Authors: Kaylie Austen
Song of the Sirens
World Castle Publishing, LLC
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed
as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing, LLC
© Kaylie Austen 2013
Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC November 1, 2013
rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in articles and reviews.
I suffered from memories that were not
mine. I hated these dreams, these nightmares, these memories that did not
belong to me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help but remember the
eerie fragments of those dreams.
As I twitched below the deck of a
research ship, the memories flooded through me. I tried to shake them off. To
make matters worse, a storm advanced. Agitated waves rocked the boat as I
grabbed onto the edge of the bunk bed.
I could’ve enjoyed this lazy moment on
the boat, if not for the lingering nightmare.
With a groan, I reluctantly acknowledged
the flashes of her face. I didn’t know who or what she was, but she taunted me.
In my dreams, she constricted my mind and refused to let me awaken. I knew
where I was, and that I dreamt, but I couldn’t wake up.
This wasn’t normal, and I feared
I grunted. How ridiculous! I didn’t live
on Elm St. where a dream demon lurked in nightmares and waited to kill
Just minutes ago, I dreamt of leaning
over the boat’s railing, toward a beautiful face, which contorted beneath the
ripples. Moonlight gleamed across the dark, cold water. Without moving her
lips, the woman sang to me in an unknown language. I couldn’t fight against the
Come to think of it, I
go to her. I wanted to fall into the ocean and fall prey to her intentions. The
whispers increased, the song intensified, and suddenly died. Calm and maddening
silence overwhelmed the night.
I’d tilted my head to stare at her face
when she opened her eyes. They were wide and lost, and stared back as if she
The whispers returned, and coiled around
my thoughts. The song writhed through my mind and pulsated tighter, harder,
like a serpent constricting its prey.
She focused on me as her pupils thinned
into reptilian slits before expanding into glossy blackness consuming the
whites of her eyes. Her hair floated around her head, fanned around her
shoulders, and a long tail slapped the surface.
When I realized a mermaid stalked me,
the whispers hit hard. They chattered in the voices of a dozen women,
screeching and hissing, until abruptly centering on one voice. This voice
belonged to the mermaid, and she commanded me to enter her realm, the world of
undiscovered aquatic creatures. She commanded that I submit myself to her.
“Come here,” she’d whispered without
moving her lips. “Anita…come play….”
Her angelic song tugged at my soul and
sedated my mind like a drug. I became hers, and she rose to snatch me from the
The mermaid curved up the left corner of
her lips into an innocent smirk. She narrowed her eyes as a sinister expression
washed over her face, which squirmed beneath the ripples.
My heart pounded against ribs, warning
me of danger, death. My belly dropped, and a nauseating sensation rocked my
guts. I clutched the railing. Though I leaned toward the water, I pushed
against the ledge. I felt like a weak human caught on her hook, and she didn’t
intend on releasing me.
The mermaid showed determination with
pressed lips. Her beauty faded into repulsiveness so evil, it made me want to
barf. I gagged. My chest heaved, but I couldn’t pull away.
The longer I stared, the more disfigured
she became. Her smooth, youthful skin wrinkled and turned gray. Her eyes sunk
into their orbits as the flesh around them depressed and darkened. Her skin
tightened, becoming too taut for her face. It stretched over her bones and tore.
Her petite nose cracked and chipped off,
leaving an exposed hole. I noticed a slight movement there. Tiny worms gorged
on her dying remains.
Her lustrous hair floated away in
patches, leaving the scalp exposed in odd patterns. Blisters covered her long,
thin neck, and throbbed with infection. Pus oozed out into the surrounding
I stared at her hideousness with a
strange sense of curiosity.
She grinned at me and exposed a row of
razor sharp, yellow teeth. A forked snake tongue twisted beneath them, and
lusted for a taste of human flesh,
I parted my lips, but couldn’t scream.
She opened her mouth. Her jaw unlocked
at the hinges, crackled, and revealed a bottom row of sharp teeth. Her tongue
slapped the water in search of me.
She leapt from the ocean as a pair of
broad hands snatched my shirt and yanked me back. I barely escaped the
psychotic mermaid’s grasp.
She screamed. She was pissed! Her
shrilling cry echoed in the night. She crashed against the side of the boat,
and rocked it in an attempt to overturn it. The waves rocked harder as they
grew several feet above. I thought they would fall on me and drag me into the
water so the mermaid could sink her talons into my petrified flesh.
I stumbled against the guy behind me.
His cold hands remained on my arms, and his icy chest pressed against my back.
I couldn’t hear him above the mermaid’s shattering cries. I clutched my ears
and sank to my knees as I stared up at the towering wall of dark water. It
climbed higher and higher. In the background, clouds rolled, and lightning
streaked the sky.
A figure appeared in the wall. Shadows
danced across her as she and her snapping jaw lunged at me.
I awoke before the disturbing part, the
part where I died. I had sucked in a sharp breath and made a hissing sound when
I came to.
I grabbed my head and shook. I wanted
those dreams, memories, whatever they were, out of my head.
