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Berganashio - Chapter 11

Chapter 11 - They meet Tilly

By Rowan Finley Published 2 months ago 10 min read
Photo taken by Jeremy Bishop on

Deep down in the ocean, the four merfarie children and Cotton continued their journey to see Tilly the seahorse.

“Look!” shouted Bry.

“There’s Tilly’s bunker-house,” said Villi.

“Ya’ think he’s home today?” Bry asked.

Pori snorted and laughed in amusement. “I’m sure he’s home. He never leaves his bunker-house.” They all landed on the sea floor. Larkin knocked strongly on the metal front door of Tilly’s bunker-house.

The eyehole quickly opened, and they could see a large eye peering out cautiously. The round front door immediately swung wide. “Oh…my…sweet and salty seaweed! A sea-wolf!” Tilly slammed the door shut feverishly. From behind the door Tilly exclaimed, “What on earth are you doing with the likes of him?”

Pori swam close to the eyehole and answered, “He’s an outcast. The other sea-wolfs…they’ve rejected him. He’s not bad or cruel like the others at all.”

“What if he’s lying? Hmm? Why...he looks like a white sea ghost!”

“He’s not lying, Tilly. The other sea-wolfs had him in a cage and they were going to get rid of him. We trust him. He even eats plants like us!” Pori patiently waited for a response.

“Ha-ha-ha-haaa…a sea-wolf who eats plants? Well…that…is…the…biggest oxymoron of the year!” and Tilly belly laughed some more.

Cotton looked down in embarrassment.

Pori sighed. “Please let us in.”

“Okay, okay, if you trust him fully, then I’ll try to too…but he’ll have to wear a mask, just like the four of you. There’s so many germs in the outside world.” Tilly said, shuddering in his skin just thinking about it.

“His name is Cotton.” Pori emphasized politely. “Tilly, meet Cotton. Cotton, meet Tilly.”

Tilly opened the door again and nodded skeptically toward Cotton. He then grabbed four tiny masks for the merfaires to put around their faces. He passed a larger mask toward Cotton to wear. The five travelers put on their masks and gingerly entered the bunker-house.

“I’m so glad you’ve come! Our food rations were starting to grow pretty low indeed,” said Tilly as he looked over at the pantry.

Cotton looked around confused but he remained silent. He observed the strange waterproof furnishings and felt his nose tickle from the fabric of the mask. He tried to be as polite as possible.

“I must send a message to the other seahorses to let them know you’re here.” Tilly flitted over to a tube-like device and jotted out a note that said:

Message 467,544: Merfarie children here. Albino sea-wolf with them! He can be trusted, so they say...

He shoved the note into the tube and the tube shot quickly to the next bunker-house for the neighboring seahorse to read the update and pass on. “There," Tilly said and looked back at the merfarie children.

Cotton’s nose kept getting tickled so much that he finally let out a loud, “Ah-chooo!”

Tilly jumped. “Germs! Germs! Oh no!” He grabbed a cleaning spray that he nervously squirted it in the water around where Cotton had sneezed. The smell of the substance was very overpowering, and this caused Cotton to sneeze again.

“Ahh!” Tilly yelled. “Do you always sneeze this much?” Tilly rushed back over to the tube-message-device and started jotting down another note.

Message 467,545: Sea-wolf sneezed twice. Germ alert!

“Why must you send so many messages?” Cotton asked curiously.

Tilly looked up carefully. “It’s my job. I’m the messenger and I must keep all the seahorses informed of all things, at all times in the day.”

“Ah, I see,” Cotton nodded, but still didn’t quite understand. “Why don’t you just go tell the next seahorse? Their house is right next door to yours…I saw as we came to your door.”

“Oh no... no, no, no!” Tilly exclaimed, “I haven’t seen my neighbors in years!”

“Tell him why that is,” Villi requested.

Tilly nodded and continued, “Years ago there was a sea plague that caused many of us to die. Some of our more scientific seahorses think there was carbon dioxide that started the plague. Some think it was sound pollution. Some think that the sea-wolfs started it even! Still others have their own theories of what started the plague. Ever since the plague started, we stopped direct contact with one another out of fear of spreading the germs. We instituted the messaging system though. To be honest, it’s better than how the old days were. All the other seahorses get updates every day, several times every hour, even during the night hours if I’m feeling hypervigilant, or hyperactive, or hyper functional, or hyperexcitement, or just plain regular hyper in general. But… no, I wouldn’t dare go near the others! Even if I wore a mask and gloves on my hooves.” Tilly looked closer at Cotton and spotted the blood stain on his side. “Diddly doodlebugs! Blood! Oh dear!” He gasped like he was suffocating.

Bry giggled. “That sounds funny! Diddly-doo?"

Tilly ignored Bry and kept looking at Cotton in utter horror. “You’re wounded and there’s… blood in my bunker-house! A blood wound! Jimenney-Juju-Bockers! This is not good!” Tilly stomped over to the messaging system and sent another message through the tube which read:

Message 467,546: Sea-wolf has blood wound. Major germ alert! Remain in bunker-houses for the next two years minimum. Don’t even open your doors! Additional food rations coming soon.

Pori rolled her eyes, asking Tilly, “Do you have a bandage of some kind that we could wrap the wound in until it heals?”

“Bandage!” Tilly exclaimed, gallop-swimming over to his doomsday pantry, he pulled out a large bandage for the merfaries to wrap around Cotton. “I’m no doctor, but here you go…”

It took all four of the merfaries to maneuver the large bandage cloth, but they wrapped it around Cotton several times and tied it as tightly as they could.

