Sun-Struck

 

He woke to the sound of distant music, a gentle sea breeze washing over him from somewhere. He heard the creak of timbers around him. Where am I this time, he found himself thinking. He seemed to be in a low wooden room, decorated with carvings, but otherwise empty. The carvings were . . . strange: Mermaids singing, maps like something out of an old storybook, and smiling young ladies with . . . banjos? He shook his head, walking out onto the main deck. As his eyes got used to the bright sunlight, he saw that he wasn’t alone.

There was a man — weathered and dressed in rags, his long white beard trailing down over the deck — tied to the mast and fast asleep. The ship around him apparently wasn’t in great shape. There were areas of broken woodwork, as if some huge monster had smashed through them. Through one of these he could see the ship’s wheel, lashed into position. Off to one side, there was an island on the horizon. He was no sailor, but as best he could tell, the ship was going round in circles. ‘Well?’ said a voice as old as the sea. ‘Don’t just stand there — untie me, confound it! I want to see what that music’s all about!’

*

He stood and stared. This all seemed strangely familiar somehow . . . Though he couldn’t quite put his finger on why.

‘Hey, I don’t have all day, here,’ said the old man, complainingly. ‘As long as you’re just standing there, you could make yourself useful. There’s a bottle down there somewhere – feels like I haven’t had a drink in centuries.’

‘I . . .’ he shrugged and started looking round. No bottle.

‘What’s wrong with ye, you got wax in your ears? Don’t say the moment one of you lazy bums finally wakes up I gets the idiot – say, wait a minute . . . You don’t look like one o’ my crew . . .’

There was splashing from the sea below. ‘Hello up there!’ called a voice, a young lady’s, sounding like it was trying to keep pace with the moving ship. It was a . . . nice voice. He found himself wandering over to the rail to see who it belonged to.

‘Hey,’ said the old man, his beard ruffling in the breeze, ‘where’re you going! Come back here – I didn’t mean it, honest— Bah! Fine, be that way. ’S no fun being on an enchanted ship circling — anyway, what do you care. I hopes you fall over the side and go to the mermaids! (Now that I come to think of it, wasn’t that what happened to all the others . . . I been out here so long I can’t remember . . .)’

Which of course, would be when a sudden gust of wind blew by. A low wooden boom, trailing ragged pieces of sail and broken ropes as it went, swung round without warning. There was a heavy thunk, and a splash, and about the last thing he remembered was a slow sinking feeling . . . 

*

He dreamed . . . Or at least, he thought he was dreaming . . . There were bright red fish, singing a strange, strange song. And a trail of spun gold. And a face that lit up like the sun . . . Then there was a hand grasping his shirt . . . Then blackness . . . 

*

He opened his eyes. He was lying in the sun . . . surrounded by cheerful music from somewhere . . . and the smell of, he sniffed . . . barbecue?

‘Get back, give him some room,’ said the nice voice from before. Things were rather blurry, but he found himself looking up into a pair of bright, emerald-green eyes that seemed to sparkle in the sunlight.

‘Does he talk?’ said another voice.

‘How’s his head?’

‘Can he dance?’

‘And would he like something to eat? Sarissa, are those sea-cow steaks ready yet?’

‘Almost!

‘Has anyone seen my banjo . . .’

‘Your banjo? Has anyone seen my snarkle-horn, it needs tuning . . .’

As the world slid back into focus, he saw a girl, a young woman really, looking down at him with a warm, concerned smile. ‘Hey . . .’ she said. ‘Thought we’d lost you for a moment there . . . My name’s Elysia, I . . . fished you out of the water when you fell – do you . . . have a name?’

‘And would you like some barbecue?’ said another voice.

‘You like music, right?’ 

‘It’s just we’ve got this big dance, and . . .’

Other figures crowded round. All of them dressed in curiously old-fashioned swimming-dresses. One held a banjo, another a seashell that looked weirdly musical; yet another held out a large leaf with a browned steak on it that smelled delicious . . .

