily, Ivan forced himself forward, he was going to confront that creature, even if it was the last thing he did. Hearing his feet crunch the damp leaves below, Ivan slowly reached into his back pocket, pulled the knife out, and cautiously walked closer towards the edge of the creek. The closer he got, the more he became aware of a sound. It sounded like something was slapping against the mud.
Sure enough, when Ivan finally got close enough to the edge to peer over it, he could see the creature looking just as horrifying as before. It was flopping around the bottom of the empty creek, slapping it's tail against the muddy bottom making the mud splatter all around. It stopped briefly and looked up at Ivan. For a moment, Ivan and the creature just stared at one another, its bright blue eyes peering right into Ivan's green ones. Slightly stunned by this, Ivan fumbled with the knife and dropped it down below in the creek.
"No!" Ivan cried out, The creature tilted its head and started to drag itself towards the knife. Not wanting to be without a weapon, Ivan started to clamber down the rocks, hoping he got to it before the thing did. Not caring if he got dirty again, he dropped down the rest of the way, if the ground was dry, he might of landed on his feet, but, because today was just not his day, he slid when he got to the bottom and landed on his back. By the time he managed to scramble up to his feet, the creature had his knife in it's muddy hand.
"Ok... Wait... Please don't do anything rash..." Ivan reasoned, hands up in defense. The creature once again only tilted its head in confusion. Ivan felt his heart race about a million miles per second when he saw the creature start to drag itself towards him once again. He wanted to run again, but he felt frozen with fear. Shaking and watching as it slowly got closer and closer to him. Then when it was within stabbing distance, Ivan shut his eyes, prepared to feel the pain of a knife cutting through his ankle.
However, after about thirty seconds of nothing, he reopened his eyes and looked down at the creature. It was holding his knife flat in its palm, holding it up for Ivan to take back. It made no noise, and didn't even seem to be a threat. It looked up at Ivan, urging him to take his knife back. Breathing heavily once again, Ivan cautiously reached forward and slowly took his knife out of its palm. They didn't move after that, Ivan stood there ridged, the creature just stared intently at Ivan.
"W-What are you?" Ivan finally spit out, he was only met with a slight click of the tongue from the thing.
"Can you even understand me?" Ivan asked it, this time he was met with rapid clicks and a growl. Ivan was just going to take that as a yes.
"So I take it you don't have the basics of the human language..." Ivan mumbled, actually feeling himself relax a bit. A click and a growl was he gotten in response. He kind of wished he could see this things face, it was still covered thickly in mud the only part of it not covered in mud was is unnerving eyes. Licking his lips, Ivan decided maybe he should just leave the creature alone.
"Well, this was all fun, really, but, I think maybe I should just go..." He said and turned to climb back up the creek side, he didn't even make it three seconds when something wet and cold struck him in the back. Crying out he reached to touch his back and was met with, what else? Mud. Turning to the creature Ivan narrowed his eyes.
"Did you just throw mud at me?" Ivan demanded, he got two clicks, a growl, and then a shrug. The creature was playing with him. Almost saying,
'I don't know, did I?'
Ivan snorted and then pointed at the creature,
"Look I could easily call the C.I.A or F.B.I on you and you'd get experimented on, you don't want to-" Ivan was cut off when the creature suddenly used its tail to sling a big pile of mud in Ivan's face. Falling back into the mud, Ivan wiped the filth off of his face and just narrowed his eyes.
"Ok..." Was all Ivan said before grabbing a big handful of mud and chucking it at the creature. He was met with, what he thinks, was a laugh from the creature; It was throaty and rapid. Though, Ivan didn't have much time to think on the laugh when the creature started to retaliate, using its powerful tail to throw mud back at Ivan with such a force that it knocked Ivan back, again.
Soon Ivan and the creature were in an all out mud throwing war. Both of them practically rolling around in like pigs, Ivan knew his mother was going to have an absolute fit when she see's him, but, he just didn't care, this was the most fun he had in years. It wasn't until they were both out of the breath and wheezing did they stop their game. Ivan couldn't help but laugh as he wiped his brow.
"Jeez, I haven't had that much fun since I was, like, eight." He told the creature, who clicked in response. Looking up at the creature, Ivan frowned, it had its arms folded in and seemed to be shivering. It didn't take long for Ivan to realize it was not only, getting dark out, but the temperature was dropping too. Frowning at this, Ivan shredded off his own jacket and placed it around the creature's shoulders, there was only so much help a muddy wet jacket could do for someone who was also muddy and wet.
"I wish I could help you... I don't even know what you are..." Ivan said as he rubbed the back of his head. The creature suddenly rolled his tongue at Ivan, like it was rolling it's r's.
"C-Can I just... Wipe the mud off of your face?" Ivan asked getting a bit closer to the creature, it didn't move or flinch when Ivan touched its face with his thumb, However, It did watch Ivan very carefully. Being extra cautious, Ivan slowly slid his thumb across the creature's face, removing a good chunk of muck off of its face. Ivan honestly didn't know what surprised him more, the lack of scales on this thing's face, or the obvious soft pale human skin that this creature had. Touching the skin, Ivan was at a loss. The tail suggested a fish like creature, but the torso and obvious skin suggested something in between. Instantly Ivan shut his eyes as the most obvious idea came into his mind.
