• Lost Sky

    Chapter 1: Found

    It was difficult to describe a day that ebbed and flowed with and the experiences of every being held within. Thoughts could change the weather. But that was simply the status quo in The Neverlands. It was a place in between time, in between matter, one that a rare few have visited in their dreams.

       The passage of time was forgotten here… unless you yourself happened to remember it. There were no boundaries, topography could change, and indeed, maps were useless things, unless you kept it private — Shared thoughts could alter an individual’s dreams. As such, any compass would simply spin round again and again until everything was free and no sense was made at all. The many suns and moons made sundials difficult to monitor, and only the creatures who relied on the sea were unfrozen from eternity.

       Among these sea creatures were the Merfolk, who inhabited The Neverlands’ lagoons and more hostile water-logged locations.

    —    —

    Still they had fun in sweet and shallow ways. The lagoon was always cool, and the stillness of the water lulled most into a false sense of security. The silent spell was sometimes broken by the waterfalls and the noise of what passed as the laughter of the mermaids who played there. Their laughter wasn’t the correct cadence for a human. No, it felt more like an animal mimicking a genuine laugh. In fact, most of their body language mimicked and mocked the prey they desired most.

       This day was not so different than any other day, though most days blurred together eventually — plans that were made were postponed and perhaps forgotten altogether with the inability to tell when the next morning had arrived.

       There was a sun that was high in the sky, another slowly dipping under the ocean waves, perhaps it was dusk. The cool rocks and the cheerful splashing waters from the falls had brought out a family of mermaids who played and basked in the sun.

       Bubbles made from the rainbow waters were their preferred toy as they played catch well into the evening. Combs made from the shells and spines of their neighboring sea creatures were used to untangled their long locks and mirrors fashioned from glass made smooth from the sands and waves were their most prized possessions.

       A few mermaids lounged in the warmth of the sun in front of a treasure trove of pearls, gemstones, and other things that simply shined and sparkled in the light. These few guarded the possessions, though if one were to look closely at them, they didn’t seem very concerned with their task. They showed more interest in how much sun they were getting, and if the rainbow bubbles were going to pop and get their hair wet again.

       A slow, lovely evening was settling in — the crickets beginning to notice that they should be making noise. The mermaids were soft and relaxed if they weren’t playing catch or laughing in their fake mimicking tones.

    —    —

    One mermaid on the edge of the lagoon, looking out onto the ocean waves, caught a reflection of the sun from the wrong angle and squinted towards what could have been causing it. Within seconds there was a shrill yelp and the lazy effortless evening froze, then shattered into pieces.

       The glint of light came from the forest — a pirate’s dagger. He and his comrades crept slowly, aiming to enclose and engulf the lagoon. But their stealth was now in flames

       A warning horn — crafted from a pirate ship the Merfolk had already taken — resounded throughout the lagoon. Still, the men did not turn back.

       The pirates knew if they returned empty handed, if they didn’t recover what these mermaids had stolen from them already, they wouldn’t be allowed back onto the ship. It was either a shallow watery grave here, or a deep one involving crocodiles and walking off the plank.

    The pirates quickly turned to their backup plan of rushing the lagoon, screaming and yelling to intimidate and overwhelm, but then the mermaids opened their mouths, and all was lost.

       Silvery, resonant barbs of sound came forth and soon filled the lagoon. The pirates stuttered to a stop, falling under the thrall of the mermaids. Even the surrounding wildlife slowly ambled to the lagoon, dropping all defenses, slack-jawed with unfocused eyes, and shuffled into the water to drown in the fathoms below.

       The mermaids watched without emotion. These senseless men meant nothing to them. Never had.

       A few of the mermaids started to play with the bodies, taking any shimmering items from them. Earrings and necklaces, coins and pocket watches that fell from their clothing were added to the treasure trove right to the side of the waterfall. The cycle continued.

       Such as it always was…

    ————

    Underneath the waves, on the edge of the ocean floor, a young merman, barely of age, let his gaze rise to watch the antics of his sisters. He took no part in any of it, but it certainly wasn’t his first time experiencing a pirate raid. It was the nature of merfolk, and the pirates should have learned by now. When the moon hung low in the sky, howling a song to the water spirit’s blood, the mermaids would began to change…

    But the change wouldn’t happen until nightfall, whenever that felt like occurring. The young merman simply watched his sisters until then, taking comfort in their ability to take care of him and the rest of his family.

       The merman’s eyes narrowed as he watched the remaining pirates lulled and lured to their deaths. There was one that wasn’t like the others…. A strange light emanated off of him… but his sister’s acted as though they couldn’t see it, couldn’t tell… the merman wasn’t surprised, that was more common than not. He was simply sensitive to such things.

       Vorca was a finder. He just knew where some things were. Maybe it was magic, maybe he had a connection that others didn’t, saw things that others didn’t… Finders didn’t last long in The Neverlands, snatched up and used until there was nothing left of them, which was why his sisters were so protective. Vorca, however, longed to see the world…

       Right now, all he could see was yet another pirate raid. That… and the terrified look in this pirate’s eyes. He didn’t seem vacant or slack jawed against his sister’s siren song… he just seemed petrified.

       Vorca slowly moved from his place on the bottom of the lagoon, biting his lower lip in curiosity. He smiled delicately, wondering if his sisters would notice how different this blond pirate was now that he clearly wasn’t thralled like the others.

       They noticed.

       The blond man tried to get away and was hit across the back of his head with a loose rock from the lagoon for his troubles. He went slack finally, his eyes rolling back in his head, and he sank under the ocean waves.

    It was true his sisters had warned Vorca to ignore the bodies of the hapless humans they lured to their deaths with their irresistible melody. Let nature take its course they said. Humans were such finite things… the only specie here to remember that they should be aging, and banished for their carelessness. But Vorca enjoyed finding new things. And the glow he could see from the man had still not gone away… Perhaps he’d found this pirate for a reason… he’d never know for sure if he just left him to drown.

    humans they lured to their deaths with their irresistible melody. Let nature take its course they said. Humans were such finite things… the only specie here to remember that they should be aging, and banished for their carelessness. But Vorca enjoyed finding new things. And the glow he could see from the man had still not gone away… Perhaps he’d found this pirate for a reason… he’d never know for sure if he just left him to drown.

       Vorca swirled around the sinking pirate, causing the updrafts of the water to spin the man’s hair up above his head like a halo. The merman smiled, thinking the pirate looked nice this way. Vorca wasn’t sure how long he stayed looking at the man — eyes closed, a tinge of red now pooling above him from the wound he’d taken to the back of his head. Vorca blinked and a thought that humans needed oxygen… a lot of it… constantly…The thought to keep him alive spun and forced its way into Vorca’s brain like he hadn’t been the one to think it…

       He quickly grabbed the man by the arm and closed the space between their lips, pressing oxygen into the pirate’s lungs before pulling him deeper under the water, someplace safe where he could discover why, for the first time, he’d ignored his sister’s warnings.