by Brian Wilkie


         "Yes, I'm mad." The thought shot through his brain as he remembered the kids down his street. That was their favourite name for him, 'Mad Brian'.

'Mad Brian' sat on the rocks at the beach overlooking the great expanse that is the North Sea, he is old now, but he was once so very young. He smiled at that thought.

"Yes I was young, a long, long time ago." His mind drifted back through the years to the time he was nine and playing in or near this very spot where he was sitting now, he had fell off the rocks and hit his head as he went into the water, he would have drowned if he had not have been saved by a fish.

"YES, a FISH." He shouted the words out, no one could hear him because there was no one around at this time in the morning. He could remember it like it had just happened, he was being sucked under by the water currents, his last bit of air had left his lungs, he could feel himself going down instead of up, then the face of a beautiful girl appeared in front of him, she had a smile that went all the way across her face and it was a beautiful smile, she put her lips to his as if she wanted to kiss him, when their lips touched he could feel fresh air being pumped into his lungs, he felt her hand touch his and she swam beside him, taking him up, up and up, he could see the sunlight shining through the water, then his head appeared out of the water and he sucked the sea air into his body. Taking deep gulps of it, his chest ached as the air filled it, after a few moments, he looked around and saw the girl was still next to him.

"Thank you, you,,,,,,,," He stopped when the girl put her finger to her mouth as if to say shhhh. She must have been taken him towards the beach because he could feel the sand under his feet, he watched the girl go under the water again and swim around him. He closed his eye's when he saw that she never had legs, but a fishes tail, when he opened his eye's again she was still swimming around him, he put his hands down into the water and touched her shoulders then as she swam his hands went to her back then to her legs, no, not her legs, her, her, her tail, she slowed down and came back up until her head was out of the water.

"Are, are, are you a mermaid." He stammered.

"Yes." came the reply and a smile.

"But Mermaids aren't real." He said.

"Oh, nobody told me that." Her reply made Brian laugh.

They had stayed with each other all that day, she showed him how to swim the best and easiest way.

Alice, that was her name, said she loved the name Brian as she breathed into his mouth again and took his hand as she dived down into the depths of the sea, at first Brian was frightened but as they went deeper and deeper, he found that he didn't have to breath at all, she took him around the bottom of the rocks, he could see all the fishes and crabs and the seaweeds bowing and curtseying with the currents, she took him into a cave and as he climbed out of the water to sit on a ledge he breathed the air into his lungs, his chest hurt again as the air filled it.

"Wow, this is great." He said looking around at the different colours of light that shone through a hole at the very top of the cave and as the light hit the water then bounced off the sides of the cave.

"Yes, this is one of my favourite places." Alice replied with the smile he was getting used to seeing. Brian took hold of Alice's out stretched hand and pulled her up onto the ledge. He watched her as she shuffled to get into a comfortable position.

"Are you all right when you get out of water." He asked her, looking at her tail.

"Yes, I'm all right, my scales start to dry up if I'm out of it to long, but no, I don't lose it or anything, we don't just swim everywhere, we have friends who take us out of the water and sometimes drive us around your cities."

Brian didn't know how long he had stayed with her but when she took him back to the beach it was dark.

He never saw her again although he went to the beach every day. As he got older his memory of Alice never dulled. When he grew up and left school he join the Royal Navy and when the war in the Falklands broke out just as he was about to leave the navy, he was sent down there with his ship full of troops. They were next to a ship when it was blown up, someone from his ship shouted that there were men in the water, some seamen from his ship threw a net over the side so that the men in the water could grab it and climb up or the seamen would climb down it and pull the men out of the water, they had to get out quickly because the water was so cold that they would freeze within minutes. In the report that was sent to the Royal Navy Headquarters, nine soldiers and fifteen of Brian's crew mates swore they saw Brian run the length of the ship and dive overboard without any thought of his own safety, the Royal Navy Headquarters also have written statements of the thirty-five soldiers and seamen that he rescued. The Scientist back home had done tests and all kinds of things to him when the Falklands war ended and although they couldn't find out how or why he survived the cold water for such a long time they knew by the reports that it must have happened.

Now as he sat at the beach looking out at the water going up and down, his mind went to the Doctors surgery and the Doctor telling him that he had lung cancer. Brian knew that something was wrong and he also knew that it was the start of the end for him, he came to the beach to see if he could find and to talk to Alice, to tell her what had happened in his life and to tell her of the time the Doctor said he had left, this was the third day he had sat here and as he felt the night time close in on him, he stood up and turned to walk away. He heard the water ripple and a voice he could never forget.

"Brian, it is time for you to come back to us."


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