So Mermaids ARE real!
Amidst the raucous cheers of the Victoria and Albert Explorers Club, Alistair gave a jaunty salute and picked up his portmanteau. He quickly descended the iron rungs of the ladder into a curious round apparatus held fast by cables and pulleys to a specialized crane on the dock. His feet quickly touched the bottom of the gleaming copper and brass diving bell. His fellows on the dock pulled the ladder out of the bell, attached the hose which pumped compressed breathing gas into the copper chamber and closed the hatch with great fanfare. Experiencing a fleeting moment of claustrophobia in the cramped compartment, Alistair heard the sound of the air pump working and breathed normally once more. He quickly unpacked his case onto the small folding table, producing a flask of hot tea, linen-wrapped scone, small leather-bound notebook, sharpened pencils and his newest prized possession, a George Eastman portable Kodak. He had the camera specially shipped all the way from America for the purpose of this diving adventure and was the first in the Explorers Club to own one. It was the enlightened year of 1890 after all, and one must keep current with the latest scientific equipment!
He removed his jacket and sat down on the small camp chair, clasping the table as the diving bell was slowly lowered into the cold blue waters of the Atlantic. Pulling his pocket watch from his waistcoat, Alistair placed it on the table, opened his notebook, and with pencil at the ready peered through the larger of the two portholes. Tick, tick, tick, the sound of the watch reverberated in the small chamber. A few curious fish swam by; ordinary and not even worth photographing. However, he looked down for a moment to make certain the camera was prepared in the event something interesting did swim by.
When he looked back up he nearly jumped out of his skin! There, framed in the large porthole, peering in at him was the most amazing creature he had ever seen. Definitely female, she had pale luminous skin freckled with scales, very long wavy green hair the colour of seaweed, huge turquoise-coloured eyes. Her webbed hands were pressed upon the glass and he could see her fish-like tail from the smaller port hole. “So mermaids ARE real!” Alistair exclaimed aloud.
They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity and then Alistair moved the camera closer to the edge of the table and pointed it directly at her. Her eyes opened wide and she looked so frightened that Alistair quickly covered the camera with his jacket to allay her fears. Again, they gazed at each other intently and Alistair slowly opened his notebook; if a photograph was out of the question he wanted a drawing of her at the very least. She watched his every move as he quickly sketched her likeness. He turned the book around so she could see the drawing. She was fascinated; then a mournful look changed her countenance as she gazed upward towards the ocean’s surface. Drat! Alistair instantly realized he unfortunately could never reveal his astounding discovery to anyone! The poor creature would be chased and harassed mercilessly in the pursuit of science. He closed the book and hid it under his jacket and smiled. She rewarded him with a beautiful smile of understanding and with a flip of her tail she swam away, glancing back once over her shoulder.
Alistair sat in dumbfounded silence for a few moments, his reverie interrupted by a school of anglerfish swimming by. He half-heartedly snapped a few photographs of them and whatever other fish floated by. Presently he heard a clanging sound and felt movement as the diving bell was slowly brought back to the surface. As he emerged from the bell, his club members were all shouting “What did you see?”. “Nothing very interesting; I photographed a few fish”, said Alistair. His fellow Explorers were unanimously crestfallen, but Alistair smiled secretly to himself….. 🙂