What's in the Box?

What's in the Box?

A Story by D Connolly
"

A human is captured and held prisoner by merpeople

"

    I was walking on Siesta Key beach, looking for a good spot to sunbathe, when I came across a small cardboard box.  It had washed up with the waves right before my eyes, but when I picked it up, it wasn't wet at all.  I thought that was unusual, so I threw it in with my things as I set up next to the yellow life guard stand.  When I got comfortable, I laid on my stomach and grabbed the box for further inspection.  Looking back, I know now that nothing could have prepared me for what was inside.

    I opened the lid and suddenly found myself in what looked like a courtroom. People were standing up and shouting angrily.  The noise was overwhelming.  The judge was rapping his gavel on his desk trying to restore order, and cameras were flashing wildly.  With all of the commotion, I lifted my hands to my ears trying to block out some of the sound, only to find that I couldn't.  I was shackled!  My hands and feet were bound by some kind of thick, green organic material.  I began to struggle, wildly looking about myself trying to make sense of what was happening.  The judge shouted for the bailiffs to secure the prisoner, and I was shocked to see them swimming towards me with their tritons outstretched in my direction.  Before I could figure out what was happening to me, the tritons shot out a stream of bubbles and I became encased and unable to move at all.  As the bubble I was in turned me around and around and up and down, my eyes began to roll and I vomited, unable to make heads or tails of myself.  The crowd jeered and screamed at me. 

    Once the bubble had stabilized and I had regained some of my composure, I began to look closer at my surroundings.  I was indeed in a courtroom, but the people in it were not "people" so to speak.  they were mermaids!  My confusion was swiftly turning to terror when the judge's gavel sounded again.  "Order in this court!" he yelled.  Slowly, the room settled down.  Once there was quiet, the judge spoke again. "We are here today for case 247355, the merpeople versus Dani Connolly."  He looked at me, "Genocide is a very serious crime Ms. Connolly, and one we do not take lightly.  Due to overwhelming evidence against you, the court has decided to skip the trial and move straight to sentencing." 

    I floated in my bubble, covered in vomit and bound with what I now recognize as kelp, frantically searching my mind for anything I could have done during the course of my entire life that could account for what was happening.  The judge began again, "You were seen by hundreds of witnesses, some of whom have gathered here today, throwing a net into our nursery waters while our newborns were feeding, a total of nine times, removing with your net each time, hundreds of our newborn cavezins.  After the abduction, you were then witnessed beheading and disemboweling those same newborns.  A most brutal and heinous crime against mermanity."  With these words the crowd in the room began shouting at me and a few threw things at me intending to knock my head off, but thankfully, the bubble used to restrain me deflected them all.  The judge held up his hands in a motion to quiet the crowd and asked, "Does the prisoner wish to address the families of the victims before sentencing?"

    I was frightened, but I found my voice.  It came out barely above a whisper, but I managed to plead, "Please let me go, there's been a mistake.  I've never killed any mermaids!"  The judge's eyes bored into mine with unharnessed ferocity.

    "Oh yes," he growled, "I believe you humans call our newborns... FISH."  I floated, shocked while he continued, "Don't look surprised human.  I am not uneducated in the ways of your race." He turned to the court continuing, "The humans occupy twenty percent of our world, yet believe that they have the control; that they are superior.  Meanwhile, for millions of years, our great race has lived in peace in the waters that make up the majority of this planet.  On land, humans kill each other in record numbers."  He turned back to me with a rising temper, "Then you come into the waters waging war as if there will be no repercussions!  As if you will not be punished for your crimes!  As if our laws cannot touch you!"

    As he grew louder, so did the crowd.  The yelling and demand for justice cegan to drown out the judge.  Instead of silencing the crowd, he screamed above them.  He rose from his throne, eyes wild with vengeance, and as he did, his long silver hair swam about his head like blue fire.  "You will be an example of what power we maintain in this would!  For the slaughter of our newborns, you are sentenced to life imprisonment, with no chance of release!"  With that he swung his gavel and the bailiffs advanced on me.  Though I was constricted, I tried to break free.  I struggled until the tridents pointed at me and released another stream of bubbles that blinded me and rendered me unconscious.


    I don't know how long I stayed in that mermaid prison, only that after I got over my shock that mermaids existed, I began losing hope that I would ever feel joy again.  It was difficult to judge the days that passed, because in the deep waters of the ocean, it is neither night or day.  Just a constant cerulean dimness.  My prison was made of the same kelp used to bind my hands and feet during the trial.  I learned that the merpeople kept prisoners there to keep them from being eaten by large predators that stayed out of the garden so the long leaves wouldn't get caught in their gills and suffocate them.  I assumed that the merpeople also kept their prisoners there as a way to cut them off from the rest of the oceanic world.  One cannot become a part of that which one cannot see.  For a time, my prison drained my spirits.  however, at some point, my naturally positive nature grasped ahold of anything that might bring me hope.  I knew this kelp that cut me off from the outside world grew towards the sunlight that graced the land, my home.  Simply having that roadmap pointing me in the direction of my home gave me the hope I needed to survive.  Just knowing that somewhere above me was freedom, was enough to keep me going during those days of despair.

