Summary of Chapter One:
Once upon a time, there lived two ocean orphans, a mermaid Sirah and her best friend Davi, a dolphin. They lived in a warm and bountiful ocean sprinkled with coral islands (we call the Atolls of Hawaii). They grew up knowing the destruction of the beings they called "the two-footers". Sirah's village was a refugee camp, her sea people survivors of the invasion of the oil wells that descended upon them as vast mechanical monsters crashing and tearing their town and gardens. Many lives were lost including Sirah's parents. She grew up wild with little supervision. Only her dear friend Davi taught her the finer aspects of civilized behavior.
Davi's origins were in the cooler and plentiful northeast seas where green mountains ran into arms of the sea. Young dolphins joined their elders in all night vigils, watching for tuna boats and their barbarian cousins, the raiding orca whales, while tending the tuna flocks and singing ancient lays or songs. One night a monster oil-carrying ship began to spill oil into the water. A nightmare exodus exploded as every living tried to escape the inescapable substance. Sea birds, turtles, little shrimp, otters, orcas and the dolphins were caught in the poisonous goo, the flocks of tuna were covered and all the wild places and pastures were coated in the oil. Death was everywhere. His dying parents ordered Davi, not yet polluted with the unremoveable poison, to swim away in order to save himself. Davi fled, following the orcas to the open routes of the ocean. Alone he wandered and told his sad story to anyone who listened or believed him. When Davi swam into the merpeople's refugee camp he found beings who had had first fin knowledge of the horrors of oil spills. He became friends with Sirah.
One day the sea bird brought disturbing news -- the two-footers were readying boats and barges to begin oil drilling in their warm seas. Sirah the Mermaid and Davi the Dolphin, are convinced that the two-footers (humans) must be stopped in their quest for drilling oil in the seas. They decide to enlist all of Nature's Children's help; they will journey to the North Wind as she is the First Child who helped her Mother shape the Ocean. Her breath carved islands and moves the Seas. Her trailing robes lifts waves as tall as mountain. If anyone can stop the two-footers, it is she. They are not sure where she dwells. They travel with uneasy hope as the waters become a little cooler each league.
As they swim north, close to the surface for Davi's need for air, they suddenly find a deafening roar and massive shadow moving like a rocket upon them. Our story opens:
"Swim for your life!" screamed Davi. " Dive landward!"
The massive roaring shadow was upon them. Strong currents like a merknapper enfolded her, pulling her down. Brutal sounds crashed through her ears. Sirah tumbled and tossed in the churning nightmare. She lost all sense of direction.
"Davi, Davi, where are you?" she tried to call but she choked on her words. Gulping water she felt water sick. Could a mermaid drown? She tumbled like a piece of kelp in the surf. She stared into the watery maelstrom seeing nothing. Through the gloom something sharp moved; she saw huge sword-like blades slicing the water above her. "Daaaaaavi!" Sirah groped in front of her hoping to feel the body of Davi somewhere nearby. Thud! Her hands caught hold of something soft and firm and squiggling The giant shadow and monstrous roar moved on and chopped light fell upon the object in her hands. It was a tiny two-footer! A little human. Instinctively Sirah pushed upward to the surface. The tiny human was almost as blue and green as Sirah's scales but she knew they ranged from pale pinks to burnished browns and shades in-between (having paid some attention in school when they studied Problems of World Ecology and Bipedism). This creature needed air. She pushed up quickly. As she broke the surface and held the poor little creature up she spotted Davi a way off to the east. Sirah called to him in Dolphin Speech. He looked, as always, as if he were smiling but as he slowly swam she could see he was injured. His dorsal fin was bent and he trailed a wake of blood. Sirah swam to him.
"Davi! You're hurt! What was that horrible thing? Look what I have here!" Sirah laughed ironically . They wanted to save their Ocean and instead they might all make a shark's meal. She looked down at the little two footer. It's rounded face was becoming a brown pink as it struggled to breath deeply. It looked long into Sirah eyes and then began to howl like a sick seal.
Davi reached her. "Great Sea Mother! What is this?" He turned his long head and peered closely at the screaming baby.
