Here’s my new story, folks! Sorry for the long time away, but hopefully this short story will make up for my absence. It’s a Young Adult literature story about my favorite mythical creature: mermaids. As always, comments are welcome. Enjoy! Neophytepunk, over and out! P.S. This was not edited by anybody, so all and any mistakes are my bad!
Luna pulled her old, maroon jeep to a stop at the top of a moon-lit cliff overlooking the ocean. Turning the engine off, she stayed in comfort of her jeep and sighed heavily. She could hear the ocean…no, she could feel the ocean and its calming waves echoing through her shell heart. Every wave ignited the drowned hurt she had fought for so long to put away. She sighed again, touched the sea shell necklace hanging from her rear-view mirror, and then hesitantly stepped out of her jeep.
Cool, salty air greeted her and wrapped around her. She smiled and let herself feel the sea wind, forgetting for a moment that such indulgence was dangerous. She opened her eyes and saw the wind had pulled her to the very edge of the cliff. The ocean reacted to her presence. The dark waves stirred and crashed up against the cliff side with eagerness, struggling to climb the rigid rock face, wanting to reach her, wanting to surround her and full her with power.
“Enough,” said Luna to the wind and ocean. The wind lessened its grip on her but it refused to let go. Her shell heart ached within her. She pushed back tears as she watched the ocean collide with the mountain. She wanted to reach out and feel her home for just a quick moment, but she was afraid she would break from the memories of that night. “I said enough, Viento, please.”
“Mi eminencia said enough, Viento,” said a voice from behind her.
The wind gave her one last hug and died away. She breathed slowly and stepped away from the view of the ocean, bumping into the voice.
“I beg your pardon, mi eminencia,” said Bastian, holding her steady. She shrugged off his hand from her shoulders and wiped her eyes dry.
“Bastian, don’t bow,” sighed Luna as she concentrated on pushing the ocean out of her shell heart. Once she was sure she was composed, she turned to face Bastian. Sure enough he was still bowing. “Oh, get up. Where’s Cori?”
“His text said he should arrive in a few minutes, mi eminencia.”
“I hate it when you call me that,” grimaced Luna, wiping away loose strands of long, wavy hair from her face. Her black hair, pulled back in ponytail, shone sapphire under the moon light. She always held it back in the ponytail because it constantly flowed like the waves, shimmering with the power of the ocean within her.
“Old habits die hard, mi eminencia,” said Bastian weakly.
“You’re darker than the last time I saw you,” said Luna, trying to lighten the mood.
“Uh, yes, mi emine…milady. Tans are very popular here in land. No matter how much of that sun cream I put on I seem to tan.” He pulled up down his shirt and revealed his neck and face were dark olive while the part that was covered by his t-shirt was still porcelain white.
“As do I,” laughed Luna. She raised the sleeve of her t-shirt and showed him her porcelain-smooth skin cut off by dark olive skin kissed by the sun. She smiled at Bastian, and he marveled at her sea-green eyes. It had been so long since she had seen her.
The rumble of Cori’s motorcycle roared behind them. He rolled his low rider next to her jeep and shut the bike’s thunderous voice off. It was dusty from the road but the dark blue paint gleamed bright in the moonlight and two brown seahorses were painted on the sides, gliding through waves.
He took his helmet off and stared at the edge of the cliff.
“A motorcycle, huh,” said Luna. “I always took you more for a horse guy.”
“The horses here are nothing compared to the horses back ho…well, they don’t compare. This,” he tapped his bike lovingly. “is as close to my old horses as I am going to get.”
He turned to them and smiled weakly. His shoulder length hair was also pulled back in a ponytail and shone with the same sapphire strength as his twin. His face was more wind-bitten and had a more pronounce chin, but he had the exact same face and sea-green eyes as Luna.
“You look darker than the last we saw each other,” said Cori, getting off his bike and placed his helmet on his seat.
Luna and Bastian glanced at each other and smiled.
“I think we look the same,” said Luna. She winked at Bastian and marveled at his dark blue eyes. He had his mother’s eyes and his father’s curly, dark brown hair. She remembers them yelling at them to run, to flee from home. She remembers them fighting to protect them. She pushed the memories away before they broke her.
“Your Eminence, welcome,” bowed Bastian.
“Hello, Bastian. Please don’t bow.”
“Old habits die hard, apparently,” said Luna, opening her arms to hug her brother. Cori hugged her and lifted her off the ground for a moment. “Hermano mio, I’ve missed you so. How have your journeys been?”
