To start at the beginning, use this link: Link to Chapter 1
Monica awoke to find herself lying on her back. Straps held her legs, arms, and body in place on a gurney. She could see Sophia leaning over her, shining a light into her eyes.
“Oh, good.” Came a voice from somewhere behind her head. “You’re awake. It’s a good thing Enrique heard your feet thumping on the floor of the elevator, or I might have lost my investment.”
The voice moved around until Monica could see Mr. Simons looking down at her.
“I’m afraid you have forced me to change my plans a bit.” He said. “You weren’t scheduled for transformation for a few more days. But since you tried to tamper with your collar, I think we can work you into the schedule a little early. I think you will make a lovely mermaid.”
“Sophia, prep her for transport.” He commanded before leaving the room.
Sophia slipped her fingers around Monica’s wrist and checked her pulse. Then she sorted through some cards on a nearby table and held one up in front of Monica’s face. There were some words written on the card.
Are you feeling any pain?
Monica nodded her head carefully, as she was feeling some pain from the burn on her neck where the scissors had touched it. Sophia used a marker to write on another card.
Is it just your neck?
Monica nodded again.
I put some healgel on it, and I will add a dressing and a cold compress.
Monica held still while Sophia covered the burn with gauze and taped it in place. She realized then that her collar was gone. What did that mean? She tried to remember if Veronica had been wearing a collar when they wheeled her past that morning, but she hadn’t been paying close enough attention to be sure. Sophia held up another card that she had written on previously.
Now I will be getting you ready for transport to another location. The ear plugs and eye drops are temporary.
Monica had experienced the ear plugs before, so she wasn’t surprised when Sophia inserted the balls of waxy material in her ears and cured them with a light. When she was done with the ear plugs, Sophia gently held open Monica’s left eyelids with her fingers and put three drops of a dark liquid in her eye. Monica felt a little sting from the eye drops, and then her vision in that eye faded as the dark material spread across her eye and blocked out the light. Sophia repeated the process with Monica’s right eye, and in a few moments Monica was totally blind. She tried blinking her eyes and turning her head, but nothing she did made any difference. She was glad Sophia had showed her the note to tell her it was only temporary. With her hearing and her sight taken away, Monica was reduced to smelling the antiseptic odor of the nurse’s office and feeling the cloth of the gurney under her body and the cold plastic of the straps used to hold her down.
It wasn’t long before Monica felt her gurney being moved. She was taken down the hallway to the elevator, then down another hallway and out a door. She could feel the warm sun on her face for a few moments before the gurney was lifted slightly and then there was a slight bounce. Perhaps she was in a vehicle now, and the bounce was someone getting out? Her speculation was confirmed when she felt the smooth acceleration of a vehicle, interrupted by the occasional bump or stop. Monica’s ride continued for perhaps an hour or two before the vehicle stopped and she felt her gurney being moved again. After another series of hallways and another elevator ride, the movement stopped. Then someone started manipulating her right hand. She felt the cool wet touch of an antiseptic wipe, followed by the prick of a needle. Tape was applied to hold the needle in place, and Monica could feel a slight coolness in her hand as some liquid entered her veins. After that, it was only a few minutes before she felt a floating sensation and then fell asleep.
When she woke up, she could see again, though her vision was dim and blurry. She could hear as well, and the sounds around her seemed hospital-like. She was still strapped down, and there was still a needle in her hand. In addition, her throat was very sore, and a tube went in her nose and down through it. The sensation was odd, and she had a slight urge to gag. The tube was taped in place on her cheek. Happily, there was no foam covering her mouth. She could feel another tube further down and she realized it must be a catheter. She could also tell that she was no longer wearing a leotard and tights, but her body was covered with a sheet, so she didn’t know if she was naked or wearing a hospital gown. They must have replaced her collar, because she could feel something around her neck, though the feeling was a little different than what she had become used to. Not long after she woke up, the blurry form of a man appeared at her bedside. He was wearing a hospital mask, so his voice was slightly muffled.
“Good morning Monica.” He said. “I’m glad you are awake. You have been here for a few days while we performed some minor procedures. Are you breathing OK?”
That seemed like a strange question to ask. Monica concentrated on her breathing a bit and noticed that there was no air going through her nose or mouth, yet she could still feel it enter and leave her lungs. The sensation of air moving in and out seemed to originate in her neck, though it was so sore that it was hard to tell exactly where. Puzzled, Monica tried to answer. She assumed the usual “yes sir,” would be allowed. But when she tried to form the words nothing came out other than a gentle wheezing sound.
“Oh, you can’t talk.” Said the man. “I’ve sewn your epiglottis shut. Just nod your head.”
Monica remembered that the epiglottis had something to do with breathing, and that it was in her throat, but what did it mean to have it sewn shut? Since she was obviously still breathing somehow, she nodded her head. The man leaned over and looked closely at her neck, touching it gently with his fingers. He felt around the edges of her collar, and she could tell it was different than the one she had worn earlier. It seemed to be scalloped along the edges, and pressed tightly to her neck, as it didn’t move around when the doctor poked it. Once he was satisfied with her neck, the doctor pulled the sheets down off of her torso, and Monica could see that she was wearing some kind of hospital gown. The doctor slid his stethoscope down underneath it and listened for a minute.
