Originally published March 11, 2017.
Contains: instant weight gain, physical intimacy.
This started as a half serious suggestion from a friend of mine after I told her I wanted to write more light-hearted stories. It ended with a story about Neil, a pirate who’s forced to walk the plank and thinks that’s the end for him. That is, until a kiss from his new merman boyfriend, Hurlee, saves him by allowing him to breath underwater, while also giving him some new blubber to help him survive in the cold depths. It’s a quick, fluffy little story, but dang it was fun to write.
I modeled my merman after the photos from Joshua Varozza’s beach dudoir photoshoot. I was inspired by posts I’ve seen going around online saying that mermaids and merfolk in general should be fat, because all marine mammals need a layer of blubber to survive in the water. So of course, Hurlee was going to be fat himself.
As for Hurlee’s name, I got it from a thread I found online that claimed to have compiled names for mermaids and mermen by compiling aquatic words from various languages. Since I gave Hurlee red hair in this story, I thought a Scottish name would be fitting. So I browsed the Scottish names in the thread and picked Hurlee because it reminded me of the name of Jorge Garcia’s character in Lost. And Jorge is just… let’s just say that if he ever did a dudeour photoshoot, I’d be bringing swooning back into fashion.
“Neil Roderoy, for the crime of mutiny against Captain Henry, you have been sentenced to walk the plank.”
Neil stood at the close end of the wooden board with his hands tied behind his back. It was a clear, sunny day, an oddly ill-fitting forecast for what he knew would be his last day sailing with the crew of the Drunken Buck, and likely his last day on earth. The only hint of malice in the weather was a strong wind that made his hair and his beard, both of which extended down past his shoulders, wave like the waters beneath him.
Neil looked down at those waters with a sense of resignation. In all his time sailing on the Drunken Buck, those waters had brought him and his crew fortune and infamy, everything a pirate could want. He supposed it was only appropriate that the waters that had given him the life he’d dreamed of would take that life away from him too.
“Do you have any last words?”
Neil turned to look over his shoulder and beheld the crew he’d once trusted with his life. Now they stood behind the plank with their swords and flintlock pistols drawn, ready to cut him down if he didn’t go peacefully. Some scowled at him, while some had gleeful smiles, ready to see justice enacted.
“You lot aren’t worth wasting last words on.”
Chuckles, taunts, and jeers emanated from the two-dozen or so pirates Neil once called crewmates. He turned his back to them one last time as he stared out into the sea. With slow steps, he approached the end of the plank, feeling the board bend beneath him as he walked out. Once he reached the end, he bent his toes over the board’s far edge, looking down into the water as his heart raced faster. He’d always fancied himself as the kind of pirate who would face death proudly and without fear. So much for that.
“Get on with it,” he heard Caustic Clara shout. Soon an impact on his back, accompanied by the sound of broken glass, had him falling into the ocean head-first along with the fragments of the beer bottle that had been tossed at him. Cheers and whoops were the last noise he heard until the surface of the water muffled them, and all he could hear was the deep rumble of the sea.
Neil had never been good at opening his eyes underwater, and the headfirst fall had deprived him of any sense of direction. His lanky frame, weathered away by lengthy stretches at sea, didn’t afford him much buoyancy either. Without much hope for reaching the surface, he resigned himself to his fate, and breathed out what little air he’d managed to hold in his lungs.
The tranquility of accepting his impending death left Neil free to observe the sensations around him. He could feel his hair and beard floating around in the water like the seaweed that likely grew beneath him. He could feel the cold water around him sapping his heat like the wind above. He could feel the grip of something behind his back pulling at his ropes.
At that, Neil’s eyes shot open. They stung like hell from the salty water, but the shock overrode his pain. He jerked his head around to see a sight that he knew surely must have been a hallucination. Reaching out toward his bound hands was a creature whose top half was that of a man and his bottom half that of a fish. It was one of the mermen of legend. Certainly, the legend spoke more volubly of their female counterparts, but to see such a creature of any form had Neil sure he was seeing things. Once Neil turned around, the creature looked up into his eyes, and his own eyes locked on them as his mouth hung agape. He seemed just as shocked by Neil as Neil was by him.
