“Tonight’s top story, the Coast Guard is still baffled by strange occurrences in the waters off the coast of San Diego. Several poachers and even a ship trying to smuggle in drugs were apprehended and all of them reported that their boats were frozen in place, attacked by a variety of sea life, or even by the sea itself. Oceanographers warn the the frozen and violent seas may be a sign of climate change and the aggressiveness of the sea life due to over fishing. Any one with any kind of boat is warned to take caution.” said a man in a cheap suit sitting behind a desk.
Becky clicked off the TV. “Gee. Who would have thought using our powers so much would attract attention?” she said sarcastically.
Stacey said “Look at the bright side. At least the thought of vigilante mermaids isn’t an idea on the table.”
“You’re not helping.” Becky said through gritted teeth.
“We need to stop all this. I told you to let the Coast Guard handle all this crap.” Gail said. “The ocean isn’t safe for us anymore. They are gonna do research into why strange things are happening. If we keep this up it won’t be long before we are outed. “
“Relax. It’s a HUGE ocean and the San Diego bay is only a small part of it. We can always go further up the shore.”
“And this whole process begins again.” Becky said “We show up, use our powers, they do research, we move on. Where do you think this all will end? I’ll tell you where. With us in a government lab is where. I’m not doing it anymore.”
“I’m out too.” Gail said. “Best thing we can do is avoid the ocean until this dies down.”
“Oh come on guys. Where’s your spirit of adventure?” Stacey asked.
“There’s adventure and then there’s suicide.” Becky replied. “Promise us you’ll stay out of the water for awhile.”
“Fine. I promise.” Stacey said reluctantly.
“I want that in writing.” Gail said.
“Good idea.” Becky commented.
Within minutes Gail had wrote out a written agreement that until the heat dies down none of them will go into the ocean. She and Becky quickly signed it. Stacey however needed some prodding but finally signed.
“So what do we do now?” Stacey asked.
“Well, classes start soon so college type stuff. Plus all the stuff we used to do before the mermaid thing happened.” Gail replied.
“That seems like a lifetime ago.” Stacey commented.
“I know. But it’s only been a couple of months.” Becky said.
The trio said goodnight and all went back to their respective homes.
A few mermaid-less days later Stacey was getting restless. She needed to get in the water ASAP. Why did she sign that stupid promise?
That night she reached her breaking point. One little swim couldn’t hurt. Especially late at night and far away from the coast. After everyone was asleep she left the house and made a beeline for the beach.
The full moon was shining bright in the sky as she dove in the water. Within seconds her orange tail and scaly bikini appeared. It was only about a week since her last swim but it felt like so much longer. She missed the feel of the water caressing every inch of her body as she sped away from the shore. She couldn’t help but laugh out of pure glee. Then she felt like singing tunes from The Little Mermaid.
Aboard the USS Reuben James United States Navy Seaman Tony Miller was in the middle of another boring 4 hour stint of sitting in front of the sonar panel listening for submarines but hearing nothing.
He had been on the ship for a little over a year and never once had any of the sonar techs on board heard a damn thing on this P.O.S. system. In fact they jokingly called it Helen Keller sonar. Couldn’t see or hear anything. No one ever accused sailors of have tact in their jokes.
He was trying not to doze off when he could hear a faint noise.At first he wrote it off as something from the ship itself. However it was getting louder and louder.
“Are you hearing what I’m hearing?” he asked his watch partner, Petty Officer 2nd class Roger Martin.
“Why what are you hearing?” Roger asked.
“I can’t tell. If it’s a sub it’s not one I ever heard before.”
As suddenly as the sound started, it stopped.
“I’m not hearing anything.” Roger said. “What was it you heard?”
“Sounded like a woman singing. I couldn’t make out the tune but it was definitely a female voice.” Tony replied.
“A woman singing in the middle of the ocean? I think you’ve been on watch too long if you’re hearing random shit.”
“Shhhhhh. It’s starting again. If I’m not mistaken I’d say it was Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid.”
“What is it with you and the damn Disney movies?”
