The Further Adventures of Ariel and I

The Further Adventures of Ariel and I

Chronicles

By Dan Saltzman

Forward: "Ariel and I" short story is the first part of the "Ariel and I Chronicles" this story picks up the story after chapter 15. Chapter 16 in the first work is to be ignored, so let us rejoin Ariel and Roy in their Further Adventures.

Last update January 5, 2001

Chapter 16

A Miracle

"Mister Stanton . . . Mister Stanton!" A male voice in the darkness called to me and faded away. I was thinking, but could not feel or hear anything. The voice returned "Mister Stanton . . . can you hear me? Iím Doctor Alejandro . . . Can you hear me?" I tried to move. Move anything. "Look! His lips are quivering!" said a female voice I did not recognize. The male voice said, "You talk to him, maybe he will respond to your voice. Another female voice I did recognize said "Roy can you hear me, please wake up!"

The Doctor said "Try again, he moved his eyes!"

"Roy!" the voice moved close to my ear, "I love you!" and I felt the first sensation, warm lips kissing mine.

"His pulse rate went up, Doctor!" said the other female voice that must have been a nurse.

"He hears you, keep talking to him." coached the Doctor.

"Roy! Come back to me, please come back." There were tears in Arielís voice. But the darkness closed back in on me and the nurse said, "weíre losing him again."

The next sound to wake me was Arielís lovely voice singing. I listened for what seemed to me for a long time. When she stopped, I could hear her crying. "Donít . . . stop!" I muttered.

"Roy, did you say something?" Ariel asked.

"Donít . . . stop . . . sing . . . ing!" I muttered again.

"Youíre awake, donít move Iíll get the Doctor!" said the excited girl.

"No . . . prob . . . lem!" When Ariel returned with the Doctor, some of the fuzziness in my head cleared but still unable to move anything or open my eyes. My biggest fear was I might not ever see Ariel again, a tear run down my cheek.

"Mr. Stanton, can you hear me?" said the Doctor. "Yes" I slurred

"Mr. Stanton, you have been shot!" he informed. "I know" I mumbled.

"I have some good and some bad news about your condition."

"Go ahead. I want to know!"

"First the good, the gun used was a small caliber, A .22. This is good because the small bullets did little damage to your brain but the shock has kept you in a comma for two weeks. The bad news is, you were shot five times. We had to operate to remove the bullets from near your heart and your spine. You my not be able to walk again."

"OK. I under . . . stand. Will . . . I be able . . . to see?"

"Yes, your head took a hard knock from the bullet, but it will heal. It just takes time."

Ariel interrupted, "But Doctor I", the Doctor interrupted her. "This young lady loves you very much, she has been here with you every day and night for the past week. But she wants to do some pagan right with a staff she has brought. The administration will not allow it here at Angelís Hospital."

"Please Doc. Let . . . her try, . . . magic is common in her world . . . and . . . it canít hurt . . . anything, can it?"

"I canít, this hospital is run by a religious organization and they donít allow such a thing."

"The technology you use to . . . heal, would be . . . magic in some other countries." My mind was getting quicker but I was still unable to do or move anything.

"You are right, but hospital policy forbids any such rituals. But I can leave you two alone to discuss any possible treatment." The Doctor started to leave and ask the nurse to come with him as he left.

I felt Arielís breath on my ear as she spoke in a low teary voice. "I love you. I have my Trident here but they wonít let me bring it in your room. What can I do?"

Whispering back to the girl. "I love you too! Let me think for a minute." As I thought, I could feel Ariel stroking my cheek. "I think the Doctor is willing to let you do it, if you can sneak it in. Why donít you go get a tall, a really tall, flower stand full of flowers with a Trident card holder?"

"Great idea! Iíll be back as soon as I can! Love yea!" she kissed me and rushed out of the room.

It must have taken several hours to get every thing put together. To me, going in and out of the real world, it seemed like just a few minuets before Ariel returned with a huge floral display. I could only guess as to its size because I still could not open my eyes but the fragrance of the arrangement was very large. "Can we be alone, please?" she said to the nurses that helped her bring in the colossal bouquet. When everyone had left, she whispered in my ear, "I have my Trident and you will be better as soon as I can get it out of the stand." I could hear the little girl struggling with the flowers. There was a crash followed with an "ouch!" before she returned to my bed side and said, "I have it, you will feel better now!" Even through my eye lids I could see the blue light and a rush of feeling came over my body. I opened my eyes and saw that cute face smiling at me. "Howís that?" she asked.

"Wow much better!" I sat up took in some deep breaths, swung my feet out from the bed and stood. All though I was well now, I did not have much strength from being laid up for two week, so as I put my weight on my feet I gracefully went in to a heap on the floor. Ariel dropped the Trident and helped me back to my feet. She propped me up against the bed and we embraced and kissed long and deep.

"Quick put you Trident back in the flowers, Iíll get back in bed and pretend to recover slowly. Else the power you have will no longer be a secret." I said as our embrace and kiss ended.

When the nurse returned I was in bed pretending to be asleep and Ariel was seating in a chair singing softly. The nurse said "He seems to be resting easy, I think your singing has worked some magic on him."

With a slight giggle, Ariel said, "Yes, magic is at work here!"

"The rest of the patients on this floor can hear you and are asking if you can sing for them too." the nurse said as she adjusted my IV. "Well look whoís awake!" she added when I opened my eyes.

"Can I get something to eat?" I asked, trying to sound weaker than I felt.

"My goodness, you are on the fast track to recovery. Iíll check to see if you can have anything." She was only gone for a minute when Doctor Alejandro came in. "What this I hear about you getting better?"

"Well I can see and feel things and I am hungry." I said as the Doctor flashed a light in my eyes and then listened to my chest.

"Hum! Thatís strange!"

"What? Whatís wrong?" I asked.

"Well!" he paused, "Nothing thatís whatís strange. All the congestion in your lungs is gone and your eyes are normal!"

"Thatís good, isnít it?"

"Of course, but it's a miracle as to how fast you have recovered." He looked at Ariel who had a big grin on her face then got serious and bit her lip when she saw the Doctor was looking at her. He then looked at the large flower arrangement. "I think the flowers will have to go, they are to large for the room, I canít move around them. Iíll send someone to help you remove it and I donít want to see it again! Do I make myself clear young lady?"

"Yes sir!" she replied and bit her lip even harder.

As the Doctor headed to the door he said. "I think you will be able to go home tomorrow." Turning back to Ariel, he added. "Bite that any harder and Iíll have to put a stitch in that pretty face of yours." and he gave her a wink.

She gave him a smile and said "Thank you Doctor, Iíll take care of the flowers at once."

At the door he turned back "You are a lucky man, in many ways."

"I know!"

"And we are all going to miss your singing when he is gone!" added the Doctor as he cradled Arielís chin in his hand.

 It took another two weeks for me to get my strength back, so Ariel stayed with me at my condo. She took vary good care of me, though she did not do much of the cleaning or cooking herself. Being a princess she never had to do that kind of work before, so she called for domestic help and directed them as to what to do and how to do it. I was glad for it gave her more time to help me recover. She would walk with me and rub my muscles when they got sore.

The first day home from the hospital Ariel told me "Being 196 years old I have some old fashion values. At night I will sleep on the convertible couch in, what do you call it? Oh, a living room. So you can have the bedroom and I want no arguments."

"196, of course itís been more then a year sense we met, when was your birthday, and why didnít you tell me?"

"When a girl is 196, she does not like to shout it around. We girls like to keep our age secrete, you know. Itís November 17th, on your calendar, the day we met on that small island. Saving my life has been the best present anyone has ever given me, in the last hundred years anyway." she winked.

After one week I was moving around better so I insisted on reversing the sleeping arrangements.

By the middle of the second week I was back driving. I had to use a rental car as my old one was too shot up and was being held as evidence by the police. This was all the excuse I needed to buy a new car. I took Ariel with me shopping for the car and she loved to set in them and pretend to drive.

We selected a new red luxury sedan. Ariel picked the color. As we left the car lot the excited girl had to try every knob and button on the dash. One minute we were freezing the next it was like a desert in the car. Or the music was loud then soft and jazz to rock. It was Sunday so I drove to the factory, where we make the Ďwater makersí, and pulled into the empty parking lot. I got out of the car and walked around to the passenger door. Holding it open, I said. "Your turn!"

Her eyes lit up and she had a grin that reached from ear to ear. "Really? Can I try to drive your new car?"

"Sure! Just do as I tell you and you can try."

The girl was so excited she did not use the door I was holding open for her, she just climbed over the center console and into the driverís seat. I wonít go into the detail on her driving skills, most of us have taught someone to drive. So just imagine what it would be like with an exuberant Ariel. We managed to get back to my condo with all the paint still on the car. Two weeks of practice Ariel was able to drive in any traffic conditions.

In the mean time Alex Farbankís tabloids started a campaign to worn the world of the threat from the mer world. He claimed that they wanted to rule the world from the sea and has a secrete weapon capable of destroying any human ship or airplane.


Chapter 17

The Big Day

Six weeks after being shot, I was almost back to normal and back to work, part time. Ariel was still staying with me, but I knew she was missing the sea. At every opportunity she would go to the beach, but California beaches are so crowded that she could not change into a mermaid. So she just had to swim like every other human at the beach.

When I could go with her she would not put her hair up in a cap even though people would recognize her. Most understood the mermaidís desire to be left alone. But there were some hot heads that either wanted to get to know her or just had to harass someone. Most of the time I could talk them into leaving her alone. But on occasion a lifeguard had to help and once Ariel sent a man, that grabbed her, packing with a small jolt from her amulet.

When we got back to my condo from one of our beach trips I asked, "Why donít we go back home?"

"I thought we are home!"

"No, not my home, lets go back to West Atlantica or Saint Thomas. I know you are not happy here in LA."

"That would be wonderful! But you are not well yet! We canít do any adventuring till you are well."

"I feel fine! And the adventure I have in mind, wonít be that demanding on my strength."

"What do you have in mind?"

"Will you marry me?" I said pulling out a small box and opened it, revealing a diamond ring. "I know you have a lot of these and bigger ones too, but this one is from my heart."

"Oooo! Itís beautiful." and she let me put it on her finger.

"Do you understand what just happened?" I asked.

She gave me the biggest smirk. "Of course I do!"

"Then itís a yes??"

"Silly, of course itís yes! But as for you needing your strength, you donít know what itís like being married to me." She winked and then blushed. Then without warning she jumped into my arms kissing my face and knocking me off balance and we fell onto the couch.

Some time passed with some serious necking, then I asked "So what kind of wedding do you want, human or mer?"

"Well, Eric and I were married on one of his ships. The only way my family and friends could be there was to follow the ship. I wished they could have been part of the wedding."

"Then itís settled, we will get hitched in Atlantica."

"But what about your friends and family?"

"I have no family and as for friends, most are of the mer persuasion now! But maybe we can change the ones that want to come to our wedding to merpeople and bring them to Atlantica."

The very next day I closed up my office and told Sam that he was back in charge. I noticed a suppressed smile on his face as he wished me luck and we shuck hands.

Ariel called her sisters to tell them the news and to prepare for a wedding. The excitement on the other end of the phone was almost as high as our own.

Before we left to go to West Atlantica, we did some shopping to get things we needed for our marriage that we canít get under the sea.

I asked Ariel "Get something soft to wear, even though you smooth the roughness off the sea shells you wear, they are still hard when we hug!"

"Iíll see what I can do." She smirked. "You should get something that will be different to my world, too!"

It only takes five days to get to Atlantica from California but it seemed to take forever for the two of us. One day to get to Miami then wait. Another day for the shuttle to Saint Thomas then get supplies for the Fowl Wind II. Then a two days sail to the island. When we arrived it was late so we had to wait till dawn to start the swim to the Sea Kingdom.

By the time we reached the Palace, the preparations were well under way. Aquata and her sisters had everything planned and were sending out invitations. Which meant I had to go back to Saint Thomas to mail the ones addressed to the humans that were being invited. Ariel let me take her Trident so I could transform myself as I left and returned to the sea.

I no sooner got back to Atlantica, she sent me out on another errand. But I never got it done. A group of mermen were waiting for me. These were some of the mermen that I meet at the party a year ago. They jumped me as I swam out of the Palace. They put a sack over my head and talked about taking care of me. I fought to break free of what I thought was band of jealous ex-suitors. I was taken to a place that was noisy with loud music and I was pushed back and forth between my attackers. When the sack was removed I was in what looked like the mer equivalent to a human bar. There were a large group of mermen around. One was my friend Reginald. The bar had a small band and some topless mermaids dancing over a small stage. A drink was shoved into my hand and the group of attackers started shaking my hand or slapping me on the back.

The next morning, someone was pounding on my head via knocking on the door to my room. "Come-in" I said with a dry tongue, an impossible condition under the sea, I thought. Ariel swam into the room. "Did you have a good time with the boys?" Her voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard, another condition I thought impossible. "The drinks at an Atlantican bar have a lot more punch then the human equivalent." I told the grinning girl. "Come on, breakfast will help you feel better."

Four of the longest weeks passed before the wedding. Some of my friends and some of the officials from other countries that were invited did brave the transformation and came. They were instructed to meet at Arielís beach house on Saint Thomas, where Andrina would use Arielís Trident to change them and then escort them back to the Sea Kingdom in a large sea couch, made from a giant conch shell and pulled by two Humpback Whales.

