“Miranda Nai is what Dorian Green named me. I’d been lost when he found me, you see. Lost for so long I didn’t remember who I was anymore. Or maybe it was only months that I was lost. I really don’t know.
“I know I was someone else back then. I was just a girl. I remember a city, though not it’s name. It wasn’t LA. And I remember a cold sea and a boat. I remember I was with my father and a brother, but I don’t remember their faces anymore, nor their names. I just remember we were sailing when a cold fog rose from the sea and the wind faded away. Since the wind had died, my father ran the engines. He checked maps many times; I think I asked if we were getting lost. Then, the engines died too, and it was just us in the boat in a foggy sea that seemed endless.
“The monster from the deep slipped aboard the ship in the night and tore my brother to pieces and ripped out my father’s throat. But when it saw me, he stopped and instead tore a hole in the hull so that it would sink. He grabbed me and dragged me into the ice cold water. I couldn’t see — I think I passed out.
“I thought I must have died, for nothing could survive in that icy water for long. Nothing human, I mean. But I found myself sitting on a cold rock on an island made of rocks and very little else. Just me, the sea, and the cold. I could see pieces of ice, even icebergs floating past the island, when the fog didn’t rise up and block everything from view.
“I thought I would die every day in the beginning. I had no means of getting food and water. But I found that the fog would provide condensation enough that water would pool in small places on the rocks. It was gritty and bitter. It was also barely enough, so I was always thirsty. I had nothing with which to gather food, but the monster that had taken me always left some slimy, shredded fish he’d killed someplace I could reach. It was raw and revolting, but when you are starving, you’ll do it. You’ll eat it.
“That was my life for a while. Very soon I could tell I was dying because of exposure to the cold and wet and awful nights that were so cold I was afraid I wouldn’t wake if I slept. I couldn’t make a fire. The monster that took me there, didn’t seem to care. But one day, he crawled out of the sea and stood up on two legs. I could tell he was like a man, but with grey, tough skin and sharp teeth like a shark. He pressed his mouth against mine and breathed his foul breath into me until I thought my lungs would burst. The next thing I knew, I felt the shock of icy sea water on my skin.
“I should have died very soon of drowning or the cold, but I didn’t. I found it wasn’t that I could really breathe the water. I mean I could, a little. But I only needed very little. This was some of his magic and I could tell it worked because it was still inside me. But I couldn’t wretch and vomit it up. I tried.
“He dragged me into the depths where I thought I should have been crushed. I can’t really tell you what happened after that. I know there were strange lights in the depths and stranger creatures. There were buildings, too, made of stone. Inside these stones were people, of a sort. A very strange sort. They were all monstrous. Some hideous and some beautiful, but not a one was right. All were cruel. My kidnapper treated me as if I was a trophy he owned. I suppose I was.
“A little of his magic must have stuck with me, because after that, the cold didn’t bother me as much. He mostly left me alone on the island, coming only to leave food or to drag me to his underworld castle. In time I accepted my fate. When I did, I found I could swim faster and I didn’t need air when I was in the water. A little of that water in my lungs was all I needed when I was in the sea. Then I could cough it out and escape dangerous fish and other creatures that lived in the water by retreating to land.
“I explored my little island and the sea around it when I felt brave enough. I discovered there were many little islands like that. I even found one that had a few fir trees. But the fog would always settle and I was afraid that I could get lost if I went too far.
“One day my monstrous master came out of the sea and spoke to me directly. I knew he could speak, but I didn’t know he could speak any language I could understand at the time. But he did. He told me that he wanted me to sing for him. I refused. He beat me terribly and left. He returned the next day and asked again. I could barely move but I still said no. This time he raped me and then left again. Two days later he returned to ask me a third time to sing for him. Something in my brain told me that if I said no again, he would tear me apart like he did the fish he gave me for my meals. So I said I would. Out of pure terror, I sang my heart out.
“Someone heard me. I could hear them calling out. I looked for my master, but he had left. I was nervous but I answered, calling to them for help. It was a fishing boat, as I recall. A small one with a crew of only three. They drew close moving carefully to avoid the floating ice, then anchored the boat and lowered a dinghy so they could row to the island and rescue me. I was so desperate to leave I have no idea even what I was saying to them. I suppose I was begging them to hurry. They climbed out of their boat and I could see they were rough men. I don’t know where they’d come from. They spoke a language strange to me. They picked me up and were talking among themselves and I started to get scared.
“And then my master appeared, rearing out of the sea in the form of a great serpent. He smashed their boat and then chased the men. As a serpent he moved with terrifying speed over the rocks. And one by one, he ran them down and ate them. I screamed a lot. I swam for their fishing trawler and even got to the side where netting draped over the gunnels. I was starting to climb when I felt him grab my foot and tossed me back toward the island. From the water near the shore I saw him resume his man-shape and climb aboard the boat himself. He sailed it away and I never saw it again.
“This scenario repeated many times. I realized I was his unwilling siren. My task was to lure people to the islands where he would then make them his meals. I think I did it not because I was afraid he would kill me. I did it because I thought maybe he wouldn’t kill me after all, that he might just keep torturing me forever.
“My only option was to escape. But I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t swim fast enough or far enough to get away yet. To do that, I needed some of his own magic. And that made me afraid I would end up like he was; a monster. It was a terrible choice; let things continue as they were and let more people die because of me, or risk becoming a monster myself.
“I found that he’d used his magic on me so much that I had absorbed some of it. And I could absorb more of it if I accepted the magic. So I did grow stronger and faster. I also grew less human as time passed. I came to barely recognized myself in the puddles of water I could use as a little mirror. That was when I knew I had to escape right immediately. I was changing, becoming more and more like what he wanted, as well as in ways I hoped he didn’t know about.
“I was at the knife’s edge. If I stayed I could become very powerful and take my place as his bride. Or I could make one final attempt to escape. The fact I even hesitated shook me to my chilly core. I dove into the ocean and swam with all my strength. I swam very fast for a very long time.
“Eventually I found a passing cargo ship and somehow they managed to fish me out of the sea. It took me halfway around the world to LA where I told them I had family waiting. When they docked, I slipped away and fled into a city I didn’t know.
“That was three years ago. And that is my story.”