Chapter 52 – Somethings

Sea Monster Alliance
ZFX
52 Chapters

Editor: Sammy

Proofreader: XavierForest


A city in utter ruins, where the wind rustled a few dirty old ads and slammed them against some half-broken windows. The once-bustling stores in the shopping district were now like gaping holes in the wall— especially when the mannequins fell apart and rolled everywhere on the ground. It was quite chilling to spot a broken ‘hand’ covered in dust out of the corner of one’s eye.

After all, this society was in complete chaos. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to believe that it really was a dead body just lying there.

It had been a month since the beginning of the apocalypse, and anything of value, including nail clippers and eating utensils, had already been raked clean. The only places that seemed to have garnered no interest were shops that sold sports equipment and electronics. When digging through the junk by the door, Xia Yi stepped on a number of cellphones. Luckily, he was wearing a pair of old slippers he’d found by the road, or else he might’ve rolled his ankles.

Moving his feet away, Xia Yi took a closer look.

They were the best brand, the kind that started at ¥10 000. When he was back in the company, celebrities aside, even a well-off assistant would buy one of these. And yet the ground was now littered with them, all in their packaged boxes. The remains of something black were beside the phones, looking like a digital camera.

Forget clothes— even the thicker, warmer curtains had been torn away by the crowd.

Xia Yi walked for a long time before finally deciding on his destination. Carefully, he climbed onto a large supermarket’s exterior stairs that were meant to be used during fires. Though there was no electricity, the emergency lights still functioned, so he could see the signs and arrows on the ground.

This was an extremely risky move because such large supermarkets were typically well-sealed in order to better store products and reduce possible wastage of air conditioning. Seeing as not even ventilation was possible for the past month, the air was so stuffy that it was almost impossible to breathe. This was why people hadn’t scavenged the place clean, while wandering cats and dogs would slink away to safer locations. Enduring the dizzying and heavy sensation, Xia Yi saw a cluster of red cockroaches crawl rapidly across the ground under the dim lights.

The density of carbon dioxide was greater than that of oxygen, so the lower one’s position was, the quicker they would suffocate. There weren’t even mice here, but cockroaches still thrived. No wonder science fiction stories always said that if humanity met its end, insects – especially cockroaches – would adapt and continue repopulating.

Most supermarkets were separated into two levels: food and other goods respectively.

Xia Yi didn’t even go to the food section and instead walked down a row of messy toys. On the way, he kicked a pile of cosmetics. When he noticed a few bottles of cheap shampoo, he couldn’t help pausing for a moment, but he ended up continuing on his way. Eventually, he dug out a few articles of clothing from behind ‘Children’s Attire’.

Xia Yi was careful in maintaining a shallow, slow, and even breathing rhythm. He wasn’t afraid of the dark, and having reached the deep sea, Xia Yi’s physique had changed ever so slightly. At the very least, most people would’ve fainted after prolonged walking with such little oxygen, yet Xia Yi was only extremely dizzy.

His nasal cavity and chest were both hot and in pain, the stuffy environment urging Xia Yi to leave as soon as possible. Throwing aside the cotton t-shirts that absorbed water too well, he managed to grab two other shirts and a pair of pants before starting to run out.

Passing a hallway on the second floor, Xia Yi almost tripped over a large cardboard box, and the hand he used to steady himself ended up sporting a long gash. Looking down, he saw something that resembled a blister pack of medication; of course, the supermarket didn’t sell medicine, so this could only be milk tablets or—

A lightbulb lit up in Xia Yi’s head.

Trying his best to withstand the sensation of suffocation, Xia Yi hastily rummaged around the place and quickly found a few boxes of effervescent tablets. Stuffing them into the ball of clothing, Xia Yi struggled to keep moving forward. By the end, he was practically shuffling downwards with back pressed against the wall. Finally, the air quality improved as he made it closer to the outside. When he arrived at the fire escape, Xia Yi fell to his knees, heaving.

Smiling bitterly, he thought, turns out, other than drowning, there are more ways of being suffocated.

Xia Yi shakily climbed to his feet. Making sure that no one was around, he threw off the threadbare fabric on his body and slipped into the new clothes with some difficulty. The superstore was dim, and having no way to check the sizes, Xia Yi grabbed items using his gut feeling; it turned out that the shirt was too small and the buttons wouldn’t close, while the pants were too big. Ripping out the sales tag, Xia Yi discovered that the size was, in fact, correct— did he lose weight over the past month?

Leaning against the wall, Xia Yi debated on whether or not he wanted to take the risk of going back up again.

Though the rubber gloves were waterproof, one couldn’t put food in them. Xia Yi stared hesitantly at the effervescent tablets that were currently wrapped in the extra shirt. As for this thing… many of the busy assistants, managers, and celebrities ate them, so Xia Yi was no stranger to it. Of course, the brands that worked more efficiently wouldn’t be on supermarket shelves, but all in all, they weren’t that far off from each other. Those who endured long and stressful work were likely to develop a suboptimal health status; in those cases, vitamin supplements were vital to their bodies. Multivitamins were especially popular because no one wanted to eat handfuls of supplements each time.

