I may have failed at this prompt, but I like the story so I’m keeping it. I was supposed to mix two genres – dieselpunk and superhero – but I’m not well versed in dieselpunk, and my superheroes usually end up villains (sorry). The prompt is here, if you’re interested: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/10/25/flash-fiction-challenge-the-subgenre-smash-and-grab/
The Little Mermaid
Oh hell, I killed this one too. I was trying to save him, but he gave me this look, like I’m so scared of you. Exclamation point with a gulping scream, sucking in water to say, I’ll drown before you take me. And my hands wrapped around his shoulders moved to his neck and ‘snap’. Dead.
My own fault. I shouldn’t smile when I pull them up. My mom’s always saying I have a nasty smile. Not, Oh my precious daughter with her perfect bone structure and lovely, long hair the color of blood drifting through sea kelp. No, it’s all, You and your nasty smile, no wonder your father left. I believe she thinks she’s complimenting me, but she’s not. She’s really not.
Still, mom may have a point. My teeth are a little crooked, and humans aren’t used to seeing shark-mouth from the maw of a beautiful woman. Maybe they think I’ll bite. Ok, yeah, so I’ve bitten a few, truth be told, but I was going in for a romantic I-just-saved-your-ass-from-a-sinking-ship kiss and then they’re always like, Ahhhh, gurgle gurgle. Offends a girl, ya know?
I just want to be a hero. Mermaids never get to be heroes around here. It’s all ‘sea witches’ and ‘crones of the deep’, but whatever, really, what do they expect? Bring their metal ships out here, spewing all kinds of mud and bile into our water, eating up the good stuff , tossing their trash. Bunch of rapscallions, humans, with the wails and creaks of their leviathans, that stomping around, yelling, To port! To stern! Pull ‘em in, laddies! – whatever that means – waking us up all hours of the night. Social contract, morons. Night time is quiet time, people are trying to sleep.
So we kill a few, yeah, rip their hearts out, suck their blood. Sometimes, on holidays, we slice the skin off their bones in pretty, papery slivers like seaweed. It curls around itself, makes these dainty little ribbons that look so sweet and delicate. I like to dry them out, make hair bows out of them with shells. Everybody likes my hair bows; the princess wore one to last year’s winter feast. My sisters were so jealous.
Bonus letting the humans know we mean business.
But they keep coming like they can‘t read the giant, ‘GET THE FUCK OUT’ flag we‘re flying. Show some respect; our ocean, our turf. Most of the men I’ve tried to save can’t even swim. They wear these fat, heavy boots tied on tight as barnacles makes them sink like anchors. I’m like, really? That’s what you wear surrounded by miles-and-miles of ocean? You aren’t even trying.
But I decided last year – new year’s resolution really – that I’d save one. I’ve been reading these stories I found in my mom‘s closet, shoved in the back behind our old board games like she didn‘t want anyone to know she had them. There’s always a beautiful mermaid – which will be played by me, of course – who rescues a handsome human prince from the wreckage of his sinking ship, breaking the cultural mermaid/human stigmas with her heart-of-gold and sacrificial nature. She drags him to the safety of land, pulls him to shore. He wakes up, befuddled at first, then he sees his heroine, falls instantly in love, and they kiss. She leaves him, but he never forgets his mermaid beloved.
I’d swim to the shore everyday after school, watch as he stares longingly into the waves, looking for me, yearning. Maybe I’ll show him my fin as I dart back into the froth. He’ll probably cry a little, maybe call out my name, but I’ll be gone.
So. Damn. Romantic.
So I’ve taken up sinking ships, lately. Can’t just wait for that to happen on it‘s own, not if I want to reach my goal by next year. It’s not working out as planned. I keep killing them. The way they look at me, it’s so mean, like, Let me go! Let me go!
They don’t even know what they’re missing. Maybe I’ll try not-smiling next time.