“Chief needs to hear this.” Tony said.
“Don’t wake him up for stupid shit. I tell you I hear nothing.”
Tony ignored that and got on the horn.
The chief overseeing the Sonar techs was roused out of his sleep. “This better be important Miller.” He growled.
“You need to hear this Chief.” Miller said.
As soon as the Chief put on a pair of headphones the singing stopped. “What am I supposed to be listening to?” He asked gruffly.
“I swear I heard a woman singing.” Tony replied. “Just keep listening.”
Several minutes passed. Each one made the chief more and more angry. “Miller, I think you need some sleep. I’ll get Lt. Plaster to authorize a late sleeper chit.” He stormed back to bed.
The last hour of Miller’s watch went by with no more singing. Maybe was imagining it. Wishful thinking is a very powerful thing after all.
After a nice long swim Stacey decided it was time to head home. She didn’t want Gail and Becky finding out she broke the promise. That promise is stupid anyway. Nothing bad happened. She zoomed back to the shore. As soon as she was dry she went back home.
Later that day the trio was just hanging out next to Stacey’s pool. Stacey was acting a little nervous. She felt that Gail and/or Becky could read her mind and know what she did.
“Something wrong?” Gail asked. “The way you’re fidgeting seems like something is bothering you.”
“Nothing’s wrong. Just didn’t get much sleep last night.” She replied. Technically it wasn’t a lie. “Want to take a dip in the pool?” she asked changing the subject.
“In broad daylight. Are you nuts?” Becky answered.
“My parents are at work and it’s Bernard’s day off. No one will see us.”
“No way.” Gail said. “Point 1, Bernard has no social life. He might come back and catch us. Point 2, it would set a bad precedent. If we give in here you could argue for swimming in the ocean. I vote no.”
“Agreed.” Becky chimed in.
Stacey growled under her breath. Democracy sucks. She’ll just have to go for a swim alone again.
Tony was lying on his rack down in the berthing but unable to get to sleep. He couldn’t help but think about what he heard in the water. He was positive he heard a woman singing. How come when someone else was listening it stopped?
Maybe some fresh air will clear his head. He got up and walked through the maze of ladders and bulkheads to get to the the fantail of the ship.
As soon as her friends left, Stacey booked it to the beach. She couldn’t wait another minute. Within seconds of getting to the beach she dove in transforming into mermaid mode.
She swam several miles out to sea to what she figured would be a safe distance. The swim out this far took a lot out of her. Luckily there some rocks sticking out of the water. She climbed on them to take a rest. That’s when she noticed the nearby warship. Seeing a small figure on the back of the ship she panicked and dove back in the water.
Tony stood on the back of the ship staring out at the seemingly endless ocean the Reuben James was navigating. He was surprised no one else was around. This was the designated smoking area when they were underway and he was in the minority of guys who didn’t smoke.
In the distance he could make out a group of rocks. It looked like something was on the rocks but he couldn’t see exactly what.
He remembered that Lt. Plaster keeps a pair of binoculars in the sono-buoy storage room so he can see where said buoys are placed. Miller went to the storage room and grabbed the binoculars.
He searched until he saw the rocks. There was a flash of movement as if whatever was on them dove back in the water. He got a brief look at something pail orange. It look kinda like...a tail? He didn’t know of any sea creature with scales that color that would have that big of a tail.
“That was close!” Stacey commented to herself. “That ship was to far away to see anything.”
Becky was right, she needed to be more careful. Stacey decided to not risk it and swim back to shore.
"First you’re hearing things that aren’t there and now you’re seeing shit.” The chief over the sonar division said to Tony. “I want you to go to sick bay and talk to Doc about this.”
"Yes Chief.” Tony said.
“Why are you still here? Get down to Doc on the double.”
Tony left the sonar control room and made his way down to sick bay. As soon as he got there he knocked on the door.
“In!” said a gruff voice.
Tony opened the door and walked inside. The room was full of all sorts of medical supplies. Sitting in the middle of the room was A large man reading a magazine. It was Petty Officer 1st class Johnson, the ship’s doctor.
