REGARDING THE LOCAL MERMAIDS • by K.J. Chien

Dear Esteemed Mr. Bentley:

By now, news of what happened at the Bentley Alchemy Factory in Toaddeep Sound should’ve reached you. While individuals might describe the factory’s current state as “blown to the hells,” please be reassured that these are colorful embellishments. While some of these Bentley Alchemy floormen are hard workers, the group is uneducated in the factory’s workings and may not understand the current circumstances’ nuances. 

Moving onto the events surrounding the factory’s temporary delay, I want to first acknowledge my gratitude for being entrusted as Factory Manager these past fifteen years. They say a good leader takes responsibility for what happens under their watch, but let me state that during my tenure, Toaddeep Sound faced unusual challenges regarding the local mermaids. Considering Toaddeep Sound’s strategic position next to The Beryl Sea, its ample and cheap land, and its distance of thirty leagues from the nearest jurisdictions that might limit a business’s expansion, the fact that other investors hadn’t built in Toaddeep Sound before Bentley Alchemy speaks to the mermaids’ difficulty.

While other mermaids reside in deep-sea regions, the Toaddeep Sound mermaids are unusual for they consider the town their “home.” More unusual is the friendly relationship between the townspeople and the merfolk. In the early years, before we discouraged large group gatherings for public safety, there was an annual festival celebrating the townsfolk and merfolk’s friendship. We did not anticipate the merfolk’s sway over town politics. From the beginning, the mermaids were against the factory. It was only after multiple town halls and a door-to-door campaign that we finally showed the town its industrial future and, with it, its financial prosperity. It was a hard-earned victory, but it was not the last barrier we encountered with the mermaids.

Since each Bentley Alchemy Factory deals with fugitive byproducts during production, at Toaddeep Sound, our solution was a state-of-the-art beneficial reuse system. Our team of mages created an innovative filtration system that purified our byproduct before releasing the water back into The Beryl Sea. And in case there are any potential concerns, the schematics are all well documented according to Bentley Alchemy’s exacting legal standards. Unfortunately, we also have documented local complaints about beached whales, deformed fish, and an alleged change in The Beryl Sea’s color. However, these have been accounted for by the research team, who proved that the ocean’s seasonal changes cannot be attributed to Bentley Alchemy.

The mermaids, however, were dogmatic and prone to fear-mongering propaganda. They spoke about areas in The Beryl Sea that were “difficult to breathe,” bleeding kelp, and formerly dead mermaids or sea creatures — I cannot remember which, for they are all finned — supposedly reanimating after coming into contact with our reclaimed water, which is superstitious nonsense. I would drink our recycled water and baptize my grandchildren in it. That is my confidence in our mages.

But as I mentioned before, Mr. Bentley, a good leader takes accountability. I will now admit my primary mistake. When it came to the mermaids, I thought it best to ignore them. Their limitation seemed apparent: they’re unable to walk on land. And so long as we reminded the townspeople that their sons and daughters were proud Bentley Alchemy employees, who had ongoing payment plans for their uniforms, specialized training, dormitory living, and work-provided breakfast, lunch, and supper, etc., then from our viewpoint, there were no foreseeable obstacles.

My second mistake was underestimating the merfolk’s duplicitousness. Within The Beryl Sea, there is sporadic pirate activity. Typically, the pirates leave towns like Toaddeep Sound unmolested. The fact that the mermaids — morally bereft overgrown fish — would seek out the pirates’ ships and strike an alliance with them, promising gods know what — shells or whatever garbage they trawl off the ocean floor, for I’ve never seen a mermaid produce anything useful — now only seems obvious. There are murmurings, even, about a mermaid agitator, a so-called merfolk “leader,” fraternizing with one of the pirate captains. I wouldn’t put it past a mermaid to use deviant behavior to achieve their agenda.

Based on this account, I hope, Mr. Bentley, it shows our challenges. So when the pirate ships flooded our harbors, and the mermaids blocked up the factory pipes, and the workers — brainwashed by the mermaids’ years of propaganda — joined the pirates in their raid, I found myself operating under impossible conditions. I had to flee, for I feared the mob, and by my assessment, the factory can be repaired, but institutional knowledge is irreplaceable.

From where I write in my city apartment, I can reassure you, Mr. Bentley, that despite these setbacks, there is a way forward. While I understand that after what happened at Toaddeep Sound, investigators are looking into alleged misconduct at other Bentley Alchemy factories and that Toaddeep Sound is still hostile towards any Bentley Alchemy presence (apparently the mermaids, townsfolk, and pirates held a three-day feast after their riot, which included a wedding between the rumored mermaid and pirate — disgusting), and that the factory suffered fire damage, I still believe that with resources and support from headquarters, the factory can come back even stronger.

Included is a drafted plan for rebuilding, which I can transition to another manager.

Please also consider this letter a formal relocation request. I believe my time at Toaddeep Sound would benefit another factory dealing with similar pestilent populations. I believe my experience in this area can be an asset.

Thank you for your kind consideration. An expeditious reply would be most advantageous. There’s also the issue of my salary, which I have not received in several weeks. If there is an individual who can assist me with such, please let me know whom I may contact. I look forward to your reply.

Your faithful servant,

Gregory Godfrey


K.J. Chien is a Taiwanese-American writer based in New York City, where she lives with her elderly dog. You can find past and forthcoming works at kjchienwrites.weebly.com.


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