Editor's Note: We are so proud of Dr. Cartier's exciting forthcoming Novel "Blue." We join back up with Clue below, but if you missed any of the earlier pages, make sure to click the links below:
Original artwork made exclusively for her novel by Linda McClure! Visit her site to view more - www.amethystcraft.com.
“It doesn’t fit any more,” said Clue. “I can’t get the connection to work. The dog is gone. The one I connected with. The clamshell reception is off.”
“So, find another clamshell!” Tic-Toc swam circles around Clue.
“Unregistered transmitter clamshells are not easy to find.” Clue had been tinkering with an unregistered clamshell. He had attached a jellyfish to it and seaweed fronds lined with barnacles.
“Are you sure the barnacles are on board with you?” Tic-Toc shook her head. Was she even still having this conversation?
It was the first of the month and Julie knew that her Mom would need to pay the rent. This was such a happy day for her Mom every month. This was the day she told Julie – see? We are in a rent-to-own situation; I’ve got a good waitress job this time-- with be-ne-fits; you are in school; we’re in a good situation, a good neighborhood. It’s pay our rent and go out to eat time—and not where I work!
She made fun of her Mom’s dream of owning the trailer, usually, but today that felt weird. She was—she had to admit it—not as OK as she’d hoped to be. For one thing, she missed her Mom, and wanted to hear that dumb story again about the rent-to own.
Later that night, her and her friend, Gina, snuck out and went to the Hollywood sign and sat on top of the “H.”
“The place is heaven on earth,” Gina said. They had wanted to do this particular stunt for-ev-er.
“I know,” said Julie, puffing on her third cigarette since they got upon the “H.” But, to be real, with no one to hide the smoking from and no one to worry about when she would come home—it didn’t feel so much like heaven.
But then—there were the lights, thought Julie. The lights! The lights! She was finally back in L.A. She just wasn’t with her Mom back in L.A. – but she was back.
Well, she thought, that makes a much bigger difference than I ever thought it would.
Tic-Toc eyeballed Clue, her eyeballs stretching around to the back of her head, “Clue. Listen to me,” and her eyeballs swung back to the front of her face. “You are a genius-genius. Can you please remember that I don’t understand at all what you are talking about?”
Clue had been going on for infinite depths as usual, thought Tic-Toc, without taking a break. He had been trying to explain why it should be OK to use unregistered clamshells. If a Blue being could figure it out, they should be able to use it. Why not?
“Why punish the smart?” he moaned. “I mean, if I can find one and I can find the renegade jellyfish to work with me—why shouldn’t it work out?”
“So,” Tic-Toc said carefully, “You also connected with renegade jellyfish?’
“Well, just someone who was retired, you know, not someone who was really renegade. I mean, you’re not retired if you’re renegade, right?”
Then Tic-Toc had to stop him, “I don’t care,” she suddenly blasted from her deepest gills, “I don’t care about all this, Clue. I just want to know what this has to do – with me! Remember this is about me. About me getting the message that I am supposed to go to Green to rescue a Green! Me. Leader of a DWG group!”
Clue sighed the sigh of the super smart. “Well… let me explain it to you one more time,” he began.
“No,” Tic-Toc interrupted. “Explain it to me for the first time. And this time explain it to me, so I understand it – not just you.”
“For flip’s sake, Tic-Toc, I’m trying to help you!”
“So, help me already!”
“The barnacle message that your Dad got in the Council Chambers? Well…”
“You did not—not even you—could have bribed barnacle security to know more about that than my Dad does!”
“No, I didn’t. I just know the vent life that goes to the Deep. You know, because they are using the Deep Freeze Shuttle.” His points puffed-up and literally shone. “You know, I want to go on that shuttle.”
“It won’t work for us.”
“Not exactly. It depends on what you mean—work for us. Who’s us?”
Clue hesitated, then dropped in with the truth, “Barnacles can go up and down. Barnacles come from the bottom to the top and then top to the bottom again So –Billy of the S.S. Columbia...?”
“No! I didn’t know Billy even liked us tween-lings!”
“He doesn’t. He likes that we are breaking the rules,” Clue pointed delicately in the water causing soft currents, like steps. “Billy just followed the security team…step by step. For a high security place, The Deep is not that secure. Maybe against beings from the Deep, but not from Blue.
“They don’t think Blue is going to be down there,” Tic-Toc said, not as a question. “even I know that.”
“Well, at least they don’t think barnacles will be down there. We don’t all know that.”
“So, in went Billy?”
“Neptune’s Light—right to DS Squared. Not all the way but close enough to hear that the Green community where the emissary is coming from, is on the beach edge of Quadrant 5– right here! And it is an ocean girl who has a dog there, I found out that much.”
“And—I found a receiver on that beach and I got it to work for me.”
