"Ariel and I" Short Strory

Ariel and I

By Dan Saltzman

Caution: Portions of this story may be too intense for the young. Parental discretion advised.

Note: It is advised that you read "Ariel and the Queen's Trident" by David Copland before reading this story.

Last up date Dec. 6, 2000

Preface: This fiction is based on the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid". In the movie Ariel signed a contract with the Sea Witch that had the words "For all Eternity" on it. Also in the TV series episode "Red" there is a Sorceress that was trapped in a cave by King Triton a "centuries ago" With these facts I conclude that merpeople live a long time. I also take some liberty and base some other facts on the work of David Copland's "Ariel and the Queen's Trident" and Doug Webb's beautiful stories. With this in mind, let the adventure begin.

Chapter 1

The Meeting

The Fowl Wind Ship's log: "November 16, 1989: two hours out of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The wind is out of the East Southeast at nine knots. The course is 173 degrees. The skies are mostly clear with a pressure of 1020 millibars. The seas are calm with one to two foot swells from the East. NOAA Weather reports a tropical depression 800 miles to the Southeast and moving to the Northwest at 12 knots. It's late in the season for storms like this but I will need to keep tabs on it anyway. Roy D. Stanton, Captain." So ended my first log entry of this sailing vacation trip. This was not my first sailing trip in the Caribbean, but was my first alone.

It was not planned to be a one-man trip there were to be four of us, Scott, Lee, Jim and myself. We were going on an island hopping, scuba diving, and male bonding two-week sailing vacation. The others, at the last minute, pulled out for various reasons. My boat was still available from charter where I keep it for the other 50 weeks of the year. So with my plans set and some itinerary changes, I set off alone.

The Fowl Wind is a 51-foot sloop with three cabins, a salon, one head and a galley. She is rigged so that one man can sail her easily. She has roller furling on the jib and main sails, with power winches, power windless, and an auto helm that is tied into the G.P.S. satellite navigation system. She has all the communication one could want, with two marine radios, VHF and HF amateur radios and a DBS TV system. She also has radar and a 90 horse diesel engine with a reverse osmosis water purification system, air compressor, electric power generator and refrigeration pump. The only problem sailing alone would be standing the watches needed on long trips. But I had changed my itinerary to make calls at islands that are close enough to sail between in one day. With the automation this boat has, it can do the anchor watch on its own!

Anchoring at my first stop, Saint James Island, in a small cove with three other sailboats well before dusk. Dinner and clean up done, it was time to check into the Seafarer's net on 20 meters. (A net in one of the amateur radio bands, for sailors around the world to keep in touch with home and each other). Then I talked with Lee, one of my friends that was unable to come on this trip. By the time I had finish my hamming, log update and cleaning up, the sun was setting. There was nothing left for me to do but lie on the fore deck with a tall ice tea and watch the sky turn orange then do a hue shift to a brilliant red then slowly darken as the stars begin their show. By the time the sky had lost all traces of day it was 2200 hours. Since the next island on my schedule would take a full day of sailing, I decided to turn in to get an early start.

At sunrise the next morning, Saint James Island was a small dot in the Fowl Windís wake. She was heeled over to starboard under full sail and doing a brisk eight knots, and breakfast was sliding on the table to her motion. The auto helm was holding the course to the next island as I cleaned up after breakfast. The next chore was to run the engine to fill the drinking water tank, chill the refrigerator and heat some water for a shower. Checking NOAA Weather showed the tropical depression was now a storm named Daniel and about 655 miles away. There was a beep from the radar. The radar was keeping watch for any other vessels that may be in my area. Pushing the reset button on the radar's control panel silenced the alarm and a trip to the cockpit revealed the cause for the alarm. There was another sailboat about 6 miles off the port side, heading north. Picking up the microphone and setting the marine VHF radio to channel 16, I said "The Fowl Wind to the ketch off Saint James Island." After a 10-sec. wait a voice said, "The Fair Sea Jammer here, where are you bound for, Fowl Wind?"

"Iím heading for Norman Island, and you?"

"We left Saint Croix two days ago and our next port is Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The weather is excellent, but watch for a wind shift as you head East. Have a fine sail!"

"Thanks for the info, I left St. Thomas yesterday. Watch out for the regatta that is going on just East of the harbor! Fowl Wind out."

"Thanks for that, The Fair Sea Jammer out."

At 1325 hours the wind did shift. It was now coming from 80 degrees, which was my course to Norman Island. The sails luffed and the boat came to a stop. In order for the Fowl Wind to proceed we would have to fall off course by 20 to 30 degrees to a starboard tack, then every hour or so I would have to change to the other tack. This would mean a zigzag course to Norman Island, making it a lot farther then the straight course we were using. Making a quick calculation of how long it would now take to get to today's destination, shown it would be at lest 2100 hours before arriving.

Checking the charts revealed a small atoll only a three hours sail away, but an extra 16 miles out of my way. Making anchorage in daylight is easier and safer then in the dark. Setting the longitude and latitude of the atoll into the auto helm brought the Fowl Wind around to the new course. Letting out the jib and main sail sheets to adjust for the new point of sail made the sails pop as they filled with the wind and the boat picked up speed again.

Approaching the atoll, I could see the reef around a small island of volcanic rock and there were no other boats around. The chart showed a channel on the north side of the atoll deep enough for the boat to slip through. I started the engine and released the main and jib sheets and pulled the lines that rolled up the sails. Motoring at about three knots, The Fowl Wind slid into a small lagoon with a sandy beach on the West Side, the lee of the island. It was well protected but I set both the bow and stern anchors to insure that my boat would stay in one spot, and not drift onto the beach if the wind shifted again.

After everything was secure, and Daniel's position checked, there was still enough time for me to look around. The small island was heavily over grown with palm trees and bushes. This indicated that there might be water on the island. It was small enough that I thought I might be able to row my dinghy around it in what remained of the day.

Because it is not safe to scuba dive alone I used the air tank to inflate the rubber raft. Taking a small hand held VHF radio and some water, just in case, I set out to circle the island.

Rounding the islandís Southern point revealed another beach. There was a small lagoon just on the other side of the beach with a waterfall. The waterfall looked like it had dried up a day or two ago. There were green moss and a glisten on the rocks. But there was no water flowing now.

Approaching the beach brought in to view something on the sand. It looked like a body with what looked like seaweed next to it. I pulled my raft onto the sand and ran over to where I had seen the body. It was a girl. What I though was seaweed, turned out to be a mermaid costume she was wearing. "Why would a girl wearing a mermaid costume be out in the middle of nowhere, alone?" I asked myself. "If she was from a movie production there would be a lot of boats around. If she is a missing person then there would be a lot of chatter from search and rescue on the marine radios". Looking around, there was no craft to be seen and my radio was silent.

She was laying face down, her long red hair spread out across the sand. I knelt down next to her, rolled her over and cradled her head in my arm Then brushed her hair from her eyes and dusted the sand from her face with my fingers revealing something else "Youíre beautiful!" I said out loud. She looked to be about mid 20's, fair skin and vary shapely. She was breathing and had a strong pulse but was unconscious and looked dehydrated. Giving her some water from my bottle caused her to cough, spraying me in the face, then she swallowed some down. Remembering my first aid, looking for injuries was the next thing to do. "Hope you have something on under this costume, I donít want to embarrass either of us!" Rolling her first one way then the other looking for a zipper or some way to remove the tail revealed no fasteners. I tried to grip the costume to pull it off. Realization hit me! "My god" I said in shock and jumping back, almost dropping the girl. "Youíre a real mermaid!"

Graphic By Lisette LaSalle

Her eyes started to open. Putting some water in my hand I wash her face to cool her then gave her more to drink. She took the bottle with both hands and drank most of it before she tried to see who was helping her.

"Slow down, don't drink so fast."

When her eyes focused on me, she gave out a startled "Oh my gosh!"

Dropping the water bottle and tucking her arms close to her body, she rolled out of my arms, down the beach and into the water. She swam away faster then anyone I have ever seen but stopped short at 100 feet from the shoreline. She turned to look back at me rose up high in the water, waved and shouted back to me. "Thank you!" and with a flick of her tail, she was gone. I just sat there on the sand. My jaw must have been down to the sand as well. It took at lest five minutes before movement returned to my body.

Giving up my quest to circle the island, I went back to my boat. "I better write this down before I forget any details." I told myself. "And get my cameras out and ready, in case she comes back." I fired up the engine to use the air compressor to fill my scuba tanks. It would be worth the risk of diving alone just to take a picture of a mermaid. "No way is anybody going to believe my story without pictures."

Ship's log: "November 17, 1989: I met a girl this afternoon. She was quite unusual to say the least..."

My preparations done. I settled in to watch for signs of the mermaidís return and was too excited to make myself dinner or remember to check into the maritime net on 20 meters. My thoughts were about my friends that were all too busy or otherwise tied up to come on this trip. How would I tell them of what I saw? ...Did I see what I thought I saw? . . . Or . . . Was I beginning to doubt my own memory of this dayís event? After all mermaids are a myth, . . . right?

The days are hot in these tropical latitudes even in this time of the year. Keeping water handy and drinking often is a good safety precaution. Therefore, having a fresh sports bottle of water on deck with me is part of my routine. As I started my evening check of the boat, I set the bottle down in a cup holder on the stern rail before going forward. While checking the bow anchor line, the boat gave an unexpected rock. This was followed by a splash sound from the stern. Nearly killing myself by tripping over the main sail halyard in my rush to get back to the cockpit to investigate. Looking over the stern rail reveled nothing but a growing ring pattern in the water. "The water bottle, it's gone," I said out loud, raising my voice I added "that's a fine how-do-you-do for saving your life." I was glad that it was gone, it proved that I had not imagined what I saw this afternoon.

Later, I unrolled a sleeping bag in the Fowl Windís cockpit too keep an eye out for the mermaid, besides I was too excited to sleep in the cabin. It wasnít till after midnight that sleep came to me. Just to be awakened again, at 0100 hours, by a distant sound. It was someone singing, far away. Sitting up and strained to hear the direction, indicated it was coming from around the point where I found the mermaid the day before. Lying down to listen, "her voice, itís wonderful," I thought and also thought of the old sailing stories about the songs of the sirens, and how they lured sailors to their doom. I had no idea how this day's events were about to change my life.

Chapter 2

Getting Acquainted

The sun had been up for hours before its warmth woke me. Too my surprise an empty water bottle was on the stern rail, not two feet from my head. "Well" I said "are you still thirsty?" I refilled the bottle and set it back in the cup holder on the rail. From the cabinís breakfast table I kept an eye on the bottle and a hand on the camera. Nothing happened! After cleaning up my breakfast mess, I put on my scuba equipment and raised the diver down flag. I was going to chance diving without a buddy. After all, I'm not really alone anymore.

For about an hour I swam around and saw only the usual fish and a big old turtle. When my air was getting low, I returned to the boat. The water bottle was still there. Sadly I picked it up . . . It was empty!

Firing up the engine to refill the scuba tanks with air, at the same time using the water purification system to refill the Fowl Windís water tank and all the sport water bottles on board. By hooking a hose to the galley sink and running it to the cockpit to fill the bottles, allowed me to stay out on the deck. When about half of the bottles were filled a voice from behind me said. "Excuse me, how do you do that?" Startled I spun around, causing me to spill a water bottle in my lap, and drop the hose on the deck. "W..wh..what?" I stuttered. There she was, looking at me over the kick rail and giggling.

She had the most beautiful face I had ever seen. Just her face and hands were above the rail. Her long red hair was gently blowing in the midday breeze and she had a beautiful smile. I must have looked and sounded like an idiot. I had spilled water all over my shorts, and was trying to regain control of the hose before it flooded the cockpit.

"How do you do that?" she repeated

"Do what? .... Ah!" I gasped after picking up the hose just to get myself soaked from it, again.

"Make fresh water from the sea!" She giggled.

"Oh . . . reverse osmoses!" I exclaimed, while pinching off the hose.

" Reverse what?" said the lovely face peering over the rail of my boat.

"Would you like me to show you?" I hoped. I was trying to think of what to say to keep her here and talking.

"Would you like to come aboard, it must be hard for you to hold yourself up that way." I said in the gentlest voice I could muster while shaking like a leaf inside.

"I . . . don't think that's a good idea" she replied, and dropped back into the water.

"Wait!" I shouted, "Who are you? What's your name? Where did you come from? Come back!" She was gone. And I didn't get a picture!

I quickly shut off the motor, put on the scuba equipment and jumped into the water. Swimming around looking for the mermaid, I was so excited that I didn't watch the time or my air. The next thing I knew I was in trouble, no more air and 60 feet down. There wasn't enough air left to inflate my flotation vest. While struggled to unbuckle my weight belt and swim to the surface, something grabbed me from behind. A second later I broke surface and was dragged to the shore as I struggled to stay conscious.

The next thing I knew I was on the beach of the lagoon where the boat was anchored, gasping to regain my breath. Next to me, well about 10 feet away, was the mermaid. She had two purple seashells on a strap covering her chest and a gold chain with a blue stone hanging from it around her neck. Her tail was green with scales that danced with the sunlight, like mother of pearl. Her fins were also a light green and looked as delicate as gossamer. But the red hair and big blue eyes, were the icing on this cake of feminine beauty. She was lying on the sand between the water and me propping her self up with one arm.

"I guess we are even now. Thanks!"

"You are welcome, . . . Ariel!" Replied the mermaid, with a smile that was like the sunshine.

"Aerial, what aerial?" I asked. For an aerial to me was what a radio or TV antenna was sometimes called.

"You wanted to know my name, It's Ariel, and I am what you see." She replied and flipped some sand with her tail.

"Oh! ...WOW! ...Yes! But...where did you come from? ...I mean . . . I can see the sea. I mean how long have you...." I was confused and had so many questions that I was not making much sense. "Let me start over. Hi! My name is Roy!" What a dweeb I sounded like.

"I am sorry Roy, I must have given you such a shock. We normally don't let humans see us." Explained the mermaid.

"But it was a most pleasant shock . . . We? How many mermaids are there?" I asked.

"There are hundreds of thousands of merpeople all over the world. But I don't know for how long, because fresh water is getting harder to find. That's why I was here. The waterfall on this island has been a water supply for us, but now it's gone. I was waiting to see if it would come back when the heat got to me. It was my last hope." She explained, with a sad look in her eyes. "Until you came along!" The smile was back.

"Then you need fresh, not sea water? And, let me guess. Your fresh water sources are getting polluted?" I asked.

"If pol-lut-ed means that it makes us sick? Then yes!" She replied sadly. "That's why I wanted to know how your machine made fresh water." There was a puzzled look on her face.

"I'll be glad to show you how it works, but we have to go back to my boat" I suggested.

"I don't know if that's a good idea" She said and gave me a smirk.

I could see she did not trust me. But there was a look of curiosity in her eyes too. I had to convince her to trust me, but how?

"I can understand your distrust. Itís because my race is responsible for the water going bad. But, if you will come out to the boat I can show you how I make fresh water from the sea. You can stay on deck where you can jump back into the water if you feel unsafe. I promise, you will be safe and I do want to help you." I said in a concerned voice.

Her eyes studied mine. "All right!" She replied after some thought. "Lets go."

It made me fill like a dunce sitting on the sand, watching Ariel struggle to the surf by wiggling her way down the beach. But my six-foot frame might frighten her more if I should stand to help her. After she was in her element, I stood and entered the lagoon and swam to my boat and questioned to myself. "How did this little mermaid pull me out of the water with all my scuba equipment on?"

Ariel was there in a flash but it took me 5 minutes to swim the same distance. I always thought of myself as a good swimmer but now after see a mermaid swim I felt as awkward in the water as she must have felt on land.

Upon reaching the boat I climbed up the stern ladder, and started to remove my scuba equipment. There was an explosion of water on the starboard side as Ariel leaped from the sea and on to the cabin roof of my boat. Pulling up some cushions from the seats around the cockpit, I offered them to the girl.

"Make yourself comfortable. The deck must be harsh on your delicate tail and I'll get you something to drink."

"Thanks." She replied with an unsure smile. "Make mine water, please."

I went down into the Fowl Wind's galley and got out two glasses and put some ice in each, because the afternoon sun was getting hot. I pulled out the small emergency water purifier from the life raft package. My camera was still on the chart table, "Later!" I thought. Returning top side the mermaid was sitting on the cushions with her tail tucked back, at the point that would be the knees on a human, to give her the support to set up right. Sitting down, not too close in fear that she might dive into the sea from fright, I held out the glasses. "Hold these please."

Ariel took the glasses and had a confused look on her face. "What is this in the glasses?" She asked.

"It's ice, you know frozen water."

"Oh my gosh! ...You can make ice too? What a wondrous machine you have." She said, wide eyed.

"Yes," I replied, hoping to impress her. "I'll show you how that is done too. But first the water." As Ariel's eyes studied my every move. I opened the emergency water purification unit and removed the hoses from their storage place and attached them to their fittings. Then I dropped the inlet and reject hoses into the lagoon and handed the outlet hose to Ariel. Then inserting the handle into the side of the unit I started to pump. "Put the hose in the glass or you will get all wet! ... Huh! ... What a dumb thing to say to a mermaid."

Ariel put the hose in a glass and gave me a giggle and a smirk. Which changed to laughter and delight when the water began to flow.

When the glass was full, I said, "Let me demonstrate" and took the glass from her and drank it down.

"Would you like some?" I said and started to pump again.

Ariel filled her glass, and took a sip from it. "Why it's wonderful!" She said, with a grin that could melt an iceberg. "It's so cool and not a trace of salt. How is that done?"

I pulled the end off the unit, and removed the filter. "To make it simple, this filter is so fine that only the water can get through it. The pressure from the pump forces some water through the filter and out the fresh water hose. The rest of the water and the salt and other stuff that we don't want are sent back to the sea out this third hose. The boat has a larger system, that the motor pumps the sea water through and into a tank. So I have water whenever I want it even when the motor is not running. There is another pump on the motor that makes the inside of a box cold. So cold it can freeze water. That's how the ice was made." I explained in a slow and kind voice. "Would you like some more."

"Yes, please. Can you get me some of these machines, so my people can make their own water?"

"Well yes, but they are not cheep. I don't know how many I can afford to buy!" I exclaimed.

Setting her glass down, Ariel said, "Wait here!" Using her tail as a catapult, she sprang up and over the side of the boat, and made a perfect dive into the clear water of the lagoon. While waiting for Ariel to return, I put away my scuba equipment and the emergency water purifier. It was then that I notice my still unused camera.

An hour had passed before I herd a voice call "Roy!" from the stern of the boat. Looking over the rail was Ariel's face looking up at me from the water. "Please help me up." Both of her hands were out stretched for me to pull her up into the boat.

"It looks like you are starting to trust me." I said and reached down to grasp her hands and pulled her up. As she rose she put an arm around my neck, and I put mine under her tail and then around her back. "She didn't weigh more then a feather," I though while placing her on the cushions in the corner bench of the cockpit. She was now carrying a small sack over one shoulder. "Welcome back!" I said with a smile.

"I am going to have to trust someone if I am going to help my people get water. And besides mermaids have a sixth sense about people. I think it's working with you." Said the mermaid.

"Oh it's working, I can tell too!" I said with a big dumb grin.

Ariel blushed and started to say, "I have something for you that might help you get some ossamajiggers"

"Osmosis" I interrupted.

"Yes, water makers!" She continued. As she reached into her bag and began to pull out what can be described only as a small treasure. There were strings of pearls, gold coins and jewels. "Will this help you get the things we need?"

"Wow! Yea, I guess so!" I exclaimed and thought about the problems that comes with treasures. "But people will wonder where I got things like this. I will have to come up with a story of where I got this treasure. No one is going to believe a mermaid gave it to me. Besides no one uses treasure anymore to buy things. We use credit cards and sometimes paper money. I'll have to exchange this for money. It's going to be tricky." My mind was working on all the problems that treasure would cause.

"But you can do it, right?"

"Yes but it will take some time. How many water makers do you need?" I quizzed back.

"As many as you can get!" She replied.

"If you can get more treasure? I can set up a salvage company to explain why I have treasure. Then I can get you as many water makers as you want!"

"Can I get more?" Smirked the mermaid. "If you only knew! I'll get the treasure, you get the water makers." Then she added in a soft voice. "And you can't tell anyone about us. The humans would destroy our world."

"I understand, there are some of us that would want to put you under a microscope. I promise your secret is safe. But tell me how did you pulled me out of the water and on to the beach when I ran out of air today?"

"It wasn't hard to pull you to the surface, you are lighter when you are in the water. I had some help to pull you onto the sand though!" Explained the girl.

"Who helped you, I did not think anyone else was around?"

"By saying anyone you think in human terms let's just leave it at, I got some thing to help. OK?"

"OK! As you wish." Now I was even more puzzled.

By now it was starting to get dark. So I offered to fix us something to eat. Ariel explained that she is a vegetarian, and would not eat meat or fish. I offered to make us some salads and I had some bananas too. "Ooo!" She said, "I haven't had bananas in years. I accept your invitation".

While we were eating and just starting to get to know each other, a voice interrupted us from the cabin. "This is the Silver Shark, on channel 16. Any other cruisers around?" Ariel nearly jumped out of her scales.

"It's OK" I reassured her. "Itís only my radio!"

"What's this about a shark?" Asked Ariel, looking about the boat.

"It's the name of another boat, some distance away. His voice is coming from my radio!" I assured her.

"What's a radio?" She asked, biting her lip, still looking around for the shark.

"A radio is a way we can talk to other people over a distance!" I tried to explain.

I could see her curiosity was stirred by all this technology. She did have some knowledge of humans from along time ago, how long I did not yet know. I spent half the night showing this beautiful mermaid how all this hi tech stuff worked. Her curiosity peaked when I demonstrated how I was able to talk to other humans all over the world with the radio. But when I showed her TV, her eyes sparkled, it was magic to her. No matter how hard I tried to explain how it worked, it was still magic. The concept of satellites was hopeless. She asked questions like a child. What was electricity? a computer?, radar?, how can I make music with a small black box called a CD player etc. I no sooner answered one question she had three more.

