Fishing Expedition

“I’m tellin’ you,” the drunk slurred, “I saw it.” He knocked back a shot. “And I’m gunna prove it.”

One of the patrons scoffed. “How d’ya aim to do that?”

“By going mermaid hunting.”

While the rest of the bar broke down in laughter, Maeredith’s blood ran cold.

“What did you do?” Felicia hissed. 

“I went swimming,” Maere responded, slumping in her chair. “I have every right to go swimming on my own property. If he saw me there, he was trespassing.”

Fel nodded. “True.” She glanced at the bar. The locals were now ignoring his ramblings. “He’s drunk. He’s a tourist. When he leaves here, no one will believe him.”

“I have a bad feeling–”

“Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” Fel patted her arm. “Let’s go home. See you after work tomorrow?”

Maere nodded.

#

Fel’s car was in the drive when Maeredith got home. She changed into her swimsuit and fed the cats before running down to the beach. The beachfront property had been in her family for years, so knowing that some tourist had been there ignoring the No Trespassing signs unnerved her. Maybe a good swim would clear her head.

The calm ocean sparkled, and she breathed in the warm salt air–a balm to unsettle the nerves. She couldn’t see Fel, but knew she’d be out there somewhere.

“Fel! I’m coming, sorry I’m late,” she called running towards the water, then skidded to a stop. Instead of slim female footprints in the sand, there were drag marks heading down the beach.  Maere followed the marks for a few yards and found Felicia’s waterproof watch pressed in the wet sand, A little further along–sunglasses.

“Felicia!” she screamed helplessly. She took a shaky breath and shaded her eyes to look down the beach. In the distance she saw a figure dragging what looked to be a heavily laden fishing net along the swash. Something tangled in the net glinted in the mid-morning sun.

“Shit,” she mumbled, pulling out her phone. Her hand trembled while she pushed buttons, then while the phone rang she began to run, following the path etched in the sand.

“Leon, I think Fel’s been captured,” Maere said breathlessly when he answered. “I’m following him…no, I don’t know where he’s going but we’re on the beach…I know it’s dangerous but I need to keep…sure…yeah, that works.  Yes I know it’s my fault.  That’s why…shit, I just remembered, there’s a helipad in that direction.  What if he has a chopper?  And friends?  Get here fast!”  

She pocketed her phone, hoping they could fix this. Thoughts kept circling her head: Did he have friends? What was his end game? Would they be in time?

A sob escaped her throat.

The roar of 4-wheelers racing across the sand alerted her to her friends’ arrival. One of the vehicles idled next to her.  “Hop on,” Leon called over the roar of his engine. Maere climbed on and they took off.

“Here–check on Felicia,” Leon shouted, handing her a pair of binoculars. She held onto him with one hand and looked through the glasses.  

“It’s definitely her, but she’s not moving. God I hope she’s just unconscious. It is last night’s drunk. SHIT! There’s a ‘copter already at the helipad. A couple of guys are running towards him, he’s waving them over.”  Maere lowered the glasses. “He has help,” she said unnecessarily.

“We’re almost there,” Leon answered.

“Oh good, Kevin just got there.” She hadn’t realized Kevin had pulled that far ahead. Leon put on an extra burst of speed.  

When they arrived, Kevin had already decked one of the drunk’s friends so Leon jumped into the fray and attacked the other one. She ran over to help Felicia get away from the drunk.

He was bent over the net, while his now conscious prey flopped around, looking remarkably like a caught fish as she tried to extricate herself. “Let me go you buffoon!” Felicia screamed. Unfortunately, her struggling was tangling the net even more.  Maere wasn’t sure what the man was doing, but bent over as he was, she didn’t care.  She ran at him and jumped on his back, wrapping her arms around his neck.

They fell.  Instinctively she shifted her weight so they’d fall sideways.  She didn’t want him to fall backwards onto her, nor forwards onto Felicia.  Immediately she pushed him so his face was in the sand.

“Leave her alone!” she yelled in his ear, while he struggled to his knees.  Remembering something she had seen on TV, she dropped her legs between his, then scissored them out.  He screamed in pain as his knees gave out and he was flattened on the ground.  He bucked, trying to dislodge her, and Meri held on for dear life, continuing to spread his legs out. He screamed again, something about tearing his balls. She tried to hold his head down, but he gave a massive shove and threw her off . 

“Bitch!” he spat, clocking her so hard her head spun. “That–thing–there is worth a lot of money.” He pointed towards Felicia, then screamed as Kevin yanked his arm behind him.

Leon twisted the other arm and asked, “What thing?”

“That fish-girl.”  He nodded towards Felicia, who had finally extricated herself from the net and was brushing the sand off of her legs.  She glared at him.

“Excuse me? You kidnap me, then call me names?  Kevin, call the police, I’d like to press charges.”

Maere gestured behind her. “Officers Moss and Evans already here,” she said as they stuffed the drunk’s friends into their police car.  They were glaring at their friend, muttering to each other.

“She’s not human!” the man roared. “She has a tail. A fish tail. She’s a mermaid.”

Felicia stayed cool, flicking something shiny off her leg. “I’d also like to add slander to the charges.” 

Evans came over and handcuffed him. “I don’t see any tail,” he commented.

“There was a tail! She just brushed scales off of her legs!”

She adjusted her bathing suit top. “You dragged me over dead fish, you jerk. Besides,” she smiled sweetly, “everyone knows mermaids are mammals. They have dolphin tails.”

His eyes grew wide and he pointed at her. “You–you–”  

Felicia smirked.

“That’s enough, girls,” Officer Evans said with a wink. “Come to the station later for statements. Not that we really need them.” He marched the drunk off to join his friends.

Maere hugged Felicia. “I’m so sorry. I never saw him. And for him to abduct you…”

Felicia shrugged. “It could’ve happened to any of us. Let’s go swim.”

“Sounds good,” Leon said as he and Kevin started up their 4-wheelers. The girls clambered on.  

Thirty minutes later the ocean sparkled beyond an empty beach. Four dolphins played in the distance–but if one were to look closely enough, they’d realize those weren’t dolphins at all.

#

Check out the other authors in Blog Hop Jan 2023!

The Deed by Chris Makowski

Fetching Water by Katharina Gerlach

Cataclysmic Disaster by Bill Bush

Fiddle of Gold by Barbara Lund Author

The Origin of a Reluctant Supervillain by Vanessa Wells

Help Wanted by Juneta Key

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