Chapter Fourteen

Furnish set sail after everyone was on board and headed for deep waters. There were ten other people on board with them, all young men who were extremely muscular and tanned. Furnish explained that they were the usual crew of his ship and every morning they reported for duty if the weather was agreeable. Rose and Amy kept away from them when they noticed they kept giving them lustful looks and muttering to each other about how sexy they were. River, on the other hand, wasn't fazed by their leering looks and ignored them completely while she stood on deck and looked out over the ocean. When she looked over the boat, she could see a large fishing net hanging off the side. The net had ropes attached to both ends and the ropes went up and over the side to a wooden spool. The spool had cranks on either side of it to crank the net up and over the side. At the moment there was still a great deal of rope wound around the middle of the spool since the net hadn't been deployed yet.

River sensed someone coming towards her and looked over her shoulder. The Doctor was coming her way and River pointed out the net to him. The Doctor leaned his arms on the wooden railing and studied it.

"It's large, could hold a fair amount of fish in it," he said to River.

"Or a merperson," River added.

"I had a dekko down below," the Doctor said, pointing down. "I didn't see any chains or fish tanks or anything that indicated they've been taking merpeople prisoner."

"Maybe when they catch one they just knock it out and leave it unconscious until they get back to shore," River said.

"Yes, but…surely someone sees them carrying a fish person down the ramp and through the town," the Doctor said.

"You have your suspicions about this then?" River said.

"I have many suspicions. Most of them to do with Circady," the Doctor replied as he turned around and leaned on the side. "I'm beginning to wonder if there is a fiancé since he doesn't seem to be gutted that she's gone now. I think his eye is on Rose and this is just some sort of diversion, an excuse to justify taking her."

"So what do we do?" River said.

"Keep an eye on him. After Furnish is done fishing, I want to question him. But first, I want to see what he catches," the Doctor said, glancing at her.

"Should I torture them?" River said.

The Doctor was shocked and then gave her a wry look when she patted his cheek.

"Never mind, if I did that, you would strand me on an asteroid somewhere," River said sweetly.

The Doctor smiled at that and turned his attention to Rose when he noticed her coming up from below, an annoyed look on her face. Rose looked around and noticed the Doctor and River. She breathed a sigh of relief, climbed up out of the hatch and headed for them.

"Circady is being an irritating sod and I'm about ready to punch him," Rose said as she walked towards them.

"Why? What's he doing now?" the Doctor said.

"Keeps on telling me that I'll be his over and over and over. Can I hit him, please?" Rose said, walking up to the Doctor.

"Can I shoot him and string him up by his fish legs?" River added.

"My, my, my, so much rage here," the Doctor said, looking at both women. "I expect a bit more calm from you both. Besides, I'm the leader, I get to kill him."

Rose chuckled at that and looked over the side.

"Besides, I think Amy and Rory will get to him first," she said as she watched the water lapping the side of the boat. "They're also angry that he won't shut up."

The Doctor turned around and in a hushed voice, told Rose his suspicions.

"I think you're right," Rose said when he finished. "He barely mentions this other woman but he's always banging on about how I'll be his. I don't see any evidence of any merpeople being on this boat. I think this is a distraction."

"Rose, head's up, he's coming on deck," Amy said as she climbed up out of the hold. "He turned around and noticed you were missing and now he's on the hunt for you."

Rose groaned. The Doctor moved behind her and opened the sides of his coat.

"What are you doing?" Rose asked him.

"Forcefield. My coat will block any attempt to see you," the Doctor said.

"Seriously?" Rose said.

"No, but it would be a cool thing to have," the Doctor said, letting go of his coat.

Amy walked over to them just as Circady's head came up out of the hole. He scanned around and his eyes narrowed when he saw Rose with the Doctor. The Doctor spun around and folded his arms over his chest, watching while Circady came up out of the hold and walked over to them.

"She's not yours yet so leave her alone," the Doctor growled at him. "She's tired of you following her around, demanding she stay at your side. She's not going anywhere, mate, so quit harassing her."

