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Emily windsnap and the m.., p.1
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       Emily Windsnap and the Monster From the Deep, p.1

           Liz Kessler
 
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Emily Windsnap and the Monster From the Deep


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously.

  Text copyright © 2004 by Liz Kessler

  Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Sarah Gibb

  First published in Great Britain in 2004 by Orion Children’s Books, a division of the Orion Publishing Group

  Published by arrangement with Orion Children’s Books

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.

  First electronic edition 2010

  The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

  Kessler, Liz.

  Emily Windsnap and the monster from the deep / Liz Kessler ;

  illustrations by Sarah Gibb. — 1st U.S. ed.

  p. cm.

  Summary: Reunited with her merman father and now living on an island located in the Bermuda Triangle, twelve-year-old Emily accidentally awakens the fearsome kraken and also faces a bully from her past.

  ISBN 978-0-7636-2504-7 (hardcover)

  [1. Mermaids — Fiction. 2. Monsters — Fiction. 3. Bullies — Fiction. 4. Neptune (Roman deity) — Fiction.] I. Gibb, Sarah, ill. II. Title.

  PZ7.K4842Emi 2006

  [E] — dc22 2005054261

  ISBN 978-0-7636-3301-1 (paperback)

  ISBN 978-0-7636-5241-8 (electronic)

  Candlewick Press

  99 Dover Street

  Somerville, Massachusetts 02144

  visit us at www.candlewick.com

  Close your eyes.

  Think of the most beautiful place you can imagine.

  Are you seeing golden beaches? Gorgeous clear blue sea? Perfect sky? Keep your eyes closed.

  Now multiply that by about a hundred, and you’re halfway to picturing what my new home is like. The softest, whitest sand, palm trees that reach lazily out from the beaches, tall rocky arches cusping the bays, sea that sparkles like crystals in the sunlight. All thanks to Neptune, the ruler of the ocean.

  He sent me here with my mom and dad to start a new life. Somewhere we could live together. Somewhere our secret would be safe.

  One of Neptune’s guards, Archieval, accompanied us here. He’s a merman. He swam beside our little sailboat, King, all the way, swishing his long black hair behind him and occasionally ducking under, flicking his tail in the air, silver and sharp, like a dagger.

  We edged slowly into a horseshoe-shaped bay filled with shiny turquoise water. Soft foamy waves gently stroked the white sand. A few boats were dotted about in the bay, half-sunken, silently sloping. Some were modern yachts, others great wooden crafts that looked like ancient pirate ships.

  A tall rocky arch marked the end of the bay. Through it, the sand and sea continued around a corner. I caught my breath as I stood and stared.

  “Shake a tail, someone,” Archieval called up. “I could use some help here.”

  I leaned across to help him pull the boat alongside a wooden jetty as Dad swam around to the back and tied the ropes to a buoy. Mom was still inside with Millie. That’s her friend from Brightport. Millie used to read fortunes on the pier. She did a tarot reading for Archieval before we left, and he liked it so much, he invited her to come with us. They had to check with Neptune first, but Archieval is one of Neptune’s top guards, so he’s pretty much allowed to do as he likes.

  Then Millie said she’d have to let the cards decide, so she set the pack out in a star shape and sat looking at it in silence for about ten minutes, nodding slowly.

  “Well, it’s obvious what I have to do. You’ll never catch me ignoring a call from the ten of cups,” she said enigmatically before throwing her black cape over her shoulder and going home to pack her things. Millie says everything enigmatically. I’ve learned to just nod and look as though I know what she’s talking about.

  Archieval swam around to the side of the boat. “This is it, then,” he said. “North Bay, Allpoints Island.”

  “Why’s it called Allpoints Island?” I asked.

  “It’s right in the center of the Triangle.” He stretched out an arm as he spun slowly around in a circle. “Where the three points meet.”

