The dark has always has a romantic allure for me. As a teen I cut my fledgeling fangs on erotic horror fiction, lapping up the Poppy Z Brite and Anne Rice, who’s sensibilities dovetailed nicely with my adolescent goth angst. I wore it as proudly as the chain between my nose piecing and ear and the ankh around my neck. As an adult I still like to read a good adult fairy tale, where the horror stems from the supernatural, not unwanted pregnancy, social diseases, or awkward small talk the following day. In the spirit of sharing, I’ve penned you all a little tale myself. I hope you enjoy it.
Little Miss Risk
When I’ve talked to other divers, we’ve all commiserated about it in some way. About how you never forget the first time you see a shark drifting by that’s big as a motorcycle silently trailing remoras like a parasitic entourage. When there is that instinctual moment of panic that arises because of a lifetime of being shown films like Jaws, with fear dissolving which then gives way to a kind of awe to be sharing the water. Awe gives way to hypnosis, and you notice the light dappling the shark’s hide through the window of the water, your eyes following each wash of water over gills, tilt of pectoral fins, or flick of tail. Then it’s over and gone, likely the whole interlude taking less that minute or five and they sink back into the curtain of wet salt, finned phantoms, excusing themselves backstage to the rest of the ocean. Your left with bubbles expelled from your regulator, grateful that you’ve witnessed them in person, and your heart rate, accelerated slightly, thumps loudly in your ears.
One of the things I adored about diving was the way that you could give in to wonder. Any cynicism died when you put your face under the water and saw creatures from an alien world. That even though you know intellectually what a zebra eel looks like from books, seeing one with it’s head out of shoals of coal is two different things. Intellectually, you know that sea turtles, and manta rays, and whales all look like but the moment you see them in the water with you, huge and splendid in their own environment, you believe anything is possible. You accept that these things have existed before monkeys became men, and you feel like a part of a larger genetic tapestry in the world. You are an innocent again, and in that moment your adrenaline and excitement you realize all the make believe in hotel pools and bathtubs is actually real and in front of you, and that you’ve waited your whole life to witness this. No National Geographic spread nor documentary has adequately prepared you.
It was the same way when I saw my first mermaids.
Seeing the combination of fins and flesh together amid a flutter of fish to chase a school and feed, I knew what I had been watching had to be a hallucination. But when I just let go and stared, the trio of mermaids seemed as natural as hearing the waves at the beach. They darted, flipped and chased fish so fast I could have been watching porpoises. More streamlined and confident than any seal I had seen they wheeled around underwater, they way that hawks preyed but under the water at twenty feet, they were lower in water than any bird has dare dived. With the long human torsos and trailing clouds of hair, they looked as divine as any fantastic mythological painting. Their features were slightly too elongated to pass for completely human but still held an otherworldly beauty. Gills just below their jawline along to their clavicles pumped water with each fluid movement. They herded the school of fish in to one large group, then two would circle keeping the fish tightly together, while one would come up from below and strike, feeding. Blood would blossom into the water, and then they’d almost reorganize the fish back into a tight column, and the next attack could take place. I watched for about ten minutes before I shook myself out of my trance and realized I had to get back to the surface and the boat.
As I struggled with human weight and gravity and fell unceremoniously into the stern of the boat, I contemplated what I had just seen. Often I remember that Oldtimers and Mariners on the high seas, lonely without a woman’s touch, had thought to mistake manatees and seals for fish maidens fair. There would be no mistaking what I had just witnessed as any kind of pinniped. Mammals of some kind surely, given the breasts, small, tight and high, but despite fish-like flukes they moved like porpoises through the water. The gills perplexed me, wondering if they were able to surface and were potentially amphibian. My head spun with the idea of these beautiful creatures, and the deadly ease at which they had rounded up their prey and dispatched them. It was arousing and unsettling at the same time. The sun was starting to dip down low over the mountains to kiss the ocean behind them. I had another tank of oxygen but it would be dark soon and it was too late to head down for another dive to confirm if these strange beauties were hunting. Since it was becoming dusk I wondered if they hunted at night and were early risers for their kind or if they opted for daytime feeding. It was a question I’d have to leave for the night now. I pulled up anchor with unnessary violence as i pondered this, and set the GSP for my marina. As I prepared to motor back to False Creek, I wondered if the three mermaids could hear the baritone rumble of my engine, and if it sounded aggressive to them or like a male mating display of courtship. As I came around past Gibsons, I could swear I hear an accompanying laughter and song with my engine’s growl in the water.
I pulled into my slip and tied up the boat. Did my usual ritual of reorganizing the gear, cleaning up, and battening the hatches. With the salt water dried and leaving a barely traceable crust on my skin, I decided to leave having a shower til I was home rather than shower in the marina, like wearing a lover’s sweat as a reminder of a passionate encounter. As I walked up the ramp to the nearest dockside bar and went in, my mind kept travelling to that little spot up the coast where I’d pulled up anchor that afternoon. I alternated between staring moodliy at the flat screen televisions mounted over the bar, the opposing hockey teams on them flicking back and forth across the ice, to into my beer, watching little amber bubbles rise to the surface. I kept thinking about the speed and grace that the mermaids had moved through the water, cutting through it like beautiful knives to edge the fishes into where they were able to hunt them with ease. I watched the little bubbles dancing in the deep amber liquid and three caught my eye and I allowed my imagination to turn them into those beautiful haunting sirens. Over the din of the bar filled with rowdy patrons collectively cheering or groaning their teams victories and losses, I couldn’t shake something else. That strange little sound I heard when I headed out. Ethereal laughter, beautiful and slightly inhuman. It played in my head, lodged in the recesses of my immediate memory like a catchy Top 40 tune, determined to drive me to distraction. I finished my beer, settled up and heaved myself off of my bar stool. I headed home and tried thinking about other things – the hockey game, the small talk with the other barflies, the nice ass on the cute waitress, but the three mermaids kept pulling my thoughts back to that little patch of jade green water.