In the brief seconds of staring that the two shared, Neil was able to get a better look at his underwater companion. Unlike the svelte merfolk of legend, this merman had a frame more reminiscent of a whale. His rounded face rested atop a body that reminded Neil of his former crewmates who were especially fond of ale. The two pudgy lobes of his chest rested atop a hefty belly that rivaled the size of the kegs found on the Drunken Buck. Rather than succumbing to gravity’s pull, his chest and belly billowed out like the ship’s sale during a strong wind, floating like a buoy in the water. Covering his whole frame was a carpet of body hair that stood in stark contrast to the gleaming scales of his tail. Even deep underwater, his body hair and his lush beard alike shone bright red in the muted rays of sunlight.
As Neil took in the appearance of his aquatic company, he could feel the pain building up in his body as it was deprived of air. As he made peace with the fact that this marine improbability would be the last thing he ever saw, the merman’s eyebrows shot up. He swam up to Neil, grabbed his shoulders, pulled him close, and planted his lips on Neil’s.
As soon as the merman pulled away, Neil gasped from the surprise. As the water rushed into his lungs, his heart beat faster as he realized his death was upon him. But there was no burning sensation as salt water flowed where air was supposed to. Instead, he felt a cool sense of relief, like his first few breaths after he stepped out of the boiling underbelly of the ship into the cool night air. Instinct took over, and he breathed more water out and in, inhaling and exhaling until the pain subsided.
“How are you feeling?” the merman finally spoke in a shockingly audible voice, his hands on Neil’s shoulders as he looked into his eyes worriedly.
Neil reflexively brought his hands up to his mouth, realizing that they had been untied too. His breath continued hastily as he struggled to comprehend his circumstances. “I… what… are you a… merman?”
The merman let out a deep laugh as he threw his head back, his beard following behind like kelp swaying in the currents. “I am what your people call a merman, yes. You seem surprised.”
“I just… I thought you were only legends.”
“Don’t be so quick to dismiss legends with words like “only”. Does the legend of Blackbeard’s exploits make him any less real?”
“You… you know the story of Blackbeard?”
The merman let out another chuckle as he lowered his eyelids and brought his gaze toward Neil, a content smile spreading across his face. “And what about you? What’s your name?”
“Neil. And, uh… you are?”
“Hurlee,” he answered, voice growing softer still as he brought his hands behind Neil’s shoulders. “And I’m mighty glad I found you when I did.”
“Right… about that… what did you do, exactly?”
“Oh, just a bit of merfolk magic to help you survive under the waves. You can breath water now, for one. Though if you decide to return to the surface, you’ll still be able to breath the air up there.”
“I don’t think there’s much of a life left for me up there,” Neil sighed. “My crew made me walk the plank. I’m as good as dead. If they somehow found me again, surely they’d have my head.”
“That’s assuming they’d recognize you.”
“Why wouldn’t they?
“Well, have you noticed that the waters don’t feel quite so cold as they did when you first fell in?”
After giving Hurlee a perplexed look, Neil looked down and saw that underwater breathing wasn’t the only gift the merman’s kiss had bestowed upon him. Gone was the svelt frame of his seafaring years, replaced by a respectable belly bigger than even the largest cannon balls he’d fired. It wasn’t as grand as Hurlee’s, but in comparison to the barren stomach he bore before, it was quite the change. The buttons on his shirt strained to contain it, the cloth between the buttons pulling apart to reveal the tanned skin underneath, made more pale by the sunlight’s blue hue. As he treaded water, he saw that his arms and legs had also fleshed out, wrapped in a modest layer of blubber that did indeed leave him feeling quite warm.
“You know, Hurlee, there’s been a lot on my mind since I fell in,” Neil teased. “I haven’t quite had the presence of mind to notice the waters feeling warmer.”
“Fair,” Hurlee chuckled. “You’ll have an easier time seeing too.”
Indeed, as Neil looked at Hurlee, he felt none of the sting that had previously pestered his eyes. He could also see deeper into the water, seeing the kelp below them as he looked down at his new plush frame. The details of Hurlee’s faces were clearer too. Neil could see the individual hairs that made up his beard, swaying in the currents of the ocean like his own. His head was adorned by a smattering of red hair, most of it having balded away.
“That I do. No tail, though, huh?”
“Nope. Not that you need it though,” Hurlee claimed playfully as he swam away, darting down from Neil into the depths.
