Saturday, February 20, 2010

Faerie Hunter - Chapter 1: The Mermaid's Lure

The dim, red lights of twilight filtered into the beach house as Kyle shook me awake, and I groaned, annoyed at him for waking me up so early. I sat up and looked at him. His eyes were fierce, wild, and bloodshot: he hadn't slept at all. Suddenly adrenaline washed over me as I remembered last night's conversation.

"It was a mermaid. I swear that's what it was," he had said. "She was lying on a rock, and she was singing, Brad! Her voice was so clear and beautiful. I swam out to her, but she jumped in the water before I got to her."

I'd looked at him from the bed across the room, puzzled. "A mermaid, Kyle?" I asked.

"You gotta believe me!" he said fervently. "I wasn't seeing things! It had a long fin instead of legs, and above the waist it was human. And singing, too!"

"Are you sure it wasn't a manatee, Kyle? A lot of people think that the old explorers saw manatees and mistook them—"

"No! It wasn't an animal!" he interrupted, sitting up in bed. "It had a human upper body, human head, hair, and it was a woman. I mean, it was female, you know with, well—" He paused awkwardly, then finished, almost mumbling, "You know, it had, like, boobs."

I chuckled at his embarrassment.

"You don't believe me, do you?" he said, starting to get angry.

"No, it's not that, really!" I said quickly.

"Look, tomorrow morning I'll show you. We'll go and find the mermaid, and you can see for yourself."

Now, in the morning, as my dreams were slowly dissipating, it was hard to separate fantasy from reality, and it seemed just as likely as not that there was a mermaid out there. I threw on some swim trunks, grabbed my pocketknife on a whim, and rushed after Kyle, who was already out the door and heading for the beach.

I caught up to him, and we walked back and forth down the shore, looking out into the ocean for a sign of something unusual. Soon the sun rose high into the sky, but we still hadn't seen anything. My parents were probably wondering where we were about now, and I started to wish I was hanging out with Lizzy. I grew more tired and frustrated as the time went on, but Kyle became frantic, almost panicky. Finally I reached a hand out to stop him, about to tell him it was time to call off the search.

Just then an eerie song reached our ears, coming from behind us. Kyle jerked his head in its direction, and began running toward it. I followed after him, excitement racing through me.

Kyle jumped in the water and began swimming toward a rock that was about a hundred feet out. I waded into the water till it lapped up to my knees. Kyle had just reached it and was looking at the source of the strange song. There, lying on the rock, was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her red hair fell in graceful locks around her face, winding downward, clothing her otherwise unclothed body, teasing and tempting my basest desires. The curls left off just above her navel, and my eyes moved downward to her waist, which slowly shifted from the smooth peach skin to rust colored scales that ran down a long tail that lay in front of her, with two fins that shot out from the tip. There was no question about it. She was a mermaid.

The song reached a climax, and somewhere inside, I felt an urgent desire to swim out with Kyle, to obey the call of the song, but stronger than the desire was an intense fear of this mermaid. An instinct judged that the voice was by no means friendly, but rather meant to ensnare those who heard it. This was no Disney princess singing to my brother. Instead, the image of a screaming Ulysses tied to his ship's mast, listening to the sirens who wished to lure him to his death, came to my mind. I stayed where I was, caught between wanting to swim out to protect Kyle and getting far away from the enticing song.

The song ended, and the mermaid looked intently at Kyle and said something that I couldn't hear. Fear began to build inside me. I tensed in anticipation. The air around us stilled, and the waves died down. Time seemed to slow as the mermaid gazed into my brother's eyes, and Kyle stared back at her stupidly.

Suddenly I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to see a man walking toward me, gazing intensely at the mermaid out in the water. He stood next to me, still staring into the ocean as if he didn't even know I existed. He was tall and wore a leather jacket, brown leather chaps and boots. His black hair was tied in a small pony tail, and his face was covered in creases and scars. Strangely enough, my mind had a harder time coming to grips with this mysterious man's existence than with the mermaid's. I wondered if he realized his boots and chaps were getting wet.

I looked back at the mermaid, who was hissing at the man and crouching menacingly. Kyle was treading water and still looking at her entranced.

