THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA


Posted by C on January 31, 2001 at 07:16:49:

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
By C

Once a small village along the great southern sea was afflicted by an especially cruel, lustful tribe of mermaids. They were beautiful, with luxuriant blond hair, full round breasts, and slender waists. Their skin was pale, nearly the color of snow. The human (somewhat human) half ended in a gently swelling, hairless mons, broached by a little cleft that made a rosy contrast to the white skin surrounding it. Farther down, they had the tails of dolphins, ending in powerful flukes that drove them through the water at great speed, when needed.

Beautiful they were, but each had an ugly cinder for a heart. Their chief delight was seduction, followed by murder. They began at night, luring young men (or young women) into the water to be drowned. Soon, they grew so bold that they attacked during the day, and the fishing and whaling on which the village depended for its life grew impossibly perilous.

Then came the final outrage. One day, shortly before noon, as the villagers were preparing for their siesta, thirty or forty of them appeared in the water, just yards from the huts. They bobbed there, smiling and waving, their faces full of cruel mirth. Three young men headed for the water. The other villagers tried to stop them, but discovered that their feet were rooted in place. All they could do was stand and watch in helpless horror. The men entered the sea, swam out to the beckoning women, and were then pulled beneath the surface. Their bodies were never found.

An old man, a retired fisherman and whaler, saw all this from the wharf. He cursed his helplessness, and he resolved that, however he had to do it, he would bring at least some of these wicked sirens to justice. He knew that mermaids were dangerous adversaries, and he blessed what he once had thought a great misfortune: he had absolutely nothing to lose. (He had no children, and his wife had died years before.)

As soon as the spell of immobility had passed, he hiked inland to the hill country, where a wise woman, reputed to be a great sorceress, dwelt alone. When he got to her hut, she welcomed him in and let him explain the little that he knew.

"I have nothing to pay you," he said. "Tell me where I can go to hire myself out and I will; then I'll come back with money."

She laughed at this. "I get all my food from your village, or from the farmers who live near it. If you perish, the farmersíll perish, and so will I. It would be unseemly and unwise not to help you if I can."
She then got down to business. "Now, if I remember everything you've told me correctly, I know very well the mermaid coven that's descended upon you. Here's the bad news: they'll batten on your village till they've sucked the life out of it. Now for the good news: they're not invulnerable." She started to rummage through her supplies. "In
fact . . . I have somewhere . . . here it is!" She pulled out a great length of what looked like fishing line. At one end, it branched into three lines, each tied to a silver hook. She laid this on the floor in front of the old man.

"They are ruled by three sisters, the wickedest of the lot. Your only hope is to capture all three, and then their followers should be no problem. This line can do it. Tie one end down securely (and I mean securely!) and cast the other into the water. With a little luck, it'll snag all three in a place they don't like to be snagged! If you catch them, be prepared for a fight: when they're hooked, they'll have some vulnerability to weapons, but the only way to subdue them completely is to tie their wrists behind them. I guarantee it'll be hard work. Now, if you catch them, and if you bind them, they'll use every wile they have on you. And they'll offer you three wishes for anything at all you desire, in return for a promise to let them go. If you make that promise, and don't honor it, you and your village will be blasted from the face of the earth. Need I say that mermaid wishes are always dangerous? Since you want them dead, it's hard to see why you'd go the wish route." She told him a few more things he needed to know; then he prepared to leave.

"I'm grateful for all your help," he said as he picked up the magic line and carefully placed it in his knapsack. "But how do I bait these hooks?"

The woman's face was grim. "With a human life," she said. "Nothing else will draw them. Good luck."

He thought long and hard on her words as he trudged back to the village. By the time he got home, he had the beginnings of a plan.

As soon as he'd worked out the details, he went down to the water, to a place where they were known to congregate, and where they'd taken at least four victims. It was about midday. He brought with him several lengths of rope, a small harpoon from his whaling days, and, of course, the magic fishing line. When he got there, he tied the line as securely as he could to an old tree stump. He then tossed the business end into the water. Now he waited.

In what seemed like no time at all, three particularly beautiful mermaids appeared in the water in front of him, about thirty yards away. "Hello, old man!" one of them shouted. "Would you like to die today?"

"To be honest with you, yes I would," he said. "I have nothing to live for any longer. My village was all that mattered to me, and it's obvious that you, with your irresistible magic, will soon destroy it."

"You're right about that," said another. "'Out of your league' would be an understatement in these circumstances." As they mocked him, the tide carried them nearer.

"So kill me then," he said, and came as close to the water as he could without going in.

"OK, but you're going to have to come in," said the third.

