Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Sea Hag -Chapter 16-



It was the silence that woke me. An utter and unnatural lack of any sound at all had me flailing awake with a startled cry. The sound of my own voice brought the comforting assurance that I had not gone deaf, but the weird lack of echo told me nothing of the space I now occupied.

I knew it could not be large and I had been released from my bonds while I slept, so I set about mapping the space.

Arms outstretched, I walked forward on the padded floor, struggling to keep my balance as the large ship dipped and swayed in the water, until I encountered a wall made of that same vinyl-covered foam. There were eight sections of wall, all utterly featureless and identical, save for the one from which jutted a sink and toilet combo. If there was a door or other opening, I couldn’t detect it.

After my third circuit of the room I finally sat down against one of the walls and pressed the heels of my hands against my eyes. 

Part of me wanted to scream, to rage, to demand to be released. Another part wanted to curl into a hopeless ball, because there was no way, realistically, that I or my brother were getting out of here alive.

They had taken my clothes and replaced them with a thin hospital gown, open in the back and nothing underneath. I was fighting hard against rising memories of waking up blind for the first time in the hospital, but panic was making my chest tighten as sweat beaded my brow. I finally ripped the hated garment off and threw it as far from me as I could, sitting naked, legs splayed, taking deep gulping breaths.

A loud klaxon blared through the space, making me jump and cover my ears. There was a hissing, whirring noise from somewhere near the toilet/sink and a robotic, feminine voice intoned, “Subject 002, please proceed to the meal slot for your evening meal.”

“‘Meal slot’?” I scoffed. I hadn’t run across anything like that. The walls and floor were padded but otherwise featureless. Were there hidden compartments?

I levered myself up off the floor and went to investigate, only discovering the open drawer when my shin made painful contact with it. I cursed Venter and everyone who worked for him long and loudly, half hoping there was someone listening.

If there was someone watching a naked blind man stumble around this cell, they declined to make themselves known, so I knelt before the drawer and explored its contents.

The drawer itself was about three feet wide and two feet long, where it slid into the wall. It had a depth of about a foot and was made of smooth metal. Inside it was a tray of moulded plastic like you’d find in a cafeteria, and on that tray were an assortment of sealed plastic items, some solid, some liquid, that I could not identify by touch alone. The large heavy one in the center was warm and the savory smell coming from it made my stomach growl.

I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d eaten. Yesterday, maybe? I suddenly felt ravenous and I sat down cross-legged, pulling the tray onto my lap. I paused for a moment, just gripping the sides of the tray and turned my face upwards, eyes closed. 

I’ve never been religious, but Mom had always said a quiet prayer over her meals and it felt like a way to honor her memory. Tears welled behind my closed eyelids. Sorrow and anger threatened to choke me as I remembered our last, heated conversation. Gabriel’s agonized screams as our mother was slaughtered in front of his eyes. I did not envy him that sight. I shuddered and took a deep breath.

“Mom, if you’re watching, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry for judging you. You were just trying to protect us. I understand that now. I understand the kind of monster Altus Venter is. I will do whatever I can to make sure he pays for what he’s done, I swear it.” I smiled as I felt a sense of warmth and comfort wash over me. It was probably just my imagination, but it felt nice all the same. “I know you’ll look out for Gabe but, if you could keep an eye on Sirena for me as well… I know you didn’t know her that well, but she’s very special to me and I’d appreciate it.” I paused, unsure how to finish this impromptu ritual. “Um, amen.” 

I set about opening and sniffing each plastic container. There was a creamy chicken pasta, a roll, a side salad, a cup containing apple juice and a bottle of water, those little paper salt and pepper packets, a packet of dressing, and the lone utensil, a flimsy plastic spork.

Everything was carefully--and frustratingly--selected to be of absolutely no help in any escape attempt on my part. I raised the cup of juice and muttered, “Salud, Mámá. These fuckeres can’t keep us here forever.” I swallowed the juice and grimaced as I realized that there was no way Venter would ever let us leave alive. I was going to have to be clever and focused if I was going to have any chance at all. 

I suddenly wished I had my brother here with me. He could have helped me figure out a plan to escape. Together we were unstoppable. I knew he had to be nearby, in a soundproof cell of his own, perhaps even eating the same meal. I smirked as I raised the cup again. “Eat up, Gabi. We’ll both need our wits about us.”

I finished the meal without really tasting it and leaned back on my elbows with a sigh. I jumped, kicking the tray and its contents across the room with a clatter as the klaxons sounded once again.

“Jesus fuck,” I said.

Subject 002, return your tray to the designated meal slot for retrieval,” commanded the robot voice. 

“Could you not do that?” I complained as, on hands and knees, I began to search for the detritus of my meal. My search pattern had uncovered the empty pasta tub, the juice cup, and the salad bowl, but I couldn’t seem to find the tray anywhere.

Subject 002, please return your tray to the designated meal slot for retrieval,” the voice insisted.

“I will,” I said testily as my hands repeatedly scanned empty padding, “Just as soon as I find it. I don’t suppose you wanna help me out here?” I wasn’t expecting an answer, but found part of myself hoping for a more human response anyway. I remained disappointed as I started a search pattern, kneeling on the floor, hands spreading out in an arc gathering up the tray and bits of packaging as I found them.

The klaxons blared again and I cringed at the auditory assault. “Subject 002, please return your tray to the designated meal slot for retrieval.” 

