Part 1: Ferny Dunlap
Ferny woke up to a loud pounding noise. At first he thought it was the massive headache that hadn’t let up since those Siren’s attacked them but after a few seconds he realized that the noise was coming from his door. He stumbled to his feet, kicking away an empty rum bottle in the process and lurched to the door as if he was fighting storm force winds. He yanked it open to blinding sunlight. He groaned and shielded his eyes from the glare and peered at the dark figure that was standing there.
“Yeah?” he managed to say.
“It’s Phillip,” the voice was Rick’s but dull and lifeless instead of booming and full of life, “He’s been killed.” The words held an undercurrent of meaning and the realization shoved all the drunken stupor out him in a single moment. He hesitated, not wanting to let the man in, having an irrational thought that if he kept Rick out, he could keep the truth out. However after a few moments, he stepped back. Rick came inside, nose wrinkling at the sight and smell of the place. Ferny didn’t bother to defend himself. Everyone had their way of coping; Phillips had his family, Rick had that tiny garden that he slaved in, Henry had his wife and child and for him; it was the bottle.
“How are you so sure it was…” he let the words trail off, unable to bring himself to say the name of the thing that had been haunting him in both wake and sleep. Rick gave him a look that spoke volumes.
“His mangled corpse was found on the beach by his family last night,” Rick said, “When the doc examined what was left of him, they found bite marks and claw marks. Also the family claimed that they saw someone on the beach next to the body. They said it was as if whoever it was waiting for them to spot it before it left.”
It wasn’t lost on Ferny the change from person to thing as Rick spoke. His headache was returning now with full force. He rubbing his hands angrily through his hair and began rooting around for a bottle. He found one with a quart still left in it and drained it in one go. Rick sank into chair beside the small wooden table.
“It’s hunting us,” he said, his voice laced with fear and conviction. Ferny slammed the empty bottle down on the table so hard it cracked.
“You don’t know that for sure,” he spat at Rick, “You don’t know!”
“You said it yourself on the boat!” Rick screamed at him, surging to his feet, “You said that it was going to come back and kill all of us!”
Fenry was on his hands and knees, hitting empty bottles around until he found another half full one.
“That was on the boat,” he snarled, sitting back and raising the bottle to his lips, “I figured we were all going to die on the boat! Not here on land. Not here!” Rick snatched the bottle away from him. He growled and lunged for only to be held back by one large hand on his chest.
“Then why are you drinking so much?” Rick asked his voice suddenly quiet, “Don’t think I don’t know why you drink. We’ve been friends too long, Ferny.” Ferny stopped and felt all the energy drain out of him. He slumped down into a chair and buried his face in his hands. The fear that was following him since he got back home began to claw at him. He lifted one hand up.
“Just give me the damn bottle,” he pleaded. It took Rick a few seconds before Ferny felt the smooth glass of the bottle in his hand. He took it and rested it down on the table.
“I am not ashamed to admit that I am scared out of my wits right now,” Rick said, “What the hell are we going to do Ferny?” Ferny made a sound that sounded a lot more like a sob than a groan as he threw his hands up.
“How the hell should I know?” he said, his voice high and weedy, “how the hell should I know what to do when a blasted Sea Monster is trying to kill you. And one that can make you come to it! Why don’t you go to Henry and find out what his plan of action is!”
“Plan of action for what?” a voice echoed in the tense silence that followed Ferny’s outburst. Fenry turned to see Henry standing in the open doorway.
“Speak of the devil,” he muttered before chugging down the rum to numb the emotions that were trying to overwhelm him. Rick shot him a dirty look before turning back to Henry.
“A plan for dealing with the Siren that it out to get us,” Rick said with a note of defiance in his voice, as if daring Henry to disbelieve him. Ferny looked up to see that Henry had turned away and was looking out towards the ocean.
“I don’t have one,” he said softly, “But Phillip funeral starts in a few minutes and we should be there.” He turned away then paused. “And stay the hell away from the water.”
