Waters of Black Glass (art by C0laj)

Hungry, he pulls the oars again, and Domenicos Theotokopoulos, Dom to most, allows the little rowboat to drift to a stop. Certainly not the world’s ugliest man, though it was a close contest, he decides, here is good enough. 

Dom is work-a-day ugly, the kind where his days are separated by a hangover, a bottle, and an empty bed. But on this moonless night, regardless of the rumors and bodies washing up on the beaches each morning, he didn’t have money for rotgut, or food, or anything, so he rowed out into the gulf to make some. He guesses the distance gone, brushing sweaty, oily hair from his pockmarked face and by the lights thrown by Tarpon Springs, judges the reef must be close enough to start work, so does.

He has to trust his instinct because the water lays under him like inky black glass, and all he sees is his fist-abused mug peering back. Thick humid air is still and nearly unbreathable under a sky covered in swirling white clouds mixed with flashes of blue heat-lightning. The only sound is the briny-water slapping the side of his little wooden-boat and the fear echoing in his heartbeat. He fights an urge to go home, but instead calls himself a sloppy deilós and decides he would rather eat tomorrow and continues the preparations to go under. Last, he equips his dive helmet, checks his hose for kinks, and with none, climbs over the side of the little boat. 

He submerges in a hail of bubbles and, weighted to do so, falls fifty feet to upset the sandy bottom below. Soon it clears, and he moves to where he thinks the reef might be. With each step, he is freshly blinded by a storm of sand and is forced to move slow and deliberate. 

And as the sand clears one last time, he almost dismisses the face of a woman staring back at him. He corrects himself, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen stares back at him, skin flecking iridescent, lips black and glossy, glossy like her deep soulless-eyes.

She fans her tail over a bare chest and smiles a mouth filled with vicious fangs. Compelled, Dom decides, oh well, and removes his helmet in anticipation of her hungry embrace.

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