Fiction Friday; Mildred Van de Graaff


This is a short piece written for a friend of mine during this month of Mer-May. Since the theme is mermaids and the fandom we have in common is Zombies, Run! I decided to take one of her sketches and turn it into a short scene for funsies. If you like what I've got here, check out the app (it makes exercise fun!) and my Tumblr for more of the same!

The barge was a barely floating wreck. Several large pieces had already broken off as the waves pounded the vessel to splinters, its grounded hulk already abandoned by its human occupants. And of course, fiberglass wouldn’t go away like wood might have eventually sunk and turned into food for the crabs. No, of course the humans had to use something that stayed in the water for generations, choking and killing perfectly innocent fish (and some not so innocent ones).


Archie had been sent out with a bunch of other New Canton Swimmers to clean it up and throw the trash back onto the land where it belonged, but had been the only one to notice (or perhaps, the only one to care) that there were still animals on the fragments of the barge that hadn’t yet sunk. There was a panicked four-legged thing that bellowed in fear every time she surfaced. There was a smaller very furry thing that jumped into the water and swam toward the shore when she tried to get closer to it. And there was something that looked like a bird but was nothing like the birds she’d seen on the waves.


Gulls were big and white, but sleek and shaped kind of like a seal, with a very sharp beak at one end and a tail they could spread out at the other. This bird was fluffy-ish, with weird feet that had no webbing, and that squawked when picked it up.


“Stop playing with that thing, Archie,” called Lem. He sounded like he wasn’t sure whether or not to laugh. “We’ve still got work to do.”


“It can’t swim! Isn’t that funny? A bird that can’t swim. And look at its funny little feet.” She tried to show Lem, but the bird not only couldn’t swim, but very much disliked being put in the water so Lem could see its feet. “I’m going to put it on the land where it belongs. Maybe it will lay some eggs for us out of gratitude!” Archie grinned, and Lem rolled his eyes, smiling.


“Hurry up, then. We still need to clear this stuff out of the way before the tide turns.”


“Aye-aye, captain!” Archie pretended to salute him, then turned toward the beach, passing carefully over the reef where the barge had run aground so she could take the bird thing to the beach. “You are going to be very lonely if you don’t find some friends here. I hope you don’t mind making friends with the local birds. They are prettier than you, I think, but I do like your feathers. They are so glossy and red! I think I will call you... Mildred. Yes, that’s a good name for you. Mildred Van de Graaff. There. Now I know your name. My name is Archie. And now that we’ve been introduced, we’re friends!”


They had reached the beach. Reluctantly, Archie set the bird in the shallows and watched it run away, up onto the sand and away from the water.


“Come back and visit soon!” she called, and tried not to be disappointed when the chicken ignored her.

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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