“Lonesome. But better now, hermana mia,” sighed Cori, lowering his sister to the ground, letting her go. “Your hair is terribly dry.”
“You’re one to talk. Your hair looks mangled from air toxicity. No doubt from that bike of yours. Have you not been taking salt baths?”
“It’s hard to find proper sea salt, Luna. The sea salt the humans sell in their stores is not as refreshing as real sea water.”
“That’s because they evaporation all the ocean water from the sea salt. Humans don’t know any better. They don’t need the ocean water like we do. Perhaps a place closer to the ocean instead of riding up and down Highway 66 would do you some good, huh?”
“Now whose talking, huh? You want me to move closer when you live, what, 150 miles from any form of water.”
“154, thank you very much. And I can afford to live that far from water because I take salt baths every three days. Something you might want to consider doing.”
“Oh, stealing salt from that quaint diner you work in, are we?”
“I have my own ways of getting what I need, hermano mio, don’t worry.”
Cori raised his eyebrows in suspicion and was about to ask what she meant when Bastian cleared his throat to get their attention.
“Mis majestades, I hate to interrupt your much missed voices, but I requested your presence in order to discuss something of great importance.”
Bastian cast a quick glance at the ocean before them and then looked at the watch on his right wrist. As of now, the oceans and seas were calm but that did not mean his majesties were safe.Trouble was stirring and malicious plans were being plotted in the deep dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
The watch Bastian wore was not a regular watch that kept track of time. No, his watch was far much older. Instead of time, it kept track of sea tides and ocean currents. It was crafted of ancient sea shells from the Mediterranean Sea back when it was known as Mare Nostrum by the Romans. Bastian’s watch came from a long line of stately Protectors sworn to guard and protect the royal family, monarchs of the seas and oceans. It had been handed down to every member of this prestigious company by the King himself, and a royal celebration was held for a week to rejoice the addition of brave new souls and to commence the retirement of those who has served valiantly. Thousands of men and women, a glorious and proud army, reduced to one young man named Bastian who carried on his right arm the only sea shell watch left in the entire aquatic world.
“Whoa, no, no, no, wait. I know that look, Luna. What have you been doing?”
“Su eminencia, please. It really is of great importance that we discu-”
“Stop calling me that. Luna, what have you been doing? You haven’t been going into the ocean, have you?”
“Like I could stand that pain. I’m not some fool, hermano mio. I would never put you and Bastian in danger by going into the ocean.”
“Then what are you…Luna, no. Please tell me that you haven’t told a human about who you are?”
“Cori, Bastian has a point,” said Luna, pushing the hair away from her face again. “We need to talk about whatever he brought us here to talk about. We don’t have much time. Coming out of hiding and being this close to the ocean is not good for any of us. We need to listen to what he has to say.”
“Thank you, mi eminencia.” Bastian locked eyes with Luna and she gave him a small smile. The waves in his blood stirred. Like the regal grace that she is, she ignited the dormant ocean within him with one single look.
“And we will, after you answer my question. Does a human know who you are?”
“It’s nothing bad, Cori.” Luna frowned and paced up and down in front of him. Bastian continued to look from his watch to the ocean. “I didn’t even ask him. He showed up one day and offered me the water.”
“What, was he selling it door to door? What do you mean he just showed up with ocean water? Who the hell is he?”
“He’s a fisherman. He lives next door to me. Well, his daughter lives next door to me. He visits her on occasion and he must have figured out who I am.”
“Do you have any idea the danger you put us in?” yelled Cori, staring at Luna in disbelief.
“He’s not going to hurt us. He believes in the old ways. He bows down when he brings me the water…and he gives me a necklaces made of seashells.”
“Oh, big deal. He gives you se-”
“Wait, he gives you seashell necklaces?” said Bastian, grabbing at her shoulder to stop her pacing.
“Yes, why?” said Luna, shrugging his hand away.
Now it was Bastian’s turn to pace and frown. He mumbled their ancient dialect under his breath.
“Bast, come on, don’t curse.”
“Is anybody else here considered that a human knows who she is?”
“Oh, both of you need to relax. And you, have all those bumpy roads made you forget the stories of our ancestors?” asked Luna, waving her finger at Cori. He crossed his arms across his chest and raised his eyebrows, waiting for her to explain. “Fisherman, when we first started working together, would bring us necklaces made of the finest seashells they collected while they were off fishing in the deep ocean. It was a token of respect and admiration. My fisherman, he leaves me these breathtakingly beautiful necklaces, Cori. The craftsmanship, I’ve not seen anything like it since we left our home. His ancestors must have made jewelry for our family at some point because they feel like home. That’s why I didn’t ask him to stop, Cori. They reminded me of our home. He shapes the shells into these different sea creatures. It’s amazing. It’s like home isn’t gone when I look the shells. And he really means no harm, Cori. I promise you. Look, here, I’ll show you both one of the necklaces. I have one hanging from my rear-view mirr-”
“I’m sorry, mis majestades, but you have been discovered.” Bastian’s voice was barely a whisper over Luna’s trembling voice.
