Before You Go in Search of Spirits
by Cathin Yang
Child, before you go in search of spirits, heed the rules.
Seek the still waters. Some find their ways to the deep caves, but most remain in the wood wreckage. They cling to what is intact and what was once theirs. Be careful you do not stir up too much as you swim there. You will find other spirit hunters too, as well as the creatures of the deep. Not all will aid you. Many will harm you. Do not spill blood if you are unwilling to shed your own.
You must carry gold. The spirits are drawn to the soft metal. They hungered for it in life and now even in death they still crave it. Do not show how much you have. Do not offer too much. Do not fool them with false metal.
Be cautious in your obligation. Once you have bound a spirit, you are beholden to fulfilling their dying dream. Be cautious of the ones that wish to return to solid land. Do not fulfill a wish for a favor too small. You hold their release into death, but they will hold your life until it is fulfilled.
Know what you truly seek the spirits for. Their wisdom is unparalleled, but they cannot answer or fulfill everything. Go with only your deepest truth.
If you remain unafraid, then go. Seek the still waters of the deep depths. May you come back alive.
The Truth They Hear in My Heart
by Coral Alejandra Moore
As I plunge into the dark of the deepest place, I remember the words you whispered to me when I sat at your knee. I remember the song that sought to match the rhythm of the waves; it haunts me, filling my head with a lilting melody and words of warning.
I didn’t believe you then, that we were descended from creatures that swam those depths, that our time on the land was fleeting, that someday we would return. I thought it was only a story.
It wasn’t until later that I knew the truth, when you lay dying, holding my hand and staring up at me, your eyes wide and frightened. I heard the waves at that moment when they called you home and I knew. Only when you lay still did I remember the shipwrecks and the spirits.
So I dive to the place I know only from your song, clutching stolen gold in my hand, only one wish in my heart: to see you again. I don’t know what the spirits will demand of me, but it doesn’t matter.
And that is the truth they hear in my heart as I sing to them of my desire, that I will do anything. I should have heard that warning in your song, and known better, but my grief was too new and my pain too deep.
One soul for each of their souls. That was the price. A soul to take their places in the deep dark and free them. I drag them down one by one, hearing the bubbles of their silent screams as their breath escapes toward the surface.
I have too many left to go. I’ll never manage it. I lose a tiny piece of me with each one and there are not enough pieces that remain with you gone. I hear the spirits laugh when I know the truth of their trap. By the time I bring them enough souls there won’t be any part of me that remembers you.
I let the man go, watching him flail and kick for the surface. Distantly, I hear the spirits calling me as I swim away. I leave the water, knowing I’ll never return. I watch the waves and sing your song, wondering if this is what happened to you, too.
© Copyright Cathin Yang and Coral Alejandra Moore
Cathin Yang is a Taiwanese American writer living in Oregon with their spouse and two cats. They enjoy traveling, creating props and costumes with their spouse, and playing tabletop RPGs. This is their first published piece.
Coral Alejandra Moore has always been the kind of girl who makes up stories. Fortunately, she never grew out of that. She writes character driven fiction, and enjoys conversations about genetics and microbiology as much as those about vampires and werewolves.
She has an MFA in Writing from Albertus Magnus College and is an alum of Viable Paradise XVII. She has been published by Vitality Magazine, Diabolical Plots, and Zombies Need Brains. She loves aquariums, rides a motorcycle, and thinks there is little better than a good cup of coffee.
As her most recent venture she is the co-editor and co-publisher of Constelación Magazine, a bilingual speculative fiction magazine publishing stories in Spanish and English.
Read the Rest of the October Issue
- The Ossuary at Ocean’s End by Marisca Pichette
- Elemental by Marlan Quade Cook
- portrait of a girl in water by Ashley Bao
- A Thousand Souls by Marie Brennan
- Seafloor Skull by Inkshark
- The Ghosts of Mermaids & The Answer Atop Mermaid’s Rest by Coral Alejandra Moore and Cathin Yang
- Awoken by Elyse Russell and Miranda Leyson
- The Abyssal Architect by Ori Jay
- One Last Shriek by Umiyuri Katsuyama
- Merfolks as a Passage from My Thoughts and Doings by Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto
- This Is Your Home by Stefan Slater
- Mermaidsong by Csilla Kleinheincz
- Fish Out of Water: How Mermaids Represent Disabled, Queer Folk Like Me by Melanie Jayne Ashford
- “a sea-like condition” by Felicia Martinez
- This Is You by Kathryn Kania
- Before You Go in Search of Spirits & The Truth They Hear in My Heart by Cathin Yang and Coral Alejandra Moore
- Dreams of Another Life by Elizabeth Kestrel Rogers
- Charting the Next Adventure by Meg Frank