Alice rolled over in the dark, reaching automatically for Muffy’s warm body; when her hands felt only cold sheets on the other side of the bed, she sat up with a frown. By the dim light of glow-in-the-dark stars and scattered fairy dust, she could see the bedroom door stood open. That wasn’t odd in and of itself, but a feeling of wrongness crawled up her spine and Alice had long ago learned to listen to that unease. Crawling from bed, she pulled on yesterday’s clothes, sword belt included, and went to stand in the open doorway.
“Muffy?” When no answer came to her call, Alice moved cautiously through the dark house, straining to catch any sound. She heard nothing but the sound of her own breathing until she reached the front door, which like the bedroom door stood open and empty. There, standing on the threshold and gazing out into the starlit night, Alice spotted Muffy’s footprints leading down the path – at the same time as she caught the faraway strands of singing.
The music was like nothing Alice had ever heard before in all her travels across the universes. It seemed as though her ears didn’t actually channel the music; it simply spilled through her mind, lilting and haunting, wordless yet passionate. It traveled down her spine like electricity and branched out into her arms and legs, urging her forward with a euphoric restlessness. She felt her feet move of their own accord, following the path Muffy had taken not long before. Like a sleepwalker Alice wandered along the trail, a distant part of her mind aware she headed unerringly toward the beach below the lighthouse but unable to turn her feet from the path.
“Muffy?” Alice called out again, alarm making her heartbeat pound so loudly it almost drowned out the strange singing. A fat full moon sat low on the horizon, lighting both ocean and sand and casting back long shadows of two figures down by the waves. The song no longer drew Alice forward; she ran without realizing she had regained control of her legs, the song’s control broken by her distraction. “Muffy!” she yelled over the sound of singing and waves. “Muffy, what are you doing out here?”
The fae stood knee deep in the frigid water, wearing only a tank top and panties, a look of dreamy joy on her face. She didn’t turn as Alice rushed to her side and grabbed her arm, only sighed like an infatuated schoolgirl and said, “Oh Alice, isn’t she just beautiful?”
“What are you–” Alice fell silent mid-sentence as she followed Muffy’s gaze out to a jagged rock in the water. Perched atop it sat a girl – or at least part of the creature was a girl. Its top half was the upper body of a human girl, pale and naked, her eyes like glowing amber and her long hair glossy black. Yet where her legs should have begun her skin met scaly, dark blue flesh in a sinuous striped tail which wrapped several times around the rock. Her rosy lips parted as she sang, one supple arm stretching out to beckon Muffy closer.
“She says I can have a kiss!” Muffy managed to pull out of Alice’s grasp as she rushed forward through the water, her own arms held up to the beautiful woman. As Alice lunged to grab Muffy, she glanced to the creature long enough to watch the rounded mouth spread wide in a hungry smile filled with thin, sharp teeth. In the same instant the creature dove from the rock with a flick of its long tail, fingers outstretched to reach Muffy first.
“Muffy, no!” With one hand Alice yanked Muffy back, the other drawing her sword to thrust the blade between themselves and the approaching creature. It drew up just short of the sword’s point, tail lashing through the waves and lips drawn back in a frustrated hiss. Even as Muffy begged, “But Alice, I want a kiss from her! She’s so pretty!” Alice pulled her back toward the shore, swinging her sword back and forth like a lit torch to keep back the beast. When they reached the beach the creature gave another angry hiss and disappeared into the waves.
“Come on, honey, let’s get away from here…” Alice wrapped an arm around Muffy’s wet waist, keeping her sword drawn until she could be sure nothing else would leap out of the darkness. Muffy allowed herself to be lead back up the path, yet kept casting glances back to the waves with a forlorn look on her face. “But she was so pretty…” she pouted. Alice merely nodded wearily. “Yes, she was certainly… er… something.”
Miles offshore, the siren sank her claws into black painted wood and hauled herself up the side of the ship, slipping over the railing in a spill of scaly tail. Mage sauntered down from the helm, eyes gleaming with excitement. “How did it go?” she asked. The siren scowled as she gathered her tail into a coil beneath herself. “My song didn’t work on the dark haired one long enough,” she hissed. “She broke its control and intervened. I lost them both.”
“Alice!” Mage spat the name like a curse. “I should have known. Fucking asexuals – present company excluded, of course. I just thought perhaps…” She waved her hand dismissively and sighed. “Ah, oh well. It was worth a try. We’ll get them next time, my dear.” She leaned down, planting a kiss on the siren’s smooth cheek.