Later, Ariel told me about her world. I was shocked when she told me that she was 195 years old. (Merpeople live a lot longer than humans) That she was married to a human once, hence her knowledge of humans. Even though she had been changed into human form, she still had the merpeople's longevity. After Eric died, that was her husbandís name, she returned to the sea, not wanting to give her love to another.

I quizzed Ariel on how all this magic was possible, to find out about the Tridents. Ariel's sister Aquata was now queen of the oceans. The Trident that was their fatherís is now Aquataís. "She uses it to make a shield over Atlantica, to prevent the human ships with soundamajiggers from finding our city." Said Ariel.

"Soundamajiggers? Oh you mean sonar!" I said "If Aquata is your sister, and your father was king before her, then your a Princess too." I added.

"Yes, and I have a Trident too!" Ariel said. "But mine is hidden away in Eric's castle, and I can't get it as a mermaid"

"Maybe I can get it for you, Princess. If you tell me where this castle is." I suggested.

"Just Ariel. Please." she requested.

We agreed that I would try to recover her Trident. We spent the entire night exchanging stories of our lives. To each, the other seemed to be a magical world. But the real magic was the spell this beautiful mermaid was casting over me, and the music that came from every word formed by her voice.

Even though I am a shy person it was easy even exciting to talk with this girl. She had an honest interest in what I had to say. Not like some girls that pretend to listen not knowing or not caring what I am talking about. She too, was interesting to listen too. She talked about a world unknown to me. Morning came before we had realized we had not slept and had talked all night.

I suggested that she get anything that can hold water and I'll fill them for her people. Then I will set off to get more Ďwater makersí. Ariel agreed, and dove into the lagoon. I started the motor to make as much water as the tank could hold.

Before long there was hundreds of merpeople in the lagoon holding jars, shells, pots anything that could hold water with a lid on it. The Fowl Windís motor pumped fresh water for hours, until the only merperson left in the lagoon was Ariel.

"The machine on your boat smells and makes the sea taste funny" She complained. "The water makers you get for us won't do that, will they?"

"No. I'll get hand operated water makers. The motor will not work under water anyway." I assured her.

We agreed to meet back at this island in seven days. Ariel disappeared under the waves and I started back to St. Thomas. Checking NOAA weather showed the tropical storm stalled out in the Atlantic, gaining strength. My vacation sure has turned out different then planed, but it's a lot more exciting. Deciding not to return home for a while, because it looked like the treasure hunting was going to be good. I also realized that I had not taken a single picture, I had no proof. But if I did show a picture of a real mermaid, it would ruin her world. "Besides, I had promised not to tell anyone." I told myself.

That night I checked into the Seafarer's net on 20 meters. Then spoke with two of my friends that failed to come on this trip. It was hard to lie to them, but who would believe the truth. So I made up a story or two, and ended with "Oh! By the way I meet a beautiful mermaid." That was followed with laughs all around. I knew it would be taken as a joke, so I felt that I had kept my promise to Ariel.

Sailing all day and night to make it back to St. Thomas by the following morning. Using of the radar, to watch for close passing vessels, and auto helm to hold a course, made it possible for me to sleep for short periods.

I set out to set myself up in the salvage business. Also to line up as many Ďwater makersí as I could. This required that more stories as to where the treasure was found and why I needed so many reverse osmosis systems.
 
 

Chapter 3

Our First Adventure

The days flew by, as there was a lot of red tape in trying to start a business, get the treasure exchanged for money, buying water purification systems, getting them loaded on my boat and paying off the Charter Company to take my boat out of charter. All the time Daniel was getting stronger and closer. I hoped the storm would change directions or that I could get back to the island before it hit.

It was mid day and under darkening skies on the 7th day before the Fowl Wind was back in the lagoon of the same small island. "Ariel" I called. The echo of my call no sooner faded before there was a loud splash at the bow and Ariel was sitting on the bowsprit. I couldn't help think if she was under the sprit, what a fine figurehead she would make for my boat.

"I was getting worried that you were not coming back," said the mermaid.

"Are you kidding? I would not miss this adventure for all the tea in China."

"Thank you, you are a good friend. But what does tea have to do with anything?" She smiled.

"Itís just an expression. I was late because the treasure you gave me stirred up a lot of interest among some other treasure hunters. They followed me here, to this island. I tried to lose them but it didn't work. They will be here in 30 minuets. We need to get the Ďwater makersí off loaded. Then I can lead them away."

Ariel said, "Right!" and dove into the water. A minute later she was back with a dozen or so merman, to whom I started handing the water makers. After all the water makers were unloaded, Ariel jumped back onto the bowsprit and said. "Lets go!"

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Let's go to my old human home, to get my Trident. This will lead the pirates away, and give my people time to get the water makers moved to Atlantica." replied Ariel. Her eagerness bubbling over. "Besides I like adventures too!"

"OK you can sit up front and show me the way. But if we see another ship, you'll have to jump off. The other ships have powerful binoculars and will be able to see you before you can see them."

"Binock-what?" She quizzed?

After weighing anchor and clearing the reef around the island. I took my binoculars up foreword for Ariel to see. A look of delight came over her face. "Oh! Biggermajiggers." For the next 15 minuets she was like a child given a new toy. Looking at everything she could see through the Ďbiggermajiggersí. When she spotted a ship behind us, she shouted "A foatamajigger!" Then giggled and said, "I mean a ship." and put down the binoculars and dove into the water.

I watched as Ariel road the bow wake of the boat with a pod of dolphins. She would hang onto one dolphin's dorsal fin for a while then take up a ride with another. About every half-hour she would drop back to the stern, and ask if we were still being followed and also to give me a course correction. When I informed her that we were, she would return to the bow to ride the wake with the dolphins again.

Late in the afternoon, the boats were still following us, between one to two miles away. The wind had picked up and I got an idea. Checking the weather computer in the cabin shown that luck was with us. There was a cloud formation 5 miles to the Southwest and the radar confirmed that there was a squall in it.

Calling Ariel to come to the back of the boat I told her of my plan. "There was a storm off to the right. If you could guide me thought it, I would turn off the radar, and lower my radar reflector. This would make it hard for the other boats to follow us through the storm."

Ariel did not understand all of what I was saying but she understood enough, so we made the course change. I put on my safety harness and hooked it to the safety railing then released the main sail sheet and pulled it into its roller and then reef the jib. Then closed the hatch and put on my weather coat, hat and safety glasses.

The sea was like a roller coaster as we sailed into the squall. The wind ripped at me and my sail and the rain hammered on us. About half way through the squall we turned North and ran inside the storm for an hour before we turn East again toward a pair of islands.

By sunset we were anchored in a sheltered straight between the two small islands and no other boats to be seen. My boat and I were as wet as a mermaid, from the rough seas and rain we sailed through was. The cabin was a shamble and it took an hour to square things away.

That night after dinner, Ariel returned to the sea and I bedded down on the fore deck to watch the stars play peek-a-boo through the increasing clouds. Ariel must have had trouble getting to sleep too, because I could hear her singing with the wind from the rocks in the cove of the Southern island. I thought about how sailors use to think the siren songs would drive them mad or onto the rocks. Was I mad? Is this all a dream? Whatever it was, I was having the time of my life and didn't want it to end. If it does end, I'll have a hard time explaining to my boss and friends why my vacation was so long. All this did not matter now all that mattered was helping this beautiful mermaid, and listening to her sing, as my boat bobbed on the storm swells coming through the channel.

The next morning with no other ships insight I checked the position of 'Daniel'. It was a full hurricane now. But it looked like it was going to the North. This meant that we were to be spared the brunt of the storm, unless it changed directions again. We set off for the island that used to be Ariel and Eric's home.

It was mid afternoon with 25-knot winds when we arrived in the old harbor that was once a daily view for Ariel. She was at her usual post on the bowsprit. The once lavish palace was now an empty shell with no roof or doors. At the sight of what use to be a warm and happy place, brought a stream of tears down her face.

Going foreword to release the anchor and I asked Ariel "Would it be easier for you to wait outside the harbor, while I look for your Trident?"

She wiped her tears and replied "No! I'll be all right. Take me to your table with the maps and paper. I will write down the location of the Trident!"

As Ariel requested I carried her down into the cabin and set her at the chart table. She drew for me a floor plan of the castle and marked where the Trident would be found. I asked. "Do you think it's still there?"

"Yes! I hid it well. As long as the walls are standing, the Trident will still be there!" She explained the details of the hiding place.

After carrying Ariel topside, she jumped into the water. She seemed to really enjoy swimming in the harbor where she must have swam in as a human so many years ago. Checked the direction of Daniel before setting off in the dinghy for the beach, reveled he was heading our direction and the increasing wind speed confirmed that fact.

On the island, there was little left of the village or the life that once flourished here. Making my way up to the castle through the thick jungle that had moved in after its abandonment proved difficult. The tree and brush branches lashed back at me, driven by the increasing winds. The rain started and it was coming down in buckets.

Once inside, it didn't take long to find the room that once was Ariel's bedroom. The winds howled through the empty rooms like ghosts that were objecting to my invasion. Finding the large fireplace, where she hid the Trident, I counted the stones in the third row of the hearth and found the one to push. But it did not move even with both hands pushing. Water was poring down the flue then down the back of my neck. Sitting in the hearth and bracing my back on its side I pushed with both feet. Just as I was reaching exhaustion, the stone slipped. Another shove with the last of my strength, the stone dropped in. There was a crack of thunder. Trying to catch my breath, I look into the hole with a small flashlight. There was a cloth in the long hole that faded into the depths where my light could not reach. The lightning and thunder was coming more often. I reached in and grabbed the end of the bag. It was stiff with age but still quite strong. Pulling out the Trident revealed it was wrapped in a blue velvet cloth. A sash cord was wrapped in a spiral around it, up to the other end that flared to cover the head of the Trident.

From the front steps of the old palace with the Trident cradled in my arms I could just see through the rain that there were two boats outside the harbor wall. Rushing down the hill, through the jungle and slipping in the mud, I came out at the harbor.

"Roy!" a voice called over the roar of the wind and rain from the end of an old jetty. I ran over to where Ariel was waiting and handed the Trident to her still wrapped in its cloth bag.

"There are two ships coming."

"I know. Help me get it out!" She said. Producing my Buck knife I cut the sash cord and pulled on its end. The Trident fell out of its covering, and into water. Ariel said "Go back to your boat and lay out the blanket I saw in your cabin on the back of the boat. Then wait in the cabin."

Rushing back to the rubber raft and rowing as hard as I could, to get back to the boat before our unwanted visitors arrived. Saying to myself. "I'll have to get a motor for this thing, the next time I am in a port." When I reached the boat the wind and rain was pounding me so hard it stung through my raincoat. I did as Ariel requested and retrieved the blanket from the cabin. Interring the cabin, a blue flash of light, shown about the boat in the water. Returning to the cockpit, to my surprise, Ariel was standing in the cockpit wrapping the blanket around her. My jaw must have hit the floor. She had legs!

"Now we don't have to worry, about anyone seeing me. We look just like another couple on a sailing trip!" She said with a blush.

All I could manage to say was "Wow!" and that made her blush even more.

By now the other boats had pulled up along both sides of my boat. Their boats were banging into mine, pushed by the storm swells. The men on them did not look like they wanted to exchange pleasantries. One man, he looked like the captain, pulled out a gun, and pointed it at me. "Where's da treasure?" he shouted over the wind and between thunder crashes.

The wind was blowing the rain so hard, it was coming straight into my face, making it hard to see. My boat was boxed in, a man had a gun, and I couldn't see. But I had a plan, bluff.

"I don't know what you are talking about!" I shouted back.

"Don't give me dat, I saw da treasure you were flash'n about on St. Thom!" He yelled.

"That was all there was, I don't have any more!" Fear was showing on my face.

"We'll see what you say after da beat'n we're goin'a give your pretty lady, because you don't wanna share!" Shouted the pirate as he eyed Ariel with a grin on his face. Our boats crashed together again, as the rain got worse. It was a struggle to stand, even holding on to something.

Ariel stepped in and said. "I don't think I would like that." The wind was blowing her blanket and hair about her body. She was trying to hold herself together and the Trident while hanging onto the wheel.

The pirate laughed at this little girl. "What can you do to stop us from do'n what we want to you? Throw your pitch fork at us."

Ariel said in a low voice so just I could hear. "Get ready to duck!" She raised her Trident over her head and I hit the deck. There were two blue flashes and loud cracks, like thunder. I raised my head to see the two pirate boats capsized and the men swimming to shore. "Letís get out of here." Ariel suggested.

I hauled up the anchor with the windless, unfurled the sails to a double reefed setting, and pointed the Fowl Wind North. As 15-foot waves broke over the bow and washed down the deck and the wind tried to tear the sails from the mast. "What now? My boat can't take much more of this!"

"Watch!" Ariel said, as she made her way to the stern railing. Trying to hold on to the blanket, the Trident and aft stay to keep herself from washing overboard she raised the Trident, this time pointing it to the sky. There was another blue flash of lighting from the Tridentís points. The rain stopped, the wind calmed down and the sky began to clear. There was a sudden increase of chatter on the marine radio, about the miracle. "Daniel was gone."

As Ariel turned around I had my usual expression, mouth open, eyes wide, and almost speechless. "What can't that thing do?"

"Anything you can clearly picture in your mind, the Trident will find a way to make it happen." She replied. "Letís go back to the island where we met. I want to check to see if the Ďwater makersí are working. Do you have something I can wear that's dry? This blanket is soaked and not vary flattering!" She could hardly keep it around herself and hang onto the Trident too.

"You look great, even though you are still soaking wet." We both blushed.

After adjusting the sails and setting the auto helm to a course that would take us back to the island, we went down into the cabin. "Sometimes things are left on board by other charters or by the company that handled my boat." Checking the cabins we found an assortment of clothes. Ariel went into the aft cabin to try them on. She returned after a few minutes with a combination of shorts and T-shirt that would make Blackwell give her the #1 spot on his ten worst dressed list. They were so big on her that she had to tie knots at various places to keep them on. But she still looked spectacular.

Ariel placed her Trident close to the cabin door where it could be grabbed in a hurry from the topside or the cabin. "We'll keep this handy!" She said. I agreed, knowing that there were more treasure hunting pirates out there. She then took out a fork from the galley drawer, and started to comb her hair with it.

"I have a brush, if you would prefer."

"Oh! I'm sorry, I am use to using dingelhoppers." biting her lip. "I mean forks. Yes I will use the brush. Thank you." Blushed Ariel. She explained this story and others as we return to the island where we met.

Adjusting the focus on the binoculars, I said. "Yes! It's the same type of powerboat and there's a dinghy tied up to it. I bet they have been all over the island looking for the treasure."

"So do you think they are part of the same group of men that attacked us?" Ariel asked, then giggled. "If they are treasure hunting they are looking on the wrong side of the water line. Should I zap them?"

"No, we can't be sure until they do something. They're sure watching us though. Will go ahead, into the lagoon and see what they do, if anything. If they are part of the pirates, they are probably wondering how we got away. I'll see if they are using their radio."

Keeping the Fowl Wind on a course to the island, that is about a mile and a half away, I went to the cabin and turned on the scanner and put it in the search mode on the marine band. Five minutes went by before it stopped on a call. "Hunter one to Hunter two or three, come in!" The call repeated several times, then a pause and called again.

"That proves it, we need to watch him. Hunter two and three must have been the two boats that attacked us. It won't take this guy long to figure out that we won. I don't think they know you are with me, I was alone when they last saw me. Stay in the cabin until dark." I told Ariel.

I eased the Fowl wind into the same lagoon as before. The pirate boat was in the South-facing lagoon, where I first met Ariel. Two men could be seen watching from the rocks at the point. Trying to look normal (normal for me) by doing things around and with the boat. Not looking at Ariel when we spoke to keep her informed as to what they were doing or not doing. "I think we are safe until dark. At that time you should be in the water. You will be safer there and then you can surprise them if needed."

When dusk settled over the island, I hung a blanket over the boom to dry, supposedly, but in reality to block the view of Ariel slipping out of the cabin and into the water. "I'm going to get some help. Don't be surprise by what you see." she said as she slipped into the water. A second later I saw deep under the Fowl Wind a blue flash. Then I went into the cabin, turned the lights out and waited. " I wonder what she meant by Ďget some helpí, I wish I had a gun!" were my thoughts.

It wasn't until midnight, that I herd the rumble of a powerboat. It kept getting louder, until it came along side my boat. Putting on a fake smile, I went top side to greet my midnight visitors. But the night was like day from all the lights the powerboat had on. "Hi there, is there a problem?" I faked.

"Yea, two!" said a big unshaven man, as he and another thinner man jumped onto the Fowl Wind. A third man stayed on their boat. "First, where did you get the loot? Two, what did you do to my other two boats?"

"If you need to call another boat, you are welcome to use my radio. What do you mean loot'"? I faked some more and thought "come on Ariel!"

The thin man pulled his hand out of his jacket pocket to show his shinny brass knuckles. "Do we Ďave to get rough wit yea? Or are yea gon'a give us some straight answers?" he said in a thick Jamaican accent.

The big man said in a polite voice. "Take it easy Joe, I think this guy is smart. He will cooperate wití us," his voice got gruff, "won't you!" He grabbed me by my shoulders spun me around and Joe hit me in the stomach. Then he pushed me into the rear corner seat of the cockpit. The punch was not as hard as it could have been. I knew it was just a warning, but it had me doubled over any way.

"Easy Joe!" Said the big man. "He's going to tell us what we want to know now, ain't you fella?"

"Yes, let me catch my breath." I gasped trying to stall until Ariel got back.

"Sure take your time, fella. See Joe this guy is a right friendly fella. Just like I told you!"

I stayed bent over, thinking that as long as they thought I was hurt they would leave me along. I kept gasping and wheezing to stall for time. "OK fella, you had enough time. Talk to me or Joe will ask again." Said the big man impatiently.

"OK, OK, just a minuet more." I gasped.

"No problem." He said. But he grabbed me by my shirt and spun me around. He held my left arm in a hammer lock with his right and had his left around my neck. I was at the mercy of the two thugs. Joe squared off to do some serious damage to my body.

Suddenly the Fowl Wind and the powerboat began to rock violently. The sea around us churned, as something big began to rise up. The sight was a shock to all four of us. A giant sea monster glared down at us. "HI! MY NAME IS SIMON, HOW YOU DO'N?" it bellowed. I saw in the glow of the lights from the powerboat, Ariel was sitting on the monster's back. "HAY, ARE YOU GUYS BOTHERING MY FRIEND?" Bellowed Simon.

We were all dumb struck by the sight. Simon reached with his scaly hand into the Fowl Wind's cockpit and grabbed the two men. They screamed as he lifted them out and deposited them on the powerboat. "YOU GUYS BETTER GET GOING AND NEVER BOTHER MY FRIEND AGAIN!" Bellowed Simon.

The powerboat accelerated out of the lagoon and we could here it scrape its bottom on the reef as it left the island. "GEE! I HOPE THEY DON'T SINK!" Said the sea monster.

"Put me in the boat Simon!" Said the mermaid on his back. The monster picked up Ariel and as gentile as a mother handling her baby, placed her in my boat. "Roy I would like you to meet a old and very good friend, Simon. Simon this is a new friend Roy."

"GLAD TO MEET YEA! ANY FRIEND OF ARIEL'S IS A FRIEND OF MINE!" Roared Simon.

"Likewise!" I shouted back to the monster. I was still shaking from the sight. "By any chance do you live in Lock Ness?"

"I DON'T THINK SO, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS, I LIVE IN ALL SEVEN SEAS!" Explained the monster.

"Thanks Simon, I don't think we will need your services any more. You can return to your greeting trip." Ariel smiled and waved to her giant friend.

"OK ARIEL, BUT IF YOU NEED ME AGAIN I'LL BE GLAD TO HELP." Simon roared and disappeared under the waves in a swirl of foam.

"I'm sorry I was late getting here, Simon was some distance away. Are you all right?" Asked Ariel

"I'm OK, it was just a warning tap." I said, trying to be macho and not to show how much it did hurt.
 
 

Chapter 4

Part of Her World

When morning came to the Caribbean, the skies were clear and bright. There were no signs of any pirates around and Ariel said. "Letís check out the water making."

"I would like too but my scuba tanks are empty and running the motor to refill them may pollute the sea even more."

"You don't need them, just get into the water!" Said the grinning girl.

She had a look in her eyes that told me she was up to something but I did as she requested anyway. Not knowing what she had in mind I was learning to expect anything. Ariel joined me in the water and said. "Take off you clothes and put them on the ladder of your boat!"

Reluctantly I did as she requested, with a lot of blushing on my part. There was a blue flash in the water around me. It suddenly got easier to swim dropping below the surface to look at my feet gave me a shock. They were gone. Instead I had a tail! With fins! The tail was silver with a hint of blue and the fin was edged in a red and yellow rain bow. Ariel swam up alongside of me as a mermaid again and said. "Wow that is an unusual color." Seeing that my face was turning blue she added with a smirk. "You will have to try breathing!"

To my surprise I could hear her under water, so I tried. With my first breath I choked a little but it worked. "This is wonderful." I said, laughing out loud.

"Now I can show you my world." Invited Ariel. "This way." She motioned.

We swam down and out of the lagoon that surrounded the island, deeper then I have ever been with my scuba equipment. My swimming was no match to Ariel's grace and speed as she moved through the sea. So she had to stop often and wait for me to catch up. Soon we were approaching a gleaming city, I could see further then I could with my diving mask. Swimming about the city, Atlantica I was informed, we could see the water making machines being set up. Some were already in full production, being pumped by an octopus, or a merman. It was obvious that they needed many more units to quench the thirst of this population. There were already long lines of merpeople forming at the water makers.

