Today, I welcome author Michael K. Eastman to my blog. Here is an excerpt from his short story, The Story of Little Beth.
“I’ll tell you how it all began… “
Uncle stood and walked towards the window, taking a long puff of smoke with him. He held out his pipe and gently tapped it against the glass bubble.
“It’s been almost twenty years since that day… I shall always remember we gathered at the harbour inn to bless and celebrate our newly built boat. We named it the Pelican. It was a fine specimen with many sails. There were ten of us including myself. All the necessary provisions had been taken on board and we set forth on the following day.”
“The clouds finally cleared and gave rise to a gentle breeze that filled the sails. Our new ship had bought us good luck. It seemed our labours had rewarded us all with an abundance of good stock… Several days later, our fishing boxes were full. Our skipper was an old sea dog, a sailor of old traditions… to celebrate our success he cracked open barrel of rum and gave each of us a noggin.”
“Good luck and fortune had been with our ship for most of the voyage. We made good progress on the last day of our fishing, but our stores were now full to the brim, so being left with no further room to keep any extra fish, the skipper gave the order to pull up the nets, and prepare for our voyage home.”
“It was then we saw them…I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everyone gathered round. There was seven or more. They cut through the swell like a spear …They were keeping a fast pace as fast as our ship.…”
“What did they look like?” asked Beth
Uncle opened a locked draw and removed a wrinkled rolled up canvas. “I’m showing you and Billy a true painting of a mermaid… No one else has ever seen this apart from your auntie.
As you can see for yourself, they look beautiful…Long slender faces large wide eyes and long silver hair… Legends say they will live for one hundred years and have magic powers to heal the sick.”
Uncle’s face suddenly turned to sadness. “That dam cutthroat of a man, he nearly killed one of them…He wanted to catch one and take it back…We tried to stop him but he overpowered everyone. And before we got on our feet, he callously fired into her side…I shall never forget that awful sound she made…I jumped over the side of the ship and swam towards her. Holding her in my arms, I could see her blood on my hands. I shouted to my shipmates for help, but their hands were full keeping this cut throat at bay.”
“Suddenly out from nowhere a huge wave fell upon the ship. It creaked and snapped and rolled from side to side splitting the thick wooden masts as if they were made of straw. As much as I wanted to help I couldn’t have done anything for either of my shipmates, but I was determined to save my ocean friend. ..She laid her head back and closed her eyes.”
“I prayed to the Lord to save her…give me the strength to hold on I ask of him. My last thoughts during that terrible time were of holding her tightly and praying that if fate has destined to take a life…Take mine alone.”
Take your imagination back a hundred years to the rugged shores of wildest Cornwall, where the adventure and mystery of the dark currents enthrall two young children with ancient mermaid legends you would swear are true… Thus begins ‘The Story of Little Beth,’ the first in two captivating tales in this magic fantasy collection of short stories, where mermaid legends and black magic sit side by side with a hoblin’s adventure. The dark currents of fate twist in strange ways about our heroes, inexorable and inescapable. Let the lives of these strangers mingle as their extraordinary stories unfold in this fantasy collection of short stories by Michael K. Eastman, woven with secrets of magic, myth and legend to tempt any reader.