We picked up the distress signal at 1100 hours. My ship, HMS Andersen, of which I had been the Captain for almost 10 years now, was patrolling the Baltic Sea with a crew of 254 able and highly-experienced sailors. One day was as boring and uneventful as the other, till the fateful day on which we received that SOS.
“Mayday….Mayday…this is the USS Trumpet….we are going down…fast….(garble) (garble) we saw….the….little….mermaid….and then….” the broken, distended voice cried out, and then suddenly, the signal was cut-off, and there was complete radio silence.
I quickly ordered my First Mate to make a dash for the location from which that signal had originated. I was worried, but also intrigued….and excited. From what I could gather of the message, it seemed that the USS Trumpet had sighted the little mermaid.
Surely, that cannot be true, I told myself. But a part of me still could not help but wonder- What if it was? What if I was the one to discover the mythical creature of lore, and present her to the fascinated eyes of the world? I would be hailed as a modern-day Merlin, and treated like a God for bringing magic back to this world. The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb would be but a pale blimp in front of the glory that would come my way…if only I could be the one to discover the little mermaid.
With all these thoughts running in my head, along with concern for the ship in distress of course, I didn’t budge an inch from the deck of my ship for the next six hours, till finally, the lookout shouted, “THERE SHE IS!”
All eyes turned towards the direction in which he was pointing, and then, we saw her….and the sight of her transported us to another land, in another world. She was petite, with long silky hair, huge doe-like eyes, and completely naked from the waist up. From the waist down, she was like any typical mermaid, shaped exactly like the lower half of a long fish. She was posing seductively while reclining luxuriously on the back of a huge blue whale, her body glistening in the sun. I looked at her and realized that all my dreams were about to come true.
Just around a hundred meters away from her, out of the corner of my left eye, I saw a half-sunk ship, going down gradually into the water. I willed myself to look in that direction, but couldn’t take my eyes off the little mermaid. I could see that the Captain of the USS Trumpet and some of his crew members were still alive, and waving at us excitedly, shouting, “little mermaid…little mermaid…” As if I couldn’t see her.
Now both the Trumpet and the little mermaid were equidistant from us, and we had a terrible choice to make- To rescue the remaining crew of the sinking ship, or keep going straight towards the mermaid and her carrier. Without me having to tell him anything, the First Mate made the obvious choice- We were going to rescue…the poor little mermaid who was stranded atop a whale in the middle of the sea.
The crew of the USS Trumpet saw our ship make way for the mermaid while ignoring them, and started screaming like madmen- LITTLE MERMAID…LITTLE MERMAID….though why they still insisted on calling her little, I couldn’t for the life of me understand, from whatever little I could see of her perfect body, she looked quite grown-up to me.
Our ship cut across the water like a torpedo, we wanted to reach the mermaid as fast as we could. Dreams of untold riches and unprecedented fame filled our eyes. Only a few meters separated us from the fulfillment of those dreams….when suddenly, the little mermaid, still reclined in her Cleopatra pose, cried out- CHLOE…..NOW!
Immediately, the tale of the blue whale went high…oh so high….into the air….and BAM! crashed bang in the center of my ship, easily breaking it into two. The rear half sank almost instantaneously, and the whale started eating my drowning crew one by one. The front portion was slower to sink, and drifted slowly towards the wreckage of the USS Trumpet, with whose remaining crew, I and my remaining crew now shared an unfortunate fate.
As we reached hailing distance, all my frustration bubbled over, and I shouted at the captain of the Trumpet, “Why didn’t you warn us, you ass?”
He looked at me as if I was crazy, and replied, “Didn’t warn you? Are you serious? Why do you think we have been shouting LETHAL MERMAID LETHAL MERMAID all this while?”