"I need to get you more water makers." I said.

"We do need a lot more, and we still need your help. But now that I have my Trident, you can teach me how to get them in your world. In the meantime let me show you the palace." Ariel said.

Ariel introduced me to her sisters and friends. I bowed to Aquata, and she made me an honorary merman of the realm. Then we all went out on a balcony that over looked the city's square. Where Aquata presented me to the populace, they were all cheering like I was some kind of hero. It made me blush again. Aquata asked me to say a few words.

Not a good public speaker, I swam up awkwardly. "I did nothing that anyone else would do for someone who is in need. The only reward I want is to remain your friend." "Talk about sounding like a dweeb." I thought.

Another cheer came up, making my blush brighter. Asking about returning to my boat because of concern about it being left abandon. Aquata replied. "Do not worry, I have sent some of the palace guards to protect your boat."

I spent the night in one of the many rooms reserved for guests in the palace. Talk about the ultimate waterbed. It was the best night sleep I ever had. In the morning I had breakfast with all the sisters and their husbands. Ariel sat next to me and explained what we were eating. She said, "Every thing is made from sea weed, kelp, and plankton. The variety of ways that the royal chef prepared it, makes a wonderful variety of tastes."

After breakfast, Ariel showed me her room. She had a collection of human thing that filled the room to every corner. There was a special table with pictures of her old friends and loves. That has either moved away with their own families or long sense gone. "Here is my best friend Flounder, he's gone, but I still see some of his grand guppies. And this is my music teacher, Sebastian. He moved away with a crab cutey. I do get mail from him from time to time but the snailman is so slow." She explained.

"He must have been a great teacher." I interrupted.

Ariel blushed and continued. "This was Urchin a merboy who once saved my life, and this is my father King Triton." She then held the next picture to her breast and a tear formed in her eyes. "This is Eric" was all she could say. I could see the hurt in her hart, for what she had lost over the years, she did not want to get that close to anyone again, and my hart ached for her.

"But that's the lot that merpeople must bear by having longevity." Ariel continued after a long silent pause.

There were several more pictures of a young girl with dark hair, each one showing her at a different age. Ariel did not say anything about the girl she just moved on before she got to them. It was obvious there was a lot of pain in her heart for this person, so I did not ask about her.

Later Ariel took me to her secret grotto, where she kept all things human and Eric. There was a large statue of Eric, and all the things Eric and Ariel had collected thought a normal human lifetime.

Ariel picked up her sack and filled it with treasure form a large chest. "We will need a lot of things, so let's not, what's the word? Shrimp? No, what is it. Oh! Scrimp." She picked up another sack, put more gold and silver in it. Handing it to me, she said. "Here, take this. You have given up a lot to help us. It's the least we can do to repay you."

"That's not necessary. Meeting you and your people is enough reward."

"I won't hear of it. You have probably lost a lot of time and money the last two weeks and I want to repay you!" Ariel insisted.

"No, really I donít want any payment."

"You are in my world now and I am a Princess here. Donít make me angry. You donít want me angry." She gave me a stern look then smiled and winked at me.

"OK! I'll take it but only for the purpose of getting myself in a possession to spend full time helping you and your people" I insisted. "But let's be careful who we let see it, we don't want more pirates trying to take it from us."

It was noon when Ariel and I returned to the boat. She turned me back to a human and after climbing onto the boat a put my cloths back on, I then went into the cabin, to prepare for the return to St. Thomas. The boat rocked as Ariel climb onboard and got dressed.

"Now what are you doing?"

"Iím going with you!" She replied.

"But the human world has changed sense you were human!" I asserted. "You have no idea how to be a human today."

"Yes, you are right! But I managed to adjust to human life before I can do it again. And besides, it will be fun." She giggled.
 
 

Chapter 5

Part of My World

One of the first things we needed after arriving in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas was to get Ariel some clothes that fit her. As we walked out of the marina, I told her "Many things have changed quite a bit since you were human, including fashion." She gave me a smirk that said what does a man know about fashion. Then I had to grab her arm to keep her from walking into the street in front of an oncoming car.

Her face turned to awe and she asked. "What are those?" pointing at the cars. I tried to explain what cars were but her attention jumped from one new sight to another. I had to drag her up the street to a shopping center. When she saw all the shops, I was the one being drug.

She did not understand the plastic barter system and the concept of paying later, but did get an understanding of "charge it."

Before leaving her at a shop, I instructed the clerk to take good care of her. "She is from a backward country and may seem naive about what women wear in the West. So I would appreciate it if you would help her with her fashion and other feminine needs. I have other errands to do, but I'll be back later and will take care of the bill then." Handing the girl a $50 bill. "There will be more if she is happy when I get back."

"Yes sir!" replied the clerk. "I think you will be happy too." She said and gave me a wink.

I left the store and went to the marina to arrange getting my boat into the boat yard for needed repairs. The yard could not take my boat in until tomorrow, so I made the appointment then went to a fine hotel to get us some rooms. The manager gave me a strange look because two weeks at sea makes a man look scruffy. But he also understood "American Express!"

Returning to the store found Ariel with a big grin on her face and she was wearing a pair of white shorts and a white top that said "Saint Thomas" in multicolored letters. Her feet sported a pair of thong sandals and she had a big Panama hat. She looked like a tourist. She also had a large stack of boxes and bags. I put the rather large bill on my plastic and tipped the clerk again.

"Come again, I will be glad to get the lady anything she wants." Bubbled the sales girl.

We returned to the hotel where the manager gave us another strange look, but sent an army of Bellmen to help us with our packages.

We stopped at the hotel's store to pick up some personal items, then went up to our rooms. I had to help Ariel with the key to her half of our adjoining rooms. She said. "The key looks like the, what did you call them? Oh, a credit card." She entered her room followed by the herd of Bellmen carrying her boxes and bags. They deposited them on the bed and I tipped them with a gold coin. The men all looked at it and each other then smiled. One of them thanked me and said. "If you need anything, anything at all, just give me a ring. I will take care of it personally!"

"Thank you, but I need to get unpacked!" Ariel said as she ran us all out.

I told Ariel. "Let's meet in the lobby in an hour. Then I will treat you to a human meal at the best restaurant in town, strictly vegetarian of course."

"Sounds wonderful, it's a date." She smiled coyly and gave me a wink.

I rushed to my room to get ready. Two minutes hadn't passed when there was a knock at the door that adjoined our rooms. I ran to open the door but tripped over my duffel bag that some idiot had left in the middle of the room. Finally opening the door with a big grin on my face, to see Ariel looking sheepish. "Can you show me how these things work?" She asked then bit her lip.

She had never seen indoor plumbing before. When she got the hang of it, she said. "OK, now get out I have a lot of work to do and I only have an hour."

I dressed casually, as I always do and was waiting in the lobby, after all the girl is supposed to make an entrance. What an entrance she made, the entire lobby came to a stop as Ariel came in. Once again my jaw dropped, and I thought by now she must think that this is my natural look. Ariel was wearing a curve hugging blue dress that was ankle high with a slit up one leg to the thigh and was low off the shoulders. She had matching high heel shoes and hand bag and the same blue sapphire on a gold chain around her neck. Her red hair was brushed out into a flowing hank on one shoulder. Every inch of her said, "Here is a real lady". She began to blush, as she realized it was her presence that brought the room to halt.

Graphic By Lisette LaSalle

"I seem to be saying this a lot, but WOW! Who taught you to dress like that?" I said as we met in the middle of the lobby.

"What's wrong with the way I am dressed?" She worried and bit her lip.

"Nothing, it's stunning. I just didn't expect you to look so...so... good!" There's that dweeb again, I thought.

"The girl in the shop recommended this dress for going out. When I tried it on she said that it looked very nice. Does it?"

"Oh yes! You are the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen. And to think youíre going out with me!" Now I was blushing too.

"Stop it. You are making me blush." She said shyly, then added. "The lady in the shop gave me this, what did she call it? Oh, purse! She said it completed the look. But I do not know what to put in it."

"Most girls keep their make up in their purses."

"Make up?"

"You know lipstick, compact, and moisturizer to name a few."

"Moisturizer? What would I need a moisturizer for?" We both laughed.

We took a taxi even though it was a short distance to one of the nicer restaurants in Charlotte Amalie. Ariel was awed by the power of the car, and asked how it worked without any horses to pull it. The cabby was giving us a strange look in the mirror as I tried to explain how a car works to the confused girl.

"Do you have a . . . car, is that the right word?" She asked.

"Yes, that's the right word and yes I do, but its back at my condo in California."

"Would you teach me to drive? Eric taught me to drive a carriage and to ride."

"Well see if we get to California."

Ariel continued to be excited at every turn the cab made and revealed a new street of new sights. The cab driver kept glancing in the mirror every time she said something that revealed her innocence.

When we arrived at the popular restaurant there was a line waiting to get in. I asked the host "How long is the wait?"

He said "I'm sorry sir, it will be at lest two hours." But when he saw Ariel he said. "I'll seat you right away sir."

Once seated, I said to her, "This power you have over people might come in useful but how do you do it?"

"I don't know. Once Eric and I put on a Ball for some of his friends, we invited my family as well. All the human men wanted to dance with my sisters. There seems to be some magical attraction between human men and mermaids. Although some of the human women, were after daddy too." Giggled Ariel.

"I'm sure that there is some magic to it. But I have noticed that your people have a sweet and innocent way that is very appealing. I can only wish my people were more like yours. Maybe someday our people will get to know each other and make the world a better place for both!" .... Ariel did not reply ... "Let's order." I added.

We ate from the salad bar, and drank ice tea. At every turn moving through the restaurant, there was something new for Ariel to get excited about. It must have been confusing to the people around us to see a stunning woman asking questions like a child. To me it was exciting to be showing the world to a person that had never seen it before or for at least a hundred years.

Ariel asked. "What are the others eating?"

"Well," trying to think of a way to put it and failing, "They're eating meat or fish!" Ariel's face turned pail and her nose wrinkled up. "I'm sorry but we humans look at animals as a food source. Until I met you I thought that humans were the only intelligent life on the planet."

"It's not your fault, I have seen this before. It's just the way it's prepared today. It does not look like anything that use to be alive and the smells are wonderful. I guess that is why it is easy for you to eat it." Just then a waiter came by with a tray with a lobster on it and she turned a little green. "Well most of it doesnít look like it was alive."

"Try not to look at too many other plates, just think about what we are doing." I tried to change the topic and after a few minutes she was able to enjoy her salad and fruit.

A group of strolling musicians came over to our table to play and sing. Ariel listened to the song they played, when she got the words she joined in and sang. A few bars later the musicians stopped singing and just played, as Ariel continued to sing solo. Everyone in the restaurant stopped eating and listened. When the song was over the room stood and applauded. I said, "That was beautiful!" she began to blush and bit her lip.

The leader of the little band asked Ariel if she had a job, and if she would join their group. "We will pay you very well!" said the man.

"No thank you. Everyone is so kind, but I only sing for pleasure." The girl said shyly.

"I agree, your voice is very pleasing. If you ever change your mind, here's my card." said the man.

The owner of the restaurant came over and made the same offer to Ariel. But she refused him as well.

We finished eating and Ariel told me about some of her magical adventures both above and below the sea. Other patrons of the restaurant kept stopping by our table to compliment Ariel on her voice. Ariel just thanked them for their kindness and blushed again.

It was still early so I took Ariel to a dance club. When we arrived outside there was the same problem getting in, as there was at the restaurant. But we got in for the same reason. She said "This place looks like Eel-lectric City." As we entered she said, "Oh, it's a Ball, who is it for?"

"It's not a ball the way you know it. It's a place for dancing for dancing sake. They do it every night."

She was amazed that the DJ could make so many kinds of music with his CD machine all by himself. Again I tried to explain how it worked but she thought there might be a crustacean band inside the speaker boxes.

Ariel was very good at slow dancing she had the same grace I saw in her as we swam under the sea. But when the DJ started playing rock, she laughed at my jumping around. It didn't take her long to figure out what it was suppose to look like, buy watching other dancers. When she got caught up in the music, she didn't notice that all eyes were on her. Her dance style was not that different but she had an innocent beauty in the way she moved that even the other women could appreciate.

Between dances, other guys asked her to dance. She would politely say "No thank you!" to them. One guy, the muscle beach type, asked her "Why is a girl like you hanging around with an old man? You should be with a guy like me!" as he swelled from his flexing muscles.

She gave him a smirk and said. "Girls like me don't like to hang around with sea slugs!" He left, deflated and with a look of confusion on his face.

When it was finally time for us to return to the hotel we decided to walk back as it was a short distance and the night air was cool and clear. About half way back I noticed two men following us. "I don't want to alarm you but we are being followed." I whispered, "Keep walking maybe they won't bother us."

Suddenly two other men stepped out of an alley and blocked our path. One said "Tell us where you get treasure and no one get hurt!" One of the two men from behind grabbed Ariel making her scream. I pulled one of the men off her and punched him in the face. The other two grabbed me before I could get the other man away from her. I slammed one of my attackers into a wall. The next thing I knew I was on the ground and the back of my head hurt. One of the men pushed Ariel against the side of a building making her scream again. He slapped her across the face "Shut up bitch!" he ordered. I wanted to kill him but I was pinned to the ground by a big foot on my neck. Ariel looked at me with blood on her face. She said. "Stay down!"

Her eyes glazed over and the sapphire that hung around her neck began to glow. Before anyone could react, a blue ball of energy sprang from her chest. The force of the energy ball knocked the four men across the street, where they lay unconscious.

Struggling to get to my feet while keeping an eye on the four thugs across the street and with my jaw once again hanging open, I asked. "What was that?" This little mermaid was one surprise after another.

Turning around I saw Ariel on the ground, where she had collapsed. "Just a gift from my mother" she gasped.

"Are you all right?" I asked and rushed over to help her up.

"Yes, I think so." she replied. "How about you?"

"Iím OK. Fortunately they hit me where it will do the least damage, on my head. What was that you did?"

"I zapped them with my sapphire."

"That little jewel did that?"

"The sapphire has some of the power the Trident has. But the Trident has its own energy, the sapphire uses mine." explained the weakened girl.

I put my arm around her waist and her arm around my neck. "Let's get out of here and you to a doctor!" I urged.

"No! Letís go to your boat. We need my Trident." Ariel insisted. "You really know how to show a girl a good time!" She added, with a giggle, then an "ouch!"

"I am sorry this happened!"

"It's not your fault, I remember that there are good and bad humans. The same is true in the merworld. So don't blame yourself."

Ariel was feeling better when we got back to the boat. Even though it was tied to the dock, I had dropped the anchor in the water. Pulling it up with the windless we could retrieve the Trident and the bag of treasure that was tied to its chain. Ariel held the Trident close to her it began to glow blue. She pointed it at me and as the blue light reached me, the pain in my head stopped. Next she brought it to her face and the light healed it too. "I've got to get one of those!" I quipped.

Entering the Fowl Wind's cabin, we were greeted with another surprise. Everything was turned up side down, from someone looking for something. "Well it looks like they were here first." I said. "It's a good thing the Trident and treasures were in the water."

"Is anything missing?"

"I donít know." I looked around. "My charts are missing."

"Charts? Oh, I remember. They are your maps."

"Yea, they must think they have the location of where we get the treasure."

"Only if they are maps of the ocean floor." Giggled Ariel.

We straightened up the cabin and worked out a plan for the next day. To exchange the treasure for cash, pay off some bills, and get a good tax lawyer. Most of this Ariel did not understand, but I insisted that we needed them.

Chapter 6

More of My World

For the next couple of days, we went about doing whatever we needed to finish setting up the salvage business that I had started the week before. Making appointments to meet with government officials, bankers, etc. Every time we ran into some red tape I would introduce the bureaucrat to my partner, Ariel. Then it was smooth sailing, and Ariel would give me a smirk. I felt guilty using her that way, but it worked. After leaving each appointment, she would ask questions like "What was that meeting for?" and "Did you see those thingamabobs? I've got 20." At times she was like a child, with the questions. But it was impossible to forget that she was a woman!

Despite Ariel's constant distraction, to both the people we met and myself, the business was finally setup in both our names so Ariel would be able to get Ďwater makersí without me. Because she will need to get them long after I am gone. All she will need to do is convince them that she is her own descendant. We called our company "Mermaid Salvage Co. Ltd.", that was my idea.

Ariel was a fast learner. After about five appointments, she was getting the hang of doing business in the human world. Buy the 5th day she was doing most of the business negotiations and was quite successful too and not just because of her looks.

I bought Ariel a small house on a beach in a secluded part of St. Thomas. So she would have a place to come and go from, between being human and a mermaid. We had no more trouble with the pirates. By now the word was out that I was not an easy target. I am sure none of the pirates we have encountered to date was going to admit that it was a little girl that got the best of them. I bought myself a gun just in case.

A week later, my boat was repaired from the encounter with the pirate boats. We headed back to ĎOur Islandí, as I liked to call it. My boat was full of Ďwater makersí and I had a gun in my belt and an outboard motor for the rubber dinghy. The latter turned out to be a dumb investment, as I did not want to run it around the merpeople. So I had the extra weight to pull whale rowing.

By now my friends, back home, were probably sending out a search party for me. I had not talked to them in two weeks. Checking into the Seafarerís net on 20 meters relieved their concerns. But I had to make up more stories as to why I was not coming home. All I could tell them was "What a vacation they had missed!" They asked me how my mermaid was doing. But when Ariel took the microphone from me and said, "I'm doing fine, thank you! How are you?" in her soft sweet voice, the air was suddenly silent. Then the laughs again, but the laughs were ours!

The wind was coming out of the Southeast. This meant a lot of tacking, (a zigzag course again). Late in the day as the sun was low in the Western sky, I caught a glint of light on the horizon behind the Fowl Wind. Shouting down into the cabin where Ariel was reading some newspapers trying to bring her self up to date in the human world. "Turn on the radar, I think we are being followed!" I had shown her how to do that for just such an occasion.

She answered back "I thought you wanted it off so the pirates could not use it to follow us?"

That was my plan, to keep the radar off and not use the radar reflector. Without a radar reflector in the rigging, a sailboat is a low profile radar image. This would make it difficult for someone to follow us, but also increases the chance of a large ship running over us. Now that there were two on the Fowl Wind, we would take turns standing watch and sleeping while on our way to ĎOur Islandí.

"I think they are following us anyway, just over the horizon. If we don't see anything, we will turn it off again." I told her.

"OK! It's on . . . There is a, what did you call it? Oh, a blip." She reported.

"OK! ...Turn it off again." Ariel came up to the cockpit to look astern. "They may be moving closer as the sun goes down to keep us in sight. We must keep all lights off, including the running lights. This will make it even more dangerous, because other ships will not be able to see us ether!" I explained.

"I could make a storm, to throw them off." She advised.

"That's not good for other ships." I said "But that gives me an idea. Can you make fog?"

"Yes, I think so!"

"Good, I have a plan. I'll change course a small amount for the next half-hour. Our tacking should have confused them as to our true destination so far. We'll leave the running lights on, so they can see us. Then you can make your fog and will change course and turn the lights off till morning. Then will use the radar to see if they are still following."

Letting out the sail sheets to slow us down to four knots and for the next 20 minuets I changed course a half-degree a minute to port. Then Ariel pointed her Trident to the sky. A blue flash from it brought a formation of clouds, another blue flash, they dropped to the sea surface just behind us. Setting a new course 40 degrees to starboard and pulling in the sail sheets, brought the Fowl Wind up to eight knots. Then we turned off any thing that made light.

"There!" I said with hope. "If our plan works, the pirates will think we are still slow and on a mean course of 150 degrees. When in reality we are faster and at 190 degrees. We will stay on this course until we see if it worked. We will know by tomorrow morning if we are in the clear. Then we can proceed to ĎOur Islandí!"

"Well, you've lost me!" Ariel smirked.

"Good, then you can take the first watch! Wake me if you see anything or the wind changes. I'll relieve you at midnight!"

"Aye aye Captain!" She giggled.

At daybreak, my eyes strained at the horizon through my Ďbiggermajiggersí. Seeing nothing I turned on the radar, it was clear too. We had sailed south far enough to take a direct path to ĎOur Islandí. Pushing the weight point button on the auto helm that was programmed for the island, making the Fowl Wind turn to port and heel over to the other tack requiring the sails to be adjusted. The maneuver woke Ariel so she came up to the cockpit. "Are they gone?" she asked, looking astern with her big blue but sleepy eyes.

"Yes! And if we can get some wind we can be at the island this afternoon." I responded.

She pulled out the Trident from its case by the cabin hatch. "How strong and from which direction would you like it sir?"

I stayed with the merpeople for the next week. Where I instructed them in how to use and clean the Ďwater makersí and learn more about the mer world. It became apparent that Atlantica needed a lot more reverse osmosis machines then we could get from the current suppliers. Also the machines could use some modifications for better performance under water. I came up with a design to do this as well as take advantage of water currents to supply the power to operate them.

Ariel taught me how to play sponge ball and throw a sand dollar like a Frisbee (tm). We went for rides on giant sea horses and explored shipwrecks. The wrecks were mostly all steal-hulled ships at varied states of rust and coral encrustation. Some were small pleasure boats both power and sail types. We found one that was a new wreck. It was a small powerboat with a fiberglass hull and full of marijuana bails. Although the wooden ships had all rotted away centuries ago, the mermaid still knew where they were. She could point out the pile of ballast stones and coral encrusted cannons.

One day I got to meet King Triton, he is quite old and is getting Alzheimer disease. The daughters take turns seeing to his needs and let friends see him when he has a good day. He thought I was Eric, when introduced. We just let the misunderstanding go because Ariel thought he might get mad if he knew she had another human friend.

At the end of my stay we had a plan to get a lot more water makers for Atlantica. So I said good bye to the mer people and returned to my boat. Then set-sail to St. Thomas then flew back to my home in California.