“Clue…Clue…Clue…unregistered clam shells are illegal, especially once they wash up on Green! They are considered not even unregistered then; they are considered gone.”
“Exactly—no trace. But I found one and once it started working it attached itself to dogs who had human girls and..”
“I think I may be found your Green person. Maybe.”
Julie was at the farm of Gina’s sister, who had agreed to watch Vader while Julie was “in town.” She had taken the subway in order to visit her dog the thing that most tied her to going back.
“Thanks for watching him,” Julie said to the woman she always thought of as “the horse woman” with her boots and hat and always some horse on the end of a lead with her.
“Yeah,” Karma said. “You sure you are going to want to take her back? You sure you can take care of her?”
“I’m sure, “Julie said flatly, even if this was Gina’s sister.
Karma scuffed her blonde boot across the dirt in front of them, raising a sweet cloud of dust that coated Julie’s leggings.
“I know what you mean,” Julie said, and tried to say it in the voice she had just used, “I know what you mean.” She stopped, then in a rush, “I’m going home.”
“Home is Cambria now?” Karma asked without trying to hide her surprise.
“That’s what my Mom is, so…”
“That’s good, Julie. I just didn’t think you thought of Cambria as your home. Gina said--”
“Yeah,” Julie sighed. “Forget what I said, I guess.”
Karma pulled the rolled up the security vest out of one of the enormous pockets on her cargo vest. “Got it. Here’s her vest.” She hesitated, “Are you sure you want to ride the train with her again?”
“Well, I have to, right? We almost got kicked off without it.”
“No, I mean without the dog.”
“Um, that would be a ‘no,’” Julie felt assertive and protective at once. “A big no.”
Deep Squared 2 arranged her limbs in the special cave space under the rocks in the back of her castle cavern reserved for her thinking. She let her eyes rotate deeply into the chilly black and released ink just to let off steam. Her body rotated opposite her eyes and she deeply and stretched. As the ink cleared, she relaxed against the rare shell encrusted ledge. The colors were coral, pink, royal blue and of course ebony. With polarized vision, and no blind spots…she could see everything. All her deep treasures and her mystery surrounded her. And in fact, in this special spot she used her vision to see not just around her, but inside her. What was she really seeing inside her massive body? She quieted all her three hearts, her nine brains, and felt her blue blood settle. She wanted to go deep inside and outside herself. She felt her blood pump into her gills slowly with two of her hearts quieting her system, and the third circulating her blood into her body, slowly, slowly settling. Her central brain and nervous system and the large ganglion at the base of each of her arms stopped moving. Now, what did she need to know? Yes, this Julie.
DS 2 was willing to believe in this “Julie,” and truth be told she had little to say about it. When the missive came down that “Julie” was the designated Green to whom Blue would issue the ultimatum: accept your lineage or the Green part of the Blue planet will be washed away, DS 2 felt rather blasé. She reasoned that she felt well, just OK, there goes another link in the Green-Blue lineage. She had felt worried that the old-fashioned caretakers of the Morgan le Fay Caverns and Memorial Institute in Atlantis had neglected their duties—and was relieved to find they had not.
She let one of her arms caress a deep sphere of black ebony and she tried with her horizontal eyes to scry into the future. Was “Julie” good for quadrant 5? Was it good for Pacifica that the Green emissary was being chosen from an edge of Green which bordered her territory? Was it good for her realm that the mermaid Tic-Toc who, as far as DS 2 could ascertain, was a little upstart radical in one of those fledging DWG groups that were fashionable to attend in shoal? Did she really believe in “Down with Green”? Would she sabotage her mission to be “loyal” to the mandate of the elder Down with Green groups?
DS 2 bubbled ink at the scrying stone, letting it wash gently over the surface and then clear. Nothing.
Most folks in the Blue realms did not track the motions—living and dying of the current Green emissary. Everyone knew there was one—they learned it in shoal school. But they also learned that to protect the identity of the Green emissary—those emissaries were cloaked in illusion, as regarded their Green identities. And their absence from Blue for parts of the year were covered in inscrutable documents and magical creations, that were akin to spies living on Green, DS 2 assessed.
All other Greens, other than the emissary, didn’t live in Blue anyway. They visited—they put on tanks. They came in enclosed capsules-- they recorded photographs. They surfed on the edges. The walked the boundaries of Green and collected shells, and glass conveniently tumbled for them by Blue.
Only two Greens had ever touched the deepest part of Blue, the Mariana Trench. And if they exited their precious bathyscaphe submersible they would be crushed by the pressure in The Deep. Good, thought DS 2. Good.
Her scrying stone cleared, and she saw the twinkling tail of that little mermaid who was part of the “ZigZag with Sparkles” tribe, Tic-Toc, who was supposed to go on this mission and save Green.