“It appears that your breathing collar is working quite well.” The doctor said. “And now that you’re awake we can remove the feeding tube. Elena will come in a few minutes to take care of that. For now, just relax. You’ll be with us for a few days while you recover.”
Monica must have still been a little groggy, because she seemed to fade out for a while until a petite young woman bustled into her room. She checked a chart hanging on the edge of Monica’s bed, then emptied the catheter bag and replaced it. Monica’s eyesight had improved some more, so she could now see the nurse’s short black hair and lightly freckled face.
“The doctor said to remove your feeding tube.” She said. “This might hurt a little coming out, but you should be much more comfortable once it’s gone.”
It was uncomfortable to feel the tube sliding through her nose and throat, but Monica was glad to get it out. Her stomach felt empty and she wondered when they would bring her some food, but she wasn’t sure how it would feel to swallow with her sore throat. She found out a few hours later when the nurse returned with a tray of food. With her hands strapped down, Monica couldn’t feed herself, so Elena fed her a meal of soft foods – applesauce and soup. Monica found that swallowing didn’t hurt too much, and she gratefully ate everything that was fed to her. In her prone position, drinking was a little harder, but the nurse hooked up a camelback to an IV pole and then ran the tube to Monica’s mouth. All she had to do was bite down on the valve to fill her mouth with cool water. Monica drank until the bag was empty.
The next few days passed slowly, and Monica tried to understand just where she was. The door to her room stayed closed except when the doctor or Elena came through, and the hallway beyond always seemed empty whenever someone entered or left. Her room seemed like a typical hospital room, but unlike the constant interruptions she had seen in other hospitals, here only a single doctor and nurse came by. On the first day, Monica spent some time struggling against her bonds, trying to see if she could pull a hand out of the strap around her wrist. But no about of twisting or pulling succeeded in freeing her wrist. She got regular meals, and Elena emptied her catheter bag when it was full and changed her diaper when she had a bowel movement. About once a day, the nurse also changed two discs that slipped into the back of her collar. The soreness in her throat gradually lessened, and eventually the doctor determined that she was sufficiently recovered.
“I think she’s ready to be moved.” The doctor told Elena at the end of a check-up. “I’ll arrange for the pickup and let you know when to prep her for transport.”
An hour or two later, the nurse returned and injected something into Monica’s IV. A few minutes after that, Monica was fast asleep. When she woke up, she was obviously in a different location. The room was humid and warm, and had walls of unpainted wood. Instead of a hospital bed, Monica was laying on some kind of table with a thin plastic-covered pad beneath her. Her right hand was still strapped to a rail and there was still an IV in her hand, but her left hand was free. A second table like her own sat a few feet to one side, but no one was on it. Shelves along one wall held painting supplies and drawers overflowing with brushes and carving tools. No sheets or blanket covered her, so Monica could clearly see that her legs were now encased in a mermaid tail. A strapless bra made of the same rubbery, scaly material as her tail covered her breasts. Monica tried to sit up, but after lifting her head a few inches, she felt some kind of cord attached to the back of her collar.
“Hey, be careful there!” Came a voice from behind her head. “Don’t break the charging cord!”
Monica felt some hands behind her neck pulling the cord from the bottom of her collar, and then a woman stepped into her view and helped her sit up.
“Are you feeling OK?” The woman asked.
“How do you like your new tail? It’s one of my best designs.” The woman asked again.
Monica reached down to feel the scales where they stopped at her waist. The scales were adhered directly to her skin, and she could feel them individually if she lifted one up or pressed on it. As she touched the scales, she noticed that there was now webbing between her fingers. She could still bend her fingers and grab things, but the webbing material prevented her from completely closing her fist. She looked over at her right hand and saw that it, too was webbed. When she bent her knees, Monica could feel some extra volume and weight around her legs, but they moved smoothly together. She tried to separate her legs but they felt like they were glued together – either that or they were held tightly by the tail material. A large fin extended beyond her feet. Above her knees, the scales were a bright purple color. From her knees down, that color transitioned to a bright yellow.
“Your tail is colored to match a fairy basslet.” The woman said. Isn’t it beautiful?”
Monica wanted to ask a hundred questions- “Who are you? Where am I? Who gave you the right to put me in this tail?” But she was still unable to make any intelligible sounds. So she just nodded her head. The tail was beautiful, not that Monica had any choice in the matter.
“You’re all done now.” The woman said. “The car from Mr. Simons’ estate should be here to pick you up in a few hours.”
Monica shook her head violently from side to side. She didn’t want to go back there! She tried to slide off the table, and she pulled her right arm, trying to get it out of the straps, but it wouldn’t budge. She turned her attention to the straps. With her left hand free maybe she could release them! There were two straps, one just below her elbow and one around her wrist. Each strap fastened her arm tightly to the steel railing, and each was held closed by a small padlock through a stud that passed through the thick leather material. But no matter how hard she twisted and pulled on her wrist, she couldn’t slide it through the strap.
