The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A Mermaid’s Wait
by Selah Janel
The rains bring life, the rains bring damage. It’s always been that way. Sometimes, though, the rains bring other things, too, things besides debris and mud and property damage. Waters sweep through deep-hidden caves and crevices after all. Water revitalizes. It wakes things up, things that were thought to long be gone from human memory, extinct from dreams.
The seas covered all, once. They were our home and how we lived and frolicked and feasted and woe to any creature that got in our way. Then the world changed, our home draining away bit by bit until there was no place for us to go but into fiction and memory, sometimes dirt and fossil if we were particularly unlucky.
And those hidden places. We went to those hidden places, too, waiting for when the waters would come to flush us out again, out into a world that had forgotten us, that had rewritten us as singers of sweet songs and seducers of those who would dare build crafts to conquer the seas.
How time forgets. Although maybe it doesn’t. How many mothers warn their children to stay away from still water after a flood…how many people huddle away from the water until it recedes?
Pity them when it doesn’t. The waters tease us out, but they also whisper of the past, the present, and the future. Our time will come again, our time to hunt as much as we wish, our time to drag flailing weak creatures under the waves and watch them twitch among the downed trees, their cries muffled by the spattering rain on the water’s surface. We can still taste how sweet the meat and blood was on the tongue, can still remember the snapping of bones – we’ve worked it into our songs, after all. If you listen very close when it thunders, when a storm truly lets loose, you may hear us. If we want you to, you will listen. You won’t be able to ignore the call. No one can when we want to meet them or when we are hungry.
All will join us below the waterline soon enough, if the trickling streams are to be believed, and they have yet to be wrong.
The waters will come, and they will grow, filling up the world, bringing us with them.
And then…then everyone will remember why they all fled from the water’s edge in the first place.
Fiction © Copyright Selah Janel
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Selah Janel:
Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.
Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.
Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians.