Gromet's PlazaTransformation Stories

Only the singer knows the meaning of the song

by Suggs

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© Copyright 2018 - Suggs - Used by permission

Storycodes: Solo-M; yacht; storm; wreck; mermaids; tease; offer; vial; dream; M2merman; bodymod; scales; gills; swim; hunted; net; trap; cage; captive; cons/nc; X



I feel I owe you an explanation as to why I have not mentioned in my final report the existence of the enclosed journal. It’s undoubtedly his, as I’m sure you’ll agree when you see the hand-writing. As a professional private investigator I’m at a loss as to why I have not made reference to it in the report, which I know you intend to share with his family. Maybe that’s the reason.

Ultimately, I can’t explain your friend’s disappearance. I’m sorry, I know you were close, the best of friends since school. He was fit with no health problems, behaving normally, no excessive work pressures, no health worries, no financial pressures, no addictions, no close relationships gone sour, nothing which might ordinarily explain such a disappearance. Nothing that would indicate any psychological disturbance …  except for this journal. However, while I can corroborate some of details, some are… well,  I don’t think it would do his reputation any good to have them dragged out into the public by his family or the police. Clearly something happened when the accident occurred at sea.

A little over 12 months ago while on holiday in Greece, he hired and took out a small sail boat from the port of C_______.  He was a qualified and experienced sailor, familiar with the local seas. He was rescued, by chance, around 24 hours later by a small fishing vessel, some hundred miles away from the route he was supposed to have taken, and before any alarm had even been raised. He was clinging to a lifejacket, delirious, drifting in the sea. Initially he claimed to have been at sea for at least five days and appeared disturbed. Doctors stated he initially complained of having severe trauma to his legs but soon settled. After rest in hospital, he gave a statement saying that the boat was wrecked in an apparent sudden storm, though there is no record of such a storm. He returned home to the UK, apparently physically and mentally none the worse for his experience.

In the following year all of the people I have spoken to reported a noticeable but not damaging change. He was withdrawn, subdued though not obviously unhappy. When questioned he would laugh or shrug it off. He developed an incredible passion for swimming, at the gym, in open water, anywhere. I note it in my report merely as a matter of fact, as part of an investigation. In the context of the journal, you might make something different of it. I cannot say anything, I can deal only in facts and where they lead me.

Then two months ago he booked a one-way ticket on a flight back to Greece, took only that which he needed for the journey, travelled to C_____ and disappeared. There is no evidence he intended to return. The Greek police investigation was thorough, the UK police checked, I have checked.

Sometimes you do the boring leg work, hour after hour, day after day, and occasionally that brings you the luck you need. While making enquiries at a local taxi company a driver happened to over hear me. He reported that he saw somebody who may have been your friend walking out of C______ on a back road.

The road is unmade, little more than a stony pathway barely wide enough for a car and that soon gives way to a narrow path. It makes its way for several miles through weather scoured uninhabited scrub land along the top of the cliffs, where it ends at a steep scramble down on to small, enclosed bay.  

It was early afternoon when I scrambled down, against my better judgement. I thoroughly combed the beach and the foot of the cliffs until from the lengthening shadows I realised I would soon lose the daylight. As I stood at the bottom of the path to make my way back, I noticed something to one side, a patch of colour about 7 foot up the slope that didn’t belong amongst the grey rocks and pebbles. There I found almost covered over by the loose scree a small red note-book, the journal I now enclose. I cannot explain why I did not go immediately to the Greek police with it. It is perplexing to me now, as it was then. I’ve never felt such a sense of foreboding.  

Whatever I ought to have done, I can find nothing to suggest it is anything other than a “genuine” account written by your friend.  But “genuine” is a problematic word here.   I am not qualified to interpret what has been written and whether it is masking a mental breakdown. Referring to a qualified psychologist may provide you further answers but I feel, and it is only a hunch, that while there are no further answers to find, there is still a further part to this story. I’m sorry.

Yours sincerely…

-------------------- ******* --------------------


I’ve been back in the UK for 12 months now. Back to work. Friends. Weather. Back to normal life.

The storm, the wreck, the island, everything afterwards should be fading from the fever dream it surely was. Yet the memory is sharp. Everything about it remains in clear focus.

It was no fever. I remember the fear, how I struggled at first, the beguiling dream it became. The promises made. Now I yearn to go back, to belong.

 If it didn’t happen, why do I have this small clay vial in front of me? No bigger than my thumb, stoppered and sealed, marked in letters I can’t read. Yet what they promise me is so very clear in my mind.

Should I write this down, to work it through, to help me make my decision? Whoever might find it will think me delirious. I do not care.

Last night I dreamt of that place again. The tireless heat of the sun, the repetitive wash of the waves in that secluded cove, the cliffs towering above me, the certainty of a lingering death … then the freedom of the sea.  

The freedom – it was freedom, a freedom I can’t recapture … but no, no, I’ll start from the beginning.

I will write down what happened.

I took the small yacht out from the little fishing port at C_________ on a calm, clear day. I used the on-board motor to get away from the clutter around the port, before raising the sail. The weather was set fair. I had been intending to sail south down the coast. I’m not sure what happened next. I fell asleep? Passed out? Mesmerised by something?

Yes, mesmerised. There were voices on the water, soft voices that whispered in and out of the slight breeze, songs that joined in melody with the waves that lapped against the yacht, songs that washed over everything, washed away everything, washed away the heat of the sun, washed away the waking mind.

When I came to I was no longer in sight of the coast and the wind howled from out of a billowing steel sky, a squall that tossed and smashed the boat against waves that were anvils.  I took a blow to the head and fought a losing battle against unconsciousness, the taste of blood and sea water in my mouth, the expanse of swirling grey clouds above me bearing down on a small helpless dot on a wild ocean.

Then I awoke on that beach. My life jacket had gone, my t-shirt and shorts torn and barely more than rags. There was no sign of wreckage from the yacht. I vomited sea water, groaned, spat, heaved again. I crawled up the beach, my skin numb to the grittiness of the sand. I looked around me, the cliffs towered up, sharp and unclimbable, with spurs that dropped down to enclose the cove. There was no sign of other people, no sign any human had ever been there.

Darkness was already falling, it was getting cool. I was hungry, thirsty, my head throbbed, I took what shelter I could and spent a night that was longer than the hours that I endured.

The next day was devoid of hope. The sun came round and throughout the day threw down on that place a relentless heat. Shelter was impossible. There was no drinkable water. There was no food. I scrambled up the cliffs as best as I could, cutting my hands, cutting my feet, barking my knees and elbows. It was impossible.  I clumsily swam out of the cove and saw that the cliffs towered to either side, a monolithic face set against the expanse of a featureless sea. There was nowhere to swim to.  I was at my physical limits, I barely made it back.

I shouted, I screamed. I cried tears of hopelessness and in the end I laughed a tear-fuelled laugh, the bitter laugh of the condemned.  I sat on my haunches, head buried in my arms, utterly exhausted, as the setting sun placed another marker against what I was sure were the few remaining hours of my life.

Then, with an inexplicable certainty, I knew I was being watched. As I lifted my head there was a splash, something glimpsed out of eyes still raw from desperate tears, and there on the sand beyond the shoreline, a fish that seemed clearly to have been placed there. I shouted and shouted, I waded out in to the sea calling out, I looked and looked but there was no one.

The fish twitched and next to it, wedged into the coarse sand, was a small vial, a little brother to the one I have in front of me now, as I write this. I could not make sense of this. Was it some random action of the surf? Was somebody watching me, tormenting me? With some difficulty I removed the stopper from the vial and an almost physical smell of the sea escaped. Was I supposed to drink it? What about the fish? How could I cook it? Could I eat it raw? I picked it up, contemplated it, but could not bring myself to bite into the flesh. I had no knife to gut it, no means of raising a fire. It seemed like a cruel trick of the waves. I re-stoppered the bottle.