It took Ferny at least another fifteen minutes before he got himself out of the house. He pointedly did not look at the ocean as he made his way into the village. There was a massive crowd around what he supposed was the casket. He paused at the edge of the crowd unwilling to make his presence known but he thought of Phillip and what Henry said and decided to man up. He was prepared to shove his way to the front but the crowd parted for him once they realized that he was there. Henry, Rick and Phillip’s family was the ones closest to the casket which lay on a cart, ready to be pulled away once the little service was done. Thankfully it was closed. Henry and Rick nodded to him but Phillip’s family was lost to everyone in their grief except for each other. They clung like a frightened brood of hens, making pitiful wails as the Preacher said his words of comfort. Ferny swallowed hard and whished that he had a drink to shove down the pain that was filling his chest and the hot tears that wanted to fall. His headache was making him feel woozy with its force. The sermon was over sooner than he liked and then Phillip’s body was being drawn away slowly inland. The crowd flowed after it until they arrived at the graveyard where the grave diggers had already prepared the pit. Henry gestured to Ferny and together with Rick and surprisingly the Mayor, they lifted the wooden box and lowered it gently into the grave. It was terribly light and Ferny felt his stomach clench at the realization that there must have not been much left of the body to add any weight to the box.
At the grave diggers began to fill up the grave, Phillip’s mother grabbed a hold of his arm.
“Tell me,” she said, “Why did she do this? Why did she take my son? What did you do out there that it would come back?” Ferny felt his mouth go dry and he looked helplessly at Henry and Rick. They both wore the same stricken look that he was sure he was wearing. The woman’s grip tightened painfully.
“Tell me what you did!” she screamed at him, her shrill voice causing people to look at them in confusion and curiosity. Some of her daughter attempted to pull her off him, making tearful soothing noises but she was deaf to them.
“What did you do!” she screamed at him, tears rolling down her face. Ferny swallowed hard and told her the truth.
“We survived,” he said dully, “We survived at the expense of her family.” Phillip’s mother gave a low, heart wrenching wail.
“You killed him,” she moaned turning to look at Henry and Rick, “You all killed him.” Her daughters finally managed to pull her away but her grip was still tight and it tore away Ferny’s sleeve.
“You killed my son!” was the last words she screamed at them before she was pulled away into the crowd. Ferny cast one look at his crewmates before he pushed his way through the now buzzing crowds, tears blurring his eyes and guilt eating away at his soul.
As usual he found himself in the company of the bottle. The place was completely empty except for him and for the bartender who was carefully trying not to mind Ferny’s business. He had been here since the painful outburst and for some reason the rum was not working to drown out his sorrows as it had before. The pain his was feeling refused to go away. He muttered a curse under his breath and staggered to his feet.
“I’m taking this to go,” he slurred at the bartender and dropped some money that he hoped was the right amount before he drifted out of the place. He was surprised to find that it was night already. He sniffed and began to work his way home. He made more than a few wrong turns before he found himself stumbling down the familiar path to his sea shore shack. Instead of falling into the welcome smelly darkness of his one room home, he found himself standing on the shore, the water gently nipping at his toes. His bottle was hanging limply from his hand as he gazed out at the sea, the moon lighting up a silver path on the water.
Suddenly the tears were coming and he couldn’t stop them. He let the hot water trail down his face and drip off the edge of his chin, his breath coming in soft, shallow gasps. He was aware of a presence beside him and he turned a little to see the Siren standing next to him. She was looking off into the distance, her form pale and seemed like it almost glowed where the moonlight touched her. He followed her gaze and they stood together; hunter and hunted for several long comfortable moments.
“I know why you are doing this,” Ferny said to her, “We killed your family to survive and now you are taking revenge on us for that.”
“You are right,” the Siren said, “That is the basic idea.” Ferny lifted the bottle to his lips but then paused. Instead he returned it to his side and let the contents spill out against his pant leg. The solid weight of the bottle felt reassuring in his hand as he gently hefted it. He took a deep breath and shoved the fear that was clawing at him back into a corner. It was a desperate gamble he was going to try but it was better than nothing. She hadn’t Songed him before she came and that would be her last mistake.
“If I let you kill me,” he said, angling his body toward her so that the hand with bottle was now in a proper position for a swift attack, “Will you stop? Will you take my life as full recompense for what we did?” She turned this time to look at him. Her eyes were nothing but pits of black in her white, beautiful face.
“No,” she said.
He attacked without warning but before the bottle even made it halfway to her, his arm was stopped with a powerful grip. Her face showed no change in expression as she grabbed him by the throat, reared back and bit and kicked him. He felt a searing pain shoot through his right knee and his leg buckled. His screamed was reduced to a grunt due to the tight grip on his airways. He tried to get back up but instead she lifted him clear off the ground. He began to choke, his free hand clawing at the slim, pale arm. She smiled at him and then began walking. Soon he felt the sea surging around him as she took him further and further away from the shore and safety.