On my return home, I went right to work and bought out my old boss, but kept him on to run things. Informing him we were in the Marine Salvage business now, and he was to convert the unused part of the factory to make reverse osmosis machines of my design. That I will be doing all the selling of them, and to ship them to the Mermaid Salvage Co. Ltd. in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

My friends that missed the trip were surprised at my sudden life style change. I told them "The mermaid is a good treasure hunter." The truth just brought strange looks, as they knew that the tropical sun had taken its toll on me.

It took a month to get the factory tooled up to make the reverse osmosis machines and to take care of some personal business. I transferred all my banking to Saint Thomas and setup my condo to be just a part time home.

When the first batch of reverse osmosis machines were shipped I made sure that the factory would run OK without me. Then I got airline reservations to return to Saint Thomas. When they arrived at Mermaid Salvage, I was waiting with some men to help me get them loaded on my boat. Then set sail to the island.

Arriving at the island's South lagoon, I called "Ariel!" this time there was no answer. So I settled down to wait and see if she would come around later. It was late in the afternoon and I was taking a nap because of my all day and night sail, when the boatís rocking awoke me.

"Hello Roy, are you here?" came a sweet voice that almost sang the words.

"Yes, I'm here, just a minute I'll be right up!" Still quite sleepy I got up from the main salon couch and climbed the steps to the cockpit. While rubbing my eyes to clear them of sleep and stepping out of the cabin, I was sprayed with water from above. Finally getting my eyes clear and looking around, found the beautiful mermaid sitting on the cabin roof. She was laughing and wringing out her hair. But when she saw my disheveled look, she said "Oh! I'm sorry, I did not know you were sleeping."

"That's OK, I'm awake now. Not from the shower but from the lovely sight on my cabin roof." My boldness made both of us blush. Changing the subject, "I have some more water makers, that should make using them easier. Can you get some help up here?"

Still in a giddy mood she said. "That's wonderful, I have some mermen waiting for my signal to come and help unload."

"Great, give the signal. Then after we unload will you join me for dinner?"

"No! You will be our guest at the palace! So lets get your boat unloaded and then you will come with me to a party under the sea."

The prospect of going to a party with Ariel left me speechless. So all I could say was "OK!"

Ariel had some things to do, so she said. "Iíll meet you at the party tonight!" That night at the appropriate time I entered the main ballroom in the palace. The sight that greeted me when entering the room left me in awe. There were a large numbers of lamps with bioluminescent fish or plankton in them that lit the room. There were colorful decorations on the walls and strung across the great hall. There was an orchestra playing and a group of mermaids and mermen singing and many mercouples dancing.

Feeling a bit lost in this strange environment I looked for Ariel, finely finding her in the middle of a large group of young mermen all competing for her attention. Not wanting to get caught up in a male show off contest. I just swam around and watched the men trying to impress the beautiful Princess. When she saw me hanging around the food table she excused herself and broke through the crowd to greet me.

"There you are, why didn't you come and find me? We have been waiting for you, now the party can get started."

"I did not want to interrupt you with the guys. Waiting for me?"

"Yes, we could not start until the guest of honor arrived, don't pay any attention to those guys' they're all just friends."

We were interrupted by a fanfare of trumpets, then Aquata appeared in front of the orchestra with five of her sisters. The room gave her applause and then quieted to listen.

"Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, and Fish Heads of State. We are here to honor our new friend, the man who with out his help we would all be very thirsty right now." A small amount of laughter rolled through the hall. "Roy Stanton, I know this is a surprise to you so I won't embarrass you by asking you to say anything right now, unless you want to." By now Ariel had pushed me to the front of the crowded room. All I could say was "All I can say is thanks!" Aquata replied, "No, we owe you a great debt, so we thank you. Enough speeches, let the festivities begin." Aquata raised her Trident and a yellow bolt of energy sprang from its points to the great chandelier in the center of the hall. It began to give off streams of light that flickered about the great room.

The orchestra began to play a tune that to me sounded a lot like rock and roll. The singers joined in to make a sound that I could not do justice trying to describe. I'll just say it was beautiful!

Ariel grabbed my arm and pulled on it. "Come on, let's kick up our fins!" she giggled.

This time I had to watch for a minute to see what to do. Dancing with just one tail instead of two legs took some getting use to. Ariel had all the right moves, it was a pleasure to watch her and she was a thrill to dance with. We danced and danced until Aquata cut in saying to her little sister, "Come on Ariel, you can't have all the dances with him!"

This was something I did not expect, to see the Queen getting down and boogie like she did and with me. Next dance Arista cut in "My turn, Aquata!" This mermaid was wild. Each sister cut in on the other, each teaching me some new way to move my tail. We were all laughing and having a great time.

Later when exhaustion forced me to find a place to set and get something to eat and drink. Ariel was dancing with one of her friends that were trying to impress her, when one of the other mermen of the same group came over and sat at my table. "So what do you think of our Princess?" he asked with an emphases on our.

"She is wonderful!" I replied.

"That's what I was afraid of, did you know that she was once married to a human? When her husband died, it broke her heart." "Yes, I know!" I interrupted. "Well then you can understand what I am trying to say. We all love her and don't want to see her hurt again. Some of us want to marry her and help her forget the human world. Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?" said the young and buffed merman.

"Are you threatening me, to stay away from Ariel?" I looked at him with concern.

"No, we don't do that sort of thing, that's a human trait. What I am asking you to do is to be kind to Ariel and let her own kind take care of her."

"I'm sorry if I misunderstood your intentions, but in my world we let the lady decide who she likes or dislikes."

"Fair enough, I think we understand each other. Every man for himself." said the merman.

"Let me put your concerns at ease. I have no intentions of hurting Ariel in any way. For that mater any of you, I truly want to help."

"I see, you do love her too."

"I can't deny that and for that reason I don't want to hurt her either. I will let her make her own mind up. If she falls in love with me or you or someone else, as long as she is happy I will be happy. Of course I will be happier if she chooses me, but I will not put any pressure on her, because of what happened with Eric." I explained.

"Good, you think more like a merman than a human. We have been taught that your race is a selfish and brutal one."

"I can't deny that some are like that, but not all of us."

As the young merman rose from the table and started to swim away, I rose too and held out my hand and said. "Can we be friends too? My name is Roy."

He took it and we shook hands. "As long as Ariel is not hurt, we can be friends. I'm Reginald!" he said.

At that moment, Ariel swam over to our table. "Very nice to meet you Reginald. Thanks for the talk!" I said and turned to greet the mermaid as Reginald left. "Hello, it looks like you are having a good time out there! You have quite a following of young men!"

" I see you have meet Reginald."

"He is a very interesting young man. Did you know he is in love with you?"

The pretty little mermaid blushed and looked down into her lap where she was fiddling with her long red hair. "Yes, I know! But as I told you before I still love Eric and I do not want that hurt again." A tear appeared in her eye and was washed away by the sea as fast as they appeared.

"I understand how you feel, but the love of another does not replace that love, it just adds to it. Don't be afraid to love someone again, love fills your life. It's not suppose to be simple, love sometimes brings hurt but the rewards far out way the cost."

"I know you are right, but it is hard. Lets not worry about that now!" Ariel's mood got happy and bubbly, she gave me a kiss and said, "Come on lets dance!"

At the moment she kissed me I could see the group of young mermen all straighten up. "Sure letís make the group over there jealous." I said.

"Oh you!" smirked Ariel. "Forget about them, lets have a good time!" We danced most of the night together, except when she joined the group on stage to sing. When she sang no one danced, everyone just listened.

For the rest of the week, the days were spent working with some mermen, one of which was Reginald, on setting up the new water makers. The design to use the current from the sea to power the pumps worked great. And at night Ariel took me to one party after another.

At the end of my stay, I was exhausted and looked foreword to returning to my boat and Saint Thomas for some rest. I did not know how much rest was waiting for me there.

Chapter 7

My World, Falling Apart

Upon my return to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas I was greeted at the port by two men with badges, one was FBI the other was IRS. They had questions that I could not answer, without betraying my promise to Ariel. "Where are you getting the treasure?" "What are you doing with the money?" "Who is Ariel, is it a code name for a terrorist group or drug cartel?" "How are you getting so much treasure without a larger ship and a crew?" "Who was getting the reverse osmoses machines and why do they need so many?" Unable to give satisfactory answers, I was arrested.

My lawyer told me they had a lot of circumstantial evidence, and it looked bad for me. There was not enough paper work to show where the money was going, and where the gold was really coming from.

I sent a letter to Ariel's beach house to inform her of what was going on. This may be the end of my helping her, and for her to stay away for awhile. The police may be watching the house.

A couple of months went by before my trial started. At the trial the prosecution had a strong circumstantial case, and my future did not look good. When the prosecution rested, a voice came from the back of the courtroom, "I demand to be heard!" the lovely voice said. I recognized it at once and spun around to see Ariel sitting in a wheel chair at the back of the room. She was wearing a green silk robe that covered her from the shoulders to her feet and her red hair was flowing over both shoulders. She had two burly men on each side of her, wearing suits that were too big for them. One held a blue Trident! I also recognized the men as two of Atlantica's palace guards, Chub and Blenny. The judge hammered his gavel, and demanded to know what was going on.

I told my lawyer "ask for a 5 minute recess!" He did and it was granted.

"What are you doing, get out of here?" I told Ariel, and then asked "What happened, are you hurt?"

All she would say is "I'm OK! Trust me. I know what I am doing!"

When the court was back in session, again Ariel demanded to be heard.

"Who are you? What connection do you have to this case?" asked the judge.

"I am Princess Ariel from Atlantica. This man has done nothing wrong! I wish to be heard, as a friend of the court!" she said in a strong but sweet voice.

The room buzzed with whispers. The judge hammered his gavel again and ordered "Order! I see. Does the prosecution have any objection?"

The Prosecutor replied. "No your honor, not at this time! But I may once we know more!"

"Defense?" asked the Judge.

My lawyer looked at me, and I shook my head. He knew I had not told him everything so he said, "Lets hear what she has to say your honor!"

"Proceed, but I am warning you, young lady, I will not tolerate any theatrics." said the Judge.

"I am Princess Ariel from Atlantica. I have diplomatic papers from my Queen, Aquata. We have been giving Mr. Stanton the gold from our treasury to buy the reverse osmosis water purifiers. The water in our Kingdom has become so polluted that we needed help from the outside world. This man has done only what a good friend would do." She said.

"Objection, your honor!" Said the prosecuting attorney.

This brought another buzz of whispers. Again the judge hammered. "Order. What kind of fairy tail is this? I have never heard of a country called Atlantica. What proof do you have of what you say is true?"

"Here are my credentials." She handed the papers to the court bailiff, who handed them to the judge. As the judge opened the seaweed based papers and looked at them in confusion, Ariel continued. "My country, as you call it, is not on the land." At that point she through open her robe, to reveal that she was a mermaid. The courtroom gasped. Then began to laugh, as everyone thought it was a costume as I did mouths ago.

"Objection, your honor!" Said the prosecuting attorney, this time with sarcasm.

The judge hammered again. "Order! You are making a mockery of my court young lady. Explain yourself before I throw you in jail!"

Ariel ignored the laughter. "If you do not believe, take a closer look, touch if you wish and then make your ruling!" Ariel smirked with confidence.

The judge stepped down from his bench and approached the mermaid in the wheel chair. He bent down to take a closer look at her tail as she held it out for him to see. He examined her flukes and touched them. Ariel made her flukes fold back and touched the judge's hand. He jumped back and gave out a startled "Oh, My Lord!" The courtroom gasped and was a murmur everyone was talking at once. "Could this be true?" was the one common question. Ariel just giggled at the startled judge. When he returned to his bench, he just sat there for along time in deep thought. Staring at the myth in the middle of his courtroom, she continued to flip her flipper up and down and gave the judge a reassuring smile.

The room quieted in anticipation of what the judge might say. "There is no president for this. I am no expert on mermaids, but you do appear to be one. Your story fills in the blanks the defendant left in his story. Therefor," he gave her a smile back. "Case dismissed!" He hammered.

The courtroom got very noisy as the spectators push forward to see the mermaid. My lawyer shook my hand and said "congratulation, why didn't you tell me about her?"

"I could not, I had promised Ariel I would keep her a secret." I explained.

"Well she's not a secret anymore. What are you going to do now?" asked the lawyer.

"I don't know. I have to talk to Ariel!" I replied.

Ariel closed her robe and wheeled over to me and said "Push me out, we have to talk!" I got behind the chair and pushed toward the doors, as the two guards moved the crowd back.

There was some legal paper work that had to taken care of before I was released. Outside the courthouse a large crowd had gathered, along with members of the press. There was a table with a lot of microphones on it just outside the door. I made for the alley around back, but Ariel said, "Wait! Let me speak to the press."

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes I'm sure. Trust me I know what I am doing." she reassured.

At the microphones, the mermaid Princess said. "First I have a statement. My Kingdom or country as you like to call it, is thousands of years old. It's because of our isolation that our country has survived as long as it has. It has only recently become necessary to contact the human world for needs that has become critical as of late. My good friend Roy has seen to those needs and will continue to do so, I hope." Ariel gave me a look with a warm smile. Continuing she said, "We will not make any alliances with any country or align with any ideology. We are a peaceful race and wish to be neutral! We also wish to be left alone! So please do not attempt to find us. We have ways of hiding from your location devices. Respect our wishes and we will make contact with the human world from time to time . . .. Are there any questions?"

A roar came from the crowd. Ariel pointed to a female reporter. She asked. "Can we get a picture of you, Please?"

Ariel turned to me. "Pick me up so everyone can get a picture of us."

Once again my jaw was in its usual state. "Wow, have you learned a lot about our human society. And I would love to!"

"I had to! My best friend needed me and I was not going to let him down. Aquata agreed, that it was time for us to come forward in the human world." said Ariel as she removed her robe.

Picking her up from the wheel chair, and holding her as high as I could with one of my arms under her tail the other around her back. One of her arms around my neck the other out stretched. We smiled and Ariel flipped her tail. The flash bulbs were blinding, and the crowed pushed forward. But the two guards with the help of the police kept them from over running us. All the while I was thinking, "Now there are pictures of the mermaid, and I don't have a one." And wondering if my friends, who did not come on that trip, are laughing now?

Another reporter shouted. "Mister Stanton, how long have you known the mermaid?"

I replied. "Her name is Ariel! About 6 mouths, we meet when I was on a sailing vacation. You can't ask for a better friend. These people are the kindest and gentlest people I have ever met. They are people just like you and me! They have feelings and love and hurt just like we do! I hope you will give them the rights and respect that we all take for granted!"

Ariel said. "That was sweet. Thank you! OK, lets go. I have a . . . oh, what is it called? Oh, limousine . . .itís over there." She pointed the way.

We pushed our way to the limo. People shouting questions as we went.

Once in the limo, Ariel and I sat in the back and the two guards sat in front of us. One said to the driver, "To the hotel please." The limo eased out from the crush of people that had gathered around the car.

"You never cease to amaze me!" I said giving Ariel a hug. "You said you will learn to adjust to the human world, but I never thought you could do it so fast! You handled the court and the reporters like a pro!"

"As I once told someone else a long time ago, don't under estimate me'. I loaded up with a lot of books from the Library. Do you know they let you borrow them for free? Television is a great teacher too, if you stay away from all the junk that's on that thing." explained the worldly mermaid. She added "The hotel is a sea weed screen, we will change there and then go to the beach house. Chub and Blenny do not like the dry land and want to get back to the sea as soon as possible."

We arrived at the hotel's back door to avoid the crowd that had formed in the lobby waiting to see the mermaid. We went up to a room on the 12th floor, the floor that had the suites, using an employee elevator.

In the room Ariel changed herself into a human. We all changed our clothes and Ariel put on a blond wig. "My hair is a give away, no matter what I wear." she explained then added. "Do you think I should change its color?"

"No!" We all said in unison.

Finally at the beach house, I thanked Chub and Blenny for their help before they swam back home. Later Ariel and I caught up on what has been going on in each otherís life, over a kelp and seaweed dinner. Prepared by the royal chef, Otto. It seemed funny to me to have an octopus in the kitchen, but he did have a way of getting a lot of things done at once.

"How's the treasury holding up?" I asked.

"Keeping up the business, is a drain but I think we have the resources to last a long time." replied the girl.

"I have an idea I want to run by you. If you approve, it may be the end of using the royal treasury and your personal treasure as well."

"What! What is it?" She asked excitedly.

"Well remember back when I took you to the restaurant with the small band that you sang with?"

"Yes!"

"Do you remember the reaction that you got from everybody there?"

"Yes! But how is that going to help?"

"I know that you sing just for pleasure, but why not share that pleasure?" She gave me a smirk. "Here me out! I can set up a recording session for you in a studio with just a few musicians and technicians. You can sing a few songs from the mer world and maybe an oldie or a pop or maybe even something new. Now that your secret is out the humans of the world will go mermaid crazy. You will be a hot item, and there is the merchandising, but we can get into that later. The revenue that your singing will make will keep your people in water makers for years. What do you think?" I waited for the shoe or fin in this case, to drop.

"I'll have to think about it. I don't want to draw anymore attention to me then I have to. But I know there is going to be a lot of that for awhile." she replied.

Before I could continue, there was a knock at the door. Opening the door revealed a man that had that, Iím from the Government, look to him. "Not again!" I said. "What this time?"

"It's not like that sir!" he replied. "The President of the United States would like to meet with you, and Princess Ariel if she would be so kind to grant him an audience."

Chapter 8

A Whole New World

Two days later we flew to Washington, DC aboard a chartered flight. It was Ariel's first airplane ride and she was glued to the window the whole trip. "Look at the clouds from the top, they look like sea foam, they're so beautiful. The sea is so blue from up here. The land is such a beautiful green...." Etc., was all the excited girl would talk about.

We arrived in Washington to the red carpet treatment. A Secrete Service detail was assigned to keep the press and public a safe distance from Ariel. As we were driven to the White House, we could see some groups of protesters. Protesting almost any subject that you could think of, they were even some protesting against Atlantica. "Don't let that bother you. In a free society of more than 200 million, they're always someone against something." I explained.

"I have read about your Constitution and the Bill of Rights and we have the same freedoms in Atlantica. But there are few that have anything to complain about, except the fishing and not enough water."

At the White House we were ushered into a sitting room to wait for the President to join us. Ariel was in mermaid form, so she was in a wheelchair with her Trident on the back, which gave the Secrete Service agents some concern. But relented when it was explained as a symbol of her office and I insisted on pushing her. Ariel had on her green silk robe, and her hair was up for a more formal look. Even I was in a suit.

When President Bush came in, there were the formal introductions, then we got down to the subject at hand.

As I watched the conversation, I could see that the President could not take his eyes off Ariel. The mermaidís charm and sweetness enchanted him to.

Here again I had my usual mouth open, jaw on the floor look.

Now the President had my expression too.

Ariel turned to me. "Roy, please hand me my Trident." As I pulled it out of its sheath, the Secret Service agents started to move in. The President held up his hand to halt them.

Ariel held the Trident points down and pointed it at her tail that was showing from under her robe. Then a blue glow formed that came from the Trident to her tail. The flash that followed was so bright that we all had to shield our eyes. A second later Ariel was standing in front of her chair.

We concluded our talks, which included a discussion of the water pollution problem and the rampant fishing. Then there was a photo op for the press in another room. Ariel had changed herself back into a mermaid and posed with the President. But it looked like the cameras were all focused on Ariel, including mine. I finally got my picture of the little mermaid.

We were invited to have dinner with the First Family and stay the night at the White House. I informed the President's Secretary of Ariel's strict vegetarian diet, so there would not be any embarrassment for either party.

Early next morning, I set off to explore the grounds around the White House. A Secret Service agent told me "Princess Ariel was already up and is in the Rose Garden" and pointed the way. When I entered the garden, I saw Ariel sitting on the grass her back was to me, so I just watched her for a minute. There were a lot of birds and some squirrels around her. She was talking to them and feeding them some scraps of bread that she must have gotten from the kitchen.

Clearing my throat caused the birds fly off and the squirrels scamper away. Ariel turned and said, "Oh, it's you! Come and join me, isn't this is a beautiful garden. I love the smell of the flowers and the clean grass. I had forgotten how sweet they smell." She was wearing a white dress that was long and full. The sleeves were long and the neckline was tastefully high, but she still had the blue sapphire around her neck. She went on to say "I don't want to tell anyone about the other powers of the Tridents. They may want to take them away from us."

"I agree, there are a lot of aggressive countries or even individuals that would want that power for themselves. We will ask the President to keep the magic thing secrete too, for the same reason. And I am sorry for freighting off all your little friends." I added.

We saw the President with some other men come out to greet us. "I have to say goodbye now I have other duties to take care of, I will put an airplane at your disposal."

"Thank you, Mr. President. We have reservations to go to Nashville. Where Ariel is going to make an album"

"You sing too? What a delightful young lady you are. Well if I can't do anything else, I will say goodbye!" said the President.

Before he left, Ariel informed him of her desire to keep the Trident's power a secret, which he agreed too.

"Songs of the Mermaid, cut one, take one." Said a voice over the intercom from the sound booth. The orchestra began and Ariel joined in. Fighting the mesmerizing effect of her voice, I watched the others in the booth with the mixing engineer. Their eyes were all glazed over. "If the effect of her sweet voice can be recorded, it will be an instant hit." I thought.

"Cut!" said the recording engineer. "You are great sweetheart. I need to make a mic adjustment!"

"A mike adjustment, what does that mean?" Ariel asked me.

"He is not happy with the way the microphone sounds," I pointed to the Ďwhatsití, as she called it, that she had been instructed to sing into. "He will make some changes and then we will continue."

"OK, I understand!" and she waited for the engineer to make his changes.

The recording engineer set up a microphone at Ariel's fin. "She is slapping the floor to the music with her tail," he said "and it's a perfect clap sound, I want to get it on a track." he explained.