The night yawed between empty wakefulness and empty dreams against an incessant feeling of weariness and fatigue

-------------------- ******* --------------------

I awoke to a moment of clarity, of resoluteness. I had to get water, in some form. I staggered to my feet and went to where I had left the fish and the vial at edge of the beach. There was another fish there, now. And as I looked about the cove I saw, half perched on the edge of the spur of rock at the edge of the bay, a woman with her legs immersed in the sea. She was looking at me, a calculating, studious look.

She was naked as far as I could see and her damp long golden-ginger hair was draped down over her shoulders, barely concealing her breasts. Her face was ageless, rather than young, and she looked lithe, athletic, a naturally slender curve to her belly that swelled out to the hips concealed beneath the water. And I could not help but stare, speechless, my dehydration, my hunger, my pains, momentarily drowned out by the vision in front of me.

She raised her hand, a half gesture to the fish and vial at my feet and spoke in a language I could not understand. A lilting voice half singing a song the meaning of which flitted across my mind as she held me with eyes that shimmered with an inner glimmer of something magical.  Then with a grace and ease that comes only from natural strength, she dove from off the rocks and into the water, and I saw a tail, a golden-green, a tail like that of a fish, flip in and out of the water, a movement of poetry that further stunned my already reeling senses. She was gone.

And I understood.

I had a choice. Here I might survive on what might wash up, what they might bring while I was of interest to them. For a time, for a time. But rescue? Help? No, that would not come. Not here. Not in their world.

Or I could drink from the vial and be rescued.

For a price.

There would be a price.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

The day passed in an agony of indecision as the sun threatened to melt the rough sand to glass. I gnawed on the raw fish, desperate for moisture, for food, but found it vile and nauseous. I examined the vial, shook it, tried to make sense of the strange writing.

Mostly, though, I examined my own thoughts.

Was I going mad and hallucinating? Is that all it took, a few days in the sun? Or was I lying on some hospital bed, comatose, deep in dream? How would I know? If I was, what difference would it make if I drank from the vial, if it was only a dream? And if it were real, then why should I not believe that somehow it would bring rescue? Round and round the thoughts went, driven be the unyielding sun.

Another cold, hard night beckoned. I tore out the stopper from the vial and drank it without further thought.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

The next day I felt calm. My legs felt weak, as though the bones might bend under my own weight, but I was clear in my thoughts. I discarded the fish I had tried to eat yesterday, throwing them back into the sea. There on the edge of the beach were two more. There was no hesitation. I ate what I could, greedily, the fresh flesh tasted of the promise of life. I felt stronger and rather than retreat to what meagre shelter I could find against the cliffs, I found a spot against one of the spurs of rock that provided some shelter, letting the waves wash partly over my legs. It was oddly soothing.

I drowsed and watched with detached fascination as the water seemed to bend and shape my legs. As the sun came further round and higher in the sky it became too hot and I stumbled and crawled back to the semi-shelter of the cliffs. I thought I knew what the price of my salvation would be, and I was more than willing to pay. I felt a deep tiredness and slept heavily, dreamlessly.

When I awoke I felt immediately something was very different. My feet seemed to have dissolved into a new shape. And there were patches, on my feet, up my legs, of scales, pools of smooth blue-grey iridescence that made the red-pink flesh of my legs look so vulgar. 

I tried to clear my head, shaking it, but still the changes remained.  I ran my trembling fingers over them, marvelling at the disparity between the patches of scales and the crude hairy skin of my legs. As the sun set, my fear rose, a gnawing dread that I was hallucinating, that in truth my death would come through a grisly cocktail of madness and the agony of some flesh devouring disease. Sleep came through an exhaustion of tears and mounting unease.

