Upon A Something...our story begins in a modest home that is situated
on the edge of the sea and beach, in which, lives the Torah family.
Ferdinand Torah is the head of the household. His large head, horns, hooves and nose piercing clearly showing off the attributes of his being a Minotaur. You may be more familiar with his maze running uncle from the battle with Theseus. The lover of all things grilled; he is renowned in this part of the world for his Bar-b-Que skills. This is greatly due to the sea living folk around here usually having to suffer with their food being raw, steamed or boiled.
His lovely wife Sirena, the singer of lore who once drew in ignorant sailors with her voice, is considered to be the most beautiful of all the merfolk who dwell within Atlantis. In fact, she captured Ferdinand's heart by singing to him from the coast line as he was picking flowers in a nearby field. Her long golden locks curl around her upper body, while the pink scales of her beautiful tail, shine with a golden luminescence to match.
Now, onto the star of our story. Ferdinand and Sirena's only son, their only child in fact...Lloyd.
Lloyd is the world's only Mermotaur. Blessed with the upper body of his Minotaur father and the tail of his Mermaid mother, Lloyd rarely sees anything he has received from his parents racially mixed family, as a gift. Oh well....that is a teenage boy for you. Always focusing on the bad and never noticing the good. Please, do not fret. My magic crystal ball tells me he will one day fall in love, be raised to the highest of happy emotions only to have his heart broken and be just as miserable as everyone else. However, this is not where the story is going at the moment.
The story actually begins with Lloyd and his best friend Gil heading out for a latte.
Quick note about Gil...he too is from a racially mixed family. His father is better known as The Creature from the Black Lagoon (real name being Clint) and his mother is a sea-nymph named Sparkle. Gil looks just like dad with the exception that he has his mother's beautiful crystal green eyes and is her same four inch size. However, as Gil will point out many, many times (which I have artfully removed from my story), he is only a teenager and is still growing.
Anyway....back to the story....
Lloyd swished his tail so he could keep moving forward. He had already gotten his best friend Gil from where he lived in an average home in the coral reef. Gil was content with his perch on Lloyd's left shoulder. He was just as fast a swimmer as Lloyd, but he was also lazy. Work really wasn't his thing and since moving in with his dad after his parent's separation, he was milking the sloth-like demeanor to the maximum advantage.
Chewing lightly on a piece of plankton, Gil finally broke through the dull silence that was between him and Lloyd. “So, I think I'm going to get the ultra sized latte, with extra sea foam!”
Lloyd sighed and grumbled, “The last time you got the ultra sized latte, with the extra sea foam, you got stuck in the foam and we had to call the paramedics to get you out. By the end, the sea foam was flat and your latte was the temperature of the sea water.”
Gil laughed, “Ah! Yesterday was a good day!”
Lloyd shook his head. He knew Gil well enough that he probably would never talk him out of this idea of having the ultimate latte from Seabuck's. In Gil's pint sized mind he was a giant and therefore needed the enormous beverage to prove it.
Gil bounced off of Lloyd's shoulder to look him in an eye (Gil was too small to address both of Lloyd's eyes unless at a distance). “Don't worry, Lloyd. Today I'll use a straw!”
Lloyd grumbled to himself as he rolled his eyes. Gil had obviously forgotten about being stuck in the straw previously, when the vacuum sucked him in after he took a sip. Quite a commotion was caused when Lloyd had to blow him out from the opposite end. That was the day before yesterday...just for reference. It was becoming more apparent to Lloyd that his best friend suffered from a fish's memory, at least with negative moments. It lasted a whole of four seconds. No wonder the little imp was always so happy!
Lloyd smiled and said, “Use one of the small ones meant for stirring this time though, not a milkshake straw, OK?” Gil frowned.
Just as Gil settled again onto Lloyd's shoulder, the boys were crossing an alleyway. There weren't many of these in Atlantis, but the few there were always seemed to cross their path. Lloyd's ears picked up a delicate whinny noise. This caused him to pause. Gil stood up on Lloyd's shoulder. He had caught the sound too. Lloyd's ears, being long and large just like his dad's, pivoted and moved so he could hear better. The small chorus of whinnies harped again and they were coming from inside the alley.