"A mermaid..." Was all he could say before standing, however, before he could ponder too much on it, he was hit on the back of the legs by the mermaid's tail, it almost made his knees buckle. Turning back to the creature, Ivan narrowed his eyes.
"What?" Ivan demanded, the creature clicked its tongue a bit irritated and then slapped the mud with its tail. Ivan could tell that it was clearly trying to tell him something, but just couldn't tell what. "You are a mermaid, at least to us-" Before he could finish he was met with another slap to the legs by a powerful tail. Glaring at the mermaid, Ivan watched as it slapped its tail to the ground again, and then, it pointed to its tail while continuously slapping it against the muddy ground. At first Ivan didn't understand just what the creature was trying to tell him, then, finally after a few seconds he caught on.
"A mer... man? You're a male?" Ivan asked getting down to his knees, the merman clicked a bit more excited. Ivan nodded along with it and then asked, "If you are a merman... What are you doing out of the sea? Why are you here?" He questioned, Ivan knew he wasn't exactly going to get answers, but, before the merman could even click its tongue a worried female voice sounded from the distance.
"Ivan!... Ivan Newlands where are you!"
"Crap!" Ivan yelled when he recognized his mother's voice, standing up he pointed at the merman.
"Look, I'll be back tomorrow, Just...stay here. I'll be back, I promise." Ivan told him before running up the side of the creek running towards his mother, oh man was he going to be in for the scolding of his life. Not only was he out passed dark but he was muddy, again, his mother was not going to be pleased with him. Sure enough, the moment he caught up to her, she wasn't pleased and practically dragged him by the ear all the way home, yelling at him the whole way. Once home she sent him up to the shower, again, and promptly told him he wasn't to leave the house the rest of the night, which he agreed. When he was cleaned up, again, he sat down in front of his laptop and typed in the only thing on his mind.
With that, the rest of his night was pretty much filled with nothing but research, still, as he searched up the creatures, he still had one lingering question on his mind.
With the cold coming in and the odds of rain minimal, will that merman making it through the winter?
He really couldn't believe he was doing this. Ivan grunted heavily as he drug a wide fifty gallon storage bin towards the creek, inside the bucket were two five gallon jugs of water. He was about halfway there, sweat drenching his face and neck and he continued to drag it. Oh how he wished he could drive so he didn't have to do this. At least it was a good work out. Pausing briefly, he leaned against the bucket, this creature was damn lucky. Ivan could only assume this animal would survive with fresh water seeing how he was found in the creek. After getting his breather, he continued on. It took him about thirty minutes to get the rest of the way to the creek. Still, he was faced with another problem, getting everything down. The easiest thing was the bucket. Taking the two water jugs out, he kicked the bucket down the muddy depth's below. Sure enough, the moment the bucket landed, the mud started to move as the creature emerged.
"Hang on, I'm coming down!" Ivan called to the merman. With one jug in his arms, he carefully maneuvered himself down, once fully down, he sat the jug down and grabbed the bucket, it had landed upside down, so he fixed it. The creature clicked at him curiously.
"Not done yet." Ivan panted as he tried to regain his breath. "I have another one up there, gimmie a moment." He told the merman as he started to climb back up. Getting back up was a lot harder than he realized as most of his strength and energy was already sapped. Panting like a dog, he finally got to the top, only to collapse.
"God, I need to get into shape..." He breathed heavily before getting back up and grabbing the other jug. Grunting, he started his journey back down, his arms straining to hold on to the heavy jug. Unfortunately, about halfway there, his arms gave out and the jug fell to the ground. It didn't break, but it did splash mud everywhere like a bomb, getting some of the mud in the merman's eyes.
"Sorry!" Ivan apologized, sliding down the rest of the way with ease. The merman only responded with an irritable click of the tongue and a growl. "I said sorry." Ivan grumbled and picked the jug back up, he set it next to it's twin and wiped his muddy hands on his jeans.
"Ok, now, you're going to have to trust me here." Ivan told the creature, getting its attention once again. Ivan got close to the merman, then, with no warning, he picked the creature up like he would a person. The merman, not expecting this, started clicking it's tongue wildly and flipping it's tail, almost hitting Ivan in the face a couple times. It was hard to hold a half fish hybrid when it was wiggling as wildly as a normal fish would. Not able to hold it, Ivan let the merman drop into the bin ungracefully. He was met with rapid angry clicks from the merman, then a face full of mud. Sighing, he wiped the mud away from his face and just grumbled.
"Stupid fish..." Ivan growled, grabbing one of the jugs he picked it up, his arms growing sore, taking the cap off, he started to poor the water in the bucket.
"I'm going on guessing here but, this is fresh water, I'm assuming you can handle it." Ivan told the fish as he poured the water inside the bucket. Once it was light enough, he started to pour the water over the merman's face to finally see just what it looked like. Ivan had to admit, this was something he was not expecting.
The merman had an almost boyish face to it, round with slightly pudgy cheeks, messy black hair, and gills that slit down the side of his neck. The merman clicked at Ivan once more, only it sounded satisfied? Relieved? Ivan couldn't tell. Dumping the final bit of water on the merman, Ivan tossed the jug with the other one and sighed.
