You Don’t Own Me

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on

I cannot tell you how much I resent all the emissaries that keep showing up at my door—at all hours—demanding that I swear allegiance to this Queen or that Queen—RIGHT NOW! Queen of Summer. Queen of Winter. What do I care? They are of the Land. I am of the Water. Their business is none of my own.
I have had to abandon my home, the home of my mother’s mother’s people, in order to avoid these emissaries and their nasty tactics and egregious demands. I must have some semblance of Peace in my life. I am a solitary thing. I prefer to stay that way.

I decided to seek out the old breeding grounds that my mother had told me existed long before she was born….a place that had been abandoned long before her mother had been born. Too much human interference back in those days, before the humans went away. They left havoc, pollution, and noise wherever they went. Perhaps now, after so many years, it would be safe to return there.

It took days of swimming, traveling, floating, drifting, but at last, I did arrive at the old breeding grounds. There was no trace of my own kind; it had been too long ago since one of us had been to this place, much less used it for its intended purpose. I nosed around, seeking out predators, searching for prey. I needed to make sure I could protect myself from enemies, but I also needed to ensure my ability to eat. I had to be able to survive here.

In the end, I noted predators, prey, and vegetation, plus I felt…at home. There was a peace to be had here. I swam down, far down, until I discovered the entrance to the lairs that had housed my kind when they were here. A perfect hiding place. Those Queens could send any of their people, but none of them could reach me this far out to sea, nestled this deep within the bosom of the ocean. I was safe.

Until there came a day, many moons after my arrival when I heard a tiny wheezy sort of noise. One that I had once associated with humankind. My father had once played me recordings of such things. Humans were not supposed to exist on this planet any longer. It had been a hundred years, at least. And yet, as I rose forth to survey the noise, I saw what appeared to be a thin-framed, short creature. Two legs. Two arms. Hairy all over his head. He wore tattered clothing that fit him ill. He made strange noises under his breath as if always talking to himself. I kept beneath the surface, simply staring, fascinated.

He leapt from his little boat onto the rocky outcrop where the seabirds nested. He tore birds out of their nests by the throat, plucking up eggs as he came to them, throwing the parent birds aside as if they were debris. He stuffed the eggs in a bag draped over his shoulder. Once he was done, he bounced back into his boat, muttering and stammering to himself again. He sounded quite satisfied with his haul.

Now, I am not averse to bird eggs when the opportunity arises, but I would never steal so callously from these creatures. This human-thing made me angry. I flipped my tail, causing waves to thump against his boat. He grumbled and pulled his ropes closer to him, pushing his engine to growl harder. I guess he wanted to go faster, but his boat was not able to do so.

The whispers began from the back of my skull. My Gran, my great-grandmother, used to tell me stories from the days of humans. She had told me of our kind and how we could ensnare such creatures and bend them to our will. She told me many stories. Some of our kind had kept their humans as pets until they eventually wore out. Usually, they were merely food.

I found the scent of this one too foul, but in my armored heart, I felt pity for the martyred mother and father birds this thing had treated so shamefully. I felt the need to avenge them…

I pushed myself up above the surface of the water and began the Call that Gran had carefully taught me so long ago. I spread my fins wide, sweeping over the surface, allowing my pheromones to coat the top of the water. It took only seconds for the creature to turn around and stare at me.

I do not know what he saw. Gran told me these man-things would see whatever it was they wanted to see when they looked at us. The creature’s eyes grew huge. A strange looked covered his face. Water dribbled from his open gaping mouth. I shuddered in disgust but maintained my ruse.

The man-thing hopped into the water as if he were hopping up onto the land to steal the birds’ eggs once again. He plunged into my waters. I struck quickly, without mercy. I tore him frantically to shreds. Blood flooded out, drawing the attention of the bigger predators. I allowed them to feed, stroking their quivering sides as they did. I would not eat this flesh. I could not bring myself to it. The predators fed well; then the bottom feeders came to finish off the scraps. Such is the way of life here.

I went looking for the eggs. Perhaps I would eat them. Perhaps I would return them to their parents. I had yet to decide. Alas, it was to no avail. I could not hear the tinny engine. The boat had vanished. Perhaps a much larger predator than I had been aware of had helped itself to that tidbit. Ahh, well.

As I curled up in a dusty corner of the abandoned lairs, it struck me that if I had the Power to do this to a human, a Land-dweller—perhaps it would work on others who come from the Land. I was missing my own home. Even if the Power proved ineffective on some creatures, I had proven to be strong, cruel, and relentless in my time out here.

I made up my mind to return to my own home. The next emissary who showed up at my door was in for a drastic surprise. I hope there are plenty of meat-eaters at home still because I wouldn’t eat those creatures any more than I would a human.