Aquata conducted the ceremony. The other five sisters were all bridesí maids with Arista as Maid of Honor. On my side Scott was Best Man with Sam and Jim, the third man that did not come on that vacation plus Reginald and Huet to round things out. Arielís old friend Sebastian came out of retirement from Jamaica, to conduct the Royal Orchestra and choir for the occasion. Both the ceremony and reception were in the Great Hall of the Palace.

At the appointed time I was in place. If I had knees they would have been knocking, still I was shaking so hard that I thought all my scales might fall off. I was wearing a white tux jacket with tails and light blue shirt that I had custom made for my mer body, with a white bow tie and cumberbun. When I entered the Great Hall I heard a gasp from the mer crowd, they had never seen a tux before. Then King Triton was brought to his box seat and everyone arose and bowed.

The mer world is a three dimensional world. When the music started, the precession came in from an opening near the roof of the Great Hall. It was lead off by two small mer children sprinkling small light blue sea flowers in the water as they swam in a large "S" on the way down to the stage. Where a large arch covered with large white and light blue sea flowers was placed and Aquata floated just beyond. To the right of the arch I with my men waited. Aquata whispered "I hope she shows up, this time!"

I looked at her in shock "What!" everyone turned to look at me.

"The last time she was to be the center of attention in this hall, she forgot to show up!" she continued to whisper.

"Oh! Yea, she told me about that." I whispered too.

Following the children, Ariel's sisters swam the same "S" to the stage and then stopped alongside the arch. When the music grew in volume everyone rose from their sets and looked at the opening, it remained vacant. The music repeated, when Ariel still did not appear. Sebastian could be heard saying. "Oh mon, not again!"

Sebastian restarted the music one more time as everyone was getting nervous. I would have collapsed if I did not have the water to hold me up. Finally, Ariel appeared in the opening and it was obvious that she had been rushing. "Whew!" Aquata sighed.

Ariel was wearing a light blue wedding dress. It had long sleeves with white pearl beading that was in a pattern of seashells. It had a low neckline and was form fitting around her bust and down to her waist. At the waist it flared out to a small dresslet with the same white pearl beading. Her hair had some more pearl beading woven in and flowed down her open back. She was topped with a blue diamond tiara because a vial would not work under the sea, and matching earrings. She carried a bouquet of large and small, blue and white, sea flowers. Again the room gasped as she started her slow swim down the flower strewn "S" above the audience.

Ariel's Wedding Portrait

By Jeff Phillips

When Ariel arrived at the arch she smiled at me and I almost fainted. She turned to her father and blew him a kiss. Then Aquata started the ceremony. At one point the Sea Queen paused and the Royal Orchestra began to play. Ariel began to sing a love song and was accompanied by her sisters. My eyes were getting wet from the inside. It was beautiful. In one part of her song I was to join in, but my croaking was not as good as rehearsal. I could see everyone trying to suppress his or her giggles.

Aquata surprised me when she added something to the ceremony that was not in the rehearsal. She said "I am told that in a human wedding, it is customary for the bride and groom to exchange rings. A ring is a small band of gold and sometimes have precious stones in them, that is worn on a finger of the left hand. Roy has brought one for Ariel, so we had one made for Roy." A merboy swam up along side the Queen with two rings in a bed of, blue and white, sea flowers. She removed them and handed one to Ariel and one to me. "I am sorry I donít know if something is to be said at this time. But if you will put them on, I will continue."

"Just one thing your Majesty." I said. Aquata had given us each our own ring. Whispering I said "Give me your ring and you take this one . . . good, now Iíll put yours on your hand . . . good and you put mine on me." After we exchanged rings I looked down at my ring, it had an unusual stone in it. I had to look for Arielís amulet, she still had it on, but the stone in my ring looked the same, except green. I gave the Queen a nod. "You may continue."

When Aquata said we were husband and wife I kissed my bride. Everyone rose again and applauded, and the orchestra picked up the tempo and volume. The crowd crushed in around us as we greeted all our friends.

All the girls were looking at Arielís gown and the guys asked me. "Is this what humans wear? Itís really in the swim, how can I get some covering like that?"

"We'll look into what can be done, later!" I replied.

It took close to an hour to greet everyone with lots of kissing and hand shaking. Now it was party time! Tables with chairs had replaced all the seats in the great hall. There was a large area in the middle left open for dancing.

We danced all night, and everyone had to dance with Ariel or myself. Later I was exhausted and sitting in a place where I thought no one would ask me to dance. While my bride was dancing with Reginald and others from that group of young men that all wanted to marry her too, my friend Jim came over to me. "Can I ask you a question?" he asked.

"As long it has nothing to do with dancing, my fin is killing me."

"I was listening to the mermaids talking, they want tops like Ariel is wearing. They are tired of the heavy sea shells, they want something soft and light."

"So?"

"So I would like to trade with the merpeople. I have been in the clothing business in the past and I see a real opportunity here. You are the Ambassador to Atlantica, so I need your permission and help to start a trade business with them."

"You always were the business man in our little group. Iíll speak to Aquata about it when Ariel and I get back."

"Thanks, can I have your permission to speak with her directly?"

"Sure, letís go find her and Iíll introduce you."

We found Aquata sitting on her Throne. She looked exhausted too! When she saw me coming she said, "Why arenít you dancing with you wife?"

"The boys have her tied up right now and Iíll need my strength for later." I winked.

Aquata giggled "Yes you donít want to go to sleep on her do you!" and she winked back.

"Queen Aquata, this is my good friend Jim. He has a business proposition he wants to talk about with you."

"Welcome to Atlantica Jim, are you having a good time?" asked the Queen.

"Yes I am, itís a wonderful place you have here under the sea..." Jim was saying as I excused myself and left to go find my bride.

Ariel and I were given the finest guest room in the Palace for our honeymoon room. I opened the door and picked up my bride and carried her into the spacious room. "Iíll be right back!" she said coyly and retired to the mer equivalent to a bathroom. I did the same and was back in the bedroom first. When she returned she was wearing a black and red teddy that was all satin and lace. She must have had it custom made by Frederickís of Hollywood for a mermaidís body. It definitely made her figure stand out. Actually it was her figure that made the teddy so beautiful. When she slipped into the bed with me I knew she had kept her promise to fine something softer then the seashells she normally wears. Sorry kiddies, fade to black. Use your imagination to fill in the rest.

The next morning, after breakfast in bed, we swam to the surface and West Atlantica. Where a cruse ship had anchored just out side the island's reef. We boarded the Fowl Wind II and changed ourselves into humans and radioed the cruse ship to send a launch to pick us and our baggage up. We had reserved the honeymoon suit on the ship and we did not leave it for two days.

On the third day I had to go for a walk around the ship so I could get some rest. Next I went into a lounge to relax in a big chair and read a newspaper. Right on the front page was a story of the threat to humanity by the merworld, and this paper was not a tabloid it was the New York Times. I read on, it was a story from Alex Fairbank, it had his picture with the article. I took a close look at the man that would have my wife as a pet. There right behind Alex in the picture was my old ex-friend Lee. "What a pair!" I thought. "This is all I need, if Ariel sees this she will want to go home." The date on the paper was a week old, so by now most people have seen it. I had to come up with a plan to make people see the beauty and sweetness of the merpeople and ignore Alex Fairbank.

I returned to our room, Ariel was asleep on the bed. So I joined her, being careful not to wake her I slipped into bed, put my arm around her and fell asleep too.

I awoke to warm lips kissing my neck. I returned the kisses and after another round of love making, I said "We should go and explore the ship and meet some of the other passengers or everyone will think you are trying to kill me." She just giggled and started kissing me again. The giggling and kissing stopped when I told her of the newspaper story I had read.

"What can I do to show the human world we are not going to attack them?"

"May I suggest that you let people see you as what you are, a mermaid. Make yourself someone real, that they can see and touch and not just a story in the paper. Once people meet you and see how charming and sweet you are, no one will be able to change the facts. And get some other merpeople to do the same."

Ariel smirked "But I donít want attention!"

"I know, sweetheart, but if merpeople are seen enough, then it wonít be so special to humans. It will be hard at first, but when there are enough of you out there it will become common and you will not be so strange to us."

"OK! You have convinced me, when do we start."

I handed Ariel her Trident. "No time like the present. Let's go for a swim in the pool!"

"Now? No, Iím not ready!"

"Sure you are! Brush your hair, put on your shells and zap yourself. Come on it will be fun to see the reaction at the pool."

Ten minuets later I carried the beautiful red headed mermaid to the pool. At first there were some gasps and stares when I set her down at the edge of the pool. The air was heavy with tension as people just gawked and whispered among themselves. But when a little girl came up to the pretty mermaid and asked her. "Whatís it feel like to be a mermaid?" Ariel replied by asking the girl "Whatís your name, sweetheart?"

"Natalie!" she said and tugged at one of her pigtails.

Ariel replied to Natalie's question by saying "Natalie, you are so cute Iíll tell you if you come close and sit with me." The girl did as she was asked and Ariel started to sing the answer to her question. The next five minuets the crowed around the pool grew as everyone tried to get close enough to hear the mermaidís sweet voice. When she had finished everyone applauded and gathered in close to talk and listen to what she had to say.

Natalie, still sitting next to Ariel asked another question that everyone else wanted to do too. "Can I touch your tail?"

"Sure you can, sweetheart!"

The little girl put her hand on the mermaidís tail and ran it first one way then the other. "Itís so smooth and silky!"

"Yes, thatís what helps me swim fast. Would you like to see my fin too?"

"Ah huh!" said Natalie with a finger in her mouth.

Ariel pulled her fin out of the pool and gently laid it in the little girl's lap then fanned it out to its full beauty. "Itís soft too! But has stiff stick like things in it."

"Thatís right, sweetheart, and see how I can move it, this is how I control my swimming."

"Can I touch your hair too?" the little girl asked shyly.

"Sure!" Ariel turned to let Natalie see the full beauty of her main.

"I like red! Itís silky too!"

"Thank you, I brush it a lot. But it is the one thing that slows down my swimming. The drag on it pulls on my skin, I think thatís what keeps my face from getting wrinkles!" Everyone laughed. "Would you like me to do your hair? I have a way of working magic with hair!"

"Oh yes, would you?"

The girl turned her back and Ariel started to work on her hair. She removed the pigtails and ran her fingers through it. "I have a special comb, made of coral, that I like to use." She removed it from her hair and ran it through Natalieís. After a few strokes Ariel reached for her sapphire amulet. Holding it tight inside her left hand and the comb in her right, she passed it through the girlís hair and it became smooth with soft waves.

When Ariel had finished the girl ran off calling "Mommy, Mommy look at my hair. Itís like a mermaidís hair." Everyone laughed again.

There were so many around the red haired beauty, it was difficult for me to see her, I had to go to the far side of the pool to make sure she was OK. I just stood there a watched with a grin on my face. When I caught her eye she pointed at me "You are right as always!"

I winked at her and said "Come on, we came up here for a swim!" and dove into the pool. A second later the mermaid greeted me at the bottom of the pool with a kiss. When we surfaced, there was a rush of children jumping into the pool and men to the edge to watch.

We played with the children, they taught us a game called Marco Polo. It is a game like tag, but the person that is it, closes his or her eyes and calls Marco. The other players answer Polo. Itís up to the person that is it to catch the others by sound only. Ariel had an advantage in this game she could stay under water indefinitely and still say Polo to the kids Marco. But she played easy with the kids and let them catch her. When she was it, when a kid said Polo to her Marco, with her speed she could have caught them with ease but she didnít. We had a good time with the children and their parents watch and laughed at their excited kids.

When the children were exhausted, Ariel sat on the edge of the pool and told them a story of one of her childhood adventures. "I call this one ĎThe Metal Fishí" she told them. When the story was over, half of them were asleep and the other half along with their parents were glued to every word this lovely person had to say. Everyone was relaxed with the idea of a mermaid as just another person.

Back in our room I told Ariel. "You are really good with children. You had the kids eating out of your hand. Where did you learn to handle them?"

"It's been a long time but once you have children you never forget how to handle them."

"Huh? You have kids?"

"Yes one, Melody. Eric and I lost touch with her after she married and moved to Europe."

"Oh my god, that means you have relatives walking around somewhere in the world right now."

"I think so but how would we ever know who they are?"

"We humans are good at keeping records. If we can come up with their names we should be able to find them. If they are still alive after the wars we had in Europe."

Ariel's face light up with the first part of what I said, but dimmed when the wars were mentioned. She gave me what information about Melody that she could remember. "I'll pass this along to Scott and his staff will try to find any of you kin that they can. But for now we need to get ready or we will be late for or dinner call."


Chapter 18

A Cruse to A Disaster

We were only slightly late for our dinner call where we were invited to have dinner at the Captainís table. When we entered a hush fell on the room, then someone started to clap and then another. The applause grew until most were standing and applauding.

I was not sure if the reception was because of Arielís stories, singing, or looks. I suspect all of the above. As for her looks she had on a white straight tight dress with a diagonal neckline that came over her left shoulder giving the dress a left sleeve. The right side was sleeveless and low. It hugged her body to the hips and down the legs to the hem just above the knees. Around her waist she had a wide red belt that matched her shoes. Of course the ever present and spectacular blue sapphire on a shimmering gold chain around her neck. Last but not least her soft red hair flowed down her back.