“What do you suppose that is?” Gil asked of Lloyd. Lloyd shrugged his shoulders, nearly dumping Gil wildly into the surrounding ocean as he started to investigate. Gil looked around hesitantly before following his bull headed friend. “Are you off your rocker?” Gil protested, spitting out the plankton he had be grinding away on. Lloyd ignored Gil. The sound was new and he was curious. It wasn't like he was going into the China shop again.
Listening to the braying, Lloyd soon located the source. On the floor of the alley, there was a box, of medium size. A handle was on the top for easy carrying and several small holes, smaller than Gil, were around the outside. The box was clear so the boys could see exactly what was inside.
To their astonishment, it was filled with tiny little animals. Each one had a long, curled up tail, straight flowing mane and a little horn that protruded from the top of its head. They're kinda cute, thought Gil silently to himself. “How many of them are there?” was what he wondered out loud as his eyes grew wider.
Lloyd picked up the box and a small slip of parchment fell off the side that had been hidden from their view. Gil quickly swam through the water and grabbed onto the note. His eyes dashed across the words as he read aloud,
Dear Finder of This Box;
First of all...good luck!
Second...these are baby Mermacorns and there are 100 of them! These half sea horse half unicorn creatures are stupid!
Third...my sincere apologies to you, your family, your house, your neighbors and your city.
Not coming back, ever, never, ever.
Lloyd grunted, “I only count 72!”
Gil dropped the paper and pressed his face flat against the box. Quickly he counted the little creatures. “I confirm your 72,” he chortled. “I wonder where the other 28 went.”
“Maybe they escaped,” reasoned Lloyd.
Gil shook his head. “They are about my size and the holes in the box are too small. The front door is closed up tight and latched. Maybe the note maker was stupid.”
Lloyd lowered the box from his face to his side. He was careful with his movement as he wanted no harm to come to the little beasts inside. “I guess we should find them homes. You know we will never be allowed to keep them.”
Gil grinned, “Isn't your dad having a Bar-b-Que next week? Maybe...”
Gil sighed and shrugged a shoulder. “It was just a thought. After all, those little horns would make the perfect handle to hold onto while they were hot.”
Lloyd turned around and began swimming away from Gil. At the mouth of the alley, Lloyd began looking around. No one seemed to take notice of the box in his hand. It must truly be abandoned, he concluded.
Gil reached Lloyd's shoulder and resumed his perch. “So, where do we start?”
Lloyd looked over the city. His eyes scanned the merfolk, on the streets. Finally they came to rest on the largest, building in the whole place. “There.” he stated as he pointed it out to Gil.
Gil shuddered and gasped, “King Triton's Palace! You really are cow brained.”
As Lloyd confidently swam up the gilded path to the large double doors marking the front entrance to King Triton's Palace, Gil was swimming across both of Lloyd's shoulders, under the long, flowing curls Lloyd inherited from his mom. “I don't know if this is such a good idea, Lloyd,” Gil croaked out nervously. “I'm surprised the guard even let you in through the front gate, except for the fact that King Triton loves your dad's Bar-b-Ques.”
Lloyd grumbled, “You're just worried he's going to mistake you for something off the shrimp platter again!”
“Hey!” Gil stopped to protest. “I resemble that remark!” Lloyd ignored Gil's statement and silly grin as he swung the knocker on the large front doors.
With the clanging of the latch turning and the scraping of the one large door being opened, Gil shut up and hid under Lloyd's long, curly hair by his neck. His plan was to remain hidden. He wasn't going to be handled by the burly merman again.
Two bright blue eyes peeped out from around the edge of the door. Lloyd stared at first before announcing, “I am Lloyd Torah and I'd like to have a brief audience with King Triton.”
