Editor: Happy Bubbles & Sammy
Many things could be explained by what humans referred to as ‘science’, but there were still a number of events that simply defied scientific explanation.
Of course, that didn’t mean no one had studied these projects before despite the specifics making it sound like the sponsors’ money grew on trees or the researchers’ brains had short circuited. For example, Chinese wuxia novels broached the idea of opening up the Ren and Du veins1 Ren Mai (conception vessel) and Du Mai (governing vessel) are two of the eight extraordinary meridians in Chinese medicine , but this idea obviously had its limitations. This term had zero internationalism, and barring China, the rest of the world wouldn’t even understand the mere concept. However, the matter mentioned below was nothing of the same sort.
Merfolk, indeed, were recorded extensively in myths from various countries. Regardless of whether it was in the East or West, in the Aegean Sea or Babylon; if they were coined as Ningyo or Sirens, as long as it was a country with a coastline, such legends would spread.
Numerous confidential documents showed evidence of humans hearing the song of the merfolk since the Age of Exploration. All survivors, though, either reported the singing to be from very far away, or they had gone mad so there was no way of gaining any information from them. It was very difficult for any researcher to gain insight on this topic, and to be honest, it was much easier to learn about the sea monsters instead. At the very least, people had long since discovered the remains of Giant Squids, and even the Loch Ness Monster had a collection of film and photography to prove its existence.
It was easy for shoes to become wet once one walked by the river enough times2 常在河边走，哪有不湿鞋；Chinese idiom that means if a something happens repeatedly, it will eventually be caught/exposed. . If sea monsters truly existed, then their mystery would be gradually unveiled as humans gained more and more knowledge about the ocean.
For instance, the largest squid they knew of wasn’t actually the so-called ‘Giant Squid’ that could tackle Sperm Whales thousands of metres below the deep sea. Instead, it was a type of squid with barbed tentacles that lurked in the Antarctic Ocean. Humans had previously caught a premature one in the Ross Sea, and for normal people, something almost twenty metres high could already be called a sea monster!
Ah, the truth was always held by the minority… or not! It was because most sea monsters never left the deep sea, so the only way to find them was to travel to the South China Sea.
See, merfolks were much simpler. If they were going to appear, it would have to be above the surface of the ocean.
But their chanting was horrifying. Thousands of classified documents proved that sailors suspected of having heard the song of the merpeople became slightly crazy— some more than others. Legends told that covering one’s ears wouldn’t stop them from hearing their singing voices; instead, one must tie themselves to the ship’s mast if they didn’t want to be lured into the sea. Of course, exaggerated myths existed, but when talking about merfolk, only the East had tales of kind and diligent mermaids whose tears turned into pearls; the rest all revolved around creatures that weren’t so wonderful.
They were the omens of calamity. During the Age of Exploration, a crew might as well begin to write their wills if they had spotted merfolk— or not, since sailors didn’t have the habit of writing wills. It wasn’t as if the letters could ever be mailed back to land. Perhaps the crew could’ve held a prayer circle, praying devoutly before their deaths, repenting for their sins, and then preparing for the impending disaster.
Which may have been a tsunami, or perhaps the arrival of dreadful pirates or warships. It had been said that if the crew on board was pious enough, then despite the occurrence of the disaster, they wouldn’t see the merfolk or hear their frightening song.
The logic of the West was more similar to Sherlock Holmes’ style of analysis:
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
In reality, merfolk didn’t bring disaster; they were merely attracted to the humans who were about to face one. Things like devout prayer could have the effect of removing negative emotions such as fear, anxiety and anger, and it could even lead the sailors to make peace with themselves because they believed that they’d go to heaven. As such, the merpeople were less enticed by these emotions that weren’t as dark and lacking in hope.
Thus, the song of the merfolk could only be a type of psychological shock wave.
There may be a chance that it sounded like singing solely to humans, and that if other creatures were to listen to it, perhaps they would be put to sleep instead.
Then that left only one question: once humans heard the melodic voices, would they jump into the ocean? Would they suffer from psychological trauma? Or would the melody push their minds over the edge so that they became totally crazy? The first theory was much too strange. For sea monsters and sirens, why would they go through so much hassle just to eat a human being?
As for the latter two assumptions, scientific research had shown that human emotions could be separated into colours. Clearly, what the merfolk consumed was the psychological waves that were emitted by humans when they experienced devastation, hate, and overall twisted emotions that could crumble the human psyche. For such a delicacy, the merfolk would risk rising to the surface to appear in front of humans.