"You know, when I get asked 'what are you gonna do this weekend?' I never would of thought the answer would be 'taking care of a mythical creature.'" Ivan chuckled softly then looked into the muddy water, he realized that for the first time, he could also see the merman's tail a bit more clearly as well. It honestly wasn't too much to gawk at, it was a light blue, matching the creature's eyes, but something that did catch Ivan's eye was the end of the tail. Without thinking, Ivan reached into the water and lifted up the end of tail to his eyes.
Naturally, the merman started to flop his tail about, trying to free his tail from Ivan's grip. It worked as Ivan let go.
"Your tail looks like it was torn, the fin is ripped horribly... What happened to you?" Ivan asked concerned, knowing he wasn't going to get an answer. Gently he reached up and touched the merman's face. "Is that why you're here?" The merman suddenly slapped his hand away and let out a bitter hiss at Ivan, showing pointed teeth.
"Carnivore, huh, I take it you eat fish?"
Two clicks in response, Ivan was just gonna take that as a yes. With a heavy sigh, Ivan sat down next to the tub, no caring if his clothes got dirty or not.
"There aren't any fish around this time of the year... You must be starving..."
Two clicks again. Still not sure if that was a yes or no, he looked over at the creature.
"Ok, we need basic understanding here. I can't tell if two clicks means yes or no with you. So... I'll do this." Getting to his knees, Ivan made sure he was in front of the merman and held up three fingers. "I'm holding up two fingers. Yes? No?" Ivan asked, the merman gave him a puzzled look, clearly confused. ".... You can't count can you?" Ivan asked, another puzzled look before getting just a simple click.
"Ok! OK! That's something." He excitedly exclaimed. "Errr... I have green eyes! Yes?" Ivan happily asked pointing to his eyes. There was a silence before he got two clicks.
Ivan smiled brightly at the merman, "Ok, so two does mean yes, and one means no. I'll try and keep my questions yes and no based from now on." Ivan leaned against the base of the giant tub and frowned when he suddenly realized that he didn't bring enough water as it looked like the merman was just laying in a small puddle. Instantly Ivan let out a bitter groan and rested his head against the edge of the storage bin.
"Of course ten gallons would fill up fifty gallons..." Ivan breathed out. "I don't even know what I was thinking... Ok, well-" Ivan was about to stand when he heard the sound of a branch snapping not that far off. Gasping out, Ivan turned to the merman, it was clear that the creature heard it as well by his head perked up fully.
"Easy..." Ivan breathed out and practically held his breath to listen in, after a couple of heartbeats he heard it more snapping branching and scurring about from just beyond the creek all that noise was accompanied by talking.
"Crap!" Ivan cried and quickly grabbed the storage bin. Not wanting his friend to be caught by these up coming people he tried his best to drag the bin farther down the creek, the added weigh of the creature and ten gallons of water made it difficult almost impossible, breathing heavily Ivan grunted as he tried tugged desperately at the bin it hardly moved an inch, the thick goopy mud wasn't helping anything. Ivan felt his ankles get sucked into the thick mud stopping to get his ankle out Ivan lost his balance and fell face first in the mud and just groaned out.
Hearing the voices get scarce and leave completely, not even looking towards the creek, Ivan moved his head up and just sighed.
"That was too close..."
The merman clicked twice and flipped his tail in the bin, slapping the mangled bit against the plastic bin. Ivan slowly pulled himself out of the mud, slowly Ivan wiped the mud off of his face and threw the rest on the ground with a few good thrusts of his arms.
"Ok, so this obviously isn't going to work. you're out in the open and I don't have enough water for you. I don't think I can afford thirty gallons of water... I need to get you somewhere safe. Away from the public, only god knows what will happen if the wrong people find you..." Ivan breathed out as he leaned against the bin. Ivan then looked over at the creature, his mouth clearly formed in a worried frown. Gently Ivan tilted his head back and sighed.
"...I want to help you, really... I do." Ivan sighed out again and just looked over at the creature. The merman titled his head at Ivan clearly curious. Ivan just chuckled gently and moved a little closer to the merman.
"Maybe if I was stronger I could drag you to my place... That's a feat in itself, I'd have to carry the tub with you in it up top there." Ivan pointed up and kept the frown on his face as he just shook his head. "I'd also need to drag you about a quarter mile home and do it all while both my parents are at work. Yeah..." Letting out a bitter raspberry, Ivan turned over to the merman again only to see it now fast asleep, its bright blue eyes closed as its chest seemed to rise and fall slowly.
"Yeah, I have that effect on people...." Ivan breathed out and ran his fingers through his hair. Looking at the bin handle, Ivan slowly put his fingers through the hole of the handle it was made of some sort of rope. Suddenly he jumped up as an idea suddenly popped into his head.
"That's it... That's it! I'll be back!" He yelled at the sleeping merman as he quickly grabbed both five gallon bottles and rushed back to the surface. The merman gave him an angry growl but did nothing more as Ivan hurried away. Taking his phone out of his pocket as he ran back to his home. Dialing his friend's number, he put the phone on speaker, it rang twice before someone answered,
"Hey, Girly... I'm calling in a big favor..."