The shower was hot, blasting the last traces of saltwater off of me. I let the water run down, feeling it rush over my body. I massaged the remaining sea water out of my hair, and aggressively scrubbed myself with the plain egg of white soap to distract myself. The steady drumming of the water hitting the floor of the tub became a rhythm, to a song already in my head. Groaning, I felt myself beginning to get harder and harder the louder the music got in my head. As i washed, my hand reached down to take my erection in my hand. I squirted a generous amount of generic conditioner into my hand and closed my eyes, and felt the water, imagining it to rush up my body, not down, as if I was being pulled underwater. In my mind’s eye I looked down into shimmering west coast water, past tops of kelp and rocky cliffs to see three beautiful and inhuman faces look up through the clouds of their hair. I felt them pull me down, and moaned as bubbles leaked out of the side of my mouth as slender fingers with soft webbing between them tug at my hips, then down to my manhood, now harder to their cold alien touch. I ached for release and breath. As I came, hard and fast, I opened my eyes to see my very real, ordinary bathroom in East Vancouver, not in a underwater tangled knot with three biological marvels, feeling their salt-soaked magic entwined with my ordinary, mortal self in the depths off of Sechelt. The water, no longer hot, pelted me with cold needles, and my cock was beginning to wilt upon realizing I was no longer in my underwater wet dream. I dried off, continued my evening routine, post jerk-off session by reading in bed, with a cup of tea next to me. I watched the soft steam rise and curl like a snuffed out candle. I could have sworn I saw three serpentine female bodies winding around one another. I coughed and the image was gone. I sighed, turned over on my side and tried to push the thoughts of erotic fish women from my mind before sleep.
The next morning I woke up thinking I had left the radio on. There was a song playing, somewhere in the distance. Realizing it wasn’t any thing from my own home or sound drifting from a neighbour’s stereo, I recognized the refrain I’d been hearing since my boat pulled anchor. I decided I was officially distracted, and the only way I’d be able to concentrate on anything was to make a trip back and see if I could find the mermaids. I flipped a mental coin: if I went to Sechelt and they didn’t come to me, I’d bury the incident in my mind, and chalk it up to a once-in-a-lifetime moment, be grateful that I had that experience and leave it at that. But… on the off-chance that I could see them one more time… Just once more, so my thoughts could not be plagued by otherworldly desires… I recalled I had one tank of oxygen left on board and enough fuel to get there and back. I choked down my usual breakfast of black coffee and toast, and hustled down to the marina and loaded the boat. I busied myself on the usual maintenance, trying to kill time as it dragged along in order to align the estimated time of arrival to match that of yesterday’s dive. Finally it was time to leave the dock and head out and I felt my cock beginning to press against the waistband of my pants. The engine grumbled to life and we let the city shrink and melt away behind me. The North Shore mountains reared up out of the ocean as we approached. Low flying gulls casually looked over to see if I had any handouts for them. A harbour seal bobbed it’s head out of the water solemnly as I passed by carving the water, the dividing wake following my boat looking like the petals found between a woman’s legs. I got close to where I estimated I’d dropped anchor the other day and found a place to stop. Once I felt the anchor was secured, I hesitated. What now? I wondered if there was a way to attract them, like chumming the water for sharks. I hadn’t done anything particularly out of the unusual yesterday so I wasn’t sure. My cock was beginning to ache and strain away from me, towards the water. I hesitated and looked around. It was quiet and I was the only human soul in sight. I went to the stern of the boat and took my cock out. I was already hard, thinking of piscine couplings that would hopefully soon follow. I stroked myself harder and harder and more violently until I came, my semen dropping into the water. I caught my breath and found myself still hard as dewy come dropped into the water to join the rest. I’d seldom been with any woman who’d I been so aroused with, certainly never just by myself. Again, I jerked off into the water and watched my semen as it sat on top of the water, then sank, dancing below the waves.
It was while I was hunched over, my sides almost panting, when I saw a face emerging from the depths. One was joined by two and then a third. They broke the surface and stared. Their eyes were slightly larger than a regular human’s, more rounded but the lips were full and sensuous and all were closed but curved into smiles of erotic promises. They swam a little ways from the boat, a few yards, turning back to look back at the boat, then dived under the water. I wasn’t even aware of the speed with which I was ripping my clothes off but it felt like seconds later and I felt the cold water knocking the breath out of me. I came up and broke the surface gasping for air, hoping my abrupt entrance into the water hadn’t made them flee. I didn’t have to wait long. As i tread water, I felt caresses along my legs, torso, and over my aching cock, waking up again despite the recent abuse and rude introduction of cold water. The three heads bobbed up again, this time surrounding me, so closely. A strange keening came from them, melodic and alarming at the same time and altogether familiar. I looked to the left and saw one lay her mouth on my shoulder. I reached to stroke her hair, swirling in the water around her. She sank her teeth into my hand and began sawing her head back and forth. I yelped and a result slipped under the water. I felt another pair of strong hands pull me down and away at my ankles. I felt the second mouth clamp onto my neck and sharp teeth sever tendons. I never got to scream again. As I got pulled under the water, and I felt flesh from my groin tugged and a crimson bloom filled the water around me. I was being pulled away from the fading bottle green light of the surface. I felt my ears pop as I looked and saw three grins. The sight of three shark-toothed mouths in the beautiful faces was the last thing I saw in the gloom before the air from my lungs escaped and water rushed in to replace it in my lungs. As everything went black the last thing I recalled was the smile on my face.