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Chapter 36: Voice of Mercy
Another day, another line of questioning, and another look of sheer hatred from the young blonde male as the heat lamps blare down on him once again. Nigel shook his head as he looked through the glass wall between him and his ‘guest’. Erin looked sadly at Merrick. His complexion looks terrible — there are red blotches along his body, his hair looks slightly bleached from the constant light, dark circles are appearing around his eyes from lack of sleep. He even looks thinner, probably both from the anxiety and only given one meager meal a day. Altogether, he looks downright unhealthy; even escorting him to the interrogation room was a bit difficult because he seems so weak.
“Almost two weeks now.” Nigel said, “All he has to do is answer my questions, and he could be in bed with his boyfriend, glugging water to his heart’s content.” He huffed irritably as Merrick covered his mouth to cough violently.
“Mr Quinlan,” Erin said as she turned to him, “This can’t go on…”
“No.” Nigel said as he stared down at the merman, “I know he’s slowly dying. I know he’s not going to be holding out for long.”
“Then why keep going with this?” Erin said, shaking her head, “You’re torturing him, and he’s never going to talk.”
“Ye of little faith, Miss Connaly,” Nigel stated, “Survival Instincts are too strong. When we’re at the breaking point, when we’re teetering on the brink of death, we’ll do anything to go on living…” Nigel narrowed his eyes as Merrick curled in the corner. He turned, and began walking, “It’s only a matter of time… And he’ll tell me everything I want to know about merfolk…”
“Suppose he doesn’t though.” Erin proposed, “Lets say his willpower is a lot stronger than you think. Say, no matter what you do to him, he’ll refuse to tell you a single fact, right to the end.” She asked, “What then?”
“Then that will be an unfortunate denouement.” He said, plain and simple, “If he wants to die rather than make it easy for himself, that’s up to him.” He snapped his fingers, and Erin gave him a folder. He opened it, and overlooking the file with Belinda’s pictures, “He loses everything, and I’ll simply have to move down the line.”
“I thought he said this one wasn’t a mermaid, sir.” Erin said.
“I’m not altogether convinced.” Nigel replied, “Chances are, this woman really isn’t a mermaid, but she’s the only other lead I have if Merrick happens to fail our expectations.”
“Yessir…” Erin said as she walked along side her superior.
“Anyway, any word from the labs about the samples we took of Merrick?”
“Yessir. From what the report says, most of the details are sketchy, but the chemical analyses are going well.”
“Are they?” Nigel said as they turned a corner, “Well, let’s see what they have for me.”
Nigel and Erin walk into the lab, wearing goggles, lab coats, rubber gloves, and paper masks. He comes up to Dr Kaiser, who is comparing drops of blood from both the pouch from Merrick’s human form, and the one from his true form.
“Dr Kaiser,” Nigel called as he came up behind him, “What have you dug up?”
“Ah, Nigel,” Kaiser said, “The blood is rather intriguing.” The doctor typed on the keyboard, and brought up one screen that held Merrick’s human blood, “This is the sample taken from him BEFORE rinsing him down. It appears as ordinary blood, but none of the machines are able to determine a Blood Type.” He said calmly, “At best, all signs point to being closest to Type O. It also shows remarkable resistance to the antibiotics or harmful chemicals we’ve introduced to it. It almost presents the possibility that out little fish here is immune to any disease, if I may exaggerate.”
“And the other sample?” Nigel asked. Kaiser typed and scrolled the computer, and brought up the make-up of Merrick’s blood as a merman.
“It is definitely different from the previous sample. I have had it compared to that of human blood and blood taken from several species of fish — a salmon, bass, tuna, barracuda, and a sturgeon. The cells from the merman’s blood and the sea-fish blood share many attributes, yet not so much for the bass or salmon. In a way, one could describe it as a mixture of human and fish blood. Altogether, this is proving to be a most captivating venture…” Kaiser looked at Nigel with a very dark gleam in his eye, “You can imagine just how much this elevates my… Curiosity.”
“He’s not dead, YET, Doctor,” Nigel said, “Depending on his own decision to cooperate, you MIGHT have your new pet project, very soon.” Erin frowned as her insides churned from that statement, while Kaiser gave a smooth, wicked grin.
“Splendid. I shall keep my fingers crossed then.” He said very softly.
“Anything else of note?”
“Other than the others studying their ends, I have noted that our guest has not needed to use the bathroom. Even with minimal essentials — i.e. one meal a day — not once has he requested to use a toilet.”
“That IS different…” Nigel said, “So merfolk don’t need to expel waste?”
