yesterday, the mermaid was dozing peacefully in the thames – after all, it had been a hard day catching trash from passers-by & harvesting the contents. as it got dark, the mermaid noticed that things were not quite as peaceful as normal, so she swam out to see what was going on. carefully dipping her nose into the air, she was greeted by whiff of smoke. a few strokes later, she noticed unusual vibrations in the water. were landfolk dancing on one of the bridges? poking out from under the one landfolk call ‘westminster bridge’, she noticed that this was, indeed, the case.
how strange, the mermaid thought. especially as the saw the bright glow of neon yellow – the artificial scales of landfolk enforcers – at both ends of the dance. now, the mermaid does not have very good eyesight, but one of the landfolk on the bridge did. it happened to be a friend of the mermaid who she does research with on climate change. a few moments later, the mermaid felt a splash & immediately dove to the place it had come from to see what it was that had fallen into the thames.
it was a plastic bottle. in it was a hastily scribbled message in landfolk markings. since she was taught to read landfolk markings, the mermaid could read what it said: ‘we are being held captive on the bridge. can you get us out?’
now, the mermaid has a history of fishing drunk people out the thames, but what can she do if people are still on a bridge? and what if they all jump? the mermaid could not possibly help all of them to safety. so the mermaid thought very hard…
…this took some time….
one reason being that she was unsure if she could ask the boat folk she normally calls for help. after all, they were also yellow-scales. so she would have to see if any other boat folk could help. but the mobile (as opposed to stationary) boat folk the mermaid knew were quite far away from westminster bridge. while the mermaid was swimming back and forth thinking, an idea came to her: she could do something that would distract the yellow-scales. the problem was: what could that be. after all, it had to be something the yellow-skins would get distracted by – and that was usually something very distructive that went against landfolk society…
at this point the mermaid got really confused: why was her landfolk friend being held on the bridge with so many others? what had they done against society? the mermaid couldn’t imagine her friend being involved in this sort of stuff – he was a very peaceful and conscientious guy who had taught the mermaid very beautiful things about landfolk culture!
first, the mermaid thought of sabotaging the big hypnotic light wheel by the thames – but she concluded that this could go a bit wrong. after all, she was a true amateur in sabotaging. so the mermaid started experimenting with using her tail fin to flip stones from the bottom of the thames behind the lines of yellow-scales. she had to admit she was not very good at that. also, it seemed to make the yellow-scales angrier. they probably did not believe in mermaids & thought it was the captives that were throwing things…
oh dear, the mermaid thought.
the problem was also that the tide was receeding, and it would be more difficult to get landfolk off the bridge as they need more water cushioning. they are not very good at shallow diving (the mermaid has to teach them at some point). also, the boats wouldn’t be able to help.
then, the mermaid thought she finally had a workable idea: she would get non-yellow-scale boat people to help her stage a protest. maybe that would work. so she swam to one of the boats.
the mermaid had chosen a boat which is frequented by lots of different landfolk. they listen to rhythmic vibrations there and, what the mermaid finds mosts amusing, drink flavoured water. apparently not all of it is water, but still it looks funny to a mermaid. anyway… this time, lots of people sat on deck with webocean devices. again, the mermaid recognised a friend and explained the situation to her. she replied: don’t worry, your friend will be safe soon. he is just panicking.
just panicking? the mermaid thought. landfolk are strange sometimes (sometimes?). she continued to explain the situation on the ground to the mermaid: the reasons for the captivity and how they were going to be let out. lastly, she said: but you can still help him and others by following through with your idea – stage your own protest!
by that time, the landfolk on the bridge were indeed being let out. the time that had passed was more than that of two tide peaks. as the mermaid was still worried about her friend, she swam over again to check on him and to apologise – and to tell him about her idea. the mermaid’s friend was visibly exhausted and shaken, but he appreciated her efforts. he also seemed to appreciate her idea.
after he went home (outfitted with a merfolk good luck talisman), the mermaid kept thinking about her promise. how could she help fellow landfolk that faced injustice from their apparently chosen elders-that-are-not-elders (strange landfolk concept – no mermaid equivalent)? the friend on the boat had talked about visibly occupying places and painting banners. but how can the mermaid do this? should she occupy part of the thames and not let boats pass? should she paint the pillars of the bridges? such things are very un-mermaid like (although, some mermaids have been known to do nasty things to boats to protect things like hatching grounds and whale traffic lanes). maybe she could persuade landfolk to undertake a swimming protest in the freezing thames? that could be potentially dangerous, so maybe not a good idea…
so this story ends with a question: what can the mermaid do?