As with my other quicktakes, bonus trivia is in the comments (as an incentive to click through).
That hollow knock again, a burst of sound from every direction, inside and out. William woke with a start. Pressed up against the window, lit only by the almost-glow of his radium-handed wristwatch, were the eyes of an inhuman face.
Adrenaline sheared through his bloodstream, and he jerked backward, smacking his head against the curved steel wall of his tiny prison. Color exploded into his vision.
Blind, William fumbled under his seat for the reassuring chill of the two-foot iron rod. The hatch had a habit of sticking shut once back on the surface; that had been his excuse for stowing a prybar in the bathysphere when he went down. But really, it was a psychological tool. Stuck in a tiny circle of steel amid miles of open water, William found it all too easy to feel helpless, and having a weapon to hold -- as useless as it was -- gave him back a sense of control.
The colors spread, danced, and cleared only gradually; departed, and left the merman at the porthole behind.
Oh. Them. William's heart started to beat again.
William put down the prybar and groped for the electrical connectors at his right. As his fingers found the wire, he reflexively glanced at his watch face. The glowing hands formed a perfect corner, rigid, perpendicular, the only sharp angle in the cramped globe of the bathysphere: nine o'clock. Huh, William thought. There was something about nine o'clock, teasing at the edges of his memory, but it didn't seem pressing -- a merman was back.
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