His head was swimming, a dull, throbbing ache running through it. ‘Where . . . where am I?’

Elysia opened her mouth to speak, but got nudged into silence.

‘Don’t. He’ll get the wrong idea—’

‘But—’

‘Oh, for heaven’s sakes,’ said a girl with long honey-coloured hair done up in an old-fashioned style, ‘if you don’t tell him, I will.’

One of the other girls gave him a nervous smile. ‘. . . How much have you heard about the Isle of the Sirens . . . ?’

Published in Entertainment
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There are 27 comments.

  1. Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq Contributor

    Sirens. They’re not to be trusted.

    I’d still go for the steak though.

    • #1
    • August 11, 2019, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    As always, an intriguing start! Thanks, Andrew.

    • #2
    • August 11, 2019, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Publish! Publish! The world is waiting to read your excellent writing.

    • #3
    • August 11, 2019, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. She Thatcher
    She

    Just lovely. I could see it coming, but it was such an enjoyable ride!

    • #4
    • August 11, 2019, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Gary McVey Contributor

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Publish! Publish! The world is waiting to read your excellent writing.

    This is where someone inserts a meme of Morgan Freeman saying, “She’s right, you know”. 

    • #5
    • August 11, 2019, at 1:47 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq (View Comment):

    Sirens. They’re not to be trusted.

    I’d still go for the steak though.

    Appearances can be deceiving . . .

    . . . Admittedly, if he turns up floating in the water with a duelling-banjo-shaped lump on the back of his head, it’s a theory we could revisit. :)

    • #6
    • August 11, 2019, at 2:42 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    As always, an intriguing start! Thanks, Andrew.

    Thank you. Thanks for reading.

    • #7
    • August 11, 2019, at 2:43 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Publish! Publish! The world is waiting to read your excellent writing.

    Thank you. :) 

    Would that there were more to publish. Although this is another version of a bit from a much longer story I’ve had in mind for quite a while now. 

    With these ones, it’s kind of tailored to fit the medium.

    • #8
    • August 11, 2019, at 2:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq Contributor

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq (View Comment):

    Sirens. They’re not to be trusted.

    I’d still go for the steak though.

    Appearances can be deceiving . . .

    . . . Admittedly, if he turns up floating in the water with a duelling-banjo-shaped lump on the back of his head, it’s a theory we could revisit. :)

    It’s good enough reason to go for the steak. Sirens being Greek monsters, they undoubtedly put a large emphasis on hospitality. Once you’ve eaten their salt you’re much safer.

    Also, steak is good.

    • #9
    • August 11, 2019, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    She (View Comment):

    Just lovely. I could see it coming, but it was such an enjoyable ride!

    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

     

    • #10
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Publish! Publish! The world is waiting to read your excellent writing.

    This is where someone inserts a meme of Morgan Freeman saying, “She’s right, you know”.

    Thanks, Gary. :)

    • #11
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:03 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. The Reticulator Member

    A seashell? How about a banjo that looks weirdly musical? 

    • #12
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:06 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq (View Comment):

    Sirens. They’re not to be trusted.

    I’d still go for the steak though.

    Appearances can be deceiving . . .

    . . . Admittedly, if he turns up floating in the water with a duelling-banjo-shaped lump on the back of his head, it’s a theory we could revisit. :)

    It’s good enough reason to go for the steak. Sirens being Greek monsters, they undoubtedly put a large emphasis on hospitality. Once you’ve eaten their salt you’re much safer.

    Also, steak is good.

    Who says they’re necessarily sirens . . . After all, circumstantial evidence can be so unfair. :)

    . . . Might still be best to eat the steak, though. Just to be sure.

    • #13
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:11 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    A seashell? How about a banjo that looks weirdly musical?

