“I wonder if there’s a good-sized mackerel in these waters…” It was here in the waters of Indonesia where I made my living.
With my snorkel and swimming goggles, I skim the ocean to find all kinds of fish, like Groupers or Mackerels. I’d sell the fish I caught to the local market and traders for profit. It isn’t easy living in such a remote part of the country. The closest convenience store was over twenty miles away, and what I made from selling fish that I caught was just enough to get me by. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about food since I eat some of the fish that I capture.
Sure, having fish every day is incredibly boring, but I don’t just have fish. I can get veggies by trading with the local farmers. The same goes for rice. Other meat derivatives like chicken are hard to come by, so I buy them at the convenience store.
The money I make from fishing mostly goes to necessities like clothes, electricity, and fresh water. Another chunk of it goes to my scuba gear. Anything else I have left over, I use for my hobbies.
Coming from a long line of divers, I can stay submerged compared to most people. I don’t know the technical details aside from the fact it has to do something with having a bigger spleen. Regardless, I eventually spotted a lone grouper.
Before I could take the shot, a familiar shark mermaid came out of nowhere and swam after it.
‘Dammit, not this again!’
Every time, every goddamn time! She always comes out when I least expect it! Seriously, how the hell does she know where I am?!
‘And…just like that, I missed my chance. Shit! I need to breathe!’ Swimming up to the surface, I swam back to my tiller fishing boat.
“Agh! That was a potential big sell, gone! I swear that Mershark’s gonna be the end of me!” Just as I cursed her out, the same Mershark appeared from the water’s surface.
“Huh?! That’s another win for me!” As if her interference wasn’t enough, she had the gall to flaunt the same grouper I was eyeing in her hands!
“What the hell?! I had my eyes on that Grouper, Iriko!”
“Well, too bad! You’re just too damn slow. So stupid. I don’t know why you bother wasting your time using that shitty spear gun to take something small like this down!” Small? That Grouper’s at least a hundred and fifty pounds…
“I don’t have gills that let me breathe underwater, nor do I have sharp teeth to catch them with either.” Iriko must’ve caught the grouper by its tail since there was a bite mark there.
“Excuses, excuses. You should’ve brought your scuba gear if that’s your excuse.”
“I can’t move nearly as quickly as you can underwater!”
“Uh-huh. Welp, I guess it’d break my heart if you left empty-handed…so here.” Pulling out something from her backpack, which she always has on her, Iriko handed me a water-tight food container.
“Let me guess…the catch of the day?”
“Yup! You better make sure you eat it tonight. It’ll help wash down the taste of defeat…HAHAHA!”
Tch! You fucking bitch…
“So remember, Kai. This match goes to me, Iriko! Again!” After sufficiently flaunting her superiority to me, Iriko finally left as she dived back into the ocean.
“…I really hate that girl…”
Iriko. She’s pretty enough for a Mershark. She has long hair with two ties on the back. She has a decent rack and some lovely hips. I stumbled upon her when she got caught in a fishing net. Naturally, as any good human being, I helped her out of her bind. Now, one would think she’d be grateful after being helped like that, right?
After freeing her, Iriko made it her mission to make my job a living nightmare! She insists on stealing my catch nearly every day! It’s been ongoing for the past six months now! I still make enough for necessities, but what about my hobbies? I warned the other fishermen about her, but they said they didn’t know who I was talking about.
Does that mean she targets me exclusively? If that’s the case, then she’s fucked in the head! Why would you mess with someone who rescued you?! It must be because she’s a Mershark. Other sea folks like Mermaids are much nicer in comparison…
“…” That said, she always makes me lunch. She calls it a ‘consolation prize.’ Don’t get me wrong, the food she gives back is delicious. But that doesn’t put money on the table.
“Hmm…this is…” Opening it, she made freshly cut fatty tuna sashimi with rice and pickled seaweed.
“…as always…” It’s good. Really damn good.
Staying up a little longer than I should have back home on my bed, I spent some time watching videos on my phone to pass the time.
