I’ve some entries for Arlo’s Journal from “Mermaid Rising” that set up “The Mermaid’s Apprentice.” Here’s the 3rd entry following those from Section 2 of “Mermaid Rising.”
July 14th – Day 3 at the Hospital
A broken limb, especially a leg is a pain in the rump.
All of which has given me time to review the camera footage on the laptop, the cameras themselves still aboard the boat. It’s with a heavy heart that I now know how I know the girl, though I cannot remember her name. I owe her my life and yet, research is research! I love the sea and everything in it, and until now I’d have taken anything of interest to a lab and dissected it.
I was pretty sure I was going to attempt something like that with her. Though I was going to need to be circumspect, or have family troubles. The problem was, if I was circumspect there was a big probability she’d get away and if I used the family, problems there as well. The world deserved to know there were these creatures living among us. How to go about it?
If she was human, then the tests would reveal that. This wasn’t going to be a witch hunt, that if she drowns she’s human, even if that made perfect sense. The last thing I needed was for the government to catch wind and cut off my funding! Research was my life, and grants were the life blood of it.
The problem I had after reviewing my data and all the camera footage was that there was no proof. I free dive and her and her friends were apparently free diving. I’d magnified each image until I was sure there were no bubbles indicating breathing coming from any of them. They also had no gills. It bothered me to some degree that Melanie had been caught up in it, but then apparently anyone could be deceived if deception it was. Perhaps the mermaid had other world abilities that captured people’s minds and made them forget who they were.
Even if in all my data there was conclusive proof, without a specimen to test it on, it would be useless. Technology, such as it is, could manufacture any image. I needed the specimen. It would be great to get scientific evidence of her strange appearances and disappearances. That she has no mermaid fluke, flipper or tail didn’t deter me in my quest. I’ve reviewed the internet for all mentions of mermaid, and all myth has proper mermaids with a tail in the water and legs out of the water, if they had that ability. There seems to be a consensus that mermaids require a boon to get legs, otherwise they are creatures of the sea and helpless on land. She had legs and had not been helpless.
Other interesting findings are that a mermaid’s presence foretells doom for a ship, or bring about the doom and often carry the sailors they capture to their deaths by drowning them. Some mention mermaids helping fisherman find a catch, help those that are drowning and sometimes displaying healing abilities.
Even as I read these accounts, it sounds far-fetched and I know exactly how I’d sound trying to explain any of this. What I want to do is erase all evidence of the past few days and move on, but what did I expect? When Dr. Killian sent me to explore, I had visions of giant octopus at the worst and that would be bad enough. Sailors are often known to get addled after spending much time on the sea, as non-sailors judged their tales to be pure fancy.
I was pretty sure I didn’t want to report these findings to DK, but at the same time wanting to follow up on all of it anyway myself. It seemed impossible and rude to contemplate having a discussion with this mermaid. I know how I’d feel having someone investigating me, sure that I couldn’t be who I was. To prove it in some tangible fashion, and only to satisfy that persons curiosity, it in no way helping me. Was I being perverse to want to spend more time with her? To think, my life had depended on this young maid.
Yes, that was part of the issue her age. It was impossible in the extreme to ask her, this friend of my niece. How could I even attempt to explain that my curiosity was only in her mermaid abilities? Of course I’d met her before she rescued me.
I was trying to remember just when that was, but I was having a devilish of a time at that. Just when I needed to remember specific details about Melanie and specifically her friends, I couldn’t because I really hadn’t paid my niece much attention – to my utter ruin if I couldn’t figure out this mystery!
When was the last time I went to one of Melanie’s events? She was a swimmer, swam with girls her age on a swim team. Organized out of a recreational gym that Jeb went to for exercise. When he’d first told me that it was family run, I’d dismissed it, but it was actually fairly nice.
I couldn’t put my finger on the event, but it had been at one of them that I’d seen her with her friends. One of them had been this mermaid. I had a mind for detail, but only if I cared about it enough to put my attention on it. Until now I’d excused me forgetting simple things as Melanie’s birthday. I was paying for the lack of thought now, because even now I didn’t know the date of her birth, barely knowing her age. How was I supposed to know her friends?
I had a reason to be angry. This creature was in close to my family, but so far there had been no ill will. Could I justify taking action? Against her, when she’d saved my life twice. It wasn’t rational, but since I had no family of my own, it was natural that I wanted to protect the only family I had.
My trip is pretty much finished, but as I still have time, I’ll ask my brother Jeb to join me. If we can find that island again, I’d like to spend the rest of my trip there and I think I know just how to do it.