Beware of the Mermaids

By , Ormond Beach, FL

The creak of wood and the snap of cloth in the wind was every sailors' lullaby. The sky was clear, and the sun beat down on the large ship headed due north. Sailors scurried from bow to starboard, dripping in sweat and weary from months at sea. The scene of sapphire blue water no longer comforted the wanderlust souls of these men. Just reminded them of what they were missing back home: family, good food, and best of all, dry land. 
The youngest of the men, a lanky boy of eighteen, signed up for this voyage on the sole purpose of escaping his wretched life. Filled with resentment and anger at the parents who cast him out once he became of age, "One less mouth to feed," they sang. He gladly signed his name in red ink on the parchment that would change his life forever. Over time, his skin grew golden and his dirty-blond hair grew longer. The hard labor gradually built up his muscles and his features became sharper. All of that time on the open ocean allowed him to reflect on himself, and who he had become. It also softened his heart, and allowed him to let go of pointless anger. When the ship arrived in England in a few days he was determined to create a new life for himself.  
The shouting of crew members drew him out of his dazed state as he lazily leaned against his mop, "Oi! You there lad, what's your name?" The man's thick Irish accent rang with dominance. "It's Cullen sir!" He wiped the sweat off his brow and stood up straight. The Irish man nodded his ginger head and shouted, "Hurry and help the others secure the sails before we enter The Gleaming Caves!" Before Cullen could ask any questions, the Irish man had disappeared into decks below. "The Gleaming Caves?" He thought, "Never heard of it." Cullen just shrugged it off and ran towards the group of men securing a giant knot to the deck of the ship. 
Ahead, Cullen could see an island of rock that glittered black under the sun's rays. He tapped the shoulder of a man not too much older than himself and asked, "What's The Glittering Caves? I've never heard of it before and everyone looks like they want to jump overboard than go through." He scratched the back of his head sheepishly. The man cackled and swung back a sip of a terrible smelling liquid. "You call yourself a sailor and yet you don't know about The Glittering Caves?" Fat drops of the foul-smelling liquid ran from his chapped lips. Cullen just stared at the man in bewilderment. "Aye son, have you ever heard about mermaids?" 
Cullen laughed at the man's words, "Of course I've heard about mermaids! But they are just an old tale." The older man's eyes smoldered with anger, "You'll be laughin' now but just you wait and see. Mermaids are real and they aren’t like the stories your momma told ya." The man finished his bottle of liquor and stomped off. Cullen thought hard on what the man had said, and the closer they got to the cave the darker the outside world had become. It was almost as if the cave itself absorbed all light and heat. "Get ready lads, we be entering the caves any minute now," the Irish man shouted from the helm. 
Shivers ran down Cullen's spine as the starboard became painted in the black shadow that soon threatened to swallow the whole ship. Slowly, everything became black. Like diving into a ocean of warm, still ink. It was almost hard to breath in a place so utterly black. All that could be heard was the quiet sloshing of the ship moving in the water. Panic began to grab at Cullen, he couldn't see anything. It was almost as if he was the only person floating in a sea of nothing. He ran his hands through his hair, hands shaking. But before he totally lost it, a shimmering light appeared beneath the water's surface. The light was a pale blue, and circled the ship in slow, deliberate circles. 
It was mesmerizing. It was the only thing to be seen, like a single star in the night sky. Cullen ran to the side railing, desperately wanting to be rid of this darkness. The shimmer broke the surface of the water, and revealed the head of a beautiful woman. Her long hair glowed like the bioluminescent plankton that the crew had the pleasure of running into off the coast of Asia. Her skin was as pale as the whitest pearl, and her full lips taunted any who dared to gaze at her enchanting features. But her eyes were as dark as the deepest depths of the ocean. Her black eyes looked as though they were empty sockets in her head. They reflected the blue light of her hair that flowed on the surface around her, framing her face perfectly. 
She parted her lips and everything seemed to melt away from Cullen. Her voice was the loveliest thing he ever had the pleasure of hearing. Her pale hands played with the surface of the water tauntingly and soon every man abound the vessel was crowding the railing. Each trying to catch a glimpse of most beautiful thing they had ever seen. But before she could finish her song the sound of splintering wood reverberated through the cave. And the last thing Cullen and these men ever saw was the sharp toothed smile of the glowing mermaid in front of them. 
 






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