"Beneath the Surface" Guest Post and Excerpt by MA Church
Beneath the Surface
Guest Post by M.A. Church
Mermaids have long captured our imaginations. They’ve thrilled us in “documentaries“, paintings, fairytales, and in the movies. Sometimes these part human/part fish come to the aid of men (helpful!), and sometimes they just want to hug you to death and drown you (less helpful).
Here are a few “facts” about these mythical creatures you might want to know before your next boat trip.
One of the earliest mermaid legends comes from Syria
In ancient Syrian (~ 1000 BC), there was a goddess who went by the name of Atargatis. She was a fertility goddess whose cult eventually spread to Greece and Rome and was associated with water (especially lakes) and fish. Often depicted in mermaid form, Atargatis is perhaps the “original” mermaid. Legend has it that she dove into a lake to become a fish, but only her bottom half was transformed.
The original mermaid wasn’t a ‘maid’ at all
Before anyone dreamed of a mermaid, the “merman” was front and center. The Babylonian god Oannes predates the Syrian mermaid Atargatis by several thousand years. Apparently he had both a fish body and a human body. His human form was beneath his fish form, which allowed him to live among men, as well as in the sea.
Mermaids are literally ‘women of the sea’
In Old English, “mer” means “sea,” and “maid” simply meant woman. Mermaids are therefore “women of the sea.” Following this line of etymological logic, a “mer” man (merman) would be a “man of the sea.” Both names make perfect sense and describe their natural habitat without a lot of fuss. Mermaids and mermen are fish-like people who swim through the oceans and the seas.
Some societies believe humans are descended from mermaids
In some of the legends of the Pacific Islands, it is said that human beings are descended from both mermaids and mermen. It seems somewhere back in time, their tails somehow dropped off, and people were magically able to walk on land. A good example of this is the creator god Vatea, who was usually depicted as being half-human and half-fish.
Aquamarine is made of mermaid tears
Aquamarine is the gemstone of the sea, and it’s supposed to be a cherished object for mermaids. In addition to being treasure, people once believed this gemstone came from the tears of mermaids, and it used to be thought had the power to protect sailors when they were at sea, or when they fell into the water.
Starbuck’s original mermaid was seriously suggestive
Apparently Starbucks had to tone down its original logo art. The company’s logo is based on a two-tailed mermaid. Technically, the woman depicted is a type of Melusine, or siren, with two tails. Starbucks decided this spread eagle fishlady was a bit too suggestive, so now only the tips of her tails are visible.
Mermaids can see into the future
Hans Christian Andersen based the mermaids in his tale, ‘The Little Mermaid,’ on Scandinavian mermaids called the Havfine. These northern merfolk were able to live in both freshwater and saltwater. They were also supposed to be fairly temperamental, and have the ability to foretell the future. If a human being ever caught sight of one, it was considered a bad omen. Oddly he makes no mention of crabs singing reggae music.
The infamous sirens started out as bird women
Sirens bring to mind images of lovely mermaids sitting on rocky shores, singing out and luring impressionable sailors to their doom. A ton of folk art as well as many myths support this notion, but the sirens of Ancient Greece were actually bird-women (half woman, half bird). Eventually these bird women, or harpys, were transformed into mermaids in some of the later stories, but they kept their beautiful, bird-like voices, in order to draw the mariners in.
Mermaids spell trouble
As a general rule, Mermaids usually meant trouble to the people of Europe, and fishermen and sailors in particular. The presence of these odd creatures could mean a terrible storm was a-brewin’ at sea, or that your luck was about to change from good to bad, or that you were about to be taken down to the bottom of the sea to die.
Sailors once mistook manatees for mermaids
When European sailors first made it to the Caribbean, they encountered an unknown creature that looked like a mermaid from the waist down. From the midsection up, they look more like cows. When sailors would spot them at night, perhaps in the moonlight, many thought they were gazing upon mermaids. If they happened to see them during the day, the sailors would totally pretend that they never thought the manatee was hot and that they knew it was a busted-up merman all along.
