Saturday, April 10, 2021

New Story! The Sea Hag Ch. 1

Long time lurker, first time poster. 

This story was inspired by The Little Mermaid and is a romantic adventure. 

*TW* it gets a bit violent in later chapters, so if that is not your thing, feel free to skip it :)

I will be posting new chapters weekly on Saturdays, as they are available.

Hope you enjoy!



Chapter One:

Michael


My twin brother’s ‘89 diesel pickup roared, skidding to a stop and I gripped the open window frame to avoid being thrown across the cab. “Yeesh, when are you gonna learn how to drive this thing?” I complained only half seriously.

“Probably about the time you learn to wear a goddamn seatbelt,” Gabe replied smoothly. I snorted a laugh. “I’ll have you know, that was some exemplary driving,” Gabe continued, “If you could see, you’d know that I slid into this parking space smoother than a freshly waxed backside.”

I felt for the handle and pushed the door open with a groan of elderly metal. “Pretty sure an old beast like this isn’t supposed to slide into anything,” I said as I dropped down out of the lifted cab.        “That’s what he said,” Gabe said quickly, almost reflexively as my bare feet hit the warm, pine-needle covered pavement. 

“You better not have dinged my board, Tokyo Drift.” I couldn’t help the grin on my face at my brother’s irreverent nature. I had always been the more serious twin; focused, driven, like our father. Gabe had taken after our mother; a free-spirited artist unconcerned with the expectations of others.

“Like you would even notice!” Gabe called teasingly as I walked around the truck, hand lightly brushing the sun-warmed metal until I reached the tailgate and popped it down. My hand quested about briefly for my surfboard, finding its dented and much abused nose and giving it an affectionate pat before hauling it out and flipping it to lean on its tail while I groped about for my duffel bag. I sighed when my hands found only empty truck-bed. It must have slid toward the front.

For a split second, a lazy part of me suggested that it would be more efficient for me to ask Gabe to find and retrieve the duffle for me. Reasonable as it was, I almost never listened to that part of myself. Since going suddenly and totally blind at the age of fifteen, fighting to keep my independence had become a primary concern; and I made a habit of never letting anyone do for me what I could do for myself. So, with a shake of my slightly shaggy head, reminding me that I was overdue for a haircut, I slapped my palms on the chest-high tailgate and hauled myself up. The motion was smooth and easy, thanks to a rigorous workout regimen, and propelled I myself up high enough to get a knee underneath my chest and begin to crawl forward.

The sound of the back window of the cab sliding open, then: “To your right,” Gabe provided in an off-hand, distracted way. I heard the vibrating buzz of Gabe’s phone receiving multiple notifications and grinned.

“You got a hot date or something?” I asked as the back of my hand found the canvas of my military style duffle. I grabbed the handles and began backing out of the bed, grateful for the neoprene wetsuit cushioning my knees.

“As a matter of fact he’s waiting on me right now so, if you wouldn’t mind,” Gabe drawled sardonically, “getting the fuck out of my truck at some point today…” he trailed off with what I imagined was probably a circular ‘get moving’ gesture.

I reached the tailgate and turned to sit with my legs dangling as I tossed the duffle to the ground with a light thud. “I don’t know, bro,” I shot an evil grin back over my shoulder, “this is pretty comfy. Maybe I’ll just hang out right here.”

“Dumbass!” Gabe declared, laughing, “All I gotta do is stomp on the gas. I thought you went to college.”

“Dammit Gabe,” I said in my best Bones McCoy, “I’m a biologist, not a physicist!” I turned to flash him a full grin and could hear him snickering through the open window.

“Seriously, though,” Gabe said when he stopped laughing. “I got a magnificent ass to tap, so get yours off my truck.”

I jumped down and grabbed my board, closing the tailgate as I did so. “Does that mean you think my ass is magnificent?” I called as I heard the Beast clunk into gear.

The truck roared away and then circled back as I stood still, listening and smirking in the warm summer sun. The loud diesel engine growled right in front of me and Gabe called down from the cab, “You can’t tell, but I’m flipping you off,” he said matter-of-factly in an inside joke that had started shortly after I lost my sight. I dutifully and cheerfully raised my own middle finger in response.

“My shift ends at eight tonight. I’ll pick you up then,” he called as the engine roared once more and made for the road. I switched my middle finger for a thumb as he drove away.

Once the last of the noise had faded I could at last hear the sound of the ocean waves. As always, the sound caused some deep inner tension to release in me. I closed my eyes and just breathed in the scent of the sea, listened to the crash of the waves, the call of a gull. The sun was warm on my skin, the top of the neoprene wetsuit folded down, the arms dangling around my legs. I don’t know how long I stood like that, my forehead pressed to my surfboard, my hands lightly gripping the edges. I was centering myself, calming myself, preparing for what was ahead.

When I felt ready I located my bag and then, within it, my folding cane. I palmed it and shouldered the bag, putting my arms through the straps like a backpack. Then I balanced my surfboard atop my head, nose facing forward. There probably wasn’t anything in the way at head level on the way down to the beach, but it helped to know that, if there was, the board would hit it long before I did. I unfolded my cane with a series of satisfying snaps and set off toward the sound of crashing waves.

This was a small forgotten day-use area on the Oregon coast, about five miles from our parent’s house where we had grown up. The road to access it had long been abandoned in favor of a newer highway and so it remained a sort of local secret. After some prodding investigation I eventually found the rocky, overgrown trail that led down to the beach. When my cane tapped the old wooden sign, I knew the trail was directly to the left. I made my way slowly, carefully down the trail. When my toes finally touched sand I breathed a sigh of relief and turned my face up to the searing sun with a smile. I transferred the surfboard to underneath my left arm and held my cane up out in front of me, not quite touching the ground as I walked. Beaches were usually pretty safe for me, but the cane would hit a big piece of driftwood or rock before I face-planted over it.