The eyes blinked once before opening the door further revealing the owner to the eyes was Triton's youngest daughter. Lloyd took it as a sign that he was being permitted into the house, so he carefully swam inside. He ignored the little princess with the red flowing hair and continued down the corridor to the throne room. Upon entering his majesty's place for speaking with the common merfolk, the titan was seated on his throne, munching away on some sea urchins. Lloyd gave the King a bow from the waist and waited.
King Triton smiled, “Stand up straight, Lloyd!”
King Triton drifted down from his seat to be present in front of the Mermotaur. “What brings you here? Not after my little daughter already!” The King winked an eye and nudged his elbow into Lloyd's side.
Lloyd shook his head. He straightened himself out. “No, King Triton. I've come to speak with you about mermacorns...”
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Triton shrieked in a pitch of the most unmanly manner as his darted to hide behind his throne.
Gil looked out from under Lloyd's hair. “Well, that was unexpected,” he whispered.
Lloyd's brow furrowed. Carefully he put the box down on the floor. Swimming behind the throne where the king was curled up in a fetal position, Lloyd saw him rocking back and forth while sucking his thumb and weeping uncontrollably. Lloyd's face stared on in confusion while he heard Gil covertly taking pics on his c-pod to post to his social media page. Grumbling, Lloyd pressed, “What is wrong King Triton!”
“Mermacorns!” he muttered. “Mermacorns! The great sinking!”
Lloyd looked at Gil who had came out from his hiding spot. Gil looked back at Lloyd. It took Gil a moment or two before he stopped filming the great Sea King in his less than kingly pose and put the c-pod down. Lloyd looked back to the King. “I don't understand.”
King Triton spoke through chattering teeth. “Mermacorn's were...(chattering gibberish)...Atlantis...(garbled)...on the bottom!” he stuttered/bellowed in panic.
Lloyd shook his head. He didn't remember this being taught in history class at school. Maybe he was sleeping that day. He looked to Gil for some help, but he was busy with his c-pod editing the film of Triton's break down.
Lloyd blew out the water from his lungs creating a cascade of large bubbles. “Surly, 72 little mermacorns won't cause any problems!”
“72!” Triton repeated as he came out of his stupor of panic. “Is that all?”
“Small enough to all fit in that box I was carrying,” Lloyd reassured.
Laughing boisterously, King Triton puffed himself up into a statuesque pose of bravery. “Well, then let's have a look!”
“I'm hoping to find them homes,” Lloyd explained as he swam back with the King to the box on the floor. Gil caught up and was under Lloyd's hair before Triton took notice of him.
Triton bent down to examine the box and the creatures inside. He seemed to stare for a long time before raising up and addressing Lloyd. “I only count 63!”
Lloyd's jaw dropped as he looked. He counted. The King was correct. Only 63 were in the box, though those that remained seemed to be a bit bigger now. Shaking his head Lloyd muttered, “Maybe I miscounted before.” Lloyd rechecked the box and it was sealed up tight.
Triton clapped a large hand onto Lloyd's back, “Good luck finding them homes!”
Lloyd looked pleadingly at the King, “I was hoping you would take them...or at least help.”
The King shook his head and hands at Lloyd. “No, no, no! I have a reputation to keep. I don't want anyone to believe I am weak in the face of danger, therefore it is my policy to avoid danger!.”
“Danger?” Lloyd was more confused.
“However,” Triton said and then leaned in to whisper into Lloyd's ear, “There is a restaurant in the south end of the city that would possibly...”
Triton laughed loudly again. “Then good luck, my boy!” Lloyd, feeling dejected, carefully picked up the box again, so that no harm would come to the little creatures inside and began to leave the throne room.
Once safely outside the palace gate, Gil came out from hiding. “So, aside from some killer footage of our King at his possibly worst moment, and the fact that those critters are decreasing in number for no apparent reason...where do we go from here?”
Lloyd stood there and thought for a moment. “This is a lot of trouble.”
“Well, duh!” exaggerated Gil.
Lloyd sighed and then had a new idea.
