April 11, 1875


It was the strangest damned sight I’d seen in a long time.

I can understand how an island might spring up overnight. These things happen, as do a great many others in Blood Lake. But this, this was new.

I sat on the shore of the lake, the water lapping at the sand as I smoked my pipe and stared out at the man. He was sitting on a raised platform made of bamboo, of all things. It was rough looking and weathered. Long poles stretched out in front of him, curving and forming an ‘X’ from which a net was suspended, the bottom of it in the water. Ropes, tied to the poles, vanished into the mute shadows around the man.

The man was curious in appearance. Like his platform, he was weathered. He sat in the little shade offered by the thatched roof above him, and he wore an expression of infinite patience.

To one side of his platform, there was a small boat, and behind him, there was another with her sail out.

As I smoked, I considered what to do. If he was only a fisherman, well, I’d let him be. Most of the creatures that had escaped the box from the derelict ship were far more than what they appeared.

Before I could think much more on the subject, there was a ripple in the water. I knew what that subtle movement meant, and of their own accord, my hands went for the Colts.

The fisherman was quicker.

He stretched his arms out, and for the first time, I saw the ropes were part of him. With a snarl of triumph, he jerked his hands up, the ropes hissing and the bamboo poles bending in as they snapped up. The net came with them, and trapped in it was a large merman screaming obscenities in his own tongue.

The fisherman laughed and quick as a spider, the bamboo poles spun and twisted, wrapping the merman tightly in the confines of the net. The merman’s screams of anger were transformed into shrieks of pain as the net cut into his flesh, blood spilling out as the fisherman pulled the merman closer.

As the net crushed the merman, the fisherman’s mouth opened impossibly wide, his jaw dislocating as he prepared to eat his meal.

Relighting my pipe, I smiled.

There are always too many merfolk in the lake.

#horror #fear

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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