Captain Brown welcomed us as two stewards held out chairs for us. "Princess Ariel please sit here!" said the Captain and gestured to the chair the steward held out next to his. He turned to the room and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Captain Brown of the Northern Cross and your host for this cruise. I have the pleasure to introduce you all to Princess Ariel of Atlantica and her new husband Roy Stanton. I also have the pleasure to Captain the ship they chose for their honeymoon." A round of applause came from the crowd. He went on "I propose a toast to the happy couple!" Everyone held up his or her glass and we all drank.

Ariel gave me a nudge "You say something, Iím too embarrassed." So I stood "On behalf of my wife and ..."

"Captain!" An officer said as he interrupted my speech. I thought it was going to be a good one too, for a guy that is lousy at public speaker. "Iím sorry to interrupt sir, but we just received a distress call from the tanker Axxon Venture. She has lost all power and is in danger of breaking apart in heavy seas. We are the closest to her location but it will take us six hours at flank speed to get there, sir."

"Change course to intercept the tanker and make more then flank speed, Bob!" ordered Captain Brown. As the officer saluted and left, Captain Brown stood and I sat. He said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I have just received word that another ship, a tanker, is in danger of sinking. Iím sorry this will interrupt your pleasure but we have a duty to try to save lives. That duty comes before pleasure." The room fell silent then a din of murmuring started.

Ariel asked me "What kind of ship is the Axxon Venture?"

"Itís a tanker, they use it to ship oil from one country to another."

"We have to help, we need to get to a phone. Aquata will want to know about this, she can send help too."

Before Captain Brown left the table I asked him "What is the tankers location, Captain?" He gave me the latitude and longitude and then left.

I realized that the merpeople did not know our system of navigation. So when we got to a phone and called Atlantica, all I could tell Aquata was to try to find our ship and follow it. Ariel took the phone from me. "Aquata do you remember the time I caused sea quakes when I laughed?" she paused "Right, I had to go too a place called Ablo Cadablo to make the Sorcerer Fish take the spell off me!" she paused again. "Right, as best as I can tell we are near Ablo Cadablo now and are heading East." again a pause. "I understand, get here as fast as you can. We will need both Tridents if that much oil leaks into the sea." . . . "OK, I will try to signal you, see you when you get here!" She hung up the phone. "Letís hope we are not needed!" she said and bit her lip.

When she turned to me she saw my now famous Roy Stanton expression. (You know mouth open, jaw on the floor, eyes wide, and looking like an idiot!) "What?" she asked.

"You would not understand!" I shook my head.

At day break Ariel and I was at the bow of our ship with her Trident. The seas were rough. Waves were crashing as the ship cut them in two. The spray from each encounter with a wave was getting us soaked. An officer came up to us and said, "If it was anyone else up here I would have to ask you to return to your cabin. But the Captain wants me to inform you we are getting close to the last know position of the tanker. Maybe you should come to the bridge so you can see better."

Just then a voice came over the officerís radio. "We have it on radar, five degrees to port, five miles out."

Our ship began to turn and slow as the sea tossed it from side to side. The dark shape of the huge tanker would appear and disappear as is would rise up on a swell then fall into a trough. Ariel turned to me "Iím going to have to do it, the humans wonít be able to rescue anyone in this wind and if all the oil spills, we will have even more work to do!"

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Watch!" she pointed her Trident to the sky. A blue bolt of energy flashed from its points to the sky. Within seconds the sea calmed and was smooth as glass and not a whisper of wind.

I looked around, only the shipís crew was out on deck and in the bridge. "Maybe less then half of them saw what happened. Maybe they wonít talk." before I finished Ariel climbed up on the railing and jumped over the side.

The Officer with us shouted into his radio, "Man overb..." I interrupted him. "You mean mermaid overboard! Now doesnít that sound silly?" I give him a smirk that Ariel would have been proud of.

"I see what you mean!"

As the ship slowed to a stop about 500 yards from the listing tanker, the crew of our ship started to lower some boats. With the seas now calm the passengers started to appear on deck to watch. We could see a number of men in the water, some had life vests on but others did not. Ariel was swimming from sailor to sailor to check on their condition. When she found one that was not responding she would bring him to another sailor that was in good shape.

The officer with me pointed to the North. "Look more mermaids!" then repeated the same into his radio. The voice of the first officer, Bob answered back. "Roger!"

Actually it was both mermaids and mermen, I could see Aquata and the other sisters were there too. The mermaids formed groups and linked their hands forming circles and extended their tails into the center of each circle. Each circle had two mermaids in the center. The men swam about gathering all the sailors and bringing them to and placing them in one of the circles, where the mermaids would give them support and the other two would tend to any wounds.

When the boats from our cruise ship reached the circles, the mermen help transfer the sailors from the circle to the boat. One of the sailors, who must have been in good condition, did not want to leave the group of beautiful mermaids. We, on the ship, could hear the girls giggling over his comments.

When all the sailors were safely aboard a lifeboat, Ariel and Aquata turned their attention to the tanker. Using their Tridents they pushed the tanker up until it floated level again. And by some magic that I did not understand, it stayed level. All I could see was a blue and gold matrix of light forming a net around the hull of the tanker.

With the ship floating level a large crack with oil gushing from it was now above the water line. Aquata turned her Trident on the hull sealing the breach while Ariel did her oil round up routine. The same one she did on the spill from Alex Fairbankís yacht so many months ago.

With the sailors all safely onboard the cruise ship and the tanker secure, the merpeople gathered on the starboard side of the Northern Cross. Captain Brown, his officers, and myself greeted the merpeople at the large door on its side used to make a small marina for the water sport pleasure of its passengers, at the many ports of call. Ariel jumped from the sea to the platform where I met her with a robe and a wheelchair. Captain Brown said "Captain Copland of the Axxon Venture asked me to relay his thanks and appreciation to Queen Aquata, Princess Ariel and all the people of Atlantica for their help in adverting a disaster. An ecological disaster to both human . . . err . . . and merworld. I have been informed that a sea going tug will be here in 3 hours and will take the stricken tanker to a safe harbor."

Aquata still floating in the water just below the platform, replied "You are welcome, Captain. We are glad we could do a small part in the rescue of the men and salvage of the ship. We are planning to be more involved in the safety of ships in the future."

The crowed of passengers watching from the railing above started to applaud. The merpeople waved at them and the ship closed the door and started to get underway. Then a group of merpeople swam to the bow and rode the wake to the delight of those who watched.

Back in our room, Ariel said, "I want to see how the men from the tanker are doing. Can we go see them?"

"Sure!" I handed her the Trident. "Get dressed and we'll go now."

It was crowed in the shipís infirmary. It was not intended to handle so many at one time. Ariel went to every sailor to check on his condition, fortunately they were all recovering. That was good news for she would want to use her Trident to help heal the sick and that would mean many people seeing the power it has. All the men were grateful for her help. When she got to the man that did not want to leave the mermaid ring, he wanted to thank her with a kiss. He kept trying to get his arms around her, but she would push his hands way as fast as he tried. "If you will be good, Iíll kiss you, OK? Is that a deal?" I stepped along side her just in case. He folded his arms. "You got it baby!" So she planted one on his cheek that left a bright red lip print there. "Thanks baby, Iíll never wash again!"

Ariel replied "If you donít that will probably be the last kiss you ever get."

When we were leaving the infirmary we overheard the shipís Doctor talking to Captain Brown about where to put the sailors that are not in need of any medical attention. "The ship is booked and the crew is already doubling in most cabins." said Captain Brown.

"Well I canít keep them here, what if a passenger gets sick? I canít put them in the same bed." Replied Doctor Daniels.

"I will ask the passengers for volunteers to double up to make cabins available to the Axxon Venture crew."

"Excuse me Captain!" interrupted Ariel. "We have a very nice and large room! We can double with someone else." I gave her a smirk. "Come on Honey, it will be fun to get to know some other passengers. You were the one that wanted me to mingle with humans!"

"But you are on your honeymoon, are you sure you want to do that?" ask Captain Brown.

"We are sure!" I sighed. "Ariel is right, we have the most room, so lets set an example of the hospitality that Atlantica is known for."

Captain Brown made the arrangements to move other first class passengers to our room. The steward moved in some extra beds and the luggage of our new roommates who turned out to be little Natalie and her mother and father, Joyce and Jeff.

Natalie and her parents were in the room when we returned. We all introduced our selves and there were a few awkward minutes of silent. "Letís play a game so we can get acquainted!" suggested Ariel.

"Goody, I like to play games!" squealed Natalie.

"Do you have some?" I asked. "We forgot to bring any!" Ariel, Jeff, and Joyce all giggled but Natalie just said. "Ah-huh! Iíve got three! Shoots and Ladders, Operation and some cards to play Fish with."

Humm, all things considered I think it should be Shoots and Ladders." I said.

"Fish?" Ariel whispered to me.

"Donít ask, you donít want to know."

"Oh, . . . OH!"

"Look!" interjected Jeff. "I work for The National, . . . thatís a paper owned by Mr. Fairbank!" Ariel froze and bit her lip. "I know what he has been saying about you and if you want Iíll ask Captain Brown to move us to another cabin. But, for what itís worth, just because I work for him does not mean I believe or endorse what he is doing to you."

"No, thatís OK. We will give it a try." said the worried girl.

Reluctantly, on Arielís part, we all sat down to play a round of Shoots and Ladders. As we played the conversation was game related but when that slowed Ariel asked Natalie. "Do you like the way I did your hair?"

"Ah-huh! But it is getting messed up! Can you fix it?" replied the little girl.

"Natalie!" Scolded Joyce.

"Thatís OK Joyce. Sure I can, sweetheart."

"Can you show me how you do that, I would like to do my hair like that too?" asked Joyce.

"I can show you but as you probably know, we do use what you may call magic to do the things you use technology to do."

After the game, the girls moved to the vanity and Jeff and I poured us all some ice tea and moved to the sitting area. We watched the girls work on Natalieís hair and Jeff said, "I donít understand what Mr. Fairbank has against your wife. What I see is a sweet person that does not look like she would hurt anyone."

I told Jeff the story how Alex Fairbank kidnapped Ariel and how he tried to keep her like a pet fish. "He would have succeeded if we had not used force to free her. I think he thinks since we used violence to free her that the merworld is violent. Nothing is further from the truth. If he had not used violence to capture her I would not have recommended violence to free her!"

Jeff and I spent the rest of the evening talking and watching Ariel work on Natalie and Joyceís hair.

Our two-week cruse was coming to an end and our ship was returning to Miami without a scheduled stop at Saint Thomas where Ariel and I were going to get off. The delay caused by the rescue of the crew of the tanker Axxon Venture made it impossible to make the stop. So Ariel and I decided to get off mid ocean.

The ship came to a stop about 75 miles from the U. S. Virgin Islands and opened the side door that turns into a small marina. The other passengers and crew gathered to see us off.

"Thank you for a great trip and also to your crew for their great service. Just send our luggage to our address on Saint Thomas!" I told Captain Brown as he shook my hand.

"This is a first for me, I have never put off a honeymoon couple at mid ocean before. You and your wife are welcome back any time."

"Princess Ariel! Princess Ariel!" cried little Natalie as she ran up to Ariel.

"What sweetheart, whatís wrong?"

"I donít want you to go!" said the little girl and big tears began to flow.

"Oh Iím sorry, but we have too. I promise I will write to you and send you a picture. Would you like that?"

"Uh-huh!" Ariel gave her a big hug and Joyce came to take the girl back to where Jeff was waiting with the rest of the passengers.

"Bye!" we said and waved to the crowd. The group on the marina level waved back and the crowd on the deck above waved and threw flowers into the sea where we jumped in. I donít know how many noticed the flash of blue light that followed.


Chapter 19

The Evil Returns

It was only a five-hour swim from where we left the Northern Cross to West Atlantica, where the Fowl Wind II was still anchored. We swam around the island to see if any other boats were there. We had it to ourselves. We decided to stay in mer form for a while and play. We explored the reef along the Southern lagoon. Where we came across that same turtle I saw the first time I dove here. Ariel said, "Hi Dudley!"

The turtle answered "Good . . . day . . .Prin . . . cess . . .Ariel, . . . how . . . are . . . you?" In a slow halting voice, that I have come to the conclusion is common to turtles.

"Just wonderful! I would like you to meet my husband Roy."

"I . . . thought . . . his . . . name . . . was . . . Eric."

Ariel turned red "Eric was my first husband, I just got married again, to Roy! Roy, Dudley was an advisor to my father."

"Thatís OK, Ariel! I understand a lot of people will be making that mistake. Pleased to meet you, Dudley."

"Like . . . wise."

"See you later Dudly. We are going for a swim." said Ariel and we left the turtle behind us in a rush of bubbles.

Next we swam into the inland lagoon where the water is kept fresh by the waterfall. This time I was equal to Ariel as we wrestled and splashed about. When we were exhausted we pulled ourselves onto the sand to lay in the hot tropical sun till late afternoon. Later we cooled off by setting on the rocks under the spray of the falls.

