Disclaimer: I don't own Waterworld...but it'd be kinda cool if I did...no it wouldn't, nevermind...
Author's Note: I have indeed figured out how to make chapters, so you all should be very proud of me!
FOR THE REVISIONS: I tweaked a few things, wording, dialogue, etc. but I completely changed the part where Maggie gives her backstory, so...please read!
WAIT!-Can you pretty, pretty pleaseeee leave a review! I really want to know what you guys think of my story! Ok, now you may read it:
ULYSSES SAT AT THE BOW of his boat, webbed toes skimming the water. He was on a port tack, close hauling to the speck-sized Atoll on the horizon. He had been on the water for a year now, after leaving Dryland. Ulysses stood up and made his way to the helm. He tacked and let his sails out to a close reach; he could see the Atoll clearly now. Once he reached the gates, he let down his sails, ran to the bow and called up to the watch tower,
"Hello? Anyone there? I hear you guys have a boat maker! I want a boat!" He looked around, not seeing a single person.
He heard a voice,
"You have a boat!"
Ulysses didn't see where the voice had come from, but it continued,
"A nice one too, by the way! Willing to trade?"
"Sure. Just lemme in!"
"You have anything else?"
Ulysses smirked and went down below to pull out his package of dirt. Immediately, everyone on the walls began ooh-ing and ah-ing. This isn't the first time he's gotten this reaction. Nobody moved.
"Well then, if you're not gonna let me in, I guess I'll be going,"
He started to make his way back to the helm when the gates started to grind open.
Two kayaks threw lines with weights onto his foredeck.
"Sorry, mate. It's protocol." The kayaker to his left said. Ulysses crossed his arms and watched carefully as the kayakers began towing his boat. The Atoll was organized in that there was a large wall encircling the complex. All Atolls basically looked like this, however this one had a center island-like building reaching up above the walls. As his boat passed, Ulysses looked up at the large structure, seeing someone quickly duck out of sight. He observed the building, noticing that there were 4 boats docked around it, including a catamaran, reminding him of his once beloved trimaran. He shook it off, and paid attention to the kayakers tying off his mooring to one of their docks. By now, the citizens of the Atoll began to gather, gossiping and pointing. As Ulysses stepped onto the dock, a man approached him,
"Now, what was it that you wanted again?" he asked.
"I need a new boat…I heard you guys have a boat maker here?" Ulysses put a toothpick in his mouth and twirled it between his fingers. The man nodded,
"Yessir. Robertson, right over there." He pointed to the tower in the middle of the Atoll.
"I have some stuff you might be interested in seeing." Ulysses said.
"Really now?" the man raised his eyebrows, "What could be more interesting than dirt, I might ask?"
Ulysses climbed back onto his boat and brought out some of the items he had brought back from Dryland, including a couple of little trees, a chair, some cloth...These were all things that Helen, Gregor and Enola had given him when he left Dryland. The man shook his head,
"Alright. We'll take you to the trading master. He'll calculate how much your stuff is worth.
"Thanks." Ulysses headed up to the trading master, got his chits and took a dinghy across to the main tower. He knocked on the door,
"Hello? I'm looking for a Robertson…I need a boat." Ulysses heard someone running down stairs, and then the door opened,
"A boat you say?" A pretty blonde woman stood at the door. Her hair was pulled into a messy bun and she had eyes that matched the ocean. She wore a long, black, patched up apron over black, stitched together pants, a brown bodice underneath, and knee-high rubber boots. Behind her left ear was a strand of hair woven with blue string and a small, white scallop shell hanging off of it. She was so beautiful that Ulysses had a hard time taking his eyes off of her.
"You okay, sailor?" she broke his trance.
"Yeah, uh, can you sell me a boat?" he asked stupidly.
"No problem, follow me." She led him to the back of the tower, where multiple kinds of boats were docked.
"So uh, what kind of boat are you looking for?"
"Anything that's fast."
"Well, I've got a catamaran over here," She led him to the second to farthest boat on the dock. The moment Ulysses saw it he let out a surprised laugh,
"Ha! I can't believe it!" Ulysses turned to the woman.
"What?" she asked.
"That's my boat! I can't believe you found it!"
"What do you mean by your boat? Isn't that one yours?" She pointed to Ulysses' boat on the other side of the Atoll.
"No, no. You found my old boat…"
"Ah, I see," She was still confused. Apparently, the pieces of scrap metal she'd bought were from the wreckage of Ulysses' trimaran.
"How much are you willing to sell it for?" Ulysses asked.
"Um, I don't know but maybe two hundred…two-fifty,"
"I'll buy it."
"Wait. Why don't you look around first?"
Ulysses nodded and hopped aboard. He went to the helm, turning the wheel back and forth,
"Oh, well, I found some old photographs of the boats the Ancients used to sail. Ours haven't changed much, but they used to use a wheel for their helm…I thought it'd be nice to go a little traditional. Why don't we look down below," She hopped onboard and opened the hatch. Ulysses climbed down.
"Haven't you forgotten something?" she put her hands on her hips…she was hoping he'd show some manners and offer for her to go first.
"No." Ulysses didn't know what she was asking and he didn't care.
