Siren Song

John Carroll

Who knows when people stop believing in monsters? It’s something every child looks for. In the closet, under the bed, every child has, at least once in his or her life, checked these places for monsters. It’s a strange fear almost everyone has shared at some stage in their lives. Almost everyone shares the fear of monsters. And almost everyone thinks of them the wrong way. What comes to your mind when you think of a monster? Do you think of something large, covered in fur, bearing long claws and sharp teeth? I’ll admit, that image would more than enough to put anyone to fear. But monsters aren’t always so fearsome. What makes monsters truly terrifying isn’t the fact that they look evil, it’s the fact that they can be beautiful.

I was nothing but a kid when I first stepped onboard a ship. No older than 16, I dreamed of making my fortune at sea. When I first took to sea I still lived under the belief that I could see what a monster looked like. I believed that monsters were nothing more than the creatures who lived in stories. I never expected that the creatures I came across in Cobh to be so beautiful. But let me first tell you how I met them. We’d been out fishing later than usual that night ten years ago. It was a good catch, the best we’d had in months. The weather, however, wasn’t so kind. It just so happened that me and my two brothers sailed into the worst storm the southern coast had suffered in the past twenty years. And in that storm, we were thrown horribly off course. For about three days we tried to find our way back to the mainland, praying that by some miracles we wouldn’t end up shipwrecked. But the fate that almost became of us on the morning of 28th August 2008 was far worse than being shipwrecked. The morning brought a thick mist, one that prevented you from seeing more than a few feet in front of you. And through that mist, we came across the small island, not more than a mile from Cobh. At first, we saw not a soul as we approached. It was only as we sailed closer that we heard it. Cutting through the mist, was the sound of song. Not a single person was in site, but there was no denying the sound of sweet song that reached our restless ears. I don’t truly know how to describe it, but the sound was warm and inviting. Inviting us closer. And closer we sailed, eager to find the source of that welcoming tune. And, within minutes we saw them.

The monsters we saw were nothing like I’d imagined. They didn’t have horrible claws or terrible teeth that promised certain doom. They simply had smiling faces and sweet voices of song that promised joy and safety. The closer we came the sweeter the sound, the tune like honey. The creatures were beautiful, standing like angels, all happiness and loveliness. Could something so beautiful be so monstrous? I counted at least ten of the singing angels, enticing us in with their song. It was a tune you couldn’t help but give in to. And, eagerly wanting to hear their song, we stopped our ship. My youngest brother was the first to climb out of the ships, the song of the sirens filling his ears. He was so taken in by the song that he didn’t even see their demeanor change. At first, neither did I or my older brother. Just like the youngest, we’d also climbed overboard and ran towards the celestial singers. The sound of the sirens turned us mad for more. We didn’t question their nature, the song was so enticing, it erased all scepticism from my mind. I would soon pay for my mistake. In an instance I saw the creatures change; beautiful angels one moment, cruel sirens the next. My younger brother, who was much closer to them than I, had no chance to realise what was happening before the sirens had pounced on him, seizing him in cruel arms. My older brother, who had always been a faster runner than me, had a front row seat of the spectacle, and barely had time to give me a shout of warning before he soon met a similar fate, the cruel monsters taking him as their feast. In that instant I questioned my own sanity, wondering how such a song could entice me to such a violent end. I turned and ran the moment the spell of the siren song was broken, living to tell the tale.

But, in the end, I will never forget what I saw that day. I will never forget how quickly something so friendly turned into something so cruel. In a mere second, the sirens who enticed us to their island with their honeyed words, turned to vicious animals who turned my brothers into their feast. Even now, ten years later, I still remember the moment they seized my brothers in their merciless, strong arms. I still remember the violent end they met. It was something no man or woman should see. For years I’d told myself that there was no such thing as monsters. I tricked myself into believing that sirens, those terrible, alluring creatures who tempt sailors to their end with beautiful voices, were nothing more than monsters from fairy tales. But to this day, I can still hear the sweet song of the sirens playing in my head. So, I ask you, do you believe in monsters? Who knew that something so evil could, at first, seem so beautiful?

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