"Could I get a closer look at you first? You're all very beautiful."

"Why thank you!" said the first one. "You have a good, long look." With this, they swam to within a few yards of him and raised themselves as far out of the water as they could. They were breathtaking. The sun made their hair look like gold fire. Their breasts stood at proud attention, the pink nipples erect with bloodthirsty lust. He could see their clefts. (Was he imagining a pleasantly musky scent coming to him over the water from this source?)

"Feast your eyes," said the first mermaid, and then her expression changed. Where there had been malicious pleasure, now there was a look of pained perplexity. "Ow! . . . what in the seven circles of . . . ?" She looked down, and he looked with her, and at just the same time both realized what they were seeing: a big silver hook, firmly embedded now in one of the lips of her cunt.

She clutched at her groin, threw back her head, and screamed, a long wail of hurt and humiliation. Just then, her sisters, not knowing what was happening, were snagged as well, in exactly the same way. Two more high, hurt-filled screams, and then all three disappeared below the surface.

Now it was time to sweat. The wise woman had explained that when the hooks found their resting places, the victims would be unable to remove them, because the metal magically curved in on itself. But these were still powerful swimmers, and within moments the line that held them was stretched to its limit. Would it hold? The old man had no idea. Instead of worrying about that, he ran to the tree stump and wrapped length after length of the line around it. His quarry fought him for every inch. He thought at one point he might collapse from exhaustion, but he took a deep breath and just kept at it, drawing the wicked trio slowly but inexorably in.

Luckily, they were tiring. After several minutes, he actually had them out of the water, thrashing madly, smacking the sand with their powerful tails. He pulled them up onto a dry spot (he guessed that they drew much of their power from water), then ran up with the harpoon. They shrieked and yelped as he jabbed them in their breasts, their bellies, their rumps, their tails. "Let me tie you, and I'll stop!" he yelled. At first they screamed defiantly at him and kept on fighting, but soon they were too tired. They at last submitted, with surprising meekness, trembling and weeping as he bound them.

He lined them up, still crying, retreated to a safe distance, and tried to regain his breath. Every now and then, a tail would thwack the sand explosively, but that was about it. When he'd recovered somewhat, he came back and admired his catch. Even though they were less than half-human, they were the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Gazing at them, he felt both pity and desire, both of which he struggled hard to suppress.

The first mermaid had regained some of her self-possession. She glared at him with proud contempt and said: "Well, what do you plan to do with us?"

"I thought I might kill you . . . ."

"Easily said!" she sneered.

"But I have another idea. If the stories I've heard are true, you may have three things I want."

The mermaids now smiled, and it wasn't nice to see. "These three things," said the first one, "might they be wishes?"

"That's it. Can you help me out there?"

She laughed: "Yes, I think we can help. It goes like this: you can have anything: gold, a crown, beautiful women, even immortality. But you must first swear an oath to release us unharmed. You'll swear on the true name of the Dark Master whom we serve. That's the most terrible oath of all. Break it, and your village, your life, and your soul will be forfeit."

"Sounds good to me," said the old man. "Show me what to do."

So she took him through the ritual of swearing and revealed to him the Name that Should Not Be Spoken. And he swore, and so did they.

"By the way," said the first girl. "My name is Tritonia. This is my sister Propontia, and this is our little sister Kiki."

"Pleased to meet you," he said.

"Now," said Tritonia, "what's wish number one? Do you want to start with cash, or lovely ladies, or what?"

"All right," he said. "Here's number one: you and your mermaid followers will never again do any harm to my village or its inhabitants."

Tritonia pouted. "That's a downer! But if that's what you really want . . . ."

"I do."

"Very well," she said. "I'll handle this one." She took a deep breath and then groaned as if her insides were being churned. "Devil, that hurts more than I thought it would! Well, I've given you your wish. I hope you're happy."

"I'm starting to be."

"I'll handle the next one," said Propontia. "What do you want now?"

"All right," said the old man, "my second wish: by the end of the week, you'll surrender every one of your mermaid followers to the villagers for punishment."

"What?!" they all shrieked. "Fuck you! Not a chance!" shouted the imperious Tritonia.

He simply smiled and said: "Didn't we all just swear a terrible oath? What'll happen to you if you don't hold up your end?"

"He's right Sis," said Propontia. "We can find new girls, though I have to say these were the best." (Tritonia just scowled and ground her teeth.) "Here," said Propontia, "let me get it over with." She took a breath, then emitted a pain-filled wail. "Oh my," she gasped, "it's like laying a thirty-pound egg! You've got your wish, you bastard."

"Thank you."

