The winner takes it all

By Kai Blin

Relucantly, Sheyla onened her eyes and let the world come into focus. Stretching, she called for Spotch, her pet. Then she went over to her mirror to do put on her make up.

Thorbjørn was getting his net into the boat. Whistling a chanty he pulled, hand over hand. It was going to be a fine day. He shook his long blonde hair out of his face and looked up. Had there been a splashing noise on the other side of the boat? With a last heave he pulled the net into the boat and went to have a look. Close to the starboard side of his boat, a dolphin was swimming to and fro.
"Hi there" Thorbjørn said, "Wait, I've got something for you." He opened the net and got out a fish. "There you go" he said, tossing the fish in the dolphin's direction. The dolphin caught the fish out of the air and hooted "Dweedoodeet?"
It had all reasons to be surprised, as the fishermen on the reef usualy chased dolphins away, being afraid of them stealing their fish. But since Thorbjørn's grandfather had been saved from certain death of drowning by a dolphin, it was a family tradition always to feed a dolphin that showed up next to the boat. "Yes, it's for you. " Thorbjørn smiled. "Peedeet!" the dolphin whistled, and disappeared underwater.

Sheyla had just finished her make up when Spotch raced into her room. "Now there you are. Where have you been." she inquired. Spotch waved the fish it had in it's mouth and hooted "Dweetit!" "On the surface?" Sheyla looked perplexed. "Beedoop." Spotch added, looking snug. "You got a fish? By whom?" Spotch swallowed the fish and left the room. Sheyla grabbed a necklace and bracelet, and followed her pet.

Thorbjørn was busily storing the fish as he heard a "Toot! Deepeep!" close to his boat. He went to have a look and saw a dolphin swimming close to his boat again. After a while he recognized the white patch the dolphin had around it's blowhole. "Hey, I know you." Thorbjørn said. "You already had your fish.", he added, like talking to a kid that wanted more candy before lunch. "Deedoo?" the dolpin hooted, a bit more imploringly. "No, you won't get another one, " Thorbjørn smiled "and stop looking at me like this." The dolphin retreated a bit, to lurch forward in the next monent. It jumped out of the water and landed again with a big splash that sent liters of water sloshing over Thorbjørn. He sputtered. "Oh you..." he wanted to say, but he was interrupted by a laughter sounding like water dripping into cystal vases at springtime. Surprised, he turned his head, long hair dripping with water, to see a head rising out of the water. Mysterious eyes like burning rubies looked out of a pale green face. The wet long hair had a darker green color, that made the golden earrings on elflike ears shine out. Ruby lips were smiling. Thorbjørn chin dropped. Never before he had seen a member of the merfolk. And this particular member looked very young, very beatiful and female.

"Hi..." Thorbjørn said, astonished. "What...who are you?" Sheyla, realizing that he had noticed her, tried to get under water quickly. But there was something to this fisherman's eyes. She had never seen such fascinating eyes before. "Thou speakest a strange language." she said, sounding amused. "I am Sheyla. Who art thou?" Speaking of strange laguage, is she? Thorbjørn thought, but he said "I'm Thorbjørn. I'm a fisher. What are you doing out here?" Sheyla approached the boat. "Oh nothing.", she said. "Thou hast very fascinating eyes" she added. Thorbjørn wasn't used to that kind of talk, but something inside him knew how to react. He blushed. "Er... I... er... Can I offer you something?" het stuttered. "I doubt you'd want a fish." his mind was racing. "Oh, yes! Would you... er... like some rum?" "Rum?" Sheyla asked. "I do not think that I have ever heard of such a fish before." "Nonono." Thorbjørn said quickly. "It's a drink" Now Sheyla, never having heard of a drink, even less needing to do so, was puzzled. "A drink?" she implored "And what could that be, now?" "Let me give you something." he rushed over to his sea box to get the bottle. "Would you like to come aboard?" he asked, "If you can breathe outside the water." "Indeed, for a short while I can. I just mustn't let my hair dry." Sheyla explained, "But I shall need thy help." "S..sure" Thorbjørn, who could feel his cheeks burning again, said. "How would I..." Then he noticed her outstretched hands. He was about to grab them as he noticed the webbed fingers. Amazing. he thought. As he touched her hands carefully, he felt a strange tingeling sensation. Not in his hands but in his stomach. He looked down, but everything seemed ok. As he started to look back up again, his eyes somehow met hers, and he nearly forgot to keep on pulling. Carefully he rested her against the ship's side. "You sure you're ok? he asked a little worried. "Aye, I'm fine." she said. "Pray, what is this 'drink' then?" "Oh, here..." he handed her the bottle. She looked at it, a bit lost. Thorbjørn noticed it, took the bottle again, pulled out the cork and, with a smile, drank a little bit. Then he gave to bottle back to Sheyla. She mimiced his move, and when the rum touched her lips, she started to chough. Rum spilled all over. "Oh no. I'm sorry" both said simultaneously. They looked at one another and laughed. Their eyes met again, and for a while noone said anything.

Farther away, there was another ship gliding over the waves. "Ship starboard, Capting!" the watch in the crow nest yelled. "Looks like a good target!" "Aye!" Captain Angus the Red took his telescope from his belt. He saw that it was a small fisherboat with a crew of perhaps one or two people. And it seemed to have all it's nets in. Just right to restock supplies. "Rudder hard starboard" he commanded, "All hands to battle stations" Might as well make an excercise out of this. he thought. It's been a while since they last had a decent fight.
Sheyla and Thorbjørn were watching each other, and slowly their faces got closer and closer. Their lips touched gently. She's tasting salty, Thorbjørn thought as suddenly, he heard a loud cry. "The first to board gets a doube portion of rum!" He looked up, and suddenly there was a bigger ship alongside. Sheyla watched, also surprised. Both hadn't heard anything.
Thorbjørn rose to get his sabre, but he was hit by one of the pirates using a rope to swing over. He hit an edge with his head and blackness surrounded him. He couldn't move, but his ears still seemed to work. "Capting! Look what we got here!" "'Tis a mermaid! " another voice yelled. "Harrrr! This should get us a good price at the wizard's place. Take'r along. And move it, you scum. We don't have all day!" a third voice, sounding very used to command said. "Aye, capting!" the first voice replied "What shall we do with this guy here? Looks like he's still alive." "Leave him. Perhaps we'll need some fish on the return trip, too. Harharhar." the third voice laughed, rolling lots of rs.
Sheyla, unable to move well outside the water had listened with increasing horror. As two pirates approached to grab her, she hit one with her tail fin. The other pirate got out of way in time, and grabbed her. "You green devil!" he cried "One more move, and I will make you regret it." He waved his knife. Sheyla gave up struggeling, and with a last desperate look at Thorbjørn, she was carried over to the pirate ship.
Thorbjørn fought against the blackness that kept him nailed to the planks, but it was no use. He heard Sheyla's desperate cry for help but he couldn't do anything. After a while, he gave up, and let the blackness pour into his mind.

To be continued....