Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Prompt: Anyone can be a mermaid these days

Alex slammed his palms against the Twin Otter’s engine casing and spat every curse he knew at it. Again. It remained as unperturbed and unfixed as it had for the past five days. He flung the cover down and started his litany of swears again.

“Ooh, the mouth on you—”

Alex jumped around and almost fell off the pontoon. A young woman looked up from the water, laughing as she waved her arms in slow circles in front of her.

She continued in a laughing tone, “I thought people weren’t supposed to use bad words like that. Those are bad words, aren’t they? I’ve heard them before—”

“Who are you? Where’s your craft?” Alex interrupted, looking around the empty expanse of ocean that had held him captive since the storm took out their engine.

She looked puzzled, then laughed again. “Oh, I came all by myself. But I can help you, if you want me to.” She suddenly looked serious. Alex frowned down at her.

“What are you talking about? How did you get out here?”

She laughed once more and splashed water up at him. “I swam, silly. How else would I get way out here?” With that, she dove under and slapped her tail on the surface before disappearing.

Alex blinked, wiped his eyes, and started on his litany of curses again. He must be losing his mind. Sunstroke, no doubt. Hallucinating was a very bad sign.

He reached in the back storage for a bottle of water and a pack of crackers. At least they had always travelled well stocked for customers. Even though this was supposed to be just a quick evening run to the far islands and back, they’d had food and water and emergency supplies. Not that any of it had been enough to save Bryan. Alex sat on the pontoon and looked out over the ocean.

Where had the girl come from? Why was she wearing a mermaid’s tail out here? They were crazy popular these days. He was getting used to seeing mermaids in the pools of all the resort hotels when they flew over.  Cathy had tried one, custom made with her favorite colors, shades of red and blue and gold, but she couldn’t get the knack of the undulating motion it needed to move through the water. Then she tried to tread water and panicked until the lifeguard jumped in and hauled her out of the pool.

Okay, so either he was hallucinating, or this was a rich girl’s idea of a joke. Either way, she wasn’t proving much help to him, so he needed to figure out his next steps. The lightning strike took out the engine and electrical system, including the communications. He didn’t have a cell, and he hadn’t thought to look for Bryan’s before he—

“I’m sorry about your friend,” the girl’s voice sounded from behind him.

Alex tried not to show how startled he was. He slowly looked around and took a sip of water. “My friend,” he asked. Bryan.

“I saw you put him in the water. I followed him down and kept the sharks away. He’s resting now. I thought you’d like that.”

Alex stared at her, uncomprehending. The water had to be over 4000 meters deep. What was she talking about? He shook his head. She was obviously nuts. He couldn’t get caught up in her fantasy.

“Look, what’s your name? I’m Alex.” He squatted down to get closer to her. She swam toward him, stopping a few feet away to tread water. He looked past the surface and saw her green-hued tail waving forward and back in a steady motion.

“Hi Alex. I’m Daria.”

“Daria, you’re really good at that,” Alex said, hoping to win her over. “Now, I need some help. My plane is dead in the water, and so is the radio. Do you have a radio or phone I can borrow? How did you get out here? Where’s your boat?”

Daria frowned. “I already told you, I swam. You don’t believe me.” She looked like she might dive away again.

Alex reached out his hand, pleading, “Daria, please don’t go. My best friend…died…two days ago. I don’t want to die out here, too. This isn’t a game to me. Can you help me?”

Daria backed away for a moment, then swam closer. She looked up at him seriously. “I know it’s not a game, Alex. I can help you, if you want me to.” She tilted forward, and Alex’s eye was caught by her tail. It stretched behind her, and the tail flukes furled and unfurled, slapping the surface gently. He’d never seen the resort mermaids’ tails do that.

“How can you help me, Daria? Do you have a radio or a phone?”

She shook her head. “No, Alex. But I can take you home, if you want.”

He scoffed. “How are you going to take me back to–”

“No, Alex. Not your home. My home.” She pointed down.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle
6-Hour Mozart Piano Classical Music Studying Playlist Mix by JaBig on YouTube
Time writing:
~45 minutes
July word count:

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