You can't believe your eyes. Dolphins playfully jump out of the crystal clear waters. Such beauty surrounds you. You wonder where you are. Yesterday, the cruise ship had dried dock in the 1940's Ohio Valley. It had been a very interesting trip. You hadn't thought about what life would have been like after the Great Depression, let alone rural areas of Southern Ohio. You had enjoyed every moment of the tour. The Great Serpent Mound and Star Crater were very fascinating. You plan to revisit the area when you return home from the cruise. Yet would the descendants of the family you had met still be there or perhaps someone you had meet? You shake your head, dismissing the thought. It would be better if you didn't make contact with the family. How could you explain your presence. You would seem to them as if you hadn't aged. A miracle facial cream?
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention," Dalton's voice over the loudspeaker echoes throughout the ship. "We will be making a brief detour in order to fix....uhm....I mean gather supplies at....uhm... excuse me." You hear what sounds like Dalton placing his hand over the microphone. You can barely make out the muffled voices of Tasha and Dalton. "Where are we,' Dalton asked.
"I don't know. Make something up," Tasha answered.
Dalton comes back over the speaker, "We will arrive at the island in a few moments. We would HIGHLY encourage everyone to accompany Tasha to the island."
I tumble out of bed, my bare feet hitting the floor I stand and stretch. Trish had already left for her morning swim in our tiny island's lagoon. As I pull on my britches and step out the door of our house, the one I had built with my own hands, I couldn't help but feel like there was something special about today. Something kept tickling the back of my brain, like that nagging feeling one gets right before they remember the birthday or anniversary they had forgotten. What was it?
That's when I turn towards the sea and gasp at the largest ship I had ever seen, your ship! It was even bigger than the Colossus, Captain Stryder's pirate vessel. And no sails? What manner of magic was this?
Brigid, Trish's father's oracle, had told us that we would get some strange visitors today. And was she right. I watch a smaller vessel headed for shore, a churning of water behind it as it moved across the calm surface with a strange buzzing noise. I can see maybe twenty of you on board. I rush back in and put on a shirt and boots, getting ready to make my way down to greet you. I only hope Trish gets back before you discover her true nature.
I don’t think most humans are ready to find out mermaids are real.
Trish makes her way towards our home from the leeward side of the island; it is a large expansive structure, sporting a wraparound porch that gleamed in the morning sun, with two dormers that faced the open sea. I watch her as she shields her eyes with her hand, as I make my way towards the wharf, which was built to accommodate the West India ships. Ships that make their way here for trade of her store’s fare and rum. Nevertheless, the ship anchored offshore is not one of the West India’s, that boasted large billowing sails, but something far different, and your vessel that is docking is nothing short of impressive. I notice you sitting among a gaggle of colorfully dressed and over-exuberant occupants. With elegance, beauty, and smoothness of form Trish waves to all of you and I can’t help but smile.
I’m having a conversation with the leader of your group, who has introduced herself as Tasha. I find it fascinating that a woman is in charge of what seems to be such a large expedition. She is explaining that you had come through some kind of bizarre storm and stopped here for supplies, when Trish walks up. Breathing a silent sigh of relief that you haven't seen her natural form, I turn to her and smile. “Trish, love, these fine people are in need of supplies, I was just going to bring them up to the trading post.”
I don’t truly understand what must have happened to you; there was not a cloud in the sky and there was a light breeze coming off of the water. As usual, the weather was perfect. Chatting with you and the other passengers, Trish and I make our way up the beach, leading you to the small building that Trish had used for cover in the human world for years. No one had ever been the wiser ... until she’d met me.
With a twinkle in her eye, Trish watches the gaggle of twittering females follow me up from the wharf. You and the others make your way towards the cooler confines of the trading post. Once across the large expanse of the porch, you dip your head and enter into the semi-darkness. As your eyes become accustomed, Trish maneuvers her way towards the bar. “Ladies,” she says nodding her head, “and gentlemen may we offer you some libation, something to refresh you after your weary trip perhaps?”
