For my sister, whose desire to be a mermaid as a kid helped inspire this story.
Nikki Sanders loved the ocean. Of all the peaceful things in life, the chaotic rhythm of the waves filled her with serenity. It wasn't until she found the glass bottle and was taken away by the merfolk of Ke'ana that she truly understood just how dangerous the ocean really is.
Chapter 1 ~ No Place Like Home
The beach was warm on my bare feet as I walked. I looked out at the shimmering water and listened to the ocean waves lapping onto the shore, completely engulfed. I should have been studying, but my soul had begged me for a break.
I took step further into the water, the cold washing over my warm skin. Suddenly my foot caught and I fell into the damp sand. I spat the grit out of my mouth and sat up, brushing it off of my cutoff shorts and hands. I shook my hair out, and thought for a moment about cutting it. It was a nice color; brown, like my mother's, but it would be much easier to take care of if it were shorter.
I looked down at my feet to see what I’d tripped on. It was a green bottle, half buried in the sand. I pulled it out, the hole it left filling back up with loose sand. I held it to the sun. It clanked, there was something inside. I pulled on the top, I’d have to pry the cork to get it out, the lip was partially broken. My phone rang, breaking the tranquility. I jumped a little, then fumbled for it in my back pocket, glad to have landed with it safely out of the water's reach.
"Hello?" I said into the speaker.
"Hey, Nikki, Mom and I are leaving. We’ll be back by ten. Make sure you finish your homework."
"I love you, kid."
"Love you too, Dad."
I hung up and turned my back on the ocean. It was only a short walk back up the beach. I passed little kids throwing sand at each other, angry mom's yelling at their daughters in skimpy bikinis and their husbands feeding the seagulls. I wondered if living on the beach could be a viable career choice.
I walked up the back steps and into the kitchen. I poured myself a glass of water and read the note on the fridge.
Frozen pizza for dinner. Caleb will be home from work soon to help. Love you.
I simultaneously laughed and groaned in my head. Just because Caleb was older, didn't mean that he was more mature. I pulled the pizza from the freezer and turned the oven on. I walked out and climbed the staircase to the second story.
Celeb ran past me in the hall to my room, a pillow shield in one hand and the remote in the other. James and Peter followed him with their wooden swords and Mom's scarves tiedaround their foreheads. Celeb waved the remote in the air, taunting them. Guess he was home already. I set the bottle on the banister.
"Did he get to the ship?" James asks. He and Peter sneak out of the kitchen to the stairs to the basement.
"Aye!" Peter whispers. "You can’t hide forever, you dreaded pirate!" He yells.
I watch them try to quietly run down the steps. I walk to where the couch meets the wall.
Celeb smiles. "Hey sis. When did you get home?"
I hold my hand out for the remote. "Just now."
"Hide it in the fridge." He whispers, handing me the rectangle. "Or the toaster, they'd never look there."
"Attack!" Peter yells from the top of the stairs and rushes towards me. "She’s got the golden treasure!"
I catch his sword with my free hand and pull him into a bear hug while he squirms to get free.
"Terror Twin!" he screams. "I’ve been captured by the kraken!"
James rushes up as Caleb jumps out from his hiding spot. With one arm he catches him, and wrestles him onto the couch.
"No fair!" he yelps. "You guys are older then us!"
I hand Peter the remote and he lets out a pirate-ish, "Aargh! The treasure!"
Quickly, he and James escape to the basement.
"Thanks a lot," Caleb groans. "Nothing but Jake and the pirates for the rest of the night."
"Jake and the Neverland Pirates," I correct him. "Put the pizza in the oven. I’ve got homework."
I don't wait to hear his answer. I grabed the bottle off the banister and retreated to my bedroom. Once the door was shut I set the bottle on my desk. I had tried to get the cork out with my fingers on my way home, but with no luck and no desire to cut myself on the broken lip, I decided to wait.
I pulled my pocket knife out of a pair of dirty jeans and opened the corkscrew. I dug it in and pried. With a pop the cork finally came out. I carefully turned the bottle upside down over my bed. A small silver rock on a dark chain slides out, followed by the edge of a damp piece of brownish paper. I pick out the tweezers in my pocket knife and carefully pull. I hold my breath, praying it won't tear.
It came out in one piece, rolled up and bound with a piece of wet seaweed. That seemed a strange thing to put around a piece of paper. I mean, wasn’t the point of the bottle to keep stuff like that out? I pulled off the seaweed and carefully unfolded the paper.
"I know you must have many questions but we will have time for that later. As you probably already know, my people are at war with the Makara Divided Colonies and we are in dire need of your help. I have placed my locket inside this bottle along with this note, so that it may guide you to my safeguard. Please hurry. -Queen Ali'ikai of the Sirens of Ke'ana."
I laughed. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to pull a prank that might never have been seen. It was pretty cool, though. Maybe I’d find another bottle and do the same thing so somebody else could find it.
"Nikki!" Peter yells.