Yes, this is one of my hobbies. It’s one of the few leisurely pleasures I have in my life.
“What the…” Scrolling through videos, I stumbled upon one of those ‘meme’ shorts. In particular, it showed a scuba diver grabbing a shark by its snout before flipping it upside down. “That doesn’t seem safe…” The shark made attempts to bite the scuba diver, but he remained calm and held the shark in place.
Then, a thought came to mind.
Would that work on Mersharks? Could I stop Iriko if I did that to her?
“Pfft…no way! Mersharks are completely different compared to their animal counterparts.” Dismissing the thought, I tucked in for the night. Gonna need all the rest I can get for tomorrow.
“Okay. I got my scuba gear this time. I missed out on that grouper the other day, but I heard from the other fishermen that they spotted Spanish mackerel somewhere around here.” With my speargun and proper scuba diving gear, I jumped out of my boat and into the ocean.
Getting close to being twenty meters underwater, most of the fish I spotted weren’t worth the effort of spearfishing. Though, while I was down there, I did manage to catch a Grouper by spearing it right on the head.
‘It’s pretty big. I won’t have a problem lugging it around underwater. But bringing it up to my boat’s gonna be a challenge.’ Before I could bring the Grouper up to the surface, I saw Iriko in the distance heading toward me.
I can’t talk to her since I don’t know magic that lets me speak underwater. The best I could do to communicate with her was through hand gestures.
“Oh? You finally got a Grouper before me? Impressive…” Shit. I don’t like the way Iriko’s staring at it. Is she gonna take this Grouper from me?
Oh no. Not this time! I have no way of knowing if that’ll work, but if there’s even the slightest chance it does work, I’ll finally have an effective way to deal with her bullshit.
“Hmm? What’s that?” Beckoning her to come toward me, I saw Iriko’s usual snarky smile crack for once. She backed away from shock for a moment. That didn’t last long before she shook her head and smiled. “You want to fight for the Grouper, huh? Fine. All I have to do is pull your mouthpiece off!” As she got closer and closer, the way she had her teeth exposed is making me second-guess my tactics. If this doesn’t work, what’s stopping her from biting my hand off in retaliation?!
Dammit, She’s within arms reach. It’s all or nothing!
“Eh, what’re you-” I reach out with my right hand before rubbing her on the bridge of her nose. Iriko doesn’t have a snout, so her nose was the next best thing I could think of. “Ah…what’s yo-you’re angle here?!” What the fuck am I doing?! I can feel her body trembling in my hand. I can see her gritting her teeth like she’s fighting back the urge to bite! Fearing the worst, I could barely keep my arms from shaking.
But, after a few more seconds of rubbing…
Hold on. Is this…really working?! Iriko’s eyes were all glazed as if she was in a trance. What did the guy do next in the video again? He…rotated the shark?
Taking a gamble, I use my other hand to rub her tummy.
Seriously, what the fuck is going on?! What I’m doing here is basically molestation, yet she seems to be enjoying it.
Carefully rotating her body while continuously rubbing her nose, I managed to flip her upside down in the water.
‘Ha…hahah! Get Rotated, idiot!’
Okay. I’ve done enough. Iriko looks out of it. Now’s my chance to take the Grouper up. As soon as I got to my boat, I mustered all the strength I had in my legs to pull the Grouper out of the water. It was smaller compared to the one I saw yesterday, but it’s still heavy.
“Hmm?” Coming out of the water, Iriko stared daggers right at me.
“You…why did you do that, you bastard?!” Oh man, I must’ve gotten her good! I’ve never seen Iriko’s cheeks so red like that before!
“Huh? What, did you get embarrassed getting rotated like a nurse shark?”
“Doesn’t feel so good to have the ‘catch of the day’ taken from you, huh? I’m so sick and tired of you always taking the big fish I catch!” That look on her face. Her lips were quivering. She’d open her mouth to say something, only to close it again. Is Iriko finally showing some level of regret?
“I don’t take all the fish. You still make enough money.”
