this looks like a magic place where you’d turn into a mermaid.
#or be eaten by one
THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE
The explorers pulled the floundering body of Marcus Upchurch from the deepest part of the lake. Hysterical and disoriented, his body was covered in deep, bloodied, animal bites. Screaming gibberish about “lake harpies” and “cannibal waterhags”, the young man was quickly sedated and set up in a medical tent at the nearby encampment.
Fever broke within three hours, the medical team raced to get antiseptic into his innumerable wounds, noting with some curiosity that they were similar in size and shape to human teeth. With all his wounds tended, they had only to wait for his fever to break or hope for the best. The attendants who stayed in the tent watched over with a kind of muted interest that filled that hole where years of medical training had removed visceral disgust. Marcus’s body became sallow and clammy, covered with wide streaks of flaking skin as the moisture fled from his skin. Small pitted ulcers appeared, and the attendants found themselves wrestling him back into bed and tying his arms down to prevent him scratching them open any farther. His breaths became dry and labored, a hoarse death rattle sounding out like a strong wind rattling through a burlap sack. The medical staff had taken away that he had little time left, and soon the observation became a vigil as night fell over the camp.
Early the next morning, a shrill cry started the men of the exploration team from their tents. They rushed to the medical tent to find a gruesome sight. The attendants had all been mauled, leaving behind only bloody remnants that slumped lifeless against the crimson stained canvas, the rigor-mortis sealing their fingers around scalpels and bone saws stained with blood from the presumed struggle. Marcus was gone entirely, his cot overturned and his ropes broken, with shreds of bed sheets and clothing strewn about. Looking up, the explorers found a hole ripped out of the tent. Tentatively following it with rifles ready, they exited into the jungle and saw in the mud a deep impression. At first it looked like the trail of some tropical snake, but not nearly as smooth, the trail seemed to trash and turn in the mud as it went downhill. On either side, the clutching and desperate clawing of human hands could be made out.
With fear that some undiscovered animal had attacked them in the night, the party continued down the trail with intent to kill the beast, lest any more among them become prey.
To their surprise, the trail ended right on the shore of the very lake they recovered Marcus from. On its end was a lump of almost indiscernible animal flesh, carrying above it a halo of flies and a wretched stink. Walking up to it with a special kind of trepidation, they could make out Marcus’s sunken face on one end, mussed up with equal parts blood and sand. His teeth were like tiny enamel spears, sticking out jagged from a mouth that hung ajar. His face was pallid, with the blue lips and bulging eyes of someone being choked to death. His hand, now a pallid, bony claw, clutched at his neck, where a set of wide gills could be seen. As they looked further down his body, they saw his human skin turn into something chapped and inflamed, then into a gangrenous mass covered in flaking, thick scales. His legs had tapered together into a single limb, and the mangled bones of his feet could be seen suspended in the greenish film of epidermis that made a kind of fin. They noticed his other hand reaching with a desperation for the water, stopping just so that the lapping of the water washed over his fingers.
This was the last expedition the party would ever mount on what they called the Mermaid’s Spring.