5. Deadly Assumptions

‘Selena?’ Felix thought as he dived deeper. He swam in any space as it was vacated by the dolphins, looking around at the large numbers of friendly creatures. ‘How could Nathan possibly know that the mermaid’s name is Selena?’

‘Perhaps because I told him.’

‘What the hell?’ Felix paused mid-stroke to turn left and right, but all he saw were dolphins, nodding and displaying their natural continual grin. The feminine voice had been clear in his mind. He was confused and for once, lacking confidence. ‘Am I hearing voices in the deep?’

‘Yes, you’re hearing my voice, and I’m not far away.’

Felix turned quickly from side to side as he swam deeper and farther away from the yacht. His two friends on the boat had been spooked by something, and now he was in the water with a very real sensation of hearing voices, but it wasn’t voices, it was one and feminine. During the discussion with the other guys on recent days he’d suggested that he and Nathan should investigate the island before going underwater for a look around.

‘I’ll stick to the plan, and investigate the land before the sub-surface area. If a mermaid lives here she must have a lair, or a cave, or whatever.’

Felix swept his arms back and continued rapidly kicking his legs, the flippers propelling him at speed. He was on course once again, aiming for Neptune’s Finger.

Laser and his friends continued to play in the area between the terra boat and the island but they didn’t impede the diver. Instead, they formed a mass of bodies to his left and right, continually ensuring that he was guided towards a particular area.

Felix was comfortable when swimming and diving in the company of dolphins so their number didn’t faze him. As he focused through the crystal clear water on the growing mass of the feature ahead, he felt that he was being coaxed away by the mammals. He knew from his recent dives that there were only a handful of places at which he could safely climb out, so he was wary. The dolphins swam in front of him, leapt from the water, corkscrewed and dived. All the while, ensuring that the human was shepherded to a specific point.

Felix finally accepted that he’d have to swim around and go ashore out of sight of the yacht. A few seconds later he heard the voice in his head again.

‘I will wait for you on the island.’

‘Okay, that’s not my imagination,’ Felix thought. ‘I am actually hearing this stuff.’

‘Yes, you are. We are communicating’

‘Oh my god.’ Felix almost spat out his M.B.A.. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to block his thoughts. As he got closer to the coast of the small island he was nudged farther around, and reluctantly accepted that he wasn’t in control. ‘I mean no harm.’

‘If you mean no harm, you will survive.’

Again, he thought, ‘Oh my god.’

‘Your deity has no way of intervening here.’

This caused more confusion for Felix, and if he were honest, more than a little worry. He surfaced and looked back for the yacht, but even before he did, he knew it would be out of sight. The dolphins parted to give him access to a small cove on the south of the island, sheltered from the harsh Atlantic winds. He swam into the enclosed space to find that it was an area that he’d never investigated previously. Of course, he had only ever been interested in mineral deposits so a cosy cove might have been covered by a few feet of water, and would have gone unnoticed. The area was mainly rock and sand but patches of grass were growing at different levels inland towards the tall rock face.

Felix climbed out of the water, stood, and removed the air canister from his mouth. He lifted his face mask onto his forehead and checked his watch. It didn’t make sense, but it looked like he had used more time than he intended to reach the island. A quick check of the oxygen indicator on the M.B.A. confirmed his suspicion.

“Of course … the bloody dolphins,” he muttered. “They compelled me to go around the island.” He sighed, relieved that he was no longer hearing the haunting voice in his head. A glance was enough to assure him that the cove was about half the size of a sports field. Rock pools and large ponds had formed here and there and it was as he looked at one of the ponds again that he saw her.

Felix rubbed his eyes and blinked several times. “Oh my god, she’s real … she’s bloody real.” He continued to stare, absorbing the sight of the beautiful aquatic creature.

Selena sat on a patch of grass, lazily splashing her fluke in the pond beside her.

Felix was unsteady on his feet for a moment as his brain tried to assimilate what he was seeing. He’d seen this creature in the water, but it had been a fleeting glimpse. She was now sitting at the edge of a large pool of water, gazing at him, and apparently waiting for him to make the next move. He continued to stare in disbelief.

Selena used one hand to indicate a flat rock about three yards away on the opposite side of the pond.

