A flash of white lightning filled the sky. In the distance gray clouds began to roll towards the coastline, and a far off thunder reverberated towards the small fishing boat that settled within the turquoise waves of the Destin Harbor. Captain Wesley Wright knew what it meant, and he called out to his first mate to pull up the last net for the day. Left with little time to get back to land he wanted to make the most of the catch before the storm descended upon them. Easton Pryce gave a nod of acknowledgment, and a waving hand signaled the other four deckhands to start wheeling it in,
“Wheel her in, Jon!” Easton’s voice called out across the boat deck. Wesley turned around to walk back to the bridge, and begin taking the purse seiner back towards the shore. He knew his five-man crew could handle the rest of the catch process. Working with the five of them for the past seven years Captain Wright had come to learn quite a bit about his boys. The first mate was his best friend from college, and Easton was a brilliant navigator himself. After that the four deck hands were all close family friends. People Wesley knew he could count on with his life, and being at sea that was the most important attribute a fisherman could have. Jonathon Merritt, Bradley Knox, David Carter, and Craig Grayson were the best crew he could find, and he knew it. Wesley made his way to the steering wheel like every other time he did it not expecting to hear a sudden shock of awe, and terror come from all his boys at once.
“Captain Wright! You better come see this!” Brad’s face peered into the doorway of the bridge with a sound of urgency in it.
“What’s the problem, Brad? You know I’ve got to get us back to land before that bitch of a storm is right on top of us.” Wesley pointed out the window shaking his head. As far as he knew there wasn’t a thing they could have pulled up in the nets that could be worth getting them stuck out here during a torrential downpour.
“Yeah, I know, but we don’t know what to do with this.” Brad murmured turning around to walk back out onto the deck. Wesley frowned. He had not yet drawn up anchor, but whatever had Brad wanting him to come out onto the deck to see what they have caught must’ve been important enough to stop him from doing so. Brad lead the way with Wesley in tow, and as he came out onto deck his eyes widened when the four other men pointed up at the tangled creature inside their nets.
“What do you make of that, Wes?” Dave pointed up at the net standing some distance away from it. Inside Wesley quickly made out the form of a large aquatic creature with humanoid features. It was a female if his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him as it was. Long flowing black hair seemed to be matted to her back, which had a bluish turquoise dorsal fin protruding out of the spinal column. Staring back at him were large, onyx eyes that were filled with an animalistic terror. A long silvery blue tail accompanied her body though her chest was bared saved for the matted hair that covered very parts of her shoulders, and clavicle. Kelp, and other ocean debris had been caught in her hair as well, and the look of the creature immediately brought the word mermaid to mind.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Was all that came out of Wes’s mouth. By this point he had heard many rumors about mermaids. Being in the business of deep sea fishing you would have had to been deaf, dumb, and blind not to have heard the legends, but Wes never believed something like that could actually be real.
Immediately the creature began to make odds shrieking noises like the sonar that dolphins, or whales used. The entire crew covered their ears doubling over in pain as she continued the shrieking. Craig pressed the lever button on the net to draw it closer to the deck with one free hand, and shook his head in pain. The sudden shift caused the mermaid to squirm, but the movement silenced her shrieking much to the relief of the crew. Wes knew his men were waiting for his call on what to do with the creature, and the roaring thunder off in the distance wasn’t making it any easier to make a decision. He pursed his lips for a moment in thought, and finally decided to call in the coast guard the moment they all made it back to the shore.
“Keep it netted, we’ll call the coast guard when we get back to the marina. A find like this needs to be documented by them at least. I don’t know what else to do with it.” He sighed walking away from the creature, and back towards the bridge. The men behind him all gave nods, and Dave responded with a mumble,
“That’s what I thought you would say. I just want to get the hell out of here. Starting to get too trippy for me.” Craig began to fasten the net in place making sure the creature couldn’t escape for the forty-minute ride back to the marina. Something like this wasn’t to be messed with in his mind. Unlike the rest of the crew Craig was a bit superstitious, and the storm clouds rolling in out of nowhere seemed to coincide with catching the mermaid. He kept his thoughts to himself though, and as the rest of the crew began to single file back towards the bridge he gave her one more glance over, and shook his head. Being on board with that thing was going to be difficult for him, and if he were captain he would have called to release her the moment they drew her up. Wes had a point, and Craig knew it, but he didn’t like the consequences this could have on the crew. What if the marine biologists got wind of this? Would they put a freeze on the fishing out here? If they did what would that mean financially for the whole crew? On the one hand he could see how Wesley didn’t want to upset the coast guard by not reporting the find, but on the other he really felt unnerved over the entire situation just like Dave said the ordeal was getting way too trippy, and he wanted to be as far away from that thing as possible. He slid his body into the cabin, and took lean against he back wall.
