Back to the water

Elenei

The two lifeguards watched the shapely redhead walking to the pool’s edge.

“She’s a right beauty that one” remarked the first.

“Swims like a fish too but you’d be wasting your time there mate” replied his colleague.

“Why?”

The man laughed. “Of course, you’ve only been at the Leisure Centre a week and this is the first time Flick’s been here on your shift.”

“So?” asked the first man.

“That’s Felicity Tremayne, lives with that Andrea who works at the Gaff Cutter.”

“What? You mean Andy the dy…”  He didn’t finish the sentence as a high pitched scream rent the air and both men turned to see the topic of their conversation flailing in the water in obvious pain.

 

“Holy shit!” said Andy as Flick removed her loose clothes to display her legs. They were reddened and sore, the skin looked swollen and tight. “What the fuck caused that?”

“The doctor at the hospital thinks I may have had an allergic reaction to the chlorine in the pool but it’s never happened before, Doug’s checked and it’s the same as normal.” the young woman replied.

Andy kneeled and examined her girlfriend’s naked lower half carefully. “You know my lover this marking goes all the way over the cheeks of your arse, the tops of your thighs to your fairy and down to your feet, it’s…”

“And it starts exactly on the demarcation line between my upper body and tail.” interrupted Flick.

“Eh?”

“Where human finishes and mermaid begins, well used to anyway.” Flick informed her partner. Both had been exiled to dry land for a year now and were living in her grandmother’s old cottage.

“It looks like bad sunburn, how much does it hurt?” Flick flinched as Andrea gently touched her reddened skin.

“Like bad sunburn I suppose, never had it so I don’t know” she put her hands on Andy’s head to stroke her blonde hair. “They gave me some cream for it… you could help me put it on if you want.”

Andy looked up and caught her smile. “I’ll be gentle I promise …”

 

“Andy?” said Flick as they lay together later.

“Huh?” she had been dozing.

“I want to go down to the beach… I think the sea water would help my legs.”

Andy raised her head from the pillow to look in Flick’s very green eyes. “Are you bonkers my lover, that saltwater is going to sting?”

“I think it will help them heal, I feel it somehow?” she could feel the call of the tide.

“You sure?” asked Andy. “We won’t have much time, remember I’m on the late shift at the Cutter tonight.”

“Sure, we’ll be quick.”

They went down the hidden path to the secluded beach, it was where Flick’s half-brother Jacko would call to her when she was a mermaid and was now their special place. Flick removed her clothes and stood looking nervously at the tide, they often skinny dipped here but today it felt different being this close to the tide.

“Flick, are you going in or are you just going to stand there in the buff?” asked Andy. “It is possible to see from the cliff top you know?”

Flick smiled awkwardly then waded slowly into the surf up to her waist and gasped. “It feels strange.” she suddenly disappeared below the water.

“Flick!” called Andy anxiously.

Her head popped out of the water. “I’m alright my love, I feel so much better.”

“Well come out I’ve got to go to work soon.”

“Why don’t you come in and join me.” Flick called with a smile.

“No there’s not enough time, tomorrow maybe.” she replied.

“Alright spoilsport!” the young woman walked out of the tide looking like a maiden from a Pre-Raphaelite painting except for…

“Flick, your legs!” cried Andy in alarm.

She peered down to see her legs were now clear and unblemished but on the outside of her thighs golden scales ran down from hip to ankle, both women stared in astonishment as they slowly faded into her skin. “My tail’s trying to come back… Andy, I have to go in the water again.”

“No way, we’ve no idea what might happen, what if you got into trouble? Remember I’m human again and was never that good a swimmer before.”

“What do we do then?” asked Flick.

“We go back home, tomorrow we’ll talk to Jacko and then perhaps you can try again.”

Reluctantly she agreed and they returned to the cottage. “You’re working a lot of late shifts nowadays?” remarked Flick as she kissed her lover farewell.

