Eye Of The Siren.
Copyright 2015, 2018 by Raymond Johnson. Third edition.
Cover art provided by Justdd. (www.iStockphoto.com).

Dedicated to everyone at Folklore Forum for giving me valuable insight as to the myths of the sea.

"No siren did ever so charm the ear of the listener as the listening ear has charmed the soul of the siren." - Henry Taylor.

During a voracious storm a group of sailors are forced to abandon ship and row to shore. However they are fully aware that the storm isn't natural and can hear the sirens calling them, singing a beautiful lullaby, putting them into a trance, and leading them ever closer to the jagged rocks. All is not as it seems as mermaids await the sailors, willing them closer, with hungry desire. One of the sailors isn't falling for it and bails out of the rowing boat only to later discover the beautiful sirens' true appearance, while unaware that he too has been manipulated by their enchanting spell.



Chapter 1 - Unnatural Storm

Other than a refreshing breeze the morn broke to calm weather that day. The sun had baked the decks of the ship, drying the dilapidated woodwork, teasing the cracks to widen ever further. Luckily it was to be her last cruise, one final jaunt to the Indies and back carrying supplies of spices and rum, before returning to Blighty. We were already on our return journey, the ship's hull packed full to the brim, with the laden slowing us down, but there was only to be another few day's sailing at the most so we all felt excitement at receiving our fair dues for our loyal service.

"Land ahoy!" Called out one of the petty sailors from the crow's nest atop the main mast.

Placing my palm above my eyes, shielding them from the sun, I looked at the boy with confusion before glancing my eyes toward the horizon. The gentle breeze blew against my face causing me to lick my lips to aid its cooling effect then look a deep breath.

Footsteps could be heard from behind as the captain hurried out of his cabin in a panic. There was momentary silence as though he too was taking a quick glance out to sea. He swore under his breath then looked up at Bernie who remained motionless pointing to port. It was obvious to all that Bernie wasn't up to the job of lookout and should return to mopping the dry decks as I was.

"How can..." The captain said before interrupting himself and speaking louder toward Bernie atop of the mast, "How can you call land? We're hundreds of miles from anywhere. You woke me from my nap. Now get down here at once young man!"

Bernie stared down from the crow's nest with a stern defiant look upon his face furious at not being believed. I hoped for his sake that he was right because the captain didn't take insubordination likely. Bernie continued to stare at port.

"Land ahoy!" He called again.

Placing my wet mop down I hurried over to the port side of the ship and stared out to sea. Some of the other sailors joined me along with the captain himself.

A salty waft of sea air filled my nose while the sound of the gentle waves lapped the side of the ship but there was still no land in sight, neither near or far. I guessed Bernie must have been daydreaming or distracted by a sea mirage, I then wondered if he had gotten his hands on some of that rum we had stowed in the hull.

"Lower sail!" The captain ordered causing the sailors around me to hurry over to the rigging and begin the process of lowering the sails.

The captain must have noticed something I hadn't and there wasn't time to check so I quickly ran across deck and started to untie the sail rope of the main mast. My hands were shaking causing me to panic, it was essential to loosen the rope before the main sail could be lowered, and the sailors already atop the rigging were waiting. I still had yet to discover why we were lowering the sails let alone why we had to hurry.

"Drop anchor!" The captain boomed at some of the other sailors while he ran in his thick leather boots towards the bridge.

I rushed over to the next mast and began untying more ropes as the sailors atop the rigging folded the main sail. It was at times like those that I wished we had a larger crew while I awaited their assistance. It was then that I glanced my eyes again toward the sea. Something looked different. The water was no longer clear, reflecting the blue sky, but dull and brown. It was mud. Whilst technically it wasn't land we had sailed into shallow waters. We were still out at sea, but sunken islands weren't uncommon, with the possibility of rocks beneath the ship all too real.

Something unexpected then happened that I had never witnessed in all my experiences as a sailor. It started to rain yet there was not a cloud in sight.

"This is a bad omen, a bad omen, mark my words you'll see,”" mumbled another sailor and he traversed down the rigging.

"Remain focused," I responded under the guise of calming his nerves but really to calm my own, "I have full confidence in our captain, he'll know what to do."

There was then an eerie silence, other than the sound of raindrops, as the ship creaked against the thick mud within the sea. It took mere moments for our forward momentum to cease before the ship started to list on the port side. We were turning. Bernie, still atop the main mast, called out the alarm ringing the brass bell in a panic. Within moments the sky grew dark with thick cloud causing the rain to pour with evermore force.

"A bad omen!" One of the sailors called out yet again.

Something was amiss. I wasn't of a superstitious nature but I agreed with my fellow sailor. Whatever it was that was happening to our crew and vessel clearly wasn't natural. The ship was raised then lowered in a violent jolt as the sea beneath us shook. An undersea volcano, an earthquake perhaps, thoughts rushed through my mind while I tried my best to rationalise what was happening to us but to no avail. Looking toward the captain for guidance all I saw was his pale face as he shook his head with disbelief.