“So what do you think it is, Cap’n?” Easton inquired. Wesley had taken to the wheel, and Easton was busy pulling up anchor as he asked. Easton could tell that Wes was having a hard time making conversation about the catch, and he couldn’t blame him.
“Well, what does it look like to you, East?” Wes gave a sideways glance at him as the other boys all watched the exchange.
“Uh, I didn’t really want to say, but it looks like a damn mermaid.” He responded. Craig folded his arms over his chest, and peered out the window. The expression on his face was anything, but impressed.
“Yeah, I’d say it was a mermaid.” Dave replied. Brad nodded in agreement giving only a somber response of,
“Yeah, a mermaid.” They all looked back at Wesley as Jon shook his head in disbelief.
“There’s got to be some other explanation. It can’t be a mermaid. Mermaids don’t exist.” He retorted, but Wesley shook his head in disagreement.
“There sure as hell ain’t any other explanation in my book, Jon Looks like a mermaid, acts like a mermaid, if seeing is believing it’s a mermaid. How can you say its not? We’ve been fishing these waters for a long damn time, and we’ve never come up on something like that. It’s not a manatee, and it sure as hell isn’t a fish, or a whale. If that’s a dolphin I’ve never seen one in my life.” He huffed as soon as he finished his sentence. Dave, Craig, Easton, and Brad all looked back over at Jon to see what he would say.
“A mermaid, Wes? Come on. That is exactly my point. The six of us have been fishing out here for nearly a decade, and none of us have ever seen anything like it? We are all native Floridians. There has to be some explanation. If there were mermaids out here the coast guard, and oilrigs would be shut down already. There is no way that…thing is a mermaid. What if it’s an alien? Hell you conspiracy nuts have really lost it this time, and what about you, Craig? You haven’t said a word. Superstition got you quiet all of a suddenly?” His tone was accusatory, and almost condescending to the rest of the group. Easton’s eyebrows quirked as he narrowed his eyes, and began interrupted before Craig could reply,
“Well, if you know so damn much you give us an explanation, Mr. Science Know It All!” Brad’s eyes narrowed back, and he immediately took an aggressive stance,
“It’s got to be a whale of some sort. Didn’t you hear the sounds it was making? Just because it has hair doesn’t make it a mermaid! Lots of animals have hair!” He screeched in anger.
“Bull, Jon! That thing has human features! It doesn’t look like a damn whale!” Wesley immediately barked in an authoritative tone to get the boys back in line.
“That’s enough from the both of you! None of us know what the hell it is, and that is why we are calling in the guard as soon as we hit the marina. Knock it off with the bickering you sound worse than my wife when she’s nagging me to do some yard work!” Easton chuckled shaking his head, and turning to walk closer to Craig.
“Buddy, tell us what you think since Jonny Boy over here seems to think it’s a whale.” Craig shifted his weight uncomfortably, and shook his head again.
“I don’t wanna get into the middle of this, East. I’m just going to mind my tongue for the rest of the ride if you don’t mind.” He murmured casting a glance back out the window towards the storm that kept rolling closer, and closer. Easton wasn’t about to take no for an answer, and put the pressure on him again,
“Oh, come on, Craig. At least tell me what you think the thing is.” Craig glanced back at Easton, and shook his head again,
“I really don’t want to get into this, East, but,” Craig looked over a Jon before completing his sentence, “ I think it is a mermaid, or a siren whatever you want to call it, and its not the first time I’ve ever of one being caught out here either.” He closed his mouth uptight after that, and leant further into the wall behind him. It was obvious to him that the rest of them were astonished by his confession, but he really didn’t want to recount the story.