When dusk came to the Caribbean, we returned to the boat. We leaped out of the sea, to the pad made for this purpose, on the boat. I waited for Ariel to use her Trident to turn us human. "Well are we going to change or are we going to flop around like fish out of water."

"You do it!" she giggled.

"Huh!"

"I saw you look at my amulet after we exchanged rings and it is the same type of sapphire. We just learned how to make them, with the Tridentís help. Iím surprised you have not asked about it."

"I was going to ask, but my mind has been on other things lately. Help from the Trident? You make it sound alive."

"No, itís not alive but my mother appears to me in my dreams and teaches me how to use the Trident."

"Are you saying, it can communicate with the dead?"

"No, of course not, silly. It has messages, like your recording thingamabobs, that are sent to me when needed. It sent me a message before we were married and told me how to make a sapphire with the magic you will need. So give it a try, focus your mind like I taught you and make us human. It will make you feel weak for a few minutes but that will pass and you will not feel anything when you just change yourself."

"OK, Iíll try!" Focusing the way Ariel had taught me to with the Trident, a green flash of light engulfed us. It was like a blow to the head without the skin trauma. Dazed, I tried to stand, "Oh man! I never realized how bad it was when you do it. No wonder you use it as a last resort. Why didnít you use your amulet to change yourself human to get the Trident from Ericís Castle?"

"That was an easy task, itís even worse when I deflect bullets or knock someone away. Each sapphire is made for a special purpose mine was made to protect me by my mother. She never thought I would marry humans."

It only took a few minutes to recover to where I could walk. But it also made me hungry.

After we had dinner my strength was back to normal, so we went to bed early. Love making to the rocking of a small boat is something that canít be described, so I will not try.

Next morning, after breakfast, we packed a picnic and went ashore. We had been on this island many times but had never explored its interior. We followed the stream that falls into the inland lagoon to its source. Which turned out to be a spring that formed a small lake about 60 by 100 feet. We took off our cloths and jumped in. The water was cool and sweet and the bottom was sandy except where the water bubbled up from the deep aquifer.

After our swim we spread out a blanket under a large tree, had lunch and relaxed. I told Ariel "Most red blooded men dream of being alone on a tropical island with a beautiful girl. I am so lucky, I never dreamed it would be this good."

"You always say things that make me blush. Girls have dreams too, and I am just as lucky."

We made love again and then napped most of the afternoon. It was late afternoon when we decided to return to our boat via the summit of the islandís only peak.

It was an easy climb to the top, where there was a spectacular 360-degree view. "The Fowl Wind looks so small from up here! Ooo I can see the fish in the lagoon. Look, over there another boat!" Ariel pointed to the West. There in the sunís golden reflection was a large power yacht.

I got the Ďbiggermajiggersí out of the picnic basket and focused them on the yacht. It had a familiar look to it then I saw the black flag with a white ĎFí on it. "Oh-oh!" I said and the smile faded from Arielís face.

"What? . . . Whatís wrong?"

"Come on we have to get to the boat, fast!" I did not want to worry her but I thought it might be Alex Fairbankís yacht. "Where did you leave the Trident?"

"Itís in the water by the water fall! Why? Whatís going on?"

"Iím not sure yet. Lets just get your Trident and get to the boat."

When we reached South Beach we could hear the sound of a small outboard motor going around the point. We split up, Ariel went to get her Trident and I took the dinghy to the boat. I approached the Fowl Wind II with caution I did not see any activity on the boat. Once on board, there was evidence that someone had been looking for something. The cabin was not messed up but things were not in place, like they were moved then put back. "Roy are you OK!" called Ariel from the water.

"Yes, but we had visitors!" I replied then went topside to talk to Ariel as she leaped onto the boat. "Stay a mermaid! I want you safe, while I investigate."

"Will you tell me whatís going on?"

"The yacht, its Alexís!" I said.

Arielís face turned to worry "What does he want? Why canít he leave us alone?" Tears started to add to the water on her face.

"I donít know, maybe we can get an injunction to keep him away from you."

"But he said he would take any mermaid."

"Maybe we can make the three miles around the island territorial to West Atlantica. Then any ship that wants to come here will have to get our OK!"

"No, thatís not fair to the small boats that need this island for safety during storms."

"OK, but in the mean time I want you in the water while I investigate."

"What if he tries to wreck your boat again?"

"This time Iíll be prepared." I opened a seat locker then another cover and pulled out a big box. Opening the box reviled a 30 mm grenade gun. "My 9 mm hand gun is no good against a boat the size of Alexís. But this will give him a surprise."

"No, you canít do that. He may deserve it, but you canít."

"I donít want to, but I will defend myself. I promise I will fire a warning first and only shoot if it is absolutely necessary."

"What about the fish in the area? They may get hurt too."

"Well, we donít know what Alex will do. So maybe you can get everyone away, till itís safe."

"Awe, you said everyone instead of everything. You are becoming one of us."

With a plan in place and Ariel in the water, I motored the Fowl Wind II into the open ocean. With my 9 mm in my belt, the grenade gun under a blanket and a Pepsi in my hand I approached Alexís yacht. "Fowl Wind II to the yacht two miles West of West Atlantica." I said in to the microphone of the marine VHF radio. No response, I repeated the message. I was now within voice range, I turned off the motor. "Ahoy the yacht!" I yelled.

A man stepped out of the wheel house he had an M-16 cradled in his arm. He was a man that did not surprise me to see on a boat belonging to Alex Fairbank. "What do you want?" said my ex-friend Lee.

"Hum, why am I not surprised to see you on a Fairbank boat? I came out to tell Mr. Fairbank, he is not welcome here. And for that matter, neither are you! This is a warning to stay at lest three miles away from this island." I knew that would not set well with Lee, so I focused my mind.

"What do I care what you like or dislike? Mr. Fairbank has sent me out here to catch him a mermaid and thatís what Iím going to do. After I take care of some unfinished business." With that he pointed his gun at me and let loose a volley.

The bullets just bounced off the shield I had put up around the Fowl Wind II. But each hit was like a bucket of ice water on my body and mind. Just had enough energy to start the motor and head back to the island. Quickly I downed the Pepsi to refresh my energy. I had only gone 200 yards when the Yachtís engines started and it turned to come at me. I pulled out my big gun and fired a grenade into the water just in front of the advancing yacht. The explosion sent a column of water into the air, just as the yacht cut through it. I reloaded and pointed it at the wheel house and said into the VHF microphone. "That was just a warning, the next one will be through your head!"

The yacht turned away, just missing the Fowl Wind II. "OK, itís my turn!" I said into the radio "Iím going to come at you and if you are within 3 miles of this island, Iíll make a hole in your boat for the Fowl Wind to sail through."

It was a ridiculous sight, a small sailboat chasing the bigger powerboat. Although The Fowl Wind II could not keep up with the speedy power yacht, I pursued it, trying to keep myself between the yacht and the island. Once it was outside the three-mile limit, I got on the radio again. "Next time I see you, or any Fairbank boat here, I will not be so nice. There will be no more warnings, you are not welcome here!"

Bringing the Fowl Wind about to return to the island, Ariel leaped onto the pad. "You were wonderful! You showed them who was boss and with only a small amount of violence."

"Yea, this time."

"What do you mean?"

"Alex Fairbank is a man that is used to getting what he wants. They will be back and they will have more then machine guns."

"Why is he that way? What can we do to stop him?"

"I donít know! It only takes a few people with ambitious ideas, to make things rough for others."

"I see, thatís why humans war amongst themselves."

"Yes, I guess so. We have an old saying that goes something like. ĎSwords should be beaten into plow shears.í but another says Ďthose that beat their swords into plow shears, plow the ground for those that donít.í So we need to be prepared for their return."

"How do we do that?"

"Let's go talk to your sister, we need to get everyone involved in this. Also get more merpeople into meeting humans."


>

Chapter 20

Getting Back to Work

Shipís Log, The Fowl Wind II April 4, 1991, 0900 hours local: At anchor in the South lagoon of West Atlantica. The skies are cloudy the wind is out of the East at 10 knots. The pressureís at 1024 millibars, temperature is 91 and humidity is 60%. There is no sign of Lee or Alex Fairbankís boat. Ariel and I are off to Atlantica to work up a defense and a PR plan. Roy D. Stanton, Captain.

"Are you ready yet? I am finished in the galley." Asked my beautiful wife.

"In a second, I just have to put the log away."

"Thatís good, Iíll wait for you by the big rock by the point!" said the impatient girl. Then came the splash of her jumping into the water.

I finished my chores, locked the cabin, removed my shorts and jumped into the water as well. Concentrating on my ring it produced a green globe of light the engulfed me from head to toe, or fin as it were a second later. It only took me a few seconds to reach the rock where Ariel was playing with a little red fish. A year ago the same swim would have taken me five to ten minutes. "There you are, letís go. Bye Samín, see you later!" she waved to the fish as we left it far behind.

"Samín has agreed to keep an eye on your boat"

"Our boat!" I interjected.

"Our boat." giggled Ariel. "And let us know if anyone comes around."

"Thatís nice of him."

"He said, he had nothing to do anyway so it was no trouble."

"Remind my to invite him to dinner as a thank you." I gave her a wink.

"Oh you, youíre just being silly. If a human invites a fish to dinner, he will think he is on the menu." we both laughed.

We told Aquata our plan to improve, or disprove the danger of the merworld myth, and improve the image of Atlanticans. And tried to convince her of the need of some kind of defense, to keep Alex Fairbank and others like him from kidnapping any merpeople.

"I will try to do something in our legal system to restrain him from harassing any citizens of the Sea Kingdom." I explained. "In the meantime maybe a group of fish like Samín can be put to the task of watching for danger from the surface around the Sea Kingdom. Another plan, we can place a guard on the island and he can call or sound an alarm if a boat comes. I can have buoys placed around the island warning humans to stay away from this privet island."

I kept rattling out ideas till Aquata stopped me. "Getting something legal to keep Mr. Fairbank away is a good idea. But I donít want to keep others away, that goes against the plan to show the humans how friendly we are. But I think it would be prudent to keep a lookout on the island. Iíll ask for volunteers for that duty, it might be a hard post to fill."

"Maybe you wonít have too. Where is your phone?"

The puzzled Queen pointed to the instrument. I picked it up and dialed a number. "Hello Sam, this is Roy. I want you to work on a system to monitor for boats entering the three-mile limit around West Atlantica and automatically send a signal to Atlantica. Can you do that for me? . . . Thanks, Iíll be waiting to hear from you . . . Yes, itís a rush job, but keep up the quota of reverse osmoses filters too. OK Thanks, bye." I hung up. "That should make it easy to keep tabs on the coming and going of boats around the island."

Our next topic we talked about was starting a public relations program to improve the image of Atlanticans.

A week later we had a restraining order agents Alex Fairbank and his agents and a special permit from the city of Miami Beach.

It was mid afternoon when I walked on to the beach, laden with a picnic basket, an umbrella and a mermaid. The sun was warm and the humidity made it feel 10 degrees hotter. I set Ariel down near the waters edge where the sand was damp and setup the umbrella to shade us from the South Florida sun.

It did not take long for some of the other beach gores to come around. To help attract others Ariel sang a line from ĎCome to where Mermaids Dwellí. When she had finished we talked to the folks that had gathered. When someone asked, "I loved your song, can we hear more?"

Arielís plan was working to a tea "OK, but I really need some backup to do it justice." she turned to me "Roy, call for some help please."

"Sure thing." I picked up a conch shell we had in our basket and blew through the hole in its small end, making a loud honk. This was mostly for show as the group of merpeople, lead by Allana were expecting the call.

Ariel began to sing and the group of merpeople appeared at the waterís edge and joined in the song. It was beautiful, although rehearsed.

After the song a man asked "I have blown on a conch shell many time before and never seen any mermaids. How is it you can call them?"

"I wonít try to fool you, this is all setup. The shell call was just to cue the others." I turned to the rest of the human beach gores. "Princess Allana would like to invite anyone to join them in some surf games, do we have any takers?"

The stampede to get into the water was overwhelming. But the merpeople weíre ready and played with as many as wanted too. The splashing and frolicking before us brought a smile to all that watched. Then Arielís smile faded when she spotted a group of children all to small to be in with the big bodies.

"Roy, take me over there, please!" and she pointed to a stretch of the beach where no one was swimming. As I carried her to the designated place, she smiled at the children and gestured for them to follow. I felt like the Pied Piper, when all the children followed him.

The surf on Miami Beach at this time of year is slight at best. Even though the water is shallow for many yards out a mermaid can still get around. It was a fairy tail come true for the children, to splash about with a pretty mermaid in the gentle swells of the sea. Ariel held one of the smallest girls in her arms as the rest played around her. Except for one, a boy too shy to come foreword and play with this stranger from the sea.

One of the games Ariel would play, she would flip some water into the air with her flipper and it would rain down on the squealing kids. Then she pulled herself onto the beach and let them cover her tail with sand. Personally I felt covering the glittering tail of a mermaid was not the thing to do, but what do kids know about beauty.

Our fun was shattered by the faint gasp of the little shy boy, he had wondered out too far. "Ariel, look!" I pointed to the thrashing boy.

"Oh, my gosh!" she handed me the small one she had been holding and jumped over the group of youngsters, into the shallow surf and darted out to where the boy had been. When next we saw her she was holding the lad on her tummy as she swam on her back, back to the waterís edge, where she beached herself. Laying the boy on his back she started mouth to mouth resuscitation. After a couple of breaths he coughed out some water and started to breathe on his own.

