WIP Wednesdays | Mermaid Tears Excerpt | 6/15/2022

Merpeople of the kill you and eat you variety just chilling and conversing. This is an older WIP today from a prequel to an old Nanowrimo novel. I’ve trunked this project for now but I have a very clear vision of what happens in the main story and it’s just a matter of executing it in a way I like.

Warning for implied fish death and consequential eating of said fish.

Added a photo I took from a tour of a forensics class that felt appropriate.

Raguel does not care about humans. Why would she? They have about as much to do with her as the inner lands. Still, she sees them cavorting on the shore with their strange, disgusting extra limbs on occasion, like a second pair of arms.

She sees them now as she eats her dinner, a fish with blood smeared across her face.

The scent of Breyer drifting from downwind on the sea breeze reaches her before he does. He’s always careless that way, never sneaking up on her the way that she does with him even if he has the opportunity.

She takes a playful swipe at him right after he nestles down beside her. He balks, lowering himself to the rock, looking up at her with wide eyes. He’s weird that way, never understanding play.

“The humans are out again,” he observes.

“They won’t be for long,” Raguel says, ripping out the fish’s guts with practiced claws.

She throws most of the viscera to a group of gulls that had been eyeing her ever since she settled on the rocks. At Breyer’s look, she gives him the best bits.

He gulps them down gratefully, then asks, “Why?”

“They don’t like the cold, same as us.”

“But they could survive it, same as us,” Breyer says, propping his chin up on one hand as he gazes at them.

“Surviving and enjoying aren’t the same thing.” She smacks his tail with her fin.

Breyer is a typical example of a young merman–teeth and claws too big for his body. He’ll grow into them soon, transforming from an awkward teenager into the sleek and strong mer.

Raguel herself has already began her many growth spurts, the dull maroon scales of her childhood replaced by bright red ones, gleaming like so much blood. She looms high above her little brother, whose scales are still mottled. He reminds her of some adolescent sea birds she had seen, on the cusp of adulthood but not quite there.

His immaturity leads him down into dark waters that he ought not venture into, causing him to ask questions about things that should be left alone.

His bright red eyes sparkle, the slitted pupil dilating into a full black moon as he looks across the water at the faint shapes of the humans through the fog. Raguel has no concerns about them seeing them from here. Humans aren’t blessed with the fine-tuned senses that they have. She could be in the deepest, blackest water and still be able to hunt prey, to taste its scent as it fled through the darkness. She had seen humans trip over their own feet even with a full moon to guide them.

Now there is only a sliver, but the humans have made one of their big, ugly lights on the beach. Black sand gleams softly under the light. Raguel’s lip curls. It hurts her eyes to look at it. It’s nighttime, their time, and the humans shouldn’t be disrupting it.

Breyer does not share her disdain. “They made the fire so big this time.”

“The what?” Raguel is irritated, not just that he’s trying to make conversation about the humans, but that he knows something that she doesn’t.

“The fire,” Breyer repeats, shrinking down. “I’ve seen them make it before, but it was usually small. Today it’s as big as one of them.”

“You’ve watched them before? Alone?”

Realizing his error, he squishes himself flat against the rock. “I’m sorry. I–it just smelled so nice.”

She knows what he means, the smell of “cooking,” the smell of altering the meat of something perfectly good to begin with. Like putting something out in the sun but worse, accelerated.

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