Suddenly she dove onto Kyle, shoving him underwater, and they disappeared, leaving only ripples behind. I screamed and began running out into the water. A rough hand grabbed my shoulder before I got too far, twisting me around to face the man's piercing grey eyes and perfectly calm expression.

"Let me handle this, boy," he said as if nothing more unusual had happened than a spilled glass of water.

I wrested myself from his grasp and shouted at him, "That's my brother! I'm going after him!"

He looked at me carefully. It was only for a moment, but I couldn't help thinking that every second, the mermaid was swimming farther and farther away.

Finally he spoke. "Alright, but you'll need this."

He handed me a piece of Hershey's chocolate, and I stared at him blankly.

"Eat it. Trust me."

Trust a stranger that wears chaps and a jacket to the beach in the middle of summer? But time was moving quickly, and whatever this man was, he didn't feel crazy: instead, every instinct told me this man deserved the utmost respect from me. I grabbed the chocolate from his hand and shoved it into my mouth, then turned back to the water.

Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my hands and feet. I held my hands up and watched as they elongated, and thin webs appeared between my fingers. Then my legs buckled beneath me, and I fell into the shallow water. My knees bent the wrong way, and I found myself touching my feet to my stomach. With a cry of horror, I tried to push them back to their normal position, but as I pushed on my now webbed foot, it too bent the wrong way.

"Don't be afraid!" the stranger said. "It's part of the transformation. In just a few moments, you'll be able to move and breathe underwater as well as the mermaid for almost an hour."

Everything was becoming blurry around me, and soon my breath stung in my throat. I looked up at the stranger, and he placed his boot on my chest, forcing me underwater. I struggled for a few moments, holding my breath. Spots danced before my eyes, and just as it became unbearable, I swallowed water. Immediately my head cleared as if I had taken a breath of fresh air. The man lifted his foot off me, and I knew what I had to do. I swam out to the rock the mermaid had laid on. My heart sank; she was nowhere to be seen.

As despair overtook me, I noticed a trail of mist like small bubbles leading farther out into the water. Quickly I began to follow it, hoping beyond hope this was the trail of the mermaid. It led toward the ocean floor, then along it as the water grew deeper and the light darker. Just when the trail began to disappear in the gloom, I noticed movement in front of me. I swam faster, trying to catch up. My new webbed feet and hands, along with the ability to twist my legs in any direction gave me more speed than I'd ever experienced underwater. Soon I was close enough to see that it was indeed the mermaid dragging Kyle behind her. Suddenly she disappeared. I hurried to the point where I had last seen her, and noticed a gap in the ground, a crevice that she must have dived into. Hoping that my ability to breath underwater would last, I dove in after her.

The darkness turned to pitch black, and I put my hands in front of me, feeling my way downward. The cave became smaller and smaller until I barely fit. Eventually the passage turned horizontally, and I saw a light coming through the end of the tunnel. Cautiously I made my way toward it. A few swaying plants blocked the entrance, and as I pushed them aside and swam through the opening, I looked around amazed. I was in a large cavern, bigger than a house, lit by blue, luminescent plants that climbed the walls and covered the ceiling. Only half of the cavern was underwater; as the floor sloped gently upward from the opening, the water grew shallower until the rock shelf emerged from the water. Where the water met the land lay the mermaid, bending over Kyle. As I looked at her I realized with a shock that she was biting his neck and drinking his blood.

With an unfamiliar fury, I hurled myself toward her. She turned and hissed at me, baring her bloodstained teeth before jumping in the water in front of me. Just as I was about to grab hold of her, she slipped to the side, and I hit rock. A claw grabbed my leg and pulled me backwards. I twisted around toward the mermaid, who dug her claws deeper into my leg. As pain raced through my brain, I managed to kick her hard in the stomach with my other leg, and she let go. Quickly I turned to face her. She darted towards me, her hands enveloping my head, and her mouth opened wider than I thought would have been possible. Staring into her sharp teeth, I reached my hands in front of me and pushed her face away from mine. Then I shoved my finger into her eye, and she pulled away from me, her eye bleeding. As she turned, I grabbed her tail, but it slipped away from me. Pain shot up my arm, and I looked at my hand. There was a long gash where the tail had cut through it; it was as sharp as a knife. Suddenly she began attacking me with her tail, slashing back and forth as I swam away from her, barely out of reach. Just as she had me backed against the wall on the side, I saw an opening in her attacks, and as she swung her tail back for the next strike, I lunged toward her, grabbing her face and twisting it sideways to break her neck.

