500 Themes – 8

8/500 | Friendship

A finger wiggled in Neir’s ear, sending a jarring shudder through his body, from his neck to his pelvis.  He slapped at his ear, then coughed, choking on a faceful of water.  Somehow, none of it got into his mouth, and he realised that the sensation of wetness on his cheeks was new.  His face had been dry.

He shook his head, blinking madly.  There was light, flickering as if from a candle or lantern, but it didn’t seem to come from anywhere in particular.  Not that it mattered overmuch.  There was nothing to see.

The space he found himself in was not wide enough to span more than his body one way, and a little over half the span of his arms the other way.  Though he was not remarkably tall, he could not sit fully upright without resting his head against the roof.  Water lapped at his feet, forming a small mock beach.

Neir lay on his back, propping himself up on his elbows.  “That was some luck,” he said to himself.

“Oh, I wouldn’t quite call it luck.  Not I.”

He slipped, the skin on his elbows scraping against the rock.  His earlier injuries reopened, spilling blood on the ground.

Something shiny popped up out of the water, and soon revealed itself to be the top of someone’s head. It had a full cheeks and bright eyes that were too large and eerie to belong to a human. As the head rose further, a neck followed it, and he saw flaps of skin shudder closed. “You aren’t lucky at all. I mean to eat you.”

Neir laughed. “You don’t.” As the creature pouted around sharp white teeth, he put his hands on his hips and grinned. “If you did, you would have already nibbled on me at least.” He sat down, more carefully in deference to the slippery terrain, then touched his wound gingerly. “It seems lonely down here. I’d say you have food enough in the water with you. I would take a fight, real work. And unlike those fish, I can talk.”

“It seems as though you might never stop.”

Those teeth went on flashing, but the face was human enough that Neir saw humour ahead of malice. Even so, he kept his limbs close to his body.


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