Then one day after hours, the alarm went off. “That’s not a drill!” Said Audra as she swam towards the potty pool. Soon all seven mermaids and one merman were gathered together in the pool.
“Do you know what the problem is?” Renna asked Audra.
“No. All I know is we didn’t have a drill planned. It could be anything from a fire to bad weather to a gunman in the aquarium. One of the security people should be around before long to tell us what’s going on.”
They started chatting with one another for a minute and then there was a soft “clunk.” Lacy was the only one looking in that direction at the time, so she saw the door slide down from the ceiling and close off the entrance to the potty pool.
“I’ve never seen that door before.” She said. “Did you recently have this installed?”
Audra turned to look. “No, I never ordered such a thing. What’s going on here?”
Allen swam over to the door and tried to lift it up, but it must have been locked from the outside as it didn’t budge. It sealed against the top of the pool entrance wall.
“Hey, the water is getting deeper!” Said Katherine.
Once Katherine had mentioned it, they all noticed the water level rising. It kept doing so for several minutes until the pool was completely filled to the top. They were all fine of course, because of their underwater breathing collars, but conversation became impossible. Allen pounded on the door, hoping to attract someone’s attention. But after a minute or two he found his arms growing weak, and a deep lethargy came over him. He looked around at the other mermaids and saw that they were swimming more slowly and their eyes were drooping. He felt like he should resist falling asleep, but his body betrayed him and he lost consciousness.
When he woke up, Allen was hanging in darkness, still surrounded by water. He could feel the soft flow of air from his throat into his lungs, so the breathing collar was still working. His wrists were bound in some fashion and his arms were pulled out at an angle to each side. He was still wearing his tail, which was attached to something below him. He pulled and struggled for a minute but it soon became apparent that his bonds were secure and he could not escape them. The darkness was as black as a cave, so he could see nothing around him. He held very still and listened. There were a few faint clinking sounds, as well as the sound of something rubbing. He couldn’t really tell what the sounds were, but he thought they might be the sounds of another person struggling against bonds similar to his own. After a time, he heard a clunking noise from somewhere ahead, and shortly thereafter he felt himself begin to move. The motion reminded him of being in a car with a bit more jerkiness to it. The motion went on for a long time. Allen had no way of gauging exactly how long, except that he had to empty his bladder twice. Since he was already underwater, he assumed that his urine would be washed safely away. With nothing else to do, he dozed fitfully from time to time.
At last the movement stopped and a short time later, Allen heard clunks and thumps to his right. Then there was a metallic scraping and a cylinder of light stabbed down in front of him. With the light coming in, Allen could see that he was inside a cylindrical tank of water—probably the back of a tanker truck. There were four people hanging in front of him, all lined up in a row: Katherine, Lacy, Audra, and a man. The man appeared to be wearing Allen’s old mermaid tail, but he was also wearing a breathing collar. From the back, Allen wasn’t sure who it was, but he looked familiar. He didn’t have much time to look at the others before his view was blocked by a man in a wetsuit entering via the hatch in front of him. The man was wearing one of the old-style breathing collars with the tubing and mouthpiece, and he carried a bag in one hand. He had a light attached to a headband which pierced the darkness in a cone ahead of him. Allen watched as the man swam over behind Katherine and changed the discs in the back of her collar, taking new discs out of the bag. Then he swam up to Lacy to repeat the process. The light was just barely enough that Allen caught a glimpse of a black wire snaking down from above and connecting to Katherine’s collar. So whoever had taken them wanted them alive and breathing as they were providing power to the collars and changing the discs when needed. Apparently the trip they were on was not over yet.
The man finished with the people in front of Allen and then came back and changed Allen’s discs. Allen wanted to grab him or hit him as he swam past, but his restraints allowed almost no movement and the man didn’t even notice Allen’s struggles. After his own discs were changed, Allen could hear the man working on others, so apparently all of the mermaids were in the same predicament, plus whoever the man was in the front. When the man was done with his task, he handed his bag up through the hatch and another man climbed inside to join him. They approached Allen and the new man pulled out a flexible plastic bag filled with some kind of pink liquid. It had a screw-on cap on one end with a large nipple in it. The man put the nipple up to Allen’s mouth and pushed it into his lips. There didn’t seem to be much point in resisting, so Allen took the nipple in his mouth and sucked. The pink liquid must have been some kind of strawberry-flavored protein shake. Allen drank a few swallows but didn’t seem to be going fast enough for the man, who squeezed the bag and filled Allen’s mouth with the liquid. Allen quickly swallowed and kept drinking until the bag was empty. A second bag followed, filled with a clear liquid that turned out to be water. Allen drank that as well, surprised at how thirsty he was while surrounded by water. When some of that water leaked in around the nipple he found that it was salt water, just like the aquarium, so he needed what the man was giving him. The two men repeated the feeding process with all the other inhabitants of the tank, then left by the hatch, closing it down and leaving them in darkness again.
The motion started again, and Allen hung in the darkness for a very long time. The water around him grew warmer, likely being heated by the sun outside. Although he was cushioned and supported by the water, his wrists grew sore as the manacles rubbed against his skin with the motion of the truck. Time passed slowly, and Allen’s mind went round in circles as he tried to deduce who had kidnapped them and why. What would somebody want with a bunch of mermaids? Eventually, he slept some more.
At last the movement stopped again, and a few minutes later the same diver from before entered the tank. Their discs were replaced and they were fed another bag of food and water, then the men left and the truck started moving again. This time it didn’t seem as long before the motion stopped. No-one came for some time after they stopped, but eventually the hatch opened again. Several tablets dropped into the tank through the hatch and Allen could see them fizz as they sank to the bottom. Before long the weakness and lethargy came again, and sleep claimed him.