    I was left to fend for myself when I was hungry.  I sustained myself by eating starfish and crabs, which the merpeople would not eat.  They considered those animals to be garbage eaters, and unclean.  On occasion, my hunting would take me to the edge of the kelp garden, where I looked in amazement at the surrounding world of ocean life.  One day, my hunger led me to chase a tasty serpent star to the edge of the garden.  I held back for enough to observe the surrounding area without being noticed by the guards.

    I was startled by a battle cry.  Mermaids from every direction began swimming towards the surface with weapons drawn.  Even the guards surrounding my prison abandoned their posts to join in the monstrous battle being fought above.  Before I could think myself out of it, I began swimming up too, following the roadmap to freedom.  I feared being caught by the guards and punished for trying to escape, but I knew this would be my only chance.  If I didn't try then, I might never get another opportunity, and I would die there, never seeing the sun again.  I wanted to see my home again.

    As I swam higher and higher, the mermaid magic began to wear off and I couldn't breathe.  The saltwater stung my eyes and burned as it went up my nose.  As I exited the kelp garden, blinded and close to drowning, my spirits lifted.  I could see the sunlight; I was close to the surface!  I saw on the surface of the water that the merpeople were fighting a fishing boat!  Seizing the time I had before I was noticed, I swam into the middle of a school of fish just as the net above me hhit the water, and as the net closed around me, I was pulled to safety aboard the boat.


The triumphant shouts from the fisherman were silenced when they saw me tangled in the net.  The captain quickly called his men to action and I was robed and carried below the deck for questioning.  After I had been given fresh water, the captain listened, quietly but disbelieving, to my tale of the box, the courtroom, and the frantic escape from the mermaid prison.  When I finished, he smiled at me with pity in his eyes, as one might do to an elder taken with dementia.  he patted my hand and suggested we speak more after I had rested and regained my strength.

    Above us, we began to hear the sound of running feet and shouting.  The captain quickly pushed back his chair and ran up the stairs to his men.  I could feel the boat rocking violently, and as I listened, the men's yells and call to arms transformed into screams of terror.  There came a tremendous banging from outside the hull, and I watched as a portion was crushed from the outside in, and water began filling the cabin.  I took the small flight of stairs in two gigantic steps up to the deck.  There was chaos!  Half of the men had been thrown into the raging sea, where they struggled to stay afloat as they were tossed by the relentless waves.  The ones still on deck scrambled as they were divided; some trying to rescue the men thrown overboard, others arming themselves against the beasts now coming for them from the waters.

    I watched in horror as the men in the water were torn to pieces by the sharks that surrounded the boat.  I slipped on the red frothy water as the ever growing waves soaked the deck with their fury.  I saw great whales breaching around the sinking ship.  The gulls had already begun flying overhead, ready to feast on our carcasses.  My fear was such that I could hardly move except to try and steady myself from the torrent of wind and waves.  Along side of the boat there was a great groaning sound, and I watched, transfixed, as a serpent as large as a building breached from the water.  The beast seemed to hover in the air, and the cacophony around me stilled and silenced as we watched him fall gracefully onto the boat, shattering it.  I was vaulted into the air and far away from the fishing boat.  I hit the water and was immediately caught in an undercurrent that bashed me against the rocks below the water's surface.  I hit my head right above the eye and was knocked out cold.


    When I came to, I was on the beach, lying on my stomach with my face in the sand.  I was parched and burnt from exposure.  The cut on my head had stopped bleeding.  I carefully sat up and took in my surroundings.  There next to me was the yellow life guard stand.  People on the beach played volleyball, and milky white tourists fed the screeching seagulls, pissing off the locals.  Sunbathers carried on as if the world had never stopped.  I stood to gather myself and saw the box.  Looking down on it, I wondered with fear and amazement how a thing so small and unseeming could have upheaved my entire life.  It took me to a world of terror that I didn't belong in.  I was imprisoned and hopeless and made angrier still that I knew the way out but could not make it to the surface of the water for so long.  And upon trying to escape, I was attacked from all sides by beasts, wondering the whole time, "Will I survive this?  Will I ever make it home? Or will my mother cry never knowing what became of me?"

    I realized as I gathered my things and walked towards the parking lot that no one would believe my adventure.  The only proof I had was my own memory and the scar above my eye where I hit my head on the rocks.  And those things aren't proof at all!  No, to understand my story, a person would have to have gone through the same thing. 

    I paused at the edge of the beach and looked at the box in my hand, reflecting on my adventure and everything I had learned.  Stepping into the parking lot, I tossed the box into the garbage can, and headed home without a backwards glance.