“Yeah, to make a living! I have hobbies, Iriko. The bonus I get from hauling in a big catch sustains my hobbies. Now, if you don’t want to get humbled like that again, you should stop getting in my way.”
“…” Staying quiet the whole time, Iriko couldn’t even look me in the eyes. The guilt must’ve gotten to her this time. “FINE! You won’t have to worry about seeing me anymore, IDIOT!!!”
“Huh?! Who are you calling-” It was brief, but Iriko lifted her head to look at me. Her irises weren’t narrow like they normally were. Instead, they were as wide as they could get.
And, stranger than that. She was crying.
“…Iriko?” Before I could get another word in, Iriko turned around and dived back into the ocean.
A part of me felt compelled to go after her. But there’s no way I can catch up underwater. I don’t understand. Sure, I may have laid my frustrations on her a little thick, but anyone in my position would get angry if they had part of what was essentially their paycheck stolen, right?
So…why do I feel so guilty?
…Oh well. Knowing Iriko, she’ll get over it and come with a vengeance. For now, I’ll revel in my victory.
I convinced myself that Iriko would shrug off her defeat and bother me again today. To my surprise, she didn’t show up. And it wasn’t just the next day. The day after that. And the day after that, and so on, until a whole week had gone by.
I mean, Iriko’s a freaking Mershark! Knowing their temperament, I thought she’d be itching to get back at me the next day! From what I’ve seen of Iriko, I highly doubt she’s the type to give up or get petty over one loss.
I should be glad I can finally catch big fish without her getting in the way. Yet, it feels like a hollow victory. I hate to admit it, but I miss the competitions she’d impose on me, even when I knew she would win.
It doesn’t make any sense at all, but I’m performing worse than I usually do. My spearfishing skills went down since I didn’t feel the urgency to give it my all like I usually do when Iriko was around.
“…” Staring at the ceiling of my home, I couldn’t bring myself to finish my lunch. I can cook well enough, but I never realized how bland my cooking was compared to Iriko’s.
Oh, that’s right. I still have the waterproof food container Iriko gave me last week. I should give it back to her.
But how am I going to do that? Iriko’s been gone for a whole week. What if something happened to her? Did she get caught in a fishing net again?
Wait. With Iriko being a Mershark, maybe I can lure her out with my blood? Shit, am I really contemplating self-mutilation just to get her attention? I constantly second-guessed myself before eventually caving into doing it. So, I left my house to try and lure Iriko out so I could give the container she gave back to me.
And maybe because I’m worried for her…
“Okay, this is the same spot where I last saw her.” I don’t plan on diving deep today, so I didn’t bring my deep scuba diving gear. Mersharks have a stupidly acute sense of smell, so Iriko should be able to sniff me out. I could also do some spearfishing while I wait for her. That might even entice her to come out.
Taking out a pocket knife, I cut a small slit on my right pointing finger before jumping into the water. I floated on the surface near my boat and looked around to see if Iriko was around.
So far, nothing.
But there is a bluefin tuna swimming about. Catching one could mean a fat profit. Aiming with my speargun, I took the shot. Miraculously, I managed to hit it. But it wasn’t a one-shot kill. I got it right on its left pectoral fin. Naturally, the tuna squirmed in a panic. I was holding onto a rope on my boat, so I wasn’t going anywhere. That said, I have to reel it in before I run out of oxygen.
‘Come on! You stubborn piece of shit!’ Using every ounce of strength I had, I was barely able to keep myself from losing my grip on the speargun. ‘Stupid fish! Just give up al-‘ Suddenly, I felt the tugging from the speargun double in strength. It forced me to let go of it.
That kind of strength. It has to be Iriko.
Or not! Th-that’s a Bull shark! It must’ve been attracted to the blood coming from the Tuna’s wound. I need to get to my boat! But the shark’s already crossed the distance!
‘Oh god…am I going to die?’