I make quick work of lopping off the heads of coconuts and pineapples; my smile is broad and welcoming as I make one of Trish’s favorite mixtures, that of the local rum and coconut milk, pouring the remains into the hollowed-out pineapple with a decisive flair. Unwrapping hardened cheeses and taking a large scoop of crackers from the barrel aside the bar, Trish sits a fare of food before you.
A few of the ladies wander around the trading post examining some of the brightly colored woven cloths and island trinkets the children had made to sell, while the men sample a stronger draught of rum and look over all the gear that hangs from the eaves full of fishing paraphernalia.
After I had gotten some food and drink together, I notice you looking over some parchment on a table in the store. “What's this?” you ask. My eyes go wide as I rush over. I realize I had left one of the maps out that I had been working on ... maps that were not meant for public consumption.
I take the map of Atlantis from you and rolled it up quickly. “Oh, nothing, just some drawings I was looking at. Please, come get something to eat.” I can tell your natural curiosity had arisen. What I don’t know was that you have identified that something was off about this whole scene, being well-versed in history. Our dress and speech patterns, everything about the buildings scream “old” to you, given where … when … you are from. You watch me quizzically as I head to the back, hiding the map away and getting some of the supplies that you and the crew of the strange ship need.
Trish’s head pops up as I bustle past her with the rolled up piece of vellum in my hand; she knows what it is without looking. “Ladies and gentlemen,” nodding to the men of your group, “did I hear someone asking for a tour?” Ushering you out onto the open veranda, she directs, “Please if you will follow me.” She trips lightly down the steps, her feet landing in the sugary white sand, the soft sea air blowing her hair back. I follow quickly, not noticing that you had circled back around to the opposite side of the trading post, waiting for us to leave.
“Now this,” she starts, taking on the guise of a tour guide as she waves towards our house, “is our home. The structure was built upon the original site of the hut I occupied before Rudy and I met.” She smiles at the memory. “He being the man that he is, set about building us a much larger home.” She sees a few of the men’s chests puff up and the nods of their heads told her they would have also provided the necessities for their own mates. “With the assistance of some of the islander men, in no time he had us a lovely two-story home built by his own hands.”
One of the ladies asks, “Why a two-story home?”
I answer as I catch up with the group, “Because, someday we might need it.” I grin and exchange a knowing glance with my wife.
Not noticing that you are not with the rest of the group, we spend the next half-hour or so showing them around the beach and telling them about the small sailing vessel that was secured there, one that Trish and I could easily handle ourselves. Then I help the men load the small ship they had used to come ashore with supplies, and the group shove off with you having slipped back among them.
We re-enter the trading post to clean up from the visit. “They were certainly an interesting group,” I say as I head to the back while Trish starts cleaning up the bar.
“They were so unusual. And how they were dressed? Looks like I might need to get to the mainland to see what the latest human fashions are.” That’s when I bellow a loud curse from the back and come rushing out. “What? What is it?”
I go to the door and glare out as your small vessel docks with the larger one. “The map is gone. One of them must have taken it.” I turn to Trish, remembering your interest. “And I think I know who.” I give her a sardonic half-smile. “Are you ready for another adventure my love?”
She looks concerned at first, but then we lock eyes and she couldn’t help but smile herself. Somehow, when we were together it made any situation, no matter how bleak, seem hopeful. That was one of many things we loved about each other. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
As we head down the beach to get aboard our own ship, your massive white vessel starts to turn out to sea as clouds start to gather over our small island; then without warning, a strange blue energy starts to form in the ship’s path. It’s something only a few in our world had seen, but Trish and I are two of them. As your ship enters the swirling vortex that had formed, I get onboard ours and weigh anchor. “Looks like this might be a more interesting trip than we thought.” We pull away from the pier and speed towards the hole as your giant ship vanishes, and enter behind you just as it closes …
Rudy and Trish's published adventure began with the short story "Tears of the Mermaid" by Aaron Speca and Patricia Laffoon in the "Evernight Vol. 1" anthology from Allison Cassatta ...
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... and continues in "Heart of the Mermaid", the prequel in "Evernight Vol. 2" ...
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Aaron Speca & Patricia Laffoon
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