“We need the money Flick, especially if you can’t work as a swimming coach anymore.”

“I love you Andy.” Flick hugged her then exclaimed. “It’s exciting isn’t it?”

“What, that you love me?” the woman smiled.

“No idiot, that I might be getting my tail back.”

Andrea kissed her again. “I suppose so, but what if you swim off and leave me.”

“I would never do that!”

“Promise?” she asked.

“I Promise, how about I come down to the Cutter before you knock off?”

“No, no I don’t what time I’ll be finished, it’s been busy recently with all the Emmets here.” she replied rather quickly.

“Oh?” Flick was disappointed usually Andy was pleased to see her.

“I’ll be back later and stay out of the water until tomorrow!”

“I will.”

When Andy had gone Flick became restless, the possibility that she could re-join the sea-folk ate at her. She tried reading then listening to music then both at the same time, it was no good. She cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom then finally when all else failed put on the television, changing channels frantically, desperate for something to take her mind off it. She found a programme about life on a coral reef and after watching for ten minutes changed into a light dress, put on a pair of deck shoes and leaving the key under a plant pot strode purposefully down to the beach.

Flick stared uncertainly at the tide which was now right in, she was stood on what little of the beach remained clear of water the salty spray making her skin tingle. Finally coming to a decision she pulled the dress over her head and rolled it up with her shoes inside then hid them in a cleft in the rock where the tide never reached. Flick marched purposefully into the tide and the shock hit her almost immediately as her legs were drawn together to fuse into one limb, her toes became webbed and grew out to form a tailfin then almost crying with joy she swam out from the beach to dive deep below the surf, she could breathe underwater again, she was a mermaid once more!

Flick swam out a good distance and was surprised to see no other of the sea-folk around. She could usually expect to see someone, most treated Flick with disdain or ignored her completely but there was no-one about which she found curious, it would keep for now she had to tell Andy the good news.

Dressing hurriedly Flick clambered up the cliff to the tourist path then paused briefly to touch the tarmac recoiling at the sting from it, well I’m definitely back to how I used to be. She felt her teeth which didn’t feel loose as yet, bit early for that. Shame, I’d quite got used to having human teeth, they would be replaced by pointed fangs soon enough she supposed but what she had noticed that the change between mermaid and human form was less painful than before, the older members of her race transfigured without a problem, perhaps I’m growing up?

It was a warm night, so Flick walked straight into St Ives without going home for a jacket and approaching the Gaff Cutter spotted Andy taking some crates round the back. Unseen, Flick watched with affection as the young woman stacked them carefully then was surprised by the appearance of another figure. The mermaid’s feeling of love was swiftly replaced by dismay as Andy embraced the stranger to kiss her passionately.

Leaving the shadows Flick marched up to them and grabbed Andy’s shoulder. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Why are you here Flick?” she asked in surprise, the mermaid recognised the other person as Su Lin, a previous girlfriend of Andy’s. Flick had once watched them together on the beach.

“So this is your red haired beauty Andy?” asked the woman.

“No wonder you didn’t want me to come here tonight!” spat Flick. “How long has this been going on?”

Andy was horrified. “Flick I’m sorry I was going to tell you, honest I was.”

“Why, Andy, I thought we loved each other?”

“Flick please…”

“She got bored with you Red she likes me better.” Su Lin laughed.

“Is this true?” cried Flick.

“It’s not like that Flick, Su and I were close once and…”

“I had really big news to tell you Andy, but this… how could you?” she was yelling now and a couple of customers had emerged from the pub eager to see what was going on.

“Flick, go home please, we’ll talk later.”

“Yeah talk later!” echoed the Chinese girl.

“Shut up Su.” ordered Andy.

“You fucking bitch!” cried Flick slapping her hard. “And you can shut up too!” she slapped a smirking Su Lin then turned to run along the harbour wall pulling off her dress and throwing it aside.

“What the fuck is she doing?” asked Su Lin in astonishment while rubbing her cheek.