However, this plastic bottle and the capsule-shaped medication wouldn’t be able to withstand being submerged in water.

Xia Yi dug around the stores on the first floor of the supermarket, but he didn’t find what he wanted. In the end, he only gained two cans of plum and orange powder from a bubble tea shop. During this time and age, clean, fresh water was rare, and boiled water was even more luxurious seeing as they needed to burn paper or other things as fuel. No one had a purpose for these two cans so they came to land in Xia Yi’s hands.

Wrapping everything in the shirt, Xia Yi felt his way to the door. A faint light signified the breaking of dawn to the east— given that it was February, this meant that it was now around five or six in the morning.

Xia Yi was on guard. The reason why he hadn’t met anyone at night was because the survivors didn’t dare venture out, likely hiding in the rooms of tall buildings. Those who possessed some connections had probably heard the news about the spider crabs and were afraid of the shopping district near the coastal park. Yet, all this was about to change with the light of day. Realising that he was carrying goods, it was difficult to say whether he’d encounter trouble.

People with special abilities weren’t invincible. Xia Yi himself felt especially unsafe when he was out of the ocean. At the very least, if someone were to attack him with a brick from behind, he might be able to hear the wind breaking as the arm swung down, but he wouldn’t be able to have as quick of a reaction. If this were the sea where currents and ripples moved in an orderly fashion, he’d notice any disturbance to the norm. Also, he had an infinite supply of water around him, so he could create a barricade in an instant.

Xia Yi couldn’t help but think that this coastal city wasn’t a place he’d stop at again. If only he knew whether places like the Hawaiian Islands or other islands famed for their tourism still had living people… If not, or if there were very few of them, that would be great. There would definitely be comfortable housing with excellent tools and appliances. He’d be able to use them and live nicely with only a little cleaning and organising.

With that thought, he began walking a little faster.

When he was mere metres away from the dyke, Xia Yi hid behind a large advertisement board. He was planning to take the long way around and encounter as few people as possible, which was why he wanted to peek out from behind first in order to know which way he should be going.

“Siren?”

The shock almost sent Xia Yi crashing head first into the advertisement board.

As the dawn lit up the sky, the beach was out in the open, with the only obstruction to sight being a few pigeon cages and the one toll booth. Being on the dyke meant that Xia Yi was on high ground, which granted him a clear view: A merman that should’ve only appeared in fantasy movies or fairy tales was lying on a shoal rock on the grayish-white beach. His light-silver hair was slightly wavy, cascading down his naked shoulders to reach his stomach. The morning light painted his body in a gentle, rose-gold shade; it was an image full of warmth and softness, practically akin to a painting.

The feeling was accompanied by eeriness.

None of the people laying on the dyke were moving, and there was a strange smell in the air, as if there wasn’t a single living soul on this beach— which was probably right, for under what other circumstance could these people ignore Siren entirely?

The coastal winds blew, dispersing the strange scent far away. Though a fishy smell still lingered, the scent was fresh and nice.

When Xia Yi ran to Siren’s side, he saw a few little crabs slowly crawling on the sand. One of them bumped into the silver fishtail, and though Siren’s eyes remained closed, his tail slapped down and the poor crab was immediately buried in the sand, leaving only two pincers twitching outside in vain.

Right… in comparison to Gululu, this little buddy was too small and fragile!

“Siren?”

Xia Yi called again, but the merman seemed to be fast asleep. Half of his body was on the sand, and his chest was gently rising and falling. The merman shifted upwards on the rock, as if wanting to find a more comfortable position.

【Siren?】

【Eh… Ah! You are back?】

Siren lazily pushed himself up from the sand – of course, he could only move the top half of his body – and the sand that covered his hair and skin crumbled down as he moved. However, the merman didn’t seem to mind any of it and only looked at Xia Yi and smiled.

The image before him seemed like the beginning, at the time when he saw the man fall down from the Thalassa Goddess.

It matched up with the dream just now!

【Siren, why are you on land?】

【There are edible things here.】

The merman stated as if it was obvious, all the while reaching out to touch Xia Yi’s face. Dissatisfied with the skin’s cold temperature, Siren stretched out and pulled the man into his arms. Meanwhile, Xia Yi was still looking around in confusion despite having just fallen into the sand.

How was that possible? This place was completely empty… Other than the crabs that just passed by, there was absolutely nothing in sight that could be considered food.

【Where are the people who were guarding the beach?】

【…I do not know.】Siren thought about it and decided on a safe answer.

When merfolk devoured mental energies, their victims would only be diagnosed as ‘brain dead’ even if they were brought to a pre-apocalypse hospital for help. However, those who had strong willpower were able to resist the song to a certain degree. Especially now, when ability users were brought into play, or with those who didn’t have a grim heart and weren’t consumed by devastation; these people might be able to survive. The song had limited effects on them to the extent that some might even be unable to hear it at all.

