Category Archives: supernatural
If it Weren’t for Bad Luck
A Rumpelstiltskin Inspired Short Story by Dorlana Vann
from “Supernatural Fairy Tales” short story Collection
I walked through the front door a little after midnight. Jana sat on the couch in the darkness covered by the quilt from our bed, the images from the television flickered on her solemn face. “Oh, you’re up,” I said and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I want to talk to you, Trevor.”
When I caught a glimpse of deep concern in her eyes, I immediately thought something had happened to the baby. “Is Ethan okay?”
“He’s a handful to deal with by myself… but he’s fine.”
“Good… good.” That’s all I needed to know; I could go on to bed because anything else could wait until morning. “Well, goodnight.” I turned and walked down the hallway. But I didn’t get very far.
She yelled after me: “I hired a P.I. today!”
As I stormed back into the room, fear flushed my face. “You did what?” I stood over her. “Why would you do that?” When I realized my hands had a death-grip on my hair, I tried to relax but still couldn’t control my fidget.
“Because every time I try to talk to you, you walk away. I want the truth. I deserve the truth. Where do you go every night?”
“You know I’m out drinking with the guys. I’ve told you a thousand times.”
I watched her jaw tighten, and through her teeth she said, “Why are you lying to me?”
My heart raced. Had she found something? “What makes you think I’m lying?”
Jana tossed the blanket off her lap and stood up. I tensed my body, prepared for a slap. She eased to her tiptoes, so we were face-to-face, breath-to-breath. “You don’t smell like a bar,” she whispered. “For a man who has been out drinking all night long, you certainly are sober. You don’t drink at home. Why the hell would someone pretend to be a drinker?”
I plopped down on the couch and rubbed my face hard with my hands. “Why are you doing this? Why can’t you just leave it alone?”
“Leave it alone? This is our marriage!”
I had nothing to say, nothing to offer.
“I give up,” she said. “I’m just going to ask, since you can’t be a man and just admit it. Are you cheating on me? Is there someone else?”
An affair. It would be a simple enough explanation. “Would that be something you could forgive me for?”
“Wait a minute. That’s not it, is it? Shit… I can see it in your eyes. Trevor?”
“Just do yourself a favor. Do our family a favor. Call the private detective, and call it off. Let me protect you. Don’t you see? If I tell you, I don’t know what will happen. I’m afraid you’ll never forgive yourself.”
“What? Forgive myself? What are you accusing me of?”
I looked at her, exhausted, tested, tears filling her eyes. It had gone too far. I knew she would probe until she found the answers. And I knew that it wouldn’t look good if a P.I. came back with pictures. Jana would just draw her own conclusions. Conclusions that would end our marriage, and I had lost too much to let that happen. I inhaled and then exhaled slowly. “You tried to sell Ethan.”
“I had to buy him back,” I said. “Now I can’t catch a break.”
“Just stop it. Stop it…”
“You wanted to hear this; so here it is.” I stood up and grabbed her hands. “Luck, like anything else, can be bought and traded. Before we met, you made a deal with Luck. Because you had such horrible luck, you agreed to trade your first-born for what you thought was really good luck.”
“Really?” She pulled away from me. “I don’t know what you’re doing—”
“After we were married,” I said firmly, “After we were pregnant, you told me what you did. You told me how you found out too late that good luck was just an illusion; that there were only three types of luck: extreme, medium, and weak. With extreme luck, really good things happen but so do really bad things.”
“Maybe you haven’t been drinking,” Jana said, “but something is wrong with you.”
“You told me you tried to take it back, but it was too late. You had already given up all rights to our unborn child, before we met, to some couple with medium luck.”
“This is crazy, Trevor. Do you know how crazy this sounds?”
“I thought so too… at the time. But still, I asked you where I could find this luck guy. Even though I didn’t believe you, never believed a word of it, I went there. And after I found the guy, I still didn’t believe he was who you thought he was. But for your peace of mind, I made my own deal…” I had to think hard. As time had passed the details had faded. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would completely forget… just like Jana had.
“What kind of deal?” she asked with impatient sarcasm.
