Posts Tagged ‘mermaid’

Sweeter Than Sunlight

Posted: October 1, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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heart by the sea

Erica had taken an entire second week off from work on the assumption that Aaron would say yes to her proposal. She had imagined they would spend it having sex, having room service, taking selfies while drinking champagne, cliff diving and snorkeling until it was time to go back to bed and disturb the neighbors again. Instead, they spent another day with Aaron’s family, then a third day on an underwater tour of his world. They did get to disturb Aaron’s underwater neighbors instead. It was awkward at first, but being able to do underwater acrobatics to their hearts’ content had its advantages.

The next day Erica and Aaron passed back through the vortex. Erica felt like she’d suddenly dropped lead weights onto her chest as she passed through. She kicked hard for the surface, then gasped for air. It did taste sweet, and it felt light as feathers on her face. Erica blinked. The stinging sunlight felt good on her eyes, too.

Aaron popped up alongside her. A small pouch about the size of his thumb hung around his neck. He wouldn’t say what it was, but he’d picked it up yesterday. Aaron looked around. “Which way is the beach?”

“It’s behind you. Quarter-mile off, right where we left it.” Aaron worked on treading water as he tried to see it. “So you’ll need to quit your job. I’ll need to get a sabbatical from mine.”

“I can talk to the director at the university where I got my degree. He owes me some great big favors.” He smiled. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“It’s the adventure of a lifetime. Of course I’m sure.” They were going to split time between her world and his. First they would spend a year under the ocean. Then they would live on land again while spending weekends with Aaron’s relatives. They were brainstorming ideas to work their way around coastlines of the world and see what there was to see.

“All right, then. I need to tell you something.”

“Don’t tell me you’re Bigfoot.”

He reached into the pouch—no mean feat while he treaded water with just his legs—and took out a ring, a pearl surrounded by little diamonds. “I will happily marry you. You make me the luckiest, happiest man on Earth or sea. Will you marry me?”

“Come here, you goof.” She kissed him. Aaron tasted like salt and stars. She hugged him. “Yes!”

I liked this one! The end felt a little rushed and I want to get into Erica and Aaron some more, but overall I liked the characters and the otherworldliness of the story.

Photo credit: “Lovers in a Heart” by Michael Coghlan at Flickr
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You Knew I Was Crazy

Posted: September 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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sea turtle

The shark’s whole body shook. It went from swimming like a missile to swimming like it was drunk. For good measure, Erica gave it her volleyball move and slapped it on top of the head with her tail.

The shark had enough. It headed for deep water. Erica hoped she didn’t hurt it enough to kill it. The shot from her shoulder probably bruised a patch of cartilage. The tail slap wouldn’t have tickled, either. It really was a beautiful animal, and like any good biologist, she preferred to study them alive than dead.

Erica made sure it was gone. She caught up to Aaron, and the two of them started pulling Jory up the reef together.

“You’re crazy,” Aaron said.

“Yeah, well. You knew that when you started dating me.”

His teeth flashed white, even in the shadows of the reef.

Aaron’s family rushed to help Jory as they returned to the picnic area. Yurri and Kenia stayed close. Others went to get doctors. Erica wondered what the merpeople’s hospital would look like. Floating on a bed of luminescent kelp?

“You should’ve seen her, mom,” Jory said. He smiled at Erica as his mother held him. “The shark never had a chance. She turns tight like a corkscrew, heavy as dolphin. I’ve never seen anybody swim that hard.”

“They have corkscrews here?” Erica asked.

“Similar, yeah,” Aaron said.

Erica waved Jory off. “Don’t try to swim like me, kiddo. I’m unique where I come from, too.”

A group of merpeople showed up: two fishy, two squidly. They treated Jory’s wound with some kind of salve, then wrapped it in a bandage made of something that looked like spider silk. Erica was dying to steal a sample of both. Then they placed Jory on the back of the largest sea turtle Erica had ever seen.

As they prepared to leave, Yurri and Kenia came over to Erica and Aaron. Kenia took her hands. “Thank you for saving my son.”

“It’s… anyone would have done it.”

“That’s ridiculous, dear.”

“I’m glad I was here to help. And you’re very welcome.”

“Please stay with us as long as you like. I’m looking forward to getting to know you.”

Photo credit: “Giant Green Turtle-01” by Dominic Scaglioni at Flickr
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The Better Swimmer

Posted: September 29, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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shark teeth

Erica watched the tiger shark’s shadow on the far side of the pillars. It was sticking around, back and forth. This guy was certain he had a nice meal waiting for him. Erica tried to remember the shark attacks on smaller fish that she’d seen on her dives. Which ones had lived?

