Flukes - Nichole Chase Page 0,1


“Oh, we’ve got to get the mother loose.” Moving her hands so that she had a better grip on the ropes, Marion smiled softly at the young dolphin. “Hurry, Ben.”

Renewing his efforts, he was able to get the dolphins tail free, but was rewarded with a mighty flick toward his face. Leaning back, he made shushing noises and looked over at his wife. She leaned closer to the dolphin and was whispering words of encouragement. Carefully, she moved her hand so that it could unloop the net wrapped around the dorsal fin before slowly working it over the dolphin’s head. Together they helped free the mother and watched as she turned to nose her baby.

Marion’s eyes stayed on the pair, tears dripping down her face to run along her soft smile. Reaching over to grab her hand, he laced his fingers with hers and pulled her toward him. She leaned into him for a moment and then pulled away gently. A soft mewling sound drifted over the water to his ears, and his wife tensed.

“I’m okay. I’m going to get the first aid kit and see if she will let me look at her back. She had some lacerations that didn’t look so good.” Marion patted his hand before moving toward the back of the boat. He watched her for a moment to make sure that she really was okay and then turned back to the mess next to his boat. He would have to call the Coast Guard to let them know about the buoys, but he might be able to get the net out of the water before anything else was caught. There was also the question of what had been under the dolphin.

Grabbing the net, he hauled it toward him with a grunt. Something in the net shifted and he jumped back in shock. His heartbeat sped up and he looked quickly over his shoulder toward his wife. She was kneeling and speaking softly to the dolphin. Swallowing convulsively, he moved back to the net and peered down at the sad face looking up at him with sightless eyes. Red hair lapped around her face and his eyes drifted down to where her body seemed to taper off. At first his mind wouldn’t grasp what his eyes were seeing. He stared and stared, but it just didn’t make sense. It was as if his brain refused to process what he was seeing. It shouldn’t be possible; it wasn’t possible and yet there was all the proof that his scientific brain could ever want.

“Ben?” Marion moved next to him and gasped. She leaned over the edge of the boat and pulled at the net. “What are you doing? Help her!”

Grabbing her shoulders, he pulled her away from the woman in the water. “Stop, Marion. She’s already dead.”

She covered her mouth and looked away. That strange mewling sound floated over the water again, making his shoulders tense while he held his wife closely. After a moment, Marion looked back at the woman tangled in the net and frowned. Getting back on her knees she reached for the net. He started to stop her but understood what she was being drawn to.

“Careful.” Leaning down next to her, he cut the ropes away from the woman’s face and watched as his wife gently unwrapped some seaweed from the net so that they could see better.

“Is this real? Can this be real?” Marion gently touched the soft, supple scales. Her face was pinched in astonishment and sadness. “A mermaid?”

Not sure how to answer that question, Ben shook his head. He didn’t tear his eyes from the mythical creature in front of him until the injured dolphin swam next to the boat and made a mournful sound. Looking into the sad eye of a generally upbeat animal made his heart clench.

“Marion?” He nodded his head toward the dolphin.

“Oh. I can almost feel how sad she is.” Marion ran a hand over the dolphin’s back. “What do we do? Should we take the… body… back with us?”

Under her words, Ben could hear Marion’s disgust and confusion over what would happen to the poor mermaid they found. Looking from the dead eyes of the woman floating in the water to the soulful eyes of the dolphin helped him make up his mind.

“We cut her adrift. I can only imagine that she would normally be at rest in the sea.” As if there was no other option, he began hacking at the rest of the ropes