After he made his changes, the engineer returned to the booth. "Songs of the Mermaid cut one take two!" his voice said over the intercom and he pointed at Ariel. The orchestra began and she started to sing again.

She went through song after song, with each requiring just one or two takes. The producer was amazed. He had never seen a singer that knew her stuff like Ariel. He wanted to sign her to a multiyear multimillion-dollar contract. But she told him "You are vary kind, but no thank you, I would like to keep my singing personal and just for fun. Besides, I don't sign contracts anymore." He did not know what she meant about the contract signing aversion, but he did ask. "Where did you learned to sing so well?" Her answer was. "My music teacher, Sebastian, made me work on my scales!" With that she held her tail straight out, everyone laughed.

Within a week Ariel's songs were being played on the radio and the mermaid craze had started. There were T-shirts, hats, posters, even a soft drink called Coral Cola! Before we left St. Thomas, I had set my lawyer to work on copyrighting Ariel's likeness. We had decided not to stop anyone who used her image, but asked for a small percentage to go toward the mer-fund for cleaning up the waters of the world.

When we returned to the beach house, the mail was piling up with offers from TV and newspapers all wanting an interview. There were telegrams from Oprah, Jay, and Larry, all wanting Ariel to appear on their programs. There were offers from music producers, and three major movie producers all wanting to do her life story.

"It looks like I was right, about the human world putting you under the microscope. But it's the microscope of a celebrity." I said, "So you have won the hearts of the human world, what are you going to do next?"

"Let's spread the wealth." replied Ariel. There was a devilish look in her eye. "Let's find an unknown to give an interview too."

The next morning I went into town, located the growing press core, and asked around. Finding a little known English reporter named Peter Matson that has only worked for Reuters for six months, I asked him to meet me at the corner restaurant for a small mermaid related story. When he walked into the restaurant, I invited him to sit.

He asked, "Whatís this about?"

"Would you like an exclusive interview with Ariel?" I asked back.

"Aye, but not bloody likely!" He replied. "ĎAve you seen the security they Ďave put on out there?" he added in his heavy British accent.

We ordered coffee and tea from the waitress that came and interrupted us. Then she said. "Oh! I know you. I've seen you on TV. Your Roy what's his name, the one with the mermaid! Right?"

"Yes! Thank you, can you get our drinks now, please?"

"OK right away sir!" and she ran off to get the coffee and tea.

Peter Matson had the expression I have now made famous. Mouth open, jaw on floor, and eyes wide. In other words, looking like a complete idiot.

"Well? What do you say, do you want the interview?" I asked.

"Yes, Yes, I do! But why me?" he asked.

"About six mouths ago I was a nobody too, then this lovely mermaid came into my life. Now waitresses at places like this restaurant recognize me . . . and almost know my name. Ariel likes to help the under dogs of the world and now she needs help with her quest to clean up the waters of the world. Will you help her and do it?"

Peter agreed to do the interview. I gave him the address of the beach house and told him that the security, which we had to hire, will be expecting him around 2:00 P.M. the following day.

The next afternoon Peter Matson and a cameraman arrived at the beach house door. They set up in the living room and when they were ready, I wheeled Ariel in. She was in mermaid form so she was in her wheelchair. The cameraman said to himself but we heard it as well "Blimey, she's a better looker in person." Ariel blushed a little and I did the introductions and the interview started.

Peter Matson was a good interviewer and gave Ariel every courtesy. He too was enchanted with her charm and sweetness. Ariel was cautious with her answers. She did not want to give away too much. Some of the Q and A went like this.

Ariel never brought up the subject of the Tridents and Peter did not either. Either he did not know to ask or had been instructed not too.

Ariel did not want the world to know that she had the power to take on the human form.

I interrupted "How can anyone not be in love with her? Just look at her. She is so sweet and charming. She's an innocent, not corrupted by the things that corrupt all of us."

Ariel blushed "See why I like him, he's so sweet to me."

Peter Matson was awkward with his next question. "Can we see your tail, can you move it for the camera. The audience will want to see that you are a real mermaid?"

"Sure!" Replied Ariel. She extended her flipper up at a 45-degree angel and did what would be equivalent to kicks. She then asked me to wheel her to the beach and invited Peter Matson and his cameraman to fallow.

At the waters edge Ariel asked me to carry her out into the surf. Once in the water she put on a show of swimming mermaid style. She did high-speed runs and high jumps with somersaults in mid air and perfect dives at the end.

At the end of her demonstration, I helped Ariel back into her wheelchair. Then Peter Matson asked a question, we had hoped he wouldn't have. "I have heard from some witnesses that you have been seen around town with lags, not a tail. How do you explain this?"

Ariel handled the question with only a small lip bite. "Yes, that's right!" I looked at her in shock. "We do have the ability to change into human form. I only do it when I can't get something done any other way. The rest of my people do not do it because there is no need for them to go to the surface. All we need is below the sea, except fresh water and my good friend Roy has taken care of that."

"Is there anything you would like to tell the human world?" was Peter's last question.

"Yes! No one person or country owns the Sea. There are a lot of creatures that live in the oceans of the world. How would you like it if we dumped waste in your world, or harvested food from your land? We only ask that the human world stop dumping waste in the oceans and stop fishing in the areas I have shown to President Bush. Also, we are not a threat to anyone so I ask the human world to respect our wish to be left alone. I do understand your curiosity about us so if anyone wishes to contact us please do so by contacting Roy Stanton's diplomatic office."

Chapter 9

Someone Evil This Way Comes

The next two weeks went by like a flash. I had to assemble a staff to take care of the business that has grown into something too large to be handled by myself. I convinced two of my friends, Lee and Scott, to move to Saint Thomas and help me with the company and diplomatic offices. These were two of the guys that had missed the vacation that had started it all.

Money was pouring in from the record album and the merchandising. Also, there were a lot of donations to the Mermaid's Fund for Clean Water. We acquired the small island that I refer to as ĎOur Islandí and renamed it ĎWest Atlanticaí. Lee was a good manager he took over all the duties of running the company. Scott handled the business duties of the diplomatic office. Each put on a staff to help them with their duties. This gave me more time to work directly with the merpeople and one in particular.

Ship's Log The Fowl Wind: "June 24, 1990 1300 hours, wind is out of the East at 12 knots, pressure is 1020 millibars and the sky is clear. I am two nautical miles from West Atlantica. With most of the work to set up our offices in Saint Thomas done, I am going to meet with Ariel at South Beach, the beach where I first saw her, to discuss some details of how we are to forward information to Atlantica. Roy D. Stanton, Captain."

Motoring the Fowl Wind around the rocky point that separates South Beach from West Beach, I could see Ariel on the sand waving to me. She entered the water and was swimming out to meet me, when a speedboat came around the east-end of the island and headed straight for Ariel. My shouting and waving to get their attention to stop or turn them away went unnoticed. The boat continued on. There were four men in the boat I recognized two of them as our attackers months ago on Saint Thomas. I waved and shouted again, this time to try to warn Ariel, but she was too deep under the water and the powerboat made too much noise.

At the speedboat's closest approach to where Ariel was, they threw something in the water. A second later, the surface erupted in an explosion. Helpless, I watched as Ariel's body floated to the surface and the men threw a net over her and hauled her up into their boat. It then turned around and headed out the way it came.

I grabbed my binoculars but not in time to get the name of the boat before it rounded the island. I pushed my boat up to full speed, all of eight knots. The motor roared as it struggled to push my bulky sailboat through the water, but it was no match for the speed of a planing powerboat. From the Eastside of the island, I could see the speedboat meet a larger power yacht. I focused my binoculars on the boats. I was unable to make out any markings but it did have a distinctive look and flew a black flag with "AF" in white on it.

"Roy" a voice called from the stern of my boat. I pulled back on the throttle and shut of the motor, and looked over the stern to see Arista with two mermen. "What happened?" she asked. "We heard an explosion."

"They have taken Ariel!" Pointing the direction. "They used dynamite on her. She was limp when they pulled her out of the water! My boat isn't fast enough to catch them." Tears were welling up in my eyes. The yacht powered up and started to leave. "Can you follow them or try to get a name or number off the yacht?"

Arista replied, "We will try!" then she instructed the two mermen. "Follow that ship and one of you report back here when they reach their destination!" The two men saluted and headed off.

I helped Arista into my boat to wait for the mermenís return. "Did Ariel have her Trident with her?" I asked.

"No, I think she left it at the Palace, but she always has her amulet with her!" replied the mermaid.

"I think they were the same men that attacked us on Saint Thomas. They know about the amulet. I'm sure they will take it away from her."

On a small, but well fortified, island about 60 miles Southeast of Puerto Rico, Ariel comes too. Her mind is fuzzy and it is hard for her eyes to focus. She knew she was in water but there was something wrong. She struggles to gain control of her senses, and then she reaches for her amulet at her chest. It was gone.

"Is this what you are looking for?" a voice said. It sounded the way a voice sound when she is in the water and the speaker is not.

She tried to swim and ran into something. Her mind cleared and she could focus, but she could not see what she had run into. Using her hand, she felt the invisible wall in front of her. Realization hit home, she was in a large glass tank, an aquarium. There was a man standing just outside the tank looking at her. He was a short fat man with a bald head and dark evil eyes. She had seen eyes like that before, in a man called Slone¹ but that was a long time ago.

The man repeated "Is this what you are looking for?" he held up the sapphire amulet. "My men warned me of this trinket. I removed it when you arrived! Only I haven't figured out how it works, yet." He placed the jewel in his vest pocket.

"What do you want from me? A ransom?" Ariel Asked.

"No! Nothing!" answered the fat man. "I am a rich man. I own seven newspapers and five television stations, so I do not need anything from you or your kind!"

"Then why are you doing this to me?" asked the mermaid.

"To add you to my collection, of course!" He gestured to the rest of the room. It was full of aquariums even the walls were tanks. One of which Ariel was in. "You are my latest addition to my collection! Don't worry, I'll take good care of you. Just tell me what you want and what you eat and it's yours. I have added a fresh water hose to the top of the tank. All you need to do to get some water is to turn it on. I got this information from the newspapers. You can do whatever you want except leave, so don't try. Don't try to turn human, there isn't enough room at the top of the tank for you to get air so you might drown."

Ariel started to explore her tank. It was 25 feet long 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep. There were several hoses coming into the tank. Some take water out, some bringing water in and some were bubbling out air. One was fresh water with a valve at the lid. At one end of the tank was a tube about 24 inches in diameter that connected to a smaller tank that was shrouded in black drapes. The fat man said "I will allow you into the other tank to take care of personal matters. But if you do not return to the larger tank, I will induce an electric shock into the water to drive you back." The water was sea water and a comfortable temperature. The tank's lid was locked down so it could not be opened from the inside. The lid also had a small hatch to let in food. A panic attack came upon her and she darted from end to end.

"It's no use, you can't get out. So calm down, you might hurt yourself and we can't have that, can we. Even if you did get out, the building is kept locked and has alarms and guards to keep people out. As well as keep my specimens in!" explained the little round man.

"What are you going to do with me?" she asked, chewing on a fingernail.

"Don't you understand? You are part of my collection. Like the rest of my specimens, you are here to look at! By the way, my name is Alex Fairbank. You can call me Alex!" said the fat man, shyly.

"That's it? I'm just another fish to you?" Ariel's anger flared and her face turned almost as red as her hair.

"Yes! And don't get your hopes up for a rescue. My men said no one followed them. Even if someone did, I have armed guards and electric fences around this island."

The little mermaid floated to the bottom of the tank and turned her back to the man that would be her keeper. Sitting on the bottom of the tank, she pulled her tail up to her chest and huddled in fright. She felt despair closing in on her. She could not see any way out of this adventure. Still not feeling well from the blast that knocked her unconscious, Ariel decided to try to get some sleep. "Maybe this nightmare will be gone in the morning," she thought.

The confused girl lay there for hours before sleep finally overtook her. But was jolted back to reality by Alex opening the hatch at the top of her tank, to drop in some small fish. "What's the fish for?" she asked.

"For you to eat!" replied the fat man.

Ariel's stomach tied in knots. To the shock of Alex, the mermaid started to talk to them.

She was not surprised that none of the fish could talk. Only the fish around mer cities have the power of speech. But she managed to reassure the fish that she was not going to eat them. The fish continued to swim about the tank and Ariel settled back to the bottom.

"If you don't eat fish, what do you eat?" asked Alex. He waited for a response that did not come. "If you don't tell me what you eat, I won't know what to feed you." he snapped. Still no response, "If you don't eat, you will get sick and die. Then I'll just have to catch another mermaid. Maybe the next one won't be so stubborn."

'Catch another mermaid?' The words hit Ariel hard. She could not allow that to happen. Besides she needed to stay strong if someone is trying to rescue her. "I will eat kelp!" she sobbed.

"There, see you can be reasonable. Very well I will get you some kelp." And the little man left the mermaid alone.

When Alex returned he had a bucket full of kelp. He climbed up the catwalk system above the aquariums. Opening the small hatch in the lid to the mermaid's tank he dumped the contents of the bucket into the water.

After the kelp and other debris settled to the bottom of the tank, Ariel picked up some and tasted it. The kelp was old and limp and tasted brackish. It must have been lying out in the sun on a beach after it washed up from the sea, before being picked up. It was awful some of it gagged the girl and turned her stomach. But it would keep her alive until help arrived, so she ate what she could.

Arista and I waited the rest of the day and most of the next. Aquata and the other sisters checked in from time to time to see if we had heard anything yet. When Reginald, one of the mermen that followed the yacht returned, he said "Princess Ariel is being held at a private island a half days swim to the Northwest. I can lead you back to the island when you are ready."

"Arista you get Ariel's Trident and five mermen that can fight and are willing to become human to rescue Ariel. Have them on my boat as soon as you can." I ordered.

"It's been two days now, how long are you going to mope. I want to see you swimming about like my other fish!" said Alex.

"I don't feel like entertaining you." snapped the mermaid.

"Why not? The other fish do!" snapped the fat man back.

"I'm not a fish. I am a mermaid. How would you like it if I had captured you and kept you in a tank at the bottom of the sea and fed you garbage?" Ariel said as big tears began to flow but could not be seen in the water of the aquarium.

Alex did not care how she felt. He wanted her to swim so he could watch her. "Swim!!" he yelled, "or I'll shock you in this aquarium!"

Ariel began to swim about the tank. "I have to stay ready and healthy, for my escape," she thought. "Who am I kidding? There's no hope." Despair began to creep over her again. "What am I thinking, I can't give up. There must be a way out of here. I have to keep my hopes up or I will surly die in this prison."

"You can see the yacht at the dock!" said Reginald. The Fowl Wind was on a Westerly course with a following wind. There were Arista, Reginald and four other men aboard. Arista insisted in coming along, not just for her love for her little sister, which would have been reason enough, but she had listened to Ariel's adventures for years and now it was her turn. The five mermen all now human and wearing some of my clothes, were all crammed into the cockpit looking at the island Reginald had lead us too.

The other merman that followed the yacht, his name is Huet, came up behind the Fowl Wind. Arista changed him into a human and he put on a pair of my shorts and climbed into the cockpit too. I asked him for a layout of the island. He explained the island and its defenses with the detail of a skilled spy. We worked all night on a rescue plan, as we kept sailing West. "We don't want to raise their suspicions by hanging around the area, we will need surprise on our side." I said.

Huet said, "There was a way to get up to the main house under water. For some reason there is a channel from the sea to the house where large pumps take in sea water into the house." Arista and Huet would swim under the fences with the Trident after conjuring up a storm and then knock out their radar. A bolt would be fired into the air as a signal to me to bring the Fowl Wind straight for the dock. Just before we would arrive, the Trident would be brought to bear on the fence around the compound. The rest of us would rush the house after Arista passed us the Trident and we would use it to neutralize any resistance we might encounter.

Ariel lay at the bottom of her tank. Pretending to sleep, when Alex opened the hatch at the top of the aquarium to drop in some kelp. When he knelt over the opening to drop in the food, his own fat arms obstructed his view of the mermaid. All at once she had an arm around his neck and pulled him down hard against the cover to the tank. "Ouch!" hollered the fat little man. "Let go of me."

"Not until you open the lid to this prison!" she grunted, trying to hang onto the round man with one arm while reaching for his pocket with the other. Her grip with wet arms was slipping off. She tried to grab with the other arm. But the opening in the top of the tank was too small and the man was too round. Losing her grip, she fell back into the tank without the amulet.

Alex gasped for a breath, he was not use to this much strain. "You shouldn't have done that! I'll have to teach you a lesson in behavior." He climbed down from the catwalks that surround the aquariums in the viewing room. Sitting down at a control console, he located the right button and pushed it. A jolt of electricity stunned the girl. Ariel dropped back to the bottom of the tank and sobbed, not so much from the shock, but from her failure.

Even in a tank inside a building, Ariel could hear the thunder from a storm that was building outside. The sound of the storm made her long for the sea. "Will I ever see the sea again?" she thought.

At that moment a guard came rushing in. "Mr. Fairbank, the lightning has struck the house, knocking out the radar and the security systems."

"Get someone up to fix them, sergeant." ordered the fat man.

"Yes sir! It will take some time sir." Replied the sergeant of Alex's security force.

"Just do it, I have a bad mermaid I have to deal with!" ordered Alex. The guard left and the fat man turned his attention back to the aquarium. "Now where were we?"

There came a loud crash from outside. "Now what" complained the fat man as he turned toward the door.

Outside the Fowl Wind was on her side on a sandy beach. Because of the erratic winds of the storm, I had completely missed the dock and ran aground. From the beach we were closer to the channel where Arista and Huet were waiting. Five of us from the boat rushed the guards who were caught off guard and Reginald ran to Arista, still in the channel leading to the house, to get the Trident.

Reginald's first objective was to blasted the steel door to the guards' quarters, fusing the door shut. The guards, which were on duty, started shooting at us. Reginald tried to fire the Trident at a guard in a tower, but was hit in the arm, knocking him down and dropping the Trident. I fired back with my gun, hitting the guard. My stomach turned sick but I could not stop to be ill. Bullets were still coming from the remaining three guards.

"Regi, the Trident!" I yelled. He picked it up and tossed it to me. Thinking about what Ariel had told me about how it worked. I focused my mind on a shield around us. The Trident started to glow with a blue halo. The bullets were no longer getting through to us. Just as a short fat man came out of the house a bullet ricochet off the shield and hit him in the stomach. Seeing the fat man drop, the guards stopped shooting and ran over to him.

Dropping the shield, we moved in on the guards. Pointing my gun at them, I ordered them to drop their guns. The rest of my men swept the compound and gathered up everyone they found outside the house. One of the mermen used the Trident to turn off the storm and change Arista and Huet human to join in the round up, after getting some clothes from the beached Fowl Wind.

Arista and I searched the house for Ariel. We finally found her in a room of fish tanks. She was locked in the largest of these tanks and was lying on the bottom crying. When she heard us shout "Ariel," she picked up her head. The light in her face came on at the sight of friendly faces.

"Roy! Arista! Is that really you? How did you find me?" she asked.

Climbing up the catwalks and to her tank, I said. "Let's get you out of this thing first. We can talk later." Then released the latch and lifted the cover to the tank. Ariel sprang out of the water into my arms. I carried her down the stairs at the end of the row of aquariums. All the way she held onto me and cried.

"I c . . . c . . . can't t . . . tell you how g . . . g . . . glad you are here, it . . . it . . . was . . . horrible!" Ariel said through her sobs.

"It's OK, you are safe now!" I reassured her. "Let's get you off this island."

Outside, Ariel saw the mermen that were attending the wounded. She asked, "Did someone get hurt?"

"Yes!" answered Arista "two of our men, two guards and the fat man."

Ariel started to wiggle in my arms. "Put me down by them and get my Trident." she requested. I put her down near the injured and Arista handed her the Trident.

"No keep it away from me!" shouted the fat man and tried to crawl away from her. "Don't let it hurt me." He cried.

Huet bent down and put a hand on the man and said. "She's not going to hurt you. Just lay still." he instructed.

Ariel held her Trident over each man in turn. At each, a glow of blue surrounded the Trident and the man. When all were healed, Alex said. "Why did you do that, I was willing to let you die."

Ariel replied. "I can't let any creature suffer, not even an evil man like you. What I did is not a cure I can't remove any bullets, because they are not natural. But I did stop the bleeding. You will have to get a doctors help to remove the bullets." Then she reached into his pocket to retrieve her amulet. Alex tried to keep away from her but Huet held him down. "I'll take that," she added.

Ariel and Arista kept an eye on Alex and his men, while the rest of us worked to get the Fowl Wind off the beach. We used Alex's yacht to pull it into the bay. Once my boat was afloat, I shot some holes threw the hull of the yacht to make it sink. We also disabled any communications the island had after notifying the authorities of the medical need here on Alex Farbank's island. These measures would give us a chance to get back to West Atlantica before anyone could rescue Alex, and try to recapture Ariel.

With everyone else back on the refloated Fowl Wind, I went to Alex Fairbank. Leaning down to the frightened man, I told him "I would be cautious next time you venture out on the sea, if I were you. Ariel is the one of seven Princesses of a kingdom with 200,000 plus merfolk that love their Princesses. So I don't think the sea is a safe place for you any more." This was a bluff, because I knew that the mer people would never attack anyone with out cause.
 
 

Chapter 10

A Hard Time

Ships' log The Fowl Wind: "2330 hours local. Ten hours out from Alex Fairbank's island, The seas are calm and the wind is out of the East at seven knots. Boat speed, five knots, pressure is 990 millibars and rising. Arista and the mermen have returned to the sea, as my boat was too slow and crowded for them. Ariel, in mermaid form, is sleeping in my cabin and I will keep watch. Roy D. Stanton, Captain."

