This story is by Lance Phillips and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Believe me Thelxepeia, when they stop believing in you, then you should worry. As you know, our days are numbered, sister. Look at what happened to the Phoenician gods and the gods of Atlantis? What of the gods of the Minoans? Poof! Gone. Who is left now, hum? Only that goodie-good Isis, that’s who! If we don’t get these modern men to believe in us out here on these rocks soon, well… we are through!” The sisters agreed, commiserating about their strange lot being stuck out at sea. Adding their “That so-and-so” and “Can- you-believe her” and a few “Uuhuuh-Hah!” to the converstation. They had to follow Aphrodite’s wished from now on… or else. Such a bad lot- the whole bunch of them. Rotten. Rotten to the core.
Living on their island somewhere near Cos for the past seven hundred years, the sisters entertained away the long afternoons between meals with songs and strumming of the lyre. So often now that over the past hundred years at least, they became rather proficient at their talents. Such songs, such music… such a savory death. The hungry foursome finished off what was left of Peisinoe’s Cypriot lad and then decided it was high time for a musical rehearsal. Who knows when a girl on this island might get her next good meal? Music was almost as important as devouring men to the Sirens of Anthemusa.
Molpe would take the first part, setting the tempo and the rhythm. Thelxepeia would often find just the right lyrics to set a man’s heart ablaze. But it was Aglaophonos’ lilting voice, arpeggios and scales that always won the day. She would moisten her throat with a dash of sea spray, hum a few scales and then- she would begin:
“High on a hill there lived a lady- a lovely lady of wisdom and charm. She learned of a potion to melt the hardest of hearts, to melt the hardest of he-a-a-a-arts. Just a dash of pollen from the nettle tree, squeeze the bud sooooo tenderly… High on a hill lived a lady, a lovely, lovely lady… a la-a-a-aah-a-ady, a la-a-a-a-a-aa-ah-aaaady of wisdom and charm. Wisdom and cha-a-a-a-arm!”
“Now sing the new song I wrote for you yesterday, Aglaophonos,” cried Thelxepeia, applauding their beautiful work together. All were a gush over the music they had just made when Peisinoe’s watchful eyes caught sight of a ship on the horizon.
“Sisters, sisters!!! Look there!… I believe that dinner might be served early this evening…Haaaa! Let’s try and do that song again for some foreign guests. Brilliant arpeggios now Aglaophonos, darling! Make them brilliant!”
Off in the distance, the sisters could make out the figure of an approaching ship, like so many others before. It made their stomachs growl; these monsters with flippers instead of feet, thinking of what might fall under their spell- if they planned carefully. Their heightened senses could smell the stink of Macedonian slave pirates on their way to the coast of Anatolia.
“Dear Peisinoe, why not lure that ship closer and get a good look at these dirty, dirty men,” asked Aglaophonos, showing off her brilliant voice for their delight. The bright poisonous aroma from the flower behind her left ear making her sightly giddy. How she loved to squeal the notes at the top of her range when she was excited. Men always excited Aglaophonos. She couldn’t help it- it was her nature to be bad.
“Oh save it for the song sister. I can only reach them out there with my persuasiveness. You on the other hand, you can attract them with your voice!” Peisinoe was out for blood. When she made up her mind, the rest could not play their silly games anymore. This time, she was serious.
“Wait! I hear a strange song coming from that floundering ship out there… listen! Like it has a wisp of Polyhymnia in it- the song of the Muses. Not bad… not bad at all. Do you hear it, Molpe?”
“It’s a small voice. Sounds like… a weak youth, of some sort… hummm. But yes sister, I do hear a faint sound. Like the music of the gods themselves. Such quality, such color! Let’s try and bring them close this time. I have a sweet tooth for some Macedonian candy! Haaah Haaah!” This was the true nature of these beasts of the sea. Kill, kill, kill. All of them gushed again at the thought of such a fortuitous event coming their way that they became flustered before their performance, starting once more to argue amongst themselves.
Their bickering continued as the ship came nearer to this gruesome shoal. The sisters composed themselved finally, focusing on luring this cargo ship from the sea beyond their sea, closer and closer to destruction. The crew heard immediately the song coming forth and from past experience, knew that they were in serious trouble.
“Get that line up, you filthy swine dung! Keep the mainsail down… I said down! We don’t want to be pulled any closer! Men, tie the children up together. But first, bring me that boy who sings up here! That Zankinthois brat! Now!” Captain Xerus had no time for words, making his orders brief. “Here’s what ya gotta do, boy,” said Captain Xerus, panting into Niko’s face. “If ya fail me, we all gonna be supper for the worst lot of damsels the sea has ever known. So ya gotta sing louder and stronger than their music. Longer and louder so that the crew can hear ya all the way around the ship!” Xerus held tight onto the side of his vessel, the tide pulling them closer, feeling the affects of the Siren’s call. “And don’t you be caught up in their magic spell. You understand me, boy? Them is witches of the worst kind!”
“Captain, get me a long stick, like for cleaning the deck.” Xerus paused for a second, but there was no more time to waste. He grabbed one of the long scrubbing brooms used to clean the deck, breaking off the end over his knee, tossing the long pole to Niko.
“Just make it loud boy… so all can hear ya!!!”
Niko climbed as far as he could out onto the bow of the ship, tying himself securely to the maidenhead’s bust and grabbed his stick. He focused on what appeared before him. Four scaly monsters- one more hideous than the next. Bare breasted with mounds of tangled hair, shells, seaweed and sea creatures included. He grabbed his “magical golden stick” and used all his consentration on the avenging hoard before him.