“You want me to sit there?”

The sensuous lips parted and a high-pitched sound was followed by several clicking sounds.

Felix covered his ears with his hands and his eyes narrowed. “Bloody hell.”

Selena pointed once again at the patch of flat rock not far from her.

Felix walked forward slowly, partly because he was still wearing his flippers, but he never took his eyes from the mermaid. He sat on the rock, placing his mask and M.B.A. beside him. Although he wasn’t cold, he was trembling, being so close to this stunning example of a fabled sea creature.

“How do I communicate—”

Selena flicked her tail in the pool, and pointed to Felix’s legs and feet. She made no further attempt at oral speech, but watched closely as the terra-man slowly lowered his flipper-covered feet and the bottom part of his legs into the pool.

“Can you understand me better now?” He said, and stared at her, waiting for a response.

‘We can communicate telepathically if we are connected physically, or by water.’

“I don’t understand this. I can hear you in my head but not when you tried to talk to me?”

‘I used my natural voice when you surfaced to demonstrate how I would communicate normally, underwater. In your case when underwater I used the same telepathy I am using now.’

“You can hear my voice when I speak normally but you can also hear my thoughts?”

‘Yes, I can understand your speech by watching your lips, or by hearing your strongest thoughts.’

“How did you know I was in the water and coming here?”

‘Did you not think of my name when you left the vessel to enter my world?’

“Yes, I did. My friend told me your name just before I dived into the water.”

‘Your friend is Nathan and he has done well.’

“You know Nathan?” Felix was astounded.

‘I saw him briefly before this day, but suggested what he should do if he returned here.’

“You told him that he was to give me your name?”

‘I told him that my name should not be used until it was time for one of your kind to communicate with me.’

“How could you know what would happen?”

‘Your species believes it is superior, but you must accept that it is not.’

“I don’t understand how we can have this conversation.”

‘Our people cannot interact with all creatures out of water, but we have evolved over the millennia to communicate underwater. For hundreds of years in your time, and with much effort, we have developed our minds to use telepathy.’

“How can you understand my language when there are so many different languages around the world?”

‘As I said, your species believes it is superior. We may not walk on land like you, but we have made progress in other ways. I understand and can translate many terra languages rapidly in my mind. I need only to sense the thoughts of one of your kind in the water.’ 

“I’m trying to comprehend all this and I know later I’ll think it’s been a dream.”

‘Another terra weakness. If you cannot understand, you refuse to believe.’

“Okay, how did you know what Nathan would do when you gave him your name?”

‘You terra-folk do what is expected.’

“You could not have known when Nathan would tell me your name.”

‘You continue to prove that it is as I said. If something is difficult to understand it is easier for you to deny its existence.’

“Okay, okay. Please tell me how you knew that someone would return here?”

‘I told Nathan that he must use my name at a time when it would be remembered and repeated in the water.’ She held his gaze and noted his stare when her double eyelids closed and reopened.

“Again, I don’t understand. He said that he only saw you briefly?”

‘On the occasion that he saw me I tried to communicate, but fear overcame him and he almost expired.’

“He would have been safe if he had one of these.” Felix held up the tiny M.B.A. canister.

‘It is not so. When Nathan saw me, a small device like yours fell from his lips and he swallowed much seawater. I brought him to the surface out of sight, but close to his craft. I placed my lips on his and breathed for him to maintain his life. When his eyes opened, I replaced the device into his mouth and left him beside the vessel.’

“Oh my god … no wonder he’s never told the whole story, and he’s still afraid to dive.”

‘There was much confusion in his mind when I left him. Did he not tell you of his adventure underwater?’

“He returned to the surface and told people that he had seen a mermaid. Your kind, your species is a myth in my world. Nathan was treated as … he wasn’t believed.”

‘Again, if you cannot believe—deny.’ She gazed into his eyes. ‘Why did you come here?’

“I came to explore this small island.”

‘Did you not come here with my captivity on your mind?’

“Captivity?” Felix gasped. “No, no ….” His eyes opened wide when he realised that she may have read his thoughts. Felix was sure he had kept that dangerous idea from his mind. “How could you believe such a thing—”

‘You seek to catch me like a fish, a lesser life-form in your opinion, do you not?’

