“Remind me again what we’re doing here, Fergie?” Liam panted.
The last shard of sunlight wavered on the horizon, painting the shadowed skies with a spectrum of obscure shades. The full moon had already captured the sun’s place in the heavens, challenging the west’s waning golden glow with a stark white brightness to the east. Bikes abandoned and wielding torches, the two teenage boys skidded down the scree-scattered slopes toward the coastline, Liam desperately trying to keep up with the determined step of his best friend.
“I told you,” Fergie replied, “Proving that mermaids exist.”
Liam rolled his eyes. It was perfectly normal for Fergus Totten to dive headfirst into adventure, but rarely were his ideas quite so fanciful. They came to a stop behind a large boulder about two hundred yards from the ocean edge, with a clear view of the deathly still, inky waters. On the cliff perched the silhouette of a large stone obelisk staring resolutely out at the boundless sea. Fergie removed a tattered journal from his backpack, and pointed a quivering finger at a sketched drawing on a bookmarked page.
“Look, look at it! Just like the picture! Grandpa was here, I’m sure of it!”
There was no denying it: the obelisk, the craggy rocks, the shape of the cliff-face were all there, depicted in smudged pencil.
“But… mermaids?” Liam pressed.
“Not one single map of this region shows this obelisk. No records, like they’re obliterated. All roads in this direction end suddenly several miles back. There are ghost stories. The fishermen are all superstitious; they avoid this area like the plague. And my grandfather wrote, right here in this diary: ‘mermaids leapt from the sea’. Too much to be coincidence, right?” Fergie insisted.
Liam sighed and duly nodded. It was too late to head back now after all; it was fifteen miles to the village, and the bumpy scrubland would be pitch black: far too dangerous a terrain for cycling. Leaving Fergus to peer intently toward the ocean, he pulled an extra sweatshirt and games console from his pack.