“I remember asking if you could just give back the money you had won in the lottery. But that had already happened. He said something like he couldn’t erase time. I had to make a new arrangement so that I could keep my son. He called it weak luck, but it’s worse than that, it’s no luck at all.” I shrugged my shoulders because I knew that even if I would have known the outcome I still would have done whatever I had to do to protect Ethan.
When I looked at Jana’s face—her puckered lips and firm jaw—I knew she hadn’t believed a word I had said. But I had to finish. “I gave myself a little test all the way home that night; I flipped a quarter. Even after it never landed on what I said it would, I didn’t believe it. As each day passed, I pushed the limits a little more. You know, I had to see if it was real. I kept testing my luck, until it became an obsession. Until…” At this point, I couldn’t look her in the eyes. I cleared my throat of my sudden panic and then whispered, “I’d lost everything.”
“What do you mean?” Her words trembled.
“I’ve lost everything that was left from your lottery winnings. All of our savings.”
“No, no, no… this isn’t happening.”
“I’m sorry. I just keep thinking that I have to have some portion of at least medium luck. That’s where I go! To try and win it back.” Suddenly, it became so clear. This could be good. Together we made medium luck! “You can win it all again. All you have to do is buy another lottery ticket, or we could go to the horse races.”
“No! Stop it!” She reminded me of a cat in defense mode: hunched back, hair on end, eyes wild, claws loaded. “I can’t believe you would make up such a ridiculous story so that you could blame me for you losing our son’s future? You don’t have bad, weak or whatever luck, Trevor, you have a gambling problem.”
“What? No…” I wondered how it had happened. How had I become the bad guy? “I know it’s hard to believe. I didn’t believe you when you told me, either. But I gave you a chance.” My body had begun to shake. “Just think about it for a minute. I know the memory of meeting him fades for a reason or everyone would be at his door. But there has to be something there. Think Jana, think!”
“You need help, Trevor. Are you willing to get help?”
“What I need is for you to believe me. How many times have you said it yourself ‘Your luck sucks’? How many times has everyone said it? I traded it for you, for Ethan, and that’s why the car keeps breaking down, the lights turns red at intersections, the reason I have lost so many jobs.”
“What? You’ve lost jobs? More than one? You don’t work for Laurence anymore?”
“It’s been six months.”
She stood with her mouth open as tears streamed down her face. I took a step to comfort her, but she held up her hand and said, “Tell me his name and where I can find him.”
I closed my eyes trying to think again, trying to recall.
“What is it Trevor? Give me something. Is it John? Peter? Frank? Larry?”
But his name had left my memory months before. “I can’t. I don’t know,” I said without opening my eyes. The soft breeze told me she had left the room.
I sat on the couch, waiting for her to go to sleep, thinking we could talk it through in the morning. Maybe as she slept some of the memories would return. But a few minutes later, she walked past. When I looked up, expecting another confrontation, she stood at the open front door, her back to me, Ethan asleep in her arms. And then she said, “Good luck.”
If It Weren’t for Bad Luck is one of the short stories included in my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales – which is FREE Amazon worldwide until Friday November 15, 2013
Just wanted to let y’all know that my fairy tale inspired paranormal short story collection will be free all week. Go grab a copy over at Amazon (worldwide). Here is a little as to what you will find:
There are 9 short stories, which were inspired by classic fairy tales – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Rumpelstilzchen, The Little Mermaid and more. These short stories are not retellings of the original tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, etc., in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.
Supernatural Fairy Tales – a collection of paranormal short stories by Dorlana Vann
The cover is by the creative team of Liz Shipe & Perry Heideman of Reconstructing Grimm . Art director, Liz Shipe, and photographer, Perry Heideman, along with many volunteers, recreate fairy tale scenes in urban settings. They do amazing work and have produced scenes from Snow White, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, Wizard of Oz, and more.
Fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories. fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale.
Below are all the titles with the story inspirations.
If You Feed a Wolf – Inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This is one of my favorites because it was experimental. I just let myself be free to write without a real plan. As far as what I took from the original story: it reminded me of how I feel in dreams – so some of the things that happen in this story are taken from my actual dream journal.
The Vampire’s New Suit – Inspired by The Emperor’s New Clothes. I just like this one because it’s fun.
