“Im only doing this because something seriously weird is going on.” Anda said to Lyn as they swam. “I have a reputation to uphold, you know?”
“Mmmff.” Said Lyn.
“Right? Like I can’t have it get around that I’m a reformed mermaid or something.”
“Fffff” Said Lyn.
“Lyn, are you judging me right now?”
“I know,” She said “you just care about eating penguins and playing in storms but don’t worry, I’m getting this over with this time and then we can go back to being awesome.”
“Mm.” Said Lyn. Suddenly something struck Anda on the head and she stopped abruptly. Lyn made a sound like a laugh.
“God damn it thats the second time today!” She cried. “Stop laughing at me!!”
“Mmp map map!” He chuckled, spinning in circles and ﬂips. Anda ignored him and held the object out in the quickly fading twilight.
“Y A H O O.” She read aloud. “That’s a new one, we must be close.”
“Mmp map mmp.” said Lyn.
“Oh you stop it. Come on.” She waved her ﬁn at him motioning him forward, then they both swam on.
Anda wasn’t sure how it worked, maybe somebody explained it to her once but she hadn’t been paying attention. She just knew where to meet the ship. That was enough for her. She didn’t want to know how it worked, she didn’t want to know much of anything about it anymore because she had no choice in it and she hated it. It wasn’t the deaths so much that bothered her. A sailor that goes to sea without acknowledging that there his a chance he or she will drown is an idiot, Anda thought. Not to say there weren’t a few she’d met. Usually greenhorns and landies, she’d made sure to tell them to their faces what fools they were the moment before they took their ﬁrst breath of seawater. Most went out digniﬁed and brave though, as is the tradition of sailors. She left those in peace in their ﬁnal moments, watching from afar. She knew most sailors have envisioned themselves drowning at least once, and did not feel she had the right to impede on their personal fates. No. It wasn’t the deaths that bothered her. It was having to be their harbinger, she thought. She liked the humans. She had to watch them for a few days before their fates caught up. They were funny. Some screamed and ran in fear, which delighted her. Others would sing with her and throw her roses, calling her beautiful. She even talked to a few, all of which offered at some point the opportunity for her to become human as well by sharing their bunk. She would respectfully decline, explaining that she would have to kill them for that to work. Of course they were to die fairly soon after, but she never had the heart to tell them and the thought of slitting a throat that had just shared so many beautiful words with her made her stomach twist in painful knots. So maybe it was the deaths after all, but she would never admit that too. Anyway, she did do cruel things sometimes, if there were a lot of wrecks in a short amount of time or she was just in a foul mood. She liked the ﬁsherman even though everyone else hated them. But that was exactly why she liked them. Their job was death, and so was hers. She saw a certain kindredness there, though horribly misplaced. She fancied that they understood death best since it was there business as well, after all. Sometimes the souls of the ﬁsh would gather and claim a ship, then she would join in on the fun prancing along the waves of the bow, whispering to them in a storm to follow her - Don’t be afraid I’m here to guide you, I’m here to save you - she’d sing. When their ship rolled and sank she’d laugh wildly and loudly as they howled at her. So she didn’t mind death, or being a harbinger that much. Sometimes at least. What was it then? What was the word they used to call me? She thought. Contray! Maybe I'm just contrary. She was lost deep in thought, chasing her ideas like Lyn after a school of ﬁsh, when the shadow of a small boat appeared above her.
“Thats it Lyn.” She said softly, gliding to a stop. “You wait for me over there.” She pointed to the distance behind the stern. She didn’t want this sailor seeing him. The boat was too small to get away with announcing its fate without being seen. A mermaid was one thing, a mermaid and polar bear was too much. She wasn’t in a bad enough mood to do that to this one. Obediently Lyn swam away and Anda ﬂoated for a moment, looking up at the little craft. There was something strange about it. Its square bow and stern suggested some kind of barge or maybe even a boston whaler, but she hadn’t seen one of those in years. It was way to small to be out so far alone. No wonder she’d been called to its demise. “Dumbass” she muttered sorrowfully, then swam for the strange squarish bow.
“AWW COME ON!” hollered a middle aged man in a red sweatshirt, sitting on a cooler that had seen better days, beside a small outboard engine. “Music? Aha! Music means people! Ray is on his way baby.” He swung his arm and the boat whipped around. Anda dove to avoid the propellors. Not that they’d do much besides piss her off, she couldn’t die. She popped back up to the surface and swam alongside the boat. The man still hadn’t noticed her. It was getting dark. Then the engine sputtered for the last time and died.