“Discovered?” the twins echoed together.
“Yes…Lord Abysse has discovered you, milady.” Bastian turned his face away from them in shame. He felt he failed them. “It is only a matter of time before they discover you as well, my lord.”
“And you were concerned about an old fisherman,” sighed Luna. She felt dizzy and needed to sit down. She walked to the hood of her jeep, hopped on and sat down, resting her elbows on her knees. She buried her face in her hands to keep from crying.
“How do you know they’ve found us, Bastian?” asked Cori.
“My spy in King Aby-”
“Do not call him King!” Luna’s offended face rose from behind her trembling hands. “That leech is not worthy of such a noble title. He is not king, he is sea foam. No, I take it back! It is an insult to sea foam to compare him to it. The ocean could not have created such a repulsive impurity. Abysse, that hideous usurper, must have come from a river or a lake! He is not from our home…not from our world. The might force of the ocean does not run through his bio-”
“Peace, hermana mia, peace. Let Bastian speak.” Cori walked over to Luna and leaned beside her. Her shoulders went limp and low as she rested her head on her brother’s shoulder. He nodded at Bastian to continue speaking.
“My emissary has long been infiltrated deep within Abysse’s army and he was finally able to send word to me. Mis majestades, he writes that Abysse’s powers have grown stronger.”
“Define stronger, Bastian,” requested Luna roughly. “Or did your emissary fail to mention those deti-”
Cori raised her hand to bar Luna from speaking any further. “Luna, enough. Be at peace. What can he do, Bastian?”
Bastian looked at them bleakly and told them all his emissary had relayed to him. Abysse could now invoke the ancient sea storms of the Cambrian age and the winds, waters, and waves unwillingly bowed before him. He had invaded and now controlled every city, township, and seascape from the far ends of the northern and southern Atlantic Ocean to the whole of the India Ocean. Bastian told them of the rebellion, made up mostly of merpeople who has lost their families and no longer has a home to return to. The rebellion fought against Abysse’s algae soldiers, but the battles were always bloody and always lost. Their people had little to eat and no allowance into divine temples to pray. Families were forced to surrender every merchild below two hundred and fifty years of age to Abysse and his dark priests, the Voids. “He can even control the waters when the moon is full. Not successfully, but he grows better with each passing moon cycle.”
“This is why I’ve been falling ill at the end of every month.” Luna raised her head from Cori’s shoulders. She stared at Bastian, not hiding her tear-gleamed eyes from him. “He is trying to control the power that is rightfully mine.”
“Why haven’t you told me, Luna?” asked Cori. He put the back of his hand against her forehead to feel for a temperature.
“Cori, please, merfolk don’t get fevers,” said Luna, brushing away his hand from her face. “There are far more dire things to worry about. Children taken away from their families…and all the while we hide here on land…like cowards.”
“How certain is you emissary that all of this is happening, Bastian? Can he be trusted? Is it possible that this is all a trap to scare up out of hiding?” asked Cori.
“He is a humble servant to you and your family, my lord. He would not lie. He would first turn to sea foam before betraying you and your sister.”
Cori was about to argue with Bastian but Luna hopped off the hood and walked to the edge of the cliff. Sea air whipping around her and waves roaring beneath her, she stared at her moon-draped home, her ocean, and felt her heart heavy with a threatening emptiness. It was no longer the home she knew and loved. The water were now a dark place filled with greed, hate, confusion, and pain.
“He’s not lying, Cori. We can all feel it. The earthquakes and tsunamis in India and Japan, that horrible hurricane in New Orleans and New York. The oceans and seas are out of balance with land. We’ve all known it for some time now, but we have chosen to make ourselves blind. We’ve chosen to stay hidden. We’ve turned out backs to our people, our kingdom.”
They stood in quietly for a moment, east lost in their own memory of the night Abysse took over, with only the rushing sound of waves below to keep them from drowning in silence. Finally Cori broke their loneliness by asking how Abysse was able to find them.