Lloyd and Gil stopped outside the short coral wall of the Abandoned Minnow Orphans' Asylum. The box Lloyd carried in his hand shifted slightly in the current that surrounded the orphanage.
Gil leapt off of Lloyd's shoulder when he caught site of Mrs. Whaley. She was the orphans' director and not hard to notice. She had a black tail with little white markings on the tip of her fins, an alabaster white body and she wore black framed eye glasses on a chain of pearls. The eye wear was shaped like the markings you would find on a killer whale, including the white shaded lens in the center with her own beady little black eyes popping out from behind them.
Lloyd bellowed from across the coral wall in his deep mooing voice. The sound echoed above all the noise the orphans were creating during their play. The water became eerily still and quiet. Lloyd suddenly became more than a bit self-conscious as five thousand little fish eyes turned to look at him, including Mrs. Whaley's.
Gil took the opportunity to speak out, “Who wants to see something stupid?” Suddenly, the shrieks and squeals of the little abandoned minnows where everywhere. Lloyd grumbled at Gil. “What?” retorted Gil. “I'm just quoting the note that was left with them!”
Turning away, Lloyd cautiously bullied his way through the crowd to place the box of mermacorns on the ocean floor. Waves of small fry gathered to stare at the creatures. Gil stood on the top of the box, politely asking the youngsters to not crowd, and to give Lloyd the chance to converse with Mrs. Whaley.
Mrs. Whaley greeted Lloyd with a white, sharp toothed grin. “Lloyd, how wonderful of you to stop in and entertain the children. The spawning season left them parent-less and having you bring them a little treat will surly brighten their thoughts of this place.” She then leaned in and whispered, “We found six floaters this morning.”
Lloyd could feel his skin turn hot. He wasn't sure if it was because of embarrassment or because a small school of silver fish may have just peed on him. He shrugged his shoulders and spoke quietly, “I was wondering if some of the children would be permitted to have a pet.”
“A pet?” questioned Mrs. Whaley blinking her eyes wildly from behind the odd optical wear. “Let me take a look.”
Hopeful, Lloyd swam alongside the orphan master to the small box. The little minnows had moved out of their way. Carefully, Mrs. Whaley bent down to peer into the box.
“Eeeeeeeeeee!” Mrs. Whaley screeched as she gathered up all the minnows she could and jumped over the short coral wall and out of the yard leaving only Lloyd and Gil with the box. Lloyd looked at Gil and went over to Mrs. Whaley. She was hugging the minnows tightly and scolded Lloyd, “Don't you know that mermacorns are responsible for the continental shift and the Marianas Trench!”
Lloyd thought for a moment. He was maybe away from school for that history class, for he didn't remember anything about this. The boys looked at each other. Lloyd blew out a sigh of large bubbles and quietly said to the teacher and her students. “They are secure in their box, tiny like Gil and there are only 63 of them.”
Mrs. Whaley stood up straight and tall like the brave woman she was. She and the minnows returned to the yard. “In that case,” Mrs. Whaley stated, “I think you should find somewhere else to take them. To only have so few and not to be able to give one to all the children is unfair.”
Lloyd looked hopefully at Mrs. Whaley, “Where should I find them homes?”
“Well,” Mrs. Whaley began, “The orphanage always has problems filling up plates at dinnertime...”
Mrs. Whaley inhaled deeply. “I'm sure I don't know where then.” She abruptly turned and swam away with all the minnows following.
“Mr. Lloyd,” a small voice from a minnow called up from next to the box. “You said there were 63 of them, but I only count 47.”
Lloyd looked into the box and began to count. Gil looked into the box and began to count. They looked at each other and said together, “47!”
The little minnow frowned, “I think you guys need to go back to kindergarten math.”
“Eric!” called Mrs. Whaley from the doorway.
Eric the little halibut shook his head again at the two and he then swam away.
Lloyd carefully picked up the box and examined it. It was sealed up tight, though the little critters looked bigger than before. The were not able to escape at all. He lowered the box to his side gingerly so he would not harm the beings inside.
