Faster....Faster..! If she does nothing else, she must survive...right? But why? Marina's tail was almost a blur she was beating the water so hard. She hadn't used her tail this much in so so long.. But she has to get away! Before She finds out. Why is she even trying so hard? It wouldn't be so bad if she were to die now...father is gone..and mother has been missing for too long to believe she'll ever come back. All because she "had" to go on land. She couldn't go back there. It would be far too painful..the most dishonorable thing she could do..not as a princess. but as a daughter.. Her eyes stared straight ahead, into dark, open water with no end in sight. Her tail faltered and slowed, losing its desperate rhythm for a moment. For one agonizing instant, the young mer was aware of every injury still fresh from the beatings--torture-- inflicted by the sadistic brother of the Sea Witch now ruling the kingdom of Atlantica so cruelly. She was losing the battle against the current tugging her fins back to deeper waters. The gills at her hips heaved and burned with exhaustion. There was no way she'd make it..but her friends had risked everything to save her! Black spots began to invade her vision until she could hardly even tell which direction she was headed at all. Her whole body ached and screamed at her to stop..to rest...to sleep...she had fought this torment before, but this seemed impossible to surpass by sheer willpower anymore.. but she has to..keep...swimming... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A new dawn broke on the horizon of Holly Beach on the edge of a small town called Evanston. The soft rays of early morning shone uninterrupted by any clouds at all and the ocean shimmered back, telling its endless story in peaceful waves. The waves roll low... The beach was generally unpopular, especially at such an early hour. It was rocky in most places..not always safe for swimming, especially at high tide. But for now, the sea was calm and slow, kissing the shore in its gentle way. And the waves roll high... The sea foam bubbling up against the wet sand encountered a new interruption to its journey up the beach, always doomed to fail anyway by rolling back out over and over. This morning, it sizzled against bare skin and still scales. And so it goes... The owner hardly breathed, stuck in a terrible state between land and sea, begging for water with gaping gills half exposed to the breeze and panting softly for dry air at one time. Even covered in deep bruises, pink scars and slowly healing cuts, the mermaid was tragically beautiful. Her features were nymph-like, soft and appealing, for she took after her mother. But alas, her eyes were closed, her most striking gift from her father hidden from the world by heavy lids and a deep fatigue that seemed to permeate to even her bones. One particular gash on the upper part of her tail shone crimson with dried blood and scales that clung to her flesh by mere threads of tissue, yet they still glimmered bright blue as the sky in the sunlight. Under a bright, blue, endless sky... Marina lay on her side, unmoving on an unfamiliar beach, pieces of seaweed clinging to her hair, strewn on the sand in tangled strands. One of her arms stayed tucked to her body and the other lay out, riddled with bruises and scars with still fingers reaching for a hopeful lullaby at the edge of her memory. Her lower ribs were almost completely purple below her exposed breasts, parts of which had yellowing bruises that almost looked like the imprints of fingers. There were plenty of other wounds plain to see on her pale skin, but none to witness them. There were rocks here and there, mostly obscuring her from eyes that pay no attention to unusual details. This was a small town after all. Ordinary, plain...and mermaids? Their very existence was of myth and legend. Even if they did exist out in the mysterious deep somewhere, they wouldn't wash up in Evanston, California.