THE DORLEY CYCLE
As I walked outside I kept hearing Eli call my name, call me back in, asking what was going on, (was he not hearing the song?) and I thought he’d be waking up his father with all the yelling, or maybe his father was already dead and couldn’t hear a damned thing.
Good, I thought, he’d go crazy if he was to hear this.
There were no words anymore, only a low frequency throb in my ears and my head.
I kept thinking about the old fisherman and how he deafened himself, because the siren silenced her song to him. But now I was sure although he didn’t ever hear her, the memory of the vibrations lived inside him, knocking from inside his head. He didn’t die in peace.
I wouldn’t die in peace.
She wasn’t anywhere to be seen; only her sickening melody hung in the air like some sort of premonition.
I walked aiming at the night, half-mad, half-sober. Her song had me tightly gripped in a haze that tempered with the volume of her voice altering it each time I changed my course, making me sick with nausea. It corresponded with me in its own way, buzzing low whenever I drifted and booming loud, a thousand small wings flapping altogether in an echoing chamber that was my head whenever I came closer. My knees bumped into something solid in the dark and I found the wooden body of a small boat pushed onto the shore. No doubt my ride.
I left the speargun inside and pushed the vessel into the sea, climbing over inside, dislocating the paddles and smashing them inside the water, sailing onwards.
Soon enough the darkness swam with me and I swam with the voice, desperately clinging to notations. I looked up and saw stars and I no longer knew which was up and which was down, because their reflection was my sky and their true selves were my bottom. I thought the stars were singing; when I looked ahead I thought the gaping void of the night was singing, symphony of the strained. But as the song began to escape my grasp, my hearing of it slowly disappearing into my surrounding, I moaned and I lost my directions, my sense of the present. It waved such a lonely goodbye, leaving me mentally deaf.
I sat in the darkness, middle of the sea with the twinkling windows of the cabins, dots in my background and I waited for the song to start again, humming it’s melody to my rocking body and my vague mind. The ring in my ears was all that remained. She had taken away every other noise the world had to me, and I realized, never before had I addressed the frightening possibility of not knowing anymore how the water buckling against the boat sounds. I listened, hearing nothing. I listened and I felt myself sob, my stomach clench and feeling my heart give in to fear and paranoia. The boat rocked ever so lightly and I clutched the speargun tightly to my chest, grazing my finger over the trigger.
When the fuck did these old nightmares of mine become real and carnivorous? I wasn’t asking for them, I didn’t need a proof. I needed them to stay here and stay fake. I laughed. I was waiting with a loaded spear into a fuckin’ handmade gun to shoot it through the head of a siren, and I was liking the idea of that happening. She had robbed me of some imaginary sweet emotion and I…I was…
It wasn’t long before I noticed how dry my throat and my mouth were and how much I longed for water to wash down the dryness. I had slumped down, lying in the boat, and it was nearly the break of dawn, the sky lighter. My limbs were cold and numb when I urged myself up into a sitting position.
Something disturbed the balance of the boat sinking it lower. It jerked my body, and I looked up to see an enormous figure hovering over me. Large claws had now dug into the edge of the boat, crunching it, peeling it off as it maneuvered to steady itself and I followed up the large, strong bird legs, feathered in brown and black. It was a she, a woman, at least her torso was. Though feathered from her tights up, her breasts were uncovered as were her neck and face. From the elbow down she had no hands. Her skin extended into a ruffled feathered limb that ended with a clawed hawk-like grip. She stepped into the boat and the planks groaned beneath her weight.
She looked at me, mouth agape, her tongue nuzzling her lower lip. She was hungry, wasn’t she?
“You killed my lover. You murdered my soul mate.” It was all she said, and unlike the little mermaid, this being held grudge and anger in her voice, a voice that kept me concentrated on her words towards me, but isolated me from knowing anything else. The walls of my eardrums bled again. Warmth spread down my neck. She wasn’t singing for my pleasure but for my torment. Every word she uttered was clothed in a hushed version of the melody of her song.
Shaken I lifted and pointed the speargun at her chest, putting it right between her breasts.
She pushed it aside, sending it flying from my numb hands into the sea. Her foot came into my face, clawing each sharp nail to skin. She dragged it down peeling off skin from my forehead and cheeks and I screamed in pain, pushing her backwards, feeling the wrath of her battle cry slam me down. She kicked me in the gut and tossed me off board, and I splashed in the cold water where her song spread like cancer and choked me.
I half expected her to plunge after me and when she did she circled me like a predator. I saw only blood and nothing as she clawed into me pushing me down. The salt stung on my wounds like a bitch.
“One little mermaid on the shore with a man, one little man with a rock in his hand, one little mermaid with blood in her hair, one little man swimming dead.”
She was cruel, my brain told me, as my lungs began collapsing. The siren persisted at her torture.
“Look at what you’ve done!”
A corpse floated over me, the damaged head hanging low and the wounds oozing light pink pus. The mermaid’s whitened eyes stared into me, her mouth contorted, and then the crystal bright eyes of the siren stared into me as she clawed herself tighter to my shoulders and pushed me down.
I tossed my head back closing my eyes, letting death and legends kill me, but in the flash of shutting my lids I glimpsed the slender form of the speargun sinking ahead of me.
I stretched my hands looking for a grab. The siren screamed and beated her wings causing typhoons underwater. As she made choice to tear my torso I made one final attempt having the speargun in my hands.
I shot the spear.
Blood encircled me in a burst and I saw her head tilt back her eyes flip and her song cease. She fell into the darkness, an ugly bird in the flight of dead, her face frozen in the grimace of her fury.
I saw her disappear to the bottomless sea, before all faded to black.
To be continued… in “Fish tails and bird claws” : an interlude