“No Flick, please wait!” Andy realising her intention, ran after her. The mermaid glanced briefly over shoulder and with tears running down her face dived into the harbour.

“Shit, she’s fucking mad!” said Su Lin who had caught up.

Andy saw her swimming away faster than any human could and realised the truth. “She’ll be alright, she’s a strong swimmer.”

“I knew you coming back had to be trouble Su.” one of the onlookers had joined them, it was Flick’s brother Jacko! He picked up her discarded clothing. “Flick will be heading home I guess? I’ll cut across the headland, she’s going to need these.” he looked at Andy angrily. “You and I are going to have words!”

 

He found his sister sat on a rock, tail dipped in the surf to stay in mermaid form.

“You alright sis?” he asked.

“No” she looked miserable. “Did you know?”

“I suspected it, Su moved back to St Ives a few weeks ago and she’s been hanging around Andy while she was working in the bar.”

“Andy starting coming home late a couple of weeks ago” she sniffed. “She said it was because they were busy.”

“Sorry Flick.”

“S’not your fault Jacko.”

“Well aside from that I couldn’t help but notice you’re a mermaid again?”

“Yes, since tonight.”

“Do you know why?”

“No idea, perhaps I’ve been forgiven by Piirl or maybe that hag Kiisi has died?”

“Would that break the spell then?” asked her brother.

“Kiisi was the one who took my tail from me and removed the Wiccan charm from Andy.” Her voice caught at the mention of her name. “If she’s dead then the spell may well be broken.”

“Then will Andy become a mermaid again?”

“No, she was never one to begin with so she’ll remain human. I still can’t believe it Jacko, I love her so much.” she began crying again. “You know mermaids aren’t supposed to be able to cry?”

Jacko waded into the water and put his arms around her. “Do you want to come and stay with me and Pris’ tonight sis?”

“You don’t happen to have a bath full of sea water do you?”

“No, but you can stay on dry land for half a day and I can soon mix up that stuff to balance your electrolytes.” He replied. “And I’ve got your clothes.”

“It was a bit rash wasn’t it? Do you think that bitch Su Lin saw me change?”

“No, I didn’t either but I guessed what had happened.”

“Okay Jacko I’ll stay at your place tonight, tomorrow I’m going to find out why I’ve got my tail back.”

“What about Andy?”

“She can go screw herself!”

 

Fliiik swam to the Queen’s gathering place and was perplexed to discover it completely deserted, something was very wrong! She could detect the scent of her cousins but it was stale, a day old at the least and also something else, blood! The mermaid watched a sunfish meander overhead then noticing the outline of a large ship anchored a distance away, surfaced to see it had a sloping ramp with a crane at the stern. Fliiik submerged again with the intention of getting close enough to read the name painted there but was surprised to find several dolphins circling her. Merfolk liked the intelligent aquatic mammals encouraging them to live alongside their community in the belief they brought good luck, they were also useful in keeping away sharks or pointed-fins as they called them. Flick recognised one as Stek, a dolphin who led his own school, swimming down to stroke his head she was astonished when the normally friendly creature pushed her away harshly. Stek twittered and the others pressed close forcing the mermaid to the sea bed.

“Go away!” she clicked at them, dolphins could understand the mermaid tongue in much the same way that some dogs seemed to understand humans, but they just kept her there. “Let me go!” she twittered harshly.

Stek came close and butted her gently then Fliiik saw the diver armed with a spear gun at a shallower depth above them, two dolphins broke away to rush past the man drawing his attention and Fliiik realising the dolphins were trying to conceal her swam behind a large rock. From her hiding place she saw the diver watch the dolphins for a while then continue towards the ship, when he had finally disappeared into the distance the dolphins swam off, leaving the mermaid to her own devices.