My perception of time slowed to a crawl as I saw the shark opening its sharp maw. In the best-case scenario, I’ll lose an arm. Though, the shark seemed to be aiming for my legs. Fearing for the worst, I closed my eyes on instinct to await the inevitable sharp pain.
Only, it didn’t come. Instead, I heard a familiar voice screaming out to me.
“GRRRR!!!” Effectively T-boning the Bull Shark, Iriko came to my rescue and bit right into the Bull Shark’s gills. She tore a chunk of it off the shark before the water was covered in blood, obscuring my vision.
Before I knew what had happened, I got hurled out of the ocean before landing on my boat.
I was coughing up some seawater I swallowed by accident. It took me a good minute to catch my breath. My vision was still hazy from everything that had happened.
“A-are you alright?”
“Yeah…yeah I’m fine. Thanks for saving me, Iriko…”
“…sure. Anyway, see yah.”
“Huh?” My vision was still a bit blurry, but I saw Iriko turning around as if she was ready to leave. “WAIT!” This time, I grabbed her by her top dorsal fin.
“Iriko…please. Don’t leave. At least wait until my vision comes back!” She knows I’m serious. I tightened my grip on her fin. While Iriko didn’t say anything, she at least did what I asked and remained still. Once I got my vision back, Iriko immediately turned her face away.
“Iriko. Are you still mad that you lost last week? That was one loss. Sure, I humbled you by inducing you into a tonic immobility state, but the Iriko I know wouldn’t give up after one loss, right?” I can feel it from where I’m holding her already. She’s shaking like she’s about to cr-
“Are you fucking stupid?! Did you really think that stupid Rotating Shark Meme shit would work on Mersharks?!” Eh? Iriko’s not crying. On the contrary, she’s mad. REAL mad. “The reason some sharks go into a tonic immobility state is because those divers were rubbing them under their snout where they have pores that are electroreceptors! Mersharks don’t have those!”
“Shit. I feel real fucking stupid right now…”
“You are fucking stupid! I was avoiding you because you told me to leave you alone!”
“Wah…I mean…I did say that. But you’re a Mershark. I thought you’d be too stubborn to listen…”
“Oh wow, that’s another preconception you got wrong! Just because I’m a Mershark doesn’t mean we’re all super aggressive! Man, you really are a dumbass!”
“Hey, can you stop calling me dumb already? I get it. I’m sorry for misinterpreting the situation, alright?”
“No! Not alright! There should be limits to how dense a person could be!” Dense? What the hell did she mean by that?
“Okay…hold on for a second. What do you mean, dense? And in the first place, why do you keep taking my catch?!” Suddenly, the mood in the air changed. A light red blush appeared on Iriko’s cheeks.
“…It’s…it’s because I was trying to be clever.”
“Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. How does that make you clever?” Looking down at her lower body, Iriko clutches the dorsal fins on her hips.
“I was trying to show off how much easier it’d be for you if you had my help…”
“Help? Gee, you should’ve just said so. I don’t mind giving you a cut of my pay for helping me catch fish. But, if that’s the case, why do you take-”
“RAAAAAGHHH!!!” Scaring the absolute shit out of me, Iriko suddenly screamed while scratching her head furiously.
“Oh, for the love of. I wasn’t doing that because I want money, idiot! I’m doing that because I want to help you! The person who helped ME when I got stuck in that fishing net!”
“What do you think I made the lunches I give you out of?! I made them from the fish I took.” That’s right. I should’ve noticed.
“But, you said the lunches were a consolation prize? I figured you took pity on me in some way…”
“I mean, I kind of do. But really, I was doing it because I wanted to feed the man I love healthy meals…” Love…
Love. That’s what she just said, right? Love? I’m not just hallucinating or mishearing her, right? Iriko, in love with me?! Iriko’s always smiled whenever giving me meals. I should’ve noticed. The taste of defeat and the annoyance of having the fish I caught taken had made me too angry to realize it.
After scolding me, I noticed Iriko’s voice sounded more feminine and softer. She can’t even make eye contact with me. She’s serious. She’s dead serious. I didn’t do anything special to deserve her love. Anyone would’ve helped her if they found her tied to a net like that? So why?
