“HomoPiscis?” the woman’s voice was disbelieving and perhaps more than a bit outraged as she read the plaque situated in front of the massive tank. It’s water was far from clear… murky and hard to see through, but the look on her face made it clear she didn’t actually believe there was anything to see.
“Yes, Doctor. HomoPiscis. Obviously this isn’t an accepted term among the scientific community… but as far as the scientific community is concerned, what is in that tank doesn’t actually exist.” The man standing nearby was dressed like he belonged on a beach in Hawaii more than in the huge laboratories she’d been touring all day, with his khaki shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and flipflops. Even his hair was far from professional, hanging around his face in slightly stringy blonde waves. Most of what she had seen were normal sea animals, being tested and observed in tanks that had been set up to be as much like the creature’s natural environment as possible.
“Very funny joke. What’s really in there? Let me guess… this tank isn’t actually being used for anything and you all slapped a plaque in front of it as a joke for the new staff. Well, it was a nice try, but I’m not biting.” A slender hand lifted to tuck frizzy brown curls back behind her small ear and green eyes rolled in mild annoyance at the thought that they actually believed this was the appropriate kind of joke to play.
“Oh I assure you, Doctor… this is no joke. Mai is a little shy, but she’s in there. We’ve been searching for a mate for her, but unfortunately, they’re a little hard to find, and almost impossible to catch. We only got Mai because she washed up during a mass whale beaching at an undisclosed location.”
“Undisclosed?” Lilian still didn’t sound convinced, her brow arched over the top rim of her glasses.
“That’s classified, I’m afraid. Only those researching the specimen are privy to that information.”
Scoffing, Dr. Lilian Rogers was ready to walk away from the tank when something heavy thudded against the glass. Head snapping back toward it, she found herself staring at something that was too incredible to believe. A hand was pressed to the glass, it’s arm connected to a body obscured by the murky hue of the water. A large fin fluttered through the water nearby, it’s tip peeking out over the surface of the water itself. Wide eyed, the academic immediately moved closer, staring in disbelief as the hand slid along the glass, fingertips tapping lightly against it. “Unbelievable…” she murmured.
She was just lowering her head to stare closely at the hand, determined to find something to prove that it was an ellaborate hoax, when it pulled away and was replaced suddenly by a face. Startled by the pair of wide eyes that stared through the glass at her, Lilian screamed and stumbled back slightly, one hand pressed to her heart as she tried desperately to calm it’s rapid pace and breathe normally once more. The creature that stared back at her was remarkably human in appearance, with a cloud of red hair floating around her, a delicately boned face, and lush lips. Her skin, though pale white and soft looking, glistened in the obscured light from above, and Lilian could make out what looked to be the faint outlines of small scales.
The girl’s eyes were wide and an odd shade of amber, and what looked to be two sets of eyelids slid over them now and then as she stared out at the human gawking at her. A hand lifted once more, pressing to the glass, and Lilian could describe the look on her face as nothing short of heartbreaking… She looked so sad, so confused. Compelled by something she couldn’t begin to understand, she lifted her own hand to press it to the glass, listening as Mai’s lips parted, revealing two rows of teeth that were sharper than a normal human’s. A moment later, as Liliana was watching the flickering of gills along the girl’s neck moving slightly, Mai let out a long, sad sounding cry that could have been described as a whales, though higher pitched and softer, before she pushed back from the glass, swimming upside down momentarily before disappearing back in to the murk.
Liliana was still standing there with her hand against the glass and shock written across her features when Dylan spoke once more. “You’re lucky, Doctor. Mai seems to like you… most people go months before they get their first sighting of her like that. Usually we have to wait till she’s in the observation and testing tanks to be able to really get a good look at her.”
“Was that…” Lilian couldn’t make the next words coming.
“A mermaid? Yes, though we prefer the scientific term.”