“I canlı bahis şirketleri believe so,” Kaiser said, “I don’t think anyone could hold it in otherwise within two weeks. Which leads me to believe that a merman’s body absorbs EVERYTHING they take into their bodies.”
“That’s interesting. As you were.” Nigel told him.
“With pleasure, sir.”
Nigel and Erin walked over to the scientists who are analyzing the scales and membranes they had, “And how are things going on this end? Identify anything yet?”
“Unfortunately no, Mr Quinlan,” A woman in a white coat said, “We’re in the process of figuring out the genetic make-up of the scales, but it’s very hard to make heads or tails with the small amount that we have.”
“That’s alright,” Nigel said, “Have you pinpointed his species?”
“No. If he’s based on any specific classification of fish, it could very well be undiscovered.” She reported, “Some of the genes we analyzed have traces from the Arctic fauna, some of them suggest traces from the Pacific Ocean, not to mention the relation to his human-based body. Honestly, the best way to describe his genus is like a two-source web branching between subspecies of sea life with a loop of human DNA.”
“How long do you think it’ll take set everything in black and white?”
“We can’t say for sure, sir,” The scientist said, “It could take years to determine a species. Again, this might be easier if we had more samples to work with.”
“Speaking of which, have the pieces you have showed any signs of transition?” Nigel asked. The scientist gave him an estranged look.
“We know he looks like a human being when he’s dry, but he turns into a fish when he’s soaked. Have any of the samples transformed that way?”
“Oh, no they haven’t,” She said, “Granted, it’s probably because they’re being preserved, or it could be once they’re extracted from the main body, they do not receive anymore nutrients. We’re still not even sure where to begin on investigating how he can transform in the first place.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Nigel said as he looked at his watch, “Think we have time for one more inspection…” He turned and walked to the young, male scientist working with a microscope, with a small glass of twinkling fluid, “What’ve ya got, Jacob? Anything good on the ‘Mermaid Tears’?”
“Well,” The enthralled researcher began, “The tears are amazing to say the least,” He says. He got up, and gestured for Nigel to look into the microscope. He did so, closing one eye and peering the other into the device.
“The sparkling is actually a chemical reaction to any bacteria it comes into contact with,” Jacob said, obviously excited about his sample, “Not only does it sterilize any negative chemicals, it also has a purifying property to some of the harmful substances I’ve introduced to even one spec of the tears.”
“How so?” Nigel said as he stood straight up.
“Well, look at it!” Jacob said with zeal, “The way these tears eat into bacteria is as astounding a result as penicillin! It cleans and purifies dangerous chemicals, and leave it as simple water, like nothing happened.”
“You think this could be some evolutionary tactic to clean the pollution of the ocean around them?” Erin asked out of curiosity.
“That could be so!” Jacob said, “If this is what merfolk cry of, then it may indicate a self-improvement on curing imperfection in the ocean waters-” Jacob put his hand up, “If we can maybe… Replicate this… Maybe make a few substitutions of the chemicals in place of the tears, we can possibly make a vaccine or a whole new cleaning solution to help with water pollution.”
“Sounds like you’re on a great track, Jacob.” Nigel said.
“There’s a problem though…” Jacob said as he turned to his beaker, “Tears don’t keep — well, normal tears, anyway. I don’t have enough of it to try and make hypotheses on what acceptable substitutions can be made.”
“Well, keep going, Jacob,” Nigel said as he patted his shoulder, “Work with what you got, and try to preserve what’s left before you head home.”
Nigel and Erin walk down the hall, with Erin holding the files of the forensic reports on Merrick’s samples. As they went, Erin caught a glimpse of Merrick’s cell. Her heart gave a slight jolt of fear, as the blonde male lay on the floor of the cell, chained up and motionless. Her eyes watered up for that one instant, before the wall blocked his view.
Nigel took off his glasses and rubbed his eyelids, “Alright, Miss Connaly,” He said with a groan, “I’m heading home.” He hander her the key to his office as he adjusted himself, “Make sure the files are put in their place before you lock up.”
“Yessir.” Erin said obediently before entering Nigel’s office to evaluate today’s results. Once she sorted everything in their place, she left the office, and locked it up.
Erin walked along the halls as usual, but her head could not ignore that certain cell as she went. Her eyes caught the merman again. The unnerving part is that canlı kaçak iddaa in the hour she just spent in Nigel’s office, getting everything organized, Merrick hasn’t moved an inch. With a glance of blue from Merrick’s face, Erin looked away.
She brought a finger to her right eye, and wiped off a trace of moisture from the ridge. Collecting herself, Erin pushed herself forward down the hall to make sure everyone at the lab is cleaning up their stations and putting all of the equipment away.
