It’s beautiful, watching the Sun die. The blue sparks, flowing into green.
We did this to ourselves. That’s the real shame.
When money wins, when power wins, no one else has a voice, until there is no one left with a voice.
I stir slowly within my cave, taking a deep yet tentative breath. The air seems…all right. It isn’t the cleanest, but it never is any more.
I move quietly, seeking to bring no attention to myself, as I move closer to that light. Sometimes there are comets and meteor showers. A Sun dying, taking out the Universe around it as it goes.
What a shame.
The water here is so cold. I wonder how the center of the planet became unhinged and loose. It lost its heat. No longer molten and pure, the ores have all been mined out of it.
I feel alone. I know there are others like me, also in hiding. We are the silent ones. We slide beneath the waves, sticking to the shadows, listening, gleaning, stealing what we can.
As I move closer to the barrier where the beach sands turn against the waves and become solid ground, I see it, the Halfling, playing there with a shovel and a bucket. So young. So fresh.
I feel sorry for it, for all of them actually. I don’t know how breeders continue to do such things, bringing these tiny people into a world that strikes at them to kill them before they even have a chance to leave the womb.
This one is laughing, dark curls flying in the surf’s surging air. I move closer. I sense no adults. I sense no guardian. I don’t even feel a pet or anything else near.
Could this child be out all alone? It is early, even by their standards.
I creep a little closer, ever wary of the traps their kind lays out for all that thrive in these waters.
Today there are none.
There is only the child. There is only me.
I break the surface. The child giggles and runs to me.
‘Are you a mermaid?’
I shake my head and smile. I move closer. If there is some plot to ensnare me, I have taken that final step. I cannot defend myself here. The waters are far too shallow for me to maneuver cleanly.
‘Would you like to swim with me, little one?’
It titters at me, nodding its head up and down, wading into the water, so close, so close.
I have come close to saving children such as this before. It does not always end well, either for me or for the child. Usually parental interference fouls my catch.
Today, there are no issues.
It toddles into my arms and wraps itself against my neck. It smells soft and vulnerable. I kiss it, giving it the Breath. Hopefully this one is strong enough to survive.
It is not an easy thing to brave the pressures of the waters. I offer up some prayers. I snuggle the little child in return.
Now, back into the waters, back into the shadows, back home we go.
There are more of us, hidden within our community. A child like this, for this reason, we come together to raise it up, to nurture it. To protect it from its own kind.
If only it learns to live that long.
**From The Vaults, from 2015