Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. Together they cast an enchantment upon the sea, which ebbed and flowed along with them.
Anders had seen it all before. Here, in Svalbard, Norway, they suffered a Midnight Sun for half the year. That is six months when the sun never sets. Tourists love it but locals, quite literally, lose sleep over it.
Anders likes it because he can go fishing when everyone else has turned in for the evening. It’s worth suffering the extra chilliness for the extra peace and quiet.
His little fishing boat bore him along, chugging away happily under the colourful skies; the pink waves parted easily for him.
For a lifelong fisherman like Anders, the correct fishing spot is more a matter of feeling rather than exact geographical coordinates. He watched the sea, accepted her energy, and let her guide him where she wanted him.
He cut the engine and locked the wheel. The boat moved gently under him. He took a moment to enjoy it, the sensation of floating in the pink waves. She was beautiful tonight, the sea. They say she can be a cruel mistress, but some men will pay a lot of money for one of those. Anders got it for free.
What secrets are you keeping tonight?, he said to her, as he fixed his rod, and what treats do I have for you? He opened his tackle and bait box and ran his eyes across the colourful assortment of flies. He chose a Beadhead Prince Nymph, his favourite.
His line whistled through the peaceful night air, lengthening with each whip, back and forth, until release. It landed silently and drifted upon the pink waves. Under purple skies, man and nature played their waiting game.
Anders's eyes jumped to the line at a flicker of movement, but nothing was biting. He returned his gaze to the gentle waves, and soaked in a deep breath of cold, sea air.
The midnight sun caught a splash, some distance off to his left, and he leapt to his feet, reeled in his line, and quickly cast out again, back and forth, back and forth, launching out across the pink waves. He smiled as the fly landed exactly where he wanted it, ready to tempt whatever was out there. He didn’t sit back down this time. He had a good feeling. The sea had something for him, something he desired.
The line twitched.
Something had taken the bait and was running.
He raised his rod to take up some slack, trying to get a sense of the size and strength of his opponent. It was a fighter, whatever it was. The line was straining hard. He’d have to wear this one down.
They fought on for some time, back and forth. Anders would slowly draw it in, then give it some slack when his rod reached a terrifying strain. Slowly but surely it got closer. He wound in more line each time. The beast was tiring. It would be his soon.
Then, in the light of the midnight sun, he saw it surface. He could swear it had come to size him up. It stared him down before diving back beneath the waves and racing towards the boat.
Anders knew instinctively what it was trying to do and moved fast to save his line.
Going under my boat are you, you sly devil.
He held his rod as far out over the edge of the boat as he could, while he skirted around to the other side. The hardest part would be clearing the rotor blades.
The line was too loose and snagged. He had to get it clear before the fish swam under the boat - a surefire way to snap the line.
He wound in quickly but carefully until he had enough control and started to slide the line over the blade. It moved agonisingly slowly. He had to clear it without snagging, or the line would shear.
Inch by inch it went.
Where was that fish, he thought. Just give me another second and I’ll have you!
Ping! The line cleared. Just in time too as the fish powered under the boat and ran with the line.
Anders swung around to track the fish, pulling up on his rod to slow it down. The rod jerked and bent under the strain. Anders could feel that this was it, now or never. He began to wind in, pulling the fish towards him. It wasn’t giving up easily. It still had some fight left, but not much.
It surfaced again but flopped sideways, its energy spent.
He wound it in until it lay alongside the boat. He locked his rod in place.
You just stay there.
Anders grabbed a large fish hook and leaning over the boat edge slammed it into his catch and hauled it onto the deck.
It was a big fella. Quite the catch. He unhooked it and watched it gasp for air.
Are you just going to let it die?
He turned towards the sound. It didn’t reach his ears as words but as a lilting musical note.
There, on the side of his boat, sat a mermaid. A true siren of the sea. He’d seen them from a distance before but they always disappeared if you got too close. It was unheard of for one to come and interact. She was beautiful. Top half anyway. Anders's eyes went to her breasts: perfect size. Anything more than a handful he’d always considered a waste.
You’ve caught your prize, now you can put it back. You have proven yourself the greater creature, for whatever reason you feel you must.
That enchanting singing again. He momentarily looked up to meet her gaze and watch her lips move. Was she talking to him?
It serves no purpose to let it just die here. At least, in years past, you could eat your catch, and use it for your survival. That we understood. Now though, you have poisoned the seas like you have poisoned your skies. Why must you continue to hunt?
He took his eyes off her long enough to turn to the dying fish she seemed so concerned about. Until a few moments ago, it was his prize catch, but now, a mermaid, that’d be something else.
He felt the weight of the hook in his hand and glanced back up at her.
Too late did she realise his intent.
The hook found its mark.
She joined the fish on the deck of the boat.
Sport, he would call it, but his eyes burned with more than just the thrill of the catch; his eyes burned with desire, with evil intent; hooking her was not enough, there was more fun to be had.
Anders found her screams disconcerting. Unlike the others, her screams were silent. He could see the effort she was putting into them, but nothing reached his ears; like watching someone blow on a dog whistle.
Back in Svalbard, Marit awoke with a start. It had been decades since she had last heard that scream. She had hoped never to hear it again, for it meant that one of the few remaining sirens of the sea had fallen. It was not the aching, beautiful song that accompanies the passing of a mermaid; sung by her remaining kin, but a song of fear, of pain. It was a warning scream.
She dragged herself from her warm bed, not an easy task at her age, and wrapped herself in a shawl. She went to her bedroom window and looked out over the harbour.
She could see the boat. Anders boat. He was the only one who would go out at this time. She always had her suspicions about him. Nothing was ever proven when those girls disappeared but he was top of the suspect list. Ever since then, he kept to himself, fishing late at night, avoiding the townsfolk whenever possible, and oozing guilt.
Had he now killed a mermaid? Who could she tell? Would they even believe her? Would they even care?
About the Creator
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
I have discovered yet another brilliant writer on here... I loved this. Surreal, and your prose flows beautifully. This is wonderful writing - I shall read some more of your stories.
The overall premise of this story was good but lacking in flair and depth. The execution of the story was one dimensional. There was very little character development. I did not feel anything for Anders or the mermaid which made the discovery of the mermaid and that Anders was a murderer was somewhat lackluster and anticlimactic. The buildup at best was lacking excitement, thrill, and emotion. You put more depth and personality into describing the action of the fishing line than you did into bringing you characters to life. Anders was a one dimensional character with no voice. I would have given Anders the voice instead of a narrator telling his story you should have let Anders come alive and tell the story. Than there's the punctuation and grammar. Maybe employing a proofreading tool such as Grammarly might assist you in this area.
At first I was rooting for Anders, but then... what a way to create empathy for a villain. I do hope you write more of this and share with us, Shane, I dearly want to know what happens next!
Oh, no - I was excited to see the mermaid image to begin this story, and statred reading with a smile, but now I'm sad and disturbed & looking forward to reading more and hoping for justice.
Oh no, that was so sad. I hope Marit does something to teach Anders a lesson. Awesome story!
😱😱😱 you’d better write the next chapter asap!! I’m hooked.