Blueberry Eyes – One of my very first supernatural fairy tales. I’m not going to say which fairy tale this one was inspired by because it would give away the ending.
The Gift – Inspired by The Ghost of Christmas Past from “A Christmas Carol.” This one was one of my favorites because I wrote the entire story backwards – line by line – It was my daughter’s idea to write it that way because I was stuck. I also like it because it is my first and only western – and it has a touch of steampunk and ghosts.
If it weren’t for Bad Luck – Inspired by Rumpelstilzchen. You see, I have this theory about luck..
Muse – (Also published in The Inferno under the title What You Know.) Inspired by Prince Ariel from “The Fairy Tales of Madame D’Aulnoy.” I had to do a lot of research on birds for this one. One of my darker pieces, but I like it.
His Soul Inspiration – (Originally published in Enchanted Conversation ) Inspired by The Little Mermaid, this is my last supernatural fairy tale short… to date.
Quiet on the Nightingale – (Also published in AllRomance eBooks Newsletter) Inspired by Jorinda and Joringel. A little sexy but mostly fun.
Forbidden Beach (Also published in Silverthorn Press) Inspired by Thumbelina, this short story is probably the truest to the fantasy genre of my stories and also the creepiest.
Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale is a young adult, fairy tale inspired dark fantasy. It will be free for two days this week. Below is chapter 1 if you want to check it out first.
Free August 16 &17
Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale
by Dorlana Vann
Chapter 1 Once Upon A Time
Aiden Young stared out the window of the rental car. His mom, Lucy, had described early fall in Indiana as spectacular, but they’d missed autumn altogether, and she’d failed to mention that the heart of winter was so freaking bleak and bitter. He pulled a pen out of the spirals of his notebook and forced himself to ignore the poem he had written about Summer, his newly ex-girlfriend, on the previous page. On the next blank page, he wrote:
shivers through the claws
of dense skeleton branches
“What are you writing?” his mom asked from behind the wheel, rescuing him from comparing the cold poem to the way he felt. “I would love to hear something. You haven’t shared your poetry with me in a long time. You know, I still have the very first one you wrote to me. Let’s see, it went… ‘Mommy, mommy—’”
“Hey!” He cleared his throat. “Umm… are you sure you turned down the right road?” He couldn’t stomach his mom’s “when you were a little boy” stories, even if guilt did nudge at him. He knew in her mind the reason he had tagged along was so that they could spend time together. In real life, her trip on the same weekend Summer had planned to come over had been perfect timing, and that’s all. Summer wanted serious answers, and he didn’t even want to talk about it, didn’t want to think about it. “It’s been forever since I’ve seen a house. Only trees and more trees and dead trees…”
“Nervous?” She smiled as she glanced back and forth from him to the road, her new, short hairstyle bouncing to the movement.
“You not watching the road is making me a little jumpy.”
“No, I think city boy is scared of the woods.” She gave a quick laugh before saying, “Granny once told me she saw the devil out there. Pitchfork and all.”
“Well, if I was scared, that wouldn’t help.”
His mom watched the road in silence for a moment. “How much do you remember about my family?”
He shrugged. “I remember Augustus was a jerk.”
“I’m sure he’s changed by now.”
“I hope some other stuff has changed, too,” she mumbled. “There are a couple of things about them you probably don’t remember.”
“Wait!” Aiden pointed. “There’s a house down that hill. Is that it?”
“That’s it.” She made a sharp left.
As they drove down the driveway, Aiden frowned. The house was old and worn, the paint peeling like someone had raked the white two-story from the top of the black trim down to the dead bushes. The windows, with a brownish build-up on the glass, didn’t catch a single reflection. But the porch actually triggered a memory. He knew it wrapped the entire house because he remembered running around and around it when he was a little boy.
Lucy parked beside a red BMW. “I don’t remember it being so—”
“I was going to say old. Anyway, how do I look?” She sat up straight and examined herself in the rearview mirror. Aiden didn’t say anything because after the first fifty times he had told her she looked fine, he’d realized she wasn’t listening for an answer. She was just nervous. They had almost missed their plane because she had changed her outfit a few hundred times. She had finally settled on black slacks, black leather jacket, pastel shirt, and low heels.