  The Bermuda Triangle. I shivered. He’d told us about it on the way here, about the boats and planes that had mysteriously disappeared inside it. An ocean liner had been found totally intact but utterly deserted. Twenty tables were set out for dinner. Another ship was found with skeletons on the decks, its sails ripped to shreds all around them. Others had vanished without a trace, often after frantic mayday calls from pilots and fishermen who were never seen again.

  I didn’t know whether to believe the stories at first, but something had happened out at sea. We’d been sailing along normally, the swells rising and falling, the boat gently making its way through the peaks and troughs. Then it changed. The water went all glassy. The engine cut out; everything died. Even my watch stopped working. It felt as if the sea had frozen, almost as if time itself had frozen.

  Then Archieval yanked his long hair into a ponytail with some string and disappeared under the water. A few minutes later, we got moving again, gliding silently across the glassy sea.

  “That was it,” he called up. “Bermuda Triangle. That’s what’ll protect you from the outside world now. No one knows how to get through it except for a few chosen merfolk.” He threw a rope onto the deck. “Well, a few chosen merfolk and . . . no, I’d better not tell you about that.”

  “What? Tell me.”

  Archie beckoned me closer. “I shouldn’t really tell you this,” he said, “but there’s a raging current down there. Not any normal kind of current either, oh no. This one’s linked to something that lies deep down in the sea, even below your island.”

  “What? What is it?”

  “What is it? It’s the biggest, scariest, most powerful —”

  “I hope you’re not filling my daughter’s head with any more of your lurid tales, Archie!” Dad said, suddenly turning up beside Archie. “She has enough nightmares as it is.”

  I’d told Dad all about my nightmares on the way here, the ones I used to have in Brightport: swimming around in a fish tank surrounded by my old classmates, all shouting “Freak! Freak!” at me, or being chased by a scientist with a big net.

  How many more nightmares was I going to have? Would I get to leave them behind? Would I ever stop feeling like the odd one out?

  Archie lowered his voice. “Just be careful,” he said. “That glassy plane marks out the Triangle, but it’s only like that on the surface. It’s a huge well below, leading down to the deepest depths of the ocean. And you don’t want to go disappearing down a hole like that.”

  I rubbed the goose bumps crawling up my arms.

  We’d sailed on calmly after that, slipping through water that grew clearer and lighter every moment, melting from deep navy to a soft baby blue. I tried to push Archie’s words to the back of my mind.

  Gradually, the island came into view. It was quite small, perhaps only a few miles across: a tall cliff at one end, a couple of lower peaks at the other, and a low, flat stretch in between. As we drew closer, I could see that the coastline was made up of long white bays fringed with tall palm trees and clusters of rocks and arches. It looked like a postcard. I’d always thought those pictures must be made up somehow and that when you got there, you’d just find a clump of high-rise apartments next to a building site.

  But it was real. And it was my new home.

&nbs
p; “Where’s your dad?” Mom joined me on the deck, straightening her skirt and bending down to check her reflection in a metal railing.

  I pointed ahead. “Helping Archie.”

  Mom looked slowly around the bay. “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” she murmured as she grabbed the railing. “Someone’s going to have to pinch me.”

  “I’ll do it!” Dad’s head poked out of the water, a glint in his eyes as he wiped his floppy wet hair off his forehead. Mom smiled back at him.

  A second later, the side doors crashed open and Millie clambered out. “Tell you something,” she said, rubbing her large stomach. “That slippery elm mixture works wonders on seasickness.” She covered her mouth as she hiccupped. “Especially washed down with a spot of brandy. Now, where are we?”

  She squinted into the sunlight. “That’s it!” she said, pointing across at a wooden ship lying on a slant in the bay. It had three tall masts, polished pine railings, and a name printed on the side: Fortuna.

  “That’s what?” I asked.

  “Your new home. Archie told me.”

  I looked at Mom. “What’s wrong with The King of the Sea?” That’s our boat’s full name. I’ve lived on it with Mom all my life.