I had her; this was the final blow. All I had to do was push a little more, and she would die. But suddenly she began singing to me. My grip softened. The words of the song, in some language I could not comprehend, entered my mind and touched some sort of switch in my unconscious. I stopped caring about where I was or what I was doing. All I wanted was the melody that floated around me. It was mesmerizing, filling my head with a blissful peace that left me unable and unwilling to do anything but listen to the song. The mermaid took my hands and drew them away from her head to my side. She leaned in close to me and smiled as she sang. I smiled back. I knew that she was killing me, that I would die soon at her hands. She would probably drink my blood, weaken me like she did with Kyle, but as long as I could hear this song, I didn't care.

But at the same time something else in my brain lit up. A very small area in my mind was working outside of the spell of the mermaid's song. As if watching myself from above, I tested my limbs one by one to see if they would move while she dragged me toward Kyle. Nothing moved. I tried again. This time I managed to twitch a finger. She laid me down in the water, and then dragged a claw across my cheek, as if caressing me. I shuddered in disgust, and suddenly, something snapped. That little part of my brain that was in control grew bigger, and now I could move my arm. Quickly I reached into my pocket and felt for my knife. I grabbed it, flipped it open, then thrust it into the heart of the mermaid, before she even knew that she had lost control. Her face changed quickly from triumph to surprise.

Her skin began to bubble, as if boiling. Her eyes and mouth turned downward at the corners as if melting. Then suddenly she burst apart into a mist that floated to the surface. Nothing was left of her. My head was reeling from the song that was still playing softly in my mind. I shook my head to get rid of it, and tried to think of other things. Kyle was still on the shore. I swam toward him, took a deep breath of water, then climbed next to him. He was pale and cold to the touch. Fear swept over me as I thought he might be dead, but then I noticed he was breathing softly. I felt his pulse; it was slow and light. It dawned on me that it would have been impossible for the mermaid to bring him down here under normal conditions without drowning him. She must have put him in some sort of trance in order to survive the trip. We had to get out of the cave before he woke up, or he would be stuck in this cavern. Then I wondered how long my ability to breathe underwater would last. I had been out of the water for a minute now, and was breathing almost normally. Panic overtook me and I dove underwater again, and cautiously took a breath of water. I could still breathe, but I also noticed my hands and feet were shrinking. Hurriedly I took Kyle in my arms and swam for the entrance.

I had thought the tunnel was small before, but now I was with my brother, and the rocks scraped against my back as I tried to keep Kyle from the same fate. The tunnel turned upwards, and I saw the light far above me. As we emerged from the cave, I found that I couldn't breathe anymore. Then suddenly my knees and ankles snapped back into place. My hands and feet were normal sized. Now each kick brought me only a few inches upward, and with the lack of oxygen, panic rose in my mind. I struggled not to surrender to the strong desire to take a breath. The sky was still hundreds of feet above me.

Just as I was about to give in, something broke through the surface above me. A man dove toward me, swimming faster than I'd even seen anyone swim. As he grabbed Kyle with one hand and me with the other, I saw his piercing grey eyes flash toward me. Soon the surface drew nearer and nearer until we broke through, the sun shining directly on my face as I gasped for air like I had never breathed in my life.


  1. This story line is very similar to your other mermaid one. At the beginning, you kind of just jump into the story, no background, no descriptions of what these two boys look like or how old they are. I liked how you fixed your flaw by having Brad eat the chocolate before he swam out to the rock. All in all, I enjoyed the story very much. There was definitely more description, though it seemed a little rough at times here and there. Good Work, can't wait to read the next section.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rebecca. Like you said, this is basically a rewrite of my short story "The Lure of the Mermaid." As for the lack of description, hopefully the next chapter will take care of all that. I deliberately left off most of the description. We shall see if that was a mistake or not. Hope you keep reading!

  3. I thought it was good, although I didn't like the term "Disney princess" as it does not provide much discription outside of the reader's perception of princesses in Disney movies.

  4. i found it very interesting. more description with the fighting to make it more realistic