Prologue - Siren Sadism
The flow of my thoughts was slow and deliberate through my mind, steady, sinister. I closed my eyes briefly as they formed behind my lids, revelling in the anticipation with a slow swipe of my tongue over my teeth. I could not refrain from them. Nor would I want to detach myself from their logic. Not when the seawater tasted so pleasantly of my captive’s spice and blood as it gushed vigorously from his wounds.
I opened my eyes and my mind to them as I circled the terrified male kicking against the weight of the water, mostly immersed, suspended briefly between floating and sinking. I gyrated closer in consideration, felt each thought passing through.
Instinct surged through me, searing my blood-threads, my pulse pounding in my neck. The flat folds of my nares flared up obliquely, distorting my nose. I felt my face darken with colour – with hunger. The smell of the male’s fear was crisp and invigorating, easily ensnaring my senses.
I breathed in through my mouth, hoping for a taste. Briny water escaped through the slanted gill passages below my ears. Too quickly to probe and take apart. I snarled and took another, inhaling deeper this time, before swimming up behind him until I was so torturously close that his flavour burst across my tongue.
Slicing the sharp point of my nail into his back, I observed him clearly through the turbid brine as I split his skin and drew a meticulous line through his soft flesh. Up over his shoulder and shallowly across his throat to the other side. Down again, digging into the strut of his collarbone before continuing further, pausing over the organ beating wildly in his chest.
I blinked slowly as I watched him.
His panicked breaths were blowing harder into the air bubble I had manipulated over his breathing passages, faster. The usual signs of exhaustion became less subtle. Legs kicked twitchily. Arms flailed. He was still fighting his binds, disrupting the immediate currents and the sandy slopes of the sea basin, but he was near dead with fatigue.
The water had become so murky that he could no longer see through it.
His fear spiked.
I could sense it, smell it.
Still, he struggled against my grip on his mind. I could feel the dawning realisation that his strength was dwindling, that his force was far weaker than mine. I pushed effortlessly through the walls in his head, sifting through his thoughts and memories, contemplating suitable punishment for the long-standing wrongs I uncovered.
Dirty, dirty thoughts, I sang into his mind as the small dorsal fins on the ridge of my spine vibrated with anticipation, and waited.
The male froze.
His heart stuttered, then pounded harder. Following the shock, the black opening of his eyes exploded with panic and well-nigh swallowed the colour of its outer layers. A maniacal smile pulled my lips back tightly from the serrated edges of my teeth. I bore my curved claw deeper into his chest, until I could feel the irregular thumps against the pad of my finger.
Bad, bad man. Typical seafarer. Wife at home and a whore in every port. I caught the slither of guilt he tried to suppress and used it to flood his mind. Once I started, I didn’t have the resolve to stop. I pushed until the shame and self-loathing boiled over into every part of his consciousness. Sad, sad man. Let me help you. Let me take it all away.
The human turned frantic. Not knowing when I would strike. Whether I would continue to toy with him until his air ran out or his mind shattered. I gradually removed my finger from the hole in his chest as he kicked out in pain. My mouth watered. The more they struggled the better they tasted.
Withdrawing the male’s last reprieve, my hand quickly shot up to burst the elastic sphere over his face. He was too weak to push me off – too slow to stop me. The air escaped in a soft pulse of sound with barely an echo off it. He gasped and clutched at his throat, his anxious gaze searching mine, surprised at what I’d done. Then he started swallowing water, reaching for me, and I instinctively recoiled from his touch.
My instinct hissed in my ear, offended the male thought so little of us as to assume we would so easily let him breathe. I snapped my teeth in his face with renewed irritation. How had he survived the tides this long, dead as he was from the neck up?
You deserve this, human, I thought, with an anger that left a bitter taste in my mouth. He did. They all did.
He shook his head as gulping sobs wracked his body. Bloodshot eyes begged me to have mercy on him as he clutched at me. I scoffed low in my throat. My fins bristled, but I decided to entertain the expectation, if only to build up the pall of disappointment I’d soon spread over his face.
With a sigh that fluttered my nares, I sealed my lips stiffly over his. The male’s lungs remained submerged before I slowly started sucking the water up and out through his throat. A violent shudder rocked his body. He was green enough to take the bait. I felt his chest try to expand, to breathe the air from my mouth, trying to take from me without my permission.
Gullible fool. Your sails were marked for death the instant you embarked for my territory. You belong to the sea now. To me.
I tore my mouth away and waited while he struggled to absorb the essence of my song. Lack of air made him slow to comprehend and respond. There was no hope of escape for him, no hope of kindness or humanity. I thought of nothing but killing him. Of feasting on his flesh and picking apart his bones.
It only took a few exaggerated moments for the realisation to wash over him a second time. Everything released from his body in quick succession after that. First, heat and sweat burst through his skin. Then nausea boiled up his throat just as he lost control of his innards. I kicked my tail to avoid the current working its way towards me, beating at the discharge, but the feeling of revulsion soon fled.
My tongue flicked to taste the water clear from his sick. I shivered, as much from excitement as his flavour.
A shudder stirred my scales. Nothing had ever tasted as good.
I wanted more – needed a more sustainable taste.
He realised now that there was no way to swim away, no air, no rescue. Water rushed in, flooding his lungs, stealing away his thoughts. Legs tired and struggling, he started sinking deeper, faster. I kicked forward and snatched his arm, swaying up like seaweed above his head, jerking on it as I lunged for his neck.
His heart had already given out when my teeth pierced his throat. Slicing through layers of skin and fat, tearing through flesh and sinew, I fervently took the taste of him into my mouth. A moan slipped from my full mouth as I chewed, then swallowed, the pain in my stomach gradually subsiding.
The male’s mind had gone silent, neck and limbs slack, his body floating weightless in my grip. Tail beating against the current, I dived deeper, starting the fast-moving descent to my feeding grounds. Blood trailed behind us in rich red swirls as I ventured deeper still, into the thick cover of darkness undiscovered by the surface world.
Dead men don’t sing, I hummed a high, pleasing tune. No dead man is King. Sad, sad… bad, bad men.