© 2016 D Connolly


Author's Note

D Connolly
This was a story prompt given to me by my friends after watching the movie "Seven". I was saying that they could give me a simple object, and I could make a story out of it to entertain them as we sat by the fire. So, "what's in the box?" is the story I entertained my friends with that night. Now I'm just writing it down, unedited, as if we were all together, sitting around the fire and telling stories. Please feel free to use different voices and stand up and act it out! We're all just having fun

My Review

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Featured Review

Wow. A amazing tale described in the story. I liked the set-up and the very good description of places and the prison. You left a open ending. Was truth or dream? Thank you for sharing the excellent tale.
Coyote

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you Coyote!
Coyote Poetry

3 Years Ago

You are welcome my friend.



Reviews

Aye, this be a right salty tale, m'lady. Seriously, though, you did a bang-up job on the challenge, once again demonstrating what a clever imagination you have.
A typo here...for justice cegan to drown...and here...maintain in this would...and here...above me hhit...

Posted 3 Years Ago


D Connolly

3 Years Ago

thank-you for catching that! I'll have to go back & take care of that. I appreciate you reading. I j.. read more
D, that was vivid, imaginative, nightmarish...all the things that made me want to keep reading. Your obvious talent for writing with such rich detail is sublime and makes reading a joy! So many stellar lines as well. Big fan here D. R xo

Posted 3 Years Ago


D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you so much! I appreciate the compliment :)
not sure which is more terrifying, what was in the "box" in the movie "se7en", the way we rape the planet and it's resources, or facing the wrath of nature that is coming...

your story is in the details and the way you unfold it.. it is one that is both well told and deserving of being told around a camp fire... you may have tossed that box away, but I think it will be found again... my folks live down in Naples so I hope when I visit I do not see that box... ;0)

enjoyed the story immensely

redzone


Posted 3 Years Ago


D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you for the thoughtful review! There is a lot behind this story for me; both the things you h.. read more
Very well written, like being in the middle of a nightmare and not being able to wake up. Valentine

Posted 3 Years Ago


D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you for reading :)
you kept me glued throughout the whole story, i love it

Posted 3 Years Ago


D Connolly

3 Years Ago

thank-you for the review!
This is wildly imaginative & vividly detailed. I love the circular way your story started & ended in the same place. I love that you didn't try to explain it at the end, as many writers do. I like wild-a*s stories to just be wild-a*s stories without needing to spiel off a bunch of logical explanations as a wrap-up. In one place, you did this a little bit. Just before sharks attack, you say explain the merpeople had the ability to get ocean life to do their bidding. This explanation is not needed & interrupts the excellent flow of constant action. Sharks attacks just becuz sharks attack. Other than that one little bump, I was transfixed thru the rest of your story. This is a great Halloween story that doesn't use any of the stereotypes, which makes it even more fresh & original. I'm only just beginning to develop my own sense of wild-a*s imagination in my writing, so I'm very inspired by your total lack of inhibition.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you for the review!
Wow, this is defintely alternative - a box with a courtroom inside - what an imagiination you have. Mermaids in the courtooom - this is crazy cool.

Loved this line - throwing a net into our nursery waters - Brilliant writing.

This is nuts - to open a box and to be suddenly on trial - no box opening for me when i next go the beach.

merpeople - cool.
A serpant as large as a building - OMG.

This was a remarkable piece. I have never seen the like before.
INCREDIBLE story.

Mark.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Yes indeedy, I'll have whatever you were smoking when you wrote this Dani :)
I thought I would try something a little different and review it as I am reading it. So I'm at the bit where you have been told they will skip the trial and go straight to sentencing, wondering if whoever left the box on the beach will be tried for crimes against the Merpeople. Everyone and their aunt Gertrude's poodle knows you can't keep mermaids in boxes, they gotta be free, in the sea. Shame on them :)
Ah....I see. Baby mermaids are born fish.GUILTY. Then again, anyone who has ever ate a fish is equally as guilty and, well....I don't think I'll be eating any more...You know, just in case I find myself finding a box.
Extremely tough break, life without parole. Definitely no more scampi for me.
If you got life without parole for fishing, what would have the fishing boat crew have got? The captain would have been treated like Hitler, but luckily, it was your chance to escape and you took it.
Was wondering how you were going to tie all this up and you done really well with the escape and realising that no, no one would believe you, but then again, I've known for quite a while now, never trust those damn mermaids. :)



Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lorry

3 Years Ago

I'm an arm waver too, but whatever voice I try doing Always ends up coming out like shrek on sped :)
Lorry

3 Years Ago

....Or speed even :)
D Connolly

3 Years Ago

haha thank you
Wow. A amazing tale described in the story. I liked the set-up and the very good description of places and the prison. You left a open ending. Was truth or dream? Thank you for sharing the excellent tale.
Coyote

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you Coyote!
Coyote Poetry

3 Years Ago

You are welcome my friend.
I really enjoy this story! It is an extremely fun concept that really makes your mind wander. You gave life to such a simple thing .Really great job D!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

D Connolly

3 Years Ago

Thank-you! Glad you were entertained

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Added on October 27, 2016
Last Updated on October 31, 2016
Tags: mermaids, capture, prison, escape, water, beach, box, ocean, fishing, battle, freedom

Author

D Connolly
D Connolly

Bradenton, FL



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