After almost an hour of waiting just beyond the creek Ivan could hear the sound of his friend's ATV, within seconds she was in front of him. She hit the breaks so fast that it caused the cold mud to fly from under her tires and hit Ivan directly, getting him even muddier than he already was.
"Dang son! Did you want to go swimming that bad?" His friend asked as she tore her helmet off of her head. Ivan flicked some mud out of his face and sighed.
"Well, hi to you to, Candace." Ivan greeted her and she rolled her eyes at him. "Also, you literally did most of this." Ivan gestured to his muddy self.
"Yeah, hi, Whatever. What was so important that you had me drag my baby all the way out here?" She demanded as she got off of her ATV. Ivan pursed his lips a bit before bouncing on his heels and asking,
"I can trust you with anything right?"
"Dude, we've been friends since second grade, of course, you can. Now, what's going on?" Candace asked Ivan fidgeted a bit before just sighing and turning back to the creek.
Together with the two of them slowly clambered down the creek down to the muddy bottom. Candace screwed her face up as she fought against the thick slimy mud trying her best to follow Ivan. They turned a small bend in the creek and she stopped. There was a normal Rubbermaid fifty-gallon trunk and in that trunk seemed to be a boy, maybe, all she could see was the back of the person's head.
Ivan walked a little more forward so he was face to face with the boy, he got down on one knee and started to speak.
"Don't be afraid of her. She's here to help... Candace." Looking back over to he gestured her over.
"H-Hi..." She greeted the boy as she continued to walk forward; it was obvious that she was very confused. She almost slipping on the mud beneath her feet a couple of times before she reached to the trunk. "Ivan, why is he in a trunk?" Candace asked in a whisper. Ivan said nothing to her, he just continued to gesture her over. Once close enough she turned to look at the boy and then just stood there mouth agape.
The boy tilted his head at her confused by her reaction and then turned towards Ivan. Honestly, the look of disbelief on her face made Ivan chuckle at her reaction.
"Careful, he's playful." Ivan tried to warn her, but it was a little too late as the creature started to playfully flick some water at her clicking excitedly as he did so.
"... What?... Is this a joke?" Candace asked disbelieving just what she was seeing. This couldn't be real! No way! There was a sudden click and more water was splashed on her and she glared at him, clearly growing annoyed. "Ok, seriously Ivan, what is this!? How did you pull this off? Huh? Cousin?"
"No, Candace, he is a real merman."
"... Bonkers! You're insane if you think I'm falling for-" She stopped when the creature had brought his hand out, showing his long talons to her. She watched as he proceeded to claw at the muddy ground, his talons making the claw marks deeper and deeper as he did so. No, watching as its talons scratched deeper and deeper. She didn't want to be on the receiving end of those monsters.
"Holy..." She could only breath out as she watched him dig up some old root and shove it into his mouth. He clearly didn't care about the mud. She had to wonder if it was like seasoning to this creature.
"He likes roots and fish," Ivan told her as the boy continued to chew on the root harshly, making a dissatisfied face as he was doing so. The tail of the creature poked out from the tub and Candace slowly looked at the bright blue tail. "Well... I don't think he likes roots presay, to be honest with you. I think he just eats them to survive."
"... Does he have a name?" Candace asked dropping down next to Ivan. Gently she reached down to pet the fish's tail. it didn't seem to mind the attention he was receiving.
"Don't know. He only communicates with clicks of the tongue." Ivan told her, Candace drew her arm back when the fish kicked its fin a bit when Candance let her hand down towards the more injured part of his tail.
"... He looks like a Ben..." Candace hummed out softly as she went back to pet the tail.
The merman flicked his eyes away from Candace's hand to Ivan, his mouth open as he chewed the muddy root, till finally he swallowed it down and slouched down into the bin looking away from Ivan. It didn't seem to have an opinion on his impromptu name at the moment. Ivan wasn't rejecting it. After all Ben was a wildly popular name for good reason. It's up there with James as a name almost.
"Anyway. Girly, I need your help, he'll die out here. With winter and frost coming, there's no water the ground is starting to freeze over, he has nowhere to go." Ivan softly spoke, Candace gave him an incredulous look and just raised an eyebrow.
"Do you want me to keep a merman in my home?"
"Of course not!... I was going to keep him in mine."
"You're insane!" She laughed almost comically at Ivan's idea.
"Just until we can find the nearest large water source that won't freeze over too bad." Ivan urged her.
"Ivan. We are in the middle of countryside Illinois! All water is going to freeze over!" Candace yelled, and Ivan looked at her then back to Ben. Ben seemed to shiver again as a cold chill ran passed them.
"Then I'll keep him in my bathroom till winter passes." He made up on the spot.
"...Ivan! Again! We are in Illinois! The cold weather stays till April sometimes. You're telling me you're going to keep a humanoid creature locked up in your bathroom and try to keep that a secret from your overbearing mother?" Candace asked pressing two fingers against the bridge of her nose as she shook her head.
"Yes... If I have to ..."