She said, “We know he’s coming. So we go after him. It might scare him off.”

Aaron gulped. “All right.”

“Not you.”

“What do you mean, not me? I’m the merman, remember?”

“You gulped. Whoever does this can’t blink.”

“There’s no way I’m letting you go in alone.”

“We can’t leave Jory. If it gets past me—and it won’t—you need to protect him.”

Jory shook. The blood cloud was gathering around his waist while they sat here talking about it. “I feel cold,” Jory said.

Erica said, “That’s shock. We’re out of time.”

Aaron held her face close to his. “I love you. I’m doing this.”

She kissed him. “Love you too. Sorry.” Then she shoved him back at Jory and kicked toward the edge of the coral forest as hard as she could.

Aaron swore. Erica didn’t want to tangle with a tiger shark, either. She was the only choice that made sense. She could swim faster than he could with legs, and from what she’d seen already she could swim faster with fins, too.

The shark had been circling left. She came right at it. It darted away to the right, then went up and backed off from the edge of the forest. That brought it right into Erica’s path. Erica swam at it and punched its gills as she went by. The shark shook its head roughly. She heard its jaws chomping water behind her. The ripple from the first chomp washed her fin. Erica snapped her legs—her tail—like a whip and had another half body length by the time the shark chomped again.

Jory and Aaron had cleared the edge of the forest. They were making their way up. Aaron kept one hand on Jory and his eyes on Erica.

The shark started after Erica. She kept kicking. She gained distance. Then it turned. It moved its head from side to side. Erica could hear it breathing. It headed toward Jory and Aaron.

Erica tucked her legs, did a flip turn and charged the shark. She remembered how fast he turned the first time.

The shark approached them in a circle, checking them out first. Jory kept climbing. Aaron stayed with him, but turned to watch the shark. It breathed faster. Jory’s blood must have been filling him with hunger. Erica had seen curious sharks before. This one had the impetuous need of one heading for an easy snack.

It darted for Jory. Aaron started towards it but Erica met it halfway. She tucked her head and rammed it in the midsection with her shoulder. If sharks could cough, that was the sound this one made.

Photo credit: “shark teeth” by Scott at Flickr
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Underwater Barbecue

Posted: September 18, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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barracuda

“Ariel! Ariel’s back!” someone called.

Yurri backed up—actually, he floated upward—and let the crowd swarm Aaron and Erica. Kids and adults alike smothered Aaron in hugs. Erica smiled. “Ariel? That’s your real name?”

“I would’ve kept it for my land name if it wasn’t for the movie,” Aaron said. “Hi! Hello! It’s great to see you too.”

Then Erica was surrounded too. She smiled and kept shaking hands, flippers, tentacles and claws.

“Are you his human friend?”

“You have beautiful eyes. Aren’t they lovely?”

“Hi! I’m Ariel’s brother Jory.”

“Welcome! I’ve been wanting to meet you.”

“Do you know how to play pufferball? We need a fifth player. We can teach you if you want.”

She would have been put off if she hadn’t been studying marine life ever since she was a little girl. It felt like a cross between a zoology study, a dream, and a family barbecue. In the back of her mind Erica tagged them with their animal selves — angelfish, butterflyfish, cuttlefish, blue crab — while the front of her mind tried to collect names and places on the family tree.

“It’s wonderful to meet all of you. I hope you don’t mind if I need to ask you your names again later.” She whispered to Aaron, “Nobody said they’re your aunt.”

“I don’t see her. I’ll ask uncle Yurri when he comes back.”

Erica looked above her. Then on her sides, then below. Remembering that she had to did it all the time when scuba diving, but not at family get-togethers. She didn’t see him. “Where do you think he went?”

“Probably to find her. She doesn’t like crowds.”

“Schools of fairy fish, a reef teeming with life, and she doesn’t like crowds?”

Some of the kids started trying to drag her over to play pufferball. Then they scattered.

The adults nearest the reef stayed still. Those in the open moved together. A barracuda circled the area. It looked bigger than any barracuda she’d ever seen. Was she smaller? Erica realized she didn’t care. In the field, she didn’t want to disturb the wildlife, but looking at the kids hiding in the reef crevices, she had family to protect.

She thought it looked at her. Did it sense the newcomer? Erica stared back. She wondered how she’d fight it. Grab a rock? She’d fight it any way she had to.

It finally moved on. People started breathing easier as it disappeared. “That’s right, fangs. Keep moving,” Erica said.

Jory said, “I like your girlfriend, Aaron.”

Aaron smiled. “So do I.”

