To start at the beginning, use this link: Link to chapter 1.
The next morning, the mermaids were given another stack of ration bars to share and they each got several swallows of milk from the drinking tubes. The others settled down to the floor of the pool to write messages in the sand, but Monica felt restless and practiced swimming instead. It was still tiring, but after a time she felt like she was getting a little better. She was just settling down with the others when they heard noises coming through the ceiling above them. They all swam up near the top of the pool and waited. After a few minutes, a hatch in the ceiling opened and another mermaid dropped out – Tania. They all gave her a hug and then Christina started leading her around the pool, giving her the same tour she had given Monica the day before. A few minutes later the hatch opened again and Andrea fell through. That made eight mermaids now. Seven of them were former harem girls – half the total number. Did Mr. Simons plan to turn them all into mermaids? What would he do with them when he was done? He didn’t seem interested in watching them perform like Carlos had.
No new mermaids were added in the next two days. According to the others, this was unusual. Before then, there were new additions every day. So maybe eight was going to be the final number. There were ten sets of clamps on the wall, so Monica wondered if they still might get two more. Though a few were a little reluctant at first, the other mermaids soon joined Monica in her morning swims around the pool. There was little else to do, as Mr. Simons apparently didn’t eat in the mermaid restaurant area, and he hadn’t contacted the mermaids in any way other than to dump them together in the pool. On the third day, things changed. In the morning, Mr. Simons and two other people came into the restaurant and Mr. Simons spoke to the mermaids through the underwater speaker system.
“Good morning, girls.” He said. “Today you are going to get your pictures taken. This is Francis, my photographer, and his assistant. I expect you to do everything he asks you to do. If he reports back that you have been cooperative, you will get breakfast. Now, swim out in front where Francis can see you.”
They all swam out and lined up in front of the clear wall of the pool. Mr. Simons handed the microphone to Francis and left the room. The assistant started setting up a tripod, camera, and lights while Francis spoke to the mermaids.
“What beautiful and challenging subjects!” He exclaimed. “Turn around so that I can see your backs.”
They followed his directions and he took a few group photos, then started to separate them out and work with each mermaid separately. His greatest difficulty came with their hair. In the water, their hair tended to float around their heads, getting into their faces and eyes. The mermaids had taken to braiding each other’s hair or knotting it behind their heads to keep it out of the way. They had no rubber bands or bobby pins, but they found creative ways to knot the ends of the braids or even tie them with a few strands of loose hair. Francis didn’t want any braids or knots. He ordered them to let their hair down, then spent a lot of time trying to get photos where the loose hair floated attractively instead of getting in the way. It took about three hours for Francis to get all the photos he wanted, and the mermaids were extremely grateful when he was done and they were finally able to get their breakfast of ration bars and milk.
What do you think that was all about? Monica wrote in the sand after they had settled down.
I think he’s planning to sell us. Answered Jennifer.
What makes you think that?
Remember how he talked about efficiency and making money? Mr. Simons is all about business. He wouldn’t keep us here without a reason, and his reasons always lead to making money. I think he plans to sell us off, and the pictures were for advertising.
I’m afraid that makes a lot of sense. Christina added. Carlos sold one of the first batch of mermaids before they got away. And I heard him talking about who he might sell the others to.
What would someone want with a mermaid? I doubt there are many people with private pools where we could perform. Tania wrote.
I’m afraid the people he would sell us to are more interested in our performance in bed than in a pool. Wrote Christina. And we would be the perfect bed slaves – our tails make it so we can’t run away, and if we did, with no breathing discs we would suffocate in a day or so.
After their conversation, the mermaids were subdued as they thought about their possible futures. At least now they were together, and they were mostly left alone. But what would the future bring?