The singing functioned as a bridging device that allowed the merpeople to engulf human psychological waves in a way that wasn’t scientifically explainable.
This was such a perfect explanation, but here was the problem: humans weren’t able to capture a merperson to study!
For the record, humanity had moved into the Information Age. A satellite up in Earth’s orbit could very well take a high resolution picture of a car on a road. Merfolk, however, were different from the mountainous sea monsters. They only appeared during disasters, when there were storm clouds covering the sky, and they looked to be half human. When all three factors were combined, it became impossible for any satellite to capture what was happening in the ocean whenever it was graced by the presence of merpeople.
It may be said that the dwindling number of merfolk could be correlated to the increased security of ocean voyages.
Now, the passengers onboard the Thalassa Goddess may not even survive till the complete arrival of doomsday for they might become one of the living dead who no longer registered any stimulation from the outside world. When that happened, there wouldn’t be much to expect of their fates.
Historically, the victims of the merfolk didn’t die from starvation or dehydration— don’t forget, these creatures appeared right before a disaster, so all they had to do was claim their meal before it succumbed to the catastrophe.
However, this time was different.
Though Xia Yi was unconscious, he was still forced to float on the sea’s surface. The moon was bright and no organisms dared to appear, lest they had a death wish. A light silver glow outlined an elegant, soft and pearl-like visage. Its deep and misty amethyst eyes stared intently at the Thalassa Goddess. There was no wind tonight, and only a melodic voice echoed over the waves.
Such tranquility, such beauty, but both were elements that shaped the cause of death.
Xia Yi began to convulse slightly— he’d been exposed to a vast amount of radiation. His breathing gradually quickened and yellow, translucent liquid began to ooze as splits appeared on his body. That was the subcutaneous tissue, and by the time all of it broke down, the person would’ve already died from organ failure. Meanwhile, the heavily-salted seawater which caused dehydration would speed up the entire process.
The singing abruptly stopped.
As the creature leaned down, half of its long, silver hair spilled across Xia Yi’s face.
It lifted a hand from within the sea, and there appeared to be membranes beneath its second joint that connected its pale and slender fingers. Its nails were long and sharp, reflecting pearl-coloured rays underneath the moon. It gently wiped at a bleeding cut on Xia Yi’s face before putting its finger in its mouth and slowly sucking the blood off.
All of a sudden, it appeared to have realised something.
The silver merfolk reluctantly gazed at the large Thalassa Goddess one last time and then bent over again. This time, its cold lips covered Xia Yi’s continuously bleeding ones and its arms tightened as it sunk quickly into the water.
The ocean tossed slightly; it was the sky of marine organisms and its ripples would refract the light evenly below the surface.
Hazy and dreamlike.
Now, the water twenty metres below the surface was devoid of any types of fish.
The silver moonlight would penetrate through the area, bringing light to no one, before disappearing into the darkening and cooling ocean.
The water pressure made it impossible for Xia Yi to breathe. Even though there was a strange breath flowing in from his mouth, Xia Yi’s subconscious realised that if he continued sinking any further, he would die. As such, he began to struggle despite his unconscious state.
Half-lidded purple eyes shot open and stared at Xia Yi in confusion. And yet it didn’t let go. On the contrary, it grasped him much more firmly as he was dragged towards the bottom of the sea.
Unless there was an absence of water, or even under heavy radiation, there would be life that could rapidly change the makeup of its DNA and continue to thrive.
From the depths of the ocean, countless translucent, icy-blue jellyfish began to bob up. Their mushroom-shaped tops opened and closed, eager to reach the surface because of the decreasing radiation. A multitude of them passed by Xia Yi and the merperson.
These special types of prey naturally lured in curious predators.
A big octopus rudely crashed into a bloom of jellyfish. These creatures were so small that it could only use its tentacles lined with suckers to randomly grab a few and stuff them into its mouth.
As one could well imagine, the jellyfish were tasteless and all the octopus could feel was their coldness.
Abyss looked up at the shadows of the Thalassa Goddess and then back to the merfolk, clearly perplexed. Even now, it still hadn’t let go of the bottles held in its tentacles.
An intense infrasound echoed throughout the waters.
––So this is how you’re supposed to eat humans? You start nibbling from the mouth?