"Never mind." And she climbed down after him.
"Wow, this is nice…" Ulysses looked around, taking in the nice finish and open space. There was a mat for a bed placed towards the bow, a large desk on the starboard side and an arrangement of shelves on the port.
"This is great. I'll take it."
Ulysses counted out her chits and handed it to her. They shook on it.
"My name's Maggie. Maggie Robertson. Glad to be of service to you today!" Maggie smiled, handling her chits.
"Well, I better get going. Where do I get supplies?" Ulysses climbed out onto the top deck.
"Right here, mate." Maggie climbed up.
"Great. Why don't you set me up with that and then I'll be on my way."
"Ok, but why don't you stick around a while? At least see the Atoll. It's the biggest one anyone's ever built. I'm sure you'd like to see it?"
"Sure, make it quick."
Maggie looked Ulysses up and down, taking in his striped pants, patched vest, long hair pulled back, and his earring.
"First, sailor...you need a drink," She patted him on the shoulder and whistled to a friend on the wall. Ulysses looked after her, raising an eyebrow. Within the minute a dinghy was waiting for them. Maggie hopped in,
"Take us to Jan's. The sailor needs a drink," she winked at Ulysses.
"You got that right, Mags. Hey sailor, how long you been out on open water?"
"Little over a year," Ulysses replied.
"Damn…Well, you're luck. Jan's got the best drinks around. People say he ran into an old smokers' stash of alcohol, brought it in, and now we're livin' large. Ain't that right, Mags?"
"Yep." Maggie kept her eyes on the wake from the dinghy.
They tied off to the little dock across from a large open courtyard. A bar was located at the back, and tables encircled a dance floor.
"Maggie!" The bartender yelled. Everyone looked as they walked up to the bar.
"Hey, Jan. We need something for the sailor. Been out for over a year." Maggie leaned on the bar table.
"Is that so? Well, you're in luck, I've got the best one waiting for you right here," Jan, the bartender, slid a cup across the table. Ulysses picked it up, swirled it around, and then took the shot. He slammed the cup down and began choking.
"You're right, Maggie. He's been out a long time," Jan laughed. Maggie smacked Ulysses' back, picked up a cup of her own and downed the shot, choking as well.
"Oh my god, Jan! What is that!" Maggie tried to catch her breath.
"I'm not sure…I combined," Jan bent down and brought out three bottles, "Uh, vodka, scotch, and…gin."
"What?" Maggie croaked.
"I dunno. I just decided to mix them up, and ta-da!"
"Alright, I'll take another," Maggie said. Ulysses looked at her,
"Make that two,"
Maggie held up her glass,
"Cheers." Maggie clinked his glass and downed more shots.
"Alright, tough guy. Try this," She pushed a glass towards Ulysses. He picked it up, smirked, downed it and began coughing. Maggie smiled,
"Now this one," she offered him another glass. They spent the rest of the night making each other drink awful concoctions that Jan had made.
The stars came out and the lights turned on, illuminating the Atoll, everyone had left Jan's except for Maggie and Ulysses. They sat together at the bar, Ulysses fidgeting with a toothpick.
"So, how close have you gotten to seeing it?" Maggie asked
"Dryland." Maggie looked him in the eyes, "There's no way you could've come by that much dirt…even with all the Atolls combined. You had to have seen it."
Ulysses looked away for a second before answering,
"I got it from Dryland. I was there…I was one of the few who found it." Maggie laughed and shook her head,
"Ha! Nice try, but I'm not buyin' it."
"What? Why not? You just asked me if I've been there a minute ago."
"Because," Maggie straightened up, "Any sane man wouldn't suddenly find the haven to this hellhole and not stay. You couldn't have possibly have been there because you wouldn't be here if you had. Am I right?"
Ulysses sighed, changing the subject.
"I think its time for you to go home." He got up and started walking to the docks when Maggie called,
"You know, I don't even know your name, sailor. You got one, don't you?"
Ulysses stopped and answered without turning around,
"Ulysses." And he continued to the dinghy. He picked up the oars and rowed across to the tower. Maggie sat there, rolling the name over her tongue. Ulysses, she thought, it has a nice ring to it. But how could he not stay on Dryland? Something's different about him, that's for sure…but what? Maggie got up, her thoughts spinning, found herself a dinghy and went home.
Ulysses lay on the netting of his new boat, looking at the stars. Maggie had brought up a good point: why didn't he stay on Dryland? He knew, that if he were normal, he would have. But he wasn't, he was a…mutant, a freak…a monster. He didn't belong anywhere but the ocean. Only the water would accept him for who he was, half fish-half human. Dryland didn't move right…it was too…solid. Ulysses felt at home with the rolling of the waves and the sound of the water slapping the hull. Dryland didn't have that feeling. Maybe that's why I didn't stay, Ulysses thought.
Maggie opened the door to her home, climbed the stairs, and plopped down on her bed. Why, she thought, would he leave Dryland if he had really found it? She took off her boots and trousers, and curled up in her sheets closing her eyes and thinking of Dryland.
