The Mermaid Experience – Chapter 48

To start at the beginning, use this link:  Link to chapter 1

When the mermaids woke the next morning, the dolphins showed up again, circling the little reef outcropping where they had slept.  They ate the last of their ration bars, drank some water, and then gathered up their supplies and followed the dolphins again.  They followed a line of reefs in a northeasterly direction for the entire day, ending on another small patch of reef after a long hard swim.  By this time, the mermaids had no idea where they were.  They had been out of sight of land for some time.  The reefs that they swam through were often very close to the surface, with an occasional portion that poked above the water.  It was hard to follow the hard-swimming dolphins with so many colorful reef fish and corals to investigate along the way.  The long hard swim had made them hungry, but they were out of food.

“HOW LONG CAN WE KEEP THIS PACE ON AN EMPTY STOMACH?”  Asked Daphne.

“AS LONG AS WE HAVE FRESH WATER, WE CAN GO A LONG TIME WITHOUT FOOD.”  Allen answered.  “BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO.  WE HAVE SPEAR GUNS AND WE ARE SURROUNDED BY FISH.  WHY DON’T WE GO FISHING?”

“I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO TRY SPEAR-FISHING.”  Audra said.  “WHO WANTS TO GO WITH ME?”

Anna volunteered to go with Audra, and the two of them each took a spear gun and swam off, looking for large fish to catch.  While they were gone, the rest of them set up the desalinator and the solar panels.  Night was descending before the two fishermen came back.  Anna was pulling a large silver fish behind her.

“WOW!  WHAT A CATCH!”  Allen signed.  “THAT FISH MUST WEIGH 80 POUNDS!”

“IT’S A TARPON.”  Renna said.  “THEY ARE SAID TO BE VERY BONY AND NOT VERY GOOD TO EAT.”

“WE FOUND OUT THAT SPEAR-FISHING IS VERY HARD.”  Audra said.  “WE WERE JUST ABOUT TO GIVE UP WHEN ANNA MANAGED TO SNEAK UP ON THIS FELLOW.  HE WAS MAKING A STRANGE ROLLING MOTION AT THE SURFACE.”

“TARPON ARE AIR-BREATHERS.  YOU MUST HAVE CAUGHT HIM WHEN HE WENT TO THE SURFACE FOR AIR.”  Renna explained.

“WHO HERE KNOWS HOW TO CLEAN A FISH?”  Allen asked.

Maria volunteered to do the cleaning, as her father had been a big fisherman and had taught her how to clean and prepare his catch.  She used one of the diver’s knives, and soon had the fish cleaned and scaled.  She cut several large slices off of the fish and passed them around to all the mermaids.  They found out that there were indeed a lot of bones, but an 80-pound fish provided plenty of meat.  At first, several of them were hesitant to eat the raw flesh, but Lacy was a big fan of sushi, so she took the first few bites.  Despite the bones, they found that the meat had an acceptable flavor.  Even Daphne, who was normally a vegetarian, ate some of the fish.  When they were done, there was still plenty left, so they saved the leftovers for the morning.

Their next day was similar to the one before, with the dolphins continuing to lead them to some unknown destination.  The day after, they left the long line of reefs they had been following and traveled in a more northwesterly direction, swimming from one small outcropping to another.  They caught another fish to eat, and as they settled down for the night, they saw a sail in the distance.  They saw another distant boat in the morning.  It looked like they might be nearing a more settled area.  When the dolphins returned, they circled the group of mermaids several times and then dove deep, approaching the bottom with their dives.  They seemed to be trying to get some kind of message across, but none of the mermaids were able to decipher it.  They gathered their supplies and started following the dolphins again.  Soon they could guess what the dolphins were telling them, as the bottom dropped away and the corals disappeared.  The dolphins led them deeper underwater to swim, and they sensed why when they noticed the deeper water seemed calmer and easier to swim in.  The time when they usually stopped for the night came and went, and they were still swimming.  Allen and the others strained their eyes, looking for shallower water and an island or reef where they could rest, but the bottom continued to be lost from sight below them.

“Are the dolphins taking us out to sea?”  Allen wondered.  “Don’t they realize that we have to surface to recharge and rest?”

Thus far, the dolphins had seemed uncannily aware of the needs of the mermaids, so Allen hoped they knew what they were doing.  The mermaids had little choice but to continue following their cetacean friends, though their muscles were burning from the extended effort of their long swim.  Eventually, they noticed that the dolphins seemed to be getting excited, and they could see the bottom again.  Corals and reef fish became plentiful, and the dolphins led them to a small spit of land.  As they got out and looked around, they could see that the island they were on was a part of a much larger reef that extended out of sight to the northeast.  A mile or two away, they could see another long thin stretch of island with larger trees on it.  They caught another fish and ate it for dinner, then made their evening preparations.  As they did, they noticed one or two boats in the distance, both heading towards the larger island to the East.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK?”  Allen signed.  “SHOULD WE GO WHERE THOSE BOATS ARE HEADING?  WE HAVE COME A LONG WAYS FROM OUR ENCOUNTER WITH CARLOS’S DIVERS.”

“IT LOOKS PROMISING.”  Carla answered.  “BUT LET’S WAIT AND SEE WHERE THE DOLPHINS TAKE US.  THEY SEEM TO HAVE A SPECIFIC DESTINATION IN MIND.”

Link to Chapter 49

Link to Chapter 47

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