I stowed the log book in itsí drawer and turned on the HF radio. Setting it to the frequency that is used by the diplomatic core of Atlantica, I called Scott at our office on Saint Thomas to let them know I was returning to West Atlantica with Ariel. That business done, I settled into the corner bench of the cockpit and watched the Fowl Wind do its usual fine job of automatic sailing. The sky was clear and a meteor shower was putting on a fireworks display, it seemed, just for me. The only sound was the wind in the sails and the grown from their sheets tugging at the blocks and capstans pulling the boat through the water.

The silence was broken by a scream from my cabin. I jumped up and ran down into the cabin and into my stateroom. Ariel was sitting up in bed shaking and in a cold sweet. "What happened, are you all right?" She did not answer. She just sat there in the bed pulling her tail up to her chest. I went over to the bed and sat down. Putting my arms around her made her jump from being startled. Pulling her close, I held her and rocked her saying. "It's OK, you are safe now!" I felt her shaking slow after some time of rocking her and saying "It's OK! You had a bad dream!" When she started to cry, I said, "That's good let it out!" She cried for a long time, when her crying finally slowed, I felt her relax when sleep finally came to the girl.

The Fowl Wind sailed through the night and I continued to hold the sleeping mermaid. From my position on the bed the control console in the main salon was in view through the door. Making it possible for me to keep an eye on the radar encase another vessel came along or land was in our path.

It was late morning when the auto helm beeping awoke me. It was warning me that we were approaching West Atlantica. Ariel was still asleep in my arms. I slowly slid her down to the bed. My bones creaked and muscles ached when I tried to get up and make my way into the salon. Silencing the auto helm was followed by "Where are we?" Ariel asked from my stateroom.

"We are almost home!" I reassured her. "Will you be all right, if I go up to bring us into the lagoon?" I asked.

"I'll be OK, but can you take me with you? I want to see the sea!"

"Sure, I'll be right there." and I did with a lot of complaining from my bones.

I piloted the Fowl Wind into the lagoon and set the anchors while Ariel sat on a seat in the cockpit and stared at the island and the sea around it. "It's even more beautiful then I remembered it. When I thought I would never see the sea again, I would try to remember this place. It was what kept my hopes alive." She said.

"I know it will be difficult, but try to forget your ordeal. Get some rest and relax for a few days. You'll feel better when your routine is normal. I'll stick around too do some work on my boat. That way I'll be here if you need to talk or anything."

"Thanks, I'll do that." and she jumped into the clear warm water of the lagoon.

The next two days was spent fixing a lot of things that had been neglected on the Fowl Wind far too long. Ariel could be seen from time to time swimming in the lagoon with her fish friends and other mermaids. One evening she had dinner with me on the boat, but she still did not have that sweet spark, that spirit, that we all love in her. On the third day, with most of the work on the boat done, I took the afternoon off and spent it on the beach. It was a hot and muggy day, so I had a beach chair in the serf to allow me to set half submerged in the slightly cooler and slightly wetter water. I was just starting to cool off when Ariel swam up beside me. I said "Hi!" and she replied "Hello!" back then she just sat there for a while and flipped water with her tail. "I need to get back to work." she finally said.

Deciding it was not a good time to make a princess joke, I just asked. "Back to work, what did you have in mind?"

"I want to know why our springs are polluted. What is it that humans do to make the water bad so far away, and what can I do to change it?" she explained. I could see how serious she was about this subject.

"Do you feel up to a lot of traveling?"

"Yes! I think I need to get busy, get my mind on something else, a new adventure. Will you help me? Please!"

"You know I will always be here for you! So, you go get packed. I need to make some calls. Meet me on the boat when you are ready."

At that moment a sound of falling water drew our attention to the inland lagoon. The waterfall had returned the water was coming in increasing volume. Ariel's eyes lit up and she swam around to the channel where the inland lagoon met the sea. I got out of my chair and walked to where the falls formed the inland lagoon and wadded into the fresh cool water. The mermaid got there first and had pulled herself up on a rock under the fall's spay to let the cool water hit her in the face then run down her hair and body. She made a beautiful sight, like something out of a fairy tale.

With a new adventure planned and the waterfall back, the sparkle came back to Ariel's eyes. She slid off the rock, swam over to where I was standing. She grabbed my arm and pulled me into the water with her. If anyone had seen us, they would have thought a fight was going on as we wrestled, splashing and pushing each other under the water. A mermaid has a big advantage in this type of contest. It ended with her saying "Thanks" and giving me a kiss on the cheek then she turned and swam off to get her things, leaving me sitting on the beach gasping and smiling.

On the Fowl Wind, I had just finished making some calls to arrange for some transportation, when I heard and saw the effects of the Trident as Ariel changed herself to human form. We always left some clothes in a seat locker in the cockpit for Ariel to change into as she came on board. A minute later she came into the cabin where I was working. Upon seeing the grin I still had, she said. "What??"

"Nothing! I'm just happy you are feeling better." I said and tried to get serious.

"Are we ready to go?" she asked, her eagerness bubbling over.

"Yes! But first I made a new hiding place for your Trident." I showed her the place I made under the deck boards. Ariel hid her Trident and I got the Fowl Wind under way.

We sailed to Saint Thomas where we picked up a flight to Miami and then on to New York. Ariel wore a scarf on her hair and sunglasses, so she would not be recognized. While we flew up the East Coast, I pointed out the large cities trying to impress her with the size of the population of the United States.

In New York we rented a car, knowing this was a slow and frustrating way to get around, but I wanted Ariel to see how crowded we humans choose to be. We saw the industry, the commerce, and the waste disposal systems. She was shocked when she saw the garbage barges taking the garbage out to sea to be dumped. Next we saw landfills where toxic waste were being dumped, and allowed to leak into the water table. I took her to many large cities in the U. S. and other countries, to get a feel of the scope of the problem.

What we saw was not all bad. We also visited the farming country to see where the food comes from. She had seen the food store in the village where the beach house is on St. Thomas. But when she saw the super markets, the sheer volume and the variety of food was awed the girl, except the fish section made her sick. We also visited a shopping mall this seemed to give her the most delight. All the thingamabobs, the whosits and whatsits that she had collected after falling into the sea were here all laid out new and shinny. She was a child again, running from store to store to see what new gadget she could discover. It excited me to watch a person for whom the world was new. Her innocence made me see things in a new light.

It was at one of these malls while running to see an umbrella that caught Ariel's eye that a commotion drew our attention. A man had stolen a woman's purse and was running our direction. Ariel pulled out an umbrella and took a sword fighting stance, "Halt!" she ordered. The man just pushed her umbrella away and continued by her. She spun around with the push, making her scarf fly off, and caught him in the side of the head from behind with the umbrella. The dazed man stopped his escape and turned to face the girl that interfered with it. He pulled out his gun. Just as nimble as her turn to strike the man, she used the umbrella on the man's gun, knocking it to the floor and then poked him in the stomach and slapped the sides of his face with the umbrella. Then inserted the weapon between his legs at the knees, she spun him around taking the man to the floor. All in the blink of and eye, "I said, HALT!" glared the now showing red head.

I picked up the gun he had dropped and asked. "Where did you learn to do that?"

"Eric thought me to use a sword, once you learn you never forget. These twirl-a-majiggers work like a sword."

As the crowd gathered around us and the mall security took the man away, someone recognized Ariel. "Look, isn't that the mermaid?" he said. "It looks like her, but she has Legs!" someone else said. A third said, "I read that she can have legs too!" People started to crowd around her, wanting to get her autograph or have their pictures taken with her.

Ariel was a good sport and tried to accommodate everyone by signing T-shirts, CD albums, posing for pictures and answering questions. One person asked "What's it like to be a mermaid, I mean what is it like where you live?" She tried to answer, but it was difficult for her to explain. I had to step in when I saw that she was getting tired. It took the help of the mall's security to get her out of the crowd.

During one of our stays in a local hotel, we looked at some maps to show Ariel where we had been and how much more of the world there is to see. I showed her how to find how big a city was and how many people lived in it. She was starting to understand how so many made so much pollution. With that in mind we next saw some businesses that recycled and others doing clean up of places that have been polluted. But it was obvious even to a mermaid that it was not enough.

By the end of the two-week tour, we were in Los Angeles California and exhausted. Ariel took some needed R and R on the beach in front of our Santa Monica hotel, while I caught up on some business matters. My work done, I joined Ariel on the sand. She was wearing a two-piece white bathing suit, sunglasses and a scarf over her hair. She was reading one of those super market tabloids and was startled when I came up and sat on the blanket that she was lying on.

"It's only me!" I reassured her. "How are you doing?"

"Fine! I'm sorry for being so jumpy, but look at this!" she held up the rag to show me the article she was reading.

It was a story about the threat to humanity from the mer world, with a byline from some reporter that I never heard of before.

"Where did you get this rag?"

"It was blowing along the beach, I picked it up to put in one of the trash containers. But the story about us caught my eye. I had to read it."

"Look, it's one of those papers I told you about. They will print anything that will sell papers. It does not have to be true. They don't even check the facts. See!" Pointing to the paper's masthead. "It's owned by Alex Fairbank. So don't give it a thought, you know what kind of man he is."

"He is an evil man, but some people read and believe the things that are in this type of paper. They don't know what kind of person he is, they just read and believe." said the worried girl.

"Let's not think about him, we need to figure out where we go from here." I changed the subject.

"I was just thinking about that. What I can do to make people aware of the pollution problem and what it means to my world." she said, followed by a heavy sigh.

"I know you once said that you don't want any attention, but look around you. What do you see?" I asked, as we looked up and down the beach. We could see that mermaid merchandise was every where. There were mermaid towels, T-shirts, hats, swim suits, ice chests, and umbrellas, just to name a few. "You are a celebrity and the world loves you. You can use this public attention to get your point out in the open."

"I'm not that popular!" she smirked.

"Wanna bet, let's see if people believe you or Alex." I reached for the sunglasses and scarf and pulled them off the surprised girl. Then took her by her hands and pulled her to her feet. Ariel's hair, feel from the roll it was in when it was under the scarf. There she stood, without anything to shield who she was. Her red hair blowing in the gentle summer time on shore breeze. It only took a second before someone recognized her. Within a minute a crowd had gathered around her, all wanting her autograph and their picture taken with her. She was as graceful at public relations as she was a swimmer and with a lovely smile she greeted everyone that came to her. "I rest my case." I boasted.

Later back in our hotel suite, Ariel playfully hit me and pouted. "That was a dirty trick, you did to me. You embarrassed me!" and she hit me again.

The pout turned to smiles and giggles when I tickled her back and said. "You deserved it." Holding her close, I got serious. "I know Alex Fairbank frightens you. But most of the people in the human world loves you and wants to know more about you and your world. What happened just now on the beach and last week at the mall proves it. Take advantaged of your popularity while it lasts. If you wait too long, people will say. Ariel who?'"

"OK. You win. How do we do this?"

"We have already received hundreds of invitations for you to speak at Universities, clubs and charities. But I think we need some professional help."

She looked at me with a puzzled face.

Continuing to hold her and letting our lips drifted closer, Arielís eyes closed. At one inch from what I have hoped for, for so long, the phone rang. The sound startled the girl and she broke our embrace. Her face turned from a puzzled look to one of confusion. She turned and ran to her room in our two bed room suit.

Answering the phone, "Hello!" I said with an edge to my voice. It was only the office with a minor delivery problem with the Ďwater makersí.

Chapter 11

A Star is born?

"Mr. Hammond will see you shortly, please have a seat!" said the pretty Ms. Barbone, Mr. Hammond's receptionist. The waiting room of The Hammond Agency was as small as the agency itself. The waiting room was crowded with just a small couch, two chairs and a table with copies of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter on it. There were a lot of pictures on the walls but I was unable to recognize any of the people in them.

"Mr. Hammond will see you now." Said Ms. Barbone, as she stood and opened the door next to her small desk.

"Come in, come in!" said the cheery Mr. Hammond. "What can I do for you? Does one or maybe even both of you need an agent? Well you've come to the right place. I represent many of the new faces in Hollywood. So what do you do, sing, act, dance, write, what will it be?" added the talkative Mr. Hammond.

Mr. Hammond was a small man. To say he is about five feet would be generous. Black slicked back hair a pointy noise and a smile that looked glued on. His suit was the kind you would think a used car salesman would wear.

"It's not like that, we need someone to setup a speaking tour and maybe help us produce a documentary." I said.

"OK, . . . but who are you?" asked the grinning man. Ariel had on a Navy blue pantsuit and her dark glasses and scarf, so no one could recognize her, it worked. She removed her sunglasses and scarf and shook out her hair.

"Oh! Oh my god! You're her, the mermaid. Can I represent you, oh please say yes?" groveled Mr. Hammond.

"If you can keep it low profile! We don't want a big to do, we just need some help setting up a speaking tour and putting together the equipment needed to make an under the sea documentary. Can you do that?" I gave him a skeptical look.

"Low profile? Oh yes I can do that, yes." he turned to a Rolodex and fumbled through the cards.

Ariel giggled. "He reminds me of my friend, Sebastian."

"Sebastian? Who's Sebastian and who handles him?" asked the nervous man.

"He was my music and philosophy teacher. You are a lot like him. He is a crab!" she replied.

"Well I might get upset from time to time but I don't think I am crabby." defended the little man.

"You don't understand. He is a crab!" said the girl and jester with her hands to make sign of a crab.

"Oh . . . Oh! I get it!" laughed the wiry man.

"It's OK Ariel, he will get it when he sees the film."

Two weeks later, back on West Atlantica, we prepared for our movie making adventure. I got the underwater camera ready then Ariel changed us to merpeople. It took two weeks to get every thing we wanted on film.

Back on the Fowl Wind we stowed the film, the camera equipment and Ariel's Trident, before getting underway. After clearing the reef, we heard the sound of a large powerboat. It came around the island at full speed. We recognized the boat by its black and white flag, it was Alex Fairbank's yacht and it was headed straight for us.

When Alex's boat was just a 100 feet away I did a quick jibe, to turn way. The hasty maneuver caused the main sail to snap to the other side so fast and hard, that it snapped the boom sheet. With the main sail uselessly flapping in the wind I tried to roll it up and start the motor. Working at the rigging, I did not notice that the yacht was turning around to make another pass at us until my attention was directed back to the attacking yacht by Ariel screaming. "He's coming back." Trying to turn away again, I was too late. The yacht hit the Fowl Wind broad side amidships on the port side.

The Fowl Wind rolled over on her side as the powerboat ran her over, throwing Ariel and I into the sea. When we surfaced, the yacht was speeding away and the remains of my boat were floating in a widening field of debris. "Ariel!" I called.

"Over here!" came her answer.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, I think so. How about you?"

"I'm OK, but look what he did to my boat!" I look around to see if there was anything useful still in one peace. I found the life ring and the man overboard poll still tied together by a line. There were a lot of cushions floating near by and Ariel being a good swimmer even in human form retrieved them for me. Using the line from the life ring I tied the ring and cushions together with the poll in the middle as a make shift raft. We used the raft to kick our way back to the island. All the time Alexís yacht was about a half mile away watching us.

"I guess we didn't sink his yacht in deep enough water, or he has more then one." I said.

"Let's hope he does not try to finish the job." Ariel worried.

"Is there anything you can do to get some help to get us back to land?" I asked.

"I'll check if there is anyone around!" with that she dove under the surface. Two minuets went by before she returned. Puffing she said. "I forgot I can't talk under water as a human. But, there doesn't seem to be anyone around that I could get their attention. I'll try again."

Ariel kept trying to find someone to help as I kept kicking for the island and watched Alex's boat. With 500 yards to go, I heard the sound of the boat accelerating. I started to kick harder.

When Ariel returned to the surface, I told her. "The boat is coming, have you found some help?"

"Yes," she replied, as a couple of dolphins surfaced next to her. "Give them the rope!" she said and then told the dolphins "Pull us to shore as fast as you can!"

The two dolphins took the line in their mouths and started to swim to the island. The acceleration was so great that it was hard to hang onto the make shift raft. It was a good thing too, just as we took off the yacht roared by, just missing us. Before it could turn around, we were in the lagoon. But the yacht's pilot did not notice that we were on the other side of the reef, when he came at us again. This time the massive powerboat hit the reef and ground to a halt. We crawled onto the beach to the sound of the yachtís powerful engines trying to free it from the reefís grip. "It must have punched a hole in the hull." I said looking back at the yacht to see it pumping out large amounts of water and oil into the lagoon.

"It looks like it's really stuck. Oh my gosh, look at the pollution it's dumping into the sea!" said Ariel. The sight of the sea been defiled brought tears to her eyes. She turned to the dolphins and said "Thank you for your help. But can you do one more thing for me? Go get one of my sisters, please!" At that the two mammals sped off under the still clear water of the lagoon.

"Let's get out of sight of the yacht encase Alex decides to do something else, to try to kill us." I said. We ran into the tree line then worked our way to the rocks of the point that separates West Beach from South Beach. From this vantage point we could keep an eye on the yacht and watch for Ariel's sisters.

The crew on the yacht worked to free them selves from the reef and try to patch the hole in the hull of the yacht. Alex Fairbank was in the wheel house yelling at everyone.

When a voice from the lagoon in front of South Beach called, "Ariel!" we worked our way down to where Arista and Andrina were waiting. We told them what had happened and I asked the mermaids "Can one of you retrieve Ariel's Trident from my boat and the other go get a Coast Guard boat. Do you remember what I said their boats look like?"

"I do!" said Andrina, and with a flip of her tail, she was off. Arista said "I always wanted to explore a ship wreck but I did not think it would be yours. Oh, I am sorry. I'll be back in a few!" and she was gone too.

Some distance away aboard a Coast Guard Cutter, patrolling the Caribbean Sea for drug smugglers. "Captain, there is a swimmer in the water 500 yards off the port bow!" Came the voice of one of the lookouts over the intercom in the bridge. "Ahead slow. Helm come to 133, make ready to retrieve the swimmer." the Captain ordered. The crew jumped to and was at stations when the next orders were "All stop, lower away the dory. Fire the life line." Again the crew rushed about their duties, when the lookout's voice came on again. "Sir, it's a mermaid!"

"Well that's something for the book. Stand down on the dory, bring me a megaphone." As the Captain approached the rail of the port bridge wing, a sailor handed him the megaphone. "Ahoy the mermaid, is there something we can do for you?"

Andrina shouted back "Yes, Roy Stanton and Princess Ariel have been attacked by Alex Fairbank. Roy's boat has been sunk and they are stranded on West Atlantica. Can you help?"

"We are on our way!" and the Captain turned to his Executive Officer and said "XO plot a course to West Atlantica and get underway at flank!" The Executive Office replied "Aye aye!" and shouted out his own orders. The cutter hauled in the lifeline and turned to a new course and sped off with a large group of the cutter's crew watching Andrina riding the bow wake.

"I think the tide is coming in. Fairbank's boat will be off the reef in a few minutes. I hope we have some help before then." I told Ariel.

"Let's find some place to hide." Ariel suggested. She no sooner got the words out when machine gun fire started from Alex's boat. The rocks around us started to splinter and shards flew about us.

"Get down!" I shouted. The shooting stopped when we were out of sight. I raised my head to take a look and the fire started again. I ducked just as a spray came across the rock above us, showering us with fragments. "We are pinned down, if we try to move we will be shot. If we stay here, they will come looking for us when they get off the reef."

"Ariel!" called Arista form the water in front of the rocky point where we were hiding. This brought another volley of gunfire, this time directed at the mermaid.

"Get down Arista!" I shouted. "God, don't let her get hit!" The shooting stopped and we did not hear any more voices. Ariel and I lay on the ground looking at each other. Ariel bit her lip and tears welled up in her eyes. "I don't think they hit her!" I reassured her, but not really knowing what happened.

The longest two minuets I have ever experienced pass before we heard Arista's voice. "Ariel! I'm OK! I'm in the South lagoon and I can't find your Trident."

"The hiding place I made in the boat is too good." I said, then shouting to Arista. "It's in the main salon, under the floor in a hidden compartment. Try again, please!"

"OK. I'll try!" Arista shouted back.

The roar from the yacht became louder as it made another attempt to get free. I peeked up over the rock. The boat was pulling off the reef and was pumping large amounts of water, oil and fuel into the sea. The yacht, now free, turned to the passage in the reef so it could get closer to the island. The crew was also working at putting the dinghy in the water. "Theyíre getting ready to come ashore. We need to get moving and fine some place to hide."

The yacht pulled into the lagoon just below where we were and drop its anchor. Three men with guns got in the dinghy and came ashore. One man stayed with the dinghy and the other two headed our direction. With the boats in closer to the island the rocks gave us a little more cover to move around behind. "Let's move to a new location, this is going to be the first place they look." We stayed as low to the ground as possible and worked our way to a location above the only route up the rocks.

Ariel stayed by a bend in the path as I hid behind a rock over looking the path. As the men approached, they saw Ariel ducking behind a bolder. One man yelled for her to halt and started to run after her. As the second man ran under my hiding place, I jumped on him, knocking him to the ground and dislodging his gun from his grip. The first man turned around and fired at me, his aim was high but if I had been standing it would not have. I grabbed the gun from the man I had knocked out and fired back, hitting him in the chest and legs.

I felt sick to my stomach, but when I saw him move I ran over to him and pointed the gun at him. "Don't move!" I order and took his gun from him. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, but the leg wound was enough to keep him from giving us any more trouble. I drug the unconscious man over by the wounded man to make it easier to keep an eye on them.

Ariel ran up to me and gave me a kiss. "You were wonderful!" she said. "I'll get the one on the beach!" and she ran to the edge of the rocks over looking the lagoon.

"Wait!" I hollered, but it was too late.

She was in plain view of the man at the dinghy. She grabbed the amulet around her neck as the gunfire started and she fell to the ground. "No!" I shouted and ran over to her and picked her up. "Ariel! . . . Ariel! Please be all right." Tears were starting to blur my vision when she stirred.