“Iriko. Anyone here would’ve helped you if they found you tangled up in that fish net. It isn’t anything special. To fall in love with someone just because of that…”
“I didn’t plan on falling in love at first. The meals were my way to thank you. I wanted them to be special, so I needed fresh ingredients, like the fish you catch. The competition I imposed on you was just an excuse for me to take the fish. As we competed, I found it fun to be around you. And that soon turned to affection.” She’s even twiddling her thumbs. I didn’t realize Iriko could be so cute. Now that I got a long look at her, she was quite adorable. That’s when I noticed bite marks on her arms and caudal fin. She had more bites in her caudal fin compared to her arms.
“Iriko…why do you have so many bite marks on your arms and caudal fin?” Why does Iriko look so meek all of a sudden?! She’s biting her bottom lip. It’s kind of cute.
“They’re stress bite marks…” Eh? Pulling her tail to her chest, Iriko starts to bite her caudal in front of me. “I was really hurt when you told me to leave you alone. I cried day after day while biting into my arms and tail. I was mad at myself. I should’ve been upfront with how I felt about you. I also felt bad since I didn’t know the big fish you catch were for your hobbies. I’m sorry…”
Without second-guessing myself, I reached out with both arms and caress her cheeks. Using my thumbs to wipe the tears at the corner of her eyes, I gently rub Iriko on her forehead.
“No, I should be the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry for being such a dense idiot, Iriko. I want you to know. The meals you made are delicious. I didn’t realize just how bland the food I made for myself. A homemade meal from someone who loves you makes all the difference in the world.”
“Um…I don’t deserve it after everything I’ve said and done to you. But…” Conveniently timed as it was, I grabbed the waterproof food container Iriko gave me. “I want more. I want us to compete more. And…I want more of your home-cooked meals. I love you, Iriko.” Iriko’s eyes widened as tears began to form around them again. “Iriko?” Before I could do anything else, she lunged toward me with her arms stretched out, hugging me tightly before knocking me flat on my back.
“Love you. I love you I love you I love you!” Rubbing her head against my chest while repeating herself over and over again, I patted her head in an attempt to calm her down. “WAH!!! I can’t believe this is happening! I love you, Kai!” And with that, we became a couple that day. And, as for the foreseeable future…
“Dad! Again, do it again!” Five years had passed after that day. Iriko and I skipped a few steps when it came to a ‘proper’ relationship ladder and got her pregnant a few days later. With how abrupt it was, we had a quick local wedding. Most people would go on multiple dates before sealing the deal, let alone getting a kid. But Iriko and I already knew everything we needed to know about one another.
“Okay, okay. Come here, sweetheart.” The one who carried out the marriage ceremony for us was a Sea Bishop, so she blessed me with Poseidon’s magic. It lets me swim faster, talk, and breathe underwater.
“Hehe…that tickles!” Rubbing our five-year-old daughter Jessica on her nose, I flipped her over and rotated her so she’d be upside down.
“Get rotated, idiot!”
“Hehehe! You’re the idiot, dad!” Iriko was pretty cranky during pregnancy. To spite me, Iriko told Jessica how I tried to put Iriko in a tonic immobility state. Since she’s just a kid, Jessica asked me to do it to her too. It’s a tradition now since Jessica and Iriko would play along with it.
“Hey, don’t leave me out, dear.” Coming back from the doctors, Iriko gave me a smooch on the lips before patting Jessica on the forehead.
“Heh, welcome back, Iriko. How did the doctor’s visit go?”
“Great! He said I’ll be expecting in ten months…” Yup. I got her pregnant again. Iriko didn’t seem to mind, however. “I’m sure I’ll be a bit cranky again soon. So I’ll need to borrow your shoulders again later…”
Right. Whenever we have sex or when Iriko feels stressed, she asks for my shoulder so she can bite into it. She doesn’t bite hard enough to draw too much blood, thankfully.
That…and it kind of feels good…518 Views