Moving Forwards part 16

Rodger stared at the water. Come on. Come on. Come back. He checked his watch ten times a minute. When something finally broke the surface of the water, he sprang to his feet. The mermaids had returned and their arms were full of… Seaweed? He hoped they did not think he ate the stuff.

When they came close, the Spiral dropped its load beside him and gestured for him to sit. Rodger sat down. The Spiral gurgled while pointing into the sky. Rodger shook his head.

‘What?’ he said.

The flute bearer dumped all the seaweed it was carrying in his lap. The Ice cold seawater made Rodger cry out.

‘Argh, what was that for?’

The Spiral pushed him back against the tree and began covering him with the seaweed.

‘I hope this is for keeping the praying mantis away and not just some weird ritual,’ said Rodger, but he sat still and let the Spiral cover him. When the Spiral was done, it gurgled some more and drew its finger across the sky then pushed him lightly on the shoulders as if to tell him to stay put. Rodger nodded.

‘You’ll come back tomorrow?’ he said. He hoped that whatever the Spiral was telling him meant ‘yes’.

Rodger must have fallen asleep in spite of his shivers because he opened his eyes to brilliant sunshine. The wind had practically disappeared and the sun was so strong that the seaweed covering him had grown lukewarm and begun to dry. His thigh complained when he rose to his feet. He studied the cut. It looked a little red around the edges, but it could not have been very deep; a scab was already forming.

He stretched, enjoying the warmth seeping into his clothes and skin. Then he noticed his watch. He checked it. The days here seemed to be very close to the length of earth days, only a little bit longer. There was still time, but the clock was ticking.

‘Shit,’ he put on his rucksack, ‘where did those mermaids get to?’

He looked to the water. Nothing there. Glanced around the island. Nothing. Had the flute bearer finally convinced the Spiral to stay away? He strode to the beginning of the path and there he found them. They were lying spread out on the stones, face down. Completely still. He went closer. Cleared his throat. They did not stir.

‘Hey,’ he said, ‘you alright?’

There was no reaction.

‘Hey,’ he poked the Spiral carefully and its tail moved slightly. ‘Are you ill?’ he checked his watch, ‘oh, please don’t be ill.’

The Spiral gave a faint gurgle and moved its tail again.

‘Can’t you get up?’ Rodger took hold of its hand, but the Spiral resisted. It turned on its side, gurgled gestured weakly to the sky and lay down again.

‘Is the sun bothering you?’ Rodger stepped to one side so his shadow fell on the Spiral. The Spiral looked up and gurgled while gesturing as if to make him sit down. Rodger sat down and the Spiral collapsed back onto the stones.

Rodger stood up and moved away from them. He paced up and down the stones. He had to get them up.



Read part one here:


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