Authors: K.A. Merikan
Tags: #Merman, #Erotica, #M/M, #Horror, #Amazon, #Paranormal
Playing with Food
by K.A. Merikan
Playing with Food
By K.A. Merikan
Just days ago, Llawan was taken from his underwater dwellings by Ossentharian slavers. Left in a tank with other merpeople, he awaits his death on a spit roast, but the arrival of an unusual customer might change his fate. To win his freedom back, he must enter a pact with the stranger, but what if the price too much to bear?
merman, slave, captivity, dehumanization of merpeople, dark magic
explicit, dubious consent
Length: ~5000 words
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living, dead, or undead, events, places or names is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transfered in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without a permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.
Text copyright © 2013 K.A. Merikan
All Rights Reserved
Book Cover Master Class
This short story is dedicated to the lovely Melanie Tushmore, whose prompt made us drop everything to write "Playing with Food". Happy birthday, Melanie, may all your wishes come true (preferably within the next 12 months)!
Kat and Agnes Merikan
Playing with Food
By K.A. Merikan
When the mermaid’s skin turned a dark golden hue, the kitchen staff moved the spit roast away from the fire and placed her grotesquely contorted body on a metal stand at the main table. Freshly barbequed meat was a delicacy few guests of the restaurant could resist and soon, a queue gathered at the buffet. A cook with a knife where his left hand should be served the patrons with terrifying proficiency, and off went the mermaid’s breasts, her crisp fingers and juicy insides. This place catered for even the most sophisticated palate, and many of the guests seemed to have a particular liking for the mermaid’s skin.
Llawan gathered his long hair to one side and twisted it into a tight braid. Only a few hours ago, that piece of roast was alive and far too agitated to stay in one place; to curl behind a colorful rock, or hide in the bush of algae like the other captives did. Restlessness was a death sentence. Llawan knew that all too well after three days in the restaurant’s merpeople tank. In the confines of a small mock-castle he didn't feel like a prince at all. Stuck at the bottom of the huge aquarium, he watched the soulless land dwellers munch on the flesh of his brothers and sisters. When one of them walked over to the tank and knocked on the thick glass to capture the merpeople’s attention, Llawan always remained in hiding. Most of the time, the guests wanted to watch them swim around, but sometimes, curiosity led to death, when luring them out of the shadows was meant to select a merman, or a mermaid, to go on the table.
The days spent in the tank were filled with never ending terror. Llawan could barely sleep, as whenever he closed his eyes, he was taunted by the image of a mermaid; her eyes laid out on a bed of sliced fruit like the most delicious treats and a servant crushing her fingers with a nutcracker and adding the bits to a salad. Witnessing such atrocities, he figured it was for the better that at least they were killed before being eaten.
What dawned on him though, was that he was the last merman left in the aquarium and he was ashamed of it. During the morning feeding, it was only females darting towards the surface for the best bits. Their stay in the tank was short lived, so the staff didn’t have to feed them properly. And even though he was starving, Llawan kept hidden in his castle, peeking out the windows every now and then. Only this time, he wouldn’t. If he was to die, he would embrace it and leave this world on his own terms, because this kind of life was not worth all the terror he was going through. And maybe, thanks to him, one of the mermaids who was not yet ready to end up on a fancy plate, could have a few more hours.
He heard the tap of fingers on the glass wall of the aquarium and it wasn’t just the sound he recognized. Llawan could feel the delicate vibrations in the water. He took a huge gulp of it and left the castle to swim up closer to the glass. Judging on the number of taps, he assumed it was two people looking for a meal, but he wasn’t prepared for what he actually saw. There was a single man in front of the aquarium, but he had a total of four arms, all of his fingers knocking against the glass. The moment their eyes met, Llawan’s white with the man’s dark like two black jellyfish, his heart froze. That was it. This was the moment. He’d be eaten by this man and his friends. Or, if the customer had a voracious appetite, he could take Llawan’s body home to feast on it for as long as there was any flesh left on his bones. Maybe he’d even suck on the bones. Llawan had seen others do it.
Nothing went to waste in Ossenthar. These people even made their tables out of bones and skin. Those pieces of furniture made him cringe. He couldn’t think of magic more disgusting. The tables would walk away on their own when not in use anymore and even through the tank walls, he believed he could hear their raspy moans of pain. He’d rather be eaten than end up like them.
Another series of taps on the glass wall, got his focus back to the man behind it. From his neck to the toes, he was dressed in figure hugging black and even his short hair was of the same color, a sharp contrast to the whiteness of his skin. Some parts of his outfit were covered with scales, but at least not a mermaid’s. His smooth trousers were made of something Llawan had learned to fear and avoid. It was shark skin. And then, the man smiled, revealing a set of large, pointy teeth in a grin that was even uglier than a shark's. His mouth was unnaturally wide for a human and the way he kept his eyes focused on his prey made Llawan cringe. The jaws seemed strong enough to crush his forearms with one bite, and his mind filled with disgusting sounds of munching. Fighting the visceral tremor in his body, he dashed forward and touched the wall that separated him from the customer, his tail stirring the fine sand below him.
