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Zuzu Grimm’s Mermaid Island: A Fairy Tale

The Mermaid Calypso
The Mermaid Calypso
Once, long ago, there were fierce Amazon women warriors who lived deep in the jungle until one day they came under attack by Spanish conquistadores. The Amazons were a chosen people, The Great Goddess bade it so, and thus to prevent their extinction she transformed the Amazons into mermaids and sent them to live in the ruins of Atlantis in the dark under regions of the ocean. So that they would never be under threat again, the Great Goddess placed a spell on Mermaid Island: that no foreigner would be able to breach its boundaries and harm any of the mermaids who lived and swam happily therein.One day, there was a horrible accident in Mermaid Island. An accident that could not be understood as nobody had died in Mermaid Island since they were once on land. What happened was this. A shark had found it’s way into Mermaid Island. It glided through the waters with its black soulless eyes and it had killed a mermaid child. The mermaids defeated the shark with fishing spears and magic, but they were unable to revive the child.The loss of a mermaid child is unfathomable because, you see, in order to have a child a mermaid must go on a quest. First she must take her intentions to Mount Mermaid and present them to The Great Goddess with a lock of her hair. Then she must jump from the very top of Mount Mermaid into the Dark Waters of No Return. If she is to emerge from the waters, she will have a vision of her quest. If she does not emerge, she becomes one of the Tortured Souls trapped in the purgatory of the Dark Waters. It means her soul is not pure and she has been corrupted by evil forces. She can no longer live among the other mermaids. Many mermaids had been lost to the Dark Waters. The Tortured Souls were still angry about the Amazon War or they were filled with jealousy of their mermaid sisters. But the ones that survived The Quest were the true children of the Goddess, filled with light and love and their daughters were magical. They were the water spirits that would one day redeem violent humanity.

Threads of blood were woven through the water from the newly killed mermaid child. Her blood was mingled with that of the shark which began to float upwards and outwards of Mermaid Island’s protective sphere. The mother began to howl the Mourning Song while the other mermaids formed the grieving circle around her. They sang until the taste of blood left their mouths.

The Mermaid Council called a meeting. They wondered if The Great Goddess had forsaken them. Until then, there had been no breaches of their territory and not a single mermaid had been lost in the thousands of years since they lived on land. Well, no losses save the Tortured Souls who swam the Dark Waters without respite. The Council was at a loss.

They were so much at a loss that they did not notice the absence of one Council mermaid, Calypso, who was cutting her hair and making her way to Mount Mermaid to begin her Quest for a child. “Someone lost means someone on the way,” she thought to herself. Calypso reached the summit and left her lock of hair along with her intention to seek a child. She took a deep breath and plummeted into the Dark Waters of No Return.

There was pain in the Dark Waters. Pain the same colour as the blood staining the waters above. There was screaming, there was rage. There were so many mermaids, Calypso was frightened. She trembled in her fear, but had no doubt in her intention. The Tortured Souls wailed and thrashed at her. They told her all the things she feared to say about herself. All of a sudden, there was silence. Silence and a shimmering light that surrounded her, embracing her like sea moss. The light formed the shape of a Dragon and began to speak in the soothing voice of The Great Goddess.

Your quest is this, the voice sang: You will travel to The World Outside. The World Beyond the boundaries of Mermaid Island. You must find The Vampire Queen, she will have the answers you seek. Hurry! For if you do not receive the answer soon, your mother-sisters will be in even graver danger than sharks. Go! Now!

Calypso awoke with a start on the altar of Mount Mermaid. She had tears streaming down her face, one stream of joy, another of grief, another for The Goddess who answered her prayer. Calypso swam off to declare her Quest to her mother-sister mermaids.

There were many tears as the mermaids bade her, “Good journey.” This was the second loss of today. Just because she had emerged unscathed from the Dark Waters with her Vision intact, did not mean she would return to Mermaid Island. There was much fear. But there was also much faith that Calypso would be the one to save Mermaid Island from The Threat.

Calypso did not look back at the mermaids, at her home that was growing smaller and smaller as she moved forward. She began to see strange things in the water. There were huge beings that smelled of blood metal, although they did not appear to be bleeding. She choked on water that was contaminated by impurities she could not fathom. She wondered if she would make it to the surface without suffocating, and wondered how she would become human when she got there. How would she find the Queen Vampire?