"Shark food, what else! A tiny two-footer. But Davi, what was that horrible fast thing? It hurt you!"
"That is a jet ferry going between the islands. This ...baby... must have fallen off it." Davi used the human word baby he learned in songs the sea birds taught him.
"How odd... who would ever let a small fry on such a monster?"
"The humans do it all the time and think nothing of it. Strange
behavior for creatures who can't survive long in the water."
"It can't survive long? Oh.... well, I'll let it go, then."
"No! Don't do that, Sirah! It is just a sea orphan, like you or me."
"It's not an orphan. Chances are, its parents were on that monster boat. It's just a creature in the wrong place. These humans always are."
"We've got to try to help it. You know, Laws of the Sea and all that stuff..." Davi argued. Sirah remembered one of the prime principles of the Laws of the Sea is to give aid to fellow creatures in distress. That's how Davi as a little dolphin survived on his long journey from his polluted birth waters.
She hated to admit he had a point. "How can we travel with a baby? We are having enough troubles. I can hardly find enough food sometimes. Let's just let it go. The sharks will be grateful. Maybe they won't blood trail you if they have some good food."
"Sirah! I am surprised by you. How can you forsake such a hapless creature? And he is a fellow air-breather... They sing in the ancient lays that we dolphins and whales were a kind of footer who returned to the Sea. We are very ancient cousins."
Sirah looked down at the little creature cradled in her arms. Suddenly it smiled, its wide blue eyes looking like miniature sunny oceans. In spite of herself she felt her cool heart being warmed. It made a sweet gurgling sound and reached for her cool green-bronze check. Soft, tiny fingers brushed her skin. She smiled back.
Sirah felt a sudden sadness thinking this little creature might not live. "Here, hold it Davi, while I find some seaweed for the two of you." The dolphin fumbled his flippers to grasp the thin skinned air-breather. It looked up at him and smiled. It seemed less alien and more dolphine. With a flourish of her strong, iridescent tail Sirah laughed and flipped herself downward through the waters. Soon she found a kelp grove floating between layers of warmer and cooler waters. She gathered up as much as she could carry and shot upwards to the surface. Davi was crooning a dolphin song to the tiny two-footer. "Here... A seaweed patch for your wound and some seaweed for the fry.... Let me fix that, Davi, hold still! There, that will protect your torn skin. Thank the Great Sea, it's a surface cut." Sirah covered and tied the dorsal fin as best she could with the primitive bandage of leafy and ropey kelp. But she knew the healing properties of the seaweed would be a help even if the patch job was clumsy.
"Now for you little one... see? Yum!" Sirah's sharp teeth torn up the leafy seaweed to shred it. "See? Now you eat it." And she put the masticated, versatile sea vegetable in the baby's mouth. At first it spit it out. Sirah tried again. Soon the baby ate a little and smiled again. "Good! I hope that will be enough until we get somewhere safer. Come on, Two-footer, let's get out of this shark playground!" Davi nodded his agreement. Sirah lashed the rest of the seaweed into a harness for the little human who could ride on Davi as he cruised on the surface so the little human could breathe. They also realized it was a warm blooded creature like Davi and hoped his body heat would increase its hope of survival.
On they swam. A full moon gilded the way over a sea vibrating with the songs of the Great Greys whales, and a sky shaking with the light of stars. The two friends talked about their journey to enlist the North Wind in their cause to stop the two-footers' ocean-drilling conquests and dared to wonder for the first time if it was a wise decision to ask Her to help them stop the human invasions. And now, hauling along with them a tiny two-footer! "Well, it isn't his fault. He is just a small fry," Sirah justified.
"I think you're right, Sirah. Only the Sea Gods know why he is here but he is, and so we must treat him as we want a merchild or dolphinette to be treated if found by the two-footers. I find myself wanting to name him. I want to protect him. I pray it is so." And so they swam on through the night.
That morning they heard a wailing. Soon they arrived near a large black and white rock that sea gulls and cormorants loved to fish from and rest upon. Nearby on swells of water, a mother seal lay keening. She nuzzled a limp body. A little seal floated dead at her side. "O, my sweet little flippering! Come back to me! How will I swim without you? Why is the Sea so cruel..."