There were several caves nearby with underwater entrances, if her people were hiding from the diver they may have fled to them for safety. It seemed highly unlikely as Queen Piirl had a personal retinue whose duty was to protect her…

Fliiik found the corpse close to the first cave, it had been partially eaten by marine fauna but she could spot a golden chain where the neck had been and despite the fact mermaids were unable to vomit she found herself gagging as she pulled at it to discover a badge of office, a trident! He had been one of the royal bodyguards.

There was nothing to be done as it was common practice to leave the dead for the sea to reclaim so the mermaid entered the cave to find it empty, the same was true of the next but approaching the third she glimpsed a brief flicker of movement at the entrance.

Swimming in she was confronted by a nervous young merman wielding a dart firer, he looked at her in astonishment. “Fliiik, you were banished to dry land!”

“I know that you idiot!” pushing past him she swam to a rock ledge pulling herself onto it to lay while her tail split to become legs and once again it seemed to hurt less. She was in a large cave with many offshoots and the air was replenished frequently by a blow hole a kilometre away on the cliff face.

“Hello Fliiik.” said a familiar voice. It was Tiiki the daughter of the queen about a score of merfolk, mostly children, were with her.

“Where is everybody?” asked Fliiik.

“Land dwellers, they came and used their horrible explosives to kill mother’s bodyguard and anyone who stood up to them. Kiisi used her charm to summon pointed-fins but they killed them too with their spear-guns then they rounded up any of us that could be found and took them away along with most of the dead, I hid the fry and a few of the young folk in this refuge with me. There are but twenty six of us left.”

Mermaids were a race in decline and the Pendinas school had been quite small, barely a hundred in number, they kept their gene pool wide by coupling with distant communities and even land dwellers on occasion, Fliiik herself being the result of such a match.

“Queen Piirl, Kiisi, my father, what became of them?” asked Fliiik in horror.

“Kiisi died fighting the land dwellers, your father was taken alive as was my mother.

“What about the others?”

“They took at least twenty alive and killed as many more with their hateful weapons, the rest fled I know not where. I trusted your half-brother and his friends, why would the land dwellers do this?” answered Tiiki angrily.”

“Land people are not all the same, they fight and kill one another for the stupidest reasons. My brother and most around here are all good folk, they would never harm us.”

“Your mother was a land dweller, of course you would say that.”

“These men, were they from their military?”

“No they came in that big ship anchored out at sea, I think they know some of us escaped because when we go out to catch food there is always one swimming around looking for us. Our friends and relative are being held in that ship, Fliiik, what are we going to do?”

“Get them back!”

“How?” asked Tiiki.

“I’ll think of something.”

After checking that the frogman was no longer around Fliiik made her way over to the vessel with the school of dolphins following closely then surfacing a distance from the ship, she read the name on the stern. Michishio – Takahashi Industries Institute of Marine Study – Osaka, there were other characters in a script she could not understand. Then she spotted the ladder invitingly close to the water, perhaps she could pull herself out of the sea using her arms and after her legs formed climb the ladder as a land dweller would. With this in mind Fliiik grabbed the bottom managing to haul herself several rungs up but could go no further even by trying to find purchase on the ship’s side with her tail. She was about to give up when she was pushed from below by Stek who had seen her dilemma and scrabbling at the ladder Fliiik managed to clear the water then with half formed scaled legs and a not inconsiderable amount of pain she scaled a few more rungs to wait for full transition before continuing towards the deck.

Reaching the top she heard voices, one was English, the other had an accent she did not recognise. “… I’m fairly certain there are no more left.” said the first.

“We will try one for day more, then we will leave, you have done well Mr Frobisher they are good examples.” the second spoke.

“I’m starting to doubt what we did Mr Ito. I’ve been watching, them they seem just like normal folk to me.”

“Normal “folk” do not have fishtails!” countered Mr Ito. “They are not human they are an entirely different species, a divergent evolution, just think what could be learned by studying them. The scientific research alone could be of great benefit for Takahashi Industries without even considering the military application.”

“Military, you didn’t tell me this before?”