The thing about beaches is, though there’s nothing to run into, there’s also no landmarks to tell you where you are. Thankfully, this little beach was fairly enclosed by rocky out-croppings and was only about a half mile wide, in total. The way the little cove was situated made for some very nice waves coming in. It was a perfect little spot for a blind-loner-surfer like myself and I would forever be in Gabe’s debt for finding it.

I walked forward in a more or less straight line until the sand beneath my feet began to firm up ever so slightly, telling me I was near the High-tide line. I could hear individual waves lapping about fifty feet away, so I decided to make camp.

The surfboard was sunk tail-first into the sand. I pawed through my duffel pulling out items one at a time: Blanket, towel, water, protein and energy bars. Cell phone, bluetooth speaker and, perhaps the most important item: the small plastic Beeperbox. Once turned on the thing would emit semi-continuous beeps until the end of time, or until the battery ran out, whichever came first. I would literally be lost without it as it was the only way I could find my way back to my camp after surfing.

After everything was set out just so, I sat on the blanket and munched an energy bar, refamiliarizing myself with the sounds of the cove. An odd, out-of-place sound came from ahead and to my right. I stopped chewing and frowned. Gabe would have told me if there had been any other cars in the abandoned parking lot. It was far enough out of the way that few people would walk here. I supposed someone could swim but surely a person would be making more noise. I tilted my head, listening intently now. 

Small splashes, nearly inaudible against the roar of the surf, dripping, and then I heard it: a footstep. Distinctly human. I clicked my tongue against the roof of my mouth rapidly a few times and, sure enough, the sound bounced off something. Something I was sure hadn’t been there before.

“Hello!” I called, raising a hand in greeting. I pointed my face in their general direction and smiled. The perpetual breeze brought the pungent aroma of seaweed to my nose. “Is everything alright?” I asked the silence that followed. “Do you need help?” I tried, standing as I did so. There was a hiss of breath, a wet flop, and then retreating footsteps running through water and disappearing into the surf.

“Um,” I said to the surf. A gull laughed mockingly over head. I scowled and shoved the remains of my bar into my mouth, walking slowly to the spot the strange person had occupied. It had sounded like they had dropped something so I probed ahead with my toes until they encountered something slimy, soft, and wet: seaweed. Just a big pile of seaweed. I sifted through it just to make sure, even tasted it; it was still just seaweed.

“Huh,” I said, sitting back on my heels. The gull laughed again. “Shut up, you,” I muttered distractedly. Whoever they were, they obviously weren’t in the mood for social interaction, which was just as well; I came here to get away from people, after all.

I shrugged and rolled my shoulders as I stood and turned, feeling ahead with my toes again for the blanket. After a few steps, I clicked my tongue, listening for the echo of my surfboard, upright in the sand. I took a few more steps and tried again. Nothing. My heart sped up just a bit. Never leave the blanket without setting the beeper, idiot! I scolded myself. It was a mistake I’d made often enough in the beginning, and I damn well knew better at this point. I silently cursed the seaweed monster, or whatever it was as I began turning in place and clicking methodically until, at last, I heard the blunted sound of my clicks bouncing off something solid. Camp had been behind me and to my left. I had overshot it by several feet. I walked forward, clicking, my hand out and reaching for the board. When I touched it I shuddered with relief and stood for a moment while my heart returned to its normal rhythm.

After I had chugged some water and turned on the beeper, I pulled my board out of the sand and headed out for the surf, hoping to clear my mind of all the weird unpleasantness. I made sure I could hear the beeping before I waded out, feeling and listening for the right time before diving under an oncoming wave and popping out the back with a shake of my head and a shout of delight.


12 comments:

  1. Yeay!! I'm so happy to see this posted here. You guys, this story is terrific. If you like some action/SF mixed in with the romance, you're in for a treat. It's great to see new genres mixing it up on PD.

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    1. Thank you so much! Your endorsement means the world to me. You have been an idol and a mentor.

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  2. I’m hooked already! The Little Mermaid is one of my favorites. Honestly, I don’t usually enjoy stories written from the viewpoint of a disabled character - I find that sometimes they just don’t scratch the dev itch - but I’m LOVING your descriptions. I can’t wait to read more!! I’ll be anxiously watching this space for the next update. :)

    Devi Girl is right; it’s so fun seeing new genres of stories crop up!

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  3. Interesting start! I'm hooked. I have two issues with the lone blind surfer, though. First, how is he using either the beeperbox or echolocation while waves are crashing on shore? Second, does he never get tired of late drops?

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    1. I'm gonna be honest, I didn't do a ton of research on the surfing portion of this. I know of at least one blind surfer and I thought it an intriguing hobby for this character to have. I may do more in-depth research later, but it's not really a huge part of the rest of the story. Thanks for the comment!

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  4. Great start. Looking forward to reading more.

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  5. The story is off to a good start. I already want to read the rest.

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  6. Congrats on sharing your first story, Spiral! This is so, so good. The tone is so fun, and the details are so vivid. And I love Little Mermaid retellings, so I can't wait to see where this goes.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this with us! I'm hooked, and I love the brothers' banter. Can't wait for more!

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  8. I’m in, can’t wait for more!!

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  9. It’s great. Very different and love the banter so far and descriptions and the ways he orients himself

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  10. It’s great. Very different and love the banter so far and descriptions and the ways he orients himself

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