Into the Deep
That’s Just a Coincidence
After reaching the cavern, we discovered it had caved in. The entrance was completely smashed, and we couldn’t tell if the whole cave had collapsed, or just the exterior.
Atlantis shoved some of the bigger rocks aside, and after I joined her, we soon discovered the inside was still intact.
It turns out, no one removed debris or cleaned up this cave. Abby’s torn dress lay in fragments on the dusty ground.
All of the sudden, ghosts started to whisper all around us. Atlantis screamed when another one raked her arm, dragging its ghostly claws across her arm. When one reached out to me, I shrieked, but it hesitated. It didn’t touch me.
“This is her,” the ugly demon whispered:
“Across the sea,
Lies souls,
Of the weak,
The strong,
And the old.
She is waiting there,
And her waiting,
Will have no end.”
I shuddered, thinking of Abby’s cave. I had absorbed her energy... but I didn’t absorb her body, at least, I didn’t think so.
Taking Atlantis’ hand, we swam as fast as we could from the spirits. Then we stopped. Abrina’s body was laying there, what was left of it, anyway. It had been already decomposing (it had been almost four years) for some time, and the added erosion of the water made it gruesome.
I was surprised the body was even left. It had seemed the body had disappeared after Abby had died. Apparently not.
“This rotting is not natural,” Atlantis said.
“Why not?”
“Look at it. It’s been here for a couple of days. This isn’t Abby’s body.”
“Then who’s is it?” Then Atlantis did the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. She leaned in close to the dead thing, and TOUCHED IT.
“It’s fake,” she informed me, standing up.
“I so did not need to know that.”
Then I noticed something. It was thrown on the ground with its arms and legs pointing at the same angle. On one side, there was nothing. But on the other, a opening in the cave’s wall was yawning wide.
Beyond the hole, I could see pieces of coral sticking out of the ground. They were in rows upon rows.
“It all makes sense now!” Atlantis suddenly exclaimed.
“What does?” I asked, still staring at the coral.
“Across the sea, lies souls of the weak, the strong, and the old.” Atlantis repeated the nursery rhyme.
“It does not make sense!” I argued.
“No, look - ‘Across the sea’ that was the trip in the portal. We came to this cave. Which is-“ Atlantis walked to where the body’s legs were pointing, “exactly south of these legs. It’s literally across from here!”
“That is just a coincidence,” I said, seeing where this was going.
“Hold on. ‘Lies souls of the weak, the strong, and the old.’ That could be a graveyard!”
“There isn’t a graveyard.”
“What did you think that was?” Atlantis pointed to the land with the coral sticks.
“A garden?” I tried.
“I’m ignoring that. Anyway, all the spirits I keep seeing here are coming from that graveyard! And did you see their profiles? Some were decorated Oceania Naval generals. Those are the strong. There are also old people wandering around.”
“Okay. But who are the weak?”
“I’ve also seen the weak. They’re the children. Sixty years ago, a huge epidemic took over the Mer Realm. It hit unborn children the worst. I remember this cemetery now! After all the children died, multiple fires happened, which was insane, because we live in the ocean. The fires were Greek Fire, which burns underwater-“
“Atlantis. Get to the point.”
“As I was saying, everyone wanted to forget all those crises, so they rebuilt all the Mer cities far away from this graveyard, so they could forget it all.”
“So what you’re saying is...” I motioned for her to go on.
“Whoever is sending us those messages is somewhere out there,” Atlantis said, gesturing to the graveyard. Before, it looked like a garden that had been forgotten, but now, it looked like the end of the world.

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