Photo credit: “Great Barracuda” by Andy Blackledge at Flickr
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The Little Things We Give

Posted: September 17, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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blue coral

They swam farther down into the city. Erica looked more closely at where she could see light. It mostly depended on whether there were merpeople in the area. They shed their own light. Some of the coral growth or plant life reacted to them, too, shedding soft glow like flower-shaped glow sticks. Erica smiled as she imagined a mellow underwater rave party. With her own golden eyes, she wondered if she was seeing something chemical, electromagnetic, or even body heat.

Aaron and Yurri led her through a growth of towers of elkhorn coral. It almost made Erica weep to look at them—they had to be twelve feet high! Tropical fish that she couldn’t identify swam around them, and plants with translucent tubular leaves grew out of crevices in the rock beneath. What did they look like with her normal eyes? Lumps of gray? Would she even see them at all? They shifted in color from green to blue to purple as the swam past them, back to blue, to green.

“Why did you go to the surface?” Erica asked Aaron.

“I ask myself that every day,” Yurri said. Erica looked at him. He grinned. She remembered her New England relatives, where snark was an expression of love.

Aaron didn’t even notice. “I wanted to know what it felt like to breathe air. I wanted to see snow and climb a mountain.”

“We have snow under the sea,” Yurri said.

“We have ice. Snow’s more fun,” Aaron said.

“We have mountains.”

“But you can’t climb them. We swim down to them, not up.”

“That’s why you wanted to go hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains when we took that weekend away.”

Aaron smiled. “Yeah. Thank you.” She had wanted to go scuba diving. He’d had his heart so set on the mountains that she couldn’t turn him down. He’d made it up to her with scuba a month later.

Other merpeople started coming toward them. Erica stopped counting after she saw ten. They were all shapes and sizes, old and young, some part fish, others part sea turtle, squidly things, and one even looked to be crustacean. Erica would have goggled at them if she hadn’t been curious out of her mind and excited to meet Aaron’s family. She only wished some of her own relatives and friends could be here too—which felt strangely normal to think, which made it feel out of place in this underwater dream world.

Photo credit: “IMG_8085.JPG” by eyeliam at Flickr
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You Must Have Questions

Posted: September 9, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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underwater city

Picking up on our underwater love story again. In the last post, Erica met Aaron’s uncle Yurri and just got finished telling him that she was thinking of moving to the sea.

“Well then… you’re welcome to come visit our family. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like for you learning to live among us, but we can start there.”

Erica didn’t so much let Yurri and Aaron lead the way as she swam alongside them, under them, and over them, looking at everything there was to see and asking questions every chance she had. Yurri was pleasantly patient now that he knew she wasn’t talking away his nephew, and Aaron seemed happy to finally share his world with her.

“What’s that building?”

“The coral tower? It’s a library.”

“Do you have books?”

“Not like you, of course. We take pearls and imprint words upon the layers of calcium. The process happens at a microscopic level. I don’t understand it, actually. A librarian could, well, try to explain it to you.”

“How do you read?”

“We illuminate the pearls in a special lamp.”

Aaron added, “We use storytelling more. It takes up less space. It keeps our memories sharp, too.”

“What are those people doing up there?”

“That’s underwater volleyball,” Aaron said.

“With a blowfish? Doesn’t it mind?”

“It’s not a live blowfish.”

“Oh. Sorry, I’ve watched too much Disney. Does it hurt to hit him?”

“A little, but it makes the game more interesting.”

That was one way to look at it. Erica shook her head. Her raven locks snapped to one side, then the other, as if blown by wind. “How does my hair know to stay out of my eyes?”

“Think of it as a thousands of tiny fins. You’ve got subtle control over them now.”

“I’m going to miss that when I’m back on land.” She tried playing with it. Her hair floated left, then right. Weird.

“What’s everyone doing around that cave?”

“It’s where our local doctor lives.”

“Does he do surgeries, too? Or do you have hospitals?”

Yurri said, “She does surgeries as well.” He held up his right arm, which she saw was crisscrossed with scarring. “She helped put my arm back together after I was surprised by a shark.”

The sea felt a whole lot darker. “Does that happen much?” Yurri and Aaron looked at each other. “Much?” Erica prodded.

“More than we would like,” Yurri said.

“Less than the number of animal attacks you get on land,” Aaron said.

At least she was getting both the glass-half-full and the glass-half-empty readings on it.

Photo credit: “Lost Underwater City” by Henry Söderlund at Flickr
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In-Laws under the Sea

Posted: September 5, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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cuttlefishI’m changing Aunt Yurri to Uncle Yurri. The tentacle mer-person was female, but I think their society’s patriarchial.

