The Mermaid of Heln Castle took up three-quarters of a wall. Sara occupied her mother’s fainting couch on rainy days and watched the painting. She waited for the mermaid to move, to breathe — to lunge out and take the next victim.
Stories had circulated all her life, particularly how the paint changed whenever another relative passed away. The waters may have once been calm and icy, but Sara saw only darkness. Navy blue, cascading purples, and heavy blacks swirled behind the creature.
The fair maiden of the sea surely had sharp teeth behind her curled lips – claws that dragged through the churning waters. Scales of her underbelly bathed in the blood of the Heln family.
Sara speculated that the mermaid absorbed grief —not oxygen, light, or soot that made the paint grow dark.
It was death.
Her mother laughed at her.
Her mother was now buried in the cold northern ground.
Sara shook her head. She’d never find answers in the painting. The mermaid would never speak to admit her vampiric truth.
Still, Sara wished the beast would hurry up. It had made the kill, but grief and death still soaked the house, and she could barely breathe.
She gasped when a hand clasped her shoulder.
“Sara,” Jon said. Her husband’s deep voice soothed some part of her that shivered from the mermaid’s froth.
But not all of her.
She imagined him shake his head. He disbelieved her – about this, and about all the stories about the painting. He disbelieved her about all of her superstitions.
A shudder swam down her body as she continued watching the painting, tracing the mermaids eyes straight to the man she shared a bed with.
Her breath hitched, and she wondered if he’d be next.
Alyson lives in Maryland. She’s appeared in (mac)ro(mic), HAD, and others. Her finished books are on Amazon.