The hint that was hidden in the merfolk’s inherited memories was that they mustn’t let the humans know about this.

【Then when you came on land, you saw nothing?】

Xia Yi was just bad with people, not an idiot.

A gut feeling was telling him that the men he saw guarding the beach last night, along with the ones trying to catch fish near the shore, had all met their fates. Yet the spider crabs had already been killed by the sea monsters, and Siren was no Abyss or Eurybia— even if the merman ate humans, he couldn’t eat that many of them.

Xia Yi didn’t notice that the ones he’d met yesterday were now amongst the bodies on the dyke.

Siren thought about how dark it was last night.

【Other than you, I did not see anyone.】

【…】

Looking at the sky, Xia Yi figured that he didn’t have time to question any further. This ruined city was soon about to wake, and there were bound to be people that were going to come to the beach. At this time in society, it was better for them to keep the amount of trouble to a minimum. If something ended up happening…

They should just go back to the sea already!

“Monster… Monster…”

An old man laid fallen in the cabin by the sea, murmuring quietly like a madman. The infrasonic waves caused his now-continuous trembling, and bolts of thunder appeared between his wrinkled fingers. The man beside him was also still breathing, except he was twitching violently and foaming at the mouth. He seemed to not have much longer to live.

Other than these two, the beach was completely still.

It took Xia Yi many methods – from piggy-backing to dragging him by the arm – to get Siren back into the water. However, it was too shallow and Xia Yi ended up needing to control the waves just a bit. A thin layer of water covered his clothing, while the extra shirt was wrapped around the medication and frozen into a ball. Xia Yi used his ability to control the piece of ice to follow them as they swam.

When they passed by the obviously ripped fishing nets, Xia Yi blanked for a second.

Along the nets were several relatively large fish. It had been a month since the giant nets were mechanically hauled up; the captured fishes in the nets had starved to death and now floated awkwardly in the water.

A sudden sense of discomfort enveloped Xia Yi. Trash and plastic bags floated past his eyes, reminding him of the broken slippers he’d just tossed on the beach. When the tides rose, they too would be washed into the ocean and become one part of its heap of garbage.

Siren wanted to stay in this place even less than Xia Yi. To the merman, there was an obvious weird taste in the water, and even the waves were churning in a gray-ish colour.

Still, he was curious. Typically, eels could only survive in clean water, so how could electric eels have been here last night? But if it wasn’t electric eels, then where did that abrupt jolt of paralysis come from?

Land was indeed not a place that should be neared… Siren didn’t like it here at all— not even the water near the land!

【What is this?】

Siren asked, pointing at the block of ice.

【Some things… that are eaten by humans?”

【Are humans not supposed to eat cooked things?】

Xia Yi was about to answer when he realised what Siren said and responded, on alert. 【You know that humans eat cooked things?】

【That is not some secret.】

The merman’s straightforward answer silenced Xia Yi.

Then why was he eating raw oysters and fish all this time? Ok fine… humans were probably the only ones who knew how to cook— and it’d be impossible to ask a merman or sea monster to figure out how to roast fish.

【Right, there is actually cooked food in the ocean!】

【Huh?】

【In the Cayman Trough.】

Having experienced the consequences of not properly asking where ‘Challenger Deep’ was, Xia Yi wasn’t going to fall for the same trick twice. Especially given the fact that the name contained ‘trough’! He was going to make sure he knew where he was going.

【What kind of place is that?】

【Underground volcanoes.】

Wait, was this the place that Thaumas had talked about? The one that had never-dormant underground volcanoes, where lava oozed from the depths of the Earth and created red streaks for hundreds to thousands of metres on the ocean floor. And despite how hot the water was, there was still life that survived there. At the mouths of the volcanoes, where the temperature was the hottest, there were these delicious, white shrimps that were tasty and crispy. Except, they were very difficult to obtain. Thaumas had said that it once dashed in and out as fast as it could, but only got a few metres in. Still, its shell was slightly burnt and its fins were in great pain for weeks. The turtle was seriously considering the fact that it might’ve cooked itself alive…

According to those descriptions, the water was at least 105ºC, since sea monsters, especially that sea turtle, were all thick-skinned and well protected.

The fishes and shrimps there… ok, things swimming in water that was over 100ºC hot were indeed cooked, but did it still work like that when they were literally still swimming about? Were they truly cooked?

Xia Yi’s mind was all jumbled. Theoretically, shouldn’t water that was above 100ºC vapourise already?

What kind of strange place is this Cayman Trough?!

zfx

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5 thoughts on “Chapter 52 – Somethings”

  1. Puh, okay. They went back into the sea nicely :3
    Erm yeah…. can you call your food cooked when it still runs/swims around? xDD

    Thx for the ch ٩(。˃ ᵕ ˂ )و

    Reply

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