Aiden opened the car door. His Texas winter coat, actually a thin jacket, was no match for the icy wind. Since it had been shorts weather back home, he was thankful that at least he had worn long pants. As he walked toward the house, he tucked his hands inside his pockets and tried to look down at much as possible to keep the miserable cold from hitting his face.
Lucy knocked on the front door and looked around at the containers of flowers, plants, and condolence wreaths on the front porch. “I don’t see the one I sent.”
The door opened abruptly. Aiden had been seven the last time he saw his cousin, but he recognized the guy with dark, slicked-back hair and swollen eyes, one green and one blue, as Augustus. He wore jeans and an unbuttoned black shirt, which revealed a chain that dangled down a muscular chest.
“What?” His cousin’s voice sounded groggy, like he had been woken from a nap.
“Augustus? Hi. Remember us? Aunt Lucy. And this is Aiden.”
Augustus remained unenthused. “Oh,” he said, walking away. He left the door wide open, presumably for them to follow. Aiden had half expected the inside of the house to look as unkempt as the outside. Other than the sheet-covered frame that hung on the wall with only a tarnished corner peeking out, there was nothing wrong or special about the spacious foyer. He glanced at the formal dining room, which was to the right, and at the hallway, stairs, and ramp on the left.
As they followed his cousin into a warm living room, Aiden noticed Augustus’ hair wasn’t short like it had first appeared but hung down in a pony-tail.
“Whoop,” Aiden said as he tripped on the corner of the rug.
Augustus turned and glared at Aiden. “Watch your step.”
Aiden smoothed the rug with his foot in case it was expensive or something. “Sorry, man.”
“The last thing we need around here is more bad luck,” Augustus said.
“Oh, everything is fine,” Lucy offered. “Aiden’s just real clumsy.”
She looked at Aiden sternly, as if to say, “Please, play along.”
“Right…” Aiden said with full sarcasm. “I’m a klutz. I fall down all the time.”
Augustus shook his head and walked to a chair that faced a blazing fireplace. A dozen or so pillar candles, at all stages of being burned, lined the mantle. A sofa, a wooden console television that looked so ancient Aiden doubted it received cable, and a small end table furnished the rest of the room.
They stood behind the sectional like two dummies. Slowly, Augustus swiveled around. “Sit down,” he said. After they made it to the front of the couch, Lucy only sat on the edge, clearly uncomfortable. “Augustus,” she said. “I don’t know how to express how sorry we are.”
“Diesel,” Augustus said.
“I’m sorry?” Lucy replied.
“My name is Diesel.”
“Oh! Your middle name. When did you start going by your middle name?”
“Five years ago.”
“Oh,” she nodded. “How… are you?” She smoothed her hair. “Are you doing all right?”
“The funeral was yesterday,” he said.
“Yeah. I know, and I’m so sorry. I hoped we could drive out to the gravesite.”
“You missed your own sister’s funeral.”
“I know. I know. We really tried to get here on time but the airport, you know, and Christmas. It’s insane. Trying to rent a car was…”
Diesel shifted in his seat.
Lucy cleared her throat. “How’s Granny?”
“She’s sleeping. Do you want to see her?”
“Nooo, not if she’s resting.”
“I’ll be right back.”
When Diesel jumped up and walked out of the room, Aiden tried to exhale the tension with a silent whistle. The fire crackled as they sat waiting.
They both turned when they heard a loud knock coming from above. A railing supported by carved wooden balusters edged the open landing. “Gran,” Diesel said loudly. “Aunt Lucy and Aiden are here. Finally.” The bedroom door creaked open.
After he heard the door shut, Aiden leaned over to his mom and whispered, “Man, he sure did get weird.”
“Well, he’s been through a lot. He just lost his mom.”
“Sorry.” Aiden felt bad for a second. But still… “What was with the rug and bad luck stuff, and you making me look like such a dweeb?”
“I didn’t mean to. I was trying to make him feel better. It’s so strange. I had no idea Augustus believed in all that stuff, too.”
“Diesel,” Aiden corrected with a smirk.