“No, I—” He didn’t finish the sentence because he was underwater. Selena had moved so fast that he had no time to register the movement. Felix held his remaining breath and opened his eyes underwater in the pool. Massive pressure built up in his lungs as he fought against the firm grip on the back of his neck and shoulders. In the clear water, he focused on the green scales of the aquatic beauty’s tail as it gently moved, far out of reach. He extended his arms but couldn’t push her away and he couldn’t feel the rocks. Oxygen ran low and he mentally begged for mercy.

‘Yes, I did, I did, and I’m sorry,’

‘You have shown interest in this place, but it would be best for your kind not to threaten my kind or our home.’

‘Okay. Please … please … I can’t ….’

The pressure released, his eyes flickered and his breath ran out. Felix reached out and kicked in desperation as he grasped for the ledge. He spluttered and coughed up water as he surfaced. With his head clear of the pool, he continued to gasp. He thought back to the last activity he saw in the water. The mermaid had not climbed out. After releasing her hold, she had turned rapidly in the water and dived deep, and straight down. The pool was not as shallow as it had seemed. Felix had made more than one assumption since arriving on the island, and realised that this trait had almost cost him his life. 

He climbed out and sat on the ledge gathering his wits and his strength for a short while. When he saw that his legs were in the water he pulled them up. “Jeez, what have I been thinking about since I climbed out?” Felix worried that he’d had a negative thought about Selena. She would surely have heard it.

It took twenty minutes before he felt mentally and physically recovered enough to leave the ledge. He pulled off his fins, and looked down into the seemingly endless pool one more time before setting off on foot around the island. Twenty minutes later, as he negotiated areas of sand, grass and rock he glanced up to see the yacht gently bobbing in the water.

“So near, yet so far.” Felix waved and felt relief wash over him when the other two men waved back. He sat on a large boulder to refit the large black flippers to his feet, and as he did, he thought of Selena’s tail and huge fluke as she disappeared. Felix pulled down his face mask, bit into his M.B.A., and dived into the water. He was no longer interested in exploring the subterranean aspects of the island. For a moment, he had considered swimming back to the boat on the surface, but knew that he must make this return journey underwater or, like Nathan, he would live in fear.

As he swam a few feet below the surface he looked at the sea-life in a different way. He was still a few minutes away from the boat when a pod of orcas approached, swimming fast, their leader seemingly coming straight at him. Felix was unable to maintain his stroke as he focused on the large black and white mammal’s formidable rows of teeth. An unbridled fear gripped the professional diver as he applied more effort and silently hoped his imagination was playing tricks on him. He had seen these creatures throw seals in the air like playthings before they’d become a meal.

The orcas all came close and dived deep under Felix, but so fast and close that he felt the pressure of the water as they flipped their broad flukes. They swam around and close to him several times.

Ahead, and not too far away the keel of the yacht stood out in the water and gave new hope that his strange visit here was almost over. With only one hundred yards to go, a pod of around twenty dolphins was next to approach. In their midst was a beautiful creature with a human face and upper body, long light brown hair and a green tail.

‘It would be best for you and your kind not to damage Neptune’s Finger. Yes, I know that is the name your species uses for that place.’

The sight of Selena at this point caused panic and Felix had to concentrate. ‘We will not damage Neptune’s Finger. You have my word, Selena.

‘Consider well, all that we discussed, Felix, and remember that I have many friends.’ She disappeared in a flurry of colours and reappeared close on his other side. ‘If you return to communicate with me, you must have gained wisdom from our first meeting.’

‘I have,’ Nathan transmitted in his thoughts, concentrating hard not to curse her or have negative feelings toward her. He didn’t care about his fear, but hoped that she sensed his respect. ‘I have learned and I will return … in peace.’

Again in a flash, Selena disappeared, leaving behind the illusion of an underwater rainbow, but when she reappeared she was in front of him. After gazing deep into Felix’s eyes, she gave a beguiling smile, nodded and dived at speed with the dolphins and orcas, all of them disappearing into the depths.

Felix Marsden was a different man when he climbed aboard the Angel 3. His last thought as he had looked at Selena before her dive, was that she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, in the water or on land.


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