DS 2 reasoned, and not for the first time, that she would have loved to give Morgan le Fay a piece of one of her brains—what the depth was she thinking when she did this? A magical agreement that gave so much power to Green? She didn’t resent the Down with Green feelings—but she resented the idea that Green could be washed away, and Blue would survive.
She passively shifted her eyes and body in opposite directions again, resting the scrying stone on her fourth arm, which was her most intuitive. Tic-Toc had disappeared. A faint twinkling, which was the signature of many merfolk remained. Alright, DS 2 reasoned. It was time to bring Tic-Toc in for a meeting. A discussion. A lesson.
She would have to summon Barnacle Security tomorrow and compose another missive to deliver to Quadrant 5’s Council. The Council would have to ensure delivery. An official invitation must be issued for Tic-Toc to get her instructions for a visit to The Deep. She resided with her father in the shallow waters of the top layer of Blue.
And the Julie? DS 2 was going to have get more information from the Fates at the Temple to go forward with training for Tic-Toc. Overall, she knew that Greens didn’t believe anything under the water had significance other than food.
They didn’t believe in Blue itself. They didn’t believe in the oh-so-tame North Atlantis Loch Ness “monster” which had had several sightings over the years, and was not the same “monster” as the first one they had sighted. And they certainly would not “believe” in Deep Squared herself. There had been a chance and fleeting sighting of what they thought was the “Giant Pacific Octopus” photographed by one of their undersea monitoring devices. Well, that giant octopus was a thirty-foot octopus.
DS 2 mused that she was grateful that Greens were prone to not believing anything that was outside their realm of possibility.
A 1500-foot octopus like herself? It was as “believable” to them as well, mermaids. And most likely this would be true for Julie. This idea that Morgan had that a Blue being had to convince a Green being to “accept” her lineage made DS 2’s skin flood with red.
And she wanted to relax. She shifted the scrying mirror to her third analytical arm and let the tentacles softly cover it, covering any possible visions that would emit. She needed to carefully think.
Well, the disbelief in any creatures Blue, was helpful to this mission. DS 2 had to give that to Morgan. In her supposed infinite wisdom, she had chosen well for her emissary. Merfolk were the legend of Blue that Greens overall would never believe.
The issue for Blue leaders was the fact that the Blue population, overall, was so disgusted with Green now, for so long. DS 2 knew from the Council of Councils that the whales in Atlantis, headed by Machuga, would just love to get rid of “Julie.” Not that that would stop her initiation, reasoned DS 2. There had to be another Blue mermaid who had the exact same birthday as Julie, and could initiate the same magic. But, DS 2 did not know who that Blue being would be—and wouldn’t know. The only way she would know was if the Fates at the Morgan le Fay temple were searching for a replacement for Tic-Toc. The only reason they would need a replacement would be if Tic-Toc could not do the mission, or failed. Then another leader in another part of Blue would be notified that in their quadrant was the being who was to approach the Julie.
What DS 2 did not understand was what if the moment was missed? If the birthdate and time was passed without agreement—would Green lose its chance at salvation? Miraculously, this had not happened yet. Apparently, there had always been another Green in line to be emissary. In fact, if the leaked documents that occasionally came from the Morgan le Fay Temple were to be believed as authentic there had at one time been many lineage lines emanating from the Morgan Temple lineage.
However, since the pollution of Green had increased there were fewer and fewer Greens in line to inherit the emissary role. Fewer and fewer possibilities of a Green who had enough Blue lineage to inherit the position.
Well, she settled the scrying mirror onto her first arm-- and watched slowly, her eyes passing through the mirror to the shells in her cave lit softly with her own luminescence. Her first arm was her truth arm. What that brain decided was the decision that was the truest, but would only be revealed after her nine brains had made a deep interior decision.
It came slowly. Yes, Tic-Toc the little rebel mermaid would be brought to the Deep. That was simple enough. In terms of how hard this all was, bringing Tic-Toc to the Deep could be done. Yes, she would have to be trained in The Deep survival that most shallow Blue water beings did not have. But mer-folks were infinitely adaptable. And ZigZag of the Sparkle lineage by all accounts was a good father.
DS 2 would bring Tic-Toc to her for a training. In Green. And she would let her explore the Library of the Deep. And she would let her travel with one of her detachable arms. Yes, it would give her an advantage. But the little rebel mermaid needed an advantage that Morgan had not seen at her time of the creation of the agreement. DS 2 was a benevolent leader. She was going to equip Tic-Toc adequately for the journey. Tic-Toc would not travel to Green until she had the skill of the octopus intuition. She would let her use her seventh detachable arm to train with.
There. Time for dinner, DS 2 ruminated. Time for crab. Lots of crab. She unfurled her arms and squeezed herself out of the small opening to her mystery cave. Time to issue orders and become once again the queen of her realm. Enough relaxing for now She trusted her decision.