Circady glared at him and the Doctor noticed him balling up his fist but he didn't flinch and Circady snorted and went to the other side of the boat instead.

"Thank you," Rose said to the Doctor.

"I just hope he finally gets the message now," the Doctor said, watching Circady while he leaned over the other side of the boat and sulked.


When they reached a certain spot far out to sea, Furnish ordered that the anchor be lowered. By now, Rory had come out on deck and they moved down to the stern while the men lowered the neck into the water. Circady walked to the other side but he kept his distance from Rose while he watched the men warily. Furnish walked up to the side and watched the net sink down into the depths of the ocean. The Doctor walked over to him, intending to strike up a casual conversation in the hopes of finding out any information about the merpeople.

"So, the fishing is good here?" the Doctor said, leaning against the railing beside Furnish.

"So far. But we've had to move around in recent months," Furnish said. "Our population is growing and the supply isn't keeping up with demand."

"Don't you have other sources of food?" the Doctor said.

"We do but seafood is our main source of sustenance," Furnish said. "The elders tried promoting other foods in the hopes of encouraging the people to lay off the fish but it hasn't worked out. We used to fish very close to shore but now the fish rarely come that close. We have to go out farther and farther. Pretty soon we'll be going out a day's journey or more. Be a shame since I like to be home by nightfall."

"Do you catch the same sort of fish each time?"

"Most of the time," Furnish said. "We have a fish called Starlight Speckled Trout, they're in abundance. Then there are a few others that we catch most of the time and several others that we catch every so often, the rare ones."

"Like what? What's the rarest sea creature you've caught?"

Furnish grinned.

"Want to see one?" he said.

"You have one on board?" the Doctor said.

"Sure do. It's down below. Want to see it?"

"Yeah," the Doctor said.

Furnish beckoned to him and the Doctor followed, his hearts beating quickly at the thought of finding evidence of kidnapping right on board the ship. They went down into the hold and Furnish led him through the semidarkness towards the bow of the ship. The interior was lit with lanterns that threw shadows on the wooden sides of the ship. There were a few hammocks strung between posts but not enough for the entire crew. The Doctor asked about it and Furnish shrugged.

"We use those when we take breaks. Some of the lads want to stretch out and rest," he said. "We haven't gone out far enough to use them for sleeping which is why there aren't enough for the whole crew. This way, mate."

He led the Doctor to a long wooden chest that was about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. The lid was locked with a padlock and the Doctor watched while Furnish took out a key from his pocket and unlocked it. It snapped open and Furnish took it off and put it in his pocket with the key. Then he opened the lid up and smiled proudly as the Doctor peered in.

"This is called a Rainbow Carp," he said, pointing to the stuffed fish inside the chest. "Biggest one we ever caught. About five foot long."

The Doctor's hearts sank but at the same time he was impressed with the size of the fish. He helped Furnish lift it out of the chest and they took it over to a lantern hanging off an overhead beam. The Doctor was amazed when the light made the rainbow colored scales shimmer.

"This is gorgeous," he said. "But why did you have to kill it?"

"Trophy, mate," Furnish said.

"I know but you coulda kept it in a tank."

"We debated whether or not to do that but none of us had the tank for it and couldn't afford to keep it. The elders didn't want it and we didn't want it ending up as food so we took it to the taxidermist instead."

"Is this it? Have you ever found anything else that's unusual?" the Doctor said as he helped Furnish put the fish back in the chest.

"Not really, it's pretty mundane out here really," Furnish said.

"What about…mermaids?" the Doctor said.

Furnish chuckled.

"I wish," he said as he locked the chest. "I'm single and I would like a bit of tail."

The Doctor chuckled at his joke. He studied his face but couldn't see any deception there. His earlier hunch about Circady's deception surfaced in his mind.

"In all seriousness though, we haven't seen anything like that," Furnish said. "Would be nice though."

"Yes, it would," the Doctor said, again picking up no hints of deception from Furnish.

Furnish patted him on the shoulder before they headed back towards the hatch.

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