The foursome on the island quickly reorganized, beginning again their seductive song of “Lovely Lady”, as Niko sang his best rendition of “Battle of the Sea god,” taking extra attention to elongate his phrasing, pumping as much air through his small lungs as he could.
“I raise my golden stick of virtue to you- oh beasts of the sea, wicked beasts of the sea! I deny your attempt to seize this ship and the precious cargo inside, these pre-e-e-cious children of my homeland, my ho-o-o-o-ooomeland! Victory is mine, oh Hags of Hades! Concubines of Posedion’s lust!!! Take that and that and… that! Release us from your spell of death and lingering pain, your spe-e-e-ell of death and lingering, li-i-i-ngering pa-aa-aaa-aa-ain! Beware I say! Back I say! Return to Hades from which you came! I stand before you with my magical stick of gold! Ready to take on you evil witches and your minion of the sea, in a battle to the death… a ba-aa-aaa-atle to your death!!!” Niko raised his arm, clutching his mighty pole as if it actually did carry magic. His fiery imagination and skill conjuring up his words, his images-his ideas.
“Listen, he’s ready to ‘battle to the death,’ humm? Well, sounds like my kind of match! Quick, pick up the tempo, Thelxepeia! And louder this time, Aglaophonos!” cried Molpe.
“Repeat it again, sisters!” shouted Peisinoe. “They’re moving away from our rocky shore. Nooo!!! Back out to sea! Aglaophonos, repeat the chorus once more… quickly!!!” Such sounds had never been heard before by man or by spirit. As if two enormous titans of music clashed viciously for the title of Olympic glory. Two hungry wildcats fighting over a fresh kill. And the gods indeed placed bets from high atop Mt. Olympus as to which side would win.
“It’s working boy!!! Keep it loud! Don’t stop- Don’t stop singing. Don’t stop the song!!!”
“Nooo! It can’t be!!! They’re escaping our song… Thelxepeia give us a stronger song to keep them from leaving!!! Nooo!” Peisinoe, her stomach growling was in no mood to lose, not without some prize to claim.
As the vessel breached an enormous wave, the mainsail swung hard to the left, knocking two men overboard, not being able to hear the cries of Xerus’ warning. Half the crew watched in horror, while the rest continued to try and save their ship. The two hapless sailors floundered in vain to fight the current. Gulping sea water, struggling hopelessly to reach for the hands extended to them from a dangling ladder attached to the side of the ship.
But hungry Molpe and Peisinoe saw all of this. Without hesitation, they made a dashing leap into the surf after these two suffering thieves, dropping their instruments and reaching for their spears to seize their catch. “Ahhh-ha! Macedonian Delight, my sisters!!!” Molpe screamed. The thrill of the hunt, the kill just waiting beyond their grasp.
Agonizing screams were garbled as their victims were dragged under the water’s surface, ripped away from the crew. Swirling blood, sliced into pieces, like the attack of vicious sharks. The water now red filled with tiny fish, finishing off the bits of flesh and bone.
The two she-devils of the deep pulled the remains of the crew back to shore. Their body parts already sliced and shred of any clothing, while hideous howls of delight from the ghastly foursome were muffled, consuming their dinner.
Niko could not look at the scene before him, wishing he could pry the memory of this horrific day from his mind.
“Ahhh, now that’s tasty, isn’t it girls? Not as plump as I remember them to be, but nice for a change,” sighed Molpe.
“Too much garlic for my taste!” Peisinoe tore the last piece of thigh meat off the carcass and gobbled it down, tossing the bones behind her as usual onto yet another pile. She used a dried piece of cartilage to pick her teeth clean, smiling with contentment as she stretched out her tired fins into the rolling sea foam before her, keeping them nice and supple.
“Lucky for us these two tasty fellows fell overboard!” giggled Thelxepeia, her mouth still full. “And you two were soooo quick to seize the moment! Bravi! Such beauty and athletic prowess you two have. I dare say. I do dare say!”
“Well, is no one going to say anything about that annoying boy and his stick? Waving at us like a tiny magician?” Aglaophonos was beside herself with rage. “Are you just going to pretend it didn’t happen? Come on, sisters! What are we going to do about this complete insult to our art? To our kind?!”
They all sat quietly for a few moments, looking at each other, pondering their answer. Finally Molpe let out a gigantic, satisfying belch, causing them all to roar in shrieking gales of laughter.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I think that this boy will have plenty 0f stories to tell when he arrives on the mainland,” Peisinoe said with a pensive sigh. “Hopefully he’ll be sold somewhere he can tell many, many stories. Singing songs about his run-in with the legendary Sirens to fabulous, famous and handsome men- and some women too, of course.”
Aglaophonos finally removed the wilted poisonous flower from her hair, squeezing out the last drops of nectar onto her long, pointed tongue. Savoring its stinging pleasure as if it were her own sweet dessert. “At any rate, it’s comforting to know that… at least we’ll be remembered! Our existence is secured once more, ladies. We are certainly to be believed in after that episode!” A shudder of almost orgasmic pleasure shot through her- from head to flipper. “Ahhh, la-da. Da-di-di-den… Another perfect day now comes to an end!” They began to cackle like the witches they were. Growing harsher and louder, becoming more obscene with every passing second. The immense sound of their laughter grew as if it were the screeching of seagulls and scavengers that picked the countless bones scattered around them. It rose up to the clouds, crashing back to Earth as a crack of thunder, racing blindly across a darkening sky. A sound that was evil- so very, very evil.