Short Stories

Hold Her Under

Another FuriousFiction entry, this time for October 2020. The prompt and specifics for this are listed below:

  • Your story must include someone/something being caught.
  • Your story must include the following words (plurals allowed): OBJECT, WOUND, BAND, ELABORATE.
  • Your story’s final two words must be THE MOON (can be part of a larger sentence).

It was her monthly bleed that gave her away. Though she had worked hard to keep it hidden, eighteen months into the journey her internal calendar glitched and she woke in a pool of blood. The captain was alerted, and when she was stripped to search for wounds, her secret was revealed.

No women allowed on board. It was bad luck, so the superstitions said. 

Never mind that her hard work had prevented a capsize during that big storm the previous week. Or the rogue wave the month before. The whirlpools and shallow reefs and pirates. A thousand and one hazards that she had helped them avoid. She was one of the most valuable members of the crew — though when asked to elaborate on why that may be the case she was unable to.

She had an affinity with the water. That was all.

When they dragged her to the edge of the ship, naked and shaking and crying, she had tried to object. To plead. To beg for her life. They talked over and around her, these men she had called brother. Joking that her bleed would bring the sharks. That maybe if she floated they would count her as one of them and drag her back on board. Or consider her a witch and hold her under.

They bound her wrists and ankles with ropes laced with salt, heavy and swollen with sea water. Tossed her over the side of the ship. As she sank, the ropes seemed to fuse into an unbreakable band fixing her limbs together. And icy water filled her lungs. And fear faded to be replaced with the bright spark of fury, even as her breathing slowed to a stop.

She became the water. The waves. The sky stretching above the ocean.

Her screams, the lashing wind, whipping the white frothed waves to vicious stabbing points. Her tears, the salt that crusted every available surface, a thousand tiny blades ready to slice into unprotected flesh. Her fury, the unrelenting sun beating down, burning all in its path. 

Circling the seas, ships drew her ire. Her approach brought storms. Heavy clouds so dark they were almost black, blocking out the sky. Waves surged, tipped and tumbled ships like a mouse caught between the paws of a vindictive cat.

Sometimes she smashed these ships against the rocks. Crushed them to splinters and dragged them hungrily into the dark deep with her.

But sometimes, when the ship was firmly in her grasp, she would let it slide free and quieten the storm so they could pass. Those who had done no harm, had thrown no innocent to the ocean below. 

Because she did not swim alone. The other women who had been thrown overboard to appease some foolish superstition swam with her. Whispered their pain and fear to her, the one with the strength to avenge them.

And when the ocean was still and quiet, they floated together, pulled by the inexorable force of the moon.

Short Stories

The Mermaid

My first entry into a Furious Fiction competition. This was a photo prompt with some caveats.

  • Each story had to be INSPIRED by the picture above.
  • Each story’s first word had to begin with the letters SHO.
  • Each story had to include the following words: SCORE, SLICE, SPRINKLE, STAMP and SWITCH (past and plural variations were allowed)

Shocked, I stared into the water below. The Stitch Witch—my trusty home since I had sailed away from my lonely life—rocked in the waves, a fine mist of sea spray sprinkling against my face. Almost enough to convince me I was awake. Almost. Despite the bright sun and clear blue sky overhead, the sight from beneath the white tipped water was hard to reconcile with reality.

Fins as tall as I was sliced through the waves. Glittering kaleidoscopes reflecting off the smooth surface. A powerful tail churning up crashing whirlpools. Beneath the water, two huge, sparkling eyes looked curiously up at me.

I opened my mouth. Closed it again. Like a fish gaping uselessly at air I couldn’t breathe. The mermaid—an actual mermaid!?—giggled. Their voice like a wind chime, a xylophone. A score of tinkling musical notes that burst through the churning surface of the ocean to ring in my head. Stamping reality onto my brain.

When their hand broke the surface, webbed fingers extended and nails that looked a hell of a lot like claws gleamed in the sunlight. Their laughter continued. Surrounding me in a cloud of music. It was more a lullaby now, delicate and soothing. The stories of ancient sirens floated through my head, but they were vague and distant. The nonsensical mythology of a dead world. Not like this divine creature floating beneath me. This ephemeral vision. 

I took their hand. Without a moment of hesitation. Felt the fingers close around my wrist like a vice. A sharp tug. The rocking deck of the Stitch Witch falling away. The icy embrace of the water swallowing me whole. The sudden switch left me dizzy, reeling. Gasping for breath and finding only mouthfuls of liquid. 

The mermaid loomed over me, blocking out the sun. Gripped me tight against them. Skin that was cool and smooth and lined with delicate scales. They held me like I was a flickering match in a pitch black night. Their scales scraped against my cheek as they leaned closer to me. When they whispered in my ear, their voice was the susurration of the waves, the empty hum of the deep, the creaking wood of my little ship. They murmured stories of drowning. Of death. Of being tossed aside and finding rest in the deep dark water. 

Of loneliness.

Any thought I had of struggling waned. The memory of home, of the empty bed and the empty apartment and the empty life fell away. I opened my arms and wrapped them tight around this lonely, abandoned creature. Breathing the water deep. Feeling the panicked alarm for oxygen fade. Embracing death and loss and fear. 

When I opened my eyes, the ocean was clear and still. I rolled in the water. Luxuriating in the currents supporting my body. A flick of my tail. Reaching out my clawed hands. I caught the gaze of the mermaid who had drowned me. Who had brought me to life.