Davi, being a fellow warm blooded creature as was the mother seal and the little human, knew the Sea Gods answered his prayer. He carefully approached the mother seal. He bowed his head and spoke in formal Oceania, "Salutations, sad Mother. We see your little one's spirit has returned to the Great Sea. How very sad. He, or maybe your little one was a she, will be joined soon by this poor furless creature we found in the wake of a jet ferry.... How very sad to see such little creatures die for want of milk..."
"Milk I have plenty but I could not stop my little Mune from eating a floating thing he thought was a jelly fish. Greedy flippering! It was something else and it has killed him!" The mother seal howled with anguish.
"I know what those things are, "offered Sirah as a way to introduce themselves in this sad but providential moment. "I'm Sirah and this is Davi the Dolphin, and this is ... this is Arune, our tiny two-footer who was given to us by the Sea Gods. I know what those things that look like jellyfish are. They are called floaters. Humans call them helium balloons. Two-footers use them for celebrations and decorations and then the floaters escape and we sea creatures eat them and die."
"Ah, little, lucky Arune...' he who returns to the Sea'. Nice name. But he did not eat a -- a floater! How can I swim on? I am full of milk and my flippering is dead. Woe!"
"Mother of the Sea, perhaps you could find relief by nursing this little fellow, warm blooded creature," Davi respectfully suggested. "If he survives, we will teach him to tell the two-footers about the lives of all the sea peoples. About little seals and big whales eating floaters. I am sure there are some good hearted two-footers. If they knew what was happening, they'd stop oil drilling and stop letting floaters escape. I am sure of it." Davi realized as he spoke that little ... little Arune as Sirah just named him, truly was sent by the Sea Gods to do a great a thing -- this must be it! He imagined Arune eventually explaining to humans the way of the Sea. Davi smiled hopefully but the mother seal was not convinced. Sirah beamed at him showing her sharp teeth. They understood each other as only good friends can do.
"Unlike you, my new verbose and optimistic friend, I am not sure of anything. But, "the mother seal sighed deeply, "I will nurse the poor little motherless creature." And she did. Sirah unlashed the tiny two-footer from Davi's back and held the creature now named Arune to the mother seal's nipple as the mother seal floated on her back. Arune the baby, suddenly named and indeed lucky, sucked to his heart's content. He gurgled and mewed with delight. Mother seal closed her large shining eyes. Davi and Sirah rested although they kept alert for ships and sharks.
Encouraged by their luck in swimming by the nursing mother seal and their inspirations about Arune's purpose, Sirah thought about their journey and what having a human baby with them might mean on their way. It would die without milk and warmth. She wondered how to ask the mother seal to accompany them to the far icy waters in search of the North Wind. She also noticed Arune shivering and thought how she might ask the mother seal to give Arune the fur shell of her dead flippering. Arune could use a seal covering. Here she was, she reflected, plotting and planning for the well-being of a baby of the hated two-footer race!
"Oh, noble Mother of the Sea, we are on a long journey. We have come from the warm blue seas to these grey and green waters. We are going to see the first of Nature's Children, the North Wind, to ask her help to stop two-footers invading our homes. After all, North Wind helped her Mother make this ocean. Davi, I, you and countless others have known terrible sorrow and loss of little ones, parents, home and crops and feeding grounds, due to the two-footer ways. Now we have this little two-footer delivered to us. By the Sea Gods, perhaps? And to what purpose? Only a human can communicate to humans! He can learn the ways and sorrows of the Sea. Will you consider joining us on this journey and nursing little Arune?" Sirah made her little speech sure the mother seal would be swayed. After all, what else could she do now?