  Millie pinched my cheek as she squeezed past me. “Well, your dad can’t live with you on a regular boat, can he now? Don’t worry. I’ll take care of the place for you.”

  Dad swam around to the side, staring across at Fortuna. “Flipping fins! A little different from where I’ve spent the last twelve years,” he said as he reached up to help Mom off the boat. Dad was in prison before we came here. He’s not a criminal or anything. Well, he broke the law, but it was a stupid law. He married a human. That’s my mom. He’s a merman. Makes it a little difficult when she can’t swim and he can’t go on land, but they manage somehow. She used to be a great swimmer till she was hypnotized into being afraid of water. Neptune did that, to keep them apart. She’s still nervous about it now, but Dad’s started teaching her again.

  Mom hitched up her skirt and stepped across onto the jetty. It led all the way out to the ship, bouncing and swaying on the water as we made our way along it.

  I climbed aboard our new home. It was huge! At least twenty yards long with shiny brown wooden decks and maroon sails wrapped into three neat bundles. It lay perfectly still at a small tilt, lodged in the sand. It looked as if it had been waiting for us.

  I stepped into the cabin in the middle of the boat and found myself in a kitchen with steps leading forward and behind. I tried the back way first. It led to a small cabin with a bed, a beanbag chair, and a polished wooden cupboard. Circles of wavy light bounced onto the bed from portholes on either side. Definitely my bedroom!

  I ran through to the other side. Mom was twirling around in a big open living room that had a table on one side and a comfy-looking sofa tucked snugly into the other.

  “What will we do with all this space?” she gasped. Sunny golden rays beamed into the room from skylights all along the ceiling. Ahead, a door led to another bedroom.

  “What about Dad?” I asked. “How’s he going to live here?”

  Before she had a chance to reply, a large trapdoor in the floor sprung open and he appeared below us. That was when I noticed there were trapdoors everywhere, leading down from each room into another one below. The ship was lodged in the seabed with a whole floor half-submerged, so you could swim around in it underwater.

  “You want to see the rest of your new home?” Dad’s eyes shone wide and happy.

  I inched down through the trapdoor to join him. Almost as soon as I did, my legs started to tingle. Then they went numb. Finally, they disappeared altogether.

  My tail had formed. Sparkling and glistening, it flickered into life, sending shimmery green and pink lights around me.

  It does that when I go into water. Sometimes I’m a mermaid; sometimes I’m a girl. That’s what happens when a woman and a merman have a baby.

  I’d only found out recently, when I went swimming at school. Thinking about that first time made me tremble. In fact, the thought of Brightport Junior High made me feel sick even now. I’d started to dread going there. School itself didn’t bother me, only some of the people. One in particular: Mandy Rushton. Just thinking about her was enough to make my skin prickle. All those times she’d made my life a misery. Like the time she pushed me into the pool in front of everyone. I almost gave the whole thing away, and would have if the teacher hadn’t sent us both to get changed. I can still remember her icy cold tone of voice as she’d hissed at me on the way to the changing room. “I’ll get you back for this, fish girl,” she’d said. “Just wait.”

  I lived in fear of the day she’d get me. I’d have nightmares about it nearly every night, then I’d wake up, cold and sweaty, and have to face her all over again in real life.

  At least I’d gotten her back in the end when I turned into a mermaid in the pool, right in front of her eyes. It was worth all the bullying just to see the look of stunned silence slapped across her face that day.

  No, it wasn’t. The only thing that made the bullying worth it was knowing I would never, ever have to see her again.

  Bullies like Mandy Rushton were a thing of the past.

  “A little bigger than The King of the Sea, eh?” Dad said as I lowered myself toward him. He took my hand, and we swam around the lower deck together. The feel of his big fingers closing around mine warmed something inside me and made up for the awkward silence between us. I couldn’t think how to fill it.

  “Look!” He pulled me through an archway in the center and through purple sea fans that hung like drapes from the ceiling. Fernlike and feathery, they swayed delicately with the movement of the water. Dad squeezed my hand.

