The old god still lives.
Always I believed this, though the thought never brooked my lips. His singing waters soothe me; he speaks to me through the oceans. His tempest’s salty foam and roaring waves ignite passion within me.
That morning the island rose from the oceans’ depths. With it, my vague suspicions – whispered imaginations that rise in the night and break with the dawn – were made certain.
My father fell to his knees, crying out for mercy. I stood strong, legs planted wide. Turmoil and heat boiled the waters. Hot, salted waves smacked the ship’s side, spraying my face. A light stinging pain as hail biting your skin.
A grin twisted my lips.
In the island’s center a volcano erupted, molten fingers stirring the sky. Black, swelling clouds billowed up for far-off satellites to see and to know.
To know that the old god still lives.
Tearing my gaze from the sight, I crossed the deck. With a mighty push, I spun the ship’s wheel.
Father realized our course had altered. He staggered toward me, terror making his step unsteady. “Vladimir, turn us about! What madness has taken you?”
I had no answer. The island was all I could see; I knew that land because it came from the sea. I must have come from the sea too. Perhaps my father never wed at all. Perhaps he found me in the fishing nets, and all along I belonged in the deep waters, the quiet waters.
The nearer we drew to this newly birthed island, the more turbulent the ocean became. Ashes rained down, wafting in the heat. Sweat broke on my brow and rolled down the length of my nose.
Father shouted as our ship crashed on the jagged edges of the island. A great, shrieking peal spoke of the damage done to the ship’s hull. But I cared not. My heart raced; I thought my lungs would burst as I tore off my boots and raced across the deck. My heels crushed soft and feathery ashes beneath me.
Laughter bubbled up inside me as I dove off the ship. The water swallowed me, its warmth embracing me. It welcomed me home.
There is a silence beneath those waves that is like no peace I know.
Breaking the surface of the water, I found sand beneath my feet. My gaze darted in search of the old god as I stepped ashore.
But he was not there. Instead, there were fish. Hundreds of them, as large as dolphins. My eager stride faltered. I stopped, feet splayed in the sand. Water dripped from my hair as smoke tickled my lungs.
Then I saw their eyes. Human eyes set in human faces. Not fish – but mermaids and mermen. They flapped their tails and raked the sand with bloodied fingers. Desperation flickered on their burnt faces; skin peeled back and bubbled. Bleeding, charred, maimed they dragged their bodies back toward the ocean.
The tremor of their wails crashed upon me, dropping me to my knees.
A mermaid lay not three feet from me. In the ruby light of the volcano, her scales shimmered iridescent and glittering – dazzling my eyes. She no longer crawled. Her eyes found mine, tears trickling into the sand.
“Do not heed the call of Poseidon, son of the sea,” she whispered. “For he is fickle.”
Her words struck me. I recoiled. “You speak of the old god? I think he is my father. How can I not answer his call?”
Her hand flailed toward me, but I wouldn’t take it.
“He will betray you. He loved us and formed us in this fashion to be with him. But do not heed his call. He will burn your home and body.”
This dying mermaid’s words cast shadows on my heart, muddying my newfound sense of belonging. Reeling back, my feet sank into the waters.
The sea-song soared inside my chest, whispering my name.
Tears broke across my cheeks as I let myself fall back into the ocean’s embrace, into Poseidon’s arms.
The old god lives.
All my life, I heard his call. All my life, he sought to woo me. Despite the mermaid’s claims, the island’s ascent couldn’t be Poseidon casting away former children – but rather the sea-father calling his favorite son home.
A lifelong fan of the Fantasy genre, Alexis A. Hunter has a passion for all things mythical, ethereal and out of this world. Thankfully, she types her stories out now instead of scribbling them in notebooks like she did as a child. To learn more about Alexis and her adventures with flash fiction visit www.idreamagain.wordpress.com.
Ocean Depths by Ted Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.