Eli crept along the rocky shore in the dim moonlight. The going was slow and the footing afforded by the rocky outcropping was treacherous. He could hear the creatures singing, though there were no boats in sight. Maybe they were practicing. May be they always sang at night. He didn't know why he could hear them when most humans couldn't. Maybe he was cursed. He rounded a bend in his path, the curving outcropping of rock forming a sheltering lee. Crouching down, he could make out their forms as they swam in the surf and lounged on the rocks. Hatred surged through him, but he held himself motionless, waiting for the right time to strike. Mermaids. They sickened him.
Eli had years to nurse his hatred for the monsters that frolicked in
front of his eyes. His father had been murdered by their kind while
his crew was on a fishing trip in the Atlantic. When his ship went down,
it was written off as the usual maritime disaster. He hadn't told
anyone that they had seen mermaids and were attempting to follow the creatures.
No one but his young son, that is. The only person he could tell his story to- at least the only one who would believe him- was an eight year old.
Eli had spent his life learning about the mythical creatures. Once he saw them with his own eyes, his fervor increase. He majored in marine biology in school, but his quest for knowledge didn't stop there and he had spent most of his waking life in researching cryptic myths and fairy tales.
He pushed his dark, shiny hair out of his eyes and pulled out his equipment, waiting. One of the creatures swam close to his rock while the rest of her kin dove beneath the water to fish. He closed his eyes and said a brief prayer for accuracy and success. Then he darted the bitch.
She gasped and turned to look for her attacker, but the drugs were already taking effect, slowing her movements. He caught her in a net that was woven with threads of silver. Then he hauled the thing out of the water, tossed it over his shoulder and dashed back to the shore. Her tail was longer than he expected, and he nearly dropped the beast, but he managed to get her out of the water before the rest of them turned on him. He reached the shore gasping with effort, and made his way further up the beach, but when he turned to look for attackers, he was surprised to see that he wasn't being pursued. The things had all disappeared from sight, darting away like a school of fish disturbed by a predator.
The creature in the net looked up at him with big, luminous eyes. Its dark hair was wet and stringy, and it was plastered to her face and torso like seaweed. He would haul it to the nearest research center and show the world what was lurking out there. He would show them all that humans needed to open their eyes to the horrors around them. If mermaids were real, then what about everything else?
He went to pick up the bundle of netted fish woman, pausing when she bared her teeth at him. The rows of pointed things looking wrong in her exquisite human face. Something twisted in him. The creature looked deadly, sure, but she- it- also looked frightened. He thought of how rough it had been growing up without a father, and his mouth compressed to a thin line.
"What will you do with me?" Its voice- her voice- was ripply like a wave.
He squared his shoulders. "Your kind murder our sailors and terrorize mankind," he accused.
She looked perplexed. "We do?"
He sighed. "Don't play innocent with me. I know all the old tales."
She laced her fingers through the holes in the net and curled and uncurled her long, reflective tail. "Do you know our tales? The ones of humans who destroy our seas and rape our women?"
He faltered. Why was he hesitating? It had to be some kind of glamor...