Story Time: The Ocean’s Demand

The Ocean’s Demand

Leandra Ranger

            The rolling of the sea was demanding a reckoning when Ebele felt the vibration of screams through the water. The dark and gold scales along her spine rose sharply as her strong tail propelled her out of the depths, and her instincts were confirmed when she broke the surface.

A ship flying black flags rose before the siren. Upon the deck, illuminated by flashes of lightning, a woman in a long, brown coat exchanged blows with a shirtless man in half-undone trousers. Ebele floated with luxurious purpose alongside the battling pair and began her song in time to the beat of the thunder and the crash of the waves.

The battle ebbed with the swell of the song, and Ebele’s dubious prize ogled her, scratching his chest dumbly. His opponent stood stiffly behind but contrasted her tension with a sharp smile. Ebele winked at her. As the song continued, Ebele beckoned the sacrifice with rhythmic waves of her deep blue fins, and he shambled forward until he crashed overboard

Ebele embraced him and dragged him deep, red blood from dull human teeth trailing behind his left hand. Sometimes, if the sea called for a sacrifice and no deserving individual was available, she would put them to rest herself, hoping her sweet tongue was enough apology for her sharp teeth. This man deserved his fate. His blood was already calling to her crueler cousins, with their rough skin and rows of teeth, but she pressed an open-mouthed kiss of breath to his lips to ensure he appreciated their attentions before swimming swiftly out of his reach. His life was the least valuable of the two humans she’d seen tonight; it’d be prudent to confirm the other’s health.

When she emerged at the starboard side of the ship, the woman was setting a new course at the wheel. Ebele splashed with her tail to get the pirate’s attention.

The pirate strode over to the edge and looked over at Ebele. “I had it handled,” she shouted down with a crooked smile and a teasing sparkle in her eyes. She seemed to be recovering quickly.

“But now you won’t get in trouble with your captain for handling it,” replied Ebele, stretching her taloned fingers.

“He was my captain,”

“Now, you’re the captain, and he will calm the seas for you.” Ebele gestured around her at the still rolling waters. They had changed from raging to frolicking, though she was unsure that the human would notice the difference.

“That’s not entirely how that works, but I’ll propose your suggestion to the crew.” The pirate pushed sopping black hair out of her face and into her hajib. “My name is Khadja, if you care to know that.”

“Ebele,” replied the siren, smiling to show her sharp teeth, “It’s my absolute pleasure to meet you, Khadja.”

“Is this your territory?”

Ebele nodded, body bobbing in the waves. “Visit often.” With a parting smile and a slow dive all for Khadja’s appreciation, the mermaid disappeared into the ocean.  It was always better to leave them wanting more.

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