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Janice Beier

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Mermaids of Europa
By Janice Beier
Sunday, June 13, 2010

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This short story won first place in the 2010 Aspiring Writers Short Story Competition in the category of humor.

Mermaids of Europa
by Janice Beier

Prof. Mok’s Personal Journal. Day One:

After years of planning and bureaucrat red tape, my research grant was finally approved by the board. Since then, however, my reputation has taken a significant blow after it was discovered that my family only served as a front while I misappropriated funds. My “wife” was actually a fan dancer I’d met abroad and our “child” was actually my three-foot-tall assistant. It would have worked if my “wife” hadn’t left me for my “son”.

Having essentially been abandoned by the university community, I’ve had to make drastic compromises. My sturdy metal ship with land and water maneuverability was downgraded to a frail skiff made from, what I believe to be, sheet metal over foam. My crew of two hundred has shrunk to seven, and my high-tech ice-cutting tools have been reduced to a blunt pick ax and a shovel with a broken handle.

Fortunately, the men of my crew are all fine men of science and care very little about these minor setbacks. How they will react when they learn my funding is gone and they will not be paid for this particular adventure will be interesting to note. No worries, I can’t let negative thoughts affect this truly monumental exploration. We set out tomorrow!

Day Two:

Some of us managed to escape the attack. Apparently the skiff was not built to travel over ice, the remains of it crumbled under the grisly attack. The remaining crew and I are hiding in a small ice cavern until we can be sure it’s safe to come out. It is impossibly cramped and I can not lie down but I have to focus on the positives. My discoveries are sure to restore my good name, and show those fools they were wrong for abandoning me. It will also show Nora who the real man is.

Day Three:

One of my crew went out to see if it was safe. He has not come back. I do hope he is in a better place. On the positive side, I can now lie down.

Day Four:

Are the beasts still out there? I do not know. These cowards are too afraid to go out and see. Our food supply is dwindling and so is our water. I can not take much more of this. A boot does not make a good pillow.

Day Five:

I don’t care if it is Phil’s sandwich, I’m eating it.

Day Eight:

Things have gotten worse. Having broken off from the larger berg sometime in the night, our ice cave has begun to drift. We enjoyed watching a pod of playful little seals until a large Orca flopped onto the edge of our ice platform and tilted it. That killer whale managed to take most of my crew into the icy depths with him. Phil and I are the only ones left. I think he knows I ate his sandwich.

Day Fifteen:

Still drifting….still drifting. I could have sworn we passed that iceberg yesterday. Saw some seals today. We threw icicles at them until they went away. Fool me once shame on me….fool me that’s not it….anyway those little buggers won’t fool me again.

Day Seventeen:

I punched an ice wall and shouted “I’ll kill you Europa!” I don’t know why. I think I might have broken my hand.

Day Twenty:

Eureka! I’ve made the discovery of a lifetime, my crowning achievement. I’ve found an entire underwater society. There’s a whole world of people….tribes of different peoples, thriving and traveling through the densest waters right beneath us, beautiful people majestically floating right beneath this ice. We surface dwellers have been living wrong our entire lives, for who would choose to walk on ice when they could soar through water?

Phil professes to not be able to see a single thing but I think he has been plotting against me from the very beginning. When he’s not looking I plan to join my brethren beneath the ice and learn their ways so that I can come back and educate the fools at university. I’ll be famous!

[Addendum] Prof. Mok was never found. Phil found his notes and sold them for a small fortune. He is currently married to Nora.

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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 8/15/2011
I enjoyed your short story very much, Janice. Thank you. Love and peace,

Reviewed by david bending 6/21/2010
Enjoyed your very much reading your story. Very compelling read and descriptive.
David Bending

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