Rodger spun around. At the edge of the water was another mermaid creature. Its build and face looked exactly like the first one, but the markings on its head were different. Where the first mermaid had a spiral in the middle of its forehead, this one had what might resemble a vine, creeping across the forehead and down one cheek. Also, this one was wearing a necklace with a flute.
It bent down and picked up another stone. Rodger sprang behind the mermaid with the spiral and pulled it close. The other mermaid lowered the stone. Rodger felt a twinge of guilt. He had to make them understand somehow.
The one with the flute said something; a series of gurgling sounds accompanied by violent gesticulation with the hand not holding a stone. The one Rodger had captured replied with more gurgling and much gentler gestures, but still with one hand on the safety harness around its throat.
The Flute Bearer slithered a bit closer, gurgling again, but with less violent gestures. Rodger looked from one to the other.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I’m sorry it had to be like this.’ He took half a step away from the Spiral. ‘I never meant any harm.’ He showed his empty left hand and turned the palm up in what he hoped was a welcoming gesture.
The Flute Bearer stopped gurgling and stared at him with those pitch black eyes. Rodger swallowed.
‘But please try to understand,’ he said, ‘I just want to get back to the machine,’ he pointed to the sky. The Flute Bearer started and turned its head this way and that as if searching for something in the sky. Rodger looked up.
The clouds still had a little colour from the fading light, but there was nothing else up there. The Flute Bearer seemed to have reached the same conclusion for he turned his eyes on Rodger and gurgled while making curt gestures at him with one hand.
‘It’s not here,’ Rodger shook his head, ‘it’s back there.’ He pointed back to where he had left the hole in the sky and the machine behind. The Flute Bearer stared at him for another couple of seconds then it raised the stone.
‘Don’t throw those at me!’ Rodger jumped back behind the Spiral. Its target in cover, the Flute Bearer said something to the Spiral instead. The Spiral replied and the Flute Bearer dropped the stone on the path.
‘Phew,’ said Rodger, ‘thanks.’
The Flute Bearer slithered over the stones going in the opposite direction of where Rodger had pointed. It paused to gurgle something at the Spiral then slithered on.
‘Hey,’ said Rodger, ‘where are you going?’
There was no reply.
‘Please, you’ve got to help me. Hey!’ Rodger moved to follow then remembered his captive. ‘Err… could you just follow in front,’ he pointed after the Flute Bearer and pushed the Spiral gently in that direction. It did not need any more encouragement than that. It slithered off after the Flute Bearer and Rodger strode behind it trying his best not to let the leash grow taut. His conscience was bad enough already.
Read part 1 here: https://abolg.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/moving-forwards-part-1/