“The seashells, my lord. Abysse has taken to the old ways. He sends his Voids to scour the sea and ocean floors for missing seashells. Luna was right about the fisherman. His ancestors must have made jewelry for your family because this man only takes the shells that have the soul of the ocean in them. The Voids sensed these small missing fragments of the ocean and have tracked the absent seashells to this region. They know one of you is near here.”
“Any you said the old man was nothing to worry about,” remarked Cori under his breathe.
“Oh, Cori, humans don’t know what’s going on,” retorted Luna, refusing to turn away from the ocean. She had done that enough. She wanted to listen to it. She wanted it to speak to her. She slowly tugged at the piece of elastic holding back her hair. “He meant no harm. He was just trying to show me respect. If he knew any harm would come to me, he wouldn’t have given me the necklaces. And it’s my fault, anyway. I should have told him to st-”
“Peace, hermana mia, peace. It doesn’t matter no, Luna,” sighed Cori. “What is done is done. It was only a matter of time. It was only by the graces of Mother Ocean and Sister Moon that we weren’t discovered sooner.” He turned to Bastian who stared at his watch impatiently. “Is there anything else you have to tell us?”
“No, my lord…well…the people fight daily in your name and honor and hope for your return soon. They still believe in your father and you, mis majestades. My emissary writes that they wish for you to send them some form of validation that all their sacrifices, all their bloodshed has not been in vain. They want to know when you will retur-”
“We can worry about that after we are safe,” said Cori quickly. “We’ll have to go further inland. What are our options, Bastian? What must we do now?”
Disappointed in Cori’s dismissal, Bastian sighed and turned away from him to look at the ocean. He would never get to go home again and his people were dying in useless battles. “I’ve already taken the liberty of placing seashells up and down the coast. That should throw them off your scent for a while. You’ll both be able to escape with enough time, but you must leave tonight. Another day and they’ll know exactly where the seashells are. Luna, you’ll have to leave them all behind. That should buy you extra time to get away and hide.”
“Tonight?” asked Cori. He turned to Luna and saw her hair was blowing free in the wind, twisting and turning like waves before a storm. “We’ve yet to have our seat baths. We wouldn’t last fifty miles away from the ocean. We’ll dry up, Bastian. Can’t you come up with a better solution?”
“There is only one solution, hermano mio,” answered Luna, turning to face them. Cori gasped and Bastian grinned when they both saw he shell heart glowing bright gold through her shirt.
“Luna, are you insane?” shouted Cori. “They’ll spot us! Stop calling the ocean!”
“I didn’t call the ocean, she called me. She hasn’t forgotten us,” smiled Luna through water eyes. She reached for her twin’s hand. He flinched away from her as if she’d burnt him. “Stop being afraid and listen to our home, hermano, she call us. We must listen, Cori.”
Luna grabbed for him again, but Cori stepped back in fear. Suddenly he felt Bastian grip his left arm and Luna lunged for his right. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff.
“Stop it, both of you! Stop it! Let go of me! Stop,” yelled Cori, flinging his arms and legs, kicking up dirt.
“Hermano, please, don’t be afraid! Our home is calling us. Hear her pain, hear her fear, Cori. She needs us,” pleaded Luna, holding onto him tightly.
As Cori gazed into the ocean, he felt her power running through his veins. The warm tingle of heat rose in his shell heart. “Please, stop. He’ll find us, Luna! Abysse will know where we are!”
“Then let him! Let him find us! Why are you such a coward, Cori? Why?” sobbed Luna, letting go of his arm. Bastian and Cori fell to the ground and began fighting each other. Cloud of dirt whirled around them while the ocean cried below. “Stop it, both of you! Our people are fighting for us, dying for us, and what do we do? We hide like cowards! We hide on land with humans to mask our scent. We move from town to town, never even daring to glance at the ocean. We hide and run like frighten children. ”
“We are children!” said Cori from underneath Bastian who had him pinned to the ground. “We are only 18 years old. We’re just kids.”
“We are not human! We are 1,542 years old, hermano. We are king and queen.” Luna laughed sadly. “The last king and queen of the mighty kingdom Devonia reduced to sea baths to keep from drying up.”
“What would you have me do, Luna?” asked Cori, pushing Bastian off of him and getting up off the floor. “Our father’s dying wish was for me to protect you. That’s all I and Bastian have been trying to do these last thousand years! Protect you!”
“You’re hiding yourself, Cori, you’re not protecting me. Bastian is protecting us. That is his job. He goes into ocean and hides our scent while you ride around on land. Your job, our job, is not the safety of ourselves but that of our people! It is our job to stop being afraid of a leech like Abysse and return home to fight with our people. To stand our ground and take back the throne that is rightfully ours.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Go back,” replied Luna, wiping her hair away from the wet cheeks.
