by Jack Bristow
The man he woke on the isle at what he thought was daybreak. He knew neither who or where he was. The island--rocky, mossy and deserted-looking--was small and looked as though a medieval castle had once stood upon it.
He could tell the isle was small--probably a quarter mile wide, the man thought.
He was dressed in white tattered T-shirt and Levis. The shirt smelt of smoke and the Levis were very oily and grimy. He inspected his front and back pants pockets. He found a wallet and opened it and inside it was a California drivers license. Name: Nathaniel P. Rosenbaum. Eyes: green. Height: 6'1. Weight: 182 pounds. The face in the photo was tanned and the hair light brown.
He peered offland. He saw nothing in the water. No ships. No birds. Nothing.
He walked down the slope that led toward water. He bent his head down and looked into the bright-blue water and saw the same face that was on the driver's license peering back at him but with dirt and oil and minor scratches and scrapes on it.
"Nathaniel Rosenbaum. Nate Rosenbaum. Not ringing any bells."
He walked back inland. Searching for something. Anything. Life. Human. Plant. Animal. Or: answers.
He came upon a crash site. It was a helicopter. It lay charred and sideways. In spite of the ungodly pain in his chest he climbed the helicopter, searching. "Please God. Help me find something useful. Anything." Inside on the pilot side sat a body charred with headphones around its head. Male. There was a charred attache briefcase near the pilot's feet. He grabbed it and then he crawled and clambered out.
He ran back to the slope and down it to the beautiful dark-blue seawater and he knelt down to it and splashed it in his face and then he breathed heavily.
He peered out to the water and saw something. A person! A woman! Swimming! He yelled out to her, jumping up and down and flailing his arms. He saw her getting closer and her pace seemed almost eerily rapid and unhuman to him. As she fastly approached he saw for the first time below her waist the majestic green scales on the fishlike tail that was as incongruous to her body waist up as the beautiful seawater was to the ugly, ruinious land.
"Hello," she said, giggling, swimming around in circles and then on her back, letting the sun bathe her face. The man's heart raced frantically; not from fear, but exhilaration.
"My name is Letica," she said flirtatiously. "What's your name?"
"Well. According to the ID in my pocket my name is Nate."
"What are you doing here, Nate?"
"I wish I knew. I woke up at daybreak with no idea where I was. And more importantly: Who I was and am. A little while after I woke I walked farther inland in search of clues/answers. I found a crashed helicopter and inside it I found the pilot burned and dead and this here briefcase."
"What's inside it?"
"Beats me. It is locked. And I don't know the combination. Hell, I don't know anything--I don't know where I am, who I am, or what the hell it is I am doing here. There are only two things I know. One: my name--Nathaniel. Two: the reason I'm here: apparently I survived a helicopter crash. Tell me. Did you hear the crash?"
The mermaid pushed her tawny-wet hair back with a savage jerk of the head and then she pursed her lips. Finally, she said: "Yes! Yesterday my family and I were awakened by a loud BOOM noise and then the water and the earth inside had started to shake violently. My dad told me it was an earthquake."
The man had started to walk away.
"Where are you going?" Letica asked.
"I'll be right back. I'm going to go find a rock that will hopefully smash this attache case open."
"You look dirty. Why don't you come in and take a swim first?"
The man's chest had begun to beat lustfully, frantically. He pulled his shirt off from his head and then his pants and he was wearing nothing but boxers as he waded into the placid dark-blue ocean water towards the mermaid and then he was kissing her neck and then her lips and embracing her body. "Oh, don't stop; "Yes. Yes. Yes!"
"Hey, Nate. Nate!"
He woke for real in a tiny cubicle with the hellish sounds of clattering keyboards all around him and a big man in slacks and a dingy-looking sportscoat nudging him. "Wake up, Nate!"
"What is it?" he grumbled.
"Mr. Brickman is coming up to see if you finished your GS report. It better be ready, man. I'm not covering for your ass like I did last Tuesday."
Jack Bristow has written for The New Flesh, Cantaraville, Hobopancakes, Trobadour21 and Inwood Indiana. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'The Birth of Man'
'A Rite of Hope'