“Let me guess Miller. You’re here to talk about what you think you saw.” The Doc said.
"How’d you know about that?”
The Doc rolled his eyes. “Really? You need to ask about that? It’s a small ship. Gossip travels fast.”
“So what’s gonna happen?”
“First off you’re the butt of every joke until someone else does something stupid. We’ve been underway for 3 months without a port call. Everyone is getting a little stir crazy. We’ll be back in our home port in a couple days. Put in for some leave time and get your head clear. If you are still hearing and/or seeing weird shit afterward let me know and I’ll make you an appointment with a specialist. Now get the Hell out of here.” The doctor went back to his magazine.
Tony sighed. Maybe some downtime would do him some good.
A few days later, Stacey figured it was safe to take a swim again. Upon getting back to shore Stacey came face to face with Gail. “Knew we couldn’t trust you.” she said angrily.
She put on gloves to avoid getting wet and took Stacey by the arm dragging her onto the land. Once her tail disappeared Gail literally dragged Stacy off the beach and pulled out her cell phone.
“Did you find her?” Becky asked on the other end.
“Yep. She was swimming just like we thought.”
“Take her back home. I’ll be there shortly.” Becky said and hung up.
Stacey kept trying to explain her actions on the way but they fell on deaf ears.
Luckily Becky was already at Stacey’s house when they got back. They marched up to Stacey’s room and closed the door.
Becky glared at Stacey. “Why did you go back on your word? You know this is a dangerous time for us.”
“It’s not right for us to never go into the water. It’s a major part of us now. I know you both feel it too.” She said.
“But we have to ignore those feelings until the heat dies down.” Gail replied. “You’re just lucky nothing happened.”
Stacey started acting nervous.
“Something did happen didn’t it?” Gail asked.
“I’m sure they didn’t see anything.” Stacey said.
“Explain!” Becky demanded.
“There was a ship on the horizon but it looked to be too far away to see anything.” she explained.
“What kind of ship?” Gail asked.
“It looked gray so maybe a Navy ship.”
“Great! Now we have to deal with the damn Navy.” Becky said.
“I’m pretty sure they couldn’t see me.”
Becky raised an eyebrow. “Pretty sure?”
“There looked like there was someone on the deck but the ship was so far away.”
“I knew starting that damn vigilante justice crap would lead to issues.” Becky angrily said.
The more Stacey argued her point about being careful and angrier her friends got.
Finally Becky jumped up and said “Fine! If you want to go risking exposure or possibly even capture have at it! I’m done!” She stormed out of the room.
Gail looked at Stacey, sighed, and followed Becky out leaving Stacey alone. Gail was able to catch up with Becky on the stairs. “That was a little harsh wasn’t it?”
“Maybe, but if she wants to be reckless she’s not taking us down with her.”
Gail sighed again. She felt the same way but thought Becky could have been a little less blunt in the delivery.
His ship was back in port and his request for leave was granted so Tony had time to clear his head. He couldn’t help but remember what he heard over the sonar and the thing he saw. Female voice and a large tail. Only thing he could think of was a mermaid. But mermaids don’t really exist. Still he knew what he heard and saw.
If he could get hold of a boat he could go investigate.
Stacey was devastated. How could her best friends turn their backs on her? She needed someone to talk to, but that would involve giving away her secret. Then it dawned on her. Nero! She could go talk to him. She ran out of the house and to the beach.
“You want to do what?” A man with a short black beard cover his grizzled face said. “You need to get your head examined Tony.”
“Come on Henry. I saved your ass. Need I bring up the Bangkok incident?” Tony said. Henry was once a shipmate of Tony’s on the Reuben James. Henry had a little trouble with the law in Bangkok Thailand while on shore leave. Tony covered for him to keep his friend out of the brig. Not long after that Henry’s obligation to the Navy was over so he went to work for a commercial fishing company.
“Dammit! Why you gotta keep bringing that up?” Henry said.
“Because every time I do you cave in to my requests.” He replied. “1 day is all I’m asking for.”