It was late in the morning when I awoke. The sun no longer seemed as harsh, the light less blinding, my mind was clearer. I tried to stand but there was only a strange bending, motion to my legs and I half fell back to the ground. In wonder I stared down at my legs, which were now two separate tubes of flesh and muscle, graced with a shimmering smooth layer of scales, that stretched down to two halves of a tail at each end. But the inner side of each leg was raw, a mess. Slowly I removed my shorts and carefully worked them down my legs, the tops of which I was oddly disgusted to see were still flesh. There was a strange thrill as I moved my legs, no, no, as I moved the two halves of my tail together. As the flesh met, an electric bolt coursed through my body, I arched my back against an overwhelming reaction that might have been pain, that might have been pleasure, and collapsed back against the sand.

When next I dared look I could see the simple fantasy that I no longer had legs, only a disturbingly beautiful tail, the scales all the way up to the waist, smooth and glittering in the sun. Out at the mouth of the cove I could see several women, watching.

Mermaids. They were mermaids and they were calling irresistibly to me, in that siren song, calling to me, their newest merman, to join them.

Awkwardly I hauled myself down the beach, pushing with my tail, pulling myself forwards with my hands till I reached the sea. I swam out to them and they sang many songs and all the cares and worries and ills of my life seemed to dissolve with the wash of their words.  

In the afternoon they watched and encouraged as I gloried in the deftness of my new form, powering through the water, diving as deep as I dared. I felt like a king. Some instinct drove me to snatch at fish, to present them to the mermaids and they took them with slightly mocking displays of gratitude as they swam in and around me with infinitely greater grace than I was capable of.

As the sun set, they swam away from me, and I returned to the cove. I slept in the shelter of the rocks at the edge of the sea, oddly happy and at ease, eager to see what the next day would bring.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

Several days followed and they showed no greater interest in me, other than a detached watchfulness as I swam in and around them. With each day an increasingly desperate yearning was building up in me.  Finally I could suppress the desire no more and I was chasing after them. They laughed at this, luring me on and then easily powering or twisting away from me. I was so cumbersome compared to them, I felt like a fumbling teenager on a first date, they seemed so knowing. That day and night became a rolling nightmare of sexual desire until I could bare it no longer and the following day, as they swam away from at the end of another afternoon of teasing, I swam after them, swam with all the strength I had.  

They stopped and looked back and laughed. It was a cruel laughter. They slowed down, leading me on, but always getting further away and time passed until the waves were edged with the silver of the moon and the open sea lapped all around me.

And then they were gone, I was alone and exhausted, lost in the sea at night.  

I swam on, stopping increasingly for rest. I felt mocked, afflicted, incomplete.

At some point with the new day’s sun rising up in to the heavens, tiredness overtook me

-------------------- ******* --------------------

The fishermen who found me were kind but kept their distance. I think I ranted and raved in their boat for a while, like a madman. Could they understand me? I can only hope not.  I slipped in and out of consciousness  as they took me back to a Greek island which I was later surprised to learn was hundreds of miles away from where I’d started out days before.

When I came too I was in a hospital bed. They explained patiently to me that I’d been adrift for around a day. I shook my head, told them they were wrong. Perhaps there had been a blow to my head, they said. Perhaps there was an element of sun stroke, they said.

I nodded, lay back, stunned by the insane reality of the memories I had and then sat bolt upright, incomprehensible words frothing at my lips: My tail! My tail!! I threw back the covers and there in front of me, in front of the Doctor and the nurse, were two perfectly human legs. My legs!

Had I got pain in my legs, they wondered? Was there a loss of feeling? Their faces were a mix of concern and puzzlement. There was an examination, I could feel them prodding, poking, feeling at the bones, the flesh, watching my reaction, asking questions, and I could feel my legs just as they had always been. Reassuring hands gently pushed me back down on to the bed.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

It was when I was back in the UK, unpacking my things, that I absent-mindedly went through the white plastic carrier bag of my possessions from the hospital. In it were the now smelly ripped t-shirt and shorts they had found me in, and nestling in a zipped pocket is the vial.