I do want this story to be good, so it’s going to go through lots of edits before it’s finished.

Erica said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr…. ” She realized she didn’t know if Aaron’s last name was legit.

Uncle Yurri said, “We only use first names among our people. We’re all the same family.”

Erica looked at Aaron. “How do you tell people with the same name apart?”

“Inflection in the name. It’s subtle. You learn to hear it.”

“Okay, but how do you prevent—” Erica shut up. As curious as she felt, asking Aaron and his uncle about inbreeding among their species had to be the worst possible subject matter to start with.

Yurri looked at his nephew with fire in his eyes. Aaron gulped, but said calmly, “That’s subtle, too. It’s in the scale patterns.” He brushed his fingers along the sides of his face, where she noticed it more clearly beneath his skin. “Families have similar patterns. Different patterns look more attractive to us.”

She thought of his dark skin, and her fair tones. “Is that why you were attracted to me?”

“Part of it, yeah.”

Erica tried to imagine the evolutionary mechanisms that made it possible. She noticed her tail flicking involuntarily with excitement. She wondered how many other mannerisms she’d picked up already that she didn’t even notice.

“I’m glad you find our biology fascinating. I want to know your intentions with my nephew.”

“Actually… sir… I asked him to marry me.”

Yurri floated back a few feet. He changed color from white to blue, slowly back to white. It looked like a chameleon mechanism to blend into the water when he was alarmed. Erica bit her lip to keep from grinning like a mad scientist. Yurri looked at Aaron. “Is this true?”

“It is.”

“You didn’t say ‘yes,’ did you?”

“Uncle Yurri!”

Erica folded her arms and gave uncle Yurri a look that would have made a great white shark cringe. Yurri’s tentacles twitched. He changed color again. He covered his mouth, then shook his head. He held out his hands. “I apologize, Erica. Such a thing hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. And I’m afraid of losing him to the land people.”

Erica said, “You don’t have to worry about that. He misses you, too.”

Aaron shrugged. He smiled at his uncle. “What can I say?”

Yurri smiled warmly at that. Then he looked from him, to Erica, back and back again. “So then what does your being here mean?”

“I want to see if I want to live here.”

Photo credit: “Pharaoh Cuttlefish” by Schristia at Flickr
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Meeting Aaron’s Family

Posted: August 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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squid warriorErica and Aaron swam down under marine plants whose limbs floated above them. The leaves spread larger than Erica’s arm. Marine flora wasn’t Erica’s specialty, but she knew enough to know that she’d never seen this species before. She doubted anyone had. They swam down into folds of luminescent coral. Little fish swam here and there. Little merpeople did, too, like fishy versions of Tinkerbell. Erica felt like she had crossed over from the sea into fairy tale land.

“Where are we going? Other than down into the underwater city?”

“That’s all. I’m taking you to meet my foster parents.”

“They have those where you come from?”

“People are people. Why not?”

A merfairy buzzed Erica’s head. It looked like a little girl. The creature pointed and smiled at her, then swam away. Erica rolled her eyes. “Oh, I guess you’re right. It’s all so similar to life on the surface.”

The fairies weren’t the first ones. They swam down between twisting walls of coral that hid merpeople and undersea creatures with thoughtful eyes. All of them stopped and looked at her. Some pointed. Some darted away. She waved at a few. Not many waved back.

“People seem shy down here.”

“’Don’t talk to strangers.’ You’re a celebrity, but I think people are going to wait to get to know you.”

The coral changed from yellow to green to blue as they went deeper. It looked like they were passing from the “business district” to where people lived. Erica saw more open spaces, groups of smaller merpeople schooling and playing together, and parents leading them here and there. Luminescent plants sprouts from the coral dotted the way down to form paths. It didn’t look like it would enough – say, compared to a torch light – but Erica found that her eyes adjusted as she went down anyway.

She looked at her hand. “Do I have green scales underneath now, too?”

“No. You haven’t changed enough for that.”

Erica saw something coming toward them that looked like a cuttlefish at first. She couldn’t see the top of it because it was coming head-on, but she could see the bundle of glowing tentacles behind it. It grew larger. Erica started to slow down. Aaron did, too. Aaron sighed. Erica almost laughed when she saw this mer-person’s resemblance to Aaron. The expression on its face, though, told her to be polite.

“I thought we were meeting at the house,” Aaron said.

“I wanted to see her first,” the woman said cooly. She turned toward Erica.

Quickly, Aaron said, “Erica, this is my aunt Yurri. Yurri, it’s my pleasure to introduce Erica.”

