Ghosts of the Sea Queen

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mairee is an ordinary Mermaid, shackled to a life of servitude to her Meeritahnis, delivering the souls of "land lovers" to keep her Queen alive. But near eternal life has made the Meeritahnis as paranoid as she is powerful. Can Mairee find a way out of "the Dome"? Or is the price of freedom too high?

Submitted: July 07, 2017

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Submitted: July 07, 2017

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 A plume of white-blue smoke erupted from the ground to the sky, in a flash. Mairee held out her palm and waited for the heavens to deliver. The air was crisp and still, but Mairee's nerves jingled a little in anticipation. She looked to the sky, palm still outstretched, and a small iridescent white bead of stone landed softly on her smooth skin. Mairee smiled. With her right hand, she removed the perfectly round stone and pressed it to the Mermaid's Purse suspended around her neck. The small, black pillow gently gave way as she pushed the stone into its centre. It felt full now. She'd need another one before the week was through.

 

Mairee stroked the pendant, slick with water, and then took a breath. In one graceful move, she leapt into the sky and then arced back down to the water. She disappeared beneath the ocean without so much as a ripple.

 

She made quick work of the dive back to the dome. Everybody did, lest they run out of air. The stone only bought you so much time and the curse if you failed to get back... Mairee shuddered at the thought. Locked to the land for eternity, and skin as dry as a bone. The shudder gave her the final spurt she needed to make it home.

 

The Dome loomed before her, it marked both her sanctuary and her prison. A grim smile crept across her lips as she noticed the guards. Harvest time approached and the Meeritahnis grew uneasy with her subjects, it appeared. It wasn't without good cause. Mairee, herself, had already plotted her own treachery. This year, there would be no gracious gift from her household. She'd worked hard gathering those stones, each one a precious drop of life within it. Why was Mairee shackled to a life of servitude followed by an early death? She'd asked her Meerthar that, more than once. The first time, Meerthar had simply continued to brush Mairee's long golden hair and told her it was the way of things. The next time, Meerthar had given her a lecture about natural life spans and how the Meeritahnis had earned her right to prolong that life by ruling over them with mercy and wisdom.

 

Mairee stopped her treasonous thoughts as she came closer to the guards. She had to admit the guards were good at their jobs. It wasn't the ones in front of her that stopped her people from overthrowing their ruler, it was the ones in their own heads. The “I shouldn't”s and the “what if I get caught”s. Mairee snorted lightly to herself. Her people policed themselves really.

 

“Halt! Anything to declare?” The guard to her right looked familiar somehow, perhaps they'd attend the Hatchery together?

 

“Nothing today”, Mairee tapped her necklace. “It's not quite full yet, it'll be ready for the Harvest though.” She smiled and waited for a response but the guard's pause felt too long. “You can check if you want?” Mairee fluttered her gills a fraction, just enough coquetry. The guard gave an uneasy shuffle of his feet in return.

 

“That's fine, Mairee isn't it?” His face crinkled as he recalled her name. Mairee's memory switched itself on finally and she fought the urge to close her eyes and take a big gulp. It was Peatrie. They'd shared a few awkward kisses behind the clam shells at the Hatchery. Mairee wanted to get home now, to avoid any further conversation. She nodded quickly and gave her excuses before swimming directly at the Dome. The walls melted as she swam through and she didn't cast a look back. The guard that had remained quiet leaned in towards his partner and muttered something, before giving Peatrie a leery wink.

 

 

As Mairee arrived at her front gate her heart removed itself from her throat, where it had been beating wildly in embarrassment. She peeled back the green fronds that formed a barrier to her world and stepped through the gate. The house looked the same as she had left it, slightly green around the edges but home; nonetheless. From the outside, there was no sign that she had been raided and Mairee relaxed a little more. Raids seemed to be all the rage with the Meeritahnis these days. Near eternal life had given her enough time to think of all the weasel ways her subjects could eke out a little longer, life wise. It always came down to petty theft, in the end, steal too much and you'd get noticed. Working out the myriad of ways to do it had become the Meeritahnis' main hobby.

 

Mairee made her way to past her sleeping chamber and headed for the Aquafree. She stared at herself in the mirror as she combed her hair as flat as the water would allow and then snapped it back in a hairband. The fashion was for long, free floating hair at the moment. Mairee didn't care for it. She made her way to the chest in the corner of the room and gave a wry smile as she deftly removed the top layer within it. False panels were child's play and most guards would spot them in a second, but Mairee displayed more sense than that. If you were going to use a false panel, you had to make it so the guards wouldn't dare to look for it. Use the guards within their own heads. Mairee laughed out loud as she looked at the layer of feminine hygiene products she laid out. That'll put off the older guards, make 'em feel guilty for snooping in a ladies things. Mairee beamed at her piece de resistance. The cream for “intimate problems” that sat right in the middle of the assorted diversions. And that'll deal with the younger guards! No way they'd want to put their hands on some dirty fishwife's unmentionables. They might catch something!

 

She was about to replace the panel when she felt the familiar shaking of the walls. The city alarms were going off. Sound muffled underwater and so the greatest minds in the Dome had set to inventing a system that created vibrations instead. The result was effective, if not unnerving at first. In a mad dash, Mairee swam to the front window, just in time to see the red fog creeping its way across the waterline. Blood. She held her head low for a moment. Things were getting worse for her people, no-one quite knew if the accused had really committed any theft. They did know that public guttings were an effective deterrent. They also made for a grim sight.

 

It was decision time. Mairee could change her mind and hand over all her beads, gift her Meeritahnis a longer reign and live in miserable servitude, or disappear. The latter option held the possibility of consuming the beads for herself, first. Mairee weighed up her options. A short unhappy life in the Dome held no appeal to her and she held no desire to lead a rebellion. Fleeing seemed her only choice.

 

Peatrie threw a bored glance back into the Dome and spotted a dark speck headed their way at a medium pace. He cocked his head to his partner, in signal. It was only as Mairee came closer that his body relaxed.

 

“Your keen aren't you?” Peatrie gave her a warm smile. He was still single, as his partner had pointed out. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled back.

 

“What can I say, the lure of the ocean's a seductive thing” she called back, as she swam through the Dome and towards her freedom.

 

 



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