An excerpt from Hildy Silverman’s story “The Bionic Mermaid vs. The Sea Demons” appearing in the anthology Horns and Halos, edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, funding now on Kickstarter.
Thessalonike felt the heat of Commander Summer James’s glare from across the sizable conference room. “I know you must have an excellent reason for interrupting this highly sensitive meeting, agent.”
The delegation from the United Nations and Oceans Security Council had recently arrived in Okinawa for a high-level meeting on possible illegal whaling activity. Japan had signed onto the Treaty of Triton with the mer—Thessalonike’s people, although they no longer acknowledged her as such—later than many other surface nations due to the stipulation that all whaling cease. However, they had adhered to the terms for a decade, which made their caginess over a recent mer sighting of a trawler hauling a whale aboard worthy of a face-to-face.
Thessa chafed at being scolded. “Commander, my apologies, but this could not wait. We have intel regarding a disturbance from the fault known as the Pacific Ring of Fire.”
The senior Japanese official, Minister Yamato, exclaimed, “If this is so, then why are my people not the ones reporting it?”
Thessa shrugged. “Perhaps U.N.O.S.C. monitoring is superior to yours.” He bristled and she quickly added, “Or maybe they do not believe there is cause for alarm.”
James’s eyes narrowed. “But you do.”
“Commander, if I may?” Oliver Martinez, another U.N.O.S.C. agent assigned to the whaling investigation, held up an electronic tablet. Upon James’s nod, he joined her at the head of the table and pointed to the screen. “This is a graph of the seismic activity detected. It doesn’t match what a tectonic shift would produce.”
The delegates around the long cherrywood table began muttering. “Clarify, please,” said James.
“This activity indicates something really large has erupted from the depths of the trench.” He ran his forefinger across the tablet. “It looks to be coming right for us.”
James pinched the bridge of her nose. “These readings don’t make sense, Agent Martinez.”
“Yeah. I know.” He shrugged.
Surface-dwellers. As long as she’d lived among them, Thessa doubted she would ever understand them fully. Why did unfamiliarity keep them from accepting facts? Instead, they tried to deny them or force them into conforming to their known science. Yet what they actually know about this world would not fill a clamshell.
Now was the time for action, not debate. Thessa said, “Commander James, our immediate concern is that whatever has risen from the trench is heading for Okinawa rapidly. We must evacuate the populace.”
The chatter around the table grew louder. “Are you mad?” Yamato stared as though Thessa had just transformed her bionic legs into a tail. “How are we supposed to do that with scarcely any notice and no clear explanation why?”
Martinez abruptly turned away with his finger pressed against the commlink in his right ear. When he looked back, his dark brown eyes were wide. “Commander, a U.N.O.S.C. drone has a visual on the anomaly. It… Díos, I don’t even know what… hold on.” He hastily linked his tablet to the conference room projector. A minute later, the drone feed appeared on the front wall.
Several people gasped. All eyes shifted to the commander and Yamato.
For just over a decade, Hildy Silverman was the publisher of Space and Time, a five-decade-old magazine of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. She is now focused on her own writing and frequently contributes short fiction to anthologies. Please visit her Amazon Author’s page.