They were weighting their nets so that they sank to the very bottom of the lake, dragging them behind their boat then hauling then back up; examining the contents, then dropping it back overboard.
The tiny hairs on the back of his neck stood up. They were looking for something … someone .. JC!
JC shivered under the overhanging rock. He had been cramped into the small
space for a long time. His body temperature had began to fall. Normally,
he would have spent the whole afternoon basking on the bank in the hot summer sun--soaking up its radiant heat, and storing it so that he would be
warm during the darkness hours in the deep waters that were his home.
He needed to surface soon, before he froze to death, or worse, drowned. He
shuddered as the net swept past him once again, brushing against his leg He drew himself up into a tight ball and hoped the man-things would tire soon.
The nets stopped falling just before dawn, and JC swam cautiously from his hiding place. His breathing was shallow, and his normally pale green skin was almost blue with cold. Shivering, he swam towards the sunlight, causing
not even a ripple as his head broke the surface. His weed green hair spread out round him, camouflaging his presence. JC blinked back his inner eyelids, and surveyed the area surrounding his home. He lifted his nose
above the waterline and inhaled, checking for the scent of the hated man-things.
Finally sure he was safe, he heaved himself up onto the rocks and settled back to absorb as much heat as he could before he dried out and had to
return to the water. He laid on his back, his eyes closed, and sighed, finally letting the sleep he had been deprived of during the night catch up with him.
He dreamed of a time when he wasn’t alone. A time when his brothers and sisters frolicked and played along side him, and strong arms wrapped round him, and sweet lips whispered that he was their true love.
JC moaned as his dream changed slowly into a nightmare.
His lover kissed softly at his throat as they basked in the bright summer
sun. They were so wrapped up in one another that they failed to detect the approach of the man-things. Terror over took them as they desperately fought to return to the safety of the lake's depths. JC's sweet lover
shoved him hard, and sent him stumbling off the rocks into the water.
JC’s eyes snapped open as transparent green tinged tears rolled down his face. He would never forget the terrible day that haunted his dreams.
Terrified, he had hid in the shallows. Unable to do anything but listen to
the screams of his lover as he was staked out in the bright sunlight. His pitiful cries begged JC to remain hidden , to save himself. Of course the
man-things didn’t know that the high pitched squeals and screams were the
nymph discouraging his gentle lover from revealing himself. They sat around waiting for their captive to dehydrate. JC curled up in the thick reeds and cried as his lover screamed out to him with his dying breath. The man-things stayed all night, breaking camp the next day.
JC had eventually left his hiding place. Running to the prone body of his mate, he lifted him in his arms. He hugged the lifeless, dried out body to
him, rocking him gently, screaming his grief. He cursed the evil man-things vowing to get his revenge--and he had. It didn’t matter who wandered near the edge of his lake; they all suffered the same fate as he dragged them into his domain, experiencing macabre pleasure in watching them drown. The bottom of his lake was littered in their bones.
The man-things exacted their own revenge, and one by one his siblings and the other lake children succumbed to the nets. He choked back a sob of
loneliness and wondered if he should just allow himself to be captured and end his misery. He was the last of his kind. No more would follow him. He drew his knees up to his chest, hid his face, and cried.
Justin fluttered through the long grasses that concealed his home deep in the woods. He couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful nymph. He hoped that he had avoided the nets. He had stayed as long as he dared, but had to
return to his nest before his father worried. He settled down in the soft down that lined his bed, curling into the fluffy feathers to sleep.
He sat up abruptly cursing under his breath as his father called for him to attend him. He looked down at his leg. There was no way he was going to be
able to hide the thick green weed that was wrapped round the wound. He crawled out of his bed and traipsed over to meet his father.
The greying sprite frowned at his son's appearance, his eyes fixed on the damp bandage. Justin hung his head, ashamed at being caught out. He shuffled from foot to foot waiting for the verbal barrage he knew was coming.
His father waited patiently as Justin bristled under his gaze. The adult sprite raised a delicate arched eyebrow and fixed his eyes on his sons face, as an explanation was not forthcoming.
“I got shot by a man-thing.” Justin explained and hung his head lower.
“A man-thing? You mean a human!” The older sprite was confused at the new terminology being used by his son.
“They shot me. They thought I was a bird I think. JC made it better.”
“My new friend.”
The older sprite's brow furrowed. “You are making friends with humans? Justin, you know that is just too dangerous.”
Justin looked up meeting his fathers eyes “Oh no. JC isn’t a human, he hates the man-things. JC is a water nymph. The humans spent last night trying to catch him, but I don’t think they did.”
They greying sprite worried even more at the new revelation, as nymphs were notoriously unstable. “Justin, don’t get attached to this creature. Nymphs have a habit of turning on their ‘friends’.”
Justin shook his head vigorously. “Oh no, JC wouldn’t hurt me. He’s lonely, that’s all.”
“Still, I would prefer you to stay away from him.” Justin’s father pointed
to the makeshift covering. “You should take that off and let your mother clean the wound. Heaven knows what damage it is doing.”
“But JC said to keep it on, that the man-things use poison on their arrows.
I trust him.” The older sprite rolled his eyes, knowing that nothing he said was going to convince the younger man of the instability of a nymph's mind.