Ulysses awoke to a loud metal-on-metal noise. He climbed onto the deck and saw Maggie with goggles on, hammering away at a sheet of metal. Ulysses whistled really loudly to get her attention over the noise. She raised her head and pushed her goggles up.
"Mornin'!" she smiled.
Ulysses climbed out of his boat,
"What're you doing?"
"Huh? Oh, I'm just working on a few things."
Maggie put down her tools and wiped her face on a towel,
"So, yesterday you said you needed supplies?"
"Alright, follow me." She tossed the towel aside and started around the back.
She went up to a large shed, opened the lock and pulled open the doors, revealing a huge amount of sailing supplies and tools.
"What d'you need?"
"Line, canvas, fishing line, netting," Ulysses started. Maggie nodded, listened intently and collected the items.
"Um, some bolts and, as many g's of hydro you got and whatever trees you have."
"Sorry, no trees. We'll have to head to the market for those. I've gotta pick up a few things myself, why don't you come along?" Maggie handed him the last thing and led Ulysses outside. They went to the store and purchased what was needed. On their way back to the tower, Maggie pointed to a black door in front of them.
"I need to make a quick stop." She opened it.
"Wait here," she commanded and went inside. Ulysses took her bag and leaned up against the wall.
Maggie walked through the dark hallway and came to the open room.
"I brought what you asked for, Maximus," Maggie set down a bag on the large round table. The old man Maximus was nowhere to be seen.
Ulysses stood out front, looking irritated at how long this was taking. She had said 'quick' stop, but this is taking forever. He shook his head and decided to wander around a bit to kill some time. He picked up the bags and left.
Maggie ran up the stairs and looked around,
"Maximus, I know you're in here! Come out now, its me, Maggie,"
She thought that maybe she had frightened the old man. He was old, and blind, and a little crazy, so that didn't surprise her. She continued looking around the house.
Ulysses weaved through the people, looking for Jan's bar. Once he found it, he sat down and ordered a drink. Looking around, he noticed that everyone was watching him very carefully. He shot them an evil glare and focused on his drink.
Maggie wandered into the small closet that she thought she had heard rattling in.
"Maximus? Are you there?" She peered inside and yelped. Maximus was lying on the floor, having a seizure. She hurried over and tried to hold him still.
"HELP! Someone help me please!" Maggie screamed. Suddenly there was someone running down the hallway; she hoped it was Ulysses.
A dark figure watched Ulysses at the bar. He discreetly pulled out a knife and continued to advance on the unaware Ulysses.
Maggie turned around and saw a large man with half of his face burned. She tried to scream, but was muffled by the man's hand.
Ulysses noticed the man and turned to face him.
Maggie squirmed in the man's grasp, trying to call for help.
The figure began to attack Ulysses, raising the knife and slashing it, nearly slicing Ulysses' nose off.
"Bad move, buddy," and Ulysses fought back. More and more figures appeared out of nowhere, and began to search through the Atollers. An Atoller shouted,
"SMOKERS!" And everyone began panicking and screaming. Within a minute, the entire Atoll had fallen into chaos. Ulysses was held down by a Smoker; struggling to get out of his grasp. One of the Smokers had gotten himself to the tower and called out,
"No need to panic ladies and gents! We're just looking for a muto you may have picked up."
The man holding Ulysses called up,
"I got 'im sir! He's right here!"
Just then another Smoker burst through the door of Maximus' house, holding a beaten up Maggie.
"I've caught the muto! She's over here!"
Ulysses looked up and caught a glimpse of Maggie; she had a bruise on her left eyebrow and her lip was bleeding. Ulysses managed to escape the man's grip. He punched him, put his hand around the back of the Smoker's head and slammed it down on his knee. Ulysses ran and tried to swim through the chaos, but as he did, he heard his name.
"Ulysses!" It was Maggie. He could see her, looking in all directions for him while being dragged to the motorboat awaiting the Smokers' escape.
"Ulysses! Help!" She screamed, the man hit her and pulled her head back by her bun.
"Ooo! Lookie here boys, we've got ourselves a mermaid! She's got gills! I bet your little toesies are webbed too, huh sweetheart?"
Maggie's eyes widened with fear. Ulysses tried to make his way to her. Maggie struggled, screamed, and kicked repeatedly, but it wasn't helping.
Ulysses pushed through the crowd. He jumped on the man, tackling both him and Maggie to the ground. Maggie managed to get out of the man's grip and stood up.
"Let's go! We have to get out of here! Get to the tower!" she said to Ulysses, who was a bit preoccupied beating up the Smoker. Ulysses threw the guy into a wall, knocking him out.
"What's going on here? Who are these people? Why are they after me?" he spun around to face Maggie.
"After you? They're after me!" Maggie said. They exchanged looks,
"C'mon!" Ulysses grabbed her arm and they made their way to the tower. Ulysses stopped at the end of the dock.
One of the Smokers pointed to them,
"Quick! Get them! They're getting away!"
None of the dinghies were left. They had to find another way across. The Smokers had opened the gates, and now more and more were flowing in. Fires were set, blood was shed, and it was time to get out. So much for trying to keep everyone calm, Ulysses thought.
"C'mon!" Ulysses grabbed Maggie's arm, "We're going to have to swim across!" Maggie held back,
"You have to!"
