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Meat Off the Bone

Shannon Fay is a Clarion West graduate and writer living in Mi'kma'ki/Nova Scotia. Her first novel, Innate Magic, will be released later this year from 47North. She can be found online at @shannonlfay or on Patreon at patron.com/shannonfay.

There was a myth about mermaids: if you ate their flesh you would live forever. Whenever the men of the village caught a mermaid, they would cut out chunks of her tail and eat it raw as she flopped and screamed upon the deck. They'd carve enough for themselves and their family back home before dumping her back in the water.
And the myth was true: the fishermen never grew old, nor did their wives. When their children came of age they'd fed them the mermaid flesh, and repeated the ritual when their children's children grew old enough.
Soon the fishermen had eaten almost all of the mermaids, picking the flesh clean off their bones. Their skeletons sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The only one left was a mermaid named Racol. Decades of abuse had left her tail picked clean. She could no longer swim. She didn't fight the waves when they pushed her ashore. She waited for the people from the village to come and eat her, to finish her off.
But no one came.
When she lifted her head, she saw the village was destroyed. Blood paved the streets. Human limbs littered the sand like driftwood.
"What happened here?" Racol asked a nearby seagull.
"Well, ya see, there was a myth about this village," the gull answered. "The people who lived here were immortal, and the other humans believed that if you ate their flesh, they'd be all immortal-like too. So, one day, a big crowd of humans came from the next town over and ate the villagers."
Racol looked at the ruined homes.
"Did it work?" she asked the bird. "Did the other humans become immortal?"
"Maybe," the gull said. "But even if they did, it's only a matter of time before someone eats them."
Racol laughed, then grabbed a nearby human arm and began to eat.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Author Comments

I've always liked stories about carnivorous, immortal mermaids, like Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga. This story was inspired by that, and a photo prompt featuring a skeletal mermaid.

- Shannon Fay
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