“Oh no….” Said Ray, pulling off the engines cover. “No, no, no. We ain’t doin this. Now I know I called you a whore a little while ago but I didn’t mean it really. It was a joke. Jokes are funny right? Like us out here. Hey we’re a great joke! Old boat and retard, ﬂoating in the bay.” He sang. “But listen, listen, we got fumes okay? So when I pull this cord,” he said, shaking the gas tank, “You’re gonna start. Okay baby?” He stood up and pulled the rip cord out until it caught slightly. “Now… START!” He yelled. His own force ﬂung him backwards so that he stumbled and fell, then jumped up with surprising speed for his age and grabbed the rip cord again. Anda watched from a few feet away off his port bow, her eyes and nose just barely above the surface of the water. This is getting weirder by the second she thought. “NOW START!” Ray yelled again lurching backwards. “Come on baby, come on, come on. START…. YOU…. FIVE…. DOLLAR… ASS… FETISH… WHORE… I… WONT.. DIE… LOST…. IN… THE… FUCKING… SHINNECOCK…. BAY…. AHHHHHH!” Ray fell backwards for the last time and slumped back onto the cooler with a resigned sigh. “Aww man” He said starting to cry. “I knew I shouldn’t-a paid that swedish hooker already. That was a hundred bucks… gone.” Anda decided it was time to ﬁnally intervene.
“Excuse me.” She said, grabbing onto the bow and propping herself up on her elbows. “You’re in the Bering sea, not Shinnecock. You shouldn’t be operating a vessel if you don’t know that.” She was being as polite as she could.
Ray cocked his head with a look more of being offended then shocked. “No right to operate a vessel?” He said indignantly. “Listen little lady, Ive been on the water before you were a sperm in your fathers nuts.”
Now Anda was pissed. “I am 798 years old you idiot. And you’re in the Bering sea. Learn to sail.”
“Sail?” He said shaking his head. “Baby this is an outboard, its 2016. Hey you said 798? Hot damn! I always wanted to bang a grandma! Hey how’d you get here…. is that? Wait… is that a tail? You’re a mermaid!” “Yes and - “
“I knew it! Its just like in Sharkzilla Vs. Alien! First theres this crazy storm, then aliens abduct the whole bay and give it as an offering to sharkzilla. One man must stand up to save them all!” He cried jumping up and thumping his chest “I knew it, I just knew it! Hah! Hah hah! Little old Ray saves the world. I always knew I was destined for something great.” “Wha-“
“Nope! Don’t tell me, I watched it last night. Mmmhmm.” He paused to light a Senenca, then blew the smoke out in an impatient puff. “So.” He said. “You’re the mermaid, your actually sharzillas whore, but your gonna be mine, cause we have to save the world. So then once we get that all… taken care of. Heh heh. Taking care of business! Yeah. Then uh…. Hey! You mermaids use condoms? You ever put lube on one of those things? Like a grease gun!” He said, making a farting noise and pumping at the air with his to palms clasped together.
“Oh what the fuck.” Said Anda, pushing herself away from the boat. “I am not dealing with this.”
“…So then i went back two weeks later and they says ‘what! how much porn didja download on this one?!’ I says ‘I dunno’ so they says ‘thats it! No more smart phones for you! you get a dummy phone!’ hah! get it! dummy phone! Hey…. I should call Bob. Your gonna hafta wait on your boat, Bob, Ray ray met a mermaid… Hey, that kinda rhymes…. Oh man, do mermaids have dildos? I always wondered that…” “LYNNNN!!!!”
“…till I looked it up one day and it turns out they do have dildos with a saws all ﬁtting! Can you imagine that? Weeeeeee-aaaaaahhhhh! You’re gonna blow a top! Naw, naw, Blow a gasket! Hah haha! Your a lady how does that work? Wait no, i forgot, your a merlady! Oh yeah you never told me…” “LYNNNN!!!”
“….But I forgot your ‘sposed to tie a piece of line to the bucket, so when you open the door, just the water falls, not the whole damn thing. So it goes THUNK! and near knocks her out. Thats when I ﬁgured out no more pranks. Ray, your to stupid to play pranks…”
“LYN!” Anda yelled again. This time the big bear surfaced bedside her with a great splash.
“…They used to make me wear a helmet when I was a kid. No joke….”
“Please maul him.” She said. Lyn looked at her and hesitated. “Please. Just make him shut up.” Lyn seemed to shrug then swam casually over to the boat. In as many graceful movements he leapt up and bit off Rays left arm, then slipped back down under the water.
Ray fell silent and stared at the water then back to his shoulder in apparent disbelief. As he continued to stare at the blood pouring nub that, seconds before, was his arm, his eyes went wide. “…My stranger.” He ﬁnally wailed. “Its never gonna be the same now!”
“Gross.” Said Anda rolling her eyes. “Lyn, kill him.” Lyn shook his head.
“Come on why not? Im not allowed too? Can’t we just break the rules? Whats the worst that’ll happen?”
Lyn still shook his head. “Hey Ariel,” Ray interrupted “Im with yogi on this one.” Anda ignored him.
“Can you at least bite him every time he doesn’t shut up?” Anda asked. Lyn shrugged and swam back up to the boat. Before Ray could scream Lyn had sprung from the water and bit off his other arm.
“Hey I didn’t even say anything that time!” Ray yelled as the little boat ﬁlled with blood. Lyn looked at him almost apologetically as he chewed and swallowed the arm.
Anda swam to the bow and grabbed the painter, then motioned for Lyn.
“Here,” she said, holding it out to Lyn. “tow him to the ice shelf. I want to torture him before he dies.” With a sigh Lyn grabbed the line and began to swim. Ray watched silently as two nubs protruding from his shoulders oozed blood. From his sweatshirt pocket, a phone began to ring.