A FISH OUT OF WATER
by FRAN L
An unexpected incident for
enjoyed being up and about this early. At 7am, Tracy Island
was every inch the tropical paradise their father promised it
would be before they moved there. At this time of the day, the
sun was still tinted with orange from its rise and early in
its journey across the sky. The air was crisp, not yet too
lost in the humidity of the day to remember the cool tropical
night before. The coffee was fresh, a particular pleasure for
any American, especially one who would usually have to have
the end of a pot-full and hope that not too many grains had
wormed their way through the filter. The house was quiet.
Scott was up, (Scott, it seemed to Gordon, was always up,) and
about somewhere, as was Kyrano. But Gordon was alone was he
moved out past the swimming pool, wandering idly towards the
beach, and the peace and beauty of his environment took his
it would have been a blatant lie on his part to state that,
love early mornings though he did, this was the first one he
had managed to rise for in a month. He wasn't crazy- his comfy
cosy bed at 7am was also extremely appealing.
didn't really have much of a plan for passing these extra
hours he had acquired. The main points of his morning agenda
were already completed.
of coffee: check.
nice to keep busy.
cross-legged on a large flat stretch of rock that overlooked
the beach, Gordon was pondering the next point on his mental
agenda, (Eggs and Bacon? Cereal? Pancakes?) when his brown
eyes settled upon something the twenty-two year old found
moments like this when Gordon did sincerely thank the heavens
for his home. It was an aquanaut's dream- surrounded by his
element as it swirled and changed and lived, completely
oblivious to the little man who looked on in awe and
fascination. And why should the sea give a sack of seaweed
about me? thought Gordon, drinking from his coffee mug. It was
here millennia before I was a sparkle in anyone's eye, and
it'll still be here millennia after I'm gone.
Gordon didn't know how long he sat there, watching idly as the
sea continued being alive before him, letting his mind wander
over everything and nothing. He took in the swell and rhythm
of the waves, the spray of the water hitting the rock
outcrops, the flight of the gulls swooping above in search of
breakfast (Breakfast? Man, I'm letting my agenda go to seed)
and leaning over, he watched a crab scramble from one end of
the beach and make its slow way across the hundred yards of
beach before finally reaching the all-enveloping arms of the
what, Crabbie, I think you've got the right idea.
awareness that the water was looking more and more refreshing
made Gordon realise that the sun was much higher in the sky
than he last recalled, and beating down mercilessly on him.
Though clad only in a white t-shirt and dark blue trousers, he
knew that the heat would be uncomfortable within another half
an hour. Time to find some little swimming shorts, or the
shade of the house.
and teem it with breakfast. Definitely pancakes.
deep contented breath, Gordon unwrapped his numbed legs and
rose steadily to his feet. Rolling his empty coffee mug
between the palms of his hands, he let his eyes rake the sea
once more, loving how it merged with the bright blue of the
sky where they met at the horizon. The wind ruffled his red
hair gently as he stretched and his eyes wandered, focusing on
nothing now that thoughts of maple syrup were invading his
he stopped still. Some little flutter of movement had caught
his eye, somewhere off to the left of his vision. They
flickered about the area of water he thought it came from, off
to the end of one of the large rock formations that led out to
the sea like a curving arm, but he saw little. The glare of
the sun on the waters was not helping matters, and after a
moment Gordon grinned, put it down to
breakfast-absence-induced hallucinations and turned to head
back up to the villa.
hundred yards out to sea from the beach, by one of the last
rocks in the arm formation, was a person. Down here, in the
nether regions of the Pacific Ocean, miles and miles from the
next inhabited landmass, wherein no craft or ship could pass
without detection by the highly sensitive equipment concealed
within Tracy Island.
appeared to be bathing.
took a good long moment, just to absorb the absurdity of the
situation and, this done, sprinted along his rock perch until
he found access to the arm formation. Removing his socks, the
only footwear he had bothered with that morning, and ditching
the coffee mug, he proceeded to make his way along the wide
and thus-far regular rocks as they led him out into the sea.