By now his mother had heard of the near loss and came running over. "Timmy, where is Timmy?" she cried.

"Over here!" I waved to get her attention. "He will be OK, just had a good scare!"

"Oh my! You let one of those creatures touch my boy!"

"Creature?" my anger was on the rise. Picking up Ariel so she would be on the same level, I added. "This . . . creature, saved you sonís life!" I tried to stay calm. "I think you read too many supermarket tabloids and you owe her an apology."

"Thatís OK, Roy." then Ariel looked at the mother. "I understand your concerns, I would not want my child to be with a stranger either. I am sorry you feel the way you do about me. But rest assured, if you do not watch you boy and I see he needs help, I will not hesitate to help him again."

"Letís go Timmy, I donít want you to go near these rude creatures again." huffed Timmyís mother.

Ariel was saddened by this humanís response to our attempt to make friends. But her sadness was short lived. There was a group of young men about 100 feet off shore thrashing in the surf yelling "Help, I need rescue and artificial respiration". We just laughed the water was only 2 feet deep where they were.

The rest of the afternoon went with out incident. Except for the group of young men wanting rescue. But there was 2 mermaid sisters named Alora and Carmen, that came over to where they were play drowning. The two girls were girls of the 90's they wanted to play rescue with the boys and kiss them all and saved them from their play drowning. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the young men or mermaids.

As dusk settled over Miami Beach the tourists returned to their hotels and the merpeople returned to the sea. Most had made new friends. We started back too, but there were three men that I had not noticed till now. They were staying a good distance away from us but I am sure it was Lee and two of the men that attacked us in Saint Thomas over a year ago. I placed Ariel into our rented convertible and drove off, all the time at the ready to put up a shield.

With no further sightings of Lee or other agents of Alex Fairbank, we continued our PR events up and down the East Coast of the U.S. We also did it in Jamaica, Puerto Reco, Belize, and the last stop Saint Thomas. The reception by the humans was for the most part positive. At the end of each event, only a few felt that the merpeople were dangerous.

While in Saint Thomas I checked out Jimís new trade business with Atlantica. He had setup a warehouse on a wharf where he could transfer his goods into giant conch shells. He would then place the shells in the water and some mermen would harness a team of dolphins to them and take them to Atlantica.

Shipís Log, The Fowl Wind II: May 11, 1991 time 1700 hours local. We are returning to West Atlantica after the success of the four-week PR tour to meet with Queen Aquata.

We were greeted with a surprise at the island as we had difficulty finding a place to anchor. There was a number of small pleasure craft filling both lagoons and groups of humans interacting with merpeople. The most popular activity was snorkeling and scuba diving but there was also some merfolk sun bathing with humans on the beaches. Everyone was having a good time. "Letís join in the fun!" Ariel suggested.

"Sounds good to me!" After securing the boat Ariel swam and I rowed to the beach.

"Hi Roy!" said Andrina, one of Arielís sisters. She was sunning herself on the sand, with Allen her husband, and other mermaids and humans. "Hello!" I answered back. "Are you having a good time?"

"I sure am, I never knew how much fun the surface could be. Now I understand why Ariel loved it so. By the way where is she?"

"Iím on my way to meet her at the water fall. Why donít you and Allen join us for a swim?"

"We will be right there." Replied Andrina.

I stood on the bank of the fresh water lagoon and watched as a group of young men gather around my wife. They were trying to get her favor by giving her attention. One tried to catch her by her hand. Another offered to help her on the rock by the falls. But she proved that she did not need help by jumping onto the rock with ease. Another man climbed onto the rock too and wanted to pick up the lovely mermaid. But when she saw me standing knee high in the water she jumped off the rock, swam between four men and jumped into my arms. "That will do fellas, sheís mine." I quipped.

A muscular blonde young man said. "Oh man, you are one lucky dude."

"Iím one lucky girl too." Said Ariel and she planted a deep kiss on my lips. We could hear the sighs from the group, and it buckled my knees plunging us both into the water.

By now Andrina and Allen had worked their way into the lagoon too. "Come on every one lets play fin tag." Said Ariel and motioned to the group to join in. The two mermaids gave the human men a chase. They were so fast that even the best swimmer among them could not catch a fin unless the girls let them. I could tell the girls were really enjoying teasing the boys. Allen watched the chase from below and I kept tabs on the girlís safety from above. The game lasted till all the men were exhausted and only two of them had the pleasure of touching a mermaidís fin.

At nightfall some of the humans built a fire on the beach to the amazement of the merpeople. But with some couching from the humans, both human and merpeople gathered around the fire and sang some songs. Each group, teaching the other appropriate songs for this occasion. When we joined the group too, Ariel as a mermaid and me as a human, we were invited in as old friends.

Then the singing continued. But when Ariel sang with the rest of the mermaids doing the harmony, everyone else were spell bound.

The next morning found us in Queen Aquataís court, we were telling her of the success of the PR campaign. When a guard interrupted the meeting. "Sorry your Majesty, a fish named Samín wants to see Princess Ariel right away."

"He is the fish that agreed to watch our boat." Said Ariel.

"Show him in." instructed the Queen.

Samín swam into the room and got real nervous in the presents of his ruler. "Um, there is, um trouble, um at the, um island. Two, um boats came and ran, um all the other boats off."

"It sounds like Alex Fairbank or his men are back!" said Ariel. "Thanks Samín, we owe you one."

"I better go and see whatís going on." I huffed.

"Iím coming with you!" We got up and bowed to Aquata. "You will be careful!" she said.

Ariel got her Trident from our room and we started to the surface.

"I can see our boat, there does not seem to be any others around." Ariel said. We were just out side the reef that surround the island where the chop from the sea would make it hard for anyone to see us.

"I wonder why they ran every one away and left, unless they have done something to the Fowl Wind? We better take it slow, approaching the boat."

We dove back under the safety of the waves and swam into the lagoon where the Fowl Wind II was anchored. We swam around the boat several times looking for something out of the ordinary. When we were sure it was safe I jumped onto the pad on the deck first then Ariel joined me.

A second after Arielís jump onto the Fowl Wind II a small black box, I had not noticed, with a antenna and a canister of knockout gas released itsí poison.

"Ariel! Jump back into . . . . ." I could not finish my warning.


Chapter 21

Mermaid in a Cage, Again

At first, all I knew was my head ached. It felt like it had been hit by a load of bricks. Trying to bring my hands up to rub my temples and neck got no response from them. "Am I paralyzed?" I asked myself. Trying to move some thing, anything got the same results. With some panic I tried again, this time my arms did respond and rub my forehead. "I am in the water. What happened to me?" I thought. "Oh yes, the gas. What about Ariel?" Things were starting to come back, fast. Except my senses were still not working. "I wonder if the gas was suppose to kill us and left me a vegetable? But what about Ariel?" Were some of the thoughts that raced through my mind.

"Ariel!" I tried to shout, but it only came out as a whisper. But I did say it.

"OK, lets open your eyes!" a rush of light came in, all fuzzy and the colors were all blurred together, it made my head pound. "OK, one step at a time. Focus let the water wash the gas from them. Good, thatís better." I said to my self.

Now I could hear some sound. A bubbling noise and a low hum like that of electric motors. More of my senses were returning, I could feel the sand I was laying on. There was something next to me all I could see was some green and lots of red. "Ariel!" I called again. The colorful lump did not move. "Oh no! They killed her." I thought. Unable to do much of anything else I curled up on the sand next to her and cried.

I must have fallen asleep after crying for what seemed like hours, when I was awoken by a week voice. "Roy, are you here?"

I opened my eyes things were dark. Night must have fallen, but I was able to move more and feel things, like my tail. "Yes, I am here! Are you OK? I thought you were dead."

"I donít know, I canít move and I canít see." she said in a shaky voice filled with fear.

"I know, I am the same way but I am getting better." I moved over closer the limp mermaid. Brushing her hair back from her face, I asked, "Can you feel this?"

"Yes!"

"Try to open you eyes, and let the water clear out the poison from them."

"What happened to us?"

"They knocked us out with a gas, probably released by remote control." I continued to hold the frightened girl for several hours, as our senses slowly returned.

"Whatís that noise?" she asked, then answered her own question. "Oh no! I have heard that before, we are in a fish tank!" she no sooner said that, I knew she was right. The sun was coming up and with blurry eyes and the faint glow, I could see the bundle of hoses in the invisible corner of the plexie glass tank.

"Alex!" I said in disgust.

"What are we going to do? This time, you are not out there to rescue us." Ariel said and clung to my arm.

"I donít know, we will have to wait and see what Alex is going to do with us." Stroking her hair I tried to reassure her but was scared and shaking myself.

We continued to hold each other till the morning sun was making a bright spot on the floor from a small window high on the East wall. The rows of fluorescent lights came on and four men walked into the room. Two were our old nemesis, Alex and Lee. The other two were the men we refer to as pirates, the ones from the encounter at the island after Hurricane Daniel, the big man and his henchman Joe.

"Youíre awake, look who is in hot water now!" smirked Lee.

"Ha ha ha!" laughed the men "Thatís a good one, Lee." Alex turned his attention to Ariel. "I told you I wanted a mermaid. This time you wonít get away, so donít give me any of the trouble I got from you last time."

"You canít do this, I am an American citizen. Ariel is my wife and is under American protection too." I roared.

"You are not in America now!" Alex said in an evil whisper. "I am the law here. A sea creature has no rights anyway. A cross species marriage is disgusting and I do not recognize such a union. I donít want you, I only want a mermaid, so you will have to go!"

"What? You canít separate us!" Ariel cried.

"Sure we can!" Snickered Lee.

"We wonít give you any trouble if you keep us together." Ariel pleaded.

"Thatís right, you wonít give us any trouble!" Alex Fairbank then turned to the big man and the one he calls Joe. "You may proceed Mr. Black."

Mr. Black and Joe climbed the stairs to the catwalks over the aquariums. They each picked up what looked like a cattle prod and came to our tank. With the big man on one side and Joe on the other, they opened two small hatches on top of the tank. A door connecting our tank to another, opened. "OK fella, get in the other tank!" said the big man.

"Let me zap it, tíat will get Ďem goín!" said Joe.

"Take it easy Joe, we need him to get our money."

"Please let us stay together. What money are you talking about?" I pleaded.

"Comíon Bill, let me zap Ďem."

"Easy Joe!" Bill Black gestured to the thinner man to calm down. "The treasure! We still want the treasure, and you owe it to me now!"

"How do you figure that?" I quizzed.

"You destroyed two of my boats and damaged another and you are gonía pay for tíat." said big Bill Black.

"Get on with it!" shouted an impatient Alex Fairbank.

Joeís prod jabbed me in the back and a jolt of electricity stunned me. The jolt also made Ariel scream. I pushed her away from me, as it appeared that the two men were just prodding me and I did not want Ariel to get anymore shocks. The prods from both men moved towards me again. At each contact another serge of electricity would cause my body to spasm. I tried to swim to the opening but the spasms from the prodding kept me from making much progress.

Ariel tried to swim to my aid but I said to her "keep back! They will hurt you too!" All the time she cried and Joe kept laughing and prodding.

When I finally made it to the other tank the prodding stopped. Ariel tried to swim into the tank with me but the door was slammed shut behind me. I turned to her "Iíll be back for you, I promise!" Ariel cried and Lee laughed, he said, "You should live so long!" Ariel cried harder.

The two men moved to the top of my tank. The one called Joe got a pole with a rope loop on its end from the wall. The big man used his prod to keep me in a corner and Joe dropped the loop over me and cinched it up trapping my arms at my sides. All the time Ariel darting about her tank screaming "Stop it! Leave him alone! You are hurting him!" The others just laughed.

Joe with the help from Bill pulled me from the tank despite my efforts to stay. Once out of the water they removed the rope and dropped me to the great of the catwalk. Then the two men kicked me from the elevated walkway letting me dropped to the concrete floor like a wet rag. My body was racked in pain from the drop, kicking and prodding, but miraculously nothing was broken.

I flopped over to one side and curled up to try to protect myself from further kicking. Which came this time from Lee. The other two men came down from the catwalk to join in on the abuse of a helpless sea creature.

The four men were having such a good time in their cruelty that they failed to notice Ariel was wiggling her way out of the tank through the small hatch the two pirates had inadvertently left open. She quietly pulled herself along the catwalk to try to get over the four attackers. When she noticed a table with two cattle prods, two pieces of jewelry and the Trident on it. She also noticed the way the men were kicking me I was sliding towards the table. Her heart ached for the man she loved and her anger raged for the men that abused me. But she had to wait if the plan she had devise was going to work.

As the four men kick and pushed me about the floor the water, that at first let me slide, was running thin. I was no longer sliding but was sticking then rolling. But now blood was starting to add to the lubricant so I could slide again. Lee put his foot on my back and gave a powerful shove, driving me into the hard square leg of a table, opening a gash in my left fore arm. I pulled myself under the table to try to use it for protection. Lee pulled me out from under the table by my fin. "This will make a fine trophy for my den when I get it stuffed." he said. I grabbed the table leg and it was drug too.

