The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
We Are Burning Down the Grapevine
by Melissa R. Mendelson
It was one simple tweet. Something stupid that someone said, and it was repeated. It was liked, and it was shared. And the damn thing went viral, burrowing its way into the minds of those that read it, and people wondered if they could do the same thing. They would do the same thing.
Splash some water on her. Get her legs wet. Watch them turn into fins, flap helplessly on the ground as she tried to run for cover but was forced to only crawl instead. Hold her down, and skin her alive. All because they believed those fins would save them, cure them from the raging virus tearing through society, not caring that these women were victims too.
In a matter of days, the mermaids were dead, and what mermen there were also followed. The people were just too stupid to realize that their children remained, but we adapted. Our skin would no longer turn green from the water. Our legs refused to become fins when wet. We were believed to be human, but that was because we kept our backs hidden. Where there should have been shoulder blades, we had gills instead, and a lot of the children would never forgive the people for what they did, even if the people believed that they did no wrong.
No one realized that the Missing posters covering the outside of buildings and decorating newspapers were that of the children of the murdered mermaids and mermen. They had gone to the ocean, and they were never coming back. Once under the water, they would be safe from the virus, and they would be spared from humanity. But I was one of the few that stayed. Maybe, I should have gone with them.
Another damn tweet. Someone discovered that we existed, displaying a picture of gills on our backs, but no one knew what to do with this knowledge. We didn’t have fins. There was nothing to skin, and maybe now, what they did to our families was beginning to sink in. But they didn’t ask for forgiveness. They deemed us a threat, one that had to be removed as quickly as possible, and what was even worse was that they blocked off all our attempts to get to the ocean. One almost made it, but they gunned her down.
I was the last one in their society, and I would not go so easily. There had to be another way. There had to be something, and one of my friends discovered the bridge. It was outside the city, and the structure was thousands and thousands of years old. If I could make it there and walk underneath to the other side, I would have a chance. I would survive, but getting there was tough. A lot of good people, my friends died to make it happen, but their sacrifice was not lost. I found the bridge.
The beam of light chased my hunters away, forcing them back to their city, and I did not care. Let them have their society, but would the light welcome me? It did, and I was able to walk through to the other side.
Relief did not last too long. To my right was the remains of a Muse, a once magnificent creature that inspired humanity, now a greenish-grey statue with her face frozen in terror. To my left was an angel. No, this looked to be more of an Archangel that lied down in surrender, becoming nothing more than stone, and the people in that society claimed that they were the ones who were abandoned. Not too far up ahead was Yesterday, deformed and twisted and frozen in place. No wonder the people could not recall what happened in the past, so they focused on Tomorrow instead.
I thought that was the worst of it, but I realized I could not feel my body. I tried to turn around and go back to their city. My head didn’t even move. I was able to glance down at my skin. It was gray stone. I opened my mouth to scream, but my breath lingered across my skin.
Fiction © Copyright Melissa R. Mendelson
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com.
About Author Melissa R. Mendelson:
Melissa R. Mendelson is the self-published author of the short story collections, Better Off Here and Stories Written Along COVID Walls, which can be found on Amazon/Amazon Kindle. She also recently had a short collection of poetry, This Will Remain With Us, published by Wild Ink Publishing. More about Melissa can be found here: https://linktr.ee/melissarmendelson
What a terrifying morality tale – asks more questions than it answers – so powerful.
Thank You! 🙂