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Songs of the Sea

“We can’t wait any longer. The storm’s coming, and we need to secure the shore so the waves can’t reach us,” mom says, her eyes darting over the grim, sodium-lit horizon.

In the distance, a shrill, eerie cacophony of singing voices trill over the blustering waves.

“But mama’s not here yet,” I point out.

“Mama will be fine. This isn’t the first time, and if we keep the gates open, the waves are going to disable our sector’s magnetic field,” she replies firmly.

My eyes well up—another night without mama? What if something had happened to her? Like what happened with Azra?

Mom senses my unease. “Remember what happened the last time the sea reached us?” she says gently, turning to look at me.

I nod. “But mama would tell us if she’s late,” I murmur.

“Mama's probably stuck in a storm, which might've short-circuited the ship’s communication grid. But she’ll be ok, I know it,” mom smiles, closing her hands around mine. “Can you help me close the helix gates, Eda? I have to check on our generator now that mama isn’t back with new energy pods,” she says, squeezing my hands softly.

“Ok,” I nod, my heart heavy with trepidation.

"And don't forget to wear your Siren Silencers," she adds, tapping on her ear.

As I hurry to the helix gate, I listen intently. The singing has edged closer but their voices are muffled through the Silencers, and below me, dark, sinuous shapes move beneath the water’s surface.

My mothers tell me that it didn’t use to be like this. The sea used to be accessible, enjoyable. There were dangers, but one could surmount them and tread water, swim, and dive. People could even cross continents and fish and mine for oil.

But everything changed in 2068 when a powerful seismic shift reverberated from the Earth’s core, setting forth a stream of catastrophic events—forever altering the planet’s structure. Sea levels rose exponentially, bringing with them natural disasters that devastated and submerged much of the planet’s land.

Nations already struggling with climbing sea levels were forced to evacuate as large tidal waves slammed into vulnerable shorelines, and humanity came together to accomplish its most extraordinary undertaking yet. We called it the Great Migration.

In a decade, much of the population abandoned their homes on lower lands and moved upwards, or into floating, communal, government-sanctioned capsules.

But that wasn’t all. The change in the Earth’s composition also unearthed a mass of underwater creatures the world had never seen before. Scientists were stupefied. Reports of Mesozoic life forms and other unidentified subaqueous critters began surfacing, and humankind was once again compelled to contend, and to a certain extent—co-exist with new ways of life.

But one creature stood out for its especially chilling existence. They first appeared when people began hearing singing at sundown. These voices would rise from the sea, soft and warbling at first, before growing into a sharp, spine-tingling choir. There was a disarming effect to their songs, and people found themselves lured to the oceans as if pulled by an imaginary lasso. It wasn’t long before people discovered that these songs were in fact, deceptive and fatal invitations from the creatures. If within proximity, wily, sabre-toothed serpents would snake out of the water and take people down along with them—resembling mermaids in ancient folklore. The New Order named them Sirens and classified them as high threats to mankind.

Since then, crossing waters at night became a dangerous expedition, and only trained Scouts were allowed to travel the seas to conduct research, delivery cargo, or search for new resources. Mama was one of them.

As I punch in the code that would seal the helix gate—I hear it. Through the old, creaky PA system I’d helped mama install on her ship—a tinkly lullaby plays faintly in the distance. Mama used to sing it to me as a child, but when she was recruited to become a Scout, she played it when she was nearing our shore. “It’ll drown out the Sirens,” Mama told me. It was a wordless lullaby—five notes strung on repeat in an endless, soothing loop, but in my heart, Mama’s song was a message from her: “I’m here now. I’m safe.”

This piece is part of a writing challenge between me and my friend, Lisa. We've essentially agreed to write around 500 words daily, for seven days, about randomly picked topics. Today's topic is music. There are no hard and fast rules—except to have fun, and not worry about our pieces being too polished. To read Lisa's interpretation of the topic, click here.


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