by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)
illustrated by quaedam
When the water closed over Delphine’s head, she felt not fear, but anger. The sea was dark and swirling around her, and she was dazed from the impact of her body on the waves and could not right herself to find the surface again, no matter how hard she kicked her legs. She kept the air in her lungs despite wanting nothing more to let it out in a torrent of curses. Damn the storm, damn her crew, and damn herself the most for being tossed out over the prow.
It was dark above and below and even as her chest began to burn, she couldn’t tell if she was pushing herself to salvation or to a watery grave. The salt of the sea burned her eyes but she could see nothing to give her guidance, only dark shapes in the water as it churned her about. Delphine had always known — and hoped — she would die at sea, but she had hoped it would be with more glory than this, by blade or by cannon fire or at least going down with her ship. Not like this, not cast overboard like useless debris.
She couldn’t keep her breath any longer. She let it out in a scream that the ocean swallowed up immediately. Her body went limp and she only hoped she could float before she couldn’t keep herself from taking in water. For a moment she felt herself rising up — maybe she’d already drowned, maybe God was taking her above the waves — but then she felt something heavy wrap around her arms and legs and something warm cover her mouth before she was being pulled down, down into darkest waters, beyond where the storm could touch the waters. Perhaps it was not God who would take her after all.
Light came to her eyes again, green and glowing like swamp lights, and when her mouth was uncovered again she opened it and though it filled with brackish water, she neither drowned nor choked. She wasn’t breathing, but she also wasn’t drowning. She still felt the sting of water in her eyes, but less and less with each moment that she fell deeper, and they began to clear. Delphine saw before her wide black eyes, greenish skin, a broad nose, a mouth, a face, a human face that was smiling at her like a shark at a school of guppies.
No, it was no shark, but no human, either. Beneath her large, heavy breasts and full stomach were no hips, no legs, no kicking feet, but rather eight dark limbs, some swirling in the water beneath them and some curling around Delphine’s legs and waist. She thought of the octopuses her crew would bring aboard in fishing nets at times; they would be tangled amidst the ropes, tentacles curling and stretching to grab on to whatever they could reach. When dropped upon the deck, they seemed to double in size as they spread out, shifting to match the wood beneath them. Her men would laugh to watch one pull itself with its many hands overboard again, the only one of their catches to ever manage to escape the supper table.
Maybe this was the mother of those net-tangled captives, and perhaps this was vengence, or perhaps a thank-you. Delphine looked into the depths of those black eyes and did not feel fear. Her arms had been left free, so she grasped at her captor, one hand around the back of her neck and the other grasping at her hair. The thick cords of it felt slick like seaweed underneath Delphine’s fingers, slipping through them until they met with one of the golden beads knotted there. The octopus — this was not La Sirene, this was Le Poulpe — brought her hands up to Delphine’s face, cradling it with long fingers dazzled with rings. They were embraced like lovers, and Delphine bared her teeth, somewhere between a smile and a threat.
She laughed then, but Delphine did not hear it, but rather felt it as a ripple through the water between them. She put her mouth to Delphine’s again, this time not that strange kiss of breath but one more intimate. There was seawater in both of their mouths as Delphine allowed her lips to part, but la mère de la mer tasted darker and brinier still. Delphine’s teeth scraped her tongue as it slipped beneath her lips as sinuously as the tentacles curling around her legs, and nipped at the plump lips that kissed her. If this was death, if this was how it was to go, she would not fight the pull, but she would still leave on her own terms.
Her heart was still beating, even though she drew no breath. She could feel it pulsing hard as a tentacle curled up from her hip, insinuating underneath her shirt to splay across her chest. The tip of it spiraled around the curve of one of her small breasts, warm in the cold water, rippling over her thudding heart. She wanted to gasp when reached her nipple, feeling like the tease of fingers and the pull of a mouth all at once, but there was no air to draw, not even a last bubble from her lips.
She could still make sound though. It came out warbling and strange from her full throat, like hearing a whale’s cry from above the waves. La mère‘s hands stroked at her throat and she could feel the metal of the rings on her fingers cool on her skin. She had gold everywhere, bangles and jewels adorning her wherever it could be placed: scavenged from the bottom of the sea, Delphine could only imagine, taken from broken ships and dead sailors. One slithering limb wrapped around Delphine’s wrist, the tip of it exploring between her fingers. She’d find no baubles to add to her collection on her.
