I cradled my whimpering child in one arm, forcing my tail to propel us faster.
“Nathan, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going.”
My husband tightened his hold on my free hand and kept swimming. The Megalodon showed no sign of slowing despite plowing through almost an entire underwater forest. Few things could hold the monster when it had prey in sight. It devoured everything in its path, even its own kind, for its gargantuan size made it almost invincible.
The sharks that weren’t eaten were intelligent enough to know not to go near it, so they mingled with us. Merfolk accepted their presence as they didn’t harm our kind, they merely coexisted with a common enemy.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know! I’m sorry Mama.” My daughter refused to look back at the creature, keeping her head buried in my shoulder.
I clutched her closer, kissing the top of her head. I couldn’t promise her that everything would be okay, so I pushed on while my husband glanced back and forth between us and the shark closing in.
Every part of my body ached from the strain, but my will to stay alive, to protect my daughter against the 60-foot beast surpassed the growing fatigue. Nate yanked on my arm, pulling us up to meet him as he wrapped his arm around me, keeping us all together.
“Is there a place to hide?”
He bowed his head, mouthing ‘I’m sorry Lilian’.
Fatigue and despair gripped my body while my hope of living diminished. I felt my body slow and closed my eyes as my daughter trembled with sobs when the creature’s massive jaws drew closer.
Nate tightened his hold on us. “Look.” When I didn’t open my eyes, he shook me. “Lily, look!”
My eyes popped open and I gasped, taking in the sight of an army of sharks in front of us. They ranged in size, some miniature in comparison, others about half the size of the Megalodon. They rushed past us, heading for the monster.
Nate peaked behind us. “They’re attacking it!”
I glanced behind me to see the creature thrashing in a cloud of blood. Groups of sharks gnawed on all the sensitive parts. The fins, the gills, the eyes. It flailed as the others of its kind tore at it, blinding and slashing the creature until it finally hit the sea floor, still trying to fight them off.
Once the monster’s eyes were taken care of, those sharks helped devour the creature, lost in the cloud of its own blood. The Megalodon crashed to the ocean floor as water swept away the clock of blood, leaving the shredded remains open to see. A group of them worked to bury the corpse, leaving nature to handle the rest of the job with the mangled body.
The other sharks appeared from the disappearing cloud, some forming a circle around my trembling daughter. The smallest of them nudged her with its snout and she cowered into me.
“Callie.” I took her shoulders, forcing her to look at me. “It’s okay, baby, we’re safe. The monster is dead.”
Her head whipped around, catching the sight of a shredded corpse and an army of sharks near it. Her eyes met the smallest one, and it nudged her again. She giggled and reached for its fin, sliding her hand to the injured fin on its right side. The shark flapped it and swam, and Callie followed it, racing it in circles. The other sharks hovered near their tiny kin and a few joined the two in their game.
My husband wrapped his arms around me, grinning as he watched our daughter catch the smallest shark by the tail.
“Just like her mother, curious and full of adventure.”
I felt an overwhelming chill and shuddered. “That monster could’ve devoured us because of it.”
He took my chin in his hand and brought my eyes up to meet his. “We made it, Lily. We’re safe. And our daughter?” He faced her direction. “Her curiosity proved that creature wasn’t gone like we’d thought. We thought it’d left, or better, that it’d died. It was logical after so long.”
“That creature was dormant, not dead. But-”
“We would’ve never known the danger, and now we don’t have to worry.” He pulled me close, kissing my forehead then catching my lips.
“It’s finally safe here.”