“It’s a good thing most of the sharks were killed off by the sea-wolfs! Otherwise, this place would have been lit up with sharks swarming our bunker-houses with that blood wound!” Tilly nervously sat for a moment.

Cotton feeling awkward with a mask on, and his whole mid-section wrapped up now, he replied, “I’m so sorry…” He looked down embarrassed.

“Nothing wrong with a battle scar. Besides… you defended us bravely!” Larkin nodded in approval.

Villi chimed in, “It’ll heal in no time.”

“Right, no need to worry,” Pori added.

“Our hero!” Bry cried, sitting down on Cotton’s front paw, while looking up at the albino sea-wolf.

Cotton smiled, looking down at Bry. “I think I might need to go outside and stir up some fresh water. It’s a bit hard to breathe in this mask.”

“Wait! We’re about to sing.” Pori said excitedly.

Cotton furrowed his brow. “Sing?” He cleared his throat and tried to breathe through the annoying mask. “Is there anything you merfaries can’t do?”

“Not much… now that you mention it.” Larkin answered him proudly. “And we sing much better than drunk sea-wolfs!”

“I don’t doubt that. I think an exploding volcano would sound better than them! Awful creatures…” They all laughed together. “I’d love to listen to you sing, but whatever is the occasion?”

“Oh, you’ll see!” Bry gleefully jumped up and struck a dramatic pose.

Tilly nodded. All his motions seemed full of anxiety no matter what he said. “Here… come sit in the livingroom!”

“Yeah, enjoy the show, Cotton!” Villi winked at Cotton.

Cotton was intrigued by the talented merfarie children. He sat down in a burgundy-colored chair and waited for the merfarie children to begin.

“Can we please take our masks off, Tilly?” Larkin asked.

“Ahhh…okay but only while you sing, and I’ll stand over here on this side of the room.” He looked at Cotton, “You keep yours on!” Tilly hopped over to the furthest side of the room nervously, watching them from the corner. “Oh, I hate germs…” He mumbled under his breath, but no one heard him.

The four merfairie children removed the masks from their tiny faces and swam to the living room in front of Cotton. Pori and Villi floated behind Larkin and Bry as they took their places. Bry giggled in excitement and made another dramatic pose and facial expression. The other siblings just smiled at their brother’s cuteness. The merfarie children began to sing the most beautiful, glorious song that Cotton had ever heard. Their voices and harmonies blended magically in the water. It was purely supernatural! The whole bunker-house was filled with the sweet sounds of the four merfaries. After a moment of singing, all the sudden, the greenest plants, vines, and flowers of ever shade and hue appeared! Their singing created plants! How could this be? Cotton sat in pure shock and utter amazement. It as simply spectacular! Before long the house bunker-house was full of plants and bunches of flowers everywhere. Cotton looked over to the corner of the room where Tilly was and noticed Tilly grabbing some of the vines and munching on them.

“Edible!” Cotton said aloud in amazement.

Bry grabbed a cluster of round red flowers. He flipped over to Cotton and set them near Cotton’s mouth. Bry smiled cheekily, “Try em’, ” he offered. Then he did a few summersaults back over to keep singing with his sisters and brother.

Cotton popped the flower cluster into his mouth. The sweetest flavor he had ever tasted hit his taste buds and he smiled ear to ear. His smile was so big his mask almost completely popped off. “That was wonderfully delicious!”

The children kept singing several minutes and while they were singing, Tilly started feeding some of the plants and flowers through the messaging tube system for the other seahorses to collect.

“So that’s where they get their food!” Cotton said aloud to himself. “No need to kill anything at all!” He stated aloud to himself. For a moment, he remembered the poor sea animal that the other sea-wolfs had tried to make him eat to prove himself as a ‘true’ sea-wolf. The thought of it made his stomach churn. He felt thankful to be in this strange bunker-house with new friends. Friends? He just realized that he had never really had true friends until now. He grabbed a string of vines and started munching on them. They tasted fresh and minty, making him feel even calmer than he already was feeling.

The singing of the merfaries faded and Pori scooped up Bry gently who was yawning. “It’s been a long day, huh?”

Villi and Larkin nodded their heads in agreement. “Singing always makes me so sleepy,” Villi said faintly.

Cotton paused and felt tired himself. He stepped down from the chair he was perched on and lay down on the rug to rest for the night. “Thank you for the show! I’ll never forget it.”

Tilly was still feeding the plants into the tubes. Every so often he would send another message to the seahorses. “It is getting late. Good night to you all. As you know, I sleep very little…only a couple minutes here and there.” He bundled up a bunch of tiny violet flowers and shoved them through the tube. “Duty calls!”

Bry spotted Cotton on the living room rug, and sleepily swam over and landed on Cotton’s warm white fur. The other merfaries shrugged and swam over by their young sibling. Without another word from anyone, the four siblings nestled together near Cotton’s chest and fell fast asleep.

Young AdultSatirefamilyExcerptAdventure

About the Creator

Rowan Finley

Father. Academic Advisor. Musician. Writer. Aspiring licensed mental health counselor. My real name is Jesse Balogh.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (2)

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  • Colleen Walters2 months ago

    Oh my gosh…. ❤️😍you didn’t disappoint!

  • Asad Message2 months ago

    Little bit entertaining

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