"I CAN'T! I'm scared!"
Ulysses didn't waste time. He tackled Maggie into the water with him. Once underneath, Maggie shut her eyes and struggled, trying to get back to the air above them. Once they surfaced, she slapped Ulysses and started freaking out.
"Get me out! Get me out!" She was legitimately scared. Ulysses held onto her shoulders,
"Listen to me…Maggie, I want you to look at me-"
She clung onto him.
"You're my kind, aren't you?" Ulysses looked her in the eyes,
"No, yes, I don't know! I don't understand anything! Just get me out! Please-get me out-" She started to panic.
"Hey-hey! I want you to hold onto me, and I'll get you out,"
She nodded. Ulysses led her around to the back of the tower and helped her onto the catamaran. Ulysses looked around: chaos was everywhere. Bullets and fire were flying, people were screaming and running; blood was everywhere.
By this time, Maggie had already started on setting the mainsail. Ulysses released the mooring, set the jib and started towards the gates. Three of the Smokers leaped from the walls and onto the catamaran. Ulysses grabbed a pipe that had been sitting with other various tools on the net, and whacked the first two guys off. The last guy came up knocked the pipe out of his hands, and soon they were in hand-to-hand combat. Maggie came up behind with the pipe and swung it at the guy's back. He screamed in agony and Ulysses finished him off with slamming his head into the mast and throwing him off the boat. Now they were almost out the gate when two Smokers hauled themselves aboard. One was armed with a gun. Ulysses grabbed the first one and beat him to a pulp, threw him over, and prepared to fight the armed man. He lifted his gun and was about to fire, but Maggie knocked his knees out with the pipe. He stumbled and Ulysses made his move, disarmed the guy and tossed him off the boat. Now, they were out of the Atoll. The catamaran picked up speed and bolted off before any of the Smokers men's motorboats could react. They were safe, for now.
Maggie sat on the stern and watched in silence as her home was destroyed. Tears rolled down her face and she shivered. Not only was she upset, but also she was also in shock because of her experience in the water after 19 years of refusal, and embarrassed for having her mutation announced publicly...again. Ulysses ran up and down the 50ft catamaran, getting used to the lines and getting a feel for the way the boat sailed. On his way, he saw Maggie sitting there, cold and shaken. He looked at her for a minute and went into the cabin. He looked around, taking in the bed pushed up towards the bow, the little desk and chair with lots of charts and a mirror. As he was looking for a place that he could store his weapons, he thought, was she really my kind? My kind…I have a kind. He shook it off and began arranging his weapons on a shelf.
It was night when Maggie finally got up and went over to Ulysses, who was sitting on the bow. She sat down in front of him, wrapping herself up in a blanket.
"Thank you. For everything."
Ulysses looked at her,
"I didn't do anything for you," His eyes kept focused on the horizon. He's a tough guy...I guess he doesn't like people thinking he was actually doing anything for them, Maggie thought.
"Well," she stood up, "I'll just let you be." She made her way to the cabin. Maggie turned around and added,
"You did do something…you saved my life,"
Ulysses noted this, but didn't turn to face her. She let it go and went down into the cabin.
He awoke just as the sun was rising above the horizon. Ulysses climbed out of his hammock and went to tend the sails. As he was doing so, his stomach grumbled. He went over to check his apple tree, but none of the fruit was ready. Ulysses looked out at the water and noticed a couple of dark spots moving around. He crept down into the cabin looking for a spear gun. He looked over and saw Maggie asleep, and for some reason, she seemed peaceful. As Ulysses rummaged through the box of various sharp items, he heard Maggie rustle in her bed and he froze. He turned around to see Maggie sitting there, eyes narrowed.
"Uh, sorry, I was just getting…these," Ulysses waved the spears in his hand and exited. Maggie sat there, confused. She rolled out of bed and pulled on her pants. She didn't bother with the boots...besides, who was going to care whether she was a muto. She knew Ulysses wouldn't give a damn.
When she climbed out on deck, Ulysses was nowhere to be seen. She looked around for a few seconds, starting to get worried. Then suddenly, she heard a big splashing sound and looked to the stern. There was an enormous fish wrestling with lines, then there was a gunshot and some of the water turned red with its blood. Then she saw Ulysses wrestling with the fish, finally getting it to stop moving. He scrambled atop the enormous beast, wrapped it in a line and dove back into the water. Ulysses climbed on deck and fastened the line holding his catch to a pulley.
"What was that?" Maggie asked as Ulysses hauled the giant fish in and plopped it on the deck.
"The biggest catch I could find." Ulysses began to gut the fish,
"Also, the apples aren't ready and figuring I have an extra mouth to feed, I went for the biggest fish. Plus, it'll last longer if we keep it right." He ripped out the intestine. Maggie nodded in agreement. Ulysses sliced up the meat and laid most of it out on the deck in the sun and went down below. He came back with a little stove. He started it and placed a few slices to cook.
"So," Ulysses said, "How about we get you to the next Atoll?"
Maggie was taken aback,
"What? No, I'm coming with you. No way am I going back to another Atoll."
She took a bite of the fish.