“To the ocean? Are you insane? We wouldn’t last a day.” Cori helped Bastian up from the ground and brushed dirt off of his shirt.
“We would if we went to Atlantis.”
“Atlantis?” repeated Cori and Bastian.
“Yes. We could go back to the ocean…to Atlantis and ask them to train us,” urged Luna.
“Luna, we stole the throne from Atlantis. They are not going to want to help us,” said Cori. “They’re probably happy this happen to us.”
“Atlanteans are our cousins, hermano, the closest thing we have to any living relative now. They must help us. They are just as threaten as we are, if Abysse is growing stronger as Bastian’s man says. They must let us in. And with the First Elders departed into sea foam, they are the only ones left who know the true names of the winds, waters, and waves. They must train us for the sake of our world. It’s the last thing Abysse would expect from us. He knows we fear him. He would never think to look for us right under his nose.”
Bastian jumped in. “She speaks the truth, mi eminencia. Atlantis lies in the Mediterranean Sea. Abysse has yet to master controlling waters of the seas, but it is only a matter of time before he learns the proper spell for it. Atlantis will fall again if we continue to do nothing.”
“Atlanteans owe us that much,” pointed our Luna. “We gave them a new home. We took pity on them and spared them a cruel death. We even let them have their own small kingdom with a king and queen.”
Cori thought for a moment then slowly walked to the edge of the cliff, trembling. For the first time in a thousand years, he let the ocean overcome him. The waves crashed beneath him, pounding in his veins and the strength of his home filled his shell heart. The warm tingle grew into gold fire. And he heard her…the ocean. Her voice called to him, filled him. Begging him to come back, pleading him to take away this creature that was corrupting her force with greed and hate. As images of bloodstained battles and water raging with disgrace filled his shell heart, he felt the anguishing pain for the ones lost every day. He felt the distressing fear for the power the ocean unwillingly had to turn over to Abysse. Cori’s knees buckled under him, but Luna and Bastian caught him before he hit the ground. Just like they always did. Just like they always would. He was afraid, but he was not alone.
Cori clung to his twin and to his best friend and realized that all three were sobbing as their shell hearts glowed bright gold on top of the moon-lit cliff. They had seen and felt everything he had. As King, Queen, and Protector, they were all connected and together they would raise to fight.
“For a millennium, we have hidden ourselves in fear…we have denied ourselves the abilities given to us by birthright, given up our throne. For a millennium, we have turned our backs to our people and Mother Ocean.” Cori stood up carefully with Luna and Bastian at his side, helping him.
“We all witnessed our kingdom fall in a matter of hours. I witnessed my father murdered and turned to sea foam in front of me. Bastian, you witnessed the slaughter of your entire family and the annihilation of all the Protectors of our kingdom.”
Bastian closed his eyes and prayed in their ancient dialect.
“Luna, you witness-”
“I witnessed everything I had ever known and loved taken from me by the hands of that leech, Abysse,” finished Luna.
“I am done. We are done with being afraid. Luna, Bastian, the time has come to turn this battle into WAR!”
Cori, now standing on his own, raised his right arm over the trashing waters. The rouge waves readily climbed the rigid rock face and towered before them, dark and blue. “We travel to Atlantis to train, but first a message for Abysse. The time has come for us to be King, Queen,and Protector.”
Luna and Bastian raised their right arms and the shell hearts inside them poured fiery gold into the monstrous wave them. Together, they uttered in their ancient dialect, familiar and sweet on their tongue, “Abysse, we are coming.”
They sent the intense fiery wave rolling into the ocean with their message.
Laughing and hugging both of her boys, Luna asked, “You think that’s the message our people were looking for?”
Grinning, Cori answered, “I don’t know, but I hope it’ll do.”
“Believe me,” chuckled Bastian. “It’ll do.”
“Come on, we should get going before Voids spring in on this place,” said Luna walking to her jeep. Cori walked with Bastian behind her. “What about your bike?”
“Oh, leave the damn bike,” said Cori. “I don’t need it anymore. My only concern is how we are going to get to Atlantis. We can’t just jump in the water. Voids would be on us in seconds.”
Bastian looked at Luna and winked. “Milady, I believe you can help what that.”
“Yes, I believe I can. I happen to know this very nice old fisherman with a big boat who makes these beautiful seashell necklaces…”
And with that Cori, Luna, and Bastian drove away from the moon-lit cliff with their shell hears glowing and the embers of their fears dimming.