Neptune’s Threshold.

Kieran sat on the narrow ledge looking at the water swirling below illuminated only by the dimming light of his torch. It was his own fault, the fisherman had warned him of the rapid change in the tide at this time of year but he had insisted on going in.

“It’s too dark in there!” Violet had said.

“Hey buck up Vi, I’ve bought a waterproof torch especially.

“And it’s dangerous, you heard what that bloke said about Neptune’s Threshold ?”

“Come on mardy-arse it’ll be a laugh.” he had insisted.

“No!” she had replied firmly.

“Suit yourself, misery guts” he was getting fed up with Violet, she never wanted to do anything exciting, she was quite a looker though. Her words came back to haunt him now as the tide began to lap over his precarious ledge.

Being a strong swimmer he had attempted to reach the mouth of the cave but it was too far and he’d been forced to turn back, surely Vi would have returned by now and seen the cave mouth swamped by the tide? He remembered her walking off with her arms folded and an angry look on her face. Perhaps she had gone back to the hotel in a huff?

He’d managed to climb the rocks at the far end of the cave as the sea rushed in cutting him off from the beach but now he was trapped with no-one to blame but himself and it seemed no-one was coming to help. There was a sound reminiscent of a dolphin’s call somewhere in the darkness and for a brief moment he wondered if Flipper was coming to rescue him. He turned off the light to save battery power and the darkness was unnerving but he bravely decided to keep it off for now. The water had slowed but the level was still rising, the line of  seaweed showing it would soon rise to the very top of the tiny space he was huddled in. A tiny star became visible high above in the darkness and he realised it was daylight coming down a small chimney from the cliff top.

“Help.” he shouted, a brief glimmer of hope in his heart but it was to no avail as there was at least sixty foot of rock between him and the  surface, the crashing tide ensuring he had no hope of being heard. “Help!” Kieran wailed again, he was cold and tired and scared as the sea slowly encroached on his refuge. He stared miserably at the tiny speck of light, his only contact with the outside world.

The dolphin sound came again and this time it was very near, after flicking the torch on in curiosity he jumped in shock almost losing purchase on his seat. A young woman’s head and shoulders were visible in the small space left at top of the cave, there was something about her eyes which were very green and in the torchlight her hair shone red.

“Oh god are you trapped here too?” where had she come from? Realising the poor woman must be treading water he reached out to her, there wasn’t room for both of them but he could support her perhaps? She grabbed his arm and began pulling hard. “No, no stop, it’s alright I won’t let you go.”

The strange apparition realised her grip and clicked at him like an angry dolphin showing needle sharp teeth in the process and rising out of the water slightly, Kieran realised she was naked at least to her waist. She began puffing her cheeks out and pointing to him.

“What, I don’t understand?” I’m going to drown trapped with a mad nudist!

The woman began her dolphin like clicking again and beating at the water with the palms of her hands, then she pointed again. “Br-ee-huh!”

“Did you mean breathe?” he asked and she beat at the water again puffing out her cheeks.

She dived under flipping up a tail that shone gold in the torchlight and splashing water around his shrinking sanctuary, her head popped up again. “Breeee-t-huh!”

Realisation dawned.

Ater hyperventilating as much as possible he took one last breathand she launched herself at him to take the young man in her surprisingly strong arms before yanking him into the water. In the darkness he could see nothing and was aware only of being pulled the water at speed as it gurgled in his ears, his lungs felt as though they were on the point of bursting as he tried desperately not to inhale. As consciousness began to leave him it was becoming lighter all around, were they were at the mouth of the submerged cave or was it something worse? Don’t swim into the light, his last thought before the world went black.

He lay on the sand with the ebbing tide washing over his feet hearing a sound like a large fish flapping next to him. After it had stopped he opened his eyes briefly to see a naked figure running away.

***

He was being lifted onto a stretcher. “Kieran, oh god are you alright?” it was Violet’s voice.

“He’ll be fine Miss, we’re going to take him to Truro to check him out.” said the paramedic.

“I’m sorry I went off, as soon as I saw the cave full of water I called the police, I’m so sorry.” cried Violet.

“S’okay Vi, my fault really. I must have been hallucinating, I thought I saw a mermaid… she rescued me.”

“Best guess is you managed to swim out and exhausted yourself in the process then passed out here” a policewoman said  knowingly. “You mustn’t venture into Neptune’s Threshold when it’s a spring tide.”

Quite a crowd had gathered on the coastal path to see the spectacle and Kieran spotted a familiar face among the gawpers. Wearing a bright summer dress she had copper-red hair, the greenest eyes and had long pale legs instead of a tail.

As the stretcher was wheeled to the ambulance she smiled revealing sharply pointed teeth.

 

© Kyt Wright 2019