Leo the Mer-Guy! Chapter Fourteen: Down He Goes

Leo’s plan was met with seven wary expressions and seven sets of bugged out eyes.


“Uh. What?” Tinashe asked.


“I have to go in the pond,” Leo said. “That’s what the wish was telling me. That’s where the answer is. What my magic is.”


Silence followed his proclamation. 


“Dude, I think there are, like, pesticides and brain-eating amoebas down there,” Ruby said.


“Not to mention you can’t breathe underwater,” Juan said with a frown. “Are you planning on retrieving the stone? What are you going to do when you’re in there?”


Well. Those were a bouquet of annoyingly good points. Still. Leo doubled down.


“The water is calling to me. It will show me the way.”


“If you feel that strongly,” Ash said with a shrug.


Yasmin stepped forward. “I’ll warm you up when you come back,” she said. “No hypothermia for Leo.”


Leo smiled. “Thanks.”


He stepped towards the edge of the water.


The weirdest part was that it did call to him.


Ever since Leo was a toddler, he’d been drawn to bodies of water, stepping in fountains and veering off bridges before his parents could snatch him back to safety.


The call of the void was back. He wanted to go in the water. Even if it was gross and full of goose poop.


He thought of the people behind him, the rag-tag group of witches that would help him if he needed it. He really hoped he wouldn’t need it. He hoped he wasn’t being absolutely insane right now.


No time like the present.


Leo took a deep breath. He leaned down, dipping his fingers in the pond. The water was cold, really cold, but it didn’t feel goopy or sticky or oily like he’d feared. It just felt like water.


Without glancing back at his new coven, Leo took his shoes off. Then his socks. Then everything except his boxer briefs. He covered his chest with his arms, shivering in the cold.


“You got this, Leo!” Tinashe shouted.


Leo sure hoped she was right.


Despite the way all of his muscles were screaming at him not to, Leo walked into the water. Step by step, it grew colder, choking him in a vice, making his movements stiff. He stumbled, but he kept going, the water slowly rising around his feet, his calves, his thighs, his hips, his chest, his neck, and finally, his head.


Theo Poling is a Creative Writing and Arts double major at the University of Michigan. In their free time, Theo enjoys fostering cats, baking, and going on hikes. Theo is transgender, nonbinary, and bisexual, and is passionate about representing LGBTQ people in positive ways in genre fiction. Theo's series, We Exist! is a weekly serial that publishes short story chapters about empowered queer protagonists in science fiction and fantasy settings, where queer people have previously been excluded. Check out the newest installment of We Exist! every Thursday.

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