"Ivan, you met this thing Friday night. You're telling me that in the span of... eighteen hours or so.. . You'd be willing to risk everything for it?"
"Candace, have you ever seen a mermaid before now?" Ivan asked before she could answer, Ben gave Ivan a good splash and Ivan put his hands up slightly, "Sorry, Merman. I meant Merman." He muttered so not to anger the creature any farther.
"... Well... No, I haven't..."
"You think maybe there's a reason for that? I know it seems silly, but... He needs help, you think letting him starve and freeze to death is going to earn you any favors with anyone?" Ivan asked her, his green eyes looking into her own eyes.
Candace let out a sigh and rubbed the back of her neck.
"Ok... Ok, let's help the mermaid-" She was met with an angry splash of water from Ben and let out a bitter sigh in response, "Man! Merman! Geez..." She rolled her eyes and then looked over to Ivan once again. "This is the most passionate I've seen you about... well... anything."
"Ok, here's the plan. We'll gonna tie the tub up to your ATV and drive to my house. From there we'll put him in my personal bathroom."
"Ok, it sounds fine, but, bro... How do you plan on getting him and the bin up past the creek so we can tie it to my ATV?"
"Well... I hope you're ready for some heavy lifting, Girly."
Candace and Ivan both tried to heave the large tub up to the top of the creek, but Ben wasn't too happy as he was now freaking out in the tub. Ben looked like he was having a seizure in the tub as he constantly flopped about, spilling a good bit of the water out. Halfway up, they had to put the tub down on the steep slope. Holding it still so it didn't slide down, both of them breathed out heavily.
"Oh god." Candace breathed out as she rubbed her sore arms. Ivan looked at Ben who was also breathing heavily, the poor merman was gripping the sides of the tub so hard that his knuckles turned white. Long scared growls were leaving his mouth and it seemed like he was breathing deeply like he was trying not to freak out.
"Hey. Hey. It's going to be alright. We're just getting you away from the creek. It's not safe there." Ivan tried to comfort him. Ben clicked in response as Ivan gently moved some wet hair out of the merman's face. Candace just looked at Ivan and gave him a look that was a cross between curiosity and disgust.
"Do you two need a moment?"
"...Ha." Ivan rolled his eyes bitterly at her, and just like the two of them picked the tub up by it's handles once again. It must have taken them another good five minutes to reach the top of the ledge. Once they reached the top Ivan just fell face first into the cold dirt with a groan. "God! You're so heavy!" Ivan muffled to Ben. Ivan heard a growl back in response and popped his head up. Ivan just laid there for a few moments and even rested arms under his chin as he just sort of watched Ben from this angle. Ben looked down at him before suddenly leaning on the edge of his tub. His right arm now dangling over the edge. Suddenly Ivan only felt something tousling his hair. Ivan looked up at Ben who had his claws in Ivan's hair. It didn't hurt (mainly because he was only using the tips of his claws and not digging them in) it caused a chill to run down Ivan's spine and for him to feel tingles atop his head. It felt nice.
"Okay... this is getting weird..." Candace reminded Ivan of her presence. "Why are you allowing him to just... touch you with his claws?
"I dunno, it doesn't hurt. It feels nice really."
"Dude..." Candace sounded like she wanted to sigh but in the end, wound up chuckling just a little. Ivan felt Ben's claws move off of his hair for only a second before returning and moving his claws around Ivan's head. "He's eating the bugs out of your hair."
"... guess he eats bugs, too. Which means he's not strictly a carnivore." Ivan shrugged at his newfound information.
"Okay great, can we finish this up now?" Candace urged Ivan to get up. It didn't work right away, but after about a good ten or so seconds, Ivan finally peeled himself off of the ground. Ben let out a dissatisfied growl and crossed his arms almost child-like. Ivan ignored him for now and grabbed the handle of the tub while Candace grabbed the other handle on the other side and together they were able to easily hoist the tub up. "So what's the plan? We tie the create to my ATV and just bring it to your house like it's no problem? Won't your mom or dad be home?"
"Nope! It's Sunday, Mom is at church and then will be helping out at the local soup kitchen until five PM. Dad doesn't do church, but he will be out for about... god, he might not be home till eight PM." Ivan grunted as he explained to Candace.
"Eight PM? On a Sunday? What the heck is he doing? Work?"
"Not work..." Ivan let out another grunt before putting his end of the tub down. He rested his hands on his knees and sucked in several deep breaths. "I don't know what he does, and I really try to stay out of it," Ivan admitted with a half shrug. Once he caught his breath Ivan grabbed his end again and they started off towards the ATV. Ben slinked down in the little water that was left to his head was underwater and his tail was out in the air. Candace had the end facing his tail and suddenly stopped her walking making Ivan stop.
"His tail..." She breathed softly. "What happened?"
"Dunno, I think it's the reason he's here and not in the ocean."
Candace frowned a little at this but then just went back to tugging the tub. They eventually make it to her ATV and Ivan sighed out heavily. "Rope?" He asked and she pulled it off of the back of her ATV. Ivan quickly got to work tying it up. While he was doing his best at a stable knot that won't undo Candace rested on her ATV.
"So, you're really doing this? Keeping a mythical creature in your bathtub of all places?"