I have put it in drawers, at the backs of cupboards, I have gone to throw it away, but it calls to me, even after a year

So I am resolved. It’s been a year. I have just bought the flight ticket online, the vial sat in front of me as I did so. As I looked at it, I understood. By going back I would prove myself. That was the real test. That’s what they had been telling me. I was sure.  I had always been sure.

There didn’t seem any point buying a return flight.  

I’m not sure where to leave this journal. I’m not sure I want somebody to find it. But maybe that’s part of the price. You have to tell your story, so others know, so one day others might be happy to pay the same price. Yes, I think that must be it. I will leave it somewhere. Not obvious.

But somewhere.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

When he arrived at C_____ they would not let him hire another boat. Go home, they told him, fool they called him, and turned their backs.

Instead he found and followed a cliff path out of the town. He walked steadily for several hours, the path becoming barely more than an absence of the shrubs that otherwise tangled themselves out of the ground. Eventually he came to a steep scramble down to a sheltered cove, not the bay he’d washed up in a year ago, but it would do, he was sure. There was something on the wind, the hint of a melody carried on a faint breeze.

He first walked inland, finding a place to hide the small rucksack he had travelled with. His wallet, passport, anything that might identify him he had ditched in a wheeled dumpster just outside the town. For a moment he wondered about taking the bottle of water with him then mentally remonstrated with himself for not believing, for doubting. He would not need water. He needed only the vial. He hesitated before picking up the small red book in which he’d kept a journal of what had previously happened.

Scrambling down the path to the cove, he slipped at the bottom, falling and rolling the final few metres, dropping the journal as he did so.

He didn’t bother to compose himself, to stand and survey around him, he simply pulled the stopper out of the vial and drank the liquid in one gulp, before flinging the empty vial as far as he could in to the sea.

The change began almost instantly, a sickeningly violent transformation of flesh. With desperate, crazed hands he ripped off his clothes as the flesh of his legs convulsed, his feet twisted at the ankles, the pain stunned his body like electric current as the bones reconfigured themselves, the mesmerising agony of ugly pig-like flesh and skin turning into a graceful, beautiful merman’s tail. Within minutes it was done. His torso covered in sweat, his emotions thrilling with the pleasure of the pain, his body alive with the glory of his new form.

He waited for them to come for him.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

In the early evening, the doubts had begun. He had swum in the cove, waiting, he had listened for that lilting song on the water. But they had not come, he could not hear them. Only silence sailed on the waves. He examined his tail, the reality of it flipping between fantasy and the affront to his sanity that the memory of having legs brought.

As he ran his fingers up from his hip to where the tail transitioned into human flesh he saw that there were patches of the same blue-grey scales over his torso, nothing significant but small glistening islands. He idly wondered about them as night fell and he passed into a listless, dreamless sleep in a shallow pool formed amongst the rocks at the foot of the cliffs.

In the early morning light he stretched and flexed his body. Reaching to pull himself up and over the rocks that formed the pool, he realised how odd his hands felt. A stiff webbing had started to grow between the fingers, their dexterity already severely limited.

He looked out to the sea, looked for the mermaids who had promised him a different life, but none were there. He heaved himself into the water and clumsily swam to the edge of the cove.  Calling out across the water he realised how harsh and alien his voice sounded.

Since his initial ship wreck a year ago his dreams had promised a grace, a care-free life of something magical, cut free from the drear reality of the world. As he swam listlessly around the cove he could not recapture those feelings, could not summon them. He could feel the powerful muscle of the tail and an increasing unease throughout his body. The first time the tail had felt like a release and now it felt like a curse as his mind reeled from the loss of having legs. He laughed bitterly at his own frailty of mind, how could he flounder now? He had been set free and patience was all that was needed.

Resting with his back against the rocks he struggled to get comfortable, a feeling of something jutting against his spine causing him to keep shifting his position. He watched his tail as it undulated in the water, as though it had a mind of its own.  Frustrated at being made to wait by the mermaids who had called him there, he put his head in his hands, his fingers now almost completely immobile and fixed in webbed flesh, and for a moment did not fully register what else had also changed.