She nodded. “I mean Diesel. They’re all a little different… a little superstitious, old-fashioned.”
“How do you mean, superstitious? Black cats and stuff?”
She nodded. “It seems like every little thing. You see, the reason Diesel got upset earlier is because stumbling is suppose to be bad luck in general.”
“How do you know that?”
“I grew up with all of it.”
“But you’re not superstitious.”
She leaned in closer to Aiden and whispered, “Because I knew all the old wives’ tales, omens, and folklore Mom told me and Rose were only make-believe, like fairy tales. Now Rose, she soaked it all in and actually believed. But she didn’t go all,” she waved her hands, “you know until…”
Aiden shook his head because he didn’t know. His mom rarely brought up her sister in conversation.
“Well, when she was pregnant, her boyfriend, Harley, ran off and left her. I think something completely snapped. Even though I had already moved out by then, I heard she took it hard. At least that S.O.B. left money for Diesel when he died.”
“She’s not feeling very well,” Diesel said from directly behind them. They both jumped. “She wants to know if you guys can go up there.”
“Sure, sure,” Lucy said, her face bright red.
They followed Diesel into the foyer and up the stairs. After a few steps up, the stairs turned to the right. Aiden could see over the banister, down into the living room.
When they arrived at Granny’s door, Aiden’s heart thumped in his chest. He hadn’t seen her in ten years. His own grandma, a stranger. He could also sense his mom’s anxiety; she took her time walking inside the room.
Granny sat in a recliner covered by a worn quilt. Her grey, bushy eyebrows went all the way across and met in the middle of her brow. Her cheekbones sank in, and her long, silver hair draped over both of her shoulders.
“Lucille, you came,” Granny said, her voice ungrateful.
“Mom,” Lucy said. “How are you?”
“I’m hanging in there.”
“I’m so sorry about Rose.” Lucy leaned over and gave her mom a distant hug. “I can’t believe she had a heart attack.”
“I don’t believe it, either. Doctors. All of them, money hungry. Hmph, it doesn’t matter, anymore. She’s gone. Rose is gone.” Aiden heard the door close behind him. Diesel had left the room.
“She was a good daughter,” Granny said. “I could count on her. Always here for me.” She looked at Aiden. “My, my look at you. Come give Granny a hug.”
Aiden walked over to Granny’s stretched out arms and hugged her, smelling the scent of grassy earth. He pulled away, and she smiled warmly.
“It’s so good to see you in person,” she said. “I’ve been sent pictures, but it’s not the same. Look at you. You remind me of your grandpa; he was tall and thin.” She looked around Aiden. “Where’s my new grandson? How old is he now, two? Seems a shame, a grandmother never even getting to meet her own grandson.”
“He’s three and… he has a cough, and I thought it would be easier.” Lucy cleared her throat. “Mike stayed home with him.”
Granny eased her attention over to Lucy. “I see. So when are you running off? I guess it’s just as well, anyway.”
Lucy straightened and smiled curtly. “There’s something I need to talk—”
“You can stay in your old room if you want,” Granny interrupted. “It’s the same. We haven’t changed a thing in case you ever decided to come home. Aiden, honey, you can take the guestroom downstairs. I’m feeling quite weak. Please ask Diesel if there’s some leftovers from Rose’s friends that I can have for my supper tonight. Rose always made supper…”
“I’d be happy to cook,” Lucy said.
“I suppose that will do. Turn the light out when you leave.”
Lucy stood for a second, wringing her hands, and then took a couple of steps to the bedside table and snapped off the lamp. The room went dim but not dark because of the daylight sneaking in from the window. Lucy turned abruptly and left the room. Aiden smiled at Granny, feeling awkward. “See ya,” he said before following his mom’s exit and shutting the door behind him.
Aiden caught up with Lucy on the stairs, mid-ramble. “She chose to live with Rose, and now she’s acting like I abandoned her or something. She wouldn’t even give me a chance to ask her. What makes me even think she would want to move in with me?”
“It was a little soon to ask, don’t you think? Hi. Condolences. Want to pack up and move across the country?”
“Shhh. Why don’t we go to the car,” she said as they reached the foyer, “and we can talk.”
Once in the car, Lucy placed her hand on her cheek as she stared out the front windshield. “I hope you can understand why I need to do this.”
“I know, you and Dad explained it all at home. I mean, she’s old, and you don’t think a college kid like Diesel can take care of her.” Ever since his mom had brought up her plan, he had been apprehensive, especially since his mom suggested she extend the invitation to Diesel, too, at least until after the holidays. However, after seeing Diesel, he didn’t think he had to worry about him wanting to bunk together. He didn’t seem the type. And, since Diesel was legally an adult, he could have the entire house to himself. Aiden knew what he would pick if he was given the choice.
“I didn’t realize it would be so hard,” his mom said, speaking more to herself than to Aiden. “I can’t believe she’s saying I ran off. I didn’t run off. I got married… I couldn’t bring myself to come back very often because every time I did, Rose acted and looked so strange, like a witch or gypsy or something. I couldn’t stand to see her like that. She used to be so pretty. The last time we came here, I swear she was in the kitchen making some kind of potion.”
“Cool, magic potions.” Aiden imagined his aunt standing over a black cauldron, stirring it with a long wooden spoon.
“She wasn’t normal,” she whispered and wiped her eyes. “I tried to tell Mom that I wasn’t sure Rose should be taking care of anyone and to come live with us. Of course she wouldn’t hear anything bad about her Rose. She chose her over me… So it’s not my fault. But I really didn’t mean for ten years to pass. Now I feel like a terrible daughter and sister.” Lucy inhaled a long breath and let it out quickly. “I’ll never see Rose again, you know.”
“I’m sorry.” Aiden pulled a t-shirt out of his duffle bag from the backseat and handed it to his mom to wipe her tears.
“I know it’s too late to make it up to Rose, but maybe I can help Mom and be there for my nephew. He doesn’t have a mom or a dad now. We’ll sit down and have a nice dinner and discuss everything with them, as a family. I’m sure they’ll see that it’s the best solution. Right?”
“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to get all into that.” She nodded and patted him on the leg. “I’m so glad you decided to come with me. I can’t believe you chose to spend your holiday with me. It means a lot to me.”
“Let’s just get the bags—”
“Wait a minute,” he said. “You’re not suggesting we sleep here, are you?”
“We don’t have a choice. After dinner it’ll be too late to drive very far. You saw downtown. Did you see a Holiday Inn?”
They had driven straight through Kingwood, Indiana. Surrounded by worn-down shops sat an old, two-story courthouse, complete with bell tower and soaring front steps that led to a columned porch. Unfortunately, he hadn’t seen anything that even resembled a modern hotel.
Lucy said, “Anyway, aren’t you the one who told me I should take my time?”
“Yeah, but I meant during the day and after we checked into a hotel that had room service.”
“It’s only for the one night.” Lucy sighed and stared at the house. “How bad could it be?”
He didn’t look forward to being in the house at night; it already had a creepy Poe atmosphere during the day. He imagined Diesel looming over his bed with a butcher knife chanting, “You’re bad luck. You’re bad luck…” Aiden shuddered. “Right,” he said. “How bad?”
Free August 16 &17
by Dorlana Vann
I knew what lurked beyond the trees even before I opened the car door: the forbidden, barricaded beach. Even though I lived only a few miles away, I had never stood so close. Leaning against the car, the wind ruffled my hair as nerves tangled my insides.
“Aren’t you coming, Junior?” Pearl, my date, stood in the moonlight, hands on her hips, legs apart, making a perfect triangle with her skirt.
I shrugged my shoulders. “We’re not supposed to be here.”
“There’s no law against it.”
“Let’s go, you two love birds,” Clay said, shining his flashlight on us for a second before moving on.
“Don’t be scared,” Pearl said. “Just don’t step in the water, and you’ll be fine.”
I put my already shaky hands into my pants pockets. “I’m not scared!” It wasn’t that I needed to impress Pearl. I had only agreed to go out with her because no one else had said yes, but I didn’t want a mammoth, cowardly act stamped on my already unimpressive rep. “I just don’t believe it, that’s all. Have you ever seen it happen?”