There was still another sail to lower so I hurried over to the mast rope while my fellow sailors made an attempt to scramble up the rigging. Ice cold water splashed over the side of the ship. My hands were raw and stung irritated by the salty water while the spray of each wave forced me to keep my eyes firmly closed. It was an impossible task and it wasn't long before the captain realised.

"Leave it!" He yelled while his voice sounded quiet against the sound of the violent storm, "Abandon ship. Release the lifeboat!"

There was no lifeboat per se, just a small wooden rowing boat that we used for getting ashore. In fact I wasn't even certain if our crew of eight would fit inside.

The moment I opened my eyes the salty sea water along with the rain spurt into my face and mouth causing me to cough violently as I tried to regain breath. Luckily one of my shipmates grabbed my arm and practically manhandled me over to the side of the ship. I was surprised to see so many of our crew already inside the rowing boat, on top of one another, trying their best not to over balance and subside the small vessel.

"Head away from the ship and avoid the rocks, let the tide carry us up the beach!" Our captain boomed.

The moment I was about to utter, "What beach?" I noticed the small island ahead of us. The violent waves forced the tide to carry our rowing boat towards it at a fair speed without the need of ores.

There was then an unmistakable sound that caused us to freeze in terror, the sound that all sailors dread, and the proof that the storm was not caused by natural forces. It was a high pitched song that instantly warmed our hearts with a blissful feeling of happiness. The song of the siren. Luckily as of that moment we were still fairly out of range and still in control of our faculties, but we all knew it wouldn't be too long before that would change.

I turned my head looking back in the direction of our ship that we had just abandoned. It appeared to be still, calmly afloat upon the sea, yet all around us was a violent torrent carrying our rowing boat ever closer to the island.

"You have your orders!" The captain boomed grabbing the boat's ores in an attempt to row the overcrowded vessel, "Continue with our heading. Hurry now!"

I concentrated on the sound of the storm in the hope it could somehow cover the beautiful melody of the sirens' song, but I knew none of us could avoid the inevitable.


Chapter 2 - Mesmerised By Song

We were still clambered on top of one another as we tried to navigate the small rowing boat. Everyone began splashing the water with their hands trying to aid the captain rowing the boat to manoeuvre around the rocks, but the sounds of the sirens echoed through our heads. For a reason I couldn't fathom it felt as though we were moving in the wrong direction but then it dawned on me that some of the sailors were paddling with their hands the wrong way. Some of us had already succumbed including the captain who rowed with a strong steady forceful action, eager to reach the island. There was no way I was going to let an evil siren get its hungry teeth into my body so I immediately leapt overboard and began swimming back towards our ship.

The sea was excruciatingly cold, like I had dived into ice water, but it was imperative to get out of there. The browm muddy water lapped around my face. I struggled to keep afloat.

"He's got the right idea!" I heard one of the sailors yell over the sounds of my own panicked swim.

"No. We have to press ahead!" Shouted another.

"Keep focus, you have your orders!" The captain boomed.

The violent storm began to ease as the songs of the sirens grew louder only to soon be replaced by the sound of sailors' screams. I tried my best to ignore them and continued my struggled swim towards the ship. However the tide was still turbulent and it wasn't too long before I realised I wasn't going to make it. The more I swam the more distant the ship felt and I found myself on the very island of which I was trying to avoid.

Closing my eyes tightly I forced all my will to think of something else and not listen to the song that filled my head, the beautiful melody that compelled me to approach the sirens. I wondered if I truly had made an attempt to swim back to the ship or if I had intentionally swam to the island. The sea appeared calm in the distance and the ship so inviting and safe, yet it took all my will just to move my feet in an attempt to leave the island.

A figure caught my eye in the distance. Someone was still aboard ship, still within the crow's next atop of the main mast. It was Bernie. In our haste we had left him behind yet ironically he was the only one left that was safe. He caught my eye and began waving his arm.

I glanced my eyes to my left and found our empty rowing boat perched on the small rocks just a short distance away from me. But there was also something else I could see in the corner of my eye that I dared not look at.


Chapter 3 - The Siren's True Appearance

About a dozen or so beautiful mermaids could be seen a short distance away from me as they sang a sweet gentle melody. They were practically naked, with long dark hair coving their seashell cupped breasts, and had shapely hourglass figures as they sat upon the rocks some distance ahead of me. They had yet to see me and continued with their song dragging the half dead sailors onto the rocks.

Mermaids? I thought to myself. Mermaids don't sing. Mermaids lure sailors to their deaths with their beauty but it's sirens that use song. I began to wonder if the mermaids and sirens had made a pact together as to aid getting their hands on their prey.

I wanted to crouch down, desperate to hide in case any of them saw me, but their song hypnotised my very soul and I wished only to approach. I tried with all my might to remain where I was but the sirens' spell was overpowering. I willingly started clambering across the rocks, taking care not to slip, heading in their direction. I knew they were monsters and I knew exactly what they intended to do with me but just as with the other sailors I had succumbed to their song. It was beautiful. For the first time in my life I felt absolute bliss. My heart pounded with joy.