"I'm all right!" she groaned. "I used the amulet to protect me from the bullets as I knocked the man out." said the stunned girl. I looked down at what was left of the dinghy. It was a smashed pile of fiberglass with the man lying in the middle of it. "Remember the amulet gets its power from me. Did you know that bullets hit the shield a lot harder than harpoons?"

"Don't do that to me, you had me thinking you were killed!"

"I'm sorry. I don't like to do it either, it really takes a lot out of me. It's a last resort defense."

Our attention was suddenly drawn back to the yacht in the lagoon. It had pulled up its anchor and was heading at high speed to the channel in the reef, back out to sea. "Why is it leaving?" asked Ariel.

"Look!" I pointed to the South. "A Coast Guard ship. That's why Alex is leaving in a big rush."

The yacht accelerated up to run North and the Cost Guard cutter matched his speed and took up the chase. "Look, helicopters!" I pointed to the sky. One chopper took up the chase of the yacht. The other came in for a landing on the Southern beach. "Let's go!" I picked up all the guns from the two men we had encountered and helped Ariel as we headed to the beach on the South end of the island.

When we arrived on the beach, Ariel was getting her strength back. The chopper had landed and two armed men in Cost Guard uniforms got out and took up defensive positions. Andrina was on the sand at the water line. "Did I get some help or what?" boasted the girl.

Ariel and I went over to where the mermaid was lying and I said. "You were great! You really saved our necks, not to mention the rest of us."

A man in a uniform came over to where we were and asked, "Mr. Stanton, Princess Ariel, I presume? I'm Captain Rogers. We are in pursuit of the yacht that attacked you and hope to have the perpetrators in custody soon. We are ready to take you to St. Thomas when you are ready."

I handed him the guns and told him of the men up in the rocks just West of our location and the one on West Beach.

Ariel said, "Thank you Captain, this is my sister Andrina and we need to wait for my other sister Arista to come back. Can you do anything about the oil that Alex's boat dumped into the Sea?"

"Yes, I have already called for a spill clean up response. They will be here in a few hours! I am honored to meet you Princess Andrina."

Just as the Captain finished, Arista returned with Ariel's Trident. "Thanks Captain, but the Sea can't wait that long." Ariel entered the water, Arista handed her the Trident and she continued out to deeper water. When her clothes floated to the surface, Andrina retrieved them. Then a flash of blue light showed from under the water.

After we saw Ariel's flipper breach as she dove deeper I turned to the wide eyed, mouth open Captain, "That was my first reaction too." Realizing what I meant he snapped straight. "Come on if you really want to see something!" We worked our way over the rocks to the position overlooking the West lagoon where the oil slick was growing.

Ariel was already there with her Trident aglow. The Coast Guard men were awed at the sight of the oil being rounded up into a large ball. When all the oil was gathered into the ball, the mermaid dove under it and a blue column of light raised the ball into the air. As it rose Ariel appeared under it, Trident in hand, pushing the oily mess higher. When it reached an altitude of, I guess a thousand feet a bolt of blue lighting sprang from the sea and destroyed the ball.

"Wow!" said Captain Rogers.

"Yes, she is pretty awesome. I would appreciate it if your report just said that the merpeople managed to disperse the oil, nothing more."

"Sure whatever you like, but can we call on her to help in future oil spills?"

"I think you can count on it. You can see why the pollution of the seas, all waters for that matter, are a big concern for the merpeople."

We worked our way down to the beach to meet Ariel. When we arrived Captain Rogers was talking on his radio. I ran into the water and picked up Ariel and spun her around. "That was great, you are wonderful!" We fell in the serf as Andrina and Arista joined us and all four of us were laughing, rolling in the water and splashing each other.

"Excuse me!" Interrupted the Captain. "I hate to interrupt the celebration but I just got word that we caught the yacht and have arrested the people on board."

"That's great!" we all said in unison and went back to splashing about.

"Excuse me! . . . Excuse me! There is more!" insisted Captain Rogers. We stopped our frolic and turned our attention to the impatient Captain again. "The yacht has sunk, and has left a large oil slick. Could I impose on the Princess to help us now?"

"Oh yes, tell them I'll be right there." She turned to pick up her Trident. "Wait, which way is it?" I asked.

"I'll find it, I saw what way they left and I can hear the sound of the Coast Guard boat." Ariel assured me, and then she was off.

"We can leave any time you are ready, Mr. Stanton." said the uniformed man.

"Just one more minute Captain. Arista, Andrina can you retrieve the film canisters and my log books from the wrack of my boat and bring them to the house on St. Thomas?"

"We will try, see you there." replied Arista. Then they were off.

"OK Captain, I am ready. You can take me to St. Thomas, please."

"Yes Sir." As we started back to the chopper, he added. "By the way, you wouldn't want to trade jobs would you?"

 

Chapter 12

Adventure Continued

The chopper landed at the Coast Guard base on Saint Thomas. I was escorted into an office where my statement was taken about what happened to Princess Ariel and myself on West Atlantica. Later at the beach house, while waiting for Ariel and her sisters to show up, I made some calls to locate a new boat and fill Scott in on what had happened.

It was 6:00 PM before Arista and Andrina arrived with the film canisters and log from the wreck of the Fowl Wind. My calls completed, I had some fruit and drinks ready. After sending the film and log to Scott to have them cleaned, we sat out on the deck by the sea where it was easy for me to help the mermaids out of the water. We talked about the adventure while we waited for Ariel to show up. Andrina and especially Arista were bubbling over with excitement. "I now understand what Ariel loved about her adventuring." said Andrina.

"I know, I never had so much fun!" giggled Arista.

"Hey! We were almost killed!" I interjected.

"It was scary at the time, but now it seems to have been a thrill. I can't wait for the next adventure." Andrina paused. "But we can't, we have families that needs us at home." She sighed.

"I think that sounds wonderful. To have someone that loves you and needs you. That sounds like the greatest adventure to me." A blue flash from Arielís Trident as it turned Ariel human interrupted us. That was my cue to go in the house for a minute, as the girl came up the beach and retrieved some clothes that she leaves in a locker at the edge of the deck.

When the call of "OK, you can come out!" came I returned to the three girls at the deck table. Ariel filled us in on what had happened at the sinking of Alex's boat. "The captain of the Cost Guard boat said he would like to use my help at future oil spills. I think I will do that, it will have an immediate impact on improving the water. But I will need your help to get the information for me and help get me to the spill. Will you help?"

"You know I will!" I replied, "But I think we need to continue with our planes to educate the human population on the effects of water pollution on the mer world if you want any long term improvement in water quality."

The next morning Arista and Andrina returned to their families and I let Lee know that Mermaid Salvage was now in the spill clean up business. He was to setup a system to alert us of a spill and immediately arrange transportation to get us there.

Ariel and I returned to Hollywood to get our film edited and have the Hammond Agency arrange for Ariel's first speaking engagement.

For the next month we traveled to 20 cities in the U. S. and 5 in other countries. Ariel's show and tell were well received, there was standing room only at most. Some of the organizations that she spoke at were Universities, the Sierra Club, Green Peace and the United Nations. The UN asked her if they could negotiate Atlantica's admission into the world body. Ariel said she would pass it on to her sister Queen Aquata.

At the lectures Ariel would be in mermaid form and she would talk about the effects of pollution on the water and its effects on the merworld. At some of the venues, the spotlights would reflect off her scales and make flecks of colored light dance about the room in sync with her movement. The movie we made would come next this would let the audience see the merworld as a real place and not just a fantasy land. A short Q and A would follow, then she would end by singing ĎWe Share the Earthí, to prerecorded music. The mermaid's sweet voice would leave the audience in a trance and the applause would be delayed. After her talk she would sign autographs pose for pictures and answer more questions.

When we returned to St. Thomas for some needed R and R. and to take delivery of my new boat. Ariel christened it ĎFowl Wind IIí for me. It was a 53-foot Moorings sloop and was with out masts or sails and needed a couple of weeks more in the boat yard to be fitted to my specifications. It was to have the same electronics and rigging as my old boat with the addition of a satellite phone. Ariel could not understand how the phone worked, but loved to use it. "If only I could use it to talk to my sisters in Atlantica." she said.

"We'll work on it."

"Really, do you think it can be done?" her big blue eyes popped wide.

"I don't see why not, there will be some problems to overcome. But I think a telephone system could be made to work in Atlantica."

During this time I was summoned and Ariel was requested to appear at a hearing in the matter of the United States verses Alex Fairbank. The hearing was to be in two weeks.

With two weeks to kill we decided to take a vacation. We both loved the sea and wanted to spend the time on it or in it. The Fowl Wind II would be in the boat yard for another month, so we flew to Miami and chartered a sailboat there. Exploring the Bahamas would be new for both of us.

Chapter 13

The Evil is Just Starting

Ships Log The Money Pit: "September 24, 1990: Ariel and I Left Miami on a course of 80 degrees for a two week cruse of the Bahamas. The wind is coming from 105 degrees at 10 knots. Pressure is 1010 millibars. Skies are partly cloudy, humidity 55%, temperature 90 degrees and 25-mile visibility. Roy D. Stanton, Captain." So ended the first log entry of our chartered boat.

This was to be a cruse of relaxation. Alex was in jail, the speaking tour was on hold and my new boat was being fitted by the boat yard on St. Thomas. We had nothing to do but relax and enjoy the sea. I set a course to Bimini, a nice two-day sail. The Money Pit was a nice boat, rigged for ease of sail and had most of the electronic toys too.

During the first part of the trip, I taught Ariel to sail and use the auto helm and the satellite phone. She taught me how the use the Trident. By the time we reached Bimini, we were both getting an understanding in the use of the device we were learning.

We anchored in a small cove near the Bimini Road. Ariel was curious as to what the Bimini Road was. I explained about the myths of the Bermuda Triangle and the rocks of the road that some people think are part of Atlantis.

"Atlantis! You want to know about Atlantis, next time we are in Atlantica, I'll take you to Atlantis." Ariel said.

When everything was secure, Ariel said she wanted to go for a swim. I had to make some calls to check on a problem back at the factory where we made the water makers'. I told Ariel "You go ahead. I will catch up with you in 15 minutes."

Ariel took her Trident and dove into the water. After the familiar blue flash she returned to the boat rail and placed the Trident on the cockpit seat. "I'll leave this here, so you can join me when you are done." And with a flick of her tail she disappeared in the clear warm sea.

When my work was finished I was preparing to turn myself into a merman, when there was a loud clap of thunder. Looking to the sky showed it was mostly clear. "What was that?" I thought. Suddenly the boat began to rock as the sea around it turned rough. Then Ariel's voice came from some distance. "Roy, get out of here!" Looking in the direction of her voice was noting but the open sea, a second later she leaped out of the chopping sea about 100 yards away, heading toward the boat. While she was in the air, a large hand of black water, grab the mermaid and pulled her back into the sea. Just as quick as it started, the sea was calm again.

"Oh no!" I said out loud, and grabbed the Trident and jumped into the water. Swimming around in the area where Ariel was pulled under for hours gave me no answers to what happened. Being a merman sure made a big difference. I did not have to worry about an air supply or how deep or how long I dove. I tried to find fish that could talk to find out what had happened and if they had seen Ariel.

My search lasted well into the night, when hunger and fatigue finally forced my return to the rented boat. Where I was able to force some food into my twisted, from worry, stomach and get a few restless hours of sleep. At daybreak, I was back at the search.

Days passed before finding a turtle that could speak, I asked. "Did you see a red headed mermaid about?"

"I . . . sure . . . did, she . . . was . . . taken . . . by . . . the . . . Sorceress!" said the slow spoken amphibian.

"What way did they go?"

"They . . . did . . . not . . . go . . . any . . . way. They . . . just . . . disappeared."

"What can I do? I don't know where to find her!" I was getting lost, without Ariel. Trying to clear my thoughts and figure this out, I came up with a question. "I'm new to this part of the ocean, where does this sorceress live?"

"No . . . one . . . ever . . . goes . . . there!"

"I will, tell me where to go, I mean, where is this sorceress."

The turtle gave me directions and said. "Don't . . . say . . . I . . . didn't . . . warn . . . you?"

I thanked the turtle and swam off in the direction he had indicated. I followed the bottom and the water was getting colder as the sea bottom fell deeper and deeper. It amazed me, even though the water was getting colder, my mer body could adjust and I stayed comfortable. It was not only getting colder but darker too.

There started to be a lot of shipwrecks littering the ocean floor. Most were old rusty hulks but some that looked recent. There were also some old airplanes lying about. "So this is the Bermuda Triangle." I thought.

I slowed my speed and moved more cautiously not wanting to be surprised by anything, whatever it might be. Moving from wreck to wreck working my way deeper, I came upon an undersea ridge of rock. It had a cave a few feet up from where the ridge meets the bottom. I needed to get closer, so I worked my way around the wrecks and down to a place where I could see into the cave. It was a black hole that made my skin, and scales, crawl. Voices were coming from the black recesses of the cave.

One of the voices was Ariel's which gave me great relief. "Let me go, I'll get father to come and see you." she said. The other was a woman's voice that had a rough and evil sound to it. The evil voice said "I am going to imprison you in this cave for as many centuries as your father has imprisoned me."

Ariel replied. "If no one knows I am here, we will both be trapped, forever."

"I'll take my chance, that your daddy will come looking for you!"

I didn't know what to do, but I had to try something. Moving to a place just in front of the cave entrance, 50 feet away, next to a large outcrop of coral. I place the Trident behind the coral where I could hold it without it being seen from the cave. "Ariel!" I called.

"Roy, is that you? Get out of here as fast as you can." Ariel shouted.

I heard the evil voice say "Shut up!" to her prisoner.

An outline of a woman's face formed in the black of the cave entrance. Everything was black her face was just a different black, maybe blacker then the rest of the cave. "What do you want?" she said in the gruff voice.

"I'm looking for a mermaid named Ariel, have you seen her? She has red hair and a green tail." I asked, already knowing the answer.

"Go away little man. You have no idea what you are dealing with!" snarled the face.

"Look," I said trying to look confident. "I know she is in there. I want you to let her go! ... NOW!" I no sooner spoke the words and a black hand lashed out from the cave and knocked me back to the ocean floor.

The hand returned to the cave and the face said, "Now go away if you have any sense. Tell King Triton if he wants his daughter back to come here."

I picked myself up and returned to the rock where the Trident was. "Try that again, if you dare." I was shaking like a leaf. I did not know what this monster was capable of doing. I had to be ready for anything.

"You insolent worm, be gone or be dead!" growled the black aberration, and the black hand lashed out at me again. This time I was ready. Just as quick as the sorceress' attack I pulled the Trident out from behind the rock and fired energy bolt at the hand. The evil woman gave out a groan of pain and withdrew the hand.

When next she spoke, the gruff voice was replaced with honey and satin. "Oh, you have a Trident! You are the one who can help me. Please forgive my behavior. I did not know who you were. You have the power to free me from my prison. I have been trapped in this cave for so long that I forget my manners. If you free me, I will make it up to you." oiled the evil woman's face.

"Let the mermaid go!" I ordered.

"If I do will you set me free?"

"If you don't, I will destroy you!" I bluffed, because I did not know if I had the power or the knowledge to do it.

"How do I know if I let her go you will release me? Free me first, then she will be free too." pleaded the face.

"Let her go now or pay the consequences." I ordered, but getting worried that I may have to back up my bluff. I had no idea as to how the black face was being kept in the cave. It was magic beyond my understanding. But I was sure that she was put here for some kind of punishment. She was in a prison.

"But if I let her go you may leave without giving me freedom. What assurance can you give me that you will free me?" asked the woman.

I could detect that she was growing impatient with me. I had to play the bluff to the end or start shooting. I brought the Trident in line with the cave, and said. "You have two seconds to free the mermaid or I start shooting." I was really worried now, if I did have to fire, would it hurt Ariel? But the bluff was the only thing I could think of that would free her.

"OK! OK, you win I will let her go!" said the face and Ariel swim from the cave entrance.

"Ariel, swim around!" I said and motioned for her to not swim between me and the woman in the cave. But she did not do as I asked but continued to swim straight for me. "I have a bad feeling about this." I thought.

When Ariel was just five feet from me, she turns into the black hand and grabbed for the Trident. The hand fell short as it hit the shield I had seconds before put up around me. Still the force of the blow from the hand on the shield knocked me down and broke my concentration. The shield was gone and I had to swim a hasty retreat behind the rock. Regrouping my mind I let loose a volley of energy bolts at the hand and the rocks around the cave entrance. "I am through playing games with you, let her go or I will destroy you!"

"You win!" groaned the face in the cave. Ariel, this time the real Ariel swam from the cave and to the rock I was behind.

She was so glad to see me that she through her arms around my neck and kissed me. This was all the distraction the sorceress needed she lashed out with her black hand again and grab the Trident from my grip. "Oh no!" I shouted. "Swim for it."

Turning to swim away, Ariel grabbed my hand and held me back. "Not so fast, she doesn't know how to use it."

Ariel bit her lip, her brow furled up and her eyes narrowed as she turned toward the cave she raised her hand and said. "Trident!"

"No! No, not again." Came a groin from the cave as the Trident floated out from the entrance of the cave and into Ariel's hand.

Ariel turned to me with her big blue eyes. "That was so brave of you. Did you know you do not have the knowledge to do what you said?"

"Yes, that's what is called a bluff! You don't know how worried I was that she might have called."

"What! You don't know how to set me free?" yelled the sorceress.

"That's right, I just learned how to shoot the small energy bolts and transform myself to a merman."

"Who are you?" she quizzed.

"I am a human, which brings up a point I want to make. It's apparent that you are responsible for the missing ships and planes in this area. If you want to be set free, you will have to stop that practice. You may even be wanted to stand trial for your crimes against the human world. So I think it's best you stay where you are until we sort this out. In the mean time, it's to your best interest to stop taking ships and planes, to show that you are repentant."

"Oh, I will. I will be very grateful for your kind help in getting me released from my prison." The black face's voice was all silk and honey again.

Ariel and I swam away from the cave of the sorceress and headed back to the boat. "So tell me who that was and why is she held in that cave."

"She is an evil woman that did terrible things to merpeople, about 500 of your years ago. My father imprisoned her in the cave about 300 years ago, until she learned to be kind. As you can see by the number of human ships and flying machines that she has taken, she has not yet learned." Ariel explained.

"If you knew about her, why did you not warn me about her and the danger she is in this part of the sea?"

"I did not know we were in her part of the ocean. I have trouble telling where I am under the sea when I am above it. Besides no one has seen the sorceress in a long time, so I did not know what she was up to. As far as what she was doing to the human world!"

"So do you think she should stay in the cave?"

"My father imprisoned her and it's up to Aquata to decide if she can be released."

"If she is not released, what will stop her from going back to destroying human ships and airplanes?"

"This is a problem that we need to work on, how to keep her imprisoned and stop her from taking it out on the humans. We need to talk to Aquata and father."

We swam for hours before we returned to where our boat was anchored. When we surfaced, it was no where to be seen. "The Coast Guard must have found the boat and thought it was abandon, and towed it back to Miami. We will have to find someone to help us." I said with worry in my voice.

"That's not a problem!" exclaimed Ariel. "We can swim to Atlantica and then to Saint Thomas. It will only take us a week and a few days and I can teach you how to survive in the open ocean. It will be an adventure." Ariel bubbled excitedly.

"We won't be back in time for Alex Fairbank's trial!"

"Well! They will just have to postpone it then, won't they!" smirked Ariel.

"I don't think so, his lawyers will call for a dismissal if the prosecution is not ready. And we are the prosecution's case."

"Well let's swim for Saint Thomas and if we see a ship that can help us, we will take it. Things will work out, you'll see." said the confident mermaid.

So we swam and they didn't. But it was an adventure, Ariel taught me how to survive in the ocean. I learned how to find sea fruit, sleep with dolphins and how to avoid sharks and ask directions from passing fish. We did not see a single ship or boat until we were close to our destination, with one exception. It was mid day on our second day of our trip to Saint Thomas when Ariel pulled up short and whispered. "Do you hear that?"

Coming to a full stop I strained my ears. "Hear what?"

"Shhhh!" She whispered again. "Listen!"

Listening again reveled nothing to my ears, but I spoke in a low voice too. "What do you hear?"

"It's a floatamajigger!"

Having heard lots of boats now as a merman I was getting good at detecting them and telling what kind of ship it was by its sound. "I don't hear any ship!"

"It's getting closer, it's the kind that sails under the surface!"

"Oh, you mean a submarine!" An ear piercing ping followed my outburst.

"Shhh!" Ariel hushed me by putting her hand over my mouth and put her lips to my ear. "It's vary close now, if it hears us it make that noise. We have to be still till it leaves."

Out of the murky darkness a large dark shape of the submarine came in to view. We had to make a hasty swim to get out of its way. After it slid silently by and left I said. "Wow those thing are dangerous for the mer people. Now way is it going to give us a lift to Saint Thomas."

"Yes, they are the most dangerous to us but we have learned to listen for them."

"The Navy spends millions to make them silent. I would burst their bubble if they knew you could hear them."

"Did you not hear it?"

"Not till it was upon us. But now that I have heard one, maybe next time I will hear it. Hay let's have a little fun!"

"Huh?" said Ariel.

"Come on, let's catch up with it." Taking Ariel by the hand we swam hard to catch the speedy undersea vessel.

"What are we doing?" Asked the mermaid.

When we caught it, we maneuvered around the sub till I located one of the hydrophones. "Now sing!" I told the puzzled girl. "What?" "Sing!" I encouraged.

"Ahhhhh Ahhhh Ahhhh!" Came Ariel sweet voice. The sub slowed to a crawl and it's periscope rose to the surface.

