That night, Niylah had fallen asleep to thoughts of her mother – her birth mother. She imagined varying versions of what she might've looked like. She wondered if she shared Joy's striking teal eyes or if Joy was unique.

She wondered what kind of leader she was. Was she a fearsome leader or a just leader? What was it like leading a family – however big – of mermaids? There were so many questions Niylah had about mermaid life and she didn't know if they would ever be answered. The more answers she was given, the more questions developed.

Most of all, she wondered how her parents met. Tom had kept pretty tight-lipped about his affair; he had said he went out one night and met her. Did they meet at The Siren's Tail? Do mermaids go to bar and grills? She didn't know if he would ever tell her, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.


What a beautiful name.


Niylah awoke to her phone alarm going off. She tried to reach over but realized she was being held down by something. Blinking the sleep out of her eyes, she noticed Joy's pale arm draped over her stomach. She looked over at the sleeping siren only to come face to face with her, their noses brushing against each other. Joy looked so peaceful when she slept.

“Joy,” Niylah said in a whisper, gently shaking her.

Joy stirred a little before slowly waking. She pulled her arm away from Niylah as she sat up. Her dark hair, which usually sat in neat, gentle waves, was disheveled on one side. Niylah leaned over and turned off the alarm. She was surprised that a very-aware creature didn't wake up from the loud noise.

“How come the alarm didn't wake you?” Niylah asked, curious. Perhaps their wariness toned down during sleep.

“Do not know,” Joy said in a sleepy daze. “Maybe sleep easier without having to wake for air.”

“You have to wake up for air? Wait. How do mermaids sleep?”

“Like normal. We sleep, wake to breathe, sleep. Someone takes shifts to watch for danger.”

She guessed that made sense. After all, they weren't sleeping in cozy houses and soft, comfortable beds. The open ocean could be rather dangerous.

“Come on,” Niylah kept her voice to a whisper. “We gotta go.”


The night sky stretched out forever; it twinkled with thousands of stars. The bustling Colmoore city made it difficult for the bright stars to penetrate the pollution. Niylah was growing fond of the hidden beauty Siren's Bay held.


The girls crept close to the wall of the marina. They didn't want to be caught out in the open. Niylah had advised Joy to stick close; they needed to get to the boats. As they moved along the way, they stopped in their tracks when the marina lights flashed on, bathing them in an eerie spotlight. They didn't move for what seemed like an eternity. When they didn't hear the sound of footsteps or rustling around, Niylah realized the lights were motion-activated. Letting out an uneasy sigh, she continued to lead the way to the docks.

“We need to do this quick,” she said. “My dad is out here before dawn so I can take a guess that the other fishermen might follow a similar schedule.”

Joy nodded.

She jogged down the dock, familiar with the feeling as the boats slowly butted against the wooden frame. Niylah was used to the smell of fish and decaying seaweed by now. She had spent a lot of time near the ocean with Joy.

Niylah hopped aboard the Ne Hwas and went straight into the captain's cabin. She grabbed her phone, using it as a flashlight to find what she was searching for. Her father kept gas cans hidden away in case the boat needed it. She grabbed one of the bright red canisters and handed it to Joy. The mermaid recoiled at the stench, but held onto it.

“Dump this all over the boats but be careful not to get any on yourself.”

Niylah grabbed a canister for herself and together, they began dumping the fuel all over the nearby boats. When Niylah's can was empty, she tossed it aside and dug around until she found another stash.

“Over here!” She called to Joy, but the mermaid didn't come. “Joy?”

A guttural sound startled her, making her run off the boat she was sabotaging. She skidded to a halt when she spotted Joy, but she wasn't alone. A figure stood close behind her friend, but the mermaid looked angry rather than scared.

“Don't move!” the figure said. He stepped out of the shadows, but Niylah knew who it was just from the voice. Oliver Harris.

“Oliver?” Niylah said, confused.

“I'm sorry, Niy. I need her. I know what she is and I need her! They've got my boys.”

That's when she noticed it. Harris kept himself at a distance, but a rifle was pressed against Joy's back. Her hands were bound together with a frayed, beige rope and was gagged by the same rope.

“Uncle Oli, please.” Niylah stepped forward, but immediately stopped when he moved.

“No,” he said. “She's a monster! They'll pay big money!”

Joy wrenched around but Harris was prepared. He slammed the of his rifle against her cheek and the mermaid slumped to the floor with a sickening thud.

Joy!” Niylah screamed. She wanted to run, but Harris had the gun pointed at her.

“Let us go and I won't hurt you.”

She stood with her hands up in the air, frozen in place. She couldn't do anything but watch as he slung Joy's unconscious body over his shoulder and disappear off the dock.


As soon as he was gone, Niylah grabbed her phone out of her pocket. With shaking hands, she dialed her father's number.

“Dad,” her voice was a whimper. “I need your help.”

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