"Well, I have a private bathroom in my room. My parents don't use it. So, I don't see how this could be a bad Idea."
"For starters: You don't think your new friend might get a little bored sitting a tub all day while you're in school?" Candace pointed out almost without a hitch. Ivan went to say something but she brought up another point before he could think of something. "Or what about him probably wanting to swim? I mean it might seem crazy. He is a fish after all. Ivan this isn't a goldfish, this is a... merman!"
Ivan let out an elongated sigh and rested his head against the side of the ATV. "I know, Candace. I know. I just want him to be safe for now. Okay? Can you accept that?"
"I guess... Is it hooked?"
"Yeah, hopefully, the knot won't slip. hm, that makes me wonder-" Ivan hoped into the backseat as Candace straddled the ATV ready to take off. "-Do you think he'll like Slipknot?"
"I don't know, Ivan!" Candace actually laughed. "Though, I don't think that would be a good introduction to music. Maybe start with some Mozart and gradually move to heavy metal?" Candace suggested with a bit of a giggle leaving her mouth. With that being said they were off. The ATV moved just a little slower than it normally would be without the added weight tied to the back. Still, this was way easier for the two of them than Ivan having to drag this thing the whole way to his home. Ivan shot looks over his shoulders as he watched Ben to make sure he was alright. He seemed to be doing okay, but the added wind from the ride was making him shiver from the cold.
Ivan couldn't help but feel a strange urge to just protect Ben. Ivan knew his bathtub wasn't the best place to hold Ben forever, but he knew it was better and safer than letting him die out in the muddy cold ground.
"Whoa-" Ivan almost dropped the tub as he tried to stop Ben, but he managed to grab the tub before it fell over. Ben quickly dunked the toilet paper into the water excitedly. Ivan could only grimace as he watched the toilet paper disintegrate into the water. Candace looked at Ivan with a raised eyebrow.
"You sure you can handle this?"
They walked a few more steps into the bathroom and finally placed the tub down. Ivan quickly stopped up the tub and turned the water on. Ben was still having fun with the toilet paper and didn't pay any mind to the tub. "This is stupid." Candace shook her head. "You're going to get found out."
"Maybe! but we need to do something!" Ivan threw his hands up in protest. "-No! No!" Ivan saw Ben in the corner of his eye and quickly tried to stop him from eating the soaked toilet paper. "Stop it!"
Ben hissed at Ivan clearly not happy with this. After a bit of back and forth between the two Ben was no longer able to keep the soaked toilet paper in his grip and as it left Ben's hands Ben's claws tore it to shreds. Ben gave Ivan a clear pout before turning his head away. "This is going to work out great." Candace sarcastically rolled her eyes at Ivan.
Ivan snorted at her and then squatted down so he was face to face to Ben. "You can't eat this. It's not edible." He explained to Ben and then tossed the waterlogged toilet paper into the trash. "Don't worry, I'll help you get the food you need. Okay?" Ivan spoke slowly to Ben.
Ben- who had his eyes closed during this time- opened just one of them to look at Ivan. He clicked his tongue a few times directly to Ivan. Ivan had no idea what Ben was saying to him but still, Ivan just smiled and lightly poked one of Ben's cheeks. "I'm going to take care of you the best I can. I promise-"
"Ivan, the bathtub." Candace reminded him.
Ivan jumped up and rushed to the tub and turned it off before the water got too high. "Okay. This should be a lot more comfortable than that plastic tub... I need to hold you, so maybe don't freak out this time around?"
"Oh, I need to see this." Candace leaned her shoulder against the doorframe with a grin on her face as she watched the two of them.
"Not even gonna attempt to help?"
"Nah, it's your merman."
Ivan narrowed his eyes at her in mild irritation but then just shrugged. "Fine." Ivan stood up straight and leaned down so he was over Ben. A little awkwardly Ivan started to move his arms around to try and find a good place to grab Ben without hurting him. First, he thought about picking him up bridal style, but Ivan remembered how well Ben reacted to that last time so Ivan thought about picking Ben up under his arms and he knew that that wasn't going to end well at all. Finally, he just looked up at Candace with pleading eyes. "Please?" He gave up with a single pitiful word.
Candace rolled her eyes and silently walked over to them."How are we doing this?" Candace questioned as she stood at the other end of the tub. "- am I grabbing his tail?"
"No! You saw how torn that thing is-"
Then a mini argument broke out between the duo almost instantly. While they were busy fighting with one another for a better idea neither of them noticed the annoyed look Ben was currently sporting as he watched them for a few seconds.
"- Well how are we going to get him in the bathtub if you don't want to pick him up-" Candace demanded as she threw her arms up in the air.
"- I just don't want him to freak out! If he starts thrashing and falls to the floor it could hurt him-"
"-Well we have to do something!"
Ben rolled his eyes and looked over at what Ivan clearly wanted him to be in and snorted out of his nose rather bitterly. Ben had enough and he simply reached over from the plastic tub and gripped the edge tightly with his hand. It was odd and cold to the touch. It was also very slippery Ben decided. Him reaching out and touching this odd human thing was enough to quiet the two of them down and stop their argument.
