Editor's Note: We are so thrilled to again post excepts of Dr. Marie Cartier's forthcoming novel Blue with original artwork made exclusively for her novel by Linda McClure! You can view her other work here - www.amethystcraft.com.
In order to stay caught up with what is happening, make sure to read Dr. Cartier's first post here. We're excited to pick back up with Tic-Toc, Julie, the world of Blue, and the other cast of brilliant characters that we cannot wait to learn more about!
He realized after the jellyfish closed her fronds and had transmitted his messages that he had not asked the mermaid to re-schedule. Dating would have to wait. He had to deal with his daughter. She might be almost thirteen and almost headed off to Purple School in the mid-ocean realms—but she was not there yet.
And not there yet by a long shot if she was—holy Neptune! Going on a mission to Green.
ZigZag turned to FlyLight,, with a slight hope in his voice, “Before I fainted, I just wanted to make sure that what I heard was correct. The clamshell message from Deep Squared 2 was that the emissary to Green is….”
“Tic-Toc,” uttered FlyLight with no emotion, “and you cannot faint again over it, my friend. We must make some serious plans and decisions here. And we have to make them tonight. I have information from Pacifica Dolphin Intel that some of this information may have been intercepted leaving the Atlantis Temple of Morgan le Fay. Tic-Toc may be in danger if the whales of Atlantis know her identity.”
ZigZag reeled back and then forward, throwing his hands on the rock ledge, “My daughter?!” his eyes almost burned through their sockets, the flames leaping out of their irises.
He stared at FlyLight who stare back resolutely, then calmed himself and settled at the rock ledge, “I am here as long as need, Your Honor. I am here.”
“I know you are, Zig Zag, I know,” she uttered softly, before wafting to the front of the room to continue the aborted meeting.
Tic-Toc had been home from her Down with Green meeting for over an hour. Her and her Dad were supposed to do their usual Friday-it’s-the-week-end ritual of going for fresh krill at the Trench Edge. They both loved the colorful food there and her dad would tell her as much as he could about his work, and she would tell him about her meeting, and about the barnacles arguing and …she just was always excited to get time alone with him to strategize. He was always proud of her—even if he wished she was a little less Down with Green and little more interested in Advanced Green Communication, etc. He wanted her to prepare for Purple School. But, he was still always proud of her, and she secretly thought he deep inside was very proud of her Down with Green group.
However, a few minutes later, Tic-Toc knew something was wrong when she heard her Dad swim through the cave opening. He didn’t shout out, like he usually did, especially on Fridays, “Dad here! Not ZigZag of the Sparkle Lineage…just Dad!” Then he would laugh that laugh that not many sea creatures got to hear from him out in the open ocean—the barrel deep laugh which made bubbles ripple through their living room cavern.
She knew something was wrong because she only heard him swim in the entrance because the seashell chimes above the cave opening rung—but not because her Dad said anything.
“Dad?” she yelled, because she wasn’t expecting to hear anyone else. She peered around the corner of her bedroom and saw Splinter, his best friend and Japanese spider crab supporting her massive father’s bulk on his front legs. She pushed forward sending a wave of water against them and Splinter rocked back. ZigZag flapped his massive tail and steadied himself.
“What’s wrong, Dad?” Tic-Toc hadn’t seen her father need any support except for the Grieving after her mom passed to depth.
She watched as Splinter squatted down and folded his leggy appendages underneath himself and waggled his antennae at ZigZag as if to say Well?
Her father blew out a stream of water so deeply the sea chimes behind him rang out again. “Tic-Toc…,” he began and then crossed to the large conch shell in the cavern that was their favorite sitting space and dropped into it, framing his bulk in shimmering abalone. Now Tic-Toc could see that he was not in fact alright—he had a cut on his forehead and he looked like he was –not sure what to say. She had never seen her Dad be unsure of much, certainly not of what to say. And what was that cut?
He started again, “Tic-Toc, I have something to tell you…” and again he stopped.
Splinter’s antennae were ramrod straight and he looked at ZigZag, this time as if to say, Go on. Finish it already. But she could see Splinter was resolutely not going to help him say whatever it was Dad was trying to say and then not say.
“Splinter! What’s going on?” she looked at her father deeply, her eyes beginning to flash, “What happened. Dad—looks hurt! Is that a cut?” She whirled around, causing a minor whirlpool, “What’s wrong?”
ZigZag stood up, “I fainted.”
“But, he’s fine,” said Splinter obviously trying to be casual, which was hard for a spider crab. Splinter was anything but casual, almost always regimented and involved in government proceedings, so the fact that he was pretending to be casual only made things worse.
Tic-Toc looked at both with her eyes fully flaming now, “What. Is. Going. On? Dad? Splinter? What Is It?” she started to cry, “Did someone...?”
“No, honey,” her father took her in his arms, “No one has gone to Depth today—at least no one that you know. Not that I know of. It’s something else entirely.
“I have a message for you.”
Splinter lowered his antennae and looked at her dad. “You got this now?” he asked and ZigZag nodded.
They both watched as Splinter unfolded his legs and side stepped away, “Let me know if you need me,” he called over the back of his shell as his last leg disappeared from the cavern.
“A message?” Tic-Toc felt her tail twitching with color, “How is that connected with you fainting, Dad? A message made you faint? And get cut? And Splinter had to come home with you?” She paused, straightening her tail and then flipping it back up, “Have I done something wrong?”
“No,” said ZigZag.
“It’s from The Deep,” ZigZag said suddenly is a rush, adding, “It’s actually from Deep Squared 2 herself.”
“For me?” and Tic-Toc felt all the color drain from her tail. “For me…Tic-Toc?
“Actually, it was addressed to Tic-Toc of the lineage of ZigZag with Sparkles.”
Now Tic-Toc could feel herself get light headed and she collapsed into the conch shell “For me?” she repeated for the third time.
“For you, Tic-Toc. Definitely for you.”
She stared at her father, and gulped out, “What did it ….?”
ZigZag opened his hands, and then shut them, “There’s no way to say this except to say it.”
“Ok,” she hesitated, “Say it.”
“You,” he scratched his head and his braid fell over his shoulder, “are going to Green to help rescue their world by saving their last surviving mermaid.”
Tic-Toc just looked at her Dad, hesitated and then said, “Mermaids? On Green? Dad, are you sure you’re OK?”
Julie was at the beach at night with Vader. Look at all those stars, she thought. She had to admit it was something she’d never seen in LA. She wasn’t usually at the beach at night. But she had made a friend there in the afternoon with Vader and she’d gone over to Yolanda’s house to do homework.
Yolanda had a dog, too, a Doberman rescue. They got their homework done and went to the beach after, at night. Julie couldn’t believe she’d never been there at night to see the stars, and that she was seeing the Big Dipper, for real.
There it was. She had never looked for it in LA. It wasn’t enough to make her love Cambria—but it was something. If Julie could change anything about herself, it would be that she would like, maybe even love, the ocean. Going to the ocean with Vader had changed how she felt in Cambria—at least she left her house now. She met people. She had a friend. She saw the stars at night and her mother had let go of the idea of swimming lessons for now. But, the truth was that Julie would never love living in Cambria like she loved Los Angeles.
The night sky would never ever make up for a multi-plex. And her friend in Cambria, even if she ended up with plural friends, would never be the same as her friends in LA. She’d known those friends forever and they understood her, and her crazy mom. She missed friends who knew her. And she couldn’t just make herself be known to new people. They hadn’t been there from the beginning. That was it. And she couldn’t fix that.