The caves were marvelous. Mysterious. Breathtaking. Unbeknownst to most of the world, the small town of Chinoyi boasted what should be regarded, as one of the wonders of the world. The still pools of Chinoyi Caves are something not seen in any other place. The shade of blue taken on by the water is indescribable, but mesmerizing once viewed. Many myths and stories are told about the caves, leading to a reverence whenever one visits the almost holy waters.
Walking down the seemingly endless and treacherously chiseled stairs, that lead from the mouth of the cave, all the way down to the water, it is pitch black and silence fills the air. Silence occasionally interrupted by the chatter and flutter, of the wings of the bats that reside in the darkness.
The darkness is all consuming, and one feels an almost omniscient presence filling the caves – watching and protecting the magnificent spectacle to be viewed. The only lighting comes from the opening at the top of the caves – almost shining a spotlight on the deep blue water. You can see fish at the shallowest part of the pool, but the waters extend past where is visible, and continue into the darkness. Where nothing can be seen. Where anything could be hiding.
Toby was speechless walking down the stairs, almost slipping on more than one occasion in the darkness – using his mobile phone as a means of guiding light. Once he reached the bottom, he sat on one of the rocks on the edge of the water, and sat staring in silence. Taking out his phone once again, he took as many pictures as he could to show his brother. They were supposed to come together but Frank felt it would be boring “exploring a cave”. His loss.
Taking off his shoes, he walked and dipped his feet into the water. The sunshine directly on the water had warmed it somewhat, and it felt heavenly on his feet. He walked deeper, almost up to his waist now. He seemed to be drawn into the water and couldn’t understand the compulsion.
Snapping out of the sudden trance, he blinked profusely in confusion and waddled back out of the water towards the rock he had sat on originally. He looked at the rocks around him, and marveled at the natural formation of the rocks and walls. Nature was such an amazing creator. It would be impossible for a human to recreate such natural beauty. He felt blessed to be bearing witness to such splendour.
A sharp splash in the water jolted Toby from his thoughts and directed his attention to the water. Swimming out from the darkness was what appeared to be a woman. Toby rose immediately, and splashed back into the water to assist the woman coming towards him.
As she came nearer, he was amazed at the fluidity and ease with which she glided through the water. She seemed to slither through the water. He stood and watched. He was speechless as the woman submerged from the water. He had never seen such a beautiful woman. The water glistened on her skin and her hair flowed endlessly, down her back.
She stopped where she was in the water and looked at Toby. They stared at each other, neither saying a word. Toby’s eyes drifted from her spell binding gaze and realized she had no swimming top on. This made him wonder if she was swimming in the nude.
Noticing where his gaze had drifted, the woman laughed. The sound echoed throughout the cave and sent shivers, all through Toby’s spine. Embarrassed, he quickly averted his gaze, only for her to suddenly speak. Her voice seemed to melt his ears. He felt the notes of her voice penetrate his mind and felt he had never heard a voice clearer.
“Why not come for a swim?” Her voice resonated through his being.
Before he could reply, he felt his body walk towards the water. He seemingly had no control of his actions. And before he knew it, he was neck deep in the dark and unknown water. She was a little way out from him, and he waddled towards her, trying to keep his head above water. Realizing he would get to her faster by swimming properly, he swam at full speed towards her.
As he neared her, she turned away and began to swim. He saw the movement and stopped swimming immediately, merely keeping himself afloat, as he watched her swim gracefully away. It wasn’t feet he saw her propelling herself with, but rather a full size tail. He had laughed off the rumours of mermaids and stranger creatures in the depths of the water. Now he felt a fool, as he felt the inexplicable desire to follow this tailed woman, to wherever she was going.
She was getting further from him and so he launched back into his pursuit of her. It was a mix of attraction and curiosity that seemed to propel him faster, and before he knew it, he was peddling water in absolute darkness – with no idea of which way he had come. Panic overcame him and he began to flail in the water. Just as soon as he felt his heart pounding with fear, numerous sets of hands gripped his legs and pulled him under.
The darkness surrounding the water enveloped him. It was no longer warm as it had been closer to the land. Now, it was icy cold, like death had taken a firm grip on him.
Toby saw and felt nothing. Only the numbness brought about by the painfully cold water. He was going to drown. Whatever had taken a hold of him, was surely going to pull him deeper and deeper into the unknown. A sudden calm washed over him as he realized fighting was futile. He embraced death and was to let the water take him to his grave.
As soon as he closed his eyes and loosened his muscles, he felt the sudden rush of air. A dim light wavered from a fair distance. And he realized, he had been dragged to a sub level of the caves, beneath the waters.
Coughing and gasping for breath, Toby lay still for a moment, appreciative of the fact that he was breathing in air, and not water. Weakly, he sat up, and saw, what he was sure no other man had seen before. A lair made solely from the rock formations. And more astoundingly, more than one of the strange woman who had led him hear.
They all looked alike, moving like serpents with their fish like tails on the land. They were not as graceful as they were in the water. Toby counted five of them, all moving around the dimly lit habitat. Their tails made him extremely uneasy. They had extremely feminine upper bodies, but the lower body of a fish. The scales made a scraping noise as the moved, and he felt his hair rise with the noise.
Oddly enough, he was still very much attracted to them. Not one, but all of them. He was captivated by their beauty. Noticing he was sitting up and surveying his surroundings, they all began to move towards him.
“I can’t wait to tell Frank about this.” Toby thought to himself.
“Thank you.” He said to the group, as they circled around him.
“I thought I was going to drown back there. You saved me.”
The voice that came from the mermaid as she spoke, was no longer seductive and smooth. It shook him to his very core. He looked up in sudden fear and saw their beauty had dissipated.
The tails and midsections remained, but the faces had changed. Drastically. Gone was the beauty. Replaced by dark, black and soul-less eyes, matched only by the gaping mouth, lined with teeth he had never seen before. Evil.
He could sense the evil emanating from their very beings.
“Save you?” It asked him.
“No child, we merely brought food back to eat.”
The immense cold he had previously felt had a biting effect. The pain inflicted when the women tore into his flesh, was unmatched.