PodCastle Episode 264: Mermaid’s Hook

by Liz Argall

Read by Julia Rios (of The Outer Alliance Podcast)

Originally published in Apex Magazine. Read the story here!

She caught treasures from the ship with her sisters; dangerous, exotic objects that plummeted through the water. Metal not yet rusted; fractured glass and timbers not yet smoothed by the sea; woven filaments as delicate as jellyfish, and as treacherous. Curiosities from the world above to be dared, caught, examined and discarded.

She found him falling. He fell fast, tangled in chains, his shirt billowing up around him, shedding bubbles in all directions as his body tore through the water. She surged towards him, caught him in her arms, then paused. Here was no special prize. Normally, they would let humans sink to the bottom and serve as bait for delicious crabs and tastier morsels, but this one still struggled. His urgent desire to live evoking something almost forgotten; an electric hum on the back of her tongue of land-life never known, but bone-remembered. She hummed low and chirruped in surprise, “Who are you? Why are you in my arms?”

He spasmed for a moment, his convulsions almost knocking him out of her grasp, the whites of his eyes flickering through half opened slits.

Her sisters hummed, “Why are you playing with the land-thing? Wait for the crabs to come.”

“I think it’s alive.”

Rated R: Contains disturbing imagery.