A long silence followed. They rolled on soft swells. Sea gulls called. Fishing boats sailed in the distance. The mother seal continued to nurse the hungry Arune. Finally the baby burped and fell asleep. Sirah lifted the shivering tiny two-footer to Davi's back between his blow hole and his dorsal fin and started to lash him into place. She noticed Davi's cut from the jet ferry's rotor blades was healing nicely. Arune awoke and cried. The mother seal stirred her flippers in response instinctively. Then she spoke. "No, I will not accompany you. My duty lies elsewhere. I must find my mate. We must follow the salmon, soon they will be running back to the rivers of their birth. I will bear another flippering and our life will continue. You must find another way to care for Arune if you want him to survive... I think it would be wise to return him to his kind. He has no fat, no fur, no milk. He will die. We are not too far from a large harbor where their killer boats come and go. I will show you the route. I will give you the fur of my sweet, dead, flippering to cover the poor furless one. It will do Arune some good. It can no longer protect my little one." She sobbed. "After all, he has sucked my milk, taken nourishment from me. According to the old Laws of the Sea, he is my foster child. That I will give him. And my hope he will grow to be a good hearted human."
The two friends saw the wisdom of Mother Seal's advice. They realized they were carried away by their imaginations and had no real idea how to keep a tiny two-footer alive. Sirah and Davi joined Mother Seal in a proper prayer for the dead which reminds sea peoples of all kinds how in death, life is supported. Then with tears in her eyes the mother seal turned away and swam ahead while Sirah used her razor clam shell knife to cut the lovely fur away from the little seal's body. Quickly, for Sirah was always aware of possible sharks, she cleaned it and put it on Arune. "There Arune, now you are a real sea baby with milk and skin of the seal. Come on, let's catch up with Mother Seal!"
The two friends with their curious passenger swiftly swam to find the mother seal but she had disappeared! In her grief she must have forgotten that she was to show them the way to the harbor. They swam on, heading northeast. Soon a horrible tendril of dirty water tickled them unpleasantly. "We must be getting closer to this big harbor, " concluded Davi. "You may have trouble in that water Sirah since you breathe through your gills... "
"Oh, I'm tough. If you can swim there, I will go, too!" Sirah replied and on they swam. Sirah found food for them, chewing kelp and shrimp for Arune who spit out much of it. Arune was growing a little bit each day, Sirah thought. That night they told him stories as they rested on the billows of ocean under the stars moving in the Great Dance. Arune seemed to understand but one couldn't be sure. Davi was growing very fond of the little two-footer harnessed on his back, feeling Arune's trusting tiny fingers grasping his firm sea-tempered flesh.
Late the next night they arrived at a stinking ship channel. "This must be the way," Davi remarked with misgivings. The moon was low. Fog drifted like kelp. The two-footer city was like a ghost beyond the water.
"How will we ever find good hearted people? This is a very big place!" Sirah wondered. They saw towering piers and docks in shifting glares of orange lamps stretched out in rippling reflections. There were odd mechanical noises. A harsh blue arc of light buzzed on a huge ship on a dock. In the distance giant cranes swung slowly between docks and monster-sized ships. They swam farther into the harbor. The oily waters stung Sirah's skin and gills. The smells reminded Davi of that terrible day long ago when oil spilled into his world. He froze in fear. "Davi, for salmon sakes, swim! Remember, we've got to find a good two footer and get out of here before dawn... Or we'll end up there." She pointed to a dock side structure that said 'Underwater Gardens'. Sirah could not read the script but she could see the murals on the side of the structure -- pictures of captive sea creatures in tanks with two footers gaping at them. Davi shuddered and swam on.
They swam into an alcove where there were small piers with boats tied to them. A sign said 'Boats, Beer & Bait' with pictures of all three. Sirah heard a muffled sound and saw two two-footers on one of the piers furtively untying a small boat. She motioned to Davi to follow her. Putting on their courage like amour on a jelly fish, the two friends swam up to the pier. They didn't know what an unusual sight they made with little Arune in the seal's skin strapped on Davi's back and Sirah by the dolphin's side. They didn't know these two humans had just robbed the Boats, Bait and Beer shop.
"O, Humans, a lost baby have we. He fell from a boat. We pray, help this little one." Sirah used formal Oceania, hoping these strange creatures could understand her.
"Look T-Rex! It's a mermaid and a dolphin," spoke the first human wearing a cap low on his brow."Oh man, now I know I overdosed! I'm seeing stuff that can't exist!"