Gil took up his seat on Lloyd's shoulder again. “So, now where do we go?”
Lloyd stood there and thought for a moment. He then had an idea.
* * *
Lloyd sat on the beach with the box of mermacorns. They were playing in the shallow, flowing waves that were washing on shore and leaching into their box. Gil stayed in a small pool of sea water that was nicely formed in the rocks near where Lloyd sun bathed. The cool splashing of waves kept them all moist.
Gil frown pitifully at Lloyd. “You know, you can just put them back where you found them. You don't have to go to this extreme!”
Lloyd shook his head. In part in response to Gil and in part to shake off the mosquitoes that were nipping at his large, cow-like ears. Lloyd braced himself by taking in a deep breath and then he began...to sing.
Lloyd had the most beautiful soprano voice that anyone would ever hear. Not a single note was missed and when he wanted to really let loose, it would charm the angels themselves to come down from the heavens. It was something else he inherited from his mother.
It wasn't long before the large cruise ship was seen on the horizon, and before Lloyd or Gil knew it, a row boat filled with sailors were rowing to the beach they were seated upon. As they got closer, one of the men shouted, “Oh, beautiful sea maiden. I am the Captain of the cruise ship Melody. We are at your service.”
Lloyd was sitting with his back to the group. Gil sniggered from the pool of seawater he basked in. It was clear that they heard Lloyd's voice, saw his luscious, long ringlets of hair and even admired the shimmering pink tail. Gil started to roar with laughter as he sank under the surface of the pool. Lloyd sighed and turned around. So enchanted by Lloyd's voice they listened as he sang, “Do you want to own a mermacorn?”
“Eeeeeeeeeee!” all the seamen cried at once. “No! No! No!” shouted the Captain. “According to legend, mermacorns are responsible for the San Andres Fault, the Grand Canyon and they are rumored to be the reason the Franklin expedition was lost!”
Lloyd pleaded with his song, “There are only 47 of them in a box over there!”
Suddenly the Captain became brave, “Only 47! Well then, let's look.” He climbed out of the row boat and looked into the box. After a moment he stood up, “I only count 29!” Lloyd went over and counted. Nodding his head he acknowledge the Captain of the ship was correct. The box was still locked, but the little critters were definitely looking bigger.
The Captain climbed back into his row boat. “I could ask our culinary department...”
“Then...fair thee well, fine maiden? of the sea.” He gave Lloyd a deep bow and the little row boat was heading back to the bigger ship out at sea.
“Hurmp!” Lloyd scowled.
Gil got out of his pool and went to the box. Quietly he looked in. “Hey, Lloyd!”
“What?” Lloyd snapped, not really wanting to know.
“Just thought you should know, we're down to 11,” Gil chirped happily.
Lloyd took hold of the box and counted. Gil was correct. Only 11 of the mermacorns were in there now. There were no openings in the box except the front cage door that hadn't been unlatched, and the holes around the box that were now much too small for them to slip through. They were easily twice the size of Gil.
Lloyd dragged himself with the box back into the ocean. A very forlorn look on his bovine face.
“You know, Lloyd,” Gil began with obvious thought, “with so few left and all we really know about them is the big nothing...”
“We are not Bar-b-Quing, making sushi, frying, boiling, steaming...”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” protested Gil. “I was only going to suggest we take them there.”
Lloyd stopped glaring at Gil so he could see what his swampy friend was pointing to. Lloyd's eyes opened wide. Why hadn't he thought of this in the first place?
A bundle of small bells colliding made a racket as Lloyd, with his box of mermacorns and Gil sitting on his shoulder, entered Mr. Hurley's Pet Emporium. The boys made their way to the back counter of the shop where they found Mr. Hurley chattering and feeding the rescued catfish that were up for adoption there. Noticing his new company, he turned and looked at Lloyd. He gave a quick nod to Gil and said, “How can I help you boys?”