The nightmare had shoved me back into
reality with a force beyond reasoning. Another horrible dream literally stopped
my breathing. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I hated sleeping, and I hated
I growled, lurched up in bed, and gaped
at the surrounding darkness. I wheezed and coughed until I caught my breath and
regulated my heartbeat. A scourge of sore aching plagued my chest, and a dizzy
Licking dry lips, I concluded the dreams
intensified. My body couldn’t continue down this path if physical reactions
lingered during waking hours. Sleep deprivation would turn me into a zombie.
Ocean madness might just get the best of
me this year. Trapped on a vessel in the middle of nowhere with little to do
could drive me to the brink of sanity this summer.
I spent every summer for the past six
years with Dad in search of Atlantis as his personal assistant. Most of those
summers drifted away on this very boat, isolated from humanity. I had yet to go
With a moan, I looked down from the top
bunk. Being at sea had never been this traumatizing. I spent plenty of summers
on the wide, blue waters without the devastation of nightmares. Perhaps reading
one too many legends, and books like
warped the story in
I twisted my mouth. Maybe I shouldn’t
read horror books, either. It seemed as though I was a glutton for punishment.
I knew mermaids couldn’t exist, but when
had the idea of
mermaids entered my head? Who would even conjure
up such a hideous, mythological creature?
To make matters worse, the nightmares
seeped into waking hours. As we inched closer and closer to the greatest
anthropological discovery of our time, the icy song from my dreams evolved into
whispers during broad alertness.
I cringed with slight fear.
ocean madness existed, and it hurled me into the claws of mental instability.
I took a few moments to shake off the
residual trauma from the nightmare. I almost chuckled. A few repetitive
nightmares didn’t mean a thing, or so I tried to convince myself.
I clutched the side of the bed as the
boat swayed above rough waters.
The ship wasn’t new, and everything that
could creak or squeak did. It did not console, nor help my ascent into reality
by calming nerves. If anything, another wave of tremors overtook me.
I shuddered, drew the covers to my neck,
and laid back. I closed my eyes and attempted to relax. Without windows in the
small room, I couldn’t tell night from day. As long as the lights were down, it
didn’t matter. I could sleep away days down here in my solitude, and no one
would look for me. The crew assumed I was safe and minded my own business. Dad
assumed the same.
A bitter thought latched on. If
something happened to me out here, would anyone notice? I groaned.
Unlike everyone else on the boat, I
didn’t have a thing to do but pass time by reading, being nosy, and getting to
know Riley in my usual, awkward way. I didn’t have to show up anywhere at any
given time. I sort of showed up when I pleased. Dad didn’t mind as long as I
kept tight records, and he didn’t usually call on me for normal assistant
things. I felt secure knowing the men would notice if I went missing. I liked
to think Riley would notice first.
A smile crept across my lips. I
remembered my first sight of Riley, the hottest prodigy ever. I came home after
my last day of school and decided to take a dip in the cool ocean behind the
house. I strolled across the beach, felt smooth sand between my toes, and
clutched a towel in one hand.
I dropped the towel near the shoreline
and grasped onto the bottom hem of an oversized shirt and prepared to lift when
I saw him. This incredibly good-looking guy jumped out of the water. Brilliant
rays of sunshine gleamed from every drop on his head and neck. Slight waves
slapped his torso. His saturated locks covered his eyes.
I froze in place and lowered my hands as
he trotted out of the ocean and hit land. He smiled and walked right past me
and headed into
yard! He went inside
I shook off the shock and ran after him,
following his wet footsteps. I expected to find this stranger out of place in
the wrong house, instead I bumped into Dad.
“Did you see some guy just walk in
“Ah, you mean Riley?” he asked.
“Yes. He’s a new member to the team. He
joined us a few days ago. He’s brilliant, knows the sea better than I. He’ll
make a great addition. Speaking of which, I need you to get his paperwork in
order. I went ahead and took the liberty of checking him out and all, but I
need you to file it. Have him sign the needed paperwork, while you’re at it.
He’ll be staying with us until we take off.”
“Sure,” I agreed.
Dad retreated to his study as he
prepared for the summer’s journey while I ducked into my room and hauled up a
pair of jeans to cover my bikini bottoms.
Riley emerged from the bathroom several
minutes later, dry and fully clothed. He stopped me in the narrow hallway where
I stumbled over my words and ended up in a bizarre stare-down. His sparkling
green eyes hypnotized me.
“Hello,” he spoke and cut through the
“Hi,” I breathed.
I crammed some sense back into my head
and continued, “I’m Anita, Percival’s daughter and personal assistant. I need
you to sign some paperwork.”
“Ah, you’re the one who keeps everything
He offered a hand, and I took it. I felt
the iciness from his flesh penetrate mine as it numbed my arm. Strange.
Riley and Dad went over his research and
made an outline for the trip, ignoring me altogether. This didn’t mean that I
didn’t catch Riley’s eyes every time he glanced over his shoulder at me.
He didn’t smile, nor frown. He looked
Riley spent the remainder of the week at
our house, but we never had the chance to speak. One by one, Dad’s team
trickled in until the big day came.