Joe and Fred were happy with the new aquarium in sea world. They had so many dolphins that the old acquarium was getting quite crowded. They also had problems with keeping the water fresh as the machines for the circulation were becoming outdated and kept breaking down. The new equipment was something completely different. Fresh seawater from the ocean was sucked in once a week on Monday through a large tube when the aquarium was closed and the old water was exchanged at the same time. The dolphins had less stress and so did Joe and Fred. It was their job to keep the fish happy with regular feeding times and to make sure that they were healthy.
Monday morning Joe switched the turbines on and the water was sucked in from the sea. The process needed some time, so Joe took his coffee break together with Fred.
“Yes, Fred, life is certainly easier now we have the new aquarium; more time to relax and easier to keep the dolphins happy.”
“That’s true Joe, but we still have to work. I think it’s time to check on the pool, the water should be ready by now” and the two men made their way back to see how things were going.
“Er Joe, what’s that in the pool?”
“Where Fred, I see nothing.”
“Just take a look over there between the two dolphins.”
“What the …… Fred I don’t think that is a fish.”
“Joe, it is definitely not a fish. Well I mean if you look at the bottom half it does look like a fish with the tail and flipper, but the top half looks a bit out of this world.”
Fred looked closer “You are telling me. It has something like arms, but covered in scales and, well I be blowed, it looks almost human, although the head is not exactly like anyone in my family. I think we are looking at a, well you know it could be….”
“A Mermaid” said Jo
“Yes that’s it” answered Fred “anyhow the nearest I have ever seen to one, although the mermaids in the movies and cartoons look a bit different. They have sort of long golden curls on their heads, and beautiful faces with quite a sexy, well you know what I mean.”
“I know what you mean Fred. This one definitely looks a bit fishy to me, she has long hair but not exactly blond, more sort of bluish black, and her eyes are sort of, well, you know, sort of fishy.”
“Not exactly the idea of a mermaid beauty queen, I suppose you want to say.”
“And Fred, look at the way she is playing with that dolphin, almost as if they were the best of friends.”
Fred had a closer look. The mermaid was stroking the dolphin under the chin and whispering in its ear as if they had known each other for a long time. Fred and Joe decided they should do something about the new arrival, but were not quite sure what.
“I have an idea” said Joe “if it is really a mermaid then let’s see if she can communicate with us.”
“And what do you suggest Joe, that we make a quick course in fish language and start making sounds like our dolphins. I am sure she will understand, even if we don’t.”
“Well not exactly, but food speaks all languages. Let’s throw her a fish and see what happens.” Joe then took a fish out of the dolphin’s food bin and held it in the air. With one large swoop the mermaid rose out of the water and packed the fish in its mouth and disappeared under the water in the tank where she swallowed it in one gulp. Both Joe and Fred stood in amazement. It seemed that the mermaid was not used to the air and was glad to be back in the water. Both men noticed that the mermaid’s mouth was well equipped to take a whole fish in one gulp. The mermaid lips were very thick, the sort of thing a modern film star would pay for to have formed by a plastic surgeon, and she was able to open her mouth to such an extent that swallowing a fully grown fish was no problem.
“At least we know what mermaids eat” said Fred. Perhaps she might do a few tricks for us and then we could include her in the dolphin show.
“Forget it Fred, I don’t think that would be such a good idea. She does not look very happy in the pool at the moment.”
“Great Joe, now you are the expert, how do you know if a mermaid is happy or not. With that face, I wouldn’t know if she was smiling or just mad at us.”
“Just a minute Fred” and Joe went quickly to his cupboard where he took out a camera. “At least I want a photo of the pretty lady” he said and made the camera ready.
“No, Joe, how do you want to take a photo of her when she is in the water.”
“Easy Fred, you hold up a fish and when she jumps I take the photo.”
Fred actually thought Joe had a good idea for once. So he again took a fish out of the bucket and waved it in the air. There was a noise of water rushing back and forth and the fish was swallowed while Joe took the photo. There was just one small problem. One of the dolphins had taken the fish and the mermaid looked from the depths of the pool and even clapped her scaly hands when the dolphin took the fish.
Fred and Joe looked on, a bit perplexed.
“I don’t understand that mermaid” said Joe
“Joe, it is the first mermaid we have even seen, so we don’t really know what makes them tick. How did she get here in the first place.”
The two men decided she must have arrived through the tube that allows for the fresh seawater to enter. They repeated the attempt with the camera to see if they could take a photo. This time the mermaid made a jump out of the water and took the fish, but with her scaly hand she grabbed the camera as well. Unfortunately the camera was strapped around Joe’s body and Joe was pulled down into the pool. The mermaid seemed to be very interested in Joe and tried to swallow him as well, thinking she had a new variety in her fish diet; after all our mermaid had never seen a living object with two legs. Joe was not very happy when he felt the rubbery lips on his skin.
Fred decided that this mermaid was not very friendly and he should go to Joe’s help. He dived into the pool and managed to drag Joe away from the embrace of the mermaid. The two men lay at the side of the pool both fighting for breath and feeling just a little bit frightened. After a while they looked down in the basin again and saw that the mermaid was lying on a dolphin and had her eyes closed. She was sleeping. They decided to leave her and discuss what to do.
“As I see it Joe, we have two solutions. We learn how to train a mermaid, take a few photos and include her in the dolphin show.”
“Yes, great Fred, and who is going to train her. After feeling Miss Rubberlips all over my body I am not to keen. “
“You have a point Joe, that girl has quite a strength in the water. The only reason I could free you out of her grip was because I took a fish with me and gave it to her. She was so busy swallowing the fish that she seemed to forget about you as her next dinner.”
The other solution is that she goes back to where she comes from. I am sure her family must be missing her.”
“You mean she has a family?”
“Joe, everyone has a family and I don’t think it would be a good idea if family mermaid arrives by the next tank clearance to see where their baby mermaid is and what has happened to her. The next time a couple of them mermen might arrive and we won’t have enough fish to keep them happy. “
So Joe and Fred waited for the mermaid to finish her sleep and opened the underwater entrance to the pool, but Miss Mermaid was not interested. She just jumped up out of the water clapping her scaly hands and begging for fish again.
“Joe, it seems this lady has quite an appetite. There is only one way to solve the problem. She seems to have taken a fancy to you. Put your diving stuff on and go into the pool. Swim into the sea through the tube and I am sure she will follow you.”
“Good idea Fred, but she can swim faster than me and might not let me go the second time around.”
“No problem Fred, I will stand outside with a harpoon ready in case anything happens.”
So the men got ready; Joe in his diving suit with the air canisters and Fred standing outside waiting to see if he would have to help. Joe jumped into the pool and made his way to the tube and the mermaid followed him. They both left the tube and the mermaid was just about to pounce on Joe when she was attracted by something else. Joe watched as she swam off in another direction and decided to follow. Afterwards he swam back into the pool and climbed out. Fred was waiting.
“So tell me Joe, where did she go?”
“I don’t know Fred, she just swam off” and that was the end of the excitement. The two men decided not to tell anyone about their surprise visitor as they were sure no-one would believe them.
Joe did actually see where the mermaid went. He heard noises in the water, something like a dolphin cry and when he looked in the direction to where it was coming from, he saw an old man, well really a grey haired merman, with an elderly mermaid at this side and some other mermaids and mermen. His mermaid swam over to them and the last Joe saw was that they were welcoming their mermaid back to the family.
Writer's Block - Challenge #51: The Mermaid