path became too broken and wet with spray, Gordon stopped and
crouched to the rock, to make himself less of a target to the
sea wind, and to take the opportunity to observe the figure at
It was a
woman, he realised, now no more than six metres from him, down
in the water, close to one of the further, more separate rocks
in the arm. Though he knew the water to be fairly deep this
far out, she was finding it apparently simple to stay afloat
as she lifted the water into her semi-cupped hands and sent it
into her face, up her arms or into her hair. She seemed
perfectly content to continue her activities, fruitless though
they seemed to Gordon.
worried that the figure might be in some kind of distress that
he could not discern from the shore, but now it was perfectly
clear to him that this was not the case. The woman was
splashing the water about her enthusiastically, as though
enjoying the sensations a lot more than a woman her age should
be. He guessed that she was in her early twenties. She
certainly couldn't be much older. Her dark brown hair was cut
short on her head, with only about four inches grown all over.
It seemed rather uneven to him; the sort of carefree chopping
that would get most hair stylists fired, he supposed. Not that
he claimed to know much about the fickle world of ladies
her head as her arms raised a spray of water about her, and
Gordon froze as her eyes suddenly met his. From an odd
fascination with the airborne water, her expression dropped
with surprise at seeing him, her eyebrows leaping. They stared
at one another for a moment, and Gordon took in every aspect
of her face, now that it was bared before him for his perusal.
He noted her pale skin and dust-pink lips, certainly, but was
most startled by her eyes. They appeared too big, somehow, or
was that just because she was surprised? And they seemed to
focus too sharply, from before with the water she had played
with and watched with interest, and now upon him. He found it
blinked several times, before her face broke into a somewhat
delighted grin and she began swilling her arms around on the
surface of the water again, her eyes not leaving him, now
watching him with the same focused interest she seemed to
watch everything. Gordon moved, cautiously, to a crouching
stand, and made his way steadily to the edge of his perch. It
was as close as he could get to her without chancing a leap to
the next in the formation, which he didn't consider to be a
good idea in bare feet.
lowering himself to sitting on the edge of the rock, which was
made more difficult by his reluctance to take his eyes from
this intriguing anomaly, Gordon took a deep breath and called
loudly to her.
he'd said it, he felt stupid. She was obviously fine. No
"Hello", "Who are you?" or "How's the family?" Nothing that
might actually tell him anything about her. No, just an
affirmation of the obvious for Gordon, thank you very much.
didn't seem to mind. She just put her head to one side,
grinned even more interestedly and said nothing, did nothing
but stare at him and move her arms on the surface of the
water, still blinking often. Gordon tried again.
you get here?" Better Gordon, you're thinking now, he
She just smiled, her eyes unwaveringly taking him in, from his
head to his feet, as if he were the most interesting thing to
pass her way all morning.
traces of suspicion began to enter Gordon's mind at her
behaviour. As International Rescue they had gathered more
enemies than they even knew about, and he had the profound
feeling that it had made him very sceptical.
better sceptical than dead.
near impossible for anyone to approach their home without
detection, which made this girl scary for several reasons. Her
presence might point to a flaw in Brains' defence mechanisms
that could prove fatal if exploited. It also made her a very
suspicious character, as hardly anyone took the trouble to
reach Tracy Island if there were no purpose to motivate them.
It wasn't the sort of place one could claim to be passing
through on the way to somewhere else. Why was she here? How
did she get here? Who was she?!
you?" Gordon called loudly.
split her face as she scrunched her petite nose and raised her
shoulders as if in a silent giggle. Her eyes suddenly took a
mischievous glint, and she raised her arms in his direction,
with large curved gestures that he should come closer. It was
enough for Gordon, and he raised his left arm as subtly as he
could, and spoke discreetly into his watch.
calling Scott. Gordon calling Scott. Come in, bro."
