New Mermaid Story from Mermaiden Zoey
I lay on my back in a shallow but secluded reef, concentrating on listening to everything around me. The ocean waves lapped above me, only a tail length from my face. The pink and gold coral beneath my back reflected off the underbelly of each roll of seawater and shimmered before my eyes. My senses were so heightened from apprehension, I felt like I was seconds away from exploding into nothing from the stress of it all.
“Alright, that’s it!” I bellowed at Cooper, who eagerly zipped around me. “I know it’s you, ya little squid, so tell me how you’re doing it!”
Cooper grinned at me but the voice didn’t enter my thoughts again. I heaved a sigh and flopped backwards, not caring that I looked crazed with my hair uncombed and flying about, and the bags under my eyes creating shadows that weren’t there before. For the past two weeks I’d been hearing things–whispers and voices in my head. I wouldn’t have minded so much if it was just my subconscious getting a little chatty, but I knew they weren’t my own. They said my name, they warned me when merfolk were heading my way, they had even guided me home when I ‘d gotten lost. They were everywhere but nowhere to be seen.
I was miserable, a feeling that was very far from my normal energetic self. “I miss being me,” I whispered to the voices. They ignored me and instead told me of six travelers that awaited me at home, a dark-skinned beauty with a head full of brown curls and a red crab perched inside, one with silky black hair and beautiful slanted eyes with a green seahorse zipping in circles around her violet fin, and a lovely scarlet-tailed mermaid with streaks of red in her dark hair and followed by a fearsome swordfish.
Destiny and Jia! Cooper and I were nearly home before I realized that the third mermaid was one I didn’t recognize. Even when I sailed to a halt in the front courtyard of my Coral Palace, wrapping Jia and Destiny in my arms, I still failed to identify the beautiful mermaid with the cold expression. I managed to tear my gaze away from her, though. “Destiny! Jia! Good to see ya, mates! What’s the occasion? Does my father know you’re here?”
Destiny’s smile dampened a little and Jia looked uncomfortable. “We’re just here for a visit,” Destiny said happily. “King Takumi contacted your father earlier today. He must have wanted it to be a surprise for you. We just checked in with your parents and they said we’d find you somewhere along the reef.” Jia spotted me studying the stranger and enlightened me, “Zoey, this is Scarlet and her friend Cal.”
When I turned to greet Scarlet, though, the giant swordfish’s eyes caught me and held me in place. They seemed to want to tell me something, a story of some sorts. Without thinking, I extended my hand and, inching forward, I waited for Cal to accept my touch. The voices around me had stopped, holding their breath in anticipation. His hundred-year-old eyes stared at me, guarded yet simultaneously inviting. He closed the gap between his head and my fingers slowly and just as the first of my fingertips brushed his smooth skin, a blaring voice forced its way into my mind, my eyes closed and everything went dark.
I felt a hand on my arm and I heard two voices softly speaking. “Girls,” Jia’s voice sounded right above me. “She’s awake.”
“No, I’m not,” I muttered, for which I earned some nervous chuckles. I sat up and clutched my head in both hands. “Owww. I feel like I was clubbed over the head with a pufferfish and the spines are still sticking out of my brain.”
Destiny placed one finger under my chin and turned it to the right and then the left. “Nope, no spines, but maybe Jia could help with that headache.” Jia smiled and began to massage my scalp. Everywhere she touched instantly released its tension and I sighed, relaxing back into the cushions of my bed. When I pried open my eyes again, everyone was staring expectantly at me. “What?”
Destiny cleared her throat. “So, um, what happened?”
I sighed. “I don’t know. I just touched your pointy friend there,” I glared at Scarlet and nodded toward Cal, who was curled up in one corner of the room. “And then I collapsed, I guess. It was like his influence was too big and forceful for my head to handle. I’ve never felt like that before.” I looked down at my hands that were still shaking a little. “I’m guessing since my mum isn’t hovering over me that she doesn’t know. How did you bring me up here without my parents seeing you?”
Jia answered. “We sent Akiko up through the palace since she’s small enough to hide and she unlocked the window. Then we just swam you up here.” Jia’s face grew serious then. “But that doesn’t matter right now. Listen to me, Zoey. My father needs a favor from you and you’re going to have to keep it a secret from your family. Is that something you can do?”
My stomach dropped. “It depends on what the favor is.”
Jia looked up at Destiny and Scarlet, who looked at each other. Scarlet nodded and then began to speak. “King Takumi believes that your enhanced powers may now allow you to not only speak to creatures but to hear them as well. Cal has something to tell us, something very important. If you are able to communicate with him, we would need to take you back to Jia’s kingdom so that you could speak with her father and he could direct you in what to learn from Cal. But we need to know if you’re strong enough to speak with him first.”
Something in her tone and her dubious comment about my strength made my lips curl into a smirk. “Of course I am,” I replied calmly.
“Wait a second, Zoey, I don’t know if this is the best idea…”
I cut Destiny off quickly, “King Takumi needs my help and I’m going to help him.” I didn’t break eye contact with Scarlet until I turned toward Cal. “What do you say, Cal. Wanna give it another go?”
The swordfish glided to my bedside as I struggled to right myself. I pushed myself toward the big fish and put my hands on his side quickly to deter the fear creeping up my throat. Nothing happened. I bit back a groan of relief. Then I leaned close to the beast and concentrated. “Come on, Cal. Talk to me.”
I closed my eyes and started to shake as slowly I felt the pressure of someone entering my mind. The weight was extraordinary, like I was carrying a humpback whale in my arms, on land. I shook harder and bit my tongue to keep from yelling.
Then a voice as deep as the ocean resonated throughout every corner of my mind, filling my head with nothing but the sound of its words.
“Hello Princess. I am Excalibur. I have a story to tell you.”