"Is he...?" Candace questioned almost dumbly at this.
That's when a lightbulb went off over Ivan's head. "Idea!" Ivan suddenly exclaimed happily and grabbed the plastic tub. "If we can't pick Ben up, then we're going to bring Ben closer to the bathtub!" Ivan grabbed one end of the tub and just stood there awkwardly for a few seconds as he stared a rather annoyed Candace down. Candace then crossed her arms. "C'mon, don't be like that!"
"This is ridiculous..." Candace only sighed before giving in and grabbing the other end of the tub and together they pushed the plastic tub closer to the bathtub. Once it was close enough Ivan and Candace only watched as Ben hoisted himself up and literally rolled into the bathtub.
Ben was surprisingly graceful when doing that- that doesn't mean he didn't make a mess while doing so- because he did. A good chunk of water spilled out of the tub and Ben almost hit his head on the spigot but he got in there relatively pretty good. Ivan quickly opened the cabinet under his sink and grabbed some towels. He placed the towels on the ground and started to mop up the mess. Candace just stood there for a few seconds her eyes fixated on Ben.
"He likes it," Candace spoke after a few moments. She then placed her hands on her hips and shifted her weight to one side. Ivan looked at her then to Ben and he couldn't deny it Ben honestly did look rather happy to be in warmer water and out of the cold. Ben slunk down as far as he could go to try and get his head under the water. Ivan reached over and turned the faucet on allowing the tub to fill up some more with water. Once it was full again Ivan shut the faucet off and waited for Ben to re-emerge from below the water, but he didn't. Ben just stayed put under the water. "I think he's... resting? Didn't you find him buried in the mud?"
"Yeah, I did..." Ivan muttered and placed his hand over his mouth before dragging it down. "I guess." Ivan then shrugged. "I'll just check in on him later then. Let him rest."
With that, the duo left. Ivan shutting his bathroom door behind him. "So, how exactly are you going to do this? I mean okay you got him in the tub. Now what? You're just going to feed him, and hide him in there? What if you need to take a shower? Won't your parents find it odd that you're suddenly taking a shower in their bathroom? Or-"
Ivan put his hands up to stop her. "Slow down, Girly," Ivan told her quickly if not sternly. "Don't worry about it. I have a plan. Basically, I'm going to lock this door from the outside- I have the key already in my room. If I need to shower or use the bathroom I will... I'll just have to move Ben from tub to tub. I'll also have to keep cleaning supplies on hand as well because something tells me I'm going to have to keep that tub clean-" Ivan paused for a moment and sighed softly. "Food is going to be difficult without a doubt..."
"Ivan... just tell your parents. Tell someone! You're going in way over your head here!"
"What do you want me to tell them, Candace?! That I found a mythical creature in the creek? That it's injured and away from home? If I tell them I have a feeling that the CIA or FBI or homeland will be at our door-"
"Ivan, you're going to kill him." Candace put her hand on Ivan's shoulder. She spoke her words very slowly to him making sure that it sunk into his mind just what he was doing. After a few moments of silence, she let go of his shoulder and just shook her head. "I have to go home. Ma and dad will be wondering where I am... see-ya at school tomorrow." She gave him a little half-salute with her fingers and left.
Ivan shook his head, pursed his lips, and felt a bit of betrayal raise up inside of him. Why was Candace being so negative towards him? All he wants to do is protect Ben and from the start, she's been... well... a downer. 'Maybe because she's right... dumbass?' A little voice told him in the back of his mind. Ivan rubbed the back of his head at that thought. 'She's right and you know it. You can't keep him in the bathtub, not till spring at least! You need to think of another way out of this.'
Ivan's mom returned home around five- as predicted- she looked downright tired and very stressed. Ivan was sitting in the living room, flicking through the channels while eating some chips. when she had walked in through the front door. Ben was still resting so Ivan didn't really worry too much about keeping an eye on him right now. Ivan popped another chip into his mouth when his mom plopped down on the couch next to him.
Yeah, now that she was next to him he could see that she looked pretty haggard. Her brown hair, that was up in a bun when she left, was now currently frizzled and out of its bun shape. She had deep black bags under her eyes and looked like she could fall asleep any second now. Her clothes were just all bunched up with splotches of food all over. She looked a wreck. Ivan turned the TV down and handed the bag of chips to his mother. She took them gratefully and started to munch. "How was the soup kitchen?" Ivan asked her after a few minutes of silence.
"Awful- okay, not awful- no, it was awful... Peggy never showed up. So, I was left with a good chunk of the work! I had to hand out the food, clean all of the dishes, mop, and sweep, and clean the bathrooms!" Ivan's mother gave a huff and threw her hands up. "Peggy and I normally split the chores." His mom just sounded so tired and it made Ivan feel bad for her. His mom wasn't exactly a light woman: she wasn't fat but she wasn't skinny either. Now obviously she can be on her feet for so long but doing that much work clearly took its toll on her. It almost made Ivan wish he was there with her to help burden some of her chores.
"That sucks..." Ivan tried to sympathize with his mom. 'That sucks?! That sucks?! That's all you could think to say? Jerk!' Ivan's own mind scolded him for his lack of sympathy. His mom just sighed and finally stood up from the couch putting the chips down on the table. She then made an attempt to straighten her frizzy hair but it made no difference.