"Yeah, well, I don't need you. You're better off repairing boats on those floating pieces of shit." Ulysses said.
"Look," Maggie said, "There is no way, I'm going back to another filthy, crowded Atoll. I'm staying right where I am."
"Why should I let you stay?" Ulysses narrowed his eyes.
"Well, I could be useful."
"How? I don't need any help…I've sailed a bigger boat than this on my own for a few years. I can handle it."
Maggie thought of a quick come back,
"Well because you've worked so hard these past years, why don't you take a break and let someone else do all the work for you?"
She was desperate to stay.
"I like working on my boat." Ulysses stabbed back.
"Ugh. You know what? Fine. Fine! I'll just rot away on some damn Atoll while you're out here exploring the world. Of course you'd do that to someone of your own kind…Probably the only other person of your kind!"
This statement struck Ulysses. He lowered his knife and thought about it for a second. She's right. What if she is the only other one of my kind and I just leave her on an Atoll? I should keep her around. Ulysses wasn't that soft, though. He was going to make her earn her stay.
"Alright. You can stay. But you do everything my way…Mess anything up and you'll end up on a another Atoll, you got it?"
"Good. Why don't you go ahead and set the wind-jabber for me," Ulysses said, taking another bite of fish. Maggie nodded and got up.
"Oh, and while you're at it, can you pull us into a close haul?"
"Sure," Maggie went over to the helm and started working with the lines.
Ulysses sat and watched her quick hands as she made fast the halyard, her squinting eyes analyzing the position of the sails and her blonde hair blowing in the wind. Maggie was just about to bring the sails into a close haul when Ulysses got up,
"Hey! Let's go ahead and tack, I'll take the jib!" he called.
"All-righty! Ready to tack?" She called.
"Ready!" He took up the cleated port sheet.
"Tacking!" Maggie turned the helm and the sails switched sides. She ducked as the boom came swinging over her head, and Ulysses scrambled across the deck to the adjacent side to take in the luffing jib. Ulysses hauled the sail in with lightning speed. The boat immediately accelerated, lurching forward from its snail-like pace. Maggie smiled and laughed as the wind rushed across her face. Ulysses went over to the chair and called her over,
"C'mon! Help me even this out!"
Maggie hadn't realized it, but they were starting to keel to the starboard side. They both leaned on it and brought the port hull down a bit. She smiled as the wake splashed on her face. Ulysses watched her laughing.
"Stay here, I'm gonna ease out the mainsail a little bit," He ran back to the helm. Before he put his hand on the halyard, he looked at Maggie's beaming face. He decided to wait a bit before slowing the boat down.
That afternoon, Ulysses worked on constructing a new filter for hydro. Maggie came over and plopped down next to him.
"Trying to fix this. Hand me that wrench, will you?" Ulysses held out his hand and Maggie placed the tool in it.
"How long before it's finished?"
"I don't know. Hopefully before tonight."
"Ok. Hey, I'm going to clean up down below, do you mind?"
Ulysses didn't answer.
"I'm taking that as a no," Maggie got up and scurried down below. She picked up the box of sharp tools and spears and laid everything out, sorting it by shape and size. Then, she moved to the weapons. She moved knives to the right side and guns to the left. She put the groupings of sharp items below the knives. She moved over to the bed and straightened the sheets a little bit. Satisfied, she went back upstairs. Ulysses was cursing while trying to get his fingers into a small space between the lever and the base on the filter.
"Need help?" Maggie appeared over his shoulder.
"No, I've almost got it…Damn!" Ulysses quickly retracted his fingers and shook them out.
"Here, I have smaller hands," Maggie bent down and looked at the space. A bolt needed tightening before you could fit the wrench in. She wiggled her fingers inside and twirled the bolt. She held out her hand and Ulysses handed her the wrench. She carefully wedged it in there, gripped it onto the bolt and began tightening it.
"There!" she pushed her hair back. "All done!" She handed the wrench back to Ulysses. There was no "Thank You" from him.
"Anything else I can do for you, my lord?" Maggie said sarcastically.
Ulysses nodded in negation.
"All right…you know where to find me." Maggie headed up to the bow and lay down to take a nap. Ulysses looked up from his work watched Maggie lay down. He continued fixing the filter. He worked until nighttime. Ulysses climbed into his hammock and dozed off.
Maggie suddenly appeared over the snoozing Ulysses,
"Get up!" Maggie's beaming face appeared before him. He jolted awake.
"Time for dinner!" She held up a piece of cooked fish. The stove was on and the aroma of charcoal and salt filled the air. Ulysses rubbed his eyes and climbed out of the hammock. Maggie handed him a plate.
"Huh…oh, thanks." He took the fish in his fingers and began to gnaw on its coarse texture. Maggie was silent. That was the first "Thank You" she'd gotten from him. She looked at him, staggered. Ulysses looked up from his plate after noticing the unusual silence from her.
"What?" he demanded.
"You said thank you. You've never said thank you to me before."
"It was…nice of you. I appreciate it."
"Uh-huh…" he took another bite of the fish, "So what's the deal with you and the water?"
Maggie stopped chewing and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She looked out onto the horizon and didn't speak.
