Seeker of Lost Souls: The Fisherman's Discovery

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A mystery lies in the lake's depths...
A conclusion is in the works. I'll have it up soon, hopefully.

John cast another line. 

He said there’d be fish here, he thought to himself. BIG ones.

Clearly, Fred had been bluffing. After throwing back another tiny sardine, John decided to give it one last shot and chugged his fishing boat further out, towards the center of the lake. Then he sent his line as far down as it would go.

“Big fish, come on,” John murmured, now completely bored. “I’ve caught bigger at the local river.”

He adjusted his hat against the descending sun and sat back to enjoy the breeze. Then the line suddenly drew taut.

A bite! And it looks to be a big one, John thought, grabbing his pole. Whoa – a really big one, at that.

He had to brace himself against the railing to avoid getting dragged off, and in a fleeting moment, John thought, I really hope this fishing cable is as strong as it advertised.

He started to reel in the catch, promising to himself he’d thank Fred later…

Keep going, keep going…! Soon his catch broke the surface.

A woman was hanging from the line, its hook firmly entangled in the collar of her dress. He stopped short, a thousand things going through his mind at once- she’s dead! I pulled up a corpse! Murder! But whom?! WHAT DO I DO?

Then the lady gagged once, and John’s brain kicked into gear again. A short while later he had pulled her aboard, sitting her up on the wall of his boat's small cabin.

"What in the world," he muttered, "are you doing at the bottom of a lake?"

He got the hook free and tried to straighten her sopping wet sleeveless dress. It was cream colored, and a thin rope belt was tied around her waist.

He placed an ear on her barely substantial chest… good, she has a heartbeat, he thought. But her breathing was very faint…

“I hope I don’t have to do CPR,” he muttered, and touched her forehead.

Immediately the woman screamed “WOOAH,” and started thrashing violently.

“What the- OW!” John’s hat was knocked off by a foot to his noggin. Then the lady stopped thrashing and shook the water out of her shoulder-length blonde hair.

“What… erm, who are you?” John demanded.

The woman blinked in mild confusion, as if registering his face for the first time.

“I… am… John,” he tried again. “Who are you?”

She stared at him with cloudy gray eyes. Even though she looked to be at least twenty five, she was barely five feet and thin as a rail.

“Uhhhmm,” she went. She appeared to be thinking hard. Then her eyes lit up. She stood up on wobbly legs and leaned on the wall to face him, then said, “I’m a mermaid.”

John blinked. “You… what?”

“I’M A MERMAID,” she sang, and John jerked back at the sudden outburst. Strong lungs for a small lady, he told himself. Maybe she wasn’t under there on accident.

“Sure. Uhh, a mermaid. Sure.”

“I know you don’t believe me,” she told him, then promptly slumped forward.

She almost fell on her face, but John caught her and stood her back up. “So what’s your, you know, name?”

“My…” her eyes became vacant. “You have food.”

“Hey, quit dodging the subject.”

The woman moved over to the box where John had stowed some of his halfway decent-sized catches and opened it. “Uhh, no, my sandwiches are in the other box in my cabin…” He trailed off as she calmly selected a carp and began gnawing on it.

“That can’t be good for you,” John said weakly.

“Fish eyes are a good source of fresh water and nutrients,” the woman muttered. “The main diet of an underwater culture is that which lives underwater.”

“Don't you want it cooked, at least?” John inquired.

“Fire isn’t a thing underwater.”

Soon the woman, having consumed the entire fish down to its fins and bones, gave a satisfied sigh and tossed it overboard. This snapped John out of his stupor.

“So, uhh, Miss Mermaid,” he began conversationally. “Got any family?”

“They're down there, somewhere,” the woman said.

“Oh, come off it,” John sighed. “There aren't even any good fish in this lake! Look, I'll take you home, and you can reunite with your folks there.”

“But I AM home,” the woman insisted.