Gritting my teeth and covering my ears I forced all my will fighting against the power of the hypnotic song. Suddenly there was silence. My head began to throb causing my eyes to blink rapidly as the sounds of the sea lapping at the rocks replaced the spellbinding melody. Within an instant I crouched down out of sight taking large deeps breaths while a relief filled my body at having my faculties back.

As I continued to peer over a large rock at the mermaids I could no longer see beautiful women but deformed sea creatures looking somewhat human in appearance but with skull-like faces and fins for limbs. There was also a ghastly smell about them too reminding me of rotten flesh. I turned away with disgust not willing to witness what they did next as they began tucking into their human meal of what remained of my sailor friends. I only hoped most of them were fully succumbed by the sirens' hypnotic songs so they didn't feel the pain of being eaten alive.


Chapter 4 - Telepathic Empathy

My eyes were closed tightly while I pressed my hands over my ears. I couldn't even attempt at making my escape until the creatures had finished consuming the sailors but the sounds of bones being crushed between their teeth filled my mind with anguish. My stomach felt uneasy and I wanted to vomit but had to stay as quiet as possible. I took steady slow breaths trying to remain calm, however all of that changed when I sensed movement.

As I opened my eyes I saw one of the ghastly monsters crouched directly in front of me, staring with its dead black eyes within the sockets of its skull-like face. One of its fin shaped limbs was held at my side preventing my escape. My heart raced in a panic and I felt tempted to attack the creature and try to make a run for it but knew full well the others would soon catch up with me.

I closed my eyes and whispered a small prayer while awaiting the inevitable, but after a few moments I realised the creature was making no attempt to eat me. It just continued to stare. There were droplets of blood around its mouth so clearly it was no longer hungry.

"What do you want with me?" I whispered.

Its response was to continue to stare at me. I wondered if it didn't realise that the hypnotic effect of their song had worn off and I could recognise its true features. Maybe it was waiting for me to do something first.

My head was spinning and I couldn't tell how long I had been sitting on those rocks while the creature continued to stare at me. There were no sounds around, other than from the relatively calm sea, and it was clear the other monsters had finished their meal and returned to whatever God forsaken place they came from.

"What do you want with me?” I repeated as the creature continued to stare.

Its disgusting stench wafted up my nose and I couldn't believe how such a horrid and evil creature ever came into being. It couldn’t help what it was, but if I had been born a siren or mermaid I would have soon ended my life as quickly as possible.

It opened its mouth ready to sing yet instead cocked its head to one side as though changing its mind. Its fishy breath along with the smell of the sailors it had eaten wafted out of its mouth as it leant closer. What little flesh it had on its skull face and around its lips pert forward and I was sure it was trying to kiss me. My response was to lurch back.

"Get away from me you horrid beast!" I snapped, "I can see you exactly for what you really are. You're a sea monster. A devil incarnate. Your very existence is a blasphemy!"

It quickly lowered its head, whimpering like a puppy, cradling its face with its fin as its body trembled. There were tears within it black eyes causing them to glisten before over spilling down its pale thin cheeks.

"I'm sorry," I said softly, "I know you can't help what you are, it's the cruelness of nature that created you, but I can't accept you the way you want me to. With the aid of the rest of your kind you have murdered my crew. You'll always be a monster no matter what form you choose to take."

I wasn't sure why I had uttered those words but I somehow sensed the creature's distress, it was deeply lonely and sought comfort. Something I wasn't able to give. My mind began to spin once more and I was sure it was reading my thoughts. I then sensed a strong emotion within my head as the siren's thoughts entered and combined with my own. It had fallen in love with me, just as I had with it.

It was madness. For a sailor to fall under the hypnotic spell of a siren in the form of a beautiful woman was one thing, but for me to fall whilst it was revealing its true monstrous self was another. It was manipulating my mind, I was certain of it, yet I couldn't help myself while knowing full well what its intentions were.

The creature leant closer to me once more pursing its lips.

"This better not hurt, if you truly have feelings for me please do this painlessly," I whispered into its ear before pressing my lips against its own and passionately kissing.

My find was filled with joy as I received the most wonderful and loving kiss I had ever had in my entire life. I knew in the deep recesses of my mind that the monster was eating my face but I chose to ignore that and accept its gift of love, her gift of love.

Maybe I was simply too intelligent to fall for the sexual whims of a beautiful woman, or mermaid for that matter, so the siren had no choice but to try another method, or maybe it truly felt something for me, either way I felt nothing but bliss as I drifted away.


Chapter 5 - Back Aboard Ship

I awoke to see Bernie's scruffy masculine face staring back at me. Had the creature changed form yet again?

"Are you a siren or mermaid?" I muttered in a daze, "Are you neither or both?"

"I'm neither!" Bernie moaned.

I was back on ship with just the two of us left aboard. Raising my hands I felt bandages around my face which throbbed with pain. The creature had spared my life after all. Maybe it truly had felt something for me.

"You're going to have to be captain now," Bernie said, "I don't know how to navigate this thing."

Heaving myself to my feet I could see we were in the open sea in calm weather with no island in sight.



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