Beneath The Surface by M.A. Church
Published By: OmniLit / All Romance eBooks, LLC
Published: Apr 01, 2016
Word Count: 37,000
A whole different world exists beneath the surface.
The last thing Nisha expects while patrolling his territory is to find his mate, but his instincts tell him the handsome human diving into the surf is the one meant for him. Two bites and Kannon will be joined to him forever. But when Kannon’s father disrupts the mating process, Nisha releases his claim, hoping beyond hope his mate will one day return.
While free diving with his father, Kannon is bitten by a seductive merman. Although he swore to never go near the ocean again, the pull to return to the water and his mystery man remains strong. Finally, after fifteen years away, an impromptu wedding brings Kannon back to the Seychelles, and his destiny.
Kannon only plans to stay on the island for a week, but this time Nisha won’t let his mate go without a fight. Merfolk and human culture collide as the embers of Nisha and Kannon’s mate bond ignite, and Nisha must complete the mating before it’s too late.
A whole different world existed under the sea—lighting, sounds, even the feeling of otherworldliness. No matter how clear the water, it still played tricks, even on experienced divers.
The colorful tropical fish, artifacts, and the remnants of history buried beneath the waves—along with a mysterious landscape mostly untouched by humans—always gave Kannon a thrill. Parts of the reef weren’t very deep, so he had no trouble freediving.
This year for vacation, Kannon and his dad rented a boat and guide to take them to the reefs around the Seychelles. This was by no means the first time he’d gone snorkeling. Growing up along the California coast guaranteed Kannon was comfortable in the water.
The guide had warned them to stay together, but Kannon had other ideas. Besides, he wasn’t going that far off. After investigating the colorful reef fish and interesting coral formations—and seeing his dad was distracted—Kannon slowly but steadily wandered off on his own. An outcrop of rocks covered in algae caught his eye, and he went to investigate.
Many of the multihued native fish swam past him, curious as to what he was. It was funny how they circled him. Kannon held his hand out. A few braver fish darted in, nibbled at his fingers, and then swam off. God, what a rush it was. Nothing was better than this.
He drew closer to the outcrop, surprised it was much deeper than he’d first thought. Huh, not an outcrop, but the mouth of an underwater cave. Cool. From a distance it appeared to be nothing more than oddly shaped rocks. Peering inside, he was unable to see past the murky blackness within.
Curious, he reached his hand out, stretching toward the mouth of the cave. His scalp prickled. A tingle washed through him. The water around him caressed his body as he hung weightlessly, staring at the cave entrance as his dick swelled in his trunks. What the…?
It wasn’t as if he made a habit of getting horny while diving, so what the hell? Torn between desire and unease, he hovered in the tropical water. Chills chased up his spine, and goose bumps broke out over his body.
His heart rate sped up—not a good thing underwater—and the feeling of being watched crept across his nerves. Something was in there, and his mind screamed at him to get away even as the urge to reach inside nearly overwhelmed him.
Kannon’s body swayed dangerously closer. His nipples ached as the water flowed past, and he had to force himself not to whimper as need struck him. He jerked back. There’s something waiting for me, just waiting for me to reach in so it can... what? So it can do what?
Jesus, he needed to get a serious grip on his imagination, and crap, he had to surface too. Lack of oxygen made the decision for him. All this panicking on his part had used up his air—stupid of him.
He surfaced and shook the hair out of his eyes. Wow, is that our boat way over there? Oh man, Dad’s going to kill me. Worried about the fit his dad was going to have, he was totally unprepared for the strange guy who popped up next to him, although “guy” might have been overly nice.
Kannon yelped, but the dude across from him just smiled. The androgynous, fey face wasn’t quite human. The long pointed ears were a good indication, as was the glimpse of sharp little teeth.
Oh, and the gills at its neck.
Azure blue hair floated in the water around shapely shoulders and cobalt blue eyes stared back at him. It was a visage that was hauntingly beautiful, otherworldly, and a tad disconcerting. The creature smiled slightly as if he agreed. It—whatever it was—scared the bejesus out of him.
Then it reached out and dragged Kannon under the water.
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.