What's up?" came Scott's slightly surprised voice. They only
contacted one another by tele-call watches when on duty as
International Rescue or in emergencies.
come down to the West beach please?" A pause, then, "If you're
taking the piss, Gordo- " Scott's voice was light and teasing
in its suspicion, but Gordon had no doubts that Scott would be
severely annoyed if he were setting up a prank through
International Rescue equipment. He'd probably give him a
lecture, or a good crack round the head, or if he were in a
really bad mood, tell their dad and land him in some major
trouble. He was therefore eager to quash that impression.
Scott, really, there's a girl in the sea."
had realised she was getting no response in her gestures and,
with a slight frown, moved a little closer to Gordon's post
and waved erratically to be sure she still had his attention.
He waved back with his free arm, and she seemed much happier,
so he continued.
alive and kicking, but she won't talk to me. Come quick."
Scott still sounded dubious, but Gordon was losing patience.
on will ya?" he demanded more forcefully.
"Okay. There in a sec."
lowered his watch and leaned back on his hands watched the
girl. Now she had finished waving and had taken to stretching
out her arms across the surface of the water, wetting her hair
again and watching him all the while, and Gordon noticed her
clothes for the first time. A sort of small but loose t-shirt
in pale silver-pink. Now with her lying back in the water, he
could also tell that she had little,- er- support beneath it.
his eyes and looked back to the beach for any sign of Scott,
though he knew his brother would be a minute or so yet. He
definitely wasn't comfortable now. This had all the
ingredients of a diversion tactic, designed to make
infiltration of International Rescue HQ easier for opposing
agents. He half-expected the silent water-wonder to be
pointing a 45 Supermatic at him when he took his eyes back to
this though, he found she wasn't. She'd returned to swirling
the water in front of her. He tipped his head to one side and
watched her work (or was it play?) She certainly seemed
innocent enough. She had a very pure quality about her as she
watched the water with the same fascination he was told that
he had as a child. He remembered when water had seemed such an
amazing element and smiled. Knowing more or less everything
there was to know about something certainly helped to dull its
original magic. He relaxed a little and watched the girl
watching her water. Somehow it made him happy that she was
enjoying it so much.
suddenly her head snapped up, as if he'd said something. With
all her focus suddenly upon him, he was less comfortable, not
to mention embarrassed that she'd probably caught him smiling
like a moron while he watched her. Their eyes had locked, and
after a moment she smiled in such a warm way that he knew for
sure he'd been caught, and his embarrassment flared into his
cheeks, which was always a terribly twist of fate for
redheads. She had the good grace not to show that she's
noticed his probably huge blush, but instead raised her arms
again in gesture, this time in definite invitation that he
should join her in the water.
clambered to his feet, annoyed. How stupid did this chick
think he was? He wasn't going to leap into the Pacific Ocean
with some enemy equivalent of Lady Penelope while her
accomplices snuck onto the island and held the world to
ransom, or whatever the hell the plan was. He wasn't some
sucker for a pretty face, and he was angry that she obviously
though he was.
peaceful morning had flown out of the window pretty rapidly.
Her fault too.
she clearly thought he was rising to better join her, and had
split her face in a smile and moved back to avoid his splash.
Now she watched him stand, fuming, eyes flicking between her
and the beach and gathered that he did not intent leaving the
rock. Gordon's undoing was catching the confusion and
disappointment in her face as she moved forward again, staring
and tried to calm down. He'd already mentally accused her of
deliberately spoiling his day, being a spy, planning to
exploit International Rescue and possible plans of world
domination. If he carried on, he'd frustrate himself into
being pretty sure that she was the second gunman on the grassy
knoll. Get a grip, Gordo-
he realised the effect that his annoyance had caused.
Apparently he had really upset her, because before she
realised he'd calmed down, she had turned away and thrown
herself forward into the water, with the definite intention of
swimming away. Gordon jumped as he realised and called, "Wait!