"Whacha mean, man?" the other answered. "O holy dung! I see it, too! Pretend they aren't there, 'cause they're not. There must be some way outta here," said the joker to the thief. "Let's get outta here before the cops cause grief!" The two humans stumbled into the boat, loosened the ropes and began drifting away while they fumbled with oars.
A screech of mechanical objects sounded from above the shore, a sharp light sliced the foggy moonlight, and an amplified voice called out, "Okay guys, this is the Sheriff Give yourselves up peacefully or we'll shoot!"
"Man," the first two-footer yelled to the other, "Jump! Jump!" There was a splash. The odd humans hit the water and awkwardly paddled under the pier.
The Sheriff began to shoot. Boom! Boom! Sharp explosions around them "Let's get out of here!" Davi yelled in Dolphin Speech, too highly pitched for human ears. Sirah grabbed the rope of the boat as they swiftly swam away from the crazy two-footers. She followed Davi, towing the boat behind her. When they reached the murky quiet of the main harbor they stopped to catch their breathes.
"Leaping Dolphins! What was that all about?" Sirah fumed. "How are we going to find any helpful two-footers at this rate?" Arune was crying and she was scared.
"I think we swam into a thieves get-a way!" replied Davi who was a seasoned traveler and heard of pirates and thieves.
"Some get-a-way!" Sirah said as an idea occurred to her. "Say, let's put Arune in this boat." She held up the rope as if it were a prize in a sea village diving contest. "We'll leave him somewhere safe where he can be found."
" No we can't just leave him. He is too little. We must make sure he is found. " Davi didn't like leaving Arune behind but saw they had no other choice. Mother Seal was right. Their journey to the North Wind was no place for a human baby. As the two friends looked around the harbor they saw a large pier with a monster boat, quiet and sleeping. It was the jet ferry from which Arune had fallen into the sea.
"Let's wait here until the humans come. We can dive away, without Arune lashed on you, so we won't get caught. I'll stay awake. Don't worry, Arune. Your people will find you. And we shall see the North Wind. " Sirah comforted Arune as well as herself and Davi. They would miss the little two-footer! Sirah sang a little lulluby to Arune and promptly put herself into a light sleep. Davi was snoring as only a dolphin can.
The two friends did not know that at that moment in a cold bright room not too far away, two wet crooks were telling their strange tale to a sheriff. They said they could have escaped but they got flustered by seeing a mermaid and a dolphin with a baby in seal skin on its back. The sheriff doubted the details but... a baby? This sheriff remember the sad news of the baby who disappeared on a ferry run a few days ago and picked up the phone. He called his friend Edward Bay, the night Harbor Master.
"Ed, Jerry here. Yea, ok... we apprehended a couple of repeat offenders and picked up an odd report. They say they saw a mermaid and a dolphin with a baby at Mission Rock Pier... Well... yes... users... petty crooks ... but listen, a baby! Remember that accident on the ferry last week? A baby overboard. I think they saw something. Will you check it out?"
The two tired friends, the mermaid and the dolphin, with the tiny two-footer in the boat, lighty dozed beside the ferry, waiting for a good hearted human to come and find Arune. The Harbor Master and his assistant got into his launch. They searched for something. His friend, Jerry Copp, the Sheriff, often had good instincts about breaks in cases. They had almost given up when the assistant spotted something. "Sir, there seems to be something over by the ferry. Want to check it out?"
"Yes! Cut the engines. Let's row in."
"Aye, aye, sir," replied the assistant.
They rowed in slowly and silently. They approached, peering into the foggy tendrils of night with uncertain orange light rippling on black water. They could not accept what they saw. But saw they did, a mermaid and a dolphin next to a little boat. In the boat was a baby or was it a seal?
Sirah awoke with a start. "Great Sea Gods, help us!" she cried. She stared into the hard stone eyes of a grown furry two-footer.
"Well, what do we have here?" a rough voice asked and a net exploded over and around them.
end of Chapter Two.
Copyright© 2001 by Maura McGoorty
If you enjoy this story and/or have comments, please e-mail and let Ms. McGoorty know. She is
requesting readers' feedback in exchange for the next serial chapter. Leaping Dolphins!