“Why do think we wanted them, to put them in an aquarium? You and your men have been paid greatly for your services so may I suggest you keep your doubts to yourselves.”

It suddenly occurred to Fliiik they had only to look over the side and she would be exposed, Fliiik could drop into the water and escape easily but the men would know they had been discovered.

“Tomorrow, dive once more…” The voices receded and Fliiik remained undetected.

Peering carefully from the top of the ladder to establish she could not be unobserved Fliiik put a hand onto the non-slip deck surface only to withdraw it quickly, the rubbery covering stung like the horrid tarmac land dwellers spread wherever they went.

Releasing her hold Fliiik dropped into the sea to reappear an hour later but this time wearing a short dress and gloves, she had a struggle putting on her canvas shoes while hanging from the ladder but Fliiik knew the value of wearing them. This time she gained the deck easily and keeping low crept quietly around the ship, a pair of large hatches on the stern seemed interesting and finding a small window peered through to see shapes swimming in a sort of tank in the dim light below, they were there!

A voice shouted in alarm, she had been seen! Running to the side and shucking off the shoes she dived over into the welcoming sea and after stripping off the dress and gloves Fliiik hid and waited to see if they would follow. She was not disappointed as several divers appeared from the ship then separated to go in different directions. A single diver was coming her way this was going exactly to plan! Breaking cover she grabbed Stek’s dorsal fin and he towed her away faster than she could swim unaided and having gained on her pursuer Fliiik hid once more to signal the others before swimming out to make sure she was seen. The diver chased her into the entrance intent on capture only to be taken completely by surprise and overpowered by the mermen waiting in ambush.

He was dragged into the cave and pulled onto the dry ground within where Tiiki and several others pinned him to the floor to remove his mask and mouthpiece leaving the diver terrified at the sight of his captors baring their pointy teeth and making dolphin like clicking noises.

“How do you open the doors on the back of your ship?” said the female who had lured him here who was now pointing his own spear gun at him, a couple of the others were armed with crossbow like devices.

“You can talk?” he asked in amazement, the one who had addressed him did not have needle sharp teeth.

“Of course we can land dweller, we are not stupid, how do we open the doors, how do we set our people free?” she asked.

“I’ll be missed, more people will come.” he cried in fear.

“Tell us or I may let the others eat you!” hissed Tiiki menacingly in his ear.

He swallowed nervously, this one wore a gold necklace and had an air of authority. “They’re being kept in a large tank in the cargo hold but we look after them we feed them regularly and clean the tank” he replied hoping this would appease them.

“Whaat, they are not pets!” the princess was incensed.

“How do we open the doors?” asked Fliiik as calmly as possible.

“If you mean the stern hatches, there’s a yellow control box on the port side and inside are two switches marked open and close, you can read can’t you?”

“Of course I can read, man. I went to one of your schools.” snapped Fliiik. “Are there any other ways to open them?”

“There is an override on the bridge.” he answered, Fliiik nodded on hearing this, she knew what a bridge was.

“Why did you come, man?” demanded Tiiki in a lisping voice.

“We were hired by Takahashi to take as many alive as we could and to meet any resistance with extreme force.” some of the merfolk hissed angrily at this. “We were told you were like animals, savage and bestial, I’m just a soldier, I didn’t realise!” he added hastily.

“Why does this Takahashi want our people?” asked Tiiki.

“I don’t know, they research all aspects of marine life and have connections with certain military suppliers, you understand what I’m saying don’t you?”

“Yes, you want to hurt our people and use them for horrible purposes.” said Flick.

“He has told us how to release our folk, now kill him!” shouted a merman.

“No I was just doing as I was ordered.” the man cried in terror, the horrifying idea of ending up in the stomachs of the merfolk was uppermost in his mind.

“No wait, I have an idea.” interjected Fliiik quickly.

“Sliith is right Fliiik” said Tiiki. “He is dangerous to us as long as he lives.”