Lloyd put the box up on the counter. Clearing his throat he spoke softly, “I found these abandoned in the alleyway near the north end of the city.” Before he even looked in the box, Mr. Hurley had moved further down the counter to continue his work. Lloyd left the box where it sat and followed him down the long desk. Finally, Mr. Hurley spoke, “Well...what are they?”
“The note left with them said they were mermacorns,” Gil piped up gleefully.
Mr. Hurley's eyes first grew wide and then settled back to normal. He didn't screech, squeal or scream. He didn't try to run away. He didn't even tell them of a horrific tragedy tied to the myth of the little beasts. “They have a long, curly tail?” he asked. The boys nodded. “Two front legs with little gold colored hooves?” he inquired with a higher pitch to his voice. The boys nodded. “Long flowing silvery mane and tails that seem to dance in the waves?” he said with a bounce of excitement. The boys nodded. “A little pearl-like horn popping right out of the center of their heads!” he nearly shouted. Lloyd and Gil nodded again. “How many of them do you have?” he suddenly asked with no emotion what-so-ever.
Well...there was the big question. They seemed to be shrinking in number and the boys didn't know why. Lloyd and Gil stared at each other. Too afraid to say anything as they didn't want to be in any more trouble than they already were. “Well...how many?” Mr. Hurley repeated with more demand.
“You see,” started Lloyd.
“At first,” hesitated Gil.
Mr. Hurley shook his head. “How many are left?” insistent in his asking.
“Left?” the boys chimed in unison.
“Yes!” stated Mr. Hurley with mild frustration. “Mermacorns are highly carnivorous in their first stage of life. The strong devour the weak...literally.”
The boys let out a sigh and rapidly told their whole day of events to the shop keeper. They let him know that they didn't know were the other mermacorns were disappearing to. Mr. Hurley took copies of Gil's photos and video of King Triton. He was going to send some plankton to the Orphans' Asylum for dinnertime for the next week. They laughed about the seamen not swimming in the sea. Lloyd even willingly graced Mr. Hurley with a song...about rainbows....his mother taught him.
When all was said and done, the boys learned that the mermacorns sinking Atlantis and all the other mishaps were just an old sea-dog's tales from the locker of Davy Jones. There would always be orphaned minnows. Seamen were really just people too and mermacorns were really as stupid as the note stated.
“I'll make you a deal,” the shop keeper said to the boys. “I'll give you twenty dollars for each mermacorn left in that box. Yes, I could make at least four times that amount when I sell them, but I have to make a living.”
Lloyd and Gil smiled at each other and then happily agreed. That would be more than enough for two ultra sized lattes!
Mr. Hurley swam over to the box and looked inside. He then swam over to his money box. Carefully he counted and then went back to the boys. Smiling he handed them forty dollars.
Lloyd and Gil stared at the two coins pressed into Lloyd's over sized hand. They then went to look in the box. Their eyes confirmed the payment they received. Only two of the critters were left and their bellies so fat they couldn't move.
“Good news is,” Mr. Hurley began, “They should be done their carnivorous stage.”
“What's the bad news?” Gil gulped.
“They would be turned into bonding agent. They're too stupid to keep as pets and will eat almost anything they put their mouths around. However, as glue you can't beat the concrete stick they provide.”
Lloyd shook his head and left. Gil patted his hand against the nape of Lloyd's neck, “Well...they won't be eaten,” Lloyd sighed as he looked at the money in his hand.
“Latte?” Gil perked up. Lloyd just nodded his head. Gil turned for a last glance into the shop before swimming away, just in time to see Mr. Hurley wiping his lips with a cloth next to the open, empty mermacorn box. Gil snickered and smiled as he quickly swam to catch up to Lloyd.
So...the trouble with Lloyd wasn't really his trouble at all; if you think about it. The trouble had all been with those mermacorns he found. If he would have just swum by, not paid any attention, it would have saved him a hassle.
However, Lloyd is a warm blooded Mermotaur with a heart that feels deeply. We really need more like Lloyd in this world who will take on the weight of another's troubles...don't you think.