My head is thick with sludge and my arms and fin are as stiff and as sore as can be. It feels like I've been lying in the same position for an age. My eyelids twitch, and I open my eyes experimentally.
A blur of a green, algae-like colour appears, along with something silver and shimmery. I force my eyes to focus and, right there in front of me, is Fern, in all his glory. My heart starts to pound as I look at him and he looks back at me.
"You're alright," he breathes, starting to smile that smile of his. My mouth moves, but nothing comes out. The only thought on my mind is the awe at the splendid creature in front of me.
We look deep into each other's eyes for a moment, and I try to gauge out his true feelings towards me; is he just worried or does he really care, in a way so deep that it would mean ... love?
Suddenly something breaks the silence.
"Hey guys! Everyone seems to have woken up now, that has to be a good sign!"
I turn to see Denver beaming at everyone from his protective spot next to Cindy. They seem to have grown really close over the past few days.
"Hello," I say, not sure how to reply to his casual greeting.
"Hello," Fern says. My gaze transfers back to him at the sound of his voice. He still looks so serene, so peaceful and tranquil. Even after everything that happened, he kept his composure, and I admire that.
I am vaguely aware of everyone around us saying hello, but I pay no attention to them. Instead, I study his perfect face, every little minute detail about him that makes him ... well, him.
His eyebrow rises upwards questioningly at me, and I force myself to look away and smile.
"Is there something on my face?" he asks lightly, a smile in his voice. I blush profusely and look back at him.
"No, no, no, not at all," I stutter, trying to keep my composure as smooth as his.
"Then we'd better get moving and follow the others," he says. I'm sure that Fern is just pretending not to notice my stuttering and blushing; he seems to notice everything. Then I look up and realise that everyone else has moved off to a large rock a fair bit away. Talk about noticing everything!
Before I can say anything, he starts to swim off towards the others, and I follow him. He turns his head back to check that I'm following and gives me a smile that makes my heart race. I manage to smile back and hope that it doesn't turn out like a weak, love-struck thing.
Fern and I slide into the group. We talk for a while, then Cindy brings up the real question that's niggling at everyone's minds.
"So, how do we all get out of here?"
I look around at the thick, presumably shark-proof glass that encases us and assume that she's referring to it. I bite my lip and start to go through all the ways that we could get out. We definitely couldn't ram the glass with a shark or some other type of animal, because firstly, we didn't have them, and it was probably proofed against them anyway. I don't know something could be so strong as to be shark-proof, but like I've learnt so far, humans can just about do anything.
"Well ... If we could just figure out how to break the glass..." Denver says, and I hear a collective sigh go around the group. Then, unprovoked, Owen gets up and swims over to the opposite side of the tank. Marina follows him, and I wonder if they've got something going on. Then I shake my head to clear the thought; they hated each other so much, of course they couldn't love each other. That was just ridiculous.
Marina says something indecipherable, and Owen immediately retorts back. My earlier thought was right; they could never be together. They seem to hate each other for some reason. I sigh. These land-mermaids sure have strange ways.
I watch Marina, and suddenly her face morphs into a shocked expression. I feel just as shocked as she looks, because Marina never looks shocked, at least, not in the time I've known her, anyway.
I look at Cindy to see how she'd react, but she's too busy staring at Denver to really notice anything. All of a sudden the glaring electric lights above us blink off. I hardly notice it because of my mermaid eyes, but I can tell that the darkness there, hanging over us like an invisible shroud.
I hear Fern shift beside me, and I know that he's sensed it too. After a moment, Cindy and Denver notice it. Then the ground starts to shake, making me move as if I'm shivering. Suddenly it stops. There is a strange cracking sound, and I realise that it is coming from the glass around us.
I look around, as does everyone else except for Marina and Owen, who keep on fighting, oblivious to everything going on around them.
"Hey, guys..." Denver says in a strangely quiet voice. He sounds really scared, something I'm not used to from Denver, always the cheery optimistic one. Owen and Marina stop fighting for a moment to look at Denver. There is a large line snaking through the glass next to us, making a huge crack which seems to be teetering on the brink of pushing the glass of the aquarium outwards. "The lights went out and this whole place was shaking like crazy Owen. I think it was you."
My heart starts to pound again, but this time, not a good pounding like the type I had before. The ground starts to move again, slightly at first, then more and more until it feels like the whole aquarium is moving from side to side. The snaking line making up the crack starts to draw itself, extending towards each side of the tank until it is touching both edges of it.
Both slabs of glass on either side of the crack start to move outwards, forming a point. They keel over at an impossible angle. Then, it happens. The glass bursts open, and all the warm water gushes out, pulling everyone towards the crack.
I get pushed along towards it, feeling a sense of freedom and relief at the fact that we finally escaped. We escaped! Then I gasp as I realise that the edges of the crack are sharp and jagged, ready to cut. I realise that too late as I feel something slice through the top of my hand and see red liquid flowing.