“Have any of you ever killed before?” Fliiik clicked in their own language, she had once unintentionally killed a man called Smythe who hurt her brother. She had pulled him from his boat with the intention of frightening him but he died of a heart attack, he had been a bad man but she did not want to be responsible for another human death even if this one was a mercenary. All shook their heads.

“Have you forgotten what we are, how we can affect humans?” she continued.

Tiiki nodded in understanding. “You may try.”

Fliiik straddled the supine man and under normal circumstances he would have enjoyed having a naked woman sitting on him. She bent down to put her hands around his head and stare into his face, her eyes were enchanting green jewels set in a beautiful visage framed by a corona of red hair, the diver felt an overwhelming sense of calm fancying he could hear the crashing tide and feel the spray of it upon his face, he felt his will folding under the gaze as a voice like velvet came into his ears. “We will let you go and you will return to the ship to tell them you could not find me, tomorrow you have a little job to do…”

 

Jacko’s friend Tug Bosanko was sitting at his desk when Flick Tremayne appeared, he still held a torch for the redhead even though he knew it was pointless. “Hi Flick my lovely, this is a surprise, have you come to tell me you’ve had an epiphany and you desire my body?”

“Sorry Tug, you know that’s never going to happen, but I do need your help.”

“Last time a Tremayne asked me for help it meant trouble!”

“All I want is a word with your man Gaz Teague.”

He laughed. “It’s definitely trouble!”

 

Next day Fliiik met with the princess and Stek’s school of dolphins and as they approached the Michishio, men could be seen on the decks readying the ship for departure. “Oh I didn’t expect them to be going so soon.” she exclaimed in surprise. “We’ll have to move now, remember to wait until the hatches start to open.” she instructed Tiiki.

“Those men on deck are going to make it harder for you.” observed the mermaid princess. “I fear we are relying on humans too much.”

“Teague’s device will work I’m sure.” the ex-marine had spent all afternoon and most of the night building it, Fliiik did not ask how he had such materials to hand or where he’d got them from in the first place.

“And the man you charmed?” asked Tiiki. “Has it lasted do you think, I mean men aren’t really your thing are they?”

“Then perhaps you should have done it Tiiki?” asserted Flick, putting a string bag containing all she needed over her shoulder before setting off for the ship with Stek in tow.

Tiiki looked at Gaz’ invention in the sealed plastic bag then set off herself with Twik, another dolphin from Stek’s school. The rest would draw attention while keeping watch on the hatches from the surface.

Frobisher saw Jim McAllister staring at the sea, the man had seemed a little odd since returning empty-handed yesterday. He wasn’t sure if the intruder had been one of the sea creatures, it looked just like a young woman but the ease with which it disappeared meant it must have been. Could they grow legs and walk on dry land?

“Are you alright matey?” he asked the young diver.

“Yeah, I’m a bit worried Bob, we are the doing the right thing aren’t we?” something was niggling at the back of his mind, something he had to do.

“Hey Jim, it’s not our job to worry we just take the bastard’s money and go, okay?” Frobisher had enough doubts of his own.

Some of the crew were gathered on the starboard laughing at something. Frobisher went to join them to see a large school of dolphins frolicking there. “Hey Jim come and look at this, it’s like they’re showing off.” He looked over his shoulder but McAllister had disappeared below deck and he shrugged and turned back to watch the aquatic display. There had been a lot of dolphins about recently did they know about their captives?

Fliiik, seeing that her friends had distracted most of the crew, emerged from her hiding place. She had climbed onto the ladder easily with Stek’s assistance putting her shoes on as before and had found the yellow box exactly as McAllister had told her. It was unlocked so she opened it and examined the buttons carefully before pressing the one marked “Open” both in English and the strange symbols. With a metallic grinding noise the hatches began to hinge upwards and the crew upon hearing this shouted, angrily running towards her. Fliiik smashed the box with a large rusty wrench she had brought for this purpose then stood back smiling to pull the dress over her head before diving over the side. Those who were still watching the dolphins were surprised to see them all turn and swim rapidly away from the ship.