"You gonna answer my question or not?" Ulysses unsheathed his knife and began cutting himself another piece of fish.
"It's a long story."
"Well I'm in no hurry. " He said. Maggie looked him in the eyes. He nodded for her to go on.
It was a crisp, clear night when Maggie rose from her bed. She heard yelling from the other room and went to go see what it was. Evelyn and Hector Robertson were both fuming.
"Why don't you listen to me, Evelyn? They'll kill her if they ever find out!"
"Not necessarily. Perhaps they will learn to accept her for what she is."
"NO! Evelyn, this is the last time I'm going to say this: She can't go into the water...EVER!"
"Stop. Just stop. If you want her to die, then go ahead, let her play in the water and show the entire world her webbed feet and gills. She's a muto!" He slammed his fist down on the table,
"I can't deal with this." With that, Hector turned on his heel and marched out the door. On the way, he passed Maggie, who was silently crying. However, Hector sensed his daughter and looked down to the devastated child. squatting down, he took Maggie's hand in his,
"Margret, listen to me, ok. Can you promise me something?" he wiped the tears with his thumb. The little girl nodded.
"Good. Now I want you to promise me you'll never go in the water, alright? Never-ever-ever."
"Never-ever-ever," Maggie repeated. Hector gave her one last kiss on her head, stood up and went out the door. That was the last time they ever saw him.
Maggie grew up, avoiding any contact with the water all the while. Her mother passed away when she was twelve. Then one day, when she was sixteen, she was out coiling some lines when a group of bullies surrounded her.
"What do you want, Joseph? Can't you see I'm busy." Maggie kept her eyes focused on the line.
"You know what everyone's sayin', don't ya? You're a freak. You live in this tower all alone...makes people get curious. What's your problem, anyway...besides the fact that you're just plain weird!" The boys laughed. Maggie stood up and looked Joseph in the eye,
"Go away." She turned on her heel to leave when Joseph grabbed her arm, dragging her back.
"You know what? I think it's time for a swim!" He hefted Maggie into his arms despite her protests. He walked to the edge of the dock and threw her in. Maggie freaked out and began thrashing around, trying to keep herself afloat, however it attracted all of the Atollers' eyes.
"Let's see how long you can hold your breath!" Joseph jumped in, grabbing Maggie. He pushed her head underneath the water. Maggie's eyes widened as she began to breath...underwater. She stayed under for much longer than any human could. Joseph had taken his hands off of her, and quickly swam away when she emerged. Maggie looked around at everyone; they were shocked, pointing and muttering. She looked back at Joseph who kept eyeing her ears. Maggie touched her ears with her fingers, feeling the swollen gills. She looked back at the Elders who had gathered. One of them stepped forward,
"Seeing that we have all witnessed it, it is appropriate to say that Maggie Roberston is a muto,"
Everyone gasped. The Elder continued,
"And therefore, she must be disposed of." Everyone cheered and yelled. Tears began to run down Maggie's face as her blood pulsed with fear.
"Please!" Maggie gasped, "Don't kill me...please! I haven't done anything wrong!"
Someone shouted from the wall,
"You're a MUTO!" The rest of the Atollers cheered in agreement.
"NO! NO, PLEASE!" Two Atollers grabbed Maggie by the arms and dragged her out of the water. She thrashed, screamed, kicked, and cried, but none of it helped.
"Wait!" An old voice called out. The Atoll was quiet. A tall, ungainly man stepped forth. It was none other than Maximus.
"Do not kill the muto, dear elders. Instead, let me examine her."
The chatter among the Atollers increased.
"She is right," Maximus continued, "She hasn't caused anyone harm, and therefore should not be executed. In fact, I believe we can learn a lot from her."
"What do you mean?"
"She's a muto!"
"She deserves to die!" the Atollers cried out.
"What I mean is, even though there aren't many like her now, there will be soon enough. We aren't built for this environment, my friends. No, no...we were built for Dryland!"
"Dryland's a myth!"Someone called out.
"Perhaps...but believe me when I say it. Soon enough, we will all be like Maggie here, whether we like it or not. Therefore, kind elders, I ask you to let me study the fine creature, in hopes as to we might educate our generations to come, so that they are prepared. And-"
"Enough, Maximus! Now, you may take the muto if you promise us that she will never do anything violent or disruptive. Is that understood?" The shortest Elder stated.
"Yes, sir. Understood."
"Good. Take her away." The men released Maggie and she went over to Maximus' side. He put a reassuring and protective arm around her shoulder, and led her through the crowds towards his lab. Once in the lab, the frightened Maggie asked,
"What are you going to do to me? Are you going to stick needles in me, or-or cut off my toes. or-" she began to sob out of fright.
"No, no, no...none of those things. I'm going to have you be my assistant, actually. You know, running errands, cleaning up the lab...things like that." Maximus reassured Maggie. She wiped her tears and threw her arms around the scientist's waist.
"Thank you for saving me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Maggie pulled away from her embrace,
"Sir...can I request one thing?"
"Don't make me go in the water again...please. I made a promise 10 years ago to never go in the water, and I wish to keep that promise."
