The Raider Wire

A Misfortunate Excursion

The atmosphere had shifted so quickly that it nearly knocked the wind from Alonzo’s lungs.  He was vividly aware of each breath he took, and the sounds around him suddenly seemed amplified immensely.  The waves and the cries of the gulls crashed through his mind with rugged insistence.

The atmosphere had shifted so quickly that it nearly knocked the wind from Alonzo’s lungs. He was vividly aware of each breath he took, and the sounds around him suddenly seemed amplified immensely. The waves and the cries of the gulls crashed through his mind with rugged insistence.

Emily Stocksdale, Literature Editor

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Foamy green sloshed across the deck, propelled by the boat’s precarious tilting against the waves.  Rain pelted down as if eager to aid in the vessel’s destruction.  The wooden planks creaked worryingly, and even as Alonzo was darting from the hold to toss more cargo down below, he hesitated slightly, eyeing the planks with a fair amount of unease.

“Captain!” Alonzo called.  Captain Jass Oxil was clutching the wheel as though his very life depended on it.  His pallor was a decidedly sickening shade of green in itself.

When he said nothing more, Oxil finally managed to squeak, “Well, out with it, man!” Though he attempted to sound imposing, his voice was clipped and tinny.

He was afraid.

Alonzo couldn’t say he shared the sentiment.  With every crash of waves on hull, every boom of thunder, he could feel his pulse thudding in his ears, and the sensation invigorated him.  He scurried over to the captain, fingers gripped tight along the boat’s siding.

“Sir,” he said as he approached, voice breathless, face alight with excitement, “We’re coming on land! Turn the boat 15 degrees starboard!”

Oxil sputtered.  “I can’t see a thing through this rain, boy.  What do ya mean we’re coming on land? You can’t possibly know that!”

Alonzo grasped at the wheel impatiently.  “Just what I said, sir.  Land,” he hurried as he pulled the wheel towards him.  The rain carried on relentlessly, obscuring sight beyond several dozen feet before them.

“Look, son, I don’t see how—”

Captain Oxil was cut off by another crash of thunder which reverberated for several long minutes.  At its conclusion was only silence.

The rain had stopped.

Instantly, the waves calmed as if in response to some heavenly command, and the wind fell back in submission.  The boat tottered against the sudden stillness.

Rising imposingly before them lay a massive sprawl of land.

“Well,” Alonzo said with a grin.

Oxil made no reply besides a quick snap to close his loosened jaw.

******************************************************************************

A swirl of deep blue shifted.  Wispy blonde was pulled deftly to the side with a pale white hand.

“Are you awake?”

“Of course, sister.”

“They’re here, just like you said.”

“Of course.”

Laughter pierced the water’s depths.

******************************************************************************

The first mate was a small, finicky man—more the type you would expect to find in a dingy accountant’s office than on a cargo ship.  Here he shifted dully on his feet, readjusted his glasses, and huffed in annoyance.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Alonzo stood toe-to-toe with the mousy man.  He chuckled, “But it’s not exactly your call now, is it?”

Smallwoode glared.  Without another word, he turned on his heel and stormed away.

Alonzo was still laughing as he called out, “Alright men, let’s get her to shore!” It was good to have the captain on your side, even better if that captain could be easily manipulated to do just about anything you had the whim to carry out.

Within half an hour of rowing and finagling, the boat was scraping up against sand.  Alonzo, of course, was first to hop down to the island.  He glanced about, unimpressed.

Several miles of shoreline cascaded into a forest of palm trees and foliage.  The island sloped steadily to a mountainous peak and was covered sporadically with shrubs and vibrantly colored flowers.  It wasn’t, by any means, a beautiful place, and certainly not for a gruff sailor who preferred salt water to land.

In the distance, nearly blotted by the sun’s intense light, he could see movement.  He squinted, trying to make out what it was.

“Do you see that?” he questioned of one of the other men, but without waiting for an answer, he was running along the beach in its direction.

