"My kingdom is dead," whispered the bubbles as they frothed on the sand of the dark, littered beach. Deceased, rotting sea life lay entangled in pollution, the hot, smelly air pressing down on the brownish gray water of what was once a beautiful green sea. "My kingdom, my paradise…" The bubbles were deftly washed out to sea once more, only to return moments later, lamenting the death of the world.
"What is happening to my children?" demanded the President of the Nations, the most powerful man in the world. His piercing blue eyes were fixated upon the lead doctor, who gripped his clipboard in his sweaty hands.
"I, I don't know, Mr. President, sir," he stuttered, unable to meet his employer's gaze. "It's unlike anything we've ever seen before. Perhaps it's a new disease, probably genetic, seeing how they're twins and they are the only ones in the world to be affected by such a phenomenon...Have they eaten any fish lately?"
The president's wrinkled face became more purple than ever, and he puffed his chest out in a threatening display of power. The two bodyguards behind him remained unmoving, completely covered from head to toe in white garments but for the black sunglasses covering their attentive eyes. "Have they eaten any fish?" he repeated. "I've eaten fish plenty of times in my lifetime, but my legs have never grown slimy scales!"
The twins listened to the doctor's meek hypotheses concerning the strange growth on their bodies. There was apparently no explanation at the moment, as far as the adults were concerned, but the thirteen-year olds knew fully well what had befallen them. Dylan, a girl with shoulder-length blonde hair and round blue eyes, lifted her slim leg and admired the shiny, colorful scales that decorated it. Her toes had already begun to flatten and lengthen, and began to take a translucent appearance. Tyler, a boy who shared similar features with his sister, merely studied his own leg; it was exactly like his sister's, if not a little more grey in color. Only the lower halves of their bodies had been affected.
Soon the transformation would be complete.
That night, the dim moon struggled to shine through the thick layer of smog in the sky. Dylan and Tyler picked their way towards the ocean, carefully but clumsily stepping over carcasses and garbage. Once or twice they nearly fell due to the lack of mobility in their legs; only moments remained before their lower extremities were melded together. They made the journey to the dank waters just in time. As their legs finally became fins, they flopped over with a splash and immediately choked on the disgusting, oily, sea water. After a moment, however, the flexing gills on their ribs became accustomed to the smelly liquid, and they could no longer breathe the air on land, but had to submerge themselves.
The frothing bubbles at the peak of the waves was waiting for them. They converged upon themselves and soundlessly formed into a mermaid with long, seashell-adorned black hair. The mermaid was young and androgynous, with an innocent but haunting face. Sea green eyes were framed by thick black lashes, to which drops of water clung.
"This is my home," whispered the merchild hoarsely, beckoning with a webbed hand for the twins to come closer. They did so, musing that travelling was much easier in water than on land, especially with hydrodynamic appendages such as ridges lining their outer forearms. Upon closer examination, Dylan and Tyler noticed the sallow, sickly look of the merchild's skin.
The merchild sank beneath the waves, and the twins followed. Already their hair felt greasy, and the water still tasted and smelled nasty, like rot and oil. The scenery underneath the surface was worse than it seemed. Everything was coated in black oil and grime; dead things floated past, carried towards the shore by the strong currents; where light should have been able to reach, it did no more; everything was simply murky.
"What happened here?" asked Dylan, looking around herself contemptuously.
"Over hundreds of years," the merchild whispered at it lead them deeper into the heart of the sea, "your people have been disposing of your own wastes and toxicities into the oceans. Once this place was beautiful and full of life, but now no more. I am all that is left in this ruins."
Having nothing to say in reply, the twins fell silent and continued to follow the merchild. After swimming for leagues, they finally spotted something in the distance, far underneath the surface world. A sandcastle slowly became more prominent on the landscape, its highest peak stretching seemingly forever upwards. It was an elegant castle despite its poverty-stricken surroundings; even the fact that it was beginning to erode from constantly-flowing water could easily be overlooked due to the sheer magnitude of the place.
"This is my castle," sighed the merchild. "There is no one here."
"Why did you bring us here?" asked Tyler. "There's nothing we can do, is there?"
The merchild glanced over its scrawny shoulder at the boy. "But there is. There are many things just one person can do to help another."
Tyler frowned. "But what do you want?"
"I am the only one," the merchild lamented. A tear formed in the corner of its eye but almost instantly dispersed in the murkiness. "My kingdom is dead," it wailed hoarsely. "My kingdom, my paradise! It's all gone!" The merchild suddenly stopped mid-cry and looked at the twins. "Save us," it whispered before dashing into the sandcastle.
Dylan and Tyler moved to follow the merchild, but the sandcastle abruptly fell to the seafloor, plumes of sand erupting towards the surface. The twins found themselves choking as the sand clogged their gills and they quickly swam away from the underwater clouds. The current swept much of it away; when the sand had cleared, there was nothing of the castle left.
A swirl of bubbles swept past them. One popped: "Go back." Another: "The curse will wear off soon." Then the third and last: "Save us."
There was a long moment of dark silence before the twins began to the long journey back to the beach. When they arrived at the shore after leagues of travel, their silvery tails split apart painlessly, the scales dropped off like rain, and the skin on their ribs flowed seamlessly back, covering the gills. They could breathe on land once more, and by the light of the rising sun, they were suddenly struck with the realization of just how ugly their world really was. The twins shared a glance, and it was silently agreed upon.
Using their father's power and money, the two most manipulative children in the world gathered a group of world-renowned scientists about them. They spent countless hours discussing courses of actions and long-term plans. Finally, it was decided that the best thing to do would be to collect all of the trash first. Teams of workers were immediately hired to clean up the beaches and oceans. The work took, with as many hundreds of teams they had, only three years to complete. The next step was cleanse the waters of the ocean. This was accomplished by inventing an oil absorbing agent that worked over another two years. Aquatic plant life and coral were then reintroduced to the barren sea floor when the twins turned eighteen years old. As the water was rejuvenated over the five succeeding years, sea life could be placed back in their natural habitats. Studies were conducted to ascertain that the wildlife would be able to function normally in the ocean as it was; because it was concluded they would thrive, more habitats were prepared for them and zoos, sanctuaries, and farms donated many of their animals to the cause. When the twins were forty-five years old, and they each had their own lives and families, the oceans were teeming with life and prosperity. New laws were put into place in order to protect the fragile but beautiful seas.
A beautiful creature sat on its long, colorful tail upon a throne of finely sculpted sand. Sea life danced around it and through its flowing black hair that was adorned with shiny seashells. Sea green eyes lovingly admired a large white pearl in the palm of its webbed hand as a crack etched itself onto the seamless surface. It broke open, and a tiny baby pushed itself out into the world. A silvery tail unfurled at the bottom half of its body.
"Welcome to my kingdom," sang a beautiful voice, reverberating through the seas. "My kingdom, my paradise…My child."