Alex turned his attention back to Arielís tank. "Hay! Where is the other one." he hollered. When the other three men turned to look, the table suddenly came crashing down in front of me. It was crushed by something with a lot of red and green color that had fallen from the catwalks.

Ariel let out a scream from the pain of landing on the table. I saw my ring skitter across the floor and Arielís Amulet and Trident crashed down next to her. "Ariel! Are you all right?" I shouted as I scrambled after the rolling ring. She did not answer.

The four men by now were scrambling to intercept my effort to retrieve my ring. Joe and Bill came after me and Lee headed to where Ariel lay unconscious.

My ring came to a stop in a grove in the floor for draining any water that might spill from the aquariums. It was ten feet away from me and I knew I could not get to it before the others. But one of the cattle prods had come to rest just in front of me. I grabbed it and rolled over onto my back and shoved it into Joeís stomach as he lunged at me. The jolt from the prod sent the thin man backward across the room. Then I threw it at the legs of the big man, tripping him, and sending him to the floor where he slid in the water and blood towards me. The impact from Bill, push me with him straight to the grove with my ring.

Grabbing the ring and sliding half way onto my swollen finger I changed back into a human. The startled men were slow to react to my metamorphosis, giving me time to pick up the prod and start towards Alex and Lee before they reacted.

I was able to get close before Lee grabbed Ariel by her hair. Pulling her up he put his left arm around her waist and held a knife to the throat of the limp mermaid with his right. "Stay back!" he ordered.

"Put her down!" I ordered back. "If you hurt her Iíll kill you!"

"I donít want it hurt either!" interjected Alex. "We will let you go if you will leave with out it."

I saw Ariel start to move she was coming too. If I stalled till she was awake, we had a better chance. "No way am I going the leave her with slime like you. Let her go and I will not destroy you."

Lee laughed again his laugh was starting to irritate me. "I donít think you are in a bargaining position. You walk out the door now, we will not kill you or the girl . . . at this time." he added and laughed again. That made me very angry.

By now the other two men had joined Lee and Alex and Ariel was awake. I knew my strength was low and I was bleeding from the gash in my left arm, but I had to try. It was now or never. "You will see what bargaining power I have." I hoped Ariel was alert enough to react to my move.

I focusing my mind on my ring, trying to keep it from draining what little strength I had left. A small globe of green energy formed before me, I felt the drain on my body and the others got tense. Then from the globe a bolt of energy struck Lee in the head, knocking him back and to the floor. Ariel fell to the floor with a thud and a "groin". Even this little show of magic left me barely able to stand but I could not let on how bad a shape I was in. "No one move unless you want the same!" I was hoping I was still good at the bluff.

When Ariel hit the floor she rolled and flopped her way to the Trident. My bluffed worked long enough for her to reach it. When next I saw her, she was standing next to me with the Trident leveled at the four men. "I got them!" she said and I collapsed to the floor.

Ariel put up a force field around the four gawking men. Then she helped me to a chair and then looked around the room. She found a storage cabinet with some towels she took one and wrapped it around her naked body. Then brought me the others one for my modesty and one for my bleeding arm.

"There that should help till I fix it!" she said then pointed the Trident at me. A warming blue glow engulfed my body and a wave of relief rolled up and over every aching muscle.

"Thanks sweetheart, that helps a lot but Iím vary week."

Ariel handed me the Trident "Wait here I will find you something." and she headed out to search the room. I managed to stand I turned to the four men that tried to kill me. I leveled the undersea weapon at them.

A roar of pleading came from the four. "I was not really going to hurt you." . . . "It was his idea!" . . . "If you let me go Iíll forget about the treasure!" . . . "Please donít hurt me!"

"No Roy!" said Ariel as she brought me a soda and a stale doughnut. "We canít reduce ourselves to their level, I have a better idea."

She took the Trident from me as I wolfed down the food. "OK gentlemen, up the ladder." she instructed and released the force field and pointed to the catwalks.

"What are you going to do?" asked the shivering Alex.

"You will see! Keep walking."

My strength was returning so I picked up one of the cattle prods and helped Ariel herd the four to the tank we had been held in. "OK gentlemen, jump in!"

"What, you donít mean that?" said Lee.

"I canít swim!" said Alex.

"You heard the lady, get in the tank!" I ordered and opened the big hatch to the aquarium. Then shoved the prod into Joeís back, he fell in the water with a splash that showered the other three. "OK, whoís next?" I said and waved the prod at them.

The other three men reluctantly entered the tank, with Alex being the last. His entry brought the water level up to over flowing. When his head returned to the surface he was in a panic and was thrashing and grasping onto the others.

"Thank you!" Ariel said in a sweet voice. She leveled the Trident at them and after the blue flash there were four mermen in the tank.

I slammed the lid down and Ariel dumped a bucket of stale seaweed into the tank. "Bon-appetite!" she said.

After a few seconds of gasping and thrashing the new mermen started to get the feel for breathing. "You canít do this to us!"

"Sure we can. You were going to do the same or worse to us. Donít worry there is fresh water at the top and the seaweed will keep you alive for a while." explained Ariel.

As we left the room I asked Ariel, "We canít leave them that way."

"Donít worry, they will change back to human in three days. We will send them help so they will be out of the tank when they change back."

"Three days? Why three days?"

"That was how long Ursala gave me to learn about the human world. Maybe they will learn something about the sea in the same amount of time."

We opened the door of Alexís house it was surrounded by his security force. "How are we going to get by them?" ask Ariel.

"I have an idea, wait here." I scanned the room and found what I was looking for.

Picking up the phone and pushing the button that said ĎSecurityí I said, "They are getting away, out the service door." then slammed it down.

I returned to the door where I left Ariel. "They are coming this way, what now?"

"Stay close!" I put my arm around and kiss the grinning girl then we stepped to the side just as the door flew open hiding us from the rush of guards running in. After the last one came in we strolled around the door and out into the yard.

"Errrr" screeched the siren on the guard tower. "Theyíre on the south side!" a voice bellowed on a P.A. system. This sent us running to the channel that runs from the sea to the house. Ariel held her Trident high and put up a shield around us as we ran.

At 100 feet from the water we threw off our towels and laughed as we ran the rest of the way. We dove into the channel and changed ourselves back to merpeople and swam towards the sea. Ariel had to blast a hole in the gate in the water that keeps sea life out of the channel.

We swam home hand in hand happy to be together and to be alive.


Chapter 22

The Mermaid Strikes Back

Now that our troubles with Alex Fairbank and Lee are over, Ariel and I got back to work. We picked up our PR campaign and the water pollution education speeches. We also taught other merpeople and humans how to do the same thing so there would be others doing the same thing.

Our belief that Alex and Lee would give us no more trouble was short lived.

Two months after our escapee from Alexís aquarium, Ariel and I were relaxing on the Fowl Wind II, when the Phone rang. It was Scott from the diplomatic offices of Atlantica on Saint Thomas. "Hi Scott!" I said when the person on the other end identified himself.

"You have to see a video I made of the Haraldo Show!" He said excitedly.

"You know I never watch that type of program."

"I know, but you will want to see this one."

"OK, what is it?"

"Alex Fairbank was on his show."

"OH!"

"What is it?" asked Ariel. I held up my hand and gestured to wait one.

"He has a video of you and Ariel at Alexís privet aquarium. It shows Ariel using her Trident on Alex, Lee and two other men. He clams they barely escaped with their lives."

"Oh!" was all I could say while trying to figure how he had done that.

Scott went on. "Now the phone is ring off the hook. The press is asking all kinds of questions. What should I tell them?"

"I donít know! Just no comment for now, I have to see the tape, then maybe we can come up with a response."

"Whatís going on?" Ariel asked again with impatience.

"Alex again!" I said, then wish I hadnít as darkness fell on her pretty face.

Finishing up with Scott I told him we will see him soon. Then relayed the whole story to my worried wife.

"Letís head for Saint Thomas, where Scott will show us the tape. Then we can plan what to do. It will work out, youíll see." I reassured the lip-biting girl.

"What do you think?" asked Scott as he brought up the lights in the living room of Arielís beach house and pointing the remote at the TV.

Ariel had a quick response. "I think I should go on TV to show that we are not dangerous. But I do not know how to go about doing that." she gave me that, can you help me look.

But Scott was the next to speak. "It just so happens that I received an invitation for you to appear on the Terry Richard Show. He says he has invited Alex Fairbank to be his guest and...

"No way!" glared the fiery red head.

"Let him finish!" I tried to calm her.

"And!" Scott emphasized. "Terry Richard wants you to be a suprise guest to rebut Alexís clams."

Ariel thought and chewed on a fingernail. Then the light in her eyes came on, in high beams. "OK! Yes! Iíll do it."

"Letís not jump to fast." I interjected. "Letís see what the Showís setup is like."

Scott made the arrangements and Ariel and I was off to Chicago. I went to meet with the Terry Richard Show producers first not wanting Ariel to fall into another Alex Fairbank trap.

My fears satisfied Ariel came in for an interview. Then a date was set for the live, in Chicago and tape delayed to other time zones, show.

"Itís the Terry Richard Show." The show announcer, with a baritone voice, read from his copy into a microphone on his podium, located in the wings of the stage. "Tonightís guest is the media magnet and exotic fish collector Alex Fairbank. And now give a big welcome to Terry Richard."

The applause light flashed and the studio lights were brought up and the routy audience clapped and whistled. Terry Richard, a young tall good-looking man with dark hair and a thin mustache, pranced across the set with a lanky but graceful stride to a mark on the floor. Where the lights had been adjusted to bring out the best of his face. "Thank you." he repeated several times till the applause subsided. "My vary special guest tonight is the famous publisher and television magnet Alex Fairbank. Let give him a warm Windy City welcome." The light flashed again and studio audience followed itís instruction and applauded.

Alex Fairbank waddled out from behind a curtain and across the studio to a seat to one side of the set. Ariel and I were seated in what is called a green room, why they call it a green room I could not figure. There was nothing in the room green. We were instructed to wait there till our introduction. Ariel wrinkled her noise when Alex appeared on the TV screen in the green room.

Terry asked some personal questions at first, then ask "Tell me, Alex, why do you think the mermaids are dangerous?"

Alex went on with some long rambling explanation that was difficult even for someone that had been there to follow. Then he asked Terry to show the video. The high lights of the video were a scene where you could see Ariel firing her Trident at some thing off screen. The video had been edited to fuzz out the naked body of the beautiful girl but you could tell it was Ariel. Then the video cut to Alex, Lee and the two pirates all thrashing about in the water, then their rescue by Alexís security men. But they had legs when the guards pulled them out of the tank. Alex explained that they would have been killed if they had not jumped into the water to avoid the blast from the Trident.

"We had an expert look at the video, he states that some of the scenes on the tape were added. In other words, it was edited. Making it a hoax. Do you deny it?"

"We...we" Alex stammered "the surveillance video did not get all that happened so we recreated it."

"Is that all there is to it? Or is there more? We will find out when we come back after these messages. Donít go away, you donít want to miss what happens next." Music played and Terry walked away from a confused Alex Fairbank.

A man with a headset on, came to the door of the green room, he was the floor manager we were introduced to earlier. "Youíre on next!" he said. I wheeled Ariel to the wing to wait for our cue. She is in her wheelchair because she was in mermaid form, but had on a blue sleeveless dress with a V neckline that was vary flattering to Arielís figure. The dress was just long enough to cover the upper half of her tail and left the lower half and fins in plain sight.

"In five, four, three..." said the floor manager and pointed at Terry as the music came on again.

Terry turned to the audience after the music faded "What would you say if I said we have the Sea Princess Ariel here to rebut your clams?" and before Alex could react. "Give her a warm Chicago welcome, Her Royal Highness Princess Ariel of Atlantica."

With a nudge from the floor manager I wheeled Ariel out into the lights, to the spot of tape on the floor I was suppose to put her chair. Alex nearly jumped out of his skin and tried to leave. But with the encouragement from another man with a headset on, he sat back down. "You did not tell me it would be here." He said angrily.

Even though Alex was a short fat man, the little mermaid was quite small next to him. And the camera shots that were being used on the air made that fact evident.

"Calm down Mr. Fairbank, we just want the truth. We need to hear both sides if we are going to find the truth. You are not afraid of the truth are you?" Terry quizzed the sweating man.

"No! Of course not, Just keep it away from me. OK!"

"Now, your Highness. Can you tell us what happened in the video we saw?" Terry smiled at the girl and Alex squirmed.

"Thank you Mr. Richard for the opportunity to tell you and your viewers what Mr. Fairbank is about. And please I am just Ariel." The mermaidís magic was working overtime on Terry and his audience. I could tell she had them eating out of her had, I was not needed so I just faded into the background and marveled at the power of her charm.

"Of course Ariel if you call me Terry."

"It all started . . ." Ariel told her story from the first time she was kidnapped to the more recent violence at Alexís privet aquarium. All the time Alex shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

"I collect exotic sea creatures. Whatís wrong with that?" Alex defended. The audience booed and he got up from his chair to leave again but was persuaded to set back down. "What about itís power, the Trident has power that can destroy!" he shouted. This brought some murmuring in the studio audience.

"What about that, is there any truth to Alexís clam of a power that can destroy? We will answer that question and other when we return." Music played and one of the men with a headset on yelled, "We are clear for two minutes."