“Okay, okay!” I juggled what I had found what I had found piled it on the tray. If there was anything else, they’d just have to send someone in to clean it. I spun in a circle, clicking, until the sound changed ever so slightly, indicating the toilet/sink. I knew that the meal slot was on the panel to the right so I walked slowly, carefully, until I found both and lowered the tray into the drawer which closed with a soft hiss immediately after I did so.

I would soon have the dimensions of this room memorised, and I had resolved to get started on that but for a sudden drowsiness that had taken me. I wobbled a bit on my feet and stumbled into one padded wall.

“You guys drugged the food?” I said as my knees gave out and I collapsed, sagging to the floor. “Of course you drugged the food…” My voice was thick and everything felt very far away. Sleep was coming whether I liked it or not. “Fuckers…” I growled.

Goodnight, Michael,” cooed the voice right before I lost consciousness

A hissing sound woke me from where I lay sprawled facedown in a puddle of my own drool. I wiped at my mouth with the back of my hand and pushed myself to my knees.

Subject 002, remain where you are for transportation,” said the robot voice.

I ignored it and stood as booted feet and clattering metal entered my little cell.

“Aw, dude,” exclaimed one of them in disgust. “Why’s he naked?”

I reflexively covered myself and backed up against the wall. “What do you want?”

“Like you’ve never seen a dick before?” the other one scoffed, this one a female. “Grow up.”

Hands grabbed at my upper arms and I batted them away, squirming until a fist landed in my gut and I doubled over, unable to draw breath for a few panicked seconds. Strong hands wrapped around my upper arms much the way they had the day before and dragged me away from the wall while I struggled to draw breath. They placed me against a hard, cold metal surface and secured me upright to it with bands across my wrists, ankles and forehead.

“What are you doing?” I demanded when I could speak again, pulling against my restraints. There was no give whatsoever. I was bound tight. Helpless. “What’s going on?”

“You see the game last night?” said the female conversationally as the table I was strapped to tilted backwards at about a forty five degree angle and we began to move forward, bumping softly over the padded floor, and then smoother flooring as the cavernous echoes of the larger lab enveloped me.

“What game?” replied the male derisively.

“Man, I dunno, I’m just makin’ conversation. Shit is awkward as hell, ya know?”

“Oh, I see,” I sighed, “You guys aren’t allowed to talk to me, huh? Might start to see me as a person? Your boss sure wouldn’t like that. He doesn’t see anyone as a person, you know that? Not even you.”

We stopped our forward movement and neither one of them said anything as I struggled to track their movements. A bit gag was shoved suddenly and irresistibly between my teeth and I struggled and groaned in protest as it was tightened and fastened behind my head.

They remained silent as I was wheeled through the cavernous space, machine noises and murmured conversation the only sounds. The smell was seawater and antiseptic. I felt an involuntary shudder pass over me as I was wheeled into a smaller-sounding space. Something enclosed.

“Put him here. You may go.” I recognized the woman’s voice from yesterday: Dr. Kusanagi. I tried to speak, which went about as well as you might expect.

“Mister Morgan,” she said in her soft Japanese accent. “It is a pleasure to meet you. I never had the honor of meeting your father, but his work has informed and inspired my own. He was truly a brilliant man.”

I did my best to glower at her. I felt some drool drip from the corner of my mouth which probably lessened the effect.

“I am told that you are studying to follow in his footsteps. A noble, if foolish, ambition for one with your obvious limitations.” Her laugh was  tiny, delicate, and sharp as a new razor. I felt my lip curl, my muscles tense as I pulled at the restraints.

“I would like for you to be calm when we perform the procedures, Mr Morgan. If you cannot accomplish this yourself I will provide chemical assistance. Nod if you understand.”

I nodded once, sharply.

“Good. Excess stress hormones could impact the results of the study, but so could excessive sedation.” She was swabbing the insides of each elbow as well as a spot on my neck near the jugular as she spoke. “I realize that your participation in these experiments is not voluntary. I want you to know that if you do not cooperate to the best of your ability at all times, I will have your brother harmed.” 

I felt myself blink and go still as her words sank in.

“Not permanently,” she assured me, “but painfully and repeatedly. So please keep that in mind the next time you feel the urge to rebel. I will be performing the procedure on you first, with your brother as a control because your blindness makes you more expendable.”

I shook at that, pulling against the restraints. My hands wanted to wrap around her arrogant throat.

“There is no need to take offense,” she said primly. I felt the pinch of a needle in my arm, a slap of tape securing it. “You should thank me. System by system we will alter your DNA into something more like Subject 001--your Sirena. With any luck, you will soon be just like her. You may even be able to breed with her when we are finished.”

She was sliding needles into my body as she talked. I had gone limp, defeated when she threatened my brother. I could not be the cause of any harm coming to him. I could never live with myself. My eyes burned with anger and despair, dripped impotent rage down my cheeks. I took a shuddering breath.

It was not in my nature to give up. Gabriel and I, we not only overcame adversity, we thrived on it. But this wasn’t just overwhelming odds. This was completely impossible. Venter had us utterly locked down with no way to escape. And worse, he could use us against each other if we even tried. I imagined Sirena was under similar guard and threat which meant one thing:

We were well and truly screwed.


  1. WHOA poor Michael, I feel bad but there are some devvy moments here haha. But maybe he will become a merman and they can escape together to raise merbabies in the ocean? This is so good, please keep going!

  2. Hooooly shit! Oh my god, I missed the story so much! Amazing what you did there, and wow, such a devy chapter! I can't wait to see what you have in mind.

  3. Agreed, super devvy moments...

  4. Really missed the story!!! So glad you posted a new chapter. And the cliffhanger, omg... I can't survive this long!!!