I know, I know. There was a plan. A schedule. A resolution. I was not going to start any new projects this year.
Well, I kinda started a new project this year. But just a short story! Sometimes an idea just grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you, and the only answer is to start writing. This is a minor diversion from Imperial Demons, focusing on two things I love: creepy ocean stories and true crime/unsolved mysteries. So it's pure self-indulgence, but hopefully it'll make a good short story for you guys in the near future.
Here's a teaser for the tentatively titled On A Dark Tide. Enjoy!
“They?” Cam echoed, setting her drink down. “They who?”
“The undines.” Peter said it matter-of-factly, as if they should already know. “No mortal can resist their singing, and once they’ve got you in their grasp, there’s no escape.”
“Undines,” Piper said. Disappointment welled in her. Peter had seemed like a credible source when they first made contact, well-connected locally and highly knowledgeable. She should have seen the red flags with the first Nessie story. “As in mermaids, sirens, that sort of thing?”
His eyes twinkled and for a moment she thought he was pulling her leg. “Aye, mermaids, sirens, that sort of thing. You’ve not looked into the local legends?”
“We’re researching an actual case here, with an actual woman who is actually missing,” Piper said. “Not the local old wives’ tales.”
“Piper,” Cam said, mildly disapproving.
Piper glared at her, struggling to mask her irritation. “Well, we are. Dina Mackay wasn’t spirited away by the fairies, Peter, and I can’t believe you believe that.”
She wasn’t opposed to a little wackiness, not really. They’d interviewed a ufologist for the first season, since the family had been holidaying in an area long associated with UFO sightings. She didn’t believe it for a second, but it had been part of the story, so she’d explored the angle. But at least UFOs had credible explanations. Military planes, weather phenomena, Venus rising, whatever. Mermaids…There were no credible explanations for mermaids.
Peter smiled gently, either amused by her annoyance or not noticing it. “You’re a sceptic then, Miss Allan? Don’t fret about walking under ladders or crossing black cats?”
“I like black cats,” she snapped. “And –“
Cam covered Piper’s hand with her own. The contact was so unexpected, it silenced Piper, sending a sparky frisson through her. “Maybe you can tell us why you think it’s undines?” Cam asked Peter. “It’s quite a wild theory to throw out there, you have to admit.”
“It’s not without merit,” Peter said.
Piper pulled a face and Cam squeezed her hand warningly.
Peter carried on, undeterred. “Why would she go down the beach? As you say, Miss Kelly, it was a foul, cold night. It wasn’t on her way. And she was, as far as we know, alone. What force could persuade a woman who was, by all accounts, sensible and maybe even a bit dull, to trek down to the shore on such a night? I say she was lured down there.”