"Thanks for letting me come along on the research trip, Dad." Kyle called over the noise from her perch on the bow of the boat. Her long brown hair was blowing all around her face. It was very annoying so she pulled it back into a simple ponytail.
"You needed to come anyway if-"
"I know, I know. If I want to 'inherit' the marine park from you." Kyle interrupted him. Her father smiled at her before rejoining the crewmembers on the main deck.
Right now, the boat was a mess of netting, loud machinery, and men yelling out numbers of a certain fish that they had caught. Nothing worth sketching now, Kyle thought to herself. Instead, she focused her bright brown eyes on the blue-green ocean below. She pictured a small group of dolphins swimming along side the bow and began to draw the scene in her head. She leaned back into a more comfortable position and continued to draw. Suddenly, a big paw appeared in the middle of her picture.
"Rex!" A large black dog licked her face. "Stop it."
She tried to push him away but he wouldn't quit. No matter how many times he came onto this boat, he was still nervous about it. Soon, the dog had knocked her sketch book off her lap.
Kyle pushed him away once more then reached down to grab her book. As she sat back up, a loud thud echoed from the large tub on the fish deck. All of the fish that needed to be counted were dropped into that tub. Her eyes widened as she watched the last of the fish fall into the tub. She was certain that there was an arm in that pile, only it had a huge fin on it. She shook her head and looked again. That didn't help. Now she could make out the limp fingers draped over the side of the tub.
"Omigod." In a split second decision, she leaned over towards the dog next to her. "I'm so sorry." And with that, she pushed him over the side of the boat. The poor dog yelped as he splashed into the water.
"DAD!" Kyle yelled.
The machine's stopped and the crew came running.
"He slipped and I couldn't catch him," Kyle told them as she slipped out of their way. They were all too busy worrying about Rex than to watch what she was doing.
She knew she didn't have much time, so began pushing fish away from the arm. Soon she had uncovered a head and torso of a very handsome teenage boy. He was unconscious from the special chemicals they put on the nets to knock out the fish. She wrapped her arms around his chest and pulled him out of the tub. Her jaw dropped at the large fish tail that was attached to the boy's torso.
"Oh, my…." was all Kyle could manage to say. The men shouting by the bow brought her back to reality. She dragged the merman over to one of the small lifeboats and lifted him in. She covered the boat with its rain jacket before running back to the group of people helping to rescue Rex. She was just in time to see the bedraggled dog pulled back aboard. He was shaking more out of fear than from the cold water.
"Oh, Rex, I'm so sorry!"
"Please, Jet! Please!"
"Come on," Kyle begged.
"No! I can't even believe you dragged me down here in the dead of night after scaring the crap out of me in my room-"
"Jet, please! Keep your voice down," Kyle cut in.
"- and you haven't even told me why yet," he carried on. The pair of friends were down on the dock that stretched into the cove near the little town.
"I will just - please promise."
"That you will shut your mouth and never talk about anything that happens tonight."
Jet sighed angrily. "Fine," he said. "I'm already out here anyway. What are we doing?"
Kyle gave him a quick hug. "Thank you. Bring your boat." She nodded towards the little motorboat they were standing next to. She waited for him to start the engine and pull away from the dock. She led him through the maze that made up the harbor. Eventually, they came up to one of her father's research boats. He cut the engine as a life boat was lowered into the water.
"What did you need my boat for?" Jet asked as she jumped down into the lifeboat.
"It's faster than this one."
"That still doesn't tell me what we're doing," he stated, leaning over the wheel of the boat with drooping eyelids.
"We need to take someone somewhere."
Kyle pulled back a thick blanket to reveal the merman. "Him."
Jet's eyes widened, fully awake now. "Are you kidding?"
"Are you blind?"
"This is crazy!"
"Well, we can't just leave him here." Kyle argued.
"I can't believe it."
"I know." Jet looked up at her. "He's still out cold." she continued.
"That must be some stuff you put on those nets."
"Yeah. I know I'm never going to touch them now."
Jet smirked. "So…where're we going?"
"The island." She pointed to the small island not far from the cove. It could be seen clearly in the moonlight.
"Alright. I can manage that."
"Thanks, Jet." With another hug, she said "Help me move him."
Slowly and carefully, they lifted the merman into the motorboat and drove away from the harbor. It didn't take them long to reach the dock on the far side of the island. It was out of anyone's sight and only the main dock was monitored. Once again, Jet cut the engine and tied the boat to the dock.
Gently, the pair pulled the snoozing merman out of the boat and carried him to the nearby beach. Once they had set him down on the sand, Kyle headed back to the wooden pier.
"Where are you going?" Jet asked her.
"I thought I heard something fall." Halfway down the dock, she found a small pouch with a long string attached to it. She came back to where Jet was standing.
"Look at this." She opened the pouch and found a small ring."
"Wonder where he found that."
Kyle shrugged at the same time a groggy moan came from the merman.
"Time to go," Jet whispered. He turned and headed back to the boat.
Kyle was still staring at the ring. It seemed so familiar to her. The sound of the engine coming alive made her look up. Quickly, she bent over the merman and slipped the pouch into his half-open hand. After a short moment, she looked up to his face and found his eyes watching her.
"Kyle! Come on."
"Coming!" She quickly stood and ran to the motorboat.
"What were you doing?" Jet asked her as she climbed into the boat.
"Nothing. Just go." But he was already pulling away from the island. When Kyle was sure Jet wasn't looking, she opened her hand and continued to stare at the little ring that seemed so familiar.