When her head broke the surface of the water it was night and the moon was pregnant above her. She could even see the baby in its belly and prayed to The Goddess for what she would need to complete her Quest. Calypso saw dark forms in the distance and moved towards them. On shore her new feet sunk into the sand and she felt an odd sense of joy at the tickling sensation. There were humans on the sand, at the water’s edge, swimming. She found some clothes and put them on.

The only thing she knew to do was to continue praying. She pulled out some of her hair and left it as an offering for The Great Goddess. She prayed for direction, she prayed for guidance, she prayed for the good graces of protection. Calypso was granted a second vision. In the vision she saw a cityscape with harsh sharp outlines, needles breaking the orange of a setting sun. Littered with churches and bridges, dark-clothed humans, she overheard a name. Prague.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself on the St. Charles Bridge. She felt a dark presence and when she put her hand on a bridge strut she knew that The Devil had been here. He had tricked the man who built the bridge into giving him the soul of his wife, all because the architect wanted to make something more glorious than anything that had ever existed. The result was a threatening beauty. She shivered.

In her mind she began to call out to the Queen Vampire. “Mistress of Night, show yourself!” Calypso begged. “Show yourself!”

Calypso felt herself drawn into the city. Her sandal-clad feet on the cold cobblestones made a slap-slapping sound that was new to her ears. There were sounds of beings all around her, some human, some vampire, some that were neither and were far more frightening. They hid in the shadows and hissed at her. Calypso filled her heart with love for her mother-sisters and walked onwards. She stopped in front of a Church, harshly carved stone and gargoyles peered menacingly down over her. She felt dribbles of spit spill hungrily down onto her. She walked inside.

The Queen Vampire was sitting on the Altar wearing a red velvet cape and an imperial yellow silk dress. There was a deep flush in her cheeks and a smile in her eyes. She beckoned Calypso with long and tapered fingers to come forward and sit at her side.

“The answer you seek is Love,” The Queen purred and took Calypso’s hand into hers. “The only way to save this world, this planet, your sisters, is through Love. We Vampires eat hatred, we drink unhappiness, so that only Love and Joy remain. But we cannot create Love. We only make room for it to grow. Return to your sisters with this message. Return quickly. When the time is right you will know what to do.”
br />And just like that, Calypso found herself prostrate at the summit of Mount Mermaid. She was reeling from her Quest, so much and yet in so little time. Mermaid Island was nothing it had been when she left it. Sharks swam through freely. There were black patches of pollution and the burgundy threads of blood in the water. Worse, the Tortured Souls from the Dark Waters of No Return had gotten free and darkly roamed Mermaid Island filled with maroon rage and murder in their eyes.

“I’m too late!” Calypso cried, beside herself with frustration and panic. “How long was I gone!? Too long! O Great Goddess, what must I do? What must I do!?”

Calypso’s tears were tainted with the bloodwater circulating through her gills. She returned to the Altar and thought of the Queen Vampire’s words. “Love,” she thought, “our answer is Love. Love.” A feeling began to come over Calypso. It started in the tip of her tail as a tingle, like the tickle of sand under her feet, and moved up her body. The tingle was pink and tasted of sea candy. The tingle reached her heart and exploded into a rainbow of light; Calypso was caught in the Beam but at the same time, Calypso was the Beam.

The Beam was the light the mermaids needed to remember love and so the first Tortured Soul remembered her true self and moved towards it. She moved among the violence, filling with the same light and drawn towards the Beam, becoming one with it and with herself. More tortured souls followed, unable to fight anymore, forgetting why they fought in the first place. The torn bodies of the mermaids were mended by The Beam as it grew stronger and stronger. They became whole, filled with light and became part of The Beam. The Beam began to devour the dark patches in the water. The Beam of Love spread through Mermaid Island and worked its way through the waters above, transforming the darkness of violence and destruction into joy and peace. Wounds healed with just a drop of the water, sadness dissipated with only one glimpse of The Beam. It was impossible to hide from its light and all at once the world was healed. All at once, the world was returned to its natural state of peace and harmony. This natural state would not last long, only long enough for us all to remember how things should be. It would be left up to us what we would decide to do with the knowledge: nothing, or something. So it was that The Beam of Love lived happily ever after, and although those who kept its memory and spread its joy did not live happily ever after, certainly they lived more happily.

Istanbul, Turkey
October 15, 2006