The man moved his fingers along the glass, all the way to Llawan’s mouth and his lips moved, but nothing could be heard in the tank. Those obsidian, lifeless eyes never moved away from Llawan’s face. It was disconcerting and soon, Llawan wasn’t entirely certain whether the knot that formed in his stomach was one of relief or growing terror. Breathless, he swallowed a large gulp of water and let it slowly pass through his gills, the rush of oxygen making him a bit calmer. He let his fingers slide down the glass until he was resting in the sand, with his tail curled into a half-moon. If he was to die, he wanted it to be graceful.
He unwound his long braid and let the ginger swallow him. Even through the mass of flowing hair, he could still see his captor, with all four of his palms flattened against the translucent wall. Unnaturally pale, larger than most land people Llawan had seen so far, he was oddly fascinating. Captivated by the emptiness in the man’s eyes, he missed the moment the staff threw the cage in.
Alarmed by the sudden splash, Llawan swam a few feet away from the glass and looked up, crouching in the sand. He had seen this happen many times before and the mermaids all hid in the corners of the aquarium, hoping it wasn’t their time yet. Even though his heart was racing like a petrified sardine, Llawan faced the machinery that was to take him out of the tank. It was a spine chilling construction of huge ribs, held with a rope made of what looked like tendons. The procedure was always the same. The merman or mermaid would get trapped between those closing jaws and pulled up onto a platform by the top of the tank. If the captive resisted, the staff would use sharp tridents to make their prey submit. It took two grown men to operate the machine, one sitting on the other’s shoulders. They never separated and always walked around this way, which made Llawan think that they might be one of Ossenthar's infamous creations, stuck together permanently.
He knew resistance was futile and those who tried to avoid capture ended up with broken bones even prior to their death, so he forced himself to move up. It was hard to bring his tense body into motion, but he obediently entered the cage and curled against one of its sides. His stomach pressed against his spine as the huge ribs closed around him and moved up towards the surface. Llawan took his last chance to take in some water before he was pulled out of the tank.
The first seconds were always a shock. Colors changed, he had to adjust to how dry the air was, how many loud and harsh sounds surrounded him. His long hair now felt heavy, nothing like when it floated in the water. Llawan couldn’t properly see what was happening yet, but had witnessed the ordeal from his hideout in the castle enough times to attribute the shaking and loud thuds to being taken down the stairs.
Hugging one of the ribs in a tight embrace, he closed his eyes, praying that it wouldn’t last long. Back in the tank, it seemed like welcoming death was a good choice, now however, he felt absolutely horrified by the perspective of disappearing. Or worse, what if his bones were used to build a chair or a plate in this ghastly place? Would he still feel it after he died?
“Hello there, pretty fish.” Llawan heard a raspy voice just by his head and jerked away, with a strangled screech. His skin felt dry already, but thanks to the thin membrane on his eyes, he could see his buyer quite clearly. He swallowed, nervously gathering his hair over one shoulder. Why was the man even here? Shouldn’t he be at the table, now that he’d bought the meal?
“You should feel lucky I’ve chosen you. You will get an opportunity the other fish didn’t.” The client’s voice sounded as if it came from deep within his chest and traveled up a throat of spikes and hooks. The servant followed the shark-like man out of the lavish room, still carrying Llawan in the cage like he was weightless. As strange as this was, at least Llawan wouldn’t have to look at the half-eaten mermaid carcass anymore.
He gasped and coughed when he drew in too much air at once. He understood the land speak rather well, and when he didn’t know a word, most of the time he could understand its meaning from context. His active use of the language was limited, so he shook his head, looking around frantically. Only now could he smell the smoky, almost sweet aroma of roasted flesh and it made his teeth clatter. “Not fish!”
His buyer gave him a toothy smile and slid his gloved hand through the ribs of the cage, to stroke Llawan’s wet hair. “Ah, yes. I should hope so.” Everything about him screamed
Llawan was carried through a wide corridor, with walls that turned out to be covered in skin when he looked close. There were even little hairs sticking out and Llawan could swear the wallpaper was covered in goose flesh. He shook his head, covering his ears at the cacophony of sounds. Unbelievable as it was, the corridor seemed to move and whistle, as if it was a breathing, living being.
“Do you have a name, or should I make one for you?” The shark-man kept his hand in Llawan’s hair. It felt heavy and unfamiliar, yet being asked for a name was something completely new. Merpeople rarely communicated with those who lived on land, because it always meant putting themselves in danger. Llawan swallowed, looking at him from beneath the curtain of hair. He didn’t understand why someone would want to name their food, but in the end, he decided it was good to leave at least this little behind.
“Llawan. That’s a pretty name.” It didn’t sound pretty at all with the man’s harsh accent. “My name is Rhys and I ask, as I am curious of you.” His hand slid down to Llawan’s nape and then, his shoulder. “You seem in need of water. I will help with that.”
Llawan looked down at the huge palm before directing his gaze at Rhys again. “Why you help me?”
The moment he finished speaking, they walked out onto the terrace and Llawan almost forgot his own question at the breathtaking sight. The sky was clear, with stars scattered all across the dark blue and a moon like a huge puffer fish. Instead of the spit roast he’d expected, he noticed marble stairs leading down to a pool of clear water that seemed to extend to the very edge of the terrace. Llawan heard the familiar squeal of seagulls, accompanied by a soft hum, which was unmistakably made by a waterfall nearby. The castle was built on a cliff and behind the pool, far below them, was an infinity of water. The Interior Ocean.