"My turn now," said Kiki. Tritonia broke in: "If you want a treasure or lovely ladies, here's your last chance."

"Indeed," said the old man. "I want the prettiest treasure, the loveliest ladies I've ever seen. A week from today, at this time precisely, I want to catch all three of you again."

For a moment, they just stared at him in horrified shock. Then, in a voice of barely controlled hatred and rage, Tritonia hissed: "Have you forgotten, old man, that you agreed to let us go without harming us?"

"I'm going to let you go without harming you. And next week I'm going to catch you again. Either grant my wish or try explaining to your Master how you took his name in vain."

Kiki burst into tears. "He's right! He's right! she cried. "The prophecy . . . the wise woman warned us we'd be snared by our own magic! She warned us . . . ."

"Shut up! Shut up, you little tramp!" shouted Tritonia at her weeping sister.

"No, you shut up!" said Propontia. "It's the truth. We've been . . . caught on our own hook!" With this, she dissolved into bitter sobs.

Tritonia began to shake. It was all too much for her. Her arrogant facade collapsed, the tears gushed down her face, and she wept like the helpless, caught fay that she really was.

Despite all his efforts, the old man felt pity for the doomed trio. "The sooner you grant my last wish," he said, as kindly as he could, "the sooner I can let you go. You want that, don't you?" In response, Kiki took a deep breath and screamed as if she were being torn in two. "It's done," she gasped.

He saw that the hooks with which he'd captured them had returned to their original shape, so he gently removed them. Then he carried each girl right to the water's edge. Next, he cut their bonds with a knife. As they pulled themselves painfully into the water, he said: "Don't forget: this time, a week from today." Within seconds, they were gone.

Over the next week, no mermaids appeared and no villagers died. Here was the first evidence that the old man's plan was working.

A full week after the first encounter, he stood on the same shore at about midday and cast the silver hooks back into the water. He didn't have to wait long. The three mermaids appeared, just thirty or so feet away. Instead of flaunting their beauty as they had the week before, they were quiet, subdued.

"You came back," he said. He wasn't entirely sure they would.

"Our Master was most displeased with us," said Tritonia, all the belligerence gone from her voice. "If we diverge the slightest bit . . . from what we agreed . . . ."

"You chose a bad master," he said. "Well, how do we proceed now?"

"We won't fight it," said Propontia.

"I still don't trust you. I'll have to hook you again."

"To be sure," she said, with all the bitterness in the world in her voice. Kiki, of course, was crying softly. The tide brought them a little closer, closer. All three screamed again when the hooks found them: long, desolate wails. They quivered like speared fish, and they wept like little girls, but they didn't resist as he drew them in. In just moments, he had them beached. When he ran up to bind their wrists, they turned their backs to him to make it easier. He then used the magic line to drag them into an enclosure behind his hut, which was not far away. When he got them there, he slipped out the hooks and, for awhile, just stood looking at them.

Tritonia found her voice again. "You've c-caught us twice. We can never harm your people again. Our lieutenants will be washing up on shore over the next few days. Surely, oh mighty fisherman, it's time for mercy? If you send us to the underworld now, with our Master as displeased as he is . . . ."

"I see," he said. "If some time goes by, you may again become his concubines. You don't regret the evil you've done, you regret having been caught. And the evil you've done . . . ."

"We can serve you!" said Propontia. "And we can give ourselves to you!" said Kiki.

"No more wishes to hand out? I'm sorry, ladies. I'm only human and I'd love to have you. But even if you can't hurt me and mine anymore, you'd have to hurt someone else. I see now that it's just your nature. During my talk with the wise woman, she spelled out for me that you're creatures of both water and land, and nearly unkillable when in contact with either. So . . . ." He got three lines of heavy rope, each ending in a noose, and cinched them around the girls' necks.

"No! No! No!" they cried, then fell into incoherent sobs. He threw the ropes over the strong bough of a tree in the middle of the enclosure. When he'd hoisted the fays up so that they couldn't touch the ground, he tied the ropes to a post he'd installed for just this purpose.

They thrashed their tails, their big breasts heaved, the tears poured down their faces. When it was at last over, he saw that a thick, clear liquid with the aroma of honey was dripping down from each cleft. "The sweet death," he said. The wise woman had told him of this, too.

The sisters were true to their word. Over the next week, dozens of mermaids were beached on the shores around the village. They clearly didn't want to leave the sea, but the sea would no longer have them. On advice from the old man, the villagers hung these ladies either by the neck or by the tail. In the latter case, they finished them off with harpoons.

The old man took the magic hooks and line back to the wise woman. A few months later, they were married.

THE END