Neil did his best to swim after Hurlee. He found moving underwater easier than expected given his new flab, which glided through the depths like the hull of his former ship. But his arms and legs could only move him so quickly. Though he felt that he was swimming faster than he could before, it wasn’t enough to keep up with a merman. “Hurlee!” he called out, afraid of being left alone in the featureless sea.
Hurlee quickly turned back toward Neil, surfacing with a concerned expression. “What’s wrong?”
“I still can’t swim as fast as you,” Neil panted once he finally got a chance to catch his breath, whatever that meant in his new underwater habitat.
“Hmm,” Hurlee muttered as he ran his hand through his buoyant beard contemplatively. He looked Neil’s body over with pensive eyes, before a mischievous smile spread across his face. “C’mere, you.”
Hurlee brought his arms around Neil’s shoulders again, his eyes closing on the approach as his mouth opened up. The absurdity of the whole situation still weighed on Neil, but unlike their first kiss, he had enough presence of mind to see Hurlee coming, and was eager to return the favor. He felt his heart racing, but for once, it wasn’t from the prospect of his impending demise.
Neil’s eyes slammed shut just as Hurlee’s lips touched his own. Wrapping his arms tightly around Neil, Hurlee pulled his own ample body against his pirate companion. Even in the cold water of the sea, Neil could feel the warmth of Hurlee’s blubbery body against his own. His belly was soft and yielding, like the waterlogged sand Neil’s feet sank into as he walked off the shore of a beach. In the water, his beard didn’t scratch at Neil’s lips, but rather brushed up against him softly like fine silk.
As the two kissed, Hurlee’s lips wrapped around Neil’s as firmly as his arms wrapped around his chest. Once he regained his bearings, Neil brought his own lips to bear on Hurlee, caring not as he got a mouthful of mustache before coming in again. The taste of the salt water was soon dispelled by the fresh taste of each other’s mouths, as their maws watered as the taste of the other. Soon their tongues shot forth like spears, but this was no hunt. Just a close moment of intimacy as the pulled each other in tightly, tugging each other into their flab like sailors using rope to pull a ship closer to a dock
When Hurlee pulled away from Neil, he left the pirate panting and turning slowly in the water, floating with his limbs limp. As he lay back, he saw the buttons of his shirt floating above him, slowly making their way up to the surface.
When Neil looked down, he could see why his buttons had loosed themselves from his shirt. His once modest belly now rivaled Hurlee’s in size, jutting out as wide as his shoulders and sticking out nearly as far as it was wide. In the buoyant waters, it looked weightless, bulging out in all directions like an overstuffed sack of beans that his former crew might have brought on board with them. His shirt stood no chance of wrapping around the bulbous midsection it now flanked.
Neil had to kick his legs up to see them beyond the horizon of his gut. When he did, he could see that they had grown too, looking like the mast of a ship and ready to hold him up if gravity ever called for them to do that again. His arms were plenty wide as well, wrapped in flab and looking round and robust like the sails when they were taken down and rolled up.
“You won’t have to worry about the cold at all now,” Hurlee chimed in, interrupting Neil’s contemplation.
“Well that’s nice, but how is this going to make it any easier to swim?”
“Just try it,” Hurlee said gleefully, before he took Neil’s hand in his own and swam off. To Neil’s surprise, Hurlee tugged him like a weightless piece of refuse. He held on tight as he was dragged along, feeling his bulging belly jiggle as it pushed through the water. His hair and shirt streamed behind him like the flag on top of the ship’s mast when it caught a strong wind.
With no other apparent options, Neil started kicking his legs, not expecting much to come of it. But as Neil flapped his feet back and forth, he found the tension on his arm lessening. Once he honed his technique, he was able to pull himself farther up, until he was swimming right next to Hurlee. Once their arms became more slack, Hurlee looked to the side with a contented smile. Neil wasn’t quite so relaxed, but he did smile back, for he couldn’t deny that the merman’s magic had worked.
“I think you’re going to get along just fine down here,” Hurlee cooed, his voice elevated to speak over the currents.
“As long as I have you to guide me,” Neil shouted as he kept kicking. At that, Hurlee pulled him close for a quick kiss, before he faced forward again to guide Neil into the blue.