“No, but my cousin, Fern, said he did. After a dare, one of his friends ran into the water and changed right before Fern’s eyes, and then the sea took him. He never saw him again.”
This reminded me of all the times my mother had warned me to stay away from the beach, to stay away from the wild Merfolk. “They took your father. Shameful, cannibalistic creatures, behaving like animals in that dirty ocean. Immoral and naked. Catching fish with their mouths. It’s shameful. It’s shameful. They took your father you know…”
“So, let’s go.” Pearl grabbed my hand, and I allowed her to lead me through the trees. The same salty air I had breathed my entire life now burst with intensity.
After we had caught up with Clay and Iona, we helped each other over the concrete barrier and down into the sand. I heard the soft roar of the dark waves, its movement the only factor separating it from the sky.
I vaguely heard the others talking behind me before Clay shouted, “No hard feelings, Junior. We just want to see if it’s true.” They laughed and pushed me until my feet sank into the wet, gushy sand.
“Don’t! Don’t!” I pleaded, already feeling the droplets of ocean spraying my face, before they gave one hard, final shove.
A wave pulled me with it, soaking my pants up to my waist. Fear pushed my voice to a scream. I screamed for help, screamed for the ocean to let go! Just as the water retreated, I lost my balance and landed on my knees. Sunken sand tracks, where the kids had run away, came into focus.
I scrambled to dry land before the next wave, trying to catch my senses. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the pictures of the hideous beasts that I had been shown since grade school.
Standing up, I examined my legs and put my hands out in front of me, waiting for it to happen. The change. When I touched my mouth, my teeth felt normal, not long and pointed like a beast’s.
Relieved and unchanged, except for my belief that I would never be accepted by kids my age, I started to walk toward the road. A new sound in the darkness stopped me. I thought maybe they didn’t leave me but were hiding, waiting to watch me turn into a creature.
“I know you guys are there,” I said meekly, becoming increasingly concerned with the alien surroundings. I fought the urge to run. I would not let them win. And then a different, even stronger thought intruded; since I proved the myth untrue, I’ll be like a hero. No one would have to be afraid of the beach again.
I followed the sound to a pile of drifted sand and tangled weeds. The closer I stepped, the more it sounded like a whimper instead of a snicker. My mouth fell open as my breathing picked up pace. I questioned what I perceived camouflaged in the debris. A woman?
Her long hair, wildly strewn out behind her, was mixed with the sand and seaweed. “Hey, are you all right?” When I noticed her bare arms and her bare chest, I turned away. “Immoral and naked.” My heart quickened because it knew I had to look again. I stared at her face, down to her neck, to her chest, and past her stomach.
No legs! A fishtail! A real fishtail!
Stumbling back to standing, I turned towards the sea. “Oh! Ohhhh…” I put my hands up to my head. What do I do? She was a Merfolk, but something was wrong with her. I couldn’t just leave.
I loosened my tie and started unbuttoning my shirt as I thought about how Mother would kill me if she knew. It might not have been against man’s laws to walk the beach, but it sure the hell was against her’s. I turned back around and gently placed my shirt over the mermaid’s shoulders, covering most of her exposed upper body that didn’t look monstrous at all.
She didn’t move, except for her labored breathing. As I stood, wondering what to do next, I noticed a two inch gash in-between her two bottom fins that seemed clogged with sand.
I ran to the water, cupped it in my hands, and ran back. I did this several times, cleaning the wound as much as possible. I pulled my tie over my head and then wrapped it around her fins, bringing the edges of the cut as close together as possible.
When I put a handful of water up to her lips, she gave a quick inhalation, sucking up some of the water. I staggered backwards and then shot to my feet. Running to the water, I shouted, “Hello? She’s alive, and she needs help!” But only the spirited, nocturnal seagulls soared overhead, their replies loud but unclear.
After walking back and forth a couple of times, I dipped into the water once again and took it to her. The mermaid’s eyes shot open, but I didn’t flinch. I let her drink.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
I nodded, a little surprised to hear her speak. “Are you all right?”
“I think I just need something to eat.”
“Well, I can run home and make or… bring…”
“If you could just help me to the water, I can take care of that myself.”
“Oh,” I said, recalling what Mother had said about them catching live fish in their mouths.
