Prince of an Unknown Land



“James, I don’t know… but we’re not supposed to be here,” Greg Chandlers commented. He was always the scared one; the one that talked the others out of anything fun and daring we did. And because he was big, they all listened to him. Sissies, all of them.

But try as much as I wanted to ignore it, the sea called to me; and on this our particular trip to Jamaica, I just couldn’t resist it any longer. It was either they joined me or not—I was jumping in. Pulling off my trousers, I flung my shirt to the crispy white sand that filled the beach. Then with a loud caterwaul, I jumped into the warm water. And immediately felt at home. Water was my element, no matter what anyone said, mother included.

Soon after, the others joined me; they weren’t such scaredy-cats after all. We dove in and splashed water on ourselves, perfectly enjoying the cool Jamaican afternoon. I looked at the endless stretch of water, and again, something in the way the waves crested and fell, in the way the water roared, appealed to me. I would definitely follow mom’s footsteps. At sixteen, I was now sure I would go for marine biology. Just like her.

In a flash, Matt Bates started screaming. I turned and saw him sinking into the water, bubbles escaping from his mouth. The others looked about with frightened eyes, none of them could move. With powerful strokes, I reached him in an instant, and hauled him out of the water. He was unconscious and barely breathing.

With an equanimity I didn’t know I possessed, I applied pressure to his chest, while pumping air through my mouth into his. I repeated this five times, then he coughed out some water and looked bleary-eyed at us.

“Didn’t I warn you guys?” Greg shouted. He was visibly shaken by the incident and while we looked, he ran back to the resort. The rest of us helped Matt to his feet and also went back.

Back at the resort, all eyes were on me; many of the kids around shied away from me. Quietly, I handed Matt over to his parents who glared at me as though I had wanted to kill their only son. Then I headed towards my room. I kept on wondering—what had Greg said about me? Why was everyone cold to me? Even Lilly, who I had a crush on never gave me a second glance.

With these thoughts crisscrossing on my mind, I dozed off. I dreamt of the sea/ocean—I couldn’t tell. In the dream, I was swimming deep underwater with no apparatus and I saw all manner of creatures. There were assorted fishes, both small and large, plants with askew positions, and something else—totally incredible.

I had seen it from a hole on huge rock surrounded by corals. It was quick, but I was also fast enough to have seen a bit of it. I dove inside the hole, wanting to sate my curiosity. I reached the opening of the cave and saw what took my breath away. It was a large group of—

“James!” my mother’s shout roused me from my sleep. I sat up, and was, for some moments, disoriented. Did all that really happen in a dream? It had seemed so vivid. She was wearing a light white gown with no footwear. Her hair was braided with an attachment, and she looked so effortlessly beautiful. She sat on the edge of the bed and looked at me for a long time.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” I asked, feeling very uneasy. She only looked like this whenever I had done something wrong. Had that boy, Greg, said something false about me again?

“Oh James… I thought I’ve warned you against going near the sea. You hardly listen to me, why?” her voice was subdued, making her sound like she was crying.

“But mom, I love the sea. You love the sea. I can’t imagine why you would bar me from going near it. It’s not like I’m in any danger.”

“You—There has to be other things you love. Forget about the sea please,” she pleaded, as she wrapped her hands over mine. She looked into my eyes and there was raw pain in hers.

I had to know why she was adamant in her warning. I pressed her for an answer, and she deftly avoided it. I kept on pushing, until I said that I would not stop going near the sea because I wanted to also study marine biology, her field of research.

At this, a shadow of pure, maniacal terror crept up on her face and then she said, “I don’t want you there because… well because your father is from the sea!”

“Wha—What are you saying?” I asked. This has got to be a joke or another ruse to keep out of the water. She had told me that my father had died with his parents in a plane crash. Which other father was she referring to?

At my question, she sighed and stood up again. She went to the refrigerator, poured some water for herself and brought the cup to the bed. She sat down again, and looked at me with such tenderness mixed with pain, my heart went out to her. Then she told me the truth about my father, about who I was.

~~~~~

Her parents were Nigerians who preferred to stay in the United States. They only went home during Christmas holidays. Her father was a marine biologist like her, while her mother owned a boutique. They were well off, she said. Then one time, around August, her parents decided to travel home. She was very worried about their mid-year travel, but they allayed her fears and promised her that they would be back by early September.

But they didn’t return. Their return flight crashed few hours after takeoff and all the 176 passengers and crew died. Their deaths elicited a public outcry, and the government promised to investigate the cause of the malfunction. Till today, she lamented, they were still on the matter.

Grief-stricken and alone, she retreated to their favourite holiday resort—the exact one we were holed up in—and cried her heart out. Seeking a way to be closer to her parents, who loved the sea, she put all she had in her into her research into exotic marine life.

One day, as she was diving in the deep, uncharted parts of the Caribbean sea, off the coast of Jamaica, she saw a huge canyon and went to investigate. As she was enthralled by the spectacular lifeforms she witnessed, she never saw the thing that clobbered her head and she went unconscious.

When she came to, she was in a city of some kind. The people there could best be described as scary. She had thought she was kidnapped by aliens (owing to the fact that there have been recent reports of alien activities in the Caribbean by conspiracy theorists). But on a closer look, she noticed that they were in a dome, with the outside full of water. It then dawned on her that she was in the bottom of the sea, a captive of unworldly beings.

As she groggily took in her surroundings, the scientist in her marveled at such creatures that were entirely unknown to science. Who were they? They had blue skin, like the sea; and their feet were very long, more like flippers. They had arms and legs and could walk upright. They weren’t muscular and their faces were gaunt.

The most striking thing about them, she said, were their eyes. It bulged out of the sockets and moved independently of each other, reminiscent of chameleons.

Then someone approached her, obviously their leader from the way they acted. He gave her a once-over and signaled that they should pick her up. She was taken to his chambers were he raped her mercilessly.

She did not understand their language, so had no way of escaping. Till one day. A servant had come in to check on her and she had wanted to check her features. As she touched her, she found herself inside the servant’s mind. It was both a shock and a source of elation. She could communicate with her by touching her head. Soon, they became close, and it was the servant that facilitated her escape.

Back on land, she discovered that no one had noticed her absence. She was away for a month; and within two months of being back, to her dismay, she found herself pregnant. She was torn between keeping the child that was part her, and aborting the monster that was part that. She had decided to keep the child, at least, till it was born and she saw how it looked. Then she would know what to do.

“When you were born,” she said, “I looked at you and saw my father, not that monster in the sea. I knew then that I would keep you.”

After the birth of the child, she had used all her resources to locate the sea people again. But they were nowhere to be found. She had gone on countless expeditions to almost all parts of the Caribbean, but still, no trace of them surfaced. The only proof of their existence was his half human son.

~~~~~

After she was done, I couldn’t speak, couldn’t think. I was a half human! Incredible. Instead of being sad, I was springy, wanted to find them. But my mother had said they were nowhere to be found…

I went down to the beach and sat down on the shore, looking into the sea, looking for my other family. There was something about them that had always been in my blood, now I know what it was. I was a son of the sea. Was it really true that they were gone? Somehow, I found that hard to believe. But only time… and fate could tell…

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  1. I'm not really a fan of stories and poet but I can see getting addicted to this blog. Nice job

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