"Cover you ears!" I said just in time. Another ear pricing ping came from the dark vessel. Taking Ariel by the hand again we swam to the surface, in front of the periscope. It swung around and past us then snapped back to look directly at us. "Hay! That ping hearts our ears!" I said looking right back at the scope. "Come on!" I took Ariel's hand again and we dove under the surface letting our tails breach. "That should give them something to ponder over as they try to put it in their reports." And I gave her a wink. "Now that the human world know about mer people I think you should make some sound to let the subs know you are there. So they won't make that sonar ping when you are there."

"I see, that's a great idea."

Chapter 14

A Friend No More

It took several days to get things back to normal and straighten out some legal problems with the Charter Company where we rented the Money Pit. Scott went to work on letting the governments of the world know of the danger around the sorceress' cave and to keep ships and planes away from that location.

Yes, we were too late for Alex Fairbankís hearing. The government lawyers tried to postpone the hearing till Ariel and I could be located. But his lawyers won the argument and he was just fined for pollution and firearms violations and released. This peace of news was a particular concern to Ariel. With Alex on the loose, he would try to capture her or another mermaid.

The next week my new boat was delivered. Ariel and I took it on a shake down and headed to West Atlantica. When we arrived there was a large ship, from the Mermaid Salvage Co. Ltd. "The Sea Maid", in the West lagoon. Lee was there with some people from my company in California. They were there to install the new telephone system my company had invented for use under water.

"Hello, Lee!" I shouted after setting the anchor. Ariel waved and then dove into the water with her Trident.

"Ahoy" he answered back.

I launched my dinghy and rowed to shore. Lee came over to help me pull the raft onto the sand. "Thanks, how's the work going?" I asked.

"Well things are going fine here on the island, but we have not seen any mer people. So we have not been able to get their help to start work in the sea. I think they know we are here but are too shy to make contact. Was that Ariel with you?"

"Yes, she is going home to see her family, when she returns I'll introduce you and ask her to get some mer help up here. Maybe you and some others will be invited to help at the Atlantica end. What would you say to that?"

"Wow, do you think so? That would be awesome!"

Lee showed me around the solar powered phone system. He showed me the new sea water batteries, that are charged from the solar array on the roof of a small building that housed the telephone equipment. The building also had a satellite antenna on its roof, for the satellite connection to the rest of the world. As Lee shown me around he talked like he invented it all and did all the work. But that is Leeís personality, he is a vary pushy guy but that is what makes hem a good manager.

That night I invited Lee to have dinner with me on my boat. We had just finished dinner and clean up and were sitting in the boat's cockpit with a drink, when there was a splash and the boat rocked. There on a pad I had installed on the Fowl Wind II for just this purpose, sat a red hired mermaid.

"Hi guys!" she said.

"Hi!" I replied. "Join us for something to eat?"

"No thank you, I ate at the Palace, but you can help me!" she said and held out her arms for me to pick her up and bring her to where we were sitting.

We talked small talk for a while. This was Lee's first time talking with a mermaid and he was having a good time. Ariel's charm had worked its magic on another and made him her captive too.

"I spoke to Daddy, about the sorceress. He said, that if she ever got out of the cave, she could destroy us all. That the power of the Trident, is the only thing that can hold her prisoner, and that the human world has no means to control her." explained Ariel.

"Well I guess we will leave her where she is."

"The Trident power?" interrupted Lee. "What power are you talking about? I thought it was just a symbol."

Ariel's face turned almost as red as her hair and bit her lip. "OOPS!"

"That's OK. We can trust Lee!" I said and then added, "What you are about to hear cannot be repeated."

"OK!" he said with a puzzled look.

Ariel picked up her Trident and said "What you may call magic is just a tool we use in the sea." She pointed the Trident at the sky. A bolt of energy shot form itís end, flew up several hundred feet and exploded like a skyrocket burst. Then a blue glow formed about the Trident and the light grew until it enclosed the Fowl Wind II from stem to stern. The boat rose out of the water to a height of 20 feet at that point it tugged at the anchor lines. The boat settled back down into the water as gentle as a feather. "It has the power to destroy or save, it's up to the user to decide. In the wrong hands, the Trident could make him king of the world. In the right hands it could save the world. That's why no one must know of its total power. Most think it only changes me to and from being human. Can I trust you to keep my secret?" she smiled at Lee.

Lee looked stunned by the display of Trident's power. But when Ariel's smile fell on him, he melted and smiled back. "You have my word of honor. Not a word of this will leave my lips."

We continued to talk until well after sundown. "It's too dark for you to swim home tonight. Why don't you stay here tonight?" I said to Ariel. "You too Lee, I have plenty of room on my new boat." They both agreed to spend the night with me on the Fowl Wind II.

"Good that's settled, letís go below Lee!" I took him by the arm and directed him down into the cabin.

"Why are you leaving her out there alone? Does she need help getting to a cabin?" Lee puzzled.

"No but we need to give her some privacy." I insisted. At that moment a blue flash came in from the cabin door.

"What was that?" Lee asked.

"Wait, you will see."

A minute later Ariel walked into the salon area of the cabin. She was dressed in the light blue summer dress that is stored in one of the cockpit's seat locker. Lee's eyes almost popped out of his head. "Holy smoke, you are even more beautiful with legs." he blurted. The girl blushed, smiled shyly and said. "Thank you."

Any time Ariel is on my boat she uses the captain's cabin, it being the most comfortable. There are two smaller cabins, that Lee and I can use, but the nights are warm so I chose to sleep outside on deck. The Fowl Wind II's cockpit is in the center of the boat where in my old boat it was in the stern. This feature gives me a large flat deck on the stern just over the captain's cabin. This is the best feature of all, because when Ariel is in the cabin alone she often sings to herself. From the deck I can clearly hear her songs and that is the main reason I like to sleep outside.

I was not disappointed Ariel was in her usual great voice. Her smooth melody and sweet voice relaxed me and I was soon asleep. But my sleep was interrupted an hour later, by two loud voices coming from Ariel's cabin.

"Please leave Lee!"

"But I love you, and with the Trident we can rule the world." Lee's words hit me where it hurts the most. I was waiting to hear Ariel's reaction. My hopes would be realized when she replied "I don't love you and I don't want to rule anything!" But should I intervene or let her handle it?

Ariel softened her voice and tried to explain. "Lee, if we wanted to rule the world, we would have done that years ago. We do not want world domination just world understanding! Now understand this, please leave."

"I am young, good looking and you are beautiful we can make the perfect couple. I love you! And with your Trident we can have anything we want. Think of the respect we would get."

"I'm telling you for the last time, get out before I have to do something we will both regret." I knew she meant using her amulet and I did not want that. I jumped up and ran down the stairs and into Ariel's cabin.

"Lee, she wants you to leave! You better do it or you WILL regret it!"

"Is that a threat?" he laughed "You are no match for me, I am 20 years younger and I am in better shape. You better leave and let me work this out."

"I don't want to threaten you, but if you won't leave any other way then you can consider it a threat. In fact, if you leave now, I won't fire you."

"Fine! Where do you want it?" Lee laughed.

"OK, so be it. Lets go ashore to give us some room."

"Wait," Ariel took my arm and looked me in the eyes. "You don't have to do this!"

"I know you can take care of your self, but Lee WAS a friend and I can't let a friend do this to you on my boat. So please stay out of it, I have to teach him a lesson." Lee just laughed at what I said.

Lee got in his dinghy, Ariel and I got in mine and we rowed to the beach. On the way, Ariel said "you don't have to fight him for me, I can take care of him."

"I know you can but he was a friend and insulted a guest on my boat. I want to do this. I need to do this. Please let me handle it."

"OK, if you want to get killed, I won't stop you." she said and her words cut me worse then any blow I could receive form Lee.

Just as I turned to see where I was going to beach the rubber dinghy, a blue flash of short duration and low intensity occurred. "What was that?" I asked.

"What was what?" said the girl with an innocent look on her face.

"That flash, what did you do? I told you to stay out of it!"

"It must have been a lighting flash from that storm over there!" she pointed at a dark cloud on the western horizon.

Finally on the sand Lee and I squared off. He said "Give it up I want Ariel and I am going to have her!" The fear in me increased, was he right? That fear was relieved with a surprising statement from Ariel. "I don't love you. I love Roy!"

That caught me off guard, I spun around and had my usual expression of eyes wide and jaw on the sand. "You do?" This was all Lee needed, he was quick with his attack and he came at me from behind. Ariel shouted! "Look out!" His blow to my back sent me foreword into the girl almost knocking us both down. Then he tried to finish me with a viscous kick at my head. My reflexes were quick I saw it coming and rolled to the left so the blow just grazed my chin. Regaining my balance and countering with a flurry of left jabs and then a right that sent Lee back several steps. He shook his head and said. "That was a lucky shot that won't happen again." He charged again with a flurry of left and right swings that should have sent me down for a sand sandwich, if they had connected. But I managed to duck and bob left and right to dodge each crushing swing.

"You are quick for an old man!" said Lee.

"I'm not that old, but 40 something is old enough to teach you a lesson on how to treat a lady." I replied and made my attack with another flurry of lefts and a right cross that sent Lee down. He crawled away from me to get back on his feet then he came at me again. This time his attack was avoided by ducking his right and coming back with a right uppercut of my own that stunned Lee and made my hand crack. I could not believe how quick I was in avoiding his punches. Before he regained his senses I dropped low and used my right leg to sweep his out from under him, laying him out on the sand. I reached down and grabbed his shirt and pulled him up and, despite the pain in my hand, held him off his feet. "Do you want more or are you going to leave now? Oh, buy the way. You're fired!" I threw him back 10 feet, he staggered to regain his footing but fell into the surf.

Ariel ran to me and threw her arms around me and kissed me long and deep. Lee's best efforts to knock me down failed but this little girl's attack buckled my knees and we fell to the warm sand. As our kiss ended for the purpose of regaining our breaths she said. "You were wonderful!"

I stammered "W...W...What did you say, a minute ago? . . . Look out!" Pushing Ariel off me and to the left I rolled right just in time to miss getting our heads bashed in by the oar from Lee's boat. "I'm going to kill you!" he said as he pulled the oar out of the depression it had made in the sand where my head was a second before. He raised the weapon for another swing at me when a blue flash vaporized it. The fact that he only had ash in his hand, instead of the oar, stunned him long enough for me to get to my feet then put the right one into his chest, knocking him back into the surf. "You'll find I am not so easy to kill, just ask some pirates around here." I retorted and wadded out and pulled the gasping former friend out of the water and threw him into his boat. "You are not to leave the Sea Maid until it returns to St. Thomas. If I see you on West Atlantica again I won't be this nice to you!" I ordered and shoved his boat off the beach and toward the larger ship of the Mermaid Salvage Co. Ltd. 

Turning my attention back to Ariel, I asked. "Where were we?"

She came over to me, the moon light turning red from her hair, with a warm smile and bright blue eyes. Ariel put her arms around my neck and started to kiss me again. "Hold it, young lady!" I said and pulled her arms from around me and winced from the pain in my right hand. "What did you mean, Ďyou love me?' I thought you did not want to love a human again? And what did you do to me? I should not have won the fight with Lee?"

"Oh, you are hurt. Let me see it." I held out my right hand for the concerned girl to examine and winced again when her rubbing hit a sour spot. She held her Trident over it and a warm blue light relieved the ache. "I did not change you. You asked me to stay out of it. All I did was to give you the speed and skills you had when you were Lee's age. That only made it a fair fight, you still beat him with the talent you have."

"What about the oar vaporizing?"

"That was unfair too. He was beat, but then he got a weapon and attacked us when we were not looking. I only took the oar away so it was fair again and you were wonderful. You could have killed him, or let him drown, but you saved him and sent him away." Ariel's eyes stared into mine. "As for what I said about loving you," she paused "unless something happens to me first, I will be deeply hurt when you are gone, so that must be love. Whether it's the love for a friend or that special love, I'm not sure, yet. I have been aware of the love you have for me for some time. I'm sorry for taking so long to acknowledge it, but I was not sure of my own feelings. I do want to be with you, we have so much fun in our adventures, but I still love Eric. All I can tell you now is, give me more time to sort out what I feel."

Looking back into her big blue eyes, I could see the confusion in them and a tear trickled down her cheek. "I understand what you are going through. Many humans have either lost a spouse from death or divorce and going on and learning to love again is very difficult, human or mermaid. I'm not trying to replace Eric no one can do that. A heart has more room in it then love for just one all I need is my own place in your heart. So take your time deciding if we are to be friends or lovers. What ever you decide will be fine with me, as long as we can share our time together. Just being with you has been the happiest time of my life. I won't do anything to jeopardize that."

"I know you are right, but I need some time to think!" Ariel gave me another passionate kiss. Before I could speak she put her finger on my lips to hush me. "I will see you soon! I promise." She turned and retrieved her Trident from the sand and walk into the surf. When she was waist deep she turned and blew me a kiss, then dove out of sight.

Chapter 15

Love At Last?

Early next morning I went to the Sea Maid, the ship that belongs to the Mermaid Salvage Co. Ltd. Locating Henry Harper, the foreman of the telephone project to Atlantica and explained that the company no longer employs Lee Roddy and he was to take over for Lee as boss. Next I found the captain of the ship and explained that Lee was to stay on the ship until the job was done and then sent back home when the ship returns to Saint Thomas.

When Henry, the crew and myself went ashore to start the days work there was a group of mermen and Queen Aquata waiting for us. Aquata had turned all the men human and they had on some coveralls that we had left on the beach for them. I introduced Henry to Aquata and after a few pleasantries the crew from my company started to instruct the mermen on how the work was to be done under the sea.

When the opportunity presented itself I spoke to Aquata alone. "Your Majesty, have you seen Ariel this morning? When we parted last night she was in a confused state and I am concerned about her."

"No, I have not seen her myself, but I have received word that she is in her grotto. She often goes there when she wants to be alone to think things out. Do you want to go and see her there?"

"No, that wonít be necessary. She needs to figure this one out by herself. Thank you just the same!"

Then Aquata said. "The Ďtel-e-phoneí, is that right?" I nodded. "Is rather complex. Do you think some of your men would like to come to Atlantica to teach us how to use it?"

"I know they would, in fact we will probably have to draw lots to see who will go."

By noon a group of men, Henry included, went with the merpeople to Atlantica to work on the phone system at that end. Aquata asked me if I wanted to come too. I replied "No thank you, Iíll stay on my boat for a few days. There are a lot of things I need to do to get it the way I like it."

"I understand what is bothering you, take it from someone older, things will work out. Ariel has always been a moody girl, or should I say strange to the rest of us. But once she knows what it is that she wants, there is no stopping her." Aquata winked at me, and then added. "She will come around, you will see." Then the merqueen dove under the crystal blue water.

The rest of the day passed slowly, as I tried to keep busy at the odds and ends of getting the Fowl Wind II rigging adjusted to the way I like my boat to be. By 1800 hours some of the men form the Sea Maid were returning. I went ashore to see how things went down below. A man I did not know before named Bill said. "You will never get me to go there again!" another man Frank said. "Bill was a claustrophobic and should stay on shore. Personally I liked it, the mermaids are all so beautiful." Still another man, Bob, told me. " Henry and the others are staying at Atlantica at the invitation of Queen Aquata. They seemed to really take to the life down there. But the rest of us wanted a dry bed for the night."

"I can understand your feelings Bill and you donít have to go back down. How is the work going?" I asked.

Frank said "Itís going very well and the mermen are catching on fast and Henry said to tell you that none of us need to return to Atlantica, if we do not want to. There is enough people there to finish what needs to be done."

Ships log The Fowl Wind II Oct. 17, 1990, 0900: The crew from the Sea Maid is on the island finishing up the work there. The crew at Atlantica has not checked in as yet, so there is no way of knowing how things are going down there. I have not heard a word from Ariel, hope she is well. If I donít hear from her today I may decide to return home to California. Roy D. Stanton, Captain.

I stowed the log and finished clean up from breakfast, when the satellite phone rang. "Hello, this is Roy Stanton!"

The voice on the other end was lovely but shy and unsure. "H..h..hello!" It stuttered, and another voice I could not hear said some instructions, then the voice said again." Hello, Roy. Yes I can hear him." She said to the other voice. "This is Aquata, can you hear me?"

"Yes I hear you fine, can you hear me?"

"Yes I can!" giggled the Queen. I could hear her saying to the others. "He hears me!" More giggles. "I donít know what to say!" Still more giggles.

"Your Majesty, just talk like I was there with you."

Next Henry came on the phone. "She has a touch of stage fright with the phone. It looks like the crew up there have connected the cable at that end OK, we are almost done down here. Iíll see you in a couple of hours, boss."

"OK thanks Henry, you did a great job. Put Queen Aquata back on please." When I heard the giggling come back I asked. "Your Majesty, have you seen Ariel, is she OK?"

The giggling subsided. "No, she did not come home for dinner last night nor for breakfast this morning. But donít worry, itís normal for her to behave in this manner, she knows how to take care of herself. Oh, you can drop the majesty and queen title stuff, among friends we just use names, so please just call me Aquata."

"OK, . . .Aquata, thanks. If Ariel comes home have her call me, I just want to make sure she is OK. I got you number and Iíll check back with you later too." We said good bye and I started to prepare for leaving West Atlantica, but held my departure until the crew from Atlantica returned. Henry gave me a report on the work and then they all left on the Sea Maid, late in the after noon.

By now it was too late for me to leave the island, so I decided to wait till morning. I knew I was just dragging my feet, but if there was a chance she would come, I was willing to wait.

I had dinner alone. Every splash from a wave hitting the hull of the Fowl Wind II, would make me stop and listen, she did not come. At 2200 I went to bed and fell asleep listening to Arielís CD.

Next morning I weighed anchor and started my journey to California. I have traveled by myself most of my life, but this was the first time I felt alone.

Five days later I was at my condo in California. It has been 11 months sense I have lived here but it seemed more like a lifetime. I tried to get back to my old routine to make things normal, but nothing I did seemed normal. I discovered that you couldn't leave a car alone either. It took a week for the garage to get it back in good running condition.

I set up an office at the factory where we make the reverse osmosis machines and made myself busy pretending to over see the work on them. But Sam Dawson, my old boss, was doing a fine job before I returned and really did not need me around. Some real work did come from the diplomatic office. Scott still needed me to make some decisions. Some required me to call Aquata to work out some detail or the like then the conversation would always shift to Ariel. Aquata would tell me " She is fine but spends a lot of time in her grotto! Would you like to speak with her, I can send for her?"

"Thatís not necessary, but if she wants to talk with me have her call, . . . OK!?" With the business done and Ariel not around we would end and promise to stay in touch.

Even the Amateur Radio was not as much fun, every time I got on there would be a pile up (a large group of people all wanting to talk to me) of stations all wanting to know more about mermaids. One Sunday afternoon I ran into Lee on one of the local two meter repeaters. He was telling anyone who would listen about the danger from the mer world and the power of the Trident, so much for his word of honor. Then he took a few verbal shots at me that prompted me to just turned the radio off.

The next night as I was returning home from the office. Pulling the car up to the gate at the entrance to my condoís parking garage and before I could activate the gate a sharp pain hit my left shoulder. I grabbed my shoulder with my right hand. When I pulled my hand away it was full of blood, "Help Iíve been shot!" I yelled, then a thump to the head and all went black.

Chapter 16

The Last Chapter?

"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 Alajandro . . . 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. A 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 female voice I did not know, but must have been a nurse.

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

"Roy! Come back to me, please come back." I could hear the tears in Arielís voice. But the darkness closed back in on me and the nurse said, "We are losing him again."

The next sound I heard was Arielís lovely voice singing to me. 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 I was unable to move anything or open my eyes. I thought that I might not ever see Ariel again. I felt a tear run down my cheek.

"Mr. Stanton, can you hear me?" said the doctor. "Yes" I replied.

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

"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 may 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 Hospital of the Angels."

"Please let . . . her try . . . it canít hurt . . . anything, will it?"

"I canít, this hospital is run by a religious organization and they donít allow things like that."

"In other countries, your medicine would be called magic. Technology to you is magic to someone else." 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." I heard the doctor 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?"

I whispered 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!" and the girl 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 and an "ouch!" Then she said, "I have it, you will feel better now!" Even through my closed eyes 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. We embraced and kissed long and deep and then there was another blue flash.
 
 

Buzzzzzz went the alarm. It was 5:00 A.M. and I had to get under way as soon as possible if I was to make my next island before dark. I got dressed and got the Fowl Wind out of the lagoon and on course before sunup.

At sunrise the next morning, Saint James Island was a small dot in her wake. The Fowl Wind was heeled over to starboard under full sail and doing a brisk eight knots, and breakfast was on the table. The next chore was to run the engine to fill the drinking water tank, chill the refrigerator and heat some water for a shower. The auto helm was holding the course to the next island as I cleaned up after breakfast. Checking NOAA Weather showed the tropical depression was now a storm named Daniel and about 655 miles away. There was a beep from the radar. The radar was keeping watch for any other vessels that may be in my area. Pushing the reset button on the radar's control panel silenced the alarm. A trip to the cockpit revealed the cause for the alarm. There was another sailboat about 6 miles off the port side, heading north. Picking up the microphone and setting the marine VHF radio to channel 16, I said "The Fowl Wind to the ketch off Saint James Island." After a 10-sec. wait a voice said, "The Fair Sea Jammer here, where are you bound for, Fowl Wind?"

"I am heading for Norman Island, and you?"

"We left Saint Croix two days ago and our next port is Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The weather is excellent, but watch for a wind shift as you go East. Have a fine sail!"

"Thanks for the info, I left St. Thomas yesterday. Watch out for the regatta that is going on just East of the harbor! Fowl Wind out."

"Thanks for that, The Fair Sea Jammer out."

What a strong feeling of Deja Vu I was having. This all seemed to have happened before. Just then something broke the surface just in front of the Fowl Windís bow. I thought it was a dolphin but the color were all wrong, with just a glance of it, it seemed to be mostly red and green and maybe a touch of purple?

The End.

¹See Doug Webb's  "Ariel Goes to America"

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 to real people are purely coincidental.

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