Nigel exited the Agency building, and started walk to the parking lot. As he went, he felt that ugly tickle in his chest again. Grunted, he put his hand into his coat pocket, and drew out a tissue.
Taking a deep breath, he pressed the tissue to his lips, and began gagging.
“U-Hrrgg-ahhhrrkk… HHHGGGRRRRkkkkhhhrrrkk!” He coughed violently into his tissue, clenching his eyes as his insides clenched from all the hacking of his throat, even bending forward a little just from the sheer force of the cough.
After several minutes of coughing, Nigel finally managed to compose himself, and straightened back up. His tired eyes looked scornfully at the specs of blood and mucus from the moist tissue. His hand crushed the soft paper, and stashed it into his pocket. As he approached his car, he dug for the rattling orange bottle of pills. He popped the cap off, and tossed a few tablets into his mouth, prompting chewing them and swallowing them.
‘No…’ He thought as he inserted his key into the ignition, ‘Not yet… Not when I’m so damn close…’
“Mmmmnnnnnnnhhhhhh…” Merrick whined as a twinkle came from his eye, “I’m… Fading…” His eyes closed slowly and reopened. “Adam…” He mumbled, “… Why didn’t you protect me…” His voice is hoarse, as his throat is so dry and scratchy.
A sparkling tear dripped down his eyes as he lay there, too weak to even move. “I’m so… Dehydrated…” As Yuri would probably say, “My body is… Fire…” He mumbled, not to mention the hot metal on his wrists and ankles. “Adam…” He sniffled as his love came to his mind, “Where are you…” He sobbed.
“It’s so hot… I can’t…”
He can tell it’s midnight — he can feel the moon up in the sky, and he can’t even pray to the Sea Mother because he’s not in the moon’s presence.
“I… I should have ran when I had the chance…” He curled up with what little strength he has, hearing the little clanks on the chain as he moved. “Adam…” He whimpered, “Please… Don’t forget me… Please find me…”
Countless time went by in his cell, before suddenly,
Everything went black. Merrick made no noise or moves, still feeling the oppressive heat lingering in the cell and haunting his skin.
He can hear a click from the glass door of his cell, before it opened. He doesn’t bother to look, but he can also hear a subtle sloshing.
“Shhhh, careful…” Came a whispering voice. After some thunking, there came a small, yet very bright white light — nothing like the heat lamps above, but a small lantern one might take for camping.
Merrick can hear someone kneeling down, and felt the cuff of his right wrist touch.
“Ah!” Came a hushed hiss, “Lets get these cuffs off. Careful, they’re hot.” A woman whispered.
“Alright, alright,” Came a hushed male voice.
Merrick felt the familiar tinkering of his wrists, and a click of metal. He gasped and whined as his bonds were opened, “Eeeennnnnggg!”
“Shhhh, it’s ok, it’s ok,” Whispered the woman hurriedly. The man who is with them undid the other wrist cuff, and then the ankles, “Oh my God…” The woman muttered as her hands carefully slid under Merrick’s hands, taking a closer look at his wrist — both wrists are beet red and severely burned. She glanced to the side and noticed his ankles are in no better shape.
“Alright, bring the bucket…” The woman said. The man grunted once, and hauled a heavy cylinder over next to the woman. The woman unscrewed a bottle of cold water, and held it over Merrick’s burnt wrist, before carefully pouring onto it.
“HNNNG! MMGGGHHH!” Merrick cringed and whined harshly as the cold water washed onto Merrick’s arm. His hand became webbed as the woman slowly emptied the bottle onto him. Meanwhile, the man scooped up some ice water from the bucket with a large cup, and poured it along Merrick’s hip. The man watched in awe as Merrick’s body immediately transformed, from red peach to blue.
“Nnnnhhhh…” Merrick moaned as he body absorbed the water these two humans are administering to him, “Why… Why are you doing this…?” He asked as he weak eyes leered up at the half-illuminated face of the woman, “Aren’t you the one who brought me here?”
Erin sighed as she unscrewed another bottle, “I’m so sorry… I was just following orders…” She said as she turned the bottle along the aquatic male.
“Who are you… Again?” He asked.
“Erin,” She said softly.
“Erin…” Merrick’s eyes teared up again as he felt his legs meld together, feeling a huge amount of relief from the canlı kaçak bahis man’s pouring ice-cube water over him, “Did you know…”
“Hm?” Erin paused with her water.