"Of course, darling. In fact, you won't even have to touch water at all. You'll be fine. Now, let's get you settled in."
Maggie's life continued with Maximus until he became old and frail. She learned a lot about astronomy when she was younger, but eventually she began drifting away. She was no longer interested in the sciences and decided to do something more practical: boat making. She apprenticed with the boat maker and moved into the tower. When she 21, she opened up her own business and that was her life until a certain mariner came along.
Ulysses took all of this in and he felt sorry for her...for what she had gone through. He decided not to bother her about it anymore.
"Ok. I think it's time for you to get to bed…I'll take first shift." Ulysses put the stove away without meeting her eyes. Maggie went downstairs and locked the hatch. She took off her pants and laid down on the mat-bed. She had never opened up to anyone like that.
Ulysses was on deck, coiling rope and stressing the lines. The wind blew and he listened to the canvas smacking back and forth. He went to his hammock and thought. Wow…and I thought my life was hard. He noticed he began getting that same tingly feeling he got when Helen was around, but pushed the thought away. Maggie awoke and began sobbing. She tossed and turned. I need some fresh air.
She climbed up on deck and took in the salty air. She looked over at Ulysses, who seemed to be asleep and went to the mainsail. She eased the halyard and the sail dropped. Maggie quickly looked over at Ulysses: still asleep, the noise didn't wake him. She then moved to the jib and lowered that as well. The boat slowed down to almost a complete stop. She went to the bow and looked down at the water: The moon danced on the dimples of the navy surface. She turned around to check that Ulysses was asleep again and slipped off her pants and top, leaving only her underwear and bra. Maggie took a deep breath and dove into the water. The icy abyss enveloped her. The light tingle of bubbles caressed her skin. She didn't rise to the surface yet: the forced herself to stay under as long as she could. She turned to see the hull of the catamaran, the rudder, the two center boards…She could see the boys, encircling her and advancing, then her father, "Never-ever-ever, Margret. I thought you promised..." his voice echoed in her head. Maggie almost forgot to breathe out of fright. She panicked and tried to make her way back to the surface but was too disoriented to do so. Then suddenly there was a loud thundering noise, and in a white array of bubbles, Ulysses appeared. She locked her eyes on to him, trying to fight off the darkness. He made her way to her, took her arm and pulled her up to the surface. Maggie spewed out salt water, coughing, gasping for air.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Ulysses demanded. Maggie shook her head with a loss of words.
"I-I don't know." She wiped her hair back, her bun had come undone and her hair swayed with the current.
"C'mon, let's get back to the boat."
Maggie hadn't realized it, but the boat had started drifting away. They made their way around the back, Maggie clutching to Ulysses' muscular arm the entire time. He hauled her up. She lay on her back and breathed deeply. Ulysses walked past and she touched his leg. He turned and looked down on her.
"Thank you." Was all she said.
"Stay out of the water for a while, will ya?"
She nodded and gave a weak smile. Ulysses went to the bow, picked up Maggie's clothes and dropped them by her; she was too exhausted to care.
The next morning, Ulysses came and shook Maggie awake, who was still lying on deck beside her clothes.
"Hey, get up. Maggie, get up!"
"Uuhh…" she slowly opened her eyes and smiled.
"Hi." She mumbled.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah I'm fine," Maggie sat up, her blonde hair flickering in the wind.
"What happened last night?"
"I don't know. I just felt—that I needed to get past my fear of water sooner or later. Screw my dad and his stupid promise! I'm a muto! I breathe underwater dammit! I'm off that Atoll so I can swim. And Ulysses can do it, so can I...Ah, I dunno what I'm talking about," she lowered her head.
"Hey, it's alright. You're safe now." Ulysses placed a warm hand on her shoulder.
"Thank you, Ulysses. For saving me…I had no idea what the hell I was trying to get accomplished."
A smile tugged at the corners of Ulysses' mouth,
"Well, at least you made some progress."
"Yeah. You didn't slap me and yell 'get me out! Get me out'!" Ulysses tried impersonating Maggie's voice. She laughed at the failed attempt.
"If you count that as an accomplishment."
"It is. Sooner or later you'll be swimming on your own, trust me."
"What's this…change of heart you're having?" Maggie noted.
"I dunno. I thought about it last night. I figured I should help you out."
"Because I'm your kind, isn't it?"
"That, and well, I just remembered."
"Remembered how nice it felt to help someone."
Maggie raised an eyebrow.
"You actually helping someone besides yourself?"
"Yeah. There were some friends that I helped a few years ago."
"Where are they now?"
"I helped them find Dryland."
Maggie nodded in agreement, now having more faith in this guy.
"Are they still there?"
"Yeah. Well, I'm not sure. I left them there. I couldn't stay. The ground, it…didn't move right. It was too solid. And it smelled strange."
"Haha! Really? Wow, I would've stayed if I were you."
"I bet you would."
Ulysses smiled at her. He stood up and offered a hand to her,
"C'mon. We've got some work to do." Maggie took his hand and he pulled her up. She bent down and retrieved her clothes,
"Thanks. I appreciate it," she pulled the tank top over her head and slipped on her pants. She pulled her hair back into a bun, but realized she didn't have a tie.
