Eellen by Louise Dragon
Her nights twisted into the fevered nightmare of a creature she hated but couldn't help being.
Eyes opened to a different day . . . sunlight and sparkle from a high basement window moved Ellen’s mind out of the murky shadows and into a bright new realm. The cycle now broken, seven bloody years moved into the background . . . begging to be forgotten.
Ellen looked at her pale white hands – like lumps of dead fish. She viewed color beginning to bloom into a smooth pinkness. She was becoming whole again. All that work . . . all the sacrifices -- just to spend these short bursts of life as human as possible.
The tall woman limped into her underground bathroom to gaze into the mirror. She reached out and ran a large pink hand over the surface of the cool glass. She watched as her scrambled features rearranged. Liver-colored gills on the sides of her neck healed over into smooth pink flesh. Ropes of salmon-colored appendages softened into glistening blonde hair on a football shaped head that grew rounder as Ellen watched her reflection. Glittering black stones recessed in caves of lumpy fish-white flesh peeped out and softened into warm brown eyes. Needle sharp fangs gradually smoothed over to even white teeth that fit into her now normal sized human mouth.
Looking down, Ellen saw her flippers had separated back into five toes on each foot and this time when she moved to walk, the limp was gone.
The naked blonde woman stepped into the shower and adjusted the needle-like spray to soft warmth that spread throughout her body. She soaped and shampooed but always imagined a lingering seaweed-ocean odor like decaying fish emanating from her talented pores no matter how thoroughly she washed the new pink body.
Ellen dressed in a loose flowing caftan of soft silk, tied back her blond tresses with a silk ribbon and pressed the code numbers into her underground security system keypad. A large metal door hissed quietly open letting her into a normal looking Louisiana cellar complete with trickling ground water and mild mildew scents. She climbed the stairs and proceeded to check out her small beach house. The cleaning service had done well and the house still looked lived-in, warm, and inviting. She stood briefly on the back porch and gazed across Crowley Cove at the secret biology lab where she had once worked as an aspiring marine biologist. She shook her head sadly and moved back inside.
Ellen made a few phone calls with her new rich, throaty voice. She knew she had a mere seven days to work and needed to continue with the façade of running this house at least as well as she had in her past life.
After her mundane chores, Ellen scratched a new note and a check for the cleaning service and headed back down to her underground lab.
She had seven days to break the cycle or she was doomed to spend another seven nightmare years as an underwater predator of the most hideous proportions.
Ellen knew there were hundreds of varieties of anguilliformes, divided into many families and generations.
Absently she passed the naturally occurring underwater cave access that she had discovered by accident years ago in the basement of her then new home. Her lab smelled of ocean salts and brine and was comprised of a huge concrete square with worktables in the center and various aquarium tanks bubbling across the three walls surrounding the underwater cave access.
Ellen proceeded to extract blood samples from the eel species in her tanks and compare the results with her own blood. She had to find blood from a generation of the culprit that had bitten her fourteen years and fourteen days ago in this very room and she had seven days and seven nights to get it right.
Her boggled mind was on the verge of remembering just what those people across the cove had been doing to the sea creatures in this area before her accident.
Had they been making the creatures more aggressive for some reason? Or had they just been looking for a new acne cure? Ellen’s mind could no longer remember. She only remembered the bite from the infected animal, the sudden anger, and then blinding hunger that sent her careening through the waters in search of . . . death. Killing and tearing had become her world. Eating and swallowing chunks of raw flesh that was still alive in her narrow cavernous mouth – the thought was almost pleasant and she found herself wiggling a little on her stool . . . anticipating the change.
WAIT! She still had six more days . . . unless.
Ellen glanced up at the clock and noticed she was on the seventh hour of humanity.
Could it be?
Was the process accelerating?
Her brain kept interrupting her human thoughts and injecting her mind with visions of killing – visions of blood, warm and salty in her cold mouth.
Numbing cold, rubbery skin, gaping gills, killing and eating. Once again life became simple for Ellen as she soared through the waters of Crowley Cove.
Author's Note: The first paragraph of this story (although somewhat modified) is courtesy of #storystarters, a Twitter Application.
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