“Did you know… Did you know this man… This Nigel… Did you know he was going to this to me?” Merrick sobbed, “Throwing me in here, left to burn on endless time…” His eyes gave way to more tears, “Mocking me and asking questions about my kind, and then punish me when I refuse to answer…?”
“…No” Erin answered honestly, “We were told you were going home whether or not you agreed to follow through. Keeping you here was unexpected.” Erin unsealed another water bottle, and held it for Merrick’s mouth. Erin put her hand under Merrick’s fishy head, and eased the bottle into him. Merrick slowly nursed on the water bottle, more tears dripping from his eyes.
The guard, who was pouring water on Merrick’s tail, spotted the profuse tears coming from his eyes. He took out a glass vial, and subtly held it to the side of Merrick’s eye. That scientist, Jacob, put out a request to all staff to carry a vial with them at all times, to be ready to collect any tears.
Erin sighed as she poured more water along Merrick’s body. Curiosity brings her to wonder what he felt like…
With Merrick still too weak to move, Erin slowly put her hand onto his side. It feels so weird… Like a real fish, but softer from the muscles being laxed.
The guard can’t help but feel a little guilty about taking the copious tears, but the vial soon filled up, as Merrick was crying a lot. Once it was full to the brim, the guard screwed the cap onto the small bottle, and stashed it into his pocket, with Merrick none the wiser.
“What the…” Erin brought her hand up, and discovered that several small, semi-transparent scales clinging to her hand, “Are you… Shedding?”
“What are you talking about?” Merrick groaned.
“Look,” Erin brought her hand to the small white light lamp, and showed Merrick, “Some of your scales are coming off.”
“…” Merrick looked, and laid back down, “What did you expect?”
“Nigel throws me in here, and bares harsh light on me for twelve suns… No water, one portion of food for each sun…” Merrick shook as his tail cringed, “And now I’m falling apart…” He whimpered. After a pause, he spoke again, “I was once in this condition before… This human that lives with us… Her name is Yuri… She told me I was experiencing ‘Dehydration’… When a body shuts down because it doesn’t have enough water…” He groaned as the guard started to pour more ice-cube water on his tail, over the dark ring at the base of his tailfin, “This… This is so much worse than that…”
Erin wiped away a tear from her own eye. “Please…” Merrick moaned.
“Erin…” His weeping eyes looked up at her pleadingly, “Is there anyway to set me free?” He asked. “Please…” He sniffled as he pleaded, “I’ve been away from him for so long… I need my Adam back…” He wept, “He said he would protect me from this fate…” Erin put her hand over her eyes she felt herself start to weaken, “Please… Can you let me go?”
“I…” Erin sobbed a little, and composed herself, “I’m sorry, Merrick. I can’t do that.”
“Why not??” Merrick asked desperately, “This place is killing me… My Adam-“
“I’m sorry, Merrick.” Erin said, “If I were to break you out of here, I would be court marshaled for interfering and sabotage of top priority research funded by the government. Even being here right now, giving you water is extremely risky for me.” Merrick huffed, and laid himself back down.
After a silent pause, Erin brought out a couple of sandwiches from the Agency’s cafeteria; PB&J and small turkey club. She unwrapped the turkey sandwich, and offered it to the merman. Merrick took it, and bit into it — with this much water on and in him, some of his strength has returned. He ate harshly into the sandwich as Erin unwrapped the other one. By the time he had ate the last bite of the club, Erin had given him the PB&J. Once he wolfed down the other sandwich, Erin gave him another bottle of water to gulp down.
“So… Does Piscien REALLY mean anything?” The guard asked. Merrick gave him a glare. “… Just curious.” He said with a nervous chuckle. Erin rolled her eyes.
“It’s just,” She started, “We have you listed as ‘Merrick T. Piscien’, and we’re just wondering if it means anything at all, or if it’s just a random word.” Merrick sighed as he reached down, and picked up another sealed bottle of water.
“… Piscien is my species…”
“So…” Erin said, “You’re a… Piscien Fish? Never heard of that kind of fish before.”
“No.” Merrick replied, “I mean, I am a Piscien merman. Us Pisciens embody the traits of kinds of fish from the ocean.”
“I… I’m not sure I understand.” Erin said.
“There are three kinds of merfolk in the ocean,” Merrick stated, “And Piscien is one of those kinds.”
“So, does that make it your last name, then? Merrick Piscien?”
“No.” Merrick replied, taking a drink, “I have no idea why, but you humans seem to insist on having more than one name. There was a time where my Adam had to list me with a second name, so he just used the word Piscien.” Merrick looked at Erin’s face, “And that’s all I’m going to say.”
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