"Ugh, damn it!" Maggie let her hair drop back down. Ulysses was setting the mainsail when she made her way over.
"Finish this, will ya?" He handed her the main halyard.
"Sure," she began hauling up the sail. Ulysses went to the helm and changed course.
"Where are we going?"
"Away from where? Can't you be specific?"
"Away from them!" Ulysses pointed to the starboard quarter. Three black boats dotted the horizon.
"Smokers. Damn it! Maggie set the sails in a close haul…we need as much wind as we can get if we wanna out-run them."
"Got it!" Maggie ran to tend the sails. The motorboats gained on them. Ulysses made a sharp turn to the port and their speed picked up. He went down below to retrieve some weapons. He tossed a knife to Maggie,
"Here! Let's hope we don't need these!"
"Why are they after us?" She stuck the knife in her pocket.
"Don't know and don't wanna find out."
The motorboats were coming up to an uncomfortably close distance. A few more minutes and they'd be in range for guns. Ulysses slung the spear gun over his shoulder. Maggie and Ulysses could almost see the individual Smokers on the boats; they were taking out their firearms and preparing to shoot their catamaran.
"Ulysses…" Maggie warned.
"I know! Just gimme a minute!"
The Smokers opened fire.
"We don't have a minute!" Maggie screamed. Ulysses turned the helm hard to starboard and the boom swung over their heads.
"Take this," Ulysses handed her the spear gun. "And aim for their hull, just below the waterline."
Maggie took the gun and loaded it, aimed and shot the boat. Two seconds later, there was an enormous explosion. Ulysses looked at the calm Maggie,
"What did you-?"
"I shot the hull."
Ulysses was speechless, but decided to direct his attention to the matter at hand. He whistled to Maggie,
"Hey! See if you can get rid of the rest of 'em, will ya?"
Maggie reloaded and aimed for the second boat. Seconds later, another explosion. The third motorboat had made its way around the debris and came up fast. Maggie was still reloading the spear gun when the Smoker got close and began firing at her. A bullet grazed her right shoulder, knocking her back. She clutched her gash; blood beginning to trickle out. Maggie darted back towards Ulysses. She pressed herself up against him, patting him down.
"Maggie! What the—"
"Gimme your gun! Now! C'mon!"
Surprised Ulysses obliged. He dug out the gun from his boot. Maggie cocked and shot at the Smoker, putting only one bullet through him. The Smoker went limp, accidentally landing on his gun: causing it to fire. He then tumbled off the motorboat and into the wake. Everything was silent. Maggie lowered the gun; her left hand still clutching her wound. She dropped the gun and fell to her knees. Ulysses ran to her side.
"Hey," he said in a soft voice to the clearly frightened Maggie. "It's ok. You did good out there. Got them Smokers off our ass. C'mon, let's clean that up." He helped her to her feet. She tried to stand up, but was unable to do so by herself. The Smoker had shot her through the thigh, and she was gushing blood. Ulysses bent down and hefted her into his arms. He took her down below where he could tend to the wounds. He laid her down on the mattress. Maggie screamed and writhed from the pain. Ulysses held her down.
"It's gonna be okay, Maggie. You're gonna be fine, don't you worry."
He realized that he was feeling worried for her; an emotion he'd never felt for anyone before. He ran topside and pumped out fresh water into a bowl. He hurried back downstairs and ripped off strips from Maggie's bed sheets. She lay there, writhing and bleeding everywhere. She clutched her thigh, a searing pain pulsing through her veins. Ulysses dipped a piece of cloth into the bowl and dabbed her forehead, stroking it.
"Shhh…you're gonna be ok. Just relax. I'm gonna get you fixed up."
Ulysses couldn't believe he said the words, but he didn't have time to waste. He slid off her pants. He lifted her leg and examined it. His touch was gentle, and soon enough Maggie relaxed. It had been a clean shot, an entry and exit wound. He dipped a piece of cloth in the water and carefully cleaned the injury. He then proceeded to bandage her leg. Ulysses sat her up and leaned her on him. He wiped and bandaged her shoulder. Maggie laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes, breathing heavily. Ulysses wrapped his arms around her. He hesitated for a second, and then leaned down to kiss her on the head. Maggie gave a weak smile and sighed, snuggling in. They sat there for a while, taking comfort in each other's arms.
The next morning, Ulysses awoke with Maggie in his arms, still asleep with a quiet little snore. He looked at her for a moment before gently laying her down on the bed and exiting the cabin. He walked across the deck and took a deep breath, enjoying the sound of the sea and wind in his hair. A few minutes later, Maggie stuck her head out.
"Good morning," She whispered.
"Morning. How's your leg?"
"Better, thanks to you."
Ulysses nodded. Maggie turned to inch her way back to bed when Ulysses' voice stopped her,
"Hey, Maggie...I was thinking...Do you still want to go to Dryland?"
Alright, guys! I love hearing from you, so please...don't hesitate...at all...in fact...review right now...stop reading my note and click review chapter!...DO IT! :D haha, thanks guys!
OK! So...I would REALLY like it if you guys give me some suggestions. I'm not sure where to go...
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