“Okay, how about a psychiatrist? I can set up an appointment, and-”

“Look, I don’t need a psychiatrist. I don’t want one, because all they ever do is try to convince me that I’m HUMAN, when I’m clearly-”

“Wait, wait. You mean you’ve been psychoanalyzed before? Who were they? Why are you still disillusioned about all of this? And why don’t you know your name?”

“I’m a mermaid.”

“What makes you think so?” John challenged.

“I can swim,” the woman began, “but Dr. Ernest said anyone could do that. So I said, can they go under water for ten minutes at a time? And he was like, well miss, it’s clear you’re gifted in that area, but that isn’t substantial enough evidence to prove your apparent heritage. And I replied-”

“Wait, wait. You go underwater for that long, and just sit there? What’s the point??”

“Well, that’s what Dr. Terell was wondering. He was like, are you waiting for something? And I said, of course I am! When my kinsmen find me, they’ll teach me how to breathe underwater and grow fins and stuff! But he said I was deluded, too.”

“Well…” He tried to find the right words. “I don’t know. Maybe someone…” A thought occurred to him. “Hey, did someone ever tell you that you were a mermaid? Like, you were taught this by someone?”

The woman appeared to think about this. “I… I think…” she pressed a hand to her temple. “Huh, none of the psychiatrists have asked me this one. How odd.”

“Come on, you’ve got to know something besides what you believe you are.”

“But I’m totally who I believe I am,” the woman insisted. “I just… amn’t sure why.”

Huh? Who says that? “So, you don’t know anything else?”

“Maybe… if I dive again,” the woman suddenly resolved, moving towards the rail.

“Nope! None of that,” John said, catching her by the arms. “Last thing I need is you drowning on me.”

She tried to squirm out of his grip. “I’ve drowned before, it’s no big deal,” she protested, then suddenly stopped struggling.

“What? What is it?” John asked.

“Umm, drowning. I said drowning, and something sparked in my mind.”

“What was it?”

The woman shook her head. Then she shook it harder. “Drowning. Drowning. Drowning. Drowning.” She looked at John in hopeless frustration. “I can’t get a hold of it!”

She paced the deck, and John began to realize that her situation was much worse than he (and every therapist she had allegedly visited) had thought. She wasn’t just delusional!

“Okay, miss. I have an idea. You like raw fish, right?”

“I don’t know anymore! It just feels… appropriate.” She curled up into a ball on the deck.

John knelt next to her. “Hey, it’s okay. I can introduce you to raw fish done right: the Sushi Place in town will rock your proverbial socks off.”

“Sushi, huh,” the woman murmured. “Sounds like something Carrie would like.”

John’s eyes widened in amazement. “Y-You said a name! Who is this Carrie person? Come on, talk to me!”

The woman blinked once. Then she blinked again. “I… I’m dead. It’s my need to kill me. But the death willn’t happen, even though Carrie said it would.”

“Is Carrie a friend of yours?”

“That’s … not it.” the woman suddenly started crying.

“Wait a sec! Don’t worry,” John said, gripping her damp back. “I’m here for you! I’ll do my best to help you.”

“NO! I don’t wanna go back, no!”

“Huh? Go back where?”

“The place place! I knew it was my home, but I knew those weren’t my thoughts I was thinking. It’s weird, you see. I could tell that it was weird, but I couldn’t say that it was weird… am I weird, Maximus?”

Huh?! She had called him Maximus. “Who’s Maximus? Was he a friend, like Carrie?”

“Nooo,” the woman moaned. “It hurts, John… every time I try to remember, it punches me! Don’t, it yells, it’s hidden for a reason! Don’t find me, don’t find me! Over and over…”

“Heyheyhey, okay, okay. Here’s what we’ll do. I… will take you home. To my home, I mean. You… can rest. Sound good?”

“But… but! My mermaid kinsmen,” the woman moaned. “They’re waiting for me.”

“I’m sure they’ll live another day without you,” John replied, making his way to the wheelhouse. I feel like she's going to ditch me, he thought as he cranked up the engine.

Submitted: March 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 jraed6. All rights reserved.

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