On our way to a birthday party, one I bugged my parents to attend, there was a fearsome storm underway. I remember looking out of the backseat window, mesmerized by the beauty of the pelting rain outside. I've always found comfort in the aura rain evoked. It was so peaceful, so subtle. And yet, that particular day, it caused something horrifying to happen.
The rain-stricken street gave lethal leverage to the semi coming towards us on that winding road. It seemed to happen in slow motion. One minute, dad was turning, attempting to avoid the head on collision. The next, his head bounced off of the steering wheel, blood rushing out of the gash the impact created. When I looked over at my mother, the survivor of a tragic car accident that claimed her legs as a child, she glanced back at me, her arm guarding me from the shards of glass escaping the shattered windshield.
I must've passed out, my body reacting to the shock of the brutal crash because, when I opened my eyes, my parents were gone. I was left, seat belt still attached, in the car, dangling upside down. Hastily, I unbuckled the seatbelt, wincing in pain as I realized my right arm was impaled by a large piece of metal. Still, I pressed on; finally escaping the seatbelt, which in turn caused me to land on the roof of the car. Though my knees protested in pain, shards of the broken windshield cutting away at them ruthlessly, I ignored it; calling out for my mother and father.
The only sound audible was the sound of the rain viciously pounding away above my head, muting my attempt to call for my missing parents. So I crawled out of the back window, random pieces of metal and glass making their presence known as I did so. Once out of the metal tomb, I looked around the forested landscape; identifying the road we somersaulted from and the demolished railing fifty feet above the crash.
"Mom! Dad!" I yelled, clutching my damaged arm as I walked around towards the other side of the car.
There, atop the mud-smothered grass, was my mother and father. My eyes immediately widened once I realized what was happening. Once I saw my mother's blood-covered face.
She was slouched over my dad, her head swaying side to side viciously as she appeared to be eating his legs. I covered my mouth, attempting to hold back the urge to vomit as she lifted her head from my father's corpse.
"Honey," she started, holding up her blood soaked hand.
I shook my head, covering my ears as shock began to eat away at my sanity.
"This, this isn't what it looks like, baby. Your father, he wanted me to do this. He was dying, sweetheart. He told me to do what I had to do to get us out of here," she said, nodding her head.
I fell to the ground, staring at my father's wide-opened eyes as he laid a few inches ahead of my feet. The rain pelted down on his corpse, quickly washing away the blood on his face in crimson rivulets to the tall grass beyond.
"Why?" I asked, burning a hole into my mother's eyes.
She stood up. She stood up.
"We are different, baby. Your father and I, we wanted you to have a normal life. You weren't supposed to see this," she said, walking towards me.
I panicked; backing away from her, forgetting the fact that my right arm was badly mangled.
"Don't be scared, Ariel. Come here," she said, pulling me up from the sunken ground.
She looked over me, observing my shredded legs and wounded arm.
"Let me get this out of you," she said, swiftly pulling the metal shard out of my arm.
I screamed before glancing down at the unidentifiable limb I once called an arm. My blood seemed to gush from the gaping wound, not even the rain poured down fast enough to cleanse it away.
"His arm," my mother said, pulling me down to my father's limp body.
I shook my head, yelling out for help.
"Stop it, Ariel. You... you have to do this or you'll bleed out, baby. Your father would want you to do this," she said, rubbing my back.
My vision began to blur as my heart seemed to slow. Though I was afraid, disgusted, and confused, I lowered my lips to my father's corpse. I ate, savoring each bite as if it were some sort of delicacy. I couldn't stop once I started until it was gone. My mother watched, caressing my rain soaked hair as I ate my father's arm. My father's arm.
Once I lifted my head, wiping away the crimson evidence of my feast, I looked down at my right arm. It was intact, unmarred, and perfectly normal.
"I have a lot to tell you, Ariel," my mother said, staring deeply within my eyes.
I sat there, gazing at my father as he began to shake. He seemed to be changing. His skin, once a vibrant beige, was now greying. His hair, once healthy and shiny, sloughed from his head in clumps. His face, once chiseled handsomely, bloated to a point unrecognizable. His teeth were now sharpened knives protruding from his closed mouth like a piranha.
"See, we aren't like everyone else, Ariel. You may not remember, but you've done this before. How else could you have gotten legs," my mother said, wrapping her arm around my shoulder.
As the storm subsided, I stared down at what I once called my father. Where his legs once resided, rested a growing mass. After some time, once its growth concluded, I recognized the mass it had become. A tail... .
"I didn't lose my legs in a car accident, Ariel. Your father had to remove my tail, leaving me the way you're use to seeing me because, at the time, I couldn't stomach doing what he did to get legs. But, I also didn't want to go back home. Sweety, we aren't built for this lifestyle. We have to do things, and I mean bad things, to blend in here. Your father and I chose to leave the Colony behind long ago so you could experience life at its full potential. Among the walking," she said.
Though her confession caused my knees to buckle and my head to ache in disbelief, in the background, I could make out the approaching ambulance in the distance. The sirens resonated throughout the forest, grabbing my attention and shattering all cloudiness from my thoughts.