A lot of people scurried about the set doing what ever their job were to get ready for the next segment. In the middle of all this activity Alex was trying to complain to Terry or any staff member about being tricked. But no one paid him any mind and went about their business.

When next the 5..4..3..counted us down to live TV. Terry asked. "What about it, Ariel is there any truth to what Mr. Fairbank says about your Trident?"

"Yes, there is more to the Trident then just a symbol." the audience gasped.

By this time I was back along side my wife, so when she asked "Roy, please hand my the Trident." I was right on cue but fumbled it almost dropping it, making the audience laugh.

The audience was getting fidgety over what might happen and Alex was about to clime the wall. The audience gasped when they saw the girl in the wheelchair point the alleged weapon at herself. Even in the bright light of a TV studio, the transforming blue light caused most to blink or turn their eyes away. When next the cameras could see the girl she was standing bear foot and beautiful in front of the wheelchair.

"Wow!" said Terry, the audience "Oooed and awed" and Alex said "See I told you!"

"Mr. Fairbank, do you really call this dangerous?" asked Terry.

"It can do more, I saw it. It is a dangerous weapon!"

"How about it, Ariel. Can the Trident do any thing else?"

"Oh yes! Can I demonstrate some of the things it can do?"

"By all means!" said Terry. Then as per rehearsal a curtain was raised, reveling a glass tank of water and a volunteer, wearing a towel, in the water that was waist high. Ariel walked to the side of the tank pointed her Trident at the man.

"This is what I did to Mr. Fairbank and the others that kidnapped us!" After the blue flash there was a merman swimming in the clear water.

The audience gasped and a rumble of disapproval came from the group. "See! It is dangerous." Said Alex.

"Wait there is more!" said our host.

After about a minute the volunteer changed back to a human with out the Tridentís help. "I changed Mr. Fairbank and the others to mermen for three days. To teach him that we are not that different then humans." Then Ariel asked the volunteer. "Do you feel any different from the transformation?"

He replied "No, it was wonderful. Can you do it again, for a longer time?" the audience laughed.

"It can do more!" shouted Alex.

"Thatís true!" said the girl. Another man came out with a club and swung it at her. But before the blow could land, the Trident glowed and the club glanced off itís shield. "The shield can stop harpoons, arrows and bullets as well, but itís not safe to demonstrate that here." Ariel explained.

"It can do more, I have seen it. She is not showing you everything!" roared Alex.

"Thank you Mr. Fairbank, thatís the first time you referred to me as something other than Ďití. But we will never be friends till you call me Ariel." The audience roared in laughter and Alex got up from his chair to leave again. "But he is correct, there is still more I can do with my Trident." The girl pointed it at Alexís chair and it slid across the floor to where he was standing.

"See I am right!" said the fat man as he sat down.

"How is all this done? Is it some kind of magic?" asked Terry.

"What you call technology is magic to me. Can you understand what I thought when I saw you humans fly? Even here in this television studio, I do not understand how people all over the land can see me. So if you want to think the Trident is magic, I have no other explanation. But I hope you all took note that the things I did were all defensive or transforming."

"I see, itís used only in defense. But how do you work it?" asked our host.

"I know of no other reason of using it, but for defense or transforming me. Iím sorry I canít explain how It works, It just does." she shyly bit her lip.

"We have another supprise for Mr. Fairbank when we come back from these messages." The music played off and Alex got up and left. When we were back live again Terry said. "Welcome back, we have lost Mr. Fairbank. But we do not need him to show the video we got from a former employee of Mr. Fairbank. This video shows what really happened that day at his privet islandís aquarium."

On the monitors around the studio we saw the whole video. Including everything that happened from the time Alex, Lee and the two pirates entered the room to Ariel changing them to mermen. There was no sound on the surveillance tape but it was obvious to everyone who the dangerous ones were.

When Ariel and I went back stage, a man followed us with a hand held camera. The police had Alex Fairbank in handcuffs one of the officers asked me. "Mr. Stanton, do you want to press charges against this man?"

Before I could answer, Ariel pulled on my arm and whispered in my ear. With the cameras watching and Arielís wireless microphone still on, I said "No officer, not at this time." Then to Alex I said. "If you or Lee or any other of your men ever bother my wife or any other mermaids or myself. I will do what ever it takes to put you away for as long as I can. Do I make myself clear?"

Then the police officer asked the same question of Ariel. She responded. "No, I do not!" Then looking at Alex with a cute smile that faded into a look of determination, she added. "If you ever bother me, my husband or any Atlantican. You have no idea of the wrath a mermaid has or what she is capable of doing!"


Chapter 23

Key West

Ship's log The Fowl Wind II: "Date September 12, 1991. Time 1700 hours local. Wind is out of the East at ten knots, skies are mostly cloudy, temperature is 94 and the pressure is 1010 millibars. I am just 2 miles from the harbor at Key West, our next stop for Atlanticaís PR campaign. Ariel is in the water to do some exploring and get the lay of the waters around the island. We are scheduled to meet at Mallory Square during the sun set festivities that occur on the pier every day. Roy D. Stanton, Captain."

After the Fowl Wind II was tied up to the visitors dock at Garrison Bright Marina and checking in with the harbormaster. I walked to a store to stock up on supplies. That chore done I went to Mallory Square via a hotel at the end of Duval Street to get us a room. When I arrived at the dock the usual entertainers and venders were just arriving and setting up. I laid clam to a short section of a low wall that runs along the length of the dock about four feet from the edge to the water that is about ten feet down.

It was an hour till Ariel was to arrive. So I sat down and watched the show unfold before me. There was a man with a 10-foot snake for tourist to have their picture taken with. A contortionist that stuffs himself into a box 24 inches square. A girl, playing a guitar and singing. Another man with cats that do circus type acts. Still another man with a table of crystal glasses of various sizes filed with water to a level that made a musical note when the rim is rubbed with a fingertip. And a dozen other men and women with tables selling jewelry, posters and trinkets.

The man that played the glasses started by playing a song from Ariel CD. I went over to him and asked. "Do you take requests?"

He replied. "Yes, I do!" and he pushed a glass with some money in it, towards me.

I dropped in a twenty and he agreed to play a curtain tune when I give him a signal.

The Mallory Square dock is on the West Side of Key West, with two smaller keys to the West that the sun sets behind. The channel between the small islands and the bigger one is vary calm where a lot of small boats parade back and forth. Plus 120-foot schooners that are part of a harbor cruse sail by, making a beautiful sight for a sailor. I was really enjoying the sights and sounds as the tourists gathered to be entertained and shop. When one asked me. "What are you doing, with a blanket on the wall?"

"I'm going to fish!" I told him.

"Youíre not aloud to fish here!" he replied.

It was now time, so I walked to the edge of the pier and said. "I donít think anyone will mind if I fish for what I am fishing for." I pulled out my conch shell, an appropriate device sense Key West is known as the ĎConch Republicí, and my little flashlight. Blowing into the shell horn made a loud honk. Then I shined my light at the water for 30 seconds. "What kind of fish are you trying to catch?" asked the tourist.

Placing my light in my pocket and handing the shell to the man. "Youíll see!" I replied and held out my arms. A beautiful mermaid with red hair and green tail leapt from the sea right into my arms. Her leap was just right so her momentum was just right for me to turn it towards the wall with the blanket on it. Where I set her down facing the crowd.

"Hello humans!" she said with a sweet smile. The crowd ooed and awed, then most came and jammed in around her. The man I had handed the shell to started to blow on it making a squeaking raspy sound and he held out his arms like I had. At which everyone laughed.

As the sun went down behind the small key to the west and the butter milk sky turned yellow then the hue shifted through purple to a deep red. But no one noticed the beauty over head, as the line of people filed by the beauty sitting on the wall to have pictures taken autographs signed, or just to speak with someone from another world.

All was not so smooth. A tall thin gaunt man in a black suit stood on the wall 15 feet away for Ariel and started to shout. "Fellow citizens of the human race, stay away from this freak from the deep. She is the sister of evil!" Most just laughed, but some did move away.

I worked my way through the crowd, to a point where I could speak with the man. "Excuse me sir, but why do you think she is a bad thing?" I asked him.

He answered by preaching to the masses. "This creature is a witch, she beguiles men and turns them to do evil."

Because of the out spoken man the crowed became quite. Ariel heard him call her a witch. "Why do you call me a witch? You have no idea what a witch is like. I have known witches and know of their evil. I do not want to do any thing bad to anyone!"

"How can you say that?" I interjected. "All she has ever done is try to get us humans to take better care of the world we share with the other creatures. Our miss use of it has driven many other species to extinction and nearly destroyed her race. I think if anyone has done evil, its our race!" the crowd started to clap.

"She is the sister of the devil, a witch. Beware of this creature, she is evil." her repeated.

"Please sir, give me a chance. Lets talk about why you think I am bad." she pleaded with a tear running down her face.

"I donít want to be placed under her spell. She has the power to corrupt men."

"Surely your knowledge of her will keep you safe form her, or are you not sure of yourself?" I said. "And maybe you can free her from the evil you think she has!"

"I fear nothing unholy." bellowed the man and moved towards the mermaid.

"What is your name, sir?" I asked.

"I am Sam Goodly." he answered.

"Why do you think she is evil? I am married to her and I know she is as kind and gentle as any one could be." Ariel gave me a warm smile.

"A creature half human and half fish is not natural. She is ether a freak or the work of someone demented and evil, like a witch. The way she can change herself to the appearance of a human is more witch craft." said the thin man to the crowd that had gathered around him.

"So anyone that can do magic is a witch?" Ariel asked.

"Yes!" asserted the man.

"Then people like Hudini, are witches! Right?" I said.

"Thatís not the same, and you know it. They just have a highly developed skill." he beamed.

"What about when a primitive race sees you fly in a metal bird and have a box that makes music or pictures? Are you a witch then?" asked the girl.

"Of course not, you know thatís just technology."

"Then if a race has technology that you donít understand, that makes them a witch?" she challenged. The crowed all turned to the man in the black suit, in anticipation of his answer.

"Well no, but what kind of technology can change someone so completely and so fast if itís not witchcraft."

It was time to bluff again and Ariel pulled it off with a suppressing knowledge. "If I was to try to explain Quantum Physics to you would you under stand it?"

"No, but this is not physics, is it?"

"No, but itís something new to your world and is just as mysterious to someone that does not understand it. Why canít you judge me for what I do? Has anyone seen me do evil? No! I just uses magic for defense and change myself so I can move around in the world I am in at the time."

The man had no comeback he just got up and left. The crowd returned to the pretty mermaid and she continued to greet them.

It was time for me to give the signal to the man that plaid the glasses. The man began to play and Ariel recognized to melody and joined in and sang a Revised Version of "Part of your World". The tone from the crystals and the mermaidís voice made a harmony that brought the boardwalk of Mallory Square to a stop.

It was getting late and the people were not leaving Mallory Square. Ariel just bid everyone a good night and catapults her self from the wall into the sea. I walked around the street to the hotel where I picked up a robe from the pool area. Then out to the privet beach that is just a few steeps from the pool. When I stepped out on the beach Ariel slid out of the water onto the sand. "Hi sweetie!" I said and put the robe around her, then zapped her with my ring.

"Hi!" she said sweetly then stood. "That was fun despite the man in black."

"Yes!" I replied as we walked to our room, arm in arm. "You handled him vary well."


Chapter 24

A New Cause

Ships log The Fowl Wind II: "September 13, 1991 at 1020 hours local. Wind is coming from the Southeast, at 10 knots. Pressure is 1020 millibars and the skies are clear. NOAA Weather is calling for thunderstorms this afternoon. Left Key West marina at 1000 hours local next port is Deer Key for another stop on our PR campaign. Ariel is in the water and is enjoying the swim. I will have to stay alert as much of the waters around the Florida Keys are less then one fathom. Roy D. Stanton, Captain."

Returning to the cockpit I first checked the auto helm then went forward and sat on the bowsprit hinging my feet over both sides. From there I was directly over Ariel as she rode the wake from the boat pushing its way through the water. She is a beautiful sight with her long red hair flowing along her back and green tail doing a flick ever so often to adjust her position on the unseen wave. When she heard the noise my feet made hitting the water as the bow dug down into a wave, she rolled over onto her back and waved at me. Then she slid back down the side of the boat and with one powerful thrust she leapt up to the same height as the safety rail around the deck and said. "Hi honey!" then back in the water and returned to the free ride the Fowl Wind II gave her.

My fun had to come to an end, as Lower Harbor Keys were on our course and getting close. I had to get back to the cockpit and do some sailing.

Ariel jumped out of the water and onto the pad. "Whatís wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing serious, there is a group of small islands in our way and the water is getting shallower. Iíll have weave between them, unless you make a channel deep enough for me to sail through." I said and winked at her.

"No! That will hurt the corral. You are trying to be silly. Again!" she smirked.

Ariel sat on her pad and watched as I did the thing required to maneuvering the Fowl Wind II around the islands and not run her aground. As we sailed past Snipe Point, we saw that there were a dozen or so small pleasure craft at anchor. Some of the people enjoying a Saturday on their boats noticed us. They first pointed then got out their Ďbiggermajiggersí to look at the mermaid on the sailboat. After we pasts the anchorage I looked back and said. "Looks like we are going to get an escort!" and pointed at the flotilla of small boats trying to catch us.