“Please come be my guest so I can thank you for your kindness.”
I looked behind me at the ocean, allowing myself to realize how much I admired it. “I can’t, my mother… besides, I’m not like you. It wasn’t true, after all. I was in the water, and I didn’t change.”
“The sea takes no one who doesn’t wish to be there. You must desire the change. See?” She waved her hand over her tail. “I didn’t change into Landfolk just because I sit on dry land. I love the sea, and I want to return.” She held my stare as she said, “You must love the land.”
Or am I just scared?
A soft breeze lifted me out of my thoughts, as she lifted her arms to me. I struggled, but managed to carry her until the waves splashed up to my shoulders. She sank and without a word disappeared into the darkness.
“Did you have a good time?” Mother stood in the foyer like she had been waiting there since I left. “I’m glad you finally got out of your—” Her smile distorted into a wide-mouth scream. When she pointed at my feet, my face grew hot. I didn’t have to look down to imagine all of the golden sand that probably clung to my pant legs and shoes.
She sat down on the stairs, blocking my escape to my room. In between gasps she said, “How many times have I told you never to go to that beach? It’s dangerous. Shameful, dirty beasts! Filthy-cannibalistic-naked-immoral-ugly creatures—”
“They’re not ugly,” I whispered.
Her face froze with a mix of horror and shock. “What did you say?”
I avoided her eyes. “I met one. I umm, I helped one. Her.”
“Swear to me right now,” she hissed, “you’ll never set foot on that wicked, wicked beach, again.”
At that moment, I realized how disgusted I was by her snobbish attitude. I also knew I would never be able to stay away from the ocean, away from the beauty of the Merfolk. “Why do you hate them? Because they’re different? You know, they’re not so unlike us. They can talk and are free to do…” At that moment, what really happened to my father became so obvious. “He chose the ocean, didn’t he? Father wasn’t taken!”
Tears of which I didn’t know Mother was capable began to seep from her eyes. “I should have moved us to the compound years ago just like the Worleys.” And then softly she sobbed. “But I had to wait.”
“Wait? For what? Father’s not coming back. Why would he? He’s free.”
“Don’t you dare disrespect me, Junior. You’re too young to understand the world. Merfolk are manipulative and horrific.” With wild eyes she looked around. “I have to protect you. Go pack! Now!” She stood up abruptly and pointed up the stairs. “Pack up your stuff. We’re moving in the morning and never coming back.” She screamed, “They can’t have you!”
I made my way up the stairs to pack for the compound. A compound so far inland I heard the air smelled of pine. A compound I could not leave until I was of age.
Early the next morning, I climbed out of my bedroom window and found my way back to the beach. It had lost all of its darkness and now glistened and pumped silver-blue waves as far as I could see.
“You came back.”
I almost missed the mermaid; her hair blended and moved with the water.
“I wanted to say goodbye. My mother is scared of what she doesn’t understand.”
“But you’re not,” her voice rose over the rumble. “I can see it on your face. You have fallen for the sea.”
“I don’t know.”
She held out her arms to me. “There is only one way to find out. Give yourself fully to the waves.”
I stepped into the water, thinking I would come back later and tell Mother goodbye, but the feeling of freedom already overwhelmed me. The further I swam the further away the mermaid seemed. I watched the tip of her tail go under and held my breath, plunging in after her. Immediately, I felt different. I was changing! My legs felt as one unified object. But when I gave in to the need to inhale, I choked violently. I coughed and gagged until finally I felt accepted.
My eyes had burned feverishly from the saltwater during the ocean’s initiation; now they could focus on the new surroundings. Brilliant and vivid fish that I had never imagined existed swam playfully around me as if they were celebrating my arrival.
To my surprise, a group of Mermen suddenly appeared. My heart thumped wildly. I started scanning their faces, searching for my father. I smiled, and they grinned. Then they opened their mouths, exposing daggered teeth. They came closer, surrounding me, licking me with their shameful, filthy, cannibalistic tongues.
Forbidden Beach is one of the short stories from my paranormal short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales.
These 9 Supernatural Fairy Tales are not retellings of the original fairy tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, and more, in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.
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