“I can’t lend out my boat to chase after a fairy tale. I got a quota to keep.” Henry said.
“Fine! I’ll do this without your help! Even if I have to take a rowboat!” Tony exclaimed.
Henry sighed. He knew Tony was stubborn. If he says he’ll take a rowboat out on the open ocean he’ll actually do it. “OK, I give. You got one day. Just one day. “
“Thanks man. I owe you one.” Tony said and hugged his friend.
“Damn right you do.” Henry said.
The next morning Tony arrived on the dock. “About damn time you showed up.” Henry said.
“Ready to get going?” Tony asked.
“Sooner we get started, sooner we get this stupidity over with.”
Tony boarded the fishing boat and they set out. “So where are we going?” Henry asked.
“I guess the best place is where I saw her.” He navigated the boat out to the rock from the sighting.
“So what exactly will you do if we run into this mermaid of yours?”
Tony stopped dead in his tracks. He hadn’t thought about that. “Get some kind of proof to show I’m not nuts.”
Upon getting to the rocks Henry had his 2 man crew throw the fishing net into the water.
“What are you doing?” Tony asked.
“You may be on a wild goose chase, but I’ve got a job to do.” Henry answered. “Besides if you do somehow find this mermaid how else are you gonna be able to get proof?”
Tony sighed. This is not how he expected this day to go.
“So they just turned their backs on me. I can’t help it. The water is a huge part of who I am now.” Stacey said.
“I know how you feel. I’d do the same thing as you if I was told to avoid the water. But look at it this way. If they didn’t care so much they wouldn’t worry about your safety.” Nero the dolphin said back.
“I guess you’re right.” she said “I need to set things right.”
Suddenly a noise could be heard. Something was coming at them full speed. As it got closer Stacey could see it was another dolphin. “NERO! NERO!” It was shouting.
“What’s wrong?” Nero asked when the dolphin came up to him.
“It’s your wife Coral. She’s ...She’s…” The dolphin said clearly out of breath.
“She’s what?” Nero asked.
“There is a fishing boat in an area where there’s not supposed to be any fishing. She’s caught in the net.”
“TAKE ME TO HER!” Nero exclaimed. He and the other dolphin took off. Stacey’s problems can wait. Nero needs some help. She followed them quickly.
When they arrived they could see Nero’s wife Coral struggling for her life in a fishing net.
“Don’t worry Honey. We’ll get you out.” He said trying to calm her down.
“Hurry!” she screamed.
Stacey took control of the situation. “Nero keep talking to keep her calm.” She pointed to the other dolphin. “Go get me something sharp to cut the net with.” The other dolphin took off. Until he came back she tried unraveling the net.
After several tense minutes, Stacey was able to free Coral, but got herself tangled up in the process. Now she was the one struggling.
The other dolphin came back with a sharp piece of coral. “Hurry up. We need to get her out of there!” Nero ordered.
The other dolphin held the coral in it’s mouth and started trying to saw the ropes of the net. Suddenly the net tightened and started rising upwards.
“We got something big!” shouted one of Henry’s crew.
“What are you waiting for? Pull it in!” Henry ordered.
“Aye.” said the crew member as he started the winch to pull the net back on deck.
Stacey started to panic. How could she be so stupid as to get herself caught in a fishing net? Nero, Coral, and the other dolphin frantically tried to pull the net apart to allow Stacey to escape but couldn’t before her head breached the surface. “Find a way to get a message to Gail and Becky!” She told Nero. He was off like a shot.
“Skipper. You need to see this.” The crew member said.
Henry went over to see what they had caught. As the net rose some yellow seaweed appeared. The more it came out of the water Henry could see it wasn’t seaweed but blonde hair. “We got a person! Get her out of there!” he ordered the crew member. “Get some blankets and towels!” he commanded to the other crew member.
Tony ran over to see what was going on. As the net rose he could see more and more of the woman. Her hair was golden blonde and her skin was silky smooth. She looked to be wearing an orange bikini. “Grab my hand and I’ll pull you on board.” He said to her.