    One day the world will be ready for the musical thrum of the snarkle-horn. Until that day, we make do with banjos. :)

    • #14
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:30 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. The Reticulator Member

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    • #15
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:39 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    Just something I drew because I needed a profile picture, really. :)

    • #16
    • August 11, 2019, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. She Thatcher
    She

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Just lovely. I could see it coming, but it was such an enjoyable ride!

    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    I must confess that I was in danger of being fooled by the “grey-beard loon” introduced in the second paragraph, and wasn’t quite sure if I’d end up plopped idly down on a “painted ship/Upon a painted ocean.”

    But then it occurred to me that a snarkle-horn wasn’t a particularly Romantic-sounding (in both senses of the word, I suspect) instrument, and certainly not for playing “Here Comes the Bride.” And I started to worry I’d fallen into Edward Lear territory.

    Just before I got completely lost, you brought it home. Wonderful.

    • #17
    • August 11, 2019, at 4:10 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    She (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Just lovely. I could see it coming, but it was such an enjoyable ride!

    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

    I must confess that I was in danger of being fooled by the “grey-beard loon” introduced in the second paragraph, and wasn’t quite sure if I’d end up plopped idly down on a “painted ship/Upon a painted ocean.”

    But then it occurred to me that a snarkle-horn wasn’t a particularly Romantic-sounding (in both senses of the word, I suspect) instrument, and certainly not for playing “Here Comes the Bride.” And I started to worry I’d fallen into Edward Lear territory.

    Just before I got completely lost, you brought it home. Wonderful.

    Thank you. :)

    Though, I wouldn’t be too hard on the poor fellow. In this version at least, he’s probably been there for some time. In the feature-length story I’ve had in mind for a while, he’s quite a different character altogether. 

    • #18
    • August 11, 2019, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. The Reticulator Member

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    Just something I drew because I needed a profile picture, really. :)

    That’s no reason not to write a chapter about it.

    • #19
    • August 11, 2019, at 4:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Randy Webster Member

    “So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?” Sam.

    • #20
    • August 11, 2019, at 5:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Gary McVey Contributor

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    Just something I drew because I needed a profile picture, really. :)

    You did that? I always thought it was a Jean Miro. Great style, Andrew. 

    • #21
    • August 11, 2019, at 6:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    Just something I drew because I needed a profile picture, really. :)

    That’s no reason not to write a chapter about it.

    Fair enough. Now that you mention it, I’m sure there are several unexpected directions it could be taken off in.

    • #22
    • August 12, 2019, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    “So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?” Sam.

    I looked that one up. Roger Zelazny? Interesting surrounding context, though I probably miss a lot from not having read the book. 

    • #23
    • August 12, 2019, at 6:20 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    Just something I drew because I needed a profile picture, really. :)

    You did that? I always thought it was a Jean Miro. Great style, Andrew.

    Thank you. :)

    Though that one was a direct-to-computer drawing.

    • #24
    • August 12, 2019, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. The Reticulator Member

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Y’know, someday you should put up a chapter about your avatar.

    Just something I drew because I needed a profile picture, really. :)

    That’s no reason not to write a chapter about it.

    Fair enough. Now that you mention it, I’m sure there are several unexpected directions it could be taken off in.

    Exactly. Those objects seem to be poised to take off in a lot of interesting directions.

    • #25
    • August 12, 2019, at 6:54 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Randy Webster Member

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    “So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?” Sam.

    I looked that one up. Roger Zelazny? Interesting surrounding context, though I probably miss a lot from not having read the book.

    Yes. Roger Zelazny. If you like Sci-fi/fantasy at all, you owe it to yourself to read Lord of Light.

    • #26
    • August 12, 2019, at 1:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Andrew Miller Member
    Andrew Miller Post author

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Andrew Miller (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    “So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?” Sam.

    I looked that one up. Roger Zelazny? Interesting surrounding context, though I probably miss a lot from not having read the book.

    Yes. Roger Zelazny. If you like Sci-fi/fantasy at all, you owe it to yourself to read Lord of Light.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    • #27
    • August 12, 2019, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • Like