There was no hair. His scalp was completely bare.

No, not completely. At the back of his head, running from the top of the skull was a soft ridge of something that became more palpable as it went further down his skull to his spine. Flesh? Realisation came suddenly, sickeningly: a fin. A ridge of fin that ran down from the top of his head to the bottom of his spine.  He thrashed around in a frenzy in the surf, trying to see over his shoulder, feeling around his back, gauge the full extent of what he was turning into.

That night thick clouds shrouded the moon. There was no light, the bay was completely dark. He woke from a fitful sleep, confused as to why his bed felt so gritty, why he could feel water around his body when there should be sheets and pillows, and then with a sob he realised the truth of where he was. He tried to free his legs, flex his fingers, felt again at his head, and as he did so he felt frantically at around where his ears had been, realising that they were now simply two small holes flush with his skull.

He sobbed again. He was changing, utterly changing.

The thought came to him in a cold moment of sudden dread. The male of the species is often so different to the female, and that thought paralysed him with fear and the night passed in a dull waking horror.

 A pale grey dawn bought only despair as he looked down at a body now completely covered in scales, could feel the same skin all around his face, could feel the fin that now ran down his spine. A strange keening moan of despair escaped his lips, his mind reeled at his transformed body, at how helpless he now was.

The despair threatened to overwhelm him but then he saw a mermaid in the bay, swimming easily back and forth in the shallow water, her hair lustrous and dark, fanning out across the water, a tail the colour of a shark.  She paused and looked directly at him and then laughed, a gentle laugh that seemed the cruellest sound he’d ever heard.  Then she swam out from the bay and dove beneath the waves, a sinuous shadow disappearing out into the deeper sea. Briefly then he could hear them, their songs above the lapping waves.

He was a fool to think the songs had ever been for him. He realised now, as the sounds faded away, that they sang for their own reasons, for their own needs, and now the song had changed, he could hear it clearly, know it’s true meaning, and it was dark, menacing and mocking, still sung with a lilting happiness but a happiness that was for their own ends, and not for his.

-------------------- ******* --------------------

The exhaustion of the metamorphosis gradually overcame him. When he became conscious again he took a moment to try to regain his mind, to rebel against the dark dream that had seized him.

He would stand. He would walk back up the beach to the shelter of the cliffs. He would take the path back to a sane life. He took a deep breath

But the tail flapped powerfully in the water. He had no legs. The tail flipped and splashed.

No. He would not accept this madness. He tightly closed his eyes. He would stand. He would walk. He concentrated and tried to reach out to either side so as to steady himself as he stood. But his arms would barely move.

He struggled, it felt like he would need to tear them from his own sides. He was entirely trapped and as he lay there, he knew with a sinking certainty that the same stiff webbing that had fixed his fingers into position had now fixed his arms, fin-like, slightly apart from his sides.

He thought he would cry when he looked, but no tears would come, and he saw exactly what he knew he would. Had they not said there would be a price?

As he thrashed around, wrestling with the prison of his new body, he rolled in to the shallow water. He tried to scream but only a throaty gurgle escaped.  Each time his head bobbed above the surface he tried to shout, again and again. He willed his voice to come but only intermittent noises escaped, getting less and quitter each time, only broken memories of words. Still he thrashed and thrashed as the sun passed overhead.

He became breathless and mistaking it for sheer exhaustion, he crawled out of the water, flopping his body forwards in stages till he was fully on the beach. He rested but still he could not get his breath. He could feel his mouth working but could draw no breath, could feel a slight fluttering in the skin on the sides of his neck. A powerful panic of suffocation overcame him and his body, almost of its own volition, began to thrash and throw itself back towards the water.

It was only when he sank fully beneath the waves that he realised the final act of his entrapment was being carried out.

Mermen were not like mermaids. Not like them at all. Mermen could not breathe out of water. He knew what he could feel on his neck. Gills.