The woman just watched her and shook her head. “You’ll just scrape your arm up doing that. And then what would you do? Crawl out through the door? Mermaids can’t move around on land very well. Even if you got away, you would suffocate in a day or so. Mr. Simons was very clear about making sure we changed the discs in your collar and kept it charged up, and he told us they only lasted about 24 hours.”
Monica stopped twisting her arm, which was indeed getting red and sore. At least she could get rid of the IV. She peeled off the tape holding the needle in place on her hand and pulled it out.
“It’s OK to take the needle out.” Said the woman. “We’re done with the sleeping drugs now. I’ll be back in a bit.”
The woman went out a door and Monica was left alone. She worked at the straps for a while longer, but it was obvious that she wasn’t going to get out of them. So she lay back down on the cushion to save her energy. How did the other mermaids escape? She had seen them in the restaurant pool, and she knew Mr. Ruiz had been searching for them. Perhaps not all hope was lost.
The time dragged on and eventually Monica’s bladder needed emptying. She sat up again and looked at her tail. There was a slit between two of the scales that seemed to be in about the right location, so she tried to push a finger inside to see where it went. Unfortunately, the webbing between her fingers prevented her from feeling more than a short distance inside. From what she could tell, the opening stretched to about three centimeters in diameter, and it did seem to reach down to her private parts. Now she just needed a place to sit and relieve herself. She tried pounding on the table with her hand—perhaps that would get the attention of the woman who had been here earlier.
The pounding worked. After just a few moments, the woman opened the door and looked in.
“What’s going on in here?” She asked.
Monica pointed between her legs.
“You need to pee?”
“Why do you think everything’s covered in plastic? Just go, and I’ll hose you down later.”
The woman closed the door and didn’t respond to any further pounding. “I guess that explains the concrete floor and the drain in the middle.” Monica thought. She stopped trying to hold in her urine and a stream dribbled out the slit in her tail and flowed down to one side. At least her scales were made to withstand liquids, so Monica didn’t feel any discomfort from the little pool of pee that formed underneath her bottom.
After another hour or so, Monica heard several voices behind the door. The woman came back into the room, followed by two of Mr. Simons’ guards. The woman went to a hose coiled up by one wall and turned it on. Then just like she had said, she washed Monica down with the hose, rinsing the urine down off of the table and into the drain on the floor.
“All right, boys. She’s all yours.” She told the guards.
The guards approached Monica. One of them deftly caught her free hand and twisted it behind Monica’s back. At this point, struggling seemed useless, so Monica let him hold her arm. If she had fought, he would only have to lift it up behind her to painfully twist her elbow. The other guard unlocked the two padlocks from the straps on her right arm and then bent it behind Monica’s back. He used some zip ties to bind the two arms together behind her. The woman left the room and came back pushing a wheelchair. One of the guards lifted Monica off of the table and placed her in the chair, and then they pushed her out the door.
The door opened into a big work room with barrels of liquid silicone and several tail molds laying on the floor. Posters on the wall showed various tail designs, and a large set of shelves had several finished tails and fins stacked on them.
“These tails aren’t nearly as nice as yours.” The woman commented. “But most of my regular customers don’t want theirs to be quite so permanent.”
A garage door in the wall of the room opened, and a white ambulance-style truck without any markings or lights was parked outside, with a limousine beside it. As the guard wheeled her toward the limousine, Monica saw the back door of the ambulance open. A guard got out, pulling a gurney behind him. As she rode past, Monica could see Tania strapped down to the gurney. She turned her head and Tania’s eyes looked black and unseeing. When they reached the limousine, one of the guards lifted Monica out of the wheelchair and set her down on the seat in the back, then locked a seat belt across her lap. Then that guard sat down beside her while the other one went to the front and started the car. They drove for a couple of hours and finally stopped. When the door opened again, Monica recognized the garage. They were back at the estate. Tears trickled down her cheeks, but she didn’t try to resist as the guards once again loaded her into a wheelchair.
They wheeled her around to the back of the building—a place Monica had not seen before. She could see the balcony on the second floor where the TV room was. But there was also a one-story glass-enclosed room emerging from the house below the balcony. The guards took her across the moat and into the glass room. One of the guards went to a counter on one side of the room and activated a touch screen device on top of it. When he did, a section of floor in the middle of the room slid back. The other guard wheeled Monica’s wheelchair up to the hole in the floor, and Monica could see that there was a water-filled, coffin-sized space below.
“Time to join the other mermaids.” Said the guard as he lifted Monica out of the wheelchair. He lowered her into the opening and then took some scissors out of a pocket and cut the zip-ties binding her arms.
“Now lay down in the water.” He commanded her. When she hesitated, he pushed gently on her shoulders. “Go on. You’re a mermaid. You can breathe underwater now.”
Monica lay back in the water, letting it cover her head. Once she was out of the way, the lid closed, leaving her trapped in a dark box filled with water.