“Don’t touch me!” Stacey screamed. She tried to fight it off, but Tony was able to take her hand and hoist her on board.
“Oh my God!” he exclaimed.
“Holy shit!” Henry yelled. On the deck of his boat was a blonde woman with a bright orange tail. It was a mermaid.
Nero had no idea how he was gonna get a message to Gail and/or Becky. First off he couldn’t walk on the land. Secondly neither one of them spoke dolphin. He saw some seagulls scavenging for food along the shore. “Hey!” he called to them.
One of the gulls came up to him with a stupid look on it’s face. No one ever accused seagulls of being the brightest light bulbs in the fixture.
“Listen to me carefully.” Nero said very slowly. “I need you to find someone.” He described Becky and Gail in as much detail as he could. “Find them and bring them here.”
The gull jerked its head in what seemed to be a nod and flew off.
“Please don’t let him screw this up.” Nero begged.
The seagull was trying to keep all the things the dolphin told him straight. Then out of the corner of his eye he spotted a discarded hot dog and swooped down to eat it.
The hot dog tasted great but the gull felt like he he was forgetting something. But what was it? It had to with a dolphin he was thinking, but what would a dolphin want a seagull to do? When a brunette woman walked by it sparked his memory. He was supposed to find somebody. He took off into the sky once more.
Gail and Becky were chilling at Becky’s house. “I just can’t stop thinking about the look on Stacey’s face when you stormed out.” Gail said “I think we should go over and apologize.”
“Now that I’ve had time to cool down I think you’re right.” She agreed. “Let’s go.”
As soon as they walked out the door a seagull swooped out of the sky. They both dove out of the way causing the gull to slam into the door. It quickly regain its composure and tried to get the girls to follow it.
“Stupid seagull.” Becky said while trying to shoo it away. “Go back to the beach where you belong.”
Something didn’t seem right. What would a seagull be doing this far from the water? “I think it wants us to follow it.” Gail said.
“It’s just a stupid seagull. It has a brain the size of a pea. It just wants food.” Becky said.
“That’s the thing. Gulls stick around the beach or landfills or stuff like that where food is plentiful This one seems to be dead set on finding us.”
“Great! Whatever insanity took over Stacey has got to you too.” Becky complained
Gail said. “Say what you will but I’m gonna follow it.”.
Becky sighed. “I’m not letting you go alone. Let’s get out of here before I change my mind.”
The seagull took back to the sky with Gail and Becky following on the ground.
“I KNEW I wasn’t crazy!” Tony exclaimed.
Stacey didn’t want to know what he was talking about and tried to jump overboard. “Don’t let it escape!” Henry ordered. One of the crew members caught her by the tail and dragged her back onto the deck.”Put it down in the hold before it tries to escape again.” Henry told the crew members. They took her down to the hold while Stacey screamed and struggled the whole way.
Henry turned to Tony. “So what do we do now Mermaid Man?”
“I don’t know. I never thought we’d get this far.” Tony said. “I guess I’ll get my proof and then we let her go.”
Henry started laughing. “We just made the biggest discovery since Columbus landed in the New World and you want to let it go?”
“One, don’t call her ‘it’. Two she doesn't belong to us. She belongs back in the ocean.”
“Not gonna happen.” Henry replied.
“If you won’t let her go, I will.” He went down to get the mermaid. As soon as he turned around, Henry nailed him in the back of the head with a large piece of metal. He threw Tony down into the hold with Stacey and locked it. “Set course for home.” He ordered.
Gail and Becky followed the gull all the way to the beach. It landed near the water where a dolphin was waiting. Gail instantly recognized it as Stacey’s friend Nero. She couldn’t tell what he was saying with all those squeaks but the tone didn’t sound good. “Stacey’s in trouble!” Gail shouted and dove in the water.
“Am I the only sane one left?” Becky asked and dove in.
Nero was swimming full speed. It was all Gail could do to keep up. Nero lead the duo to the rocks where Stacey was caught. Gail stuck her head out of the water and saw a boat rapidly leaving the area. By the time Becky caught up, Gail was chasing the fleeing boat.