His mind broke and in the madness there was a sudden liberation and with a power that was exhilarating he swam at such a speed into the waiting sea.  The feeling of being trapped in this new body together with the suppleness of its form in its new environment combined to provide a deep intoxicating joy. When he stopped and turned, popping his head above the surface, the cove was already a distant away on the horizon

Then a shape bobbed up not far from him. A mermaid. She was smiling, a dangerous smile. Then he felt something latch on to his tail, dragging him easily beneath the waves. In panic, he fought to regain control, to pull away and then he was free and he flitted round and round to see what had attacked him. 

The mermaids swam by, swooping through the water, occasionally pulling on him, pushing him, buffeting him, every so often combining to throw him out of the water, to helplessly slap back down into the sea. It seemed a game, an intense game, a game that promised violence. He tried to get away, to swim deeper or faster but each time he was blocked, encircled. How many of them there were? He could not see.  Panic rose through him as they continued with their attacks, taking delight in their brutal play, but one thought rose above all others in his mind. This was indeed a game to them but it was a serious one:  he was being hunted.

He had no idea how long their feints and attacks continued but he was becoming tired; he darted one way, the next, but was always blocked. Hope gave him a final burst of energy when he thought he’d seen away to escape and with every ounce of strength he could give, he tried to swim as fast as he could make his transformed body go.

He never saw it coming but the net wrapped itself fully around him. He tugged and thrashed and rolled but they held the guidelines of the net easily and simply allowed him to trap himself further.  He gave up, floating just beneath the surface, and then he was being towed away. Occasionally he would twist and stretch but he was held completely, trapped by the net, trapped by his new body.

------------------- ******* --------------------

He could see shapes overhead. Cliffs? They dove down, pulling him along, then passed him through a narrow opening in the rock. They were under the cliffs, and high in the rock wall were cave like openings, where shafts of sunlight shone through onto the water.

Where the far wall of the cliffs stretched over the water, there were chains at regular intervals that dangled down into the water. As they moved him closer he could see shapes, shapes that resolved themselves into wide circular cages that were suspended at the end of the chains. With absolute dread he knew with certainty what was coming and as they manoeuvred him close to one, they undid the bottom. 

His heart pounded. He had only one final chance. They would surely free him from the net before trying to get him into the cage. He relaxed as best as he could, he had to appear to be pliant, willing. Then he had to do whatever he could. But they worked quickly, spinning him around, disorientating him and when suddenly he was free he gave a powerful thrust of his tail but simply propelled himself straight up into the cage, the bottom flap closed and secured behind him.

He swam around in what limited space he had and to either side he saw similar shapes in other cages. Their human forms were still recognisable, just like his must be, and he could see how they were now trapped, just he was. He had been chosen. Chosen just like those others had. Chosen to be one of many. He had heard the song sung upon the waves and now there was no escape, no chance to go back. The memory of his human form would never fade, it would always be there to torment him, remind him that while the cage was a cage, the real prison was the body he now inhabited.

------------------- ******* --------------------

Each and every day, the shafts of sunlight from the openings in the cliff face passed over the water with the moving of the sun.

------------------- ******* --------------------

S. was having a clear out at his flat when he came across the investigator’s report and the journal.

The old feeling of loss came over him again. It had been over 5 years and he always thought that one day his closest friend would just reappear. There would be some explanation. But as each month had passed, life had gone on, re-shaped itself around his absence, covered over the hole that had been left.

He read the investigator’s letter again, flipped through the report, ran his fingers over the red cover of the journal. He could never understand why the investigator hadn’t mentioned the small vial he’d obviously found, or why he had posted it into the letter box separately to the package of the report and journal. He swirled the vial around, could feel the liquid sloshing around inside it. He’d never managed to get the stopper out, couldn’t bring himself to smash the damn thing open, or throw it away. He should have taken it somewhere, gotten it checked out.

He was struck by the thought he had leave from work due, and it wouldn’t cost that much, that maybe it would bring some closure. Maybe it was time.

He went and powered up his laptop and idly started to look up the price of flights to C______.....

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