Beneath her fingers, Percie felt the spine of her book crack and peel. She wondered how many times she had read it, but the only sufficient answer she could arrive at was ‘not enough.’ Outside, a quiet night symphony was building. A light howl in the wind whispered desires through the air and shook the crisp autumn leaves that dangled carelessly from branches, plotting their winter descent. Crickets chirped and quick paws hopped, snapping tiny branches under them. Percie’s gaze dropped away from her book and she held her breath, bracing for what she knew she’d hear next. A heavy swoosh of wings bigger than Percie’s entire body broke through the night and the quick paws sounded no more. Slowly, Percie exhaled, and silently thanked the rabbit for its sacrifice. She had formed this habit long ago, when the Sirens first came to protect her. Their hunger was insatiable and nothing she prepared for them satisfied it even half as much as did a hunt. Eventually, Percie accepted this. Besides, hunting kept their eyes and ears as sharp as their talons, which was crucial.
A yawn rose at the back of Percie’s throat, urging her to put down the book. The low light of the dancing flames had not been enough to keep her eyes from burning. Leaning her head back in the chair, she let her lids drop closed. While she sat, slowly losing consciousness, the night became more awake; the Sirens more alert.
Percie’s eyes snapped open. She wasn’t sure what she had heard, but whatever it was, her winged protectors had heard it too. In the distance, they began their song. A low rhythmic humming throbbed in Percie’s chest. Instinctively, she tried to wriggle free. The sensation of the song, to which even Percie was not immune, was always overwhelming. The more one resisted, the stronger the pull became.
Short of breath and warm all over, Percie hurried to the window. She stared out into the blackness, hoping to catch a glimpse of the trouble. Someone was out there. Someone was watching her. Someone meant her harm. The knowledge of this agitated her; made her skin crawl. Seven years. It had been seven years since the last time they had come for her. They had not won then, and they would not win now. Hades would never win.
As the Siren song built to a crescendo, Percie felt a trembling excitement ripple through her. The pull was so strong; she had to go to them. She clutched the doorknob, twisted, and yanked. The door flew open, allowing the song to gush in. Its erratic passion dropped her to her knees and palpitated her heart. The night symphony grew too. Caws and howls and hoots shot through the indigo sky, every creature under the moon compelled towards her songstresses’ call. Yearning; aching to be heard by them. But they only cared about one creature tonight.
Percie clawed her way towards their tree, which overlooked a caliginous sea, her legs ironically weakened by her desire to reach them. Finally, she was close enough to make out their shapes. Three bodies, tall and slender, bare skin glistening under the moonlight. They stood still, wings erect, beaks agape. Percie’s chest ignited at the sight. They were stunning. They were powerful. She, in turn, was powerful. On the ground at their clawed feet, lay a fourth body. This one did not glisten and did not sing. Instead, it groaned, helplessly. Six yellow eyes met Percie’s, waiting for her command. One stepped forward, and allowed her song to rise inside of Percie, urging her to oblige. She glanced down again at the man – the intruder. No doubt he had been drawn in by their song; motivated by his own salacious appetite. So pathetic. Just another minion; the world could always use one less of them.
Yes, she nodded, yes.
A shrill caw flew from the the foremost Siren, and with it came the abrupt end of their melody, and the horrifying beginning of their violence. Percie collapsed, gasping for air. She wanted to avert her eyes, but she couldn’t. He had come for her, and now he would pay dearly, just like all the others.
Under the silver light of the moon, Percie watched her protectors pounce. Talons slashed, beaks gutted, blood spilled. At the end of it all, the tallest Siren approached. Percie was gripping the grass beneath her, shivering, a lump in her throat. But the Siren hummed a soft and familiar cadence and a calm washed over Percie, as it always did in the aftermath. She watched her Siren kneel before her, crouching her long legs. Her big round eyes fixed on Percie’s, blinking mechanically, void of emotion and yet, somehow, so emotive. She let her wide, bronze wings fold across her chest, one over the other, covering her blood-splattered breasts. Then, she bowed her head to Percie, a gesture of pure affection. Percie smiled graciously. In the background, the others continued to feed on what was left of their meal – a man who thought himself a predator, but was merely prey.
Drained from the ordeal, Percie let herself drop back to the cold ground, and lied flat against it; drained and exhausted from the ordeal. When the songstresses had had their fill, they took flight over Percie’s amative body, offering a resuscitating breeze. She drank it in, and watched them disappear once again into the treetops. Tonight, she’d sleep right there, exposed and free, under their watchful eyes.
© Shyla Fairfax-Owen
Thanks for reading. This story was inspired by the Persephone and Hades myth, re-imagined in a modern world, wherein the Sirens were able to protect her from him, again and again and again.