  A couple of red and white fish swam in through an empty porthole, pausing to nibble gently at the side of the boat before gliding between the drapes. One of them swam up to slide along Dad’s tail. “Glasseye snappers,” I said as he flicked it away. Dad smiled. He’d taught me the names of all sorts of fish on the way here. It was one of the few things we talked about. Where do you start after twelve years?

  I swam back to the trapdoor and hoisted myself up. “Mom, it’s amazing!” I said as I watched my tail form back into my legs. Mom stared. She obviously hadn’t gotten used to it yet. She’d only seen it happen a few times.

  Then Dad joined us and Mom turned to sit with her legs dangling over the trapdoor, gazing at him. He reached onto her lap to hold her hands. She didn’t seem to notice that the bottom of her skirt was soaking wet. She just grinned stupidly down at him while he grinned stupidly up at her.

  I realized I was grinning stupidly at both of them.

  Well, most people don’t have to wait till they’re twelve before they get to see their parents together. I never knew it would make me feel so warm, so complete.

  I decided to leave them to it. They wouldn’t notice if I went out to explore. They’d hardly noticed anything except each other since we set off to come here! Not that I minded. After all, I’d nearly gotten imprisoned myself, getting them back together. I guessed they wouldn’t mind a little time on their own.

  “I’m going out for a while,” I called. “Just for a look around.”

  “Okay, darling,” Mom replied dreamily.

  “Be careful,” Dad added.

  I nearly laughed as I climbed out of the boat. I looked out at the turquoise water and marshmallow sand. Careful? What of? What could possibly hurt me here?

  I walked along the beach for a while, watching the sun glint and dance on the water in between the ships. The sand was so white! Back home, or what used to be home, in Brightport, the sand was usually a dirty beige color. This sand was like flour. My feet melted into it as I walked. I could hardly feel the ground. A gentle breeze made the sun’s warmth feel like a hair dryer on my body.

  Wading into the sea, I couldn’t help glancing around to check that I was alone. Just habit. I still hadn’t gotten used to the idea that being
a mermaid didn’t make me a freak here — a secret island where merfolk and humans lived together. The only place of its kind in the world, protected by the magic of the Bermuda Triangle.

  There were some people up on the cliff behind me, standing in front of a cluster of white buildings. For a moment, I considered scrambling up the hill to join them. Then I looked out at the water and saw faces — and then tails. Merpeople! I had to meet them! I pushed away a slight feeling of guilt as I turned away from the people — and toward the sea. It wasn’t the human folk that interested me. It was the merpeople I wanted to meet!

  As my legs formed back into my tail, I wondered if there were any others on the island like me. Half-human, half-merperson. That would be so cool! Either way, at least I could live here with my mom and dad without us having to hide what we are.

  Shoals of tiny fish escorted me out toward the group, gliding and weaving around me. With thin black bodies and see-through fins, they led me along through the warm water, slowing down every now and then, almost as though they were making sure I could keep up. Wavy lines rippled along the seabed like tire tracks. A troop of silver jacks swam past me in a line, each one silhouetted against the sand below, their shadows doubling their gang’s number.

  I flipped over onto my back, flicking my tail every now and then to propel myself lazily along, until I remembered I was supposed to be looking for the merpeople.

  I stopped and looked around. The island was a speck in the distance, miles away. How long had I been swimming?

  The merpeople had moved on. A chill gripped my chest as I realized I was gliding over some dark rocks: hard, gray, jagged boulders with plants lining every crack. Fat gray fish with wide-open mouths and spiky backs glared at me through cold eyes. Long trails of seaweed stretched like giant snakes along the seabed, reaching upward in a clutch of leaves and stems.

  As I hovered in the water, I could feel myself being pulled along by a current. It felt like a magnet, drawing me toward it, slowly at first, then getting stronger. I swam hard against it, but it was too strong. It was reeling me in like a fishing line. Blackness swirled ahead of me. Then I remembered. The Triangle.

 
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