"Oh my gosh! What do they want?"

"To see you Iíll bet!" She gave me another smirk.

"Why donít you go sit on the bow, they will love it!" she gave me still another smirk, each one was getting stronger. "Oh come on, it will be fun!" I insisted and let out the jib sheet to slow us down.

"OK, OK!" she said still smirking and slid into the water. A second later she jumped onto the bowsprit and had a sweet smile when the boats began to catch up with us.

The first to catch up, were the faster speedboats. As they approached they slowed to match our speed and moved in close. Close to the bow! "Are you Ariel?" asked a lady on a sleek low yellow cigarette boat. With her were a man and two children, a boy and a girl.

"Yes, I am. How are you folks this beautiful day." The beauty of the day was a matter of contention. By now it was cloudy and a crack of thunder accompanied the start of the after noon rain that is common in the Keys this time of year. But getting wet is of little concern to a mermaid.

"Can we take your picture?"

"Sure!"

As the rest of the fleet of boats begun to over take us, I swung the Fowl Wind II into an anchorage by Crane Key Mangroves. "We will stay here for the day, so everyone can meet you."

"OK, sweetheart." replied my living figurehead.

It started to pour while I was setting the anchor. Yet another powerboat came in, this one at a high rate of speed. A plum of red appeared in its wake. "Look out for the manatees!" I shouted at the reckless captain.

Ariel, realizing what had just happened and said. "Oh my gosh!" and dove into the water. After a few minutes she leapt onto the pad on the aft deck. "Get my Trident, hurry!" She cried.

Retrieving it from the cabin and handing it to the worried girl, I asked. "What happened? Will it be all right?"

"Yes! I think so." She replied. "But I have to hurry." and dove back into the water.

By now a large number of boats were in the anchorage with us and were all watching the rain freckled surface of the water. The crowed starred at the surface and the only sound was the rain rippling and was obscuring what was going on below the surface. The blue flash brought uneasiness to silence, in anticipation of the drama unfolding before us. "Iím sorry, I did not know there were manatees around here." Said the remorseful captain of the boat, whose prop sliced the back of the gentle sea giant.

"Tell that to the manatee." Ariel said after she surfaced and the healed Sea Cow with her calf, surfaced next to the mermaid. A collective sigh of relief swept over the group of sea fares.

"Tell her I am truly sorry, would you. Please." said the man.

"Why donít you tell her, your self?" suggested Ariel.

"I do not know how!" cried the man.

Ariel said something in the mammalís ear and as it moved closer to the boat, she said. "She likes lettuce or any green leafy vegetable."

He ran into his cabin, then returned with his arms loaded with food. That he dropped into the sea next to the giant sea cow. As she munched the food, Ariel added. "She likes to be patted, too" The man leaned over the side of his boat and stroked the scared back of the huge beast.

"She likes it!" giggled the man.

Ariel returned to my boat and leapt onto the bowsprit. "People, look at this creature. She is but one of many that lives in the sea that has been abused by you humans. Look at her back, the scares she has are many, only three cuts on her are from this encounter with your boats. Manatees are slow as are a lot of others that live in the sea. You run them over with out a thought of who you are hurting. What would have happened to her calf if she had died in this incident? We of the sea only ask for you to be careful and act like you would want us to act if invite into your homes." Tears streamed down her face as she finished her lecture.

The captain of the boat that hit the manatee replied. "I have learned my lesson. I promise you, Princess of the sea, that I will be responsible to the sea." Ariel gave him a nod and then slipped back into the sea.

Every one started asking. "Where is she going, we want to talk with her and get her picture?"

"She is a vary sad mermaid right now. But if you stay, she will come back. If you stay the night, I am sure you will be in for a treat." I explained.

Some of the boats headed out to get some supplies, vary slowly I might add. Others settled in for the night in the cramped space of the anchorage. By tying their boats together to form large communes to share there resources and conserve space for other boats that are sure to come.

As night approached the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. The setting sun with the aid of the scattered clouds gave a spectacular color display, that Harold the glory of the full moon rise. Later when the moon was high in the clear Eastern sky and everyone had settled in for the night, my promise came true.

From a small clump of mangrove trees struggling against the sea to root and form a new key, Arielís voice came through loud and clear. Her first songs were sad and melancholy, as she sang about the hard ships of living in the sea. But soon her songs gave way to her exuberant lust for life and adventure, as she sings of love, life and adventure. She made me blush to myself as she sang of our love. After she got it out of her system she just sang "Ahs" for another hour. The tightly packed group of small pleasure boats was vary quite the whole time she sang.

It was 0100 hours before she returned to our boat. She entered our cabin quietly and did not say a thing so not to wake me. She just dried herself and then slipped into bed. I did not say anything either I just put my arm around her, kissed her neck and she sighed. We both fell asleep.

Next morning, Ariel was in a better mood and greeted everyone with a warm smile when they came to our boat. Latter she beamed with delight as the other sailors left at slow speeds and with one of their members at the bow to watch for manatees. "They listened to me!" she said with a big grin.

Ships log The Fowl Wind II: September 14, 1991 0900 hours local. Course 90 degrees, pressure is 1011 millibars, temperature 89. The shallow water is making me nervous so I am going to head south through Pine Channel to the deeper waters of the Atlantic. It looks like Ariel has a new cause and plans to champion the plight of the Manatees. Roy D. Stanton, Caption.

We continued our course of 90 degrees till we made it through the tricky and tight channel between Big Torch Key and Water Keys. Then turned to 150 degrees, to head for the Pine channel. I had to watch the depth sounder to stay in the narrow, deeper water of two to three Fathoms. That is 12 to 18 feet.

We had sailed, making many tacks, for a few hours before we passed Middle Torch Key. Ariel was sitting on the bowsprit, looking through the Ďbiggermajiggersí when she shouted. "Look, people have dolphins trapped in that lagoon." Pointing the direction.

"I see, lets stop and investigate." I said and pulled the Fowl Wind II into the anchorage between Big Pine Key and Middle Torch Key, where Newfoundland Key gave us good shelter from the sea. We set the anchors and secured the boat and swam off to where we had seen the dolphins with some people.

Swimming into the lagoon we were surprised to see that there was nothing keeping the dolphins from swimming out to sea. They were free to come and go as they please. The lagoon was busy with about 20 people and a dozen dolphins. The water was only three to five feet deep and the clarity was poor from sand being kicked up and algae in suspension. Ariel and I surfaced next to a young couple that was trying to entice one of the mammals to come to them.

"Hi!" we said to the couple.

"Hello, how are you?" Replied the man as the woman kept talking to the dolphin. "Come on baby, it's OK!" she said.

"Whatís going on here?" I asked.

"We are trying to make fiends with this new fish to the lagoon." He replied, then asked. "You just get here?"

"Yes, we saw what looked like captured dolphins and we wanted to see why. I am pleased to see that they are free to leave if they wish." said Ariel.

"Oh, I did not think this place could be seen from the road and that explains why we did not see you here yesterday. Hmm! Thatís funny, Iím a clerk here and I didnít think we had any reservation for today."

"No, we did not come in by car." I said. "We came in the same way as the dolphins."

"You did, you are not allowed to bring water craft into the lagoon."

"We swam in!"

"Wow! Thatís a long swim from out there, you two must be vary good swimmers. This is a privet lagoon and is for use by our guests only. Iím sorry, but you will have to check in or leave."

"Yes, you might say we are good swimmers." giggled Ariel "OK, well leave sense the dolphins are not kept here agents their will. By the way they are not fish they are mammals. I'll tell him you are not going to hurt him and just want to play, then we will leave."

The couple had a confused look on their faces as Ariel dropped below the surface. They were even more confused when next we saw her she was talking to the dolphin.

"Wow she is a good swimmer, she must have been under water for at least two minutes." Said the man. I just grinned because the two had not seen our tails do to the murky water.

Ariel returned with the dolphin that was now quite friendly. "How did you do that?" asked the woman.

"I just told him you would not hurt him and just wanted to play. Dolphins love to play."

"Huh!"

"Bye now, it was nice meeting you." I said. We dove under letting our tails breach the surface.

"Bye! . . . Hay! . . . Come back. Please come back." We heard the man shouting after us.

We returned to the surface to see what he wanted, but we knew. "Yes, we are going as you requested."

"No, wait, you donít have to leave. Iím sure the management will welcome you two." said the excited man.

The woman said to Ariel. "I have seen you on TV, I never thought I would get to meet you. You are even more beautiful in real life."

"Thank you." blushed Ariel. "You are vary beautiful too. I love you swim suit." By now all the other people in the lagoon had came over to where we were.

"Thanks." Said the woman. "Yours . . . uh . . . well the top is vary nice too."

The mermaid giggled. "Yes. I have a lot of two peace bottoms that I don't need. The stores won't sell me just the tops, they are so much nicer then the shells I use to wear."

While the girls were talking the clerk went to get his boss. A few minutes latter he returned with a man who stayed on the beach while the clerk came back to where we were. "My boss wants to speak with you."

We swam over to where he was and slid on to the sand and the others sat down on the beach with us. We all introduced our selves, the boss was Bill Couch, the clerk was Andy Long, and the woman was Sue Hastings. Bill had a proposal for us. "I would like to hire you to stay here at 'Swim with the dolphins Resort' and become part of the attraction. I will pay you vary well." He said.

Ariel looked at me and smirked. "Yes, I agree. He is just like Alex, except he will pay us to be in his aquarium." I said.

"No, it's not like that you can leave anytime you want, just like the dolphins. They come here because they want too. I hoped the pay would make you want to too."

"No thanks, we have more important things to do, then entertain people. We have to teach everyone, not just the folks that come here, to be nice to the sea and all the creatures that live in it. That means not polluting the water, and not running over them in your boats. You do help by letting people and dolphins learn more about each other, but we need to reach more then the few that visit this place." Explained Ariel.

After a few hours with the people and dolphins in the lagoon, we waved good bye and headed back to our boat.

Back underway Ariel said. "Letís stay close to the islands so we can see what the humans are doing at each one."

"Itís awful shallow staying that close. I donít want to run the Fowl Wind aground, that would be vary embarrassing."

"I will watch for you, just fallow me. I will jump into the air where it is safe for the boat."

"OK, she needs at least one fathom of water, that is six feet."

I steered the Fowl Wind II as close to the over seas highway as possible. Pointing the bow at Arielís foam after each jump. But just to play it safe I kept an eye on the depth sounder too. It kept beeping to warn me of dangerously shallow water.

An hour had passed when Ariel jumped onto the aft deck pad. "What are they doing?" Asked the curious mermaid, pointing to Ohio Key where there were a number of campers on a beach campground.

Anchoring the Fowl Wind II under US 1 (The Over Seas Highway, the road that connects the Florida Keys to the main land. One of the bridges is as long as 7 miles) and packed some clothes into a bag and swam off to the camping beach of Ohio Key.

About 50 yards from the sand we zapped our selves, put on the shorts and shirts we had it the bag and walked onto the beach. Ariel was excited to see the variety of camping rigs that people had. Everything from a small van conversion to a 40-foot diesel pusher bus conversion.

Walking along, we passed an older couple sitting on their beach chairs under the awning of a 30 foot Winabago, watching the sun cast long late after noon shadows across the bay. "Good afternoon!" said the man.

"Hello!" We replied in unison.

"You folks just get here?" Asked the lady.

"Yes so we are taking a look around." Replied Ariel.

"We come here every year!" said the man. "Would you like to have something to drink, with us?" Asked the lady.

"That is vary kind, we would be delighted to join you." I replied.

The lady got up and went into the motor home, Ariel followed her and said "Can I help you?"

After the ladies were inside the man said. "That is one beautiful lady you have. And that red hair! Iíll bet itís as red as that mermaidís hair we have seen on TV. Is it real?"

 

Before I could answer, Ariel called from inside the motor home. "Roy come in here, you have to see this."

The man got up form his seat and gave me the come on sign. "Letís go see what the women want, besides itís cooler inside."

The inside of behemoth of the road was like a palace, from the plush carpet to the unique lighting in the ceiling. "Feel how cool it is in here!" Exclaimed Ariel.

"Thatís air conditioning honey."

The lady said. "Eric, do you know who this is?"

The man replied. "No, we have not introduced our selves yet." He put his arm around his wife and added. "Iím Eric and this is the love of my life, Ariel."

Arielís (my Ariel) mouth flopped open. She now had the famous Roy Stanton look. The older looking Ariel elbowed her Eric and said. "This is Ariel, Princess Ariel! ... The mermaid!" Now we all were staring at one another with our mouths hanging open.

"OK!" Ariel said (my Ariel). "Somebody say something."

"What are the odds of that?" I asked.

The four of us talked for hours before we had to return to our boat. It was no problem swimming back to the Fowl Wind even though it was a dark moonless night. We could see itís anchor lights from the beach in front of Ariel and Ericís motorhome.

 
 
 

More to come!

Disclaimer: Ariel and other Character in this fiction are the sole property of the Disney Corp. This work was done for my own enjoyment and hopefully other fans of The Little Mermaid. I have no connection with Disney and have received no compensation of any type. Any similarities by the characters in this fiction too real people are purely coincidental. The background is from Max's page and was dwawn by, Christel Scheja and Alf the Merking.

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