“Hey!” he called.

No response.  The movement morphed into several small figures as he drew closer.  They seemed to be laying in the waves, but he couldn’t quite make out what they were.  Was the climate too warm for seals?

The rest of the crew had by then taken up the cause and was sprinting along beside him.  Only Smallwoode, the stuffy old first mate, and Captain Oxil, who was still gasping with his previous terror, remained near the boat.  Oxil eventually traipsed along, but only after repeated attempts to calm himself failed miserably.  He sought Alonzo out for reassurance, something he knew he would never get from Smallwoode.

By that point, Alonzo had come to a stop.  He could see exactly what the figures were, as could the other crewmembers.  Some turned and began racing back towards the ship, but most were frozen in place.  No one spoke.  No one even breathed.

They were women, but not the sort of women Alonzo was accustomed to.  They were stunning, more beautiful than anything he had ever laid eyes upon.  Their bodies were sleek and pale, blonde hair cascading over their shoulders in ringlets.  Wrapped around both women were strange robe-like clothes, deep purple in color.  Their features were handsome—tangible perfection.  All of this, though, could be overlooked as normal, human.  The thing that had truly stopped Alonzo in his tracks was their legs.  Rather than bifurcating as regular legs do, the women’s legs remained melted together, coming to a conclusion in a fanned tail rather than feet.  They were the same shade as the rest of their skin, but they could not exactly be considered “legs” in any sense of the word.

They were, to put it more accurately, tails.

Someone shifted beside him.  Alonzo coughed uncomfortably.  “Mermaids,” Captain Oxil muttered drearily, “Bloody mermaids.”

The women smiled but said nothing.

“Well then,” Alonzo leered, “Mermaids.  Nothing we haven’t seen before, yeah Jass?”

The captain glanced at him in bewilderment, but he also failed to respond except for a slight shake of his head.  The crew relaxed somewhat.

“What beautiful creatures, too!” Alonzo continued.  He winked at Jass, “Shame we don’t have the time to get better acquainted.”

“No time?” Jass repeated in confusion.  “But Alonzo, we just—”

“Right!” Alonzo glared at his friend, effectively silencing him.  The mermaids laughed, a sound almost as exquisite as their characteristics.

They motioned to the sailors, and almost without thinking, Alonzo was drawn to them.  He was suddenly overtaken by the strong sensation that he was not in control of his own actions.  The men around him seemed equally anxious, but though they cried out, they all continued to move forward as one, a mass of terrified by determined bodies drawing ever closer to the mermaids still laying in the waves.

No one was smiling anymore.

The atmosphere had shifted so quickly that it nearly knocked the wind from Alonzo’s lungs.  He was vividly aware of each breath he took, and the sounds around him suddenly seemed amplified immensely.  The waves and the cries of the gulls crashed through his mind with rugged insistence.

Then, before he even knew what was happening, he was under the waves.  The mermaids, who had been flirting only moments before, who had seemed so beautiful and innocent, were laughing once more, but the sound was harsh and frightening.  He could feel himself being pulled down, down, and ocean water seeped through his clothes to weigh him down further.

As he continued to be wrenched downwards, his ears, muffled as they were, could barely pick up the sound of music.  The song was beautiful nonsense to such a clouded mind as his, but it was all he could pay attention to.

A thousand sailors dragged into the sea, and a song so deafening as to drown out their screams.

******************************************************************************

“Good flavor,” a voice drifted past the sound of breaking waves.

Blonde hair whipped around to reveal a pale grinning face.

“Hmm, perhaps.  A bit tough though, is it not, sister?”

A slight sigh, a lip stuck out in dull pout.  “Yes.  Far too brave, this one.  Most don’t make it to the song.”

“Oh well.  Until the next batch, then.”

And the night was left nearly silent, the only sound that of water lapping up against the wood of an abandoned ship.

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A Misfortunate Excursion