Frobisher looked at the broken control box then ran quickly to the bridge to find Mc Allister eyes staring, holding a gun on Ito and the captain. “What the fuck are you doing Jim?”

“The hatches must open.” he answered almost robotically.

Frobisher was contemplating rushing his colleague when the ship was shaken by a loud bang. A panicky Japanese voice came over the intercom and Ito started in surprise. “The ship’s been holed, we’re taking in water!”

As McAllister lowered the pistol Frobisher punched him and he reeled backwards. “Too late, the hatches are open.” he intoned, blood running down his chin.

 

While the crew were busy enjoying the dolphin’s performance Tiiki swam under the hull to attach the shaped charge Teague had provided. She pulled the pin from the mechanism on the top as instructed then using Twik to assist her swam quickly out of range of the shock wave whatever that was? The timer was set to a minute and a half, mermaids did not measure time as humans did but Tiiki imagined it wasn’t very long, at exactly one minute and thirty-one seconds the home made limpet mine punched a neat hole in the Michishio, Gaz Teague had used enough explosive to hole the ship and hopefully not kill anyone in the process.

 

Frobisher half dragged McAllister into one of the lifeboats with the rest of his team and were joined by an angry Mr Ito leaving the small crew to evacuate using the ship’s lighter. “They did this somehow!” growled Ito. “And your man helped them, this is a disaster!”

Frobisher was looking into his colleagues eyes. “He’s a good man and loyal to the core, I’ll swear they did something to him!”

“I hold you responsible for his actions and I will personally see to it that you do not get your money Mr Frobisher, I knew we should not have trusted filthy European mercenaries.”

Frobisher could feel the anger of his men. “If you don’t want to swim back to shore may I suggest you keep your comments to yourself and as for the money, I insisted Mr Takahashi paid up front, it’s already in our bank accounts, matey.”

“We will sue.”

“Go ahead, tell the law how you paid us to kidnap mermaids from the coast of Cornwall and see how that stands up in court.” the Michishio’s prow was now all that was sticking out of the water and as the RNLI lifeboat from St Ives approached Frobisher realised their captives would be back in the sea. Good luck you fishy tailed buggers!

 

Fliiik hugged her father tightly as did the Queen and her daughter then the reunited sea-folk escorted by Stek’s dolphins swam back to the refuge to discuss their future. Reluctantly it was decided they had to leave St Ives for safety’s sake and move further south possibly even joining their cousins in the Scillies.

Jacko slammed the West Cornish Gazette on the bar in front of Andy. “Read this and for dolphins read mermaids, I think you’ll get the picture.” he was still angry with his sister’s ex.

“Have you any word of Flick?”

“She’s safe and the whole colony has moved south, that’s all I know.”

“Thanks Jacko, I miss her you know?”

He grunted noncommittally and left the barmaid poring over the front page which had more news about the mysterious ship that had sunk a week ago. It was from a Japanese company that specialised in marine research and had suffered an explosion in one of its engines which caused the boat to sink. An investigation had been initiated into what exactly it had been doing off the Cornish coastline, it was speculated that they had been trapping dolphins for experimental purposes. Sergeant Nance even had her picture in the paper arresting a Mr Akira Ito for suspected trafficking in a protected species.

She sighed, no mention of mermaids, still, why would there be? After all they weren’t supposed to exist. Andrea had kicked Su Lin into touch days ago but up until her brother’s news had no idea where the mermaid had gone, Flick had locked her out of the house before she disappeared and a friend had put her up. She had returned to the old Tremayne house several times but always found it locked and unoccupied, Andy sadly turned to the accommodation pages she couldn’t sleep on Lucy’s couch forever.

“Do you think you could stop reading the newspaper for a minute and serve your bloody customers?” said a familiar voice.

Andy looked up to see Flick’s smiling face…

 

The End