Rosemary and the Siren


This photograph, entitled Siren Revisited is by OldOnliner and is used in accordance to his Creative Commons license.

By the time you read this, Erin, Vivian and I will be on our way to Des Moines, Iowa. We're flying Midwest Express out of Terminal 3 in Toronto, and we've had to make an early morning start. It will be fairly late before we get into Des Moines, and we probably won't be in any condition to do anything more than checking e-mail.

We're looking forward to this vacation, and we're not. We're not because this is happening because it's the first anniversary of Wendy's untimely death. At the same time, we have to be with family at times like this. And we're hoping for a chance to relax in warm company, and seeing a few sights that Iowa and Nebraska have to offer. I hope to work some more on a couple of articles, and on the submittable draft of Fathom Five.

Speaking of which, I leave you with a passage in chapter five, just after Peter and Rosemary have been dragged into the Siren world.

Rosemary floundered, struggling for air and light.

She felt herself rising through the murk, toward a shimmering ceiling. Darkness pushed in on all sides.

Rosemary rocketed out of the water. She barely had time to breathe before falling back in.

She flailed and splashed, blind with spray. Hands clasped her arms and hauled her above the waves. The wind broke against her back, breathtakingly cold.

"Peter!" she gasped.

"Find your feet," said a voice like a strict schoolteacher. "Put your feet down!"

Rosemary found ground beneath her feet. She was waist deep in a cold lake. A hand pressed against her back. "Now, walk," said the stern voice.

Rosemary tried. Then she bent double and threw up water. The voice sighed and pressed her forward, marching her to the shore.

They left the water, and Rosemary collapsed onto a flat stone. She curled up into herself, retching.

"You were a fool to follow us!" It was a woman's voice, young and sweet as a girl's, but with a harsh edge of power and long experience. Rosemary rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. She sat up to stare.

A woman-sea creature glared at her with shark's eyes. She was tall and thin, wearing green robes, her skin like sea glass, and red hair long enough to cloak her. Hair and robes billowed in the wind. She looked as though the waves would break her, but they didn't dare.

"You wake at last." The sea-woman sneered, baring white triangles of enamel. "Good."

"Who... Who are you?"

"Peter's friend."

"Where is he?"

"Safe," the sea-woman replied. "Do not concern yourself with him. Worry about yourself. You are halfway between your world and mine. I have stayed back to show you the way home."

"You pulled Peter off that cliff?" Rosemary swallowed hard, then squared her shoulders, and faced up to her. "You can't just take him away, that's kidnapping!"

"I am taking him home. You need to go to your home. Look around you."

The tone of her voice gave Rosemary no choice but to look around.

She was sitting on a rock at the base of a line of cliffs stretching along the sore of an endless lake. The world was bathed in perpetual twilight, with no sun or stars in the sky. The dome overhead was a smooth navy blue, broken only at the clifftops where clouds hung as thick as the fog around Clarksbury.

"That pathway will take you home." The sea-woman pointed to a gully cut into the cliff. There was a fin growing along the back of her arm. "It is difficult terrain, but you should make it. Don't look back; for the path will vanish behind you."

Rosemary shivered in the steady wind. "I'm not leaving without Peter."

The woman's smile wasn't sympathetic. "Suit yourself. Good luck. It is a cold wind."

She walked backwards into the lake.

"Hey!" Rosemary scrambled to her feet. "Come back here!"

The sea-woman cast up her arms and the lake rose. The wave dodged around her and charged at Rosemary. She barely had time to clutch at her glasses before the wall of water smashed her into the cliff face. Rosemary struggled against the suck of the undertow. Stones cracked against her legs and arms. Her lungs begged for air once more. Finally, the water receded, leaving Rosemary clinging to the flat stone, gasping.

The woman was gone. The only sound was the roar of the waves, and the whistle of the wind.

When she recovered her senses, Rosemary pulled away from the shoreline. She sat on a stone and tried to dry her glasses with her cardigan. Blood trickled from a cut on her knee, and her head ached. The wind was so cold, it burned her skin. And somewhere a bell tolled.

"Well," she said at last, with a hollow laugh. "That went well."

Shock overtook her and she slumped forward, covering her face in her hands. She sat shivering as she took recent events apart and put them back together again, trying to think of what to do next.

See you Sunday, maybe. And happy Canada Day, everyone!

(Update: 5:15 p.m. CDT): I'm typing this from Michael and Rosemarie's home in Des Moines. The trip was mostly uneventful, although we ended up arriving in Des Moines an hour late thanks to small delays that ended up cascading along the trip. Vivian had no problem with the plane and slept most of the way between Milwaukee and Des Moines. Everybody is asleep now, except for Michael, who is walking the dog. Later tonight, we're going out to an authentic Mexican restaurant.

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