Monday, 7 April 2014

The Mermaid and the Gargoyle

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The Mermaid and the Gargoyle

by Rebecca Fyfe

Melody stumbled. She still hadn't quite gotten the hang of walking on legs yet. She missed her lovely tail and fins, but she only had a week left before she could go home to the sea. It was a rite every mermaid had to endure: one month in the human world, on land, when a mermaid turned 16. A few elderly mermaids and mermen lived permanently on land amongst the humans and gave younger mermaids a safe place to stay during their rite of passage.

It was difficult to remember why this tradition had originally come about. Melody vaguely remembered being taught something about learning to better understand humankind and being more aware of the reasons why they had to remain hidden. One thing she did know is that the current tradition required young mermaids to actively try and change a few of humankind's minds about protecting the environment, specifically the ocean. The theory was that if they could get enough humans to take action, the sentiment might spread.

As Melody turned a corner into the alley behind the apartment she was staying in with old Moira, she heard a noise ahead, coming from behind the dumpster. She paused, wary. Despite living with elders, there were still dangers in the human world. Too many humans had become violent predators, preying on their own kind. But this wasn't a human she had heard. No, the smell was off. Her instincts told her that whatever was behind that dumpster was dangerous.

She turned to run and heard the shriek of a harpy behind her. Harpies had hunted merkind for centuries. She'd never be able to run fast enough! She saw the shadow of the harpy's wings fall over her, and then a different sound came from behind her, a sort of oomph. And the shadow fell away.

Shaking, Melody turned to face whatever had come for her. But the harpy lay crumpled on the ground, its wings splayed out around it, a trickle of blood oozing from a cut on its head.

The creature behind the harpy was immense, bigger than any creature she had seen outside of the sea. He was humanoid, but his skin was grey. He had large wings on his back in the shape of a bat's wings, and horns on his head. His nose looked smooshed. He was covered in muscles and looked powerful.

"You saved me. Thank you." Melody's voice was soft and unsure. "Is she...?"

"Dead?" His voice rumbled out like the sound of rocks rolling downhill. "No, she'll wake up eventually."

"What are you?" Melody knew it was rude to ask, but she knew he wasn't human and her curiosity got the better of her.

"Gargoyle. You've seen me before. My perch is here on your building."

Melody remembered seeing several large gargoyle statues gracing the rooftop of the apartment building she was staying in with Moira.

"I didn't know - I didn't realize - " Melody stumbled over her words, not knowing quite what to say.

"Some of us were created as protectors of humans. I, and the others you have seen, are tasked as protectors of the Merpeople."

Melody learned that her rescuers name was Granite. He walked her to her apartment and then left. Melody assumed that he returned to his stony persona on the roof.

She couldn't sleep that night; thoughts of Granite kept tumbling through her mind. She felt safer knowing he was nearby, a protective presence watching over the building. She wondered if they would meet again, and she realized that she was no longer as anxious for her time amongst the human world to end.

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