The Gift


Under a grey sky, Pak hauled in netting from a cold tide.

“Mind yer fingers, boy,” Durtz said, busy at the skiff’s bow. “Cursed waters.”

The young man reached into the sea. “Cursed, Master?”

“Me last slave got ‘is ‘ands bit-off.”

Pak winced feeling a tug.

He pulled the net, and she bobbed to the surface caught within. He muffled a gasp reaching for her pale, still wrist.

“Shriekin’ eels an’ worse,” Durtz continued, his unaware gaze to the water. “Mermaids.”

Her eyes flicked open at Pak’s touch, and pleaded.

Back turned, Durtz hauled his net. “But if ye catch one, yer a free man, Pak. Mermaid bits are worth fortunes!”

His slave grabbed a knife beside the chain shackling him to the skiff. With a few quick thrusts, it was done.

Net cut, he whispered. “Go, be free.”


“Those shriekin’ eels bite a ‘ole in it like yer-sterday?” Durtz asks at the bow.

“No, Master,” Pak says from the stern, hauling in the net he had spent all night repairing.

Her face surfaces beside the skiff. Eyes meeting Pak’s blinking surprise, she smiles.

She motions a barnacled bottle to her lips, then offers it to the slave.

After a splash, Durtz finds it and a shackle empty before seeing them in the water.


Pak’s new fishtail slaps Durtz’ face.

Grinning, he dives.

Holding a mermaid’s hand.



Copyright © 2019 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

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