Delphine tightened her hand in the slick cords of Le Poulpe‘s hair and pulled it, meeting her eyes, watching her smile as more and more of her long limbs worked their way over Delphine’s body. Her fingers brushed Delphine’s lips, the touch soft and delicate. The salt didn’t sting Delphine’s eyes at all anymore as she stared at her and parted her lips, closing her teeth down on her fingertip. There were no whorls on her fingers or lines on her hands; Delphine’s teeth slid across skin as smooth as a dolphin’s back.
She had her rippling appendages wrapped around both of Delphine’s legs; even if she had wanted to kick free, she couldn’t. One still teased at her nipple, making it stiffen harder than even the cold water had made it and making Delphine bite harder on the finger she held between her lips. One wrapped firmly around her waist and another lay along her spine. There was no space between them anymore, but when Delphine put her hands to la mère‘s body, taking a brief touch of her breasts, heavy even as they floated between them, they were quickly drawn away with hands and longer limbs alike. Her smile didn’t falter as she shook her head, so Delphine simply jutted her chin upwards and nipped at whatever parts of her hand she could reach.
Delphine’s eyes tried to close when she felt the insinuation of a tentacle down beneath her belly, inside of her trousers. She remembered when she was a girl hearing tales from seamen who had nearly drowned and survived about how there had been a time of peace after the struggle, and how it felt good, in its way, how it felt like release. She did not expect that they had felt it like this, but the tales of men always were different from the ones she knew from her own experience. Let death in the sea take her if it was to be like this.
It was slicker than a man’s finger and stronger than his tongue as it moved between her legs. She released la mère‘s finger from her lips as she jolted again in another breathless, watery gasp, parting her thighs to allow it to explore her. One of her hands was still held by a curling dark limb, but the other only by a hand, and she could break free of it to grab a handful of thick hair and pull her into a kiss, all teeth and salt and the rough tangle of tongues.
She could feel the tip of that long, slithering appendage slide first over the point of her, the place that men in her bed would forget about but the women would always know by heart and by tongue. Le Poulpe seemed only half woman, and Delphine couldn’t fathom a guess at what could exist beneath the swirling of her dark limbs, but she knew just as well. Delphine sucked at her lips as she teased her, slick strange flesh curling against her own until Delphine’s hips were jerking and jolting, making new currents in the water.
La mère stroked her lips gently with her fingers and kissed her neck as she slipped her tentacle deeper, parting Delphine’s other lips with just as soft a touch before entering her. This was not like any man or woman, not at all. Delphine kicked her legs, but not to escape; she wanted to wrap them around Le Poulpe‘s waist, encourage her, drive her deeper yet. It seemed to change shape inside her, rippling to fill her and leave her wanting again and again. Each motion of it traveled up along the limb, where one of its strange little mouths stayed pressed to the point, thick and heavy against her body, moving to make her writhe in the sea.
La mère held her face in both hands as she fucked her, cradled her cheeks like she was a child and kept her there, allowing no more kisses, no more snaps of teeth; Delphine’s arms and legs were bound and she was at the mercy of her, and of the sea. She smiled at her, dangerous teeth bright beyond her dark lips as she rolled into her, around her like waves. The water had filled her lungs and Le Poulpe would fill the rest of her, and she would not fight it, she could not.
Delphine tried, tried so hard to keep her eyes open as the wave within her came to a crest. Her stomach tightened and her body clenched, as though she could hold la mère captive just as well, bound and bound together in the deep below. But it was too much, another storm to cast her deep; she saw La Poulpe‘s dark eyes and her dark smile one last time before she closed them and came apart in her grasp, came a part of the sea.
There was light behind her eyes, then. Light, and warmth, and she opened them to see the sun above, the sky above. The sun was drying the water on her skin where she floated on top of a gentle sea. She breathed in deep with clear lungs just as she heard someone calling for her, someone calling for their captain.
Before she was pulled upon the lifeboat, she looked deep into the waves. An octopus swam beneath her, small and ruddy, it’s eight limbs curling behind it in the water. You did not take me today, and I thank you, she thought as she stood on the boat’s solid surface with shaky legs.
I will be ready when you come to take me again.