"Okay, well, I'm going to hop into the shower and then make dinner- no more chips. You hear me?" She lightly scolded.
She gave Ivan a nod, leaned down, and then kissed the top of Ivan's head. Then she was gone. This made Ivan sigh lightly. Ivan snatched the bag of chips up, grabbed a handful, and shoved them all into his mouth before rolling up the bag and placing it back on to the kitchen counter. Ivan then heard the muffled sound of the shower. Ivan swallowed down his chips and opened the freezer. He had a feeling that his newfound friend was probably going to be hungry (if he wasn't hungry now) and so Ivan used this moment of privacy to grab some fish from the freezer. He hoped his mom wouldn't notice this. He didn't know what kind of fish it was exactly as it was frozen. It seemed to be flounder... maybe bass... Ivan didn't know- heck he didn't even like fish. Ivan quickly made his way to his room and shut the door. Fishing the key out of his pocket Ivan unlocked his bathroom and slinked inside, shut the door behind him, and locked it.
Ben was actually sitting up this time around. He gave Ivan a bit of a confused look and Ivan simply sat on the toilet. "Feel better?"
Ivan asked him. Ben clicked his tongue twice and that made Ivan smile. "Hungry?"
Ben clicked his tongue in rapid-fire succession, Ben then brought his hands out of the tub and eagerly clicked his long talons against the porcelain tub eagerly. "Okay, Okay." Ivan gave a soft chuckle and opened the frozen package of fish. "Here." He handed Ben the first frozen slice. Ben snatched it greedily and took one big bite. He nearly ate half of the fillet in that one bite alone. Ben practically swallowed it whole before popping the rest of the fillet in his mouth and he swallowed that bit down just as quickly. Once it was down Ben focused back to Ivan and tapped his nails on the tub again. He looked at Ivan with wide pleading eyes. "You want more?"
Two pleading clicks of the tongue. Ivan pulled out the second fillet and just like the first one Ben wolfed it down. "Way better than roots and bugs, right?" Ivan smiled at Ben. Ben didn't respond he was too busy chewing his meal. Ben swallowed his food down and looked at Ivan before repositioning himself in the tub so he could rest his head on the side of the tub. "What?" Ivan questioned softly. Ben didn't respond and because of that Ivan got off of the toilet and on the floor so he was closer to Ben. 'It's odd... he's kind of cute.' Ivan thought as he looked into Ben blue eyes. Ben's eyes were almost a whole different shade of blue- like... Ivan almost wanted to call them 'Angel blue' they were so blue. Ben gave a couple of idle clicks towards Ivan, he then perked his head up and went back under the water. "Huh?" Ivan felt confused by this and poked his head over the water and watched Ben. Ben was looking up at Ivan through the water and even under the water, Ivan could see Ben's bright blue eyes.
Suddenly with no warning, Ben leaped up and wrapped his arms around Ivan's neck- literally dragging him into the water. Instantly out of instinct Ivan started to thrash and kick as his head was dragged under water. His hands found the sides of the tub and he tried so hard to fight against Ben's grip but Ben was strong. Ivan kicked his feet and tried to pull himself up and out. Ivan's shoes squeaked against the tiled bathroom floor and he couldn't get a proper grip as he slipped and slid against the floor. Suddenly he felt something bump against his forehead that made him actually stop and open his eyes under the water and instead of blurry stinging Ivan could see clearly and he was looking right into Ben's eyes. 'Whoa...' Ivan thought and he realized he could actually... breathe.
"Whoa!" Ivan exclaimed and suddenly broke free from Ben's grip with such a force that it caused Ivan to slip back and fall against the sink. Breathing in greedy gulps of air Ivan looked at Ben who only had his head poked above the water with his nose still in the water. "What..." Ivan was staring at Ben in complete awe. "...Was..." Ivan stood up with his hands out in front of him. Ivan's world felt like it was spinning for a few seconds and he leaned against the wall to try and steady himself. "Was that your voice?" Ivan finally asked.
The shame was Ivan was still in such a state of panic that he couldn't remember just how Ben's voice sounded but at the same time Ivan wasn't even sure if he heard a voice it was almost like he Ben's thought invaded Ivan's mind. 'Telepathy... but why couldn't he do it before... or now? Do we have to be underwater?' Ivan's mind was swarming with questions upon questions now. "I... I need to do some research..." Ivan panicked and made a lame excuse and left the bathroom making sure to lock the door behind him.
Ivan could feel heavy water droplets drip down his neck and down his back from his soaked hair. He couldn't even think about anything other than what had just happened moments ago. Frantically Ivan ran his fingers through his hair and started to pace up and down his carpet as his mind continued to race. He just couldn't think of what happened and over time he could only do what he does best. He picked up his cellphone and called Candace. Ivan felt the anxiety start to course through his veins as his phone rang. 'She's not going to answer...' Ivan thought almost sad when it just continued to ring. He almost gave up until-
"Yes, Ivan?" Candace's tired voice answered it was full of 'I am so done with your shit' tone.
"Girly... You aren't going to believe what just happened..."