But to his
increasing surprise, he did not see her resurface to take
another stroke, another breath. He looked about him, somewhat
erratically as the seconds ticked by. Where did she go?
moments grew, and Gordon realised that the vicinity was now
completely void of unexplained bra-less people. Shame... He
jumped a mile when the natural silence was interrupted by a
beeping from his watch. It was closely followed by his
Gordon. Scott to Gordon. What are you doing?"
spun to see his brother back on the beach watching him. He was
suddenly seized with life and raced as fast as he dared back
along the rocks. He dropped to the beach and ran to meet his
won't believe it," he exclaimed, "but out where I was stood
there was this girl in the water. Never said a word, just
looked at me. Wanted me to jump in, I reckon, but then I
wouldn't and she got into a mood and dived, but I never saw
her come back up, Scott, she just disappeared- "
somewhere in his garbled story Scott seemed to have lost the
thread of patience and raised his hand to silence his brother.
this isn't fair. I warned you if this was a prank-"
it's not," Gordon insisted quickly. It was important to the
delicate relationship between him and his sanity that he
persuade someone else of this girl's appearance.
his brother muttered, turning to leave. A quiet voice in
Gordon's head muttered that it did sound a little
unbelievable, but he couldn't let it go.
grabbed his brother's arm. "Scott, I swear on Mom's grave, I'm
froze, and glanced Gordon in the face. They knew it was an
affirmation that no Tracy would ever abuse. After looking one
another in the eye with utter seriousness, Scott sighed and
Gordo, talk me through this. "
brothers searched the sea from the rock formation, gave the
beaches a quick once-over and, back at the villa, investigated
the ocean with heat-sensors. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Gordon was
beginning to feel very stupid.
Gords," smiled Scott slightly, leaning back in his desk chair
as the computer powered down, "I don't know what you saw, but
it's not there now. Is there any chance you could have been
seeing things?" Gordon thought it sounded like his brother was
only half-joking. He was too tired of the whole situation to
bother giving it much more thought.
only knows. Can we just let it go? I haven't had breakfast
yet. Come to think of it, that might be the source of the
whole problem." Scott's eyes wandered thoughtfully from the
computer to Gordon. Clearly he couldn't decide whether this
possibly fictional stranger was more important than his
brother's obvious dejectedness. After a moment:
We'll keep an eye out, but I guess we can leave it for now.
smiled. "Sure!" He exclaimed over-brightly. "Nothing breakfast
won't fix, believe me!" Scott laughed, and Gordon rose to
leave. Before he did though, he caught Scott's eyes and spoke
Scott, you think we could keep this to ourselves?" Gordon
watched a dubious look fly through his brother's eyes, before
adding brightly, "I feel stupid enough as it is without the
fellas starting up with threats to get me committed."
Scott could identify, and grinned. "Sure Gordo. Consider my
sauntered through to the kitchen in search of long-overdue
pancakes, musing on how his schedule had been shot to hell by
the little swimming diversion. He found Virgil at the kitchen
table, huddled over his coffee like some freezing refugee, and
Gordon realised that diversion had actually kept him occupied
quite a while overall, if Virgil- Master of the Nocturnal- was
Gordon," he murmured, wiping his hand over his bristled face.
yourself," he smiled in reply. They chatted about this and
that as Gordon assembled his pancakes and Virgil woke up, and
Gordon was soon feeling much better, like the day might
actually be salvaged. Until Virgil innocently commented,
said to tell you that he's heading for the pool till lunch if
you want to join him." Greeted with a silence longer than he
expected, he turned to the workbench where Gordon was
examining his batter with over-interest. Feeling his brother's
attention, he replied carefully.
today Virg. I guess- I guess I just don't feel like it. Not
today" He knew Virgil was now watching him like his head had
just burst into flames, but he couldn't help but feel that
today would be an excellent day for playing chess instead. A
really excellent opportunity to get caught up on his reading.
And he had that letter to write.
up at Virgil, and smiled as normally as he could.
been meaning to alphabetise his CDs anyway.