Erica held out her hand. Yurri took it, then let go. Erica tried not to stare at the scale patterning on Yurri’s face and body. Where most of the merpeople she’d seen were a mix of human and fish, Yurri was a mix of human and squid.

Photo credit: unknown. Used without permission.

Getting My Bearings

Posted: August 28, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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As we’re about to cross the vortex into the world of mermaids – and that vortex thing may have to go – I’m taking a breath for a moment to see if I like where the story is going. The short answer: yes. Mostly. I like Erica and I like Aaron. We get to see a fearless woman explore the world beneath the sea. She’s going to wrestle a shark, a kraken, an eel, something that doesn’t like her being under water. Aaron’s going to… what’s he going to do? Help?

All right… back up, back up, back up.

Erica proposes to Aaron.
He says no, I’m a merman.
She says so, marry me anyway.
He says you’ll have to come live under the sea with me.
She says show me what it’s like.

Which is where we are now. All right, so the next logical step is that she sees the wonder of the ocean, and at first everything appears to be hunky dory, but soon reveal she runs into things that are twisted, strange and threatening. Sometimes the glitter that isn’t gold is actually the scales on an underwater serpent.

“Everything” is pretty broad there, bro. Can you narrow that down?

Right now? No. That’s why we have these stream of consciousness posts. I’m playing with my creativity instead of doing CPR chest-thrusts on it. When your heart’s still beating, just let it do its thing.

There’s a cool picture of a mer-person with octopus tentacles rather than a fish tail. I may do something with that. Maybe the other merpeople don’t like the idea of outsiders joining them.

I think that after that we should show her the alternative. The battle ends over a wreck. She gets to see where Aaron became interested in the land people in the first place. Maybe someone’s drowning or a boat’s in trouble and they help them.

I keep feeling obligated to talk about pollution, sonar injuring sea life, and so on. That’s not why I’m here. But if I deliberately turn a blind eye, is the story worse for it?

Focus on Erica. She is the main character. How do people do this? I always get overwhelmed by the world of possibilities, everything that I could possibly do with the story.

Well… what’s your favorite?

(Bugeyes) Wow. Good bloody question. She goes under the sea. She’s undaunted. It’s not what she expected, either. Ideally, Aaron changes too and they meet each other halfway.

Beyond the Vortex

Posted: August 26, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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vortex

Erica settled upright. She spread out her arms to stabilize herself. She flicked her tail to hold steady.

“How did this happen?” she asked. She couldn’t believe how natural it felt.

“Underneath us is a vortex that we use to travel between our world and yours. Because your mind was open, I was able to nudge the currents to change your form into something natural for our world.”

“Something natural? What else is there?”

“You should see what can happen deep inside the earth. Or high up in the sky?”

“Angels’ wings?”

“Why not?”

Well, she was floating here with a tail, after all. Erica swam in circles around him. Seeing her so happy, Aaron looked like he’d swallowed a bird. Erica said, “I’m trying to imagine my muscle structure. My bones. Hell, my organs!” She felt her throat, trying to imagine what her voice box was doing for her to sound the same.

Erica became distracted enough thinking about it that her tail drifted upward instead of keeping her stable. Her body flattened out. Facing down, she saw the reef. She saw it in a way that she never had before.

Toward land, it looked like she remembered, pale beauty and drifting fronds of sea plants surrounded by flitting fish feeding and hiding from predators. She saw the vortex as a softly foaming hole in the water, flickering and transparent, about wide enough to drive a car through, and constantly changing shape. She and Aaron floated in its wake.

A thought from physics and probability mathematics jumped into her mind: waves of chance. Maybe here, multiple realities coexisted. She’d have to talk to her physics friends about that one.

On the other side of the vortex, the reef dropped away into the ocean, it spread out below her like a coral combination of New York City and Hong Kong. Past the vortex, Inches became feet. Nooks became crevasses. Sea plumes reached out like jungle redwoods with long fragile fingers of branches. City blocks of cup coral and blade coral shared space with pillar coral that glowed the lemon yellow. Light was everywhere, or at least what looked like light—

“What color are my eyes?” she asked Aaron.

“Do you promise not to freak out?”

“I have a tail, and I’m not freaking out. What color are my eyes, numbnuts?”

“Bright gold. Like the sun.”

“Oh my God!”

“They look really cool with your black hair.”

Which floated all around her, a cape of night threads around her face.

I’m trying to slow down instead of rushing through the action and dialogue like I normally do. I hope you like it!

Image credit: “Starbirth Vortex” by Martin at Flickr
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