Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Mythology, Paranormal, Historical
Release Date: January 13, 2016
So rang the song of the Oceanides
Of the beautiful merciful sea nymphs,
Till louder waves overpowered it.
Behind the clouds vanished the moon,
The night yawned,
And I sat long thereafter in the darkness and wept.
A highly-experimental slipstream symmetrically-triple narrative which employs elements of historical fiction, fantasy/magical realism, space opera, surrealism, steampunk, Greek myth, paranormal romance, and even children's literature.
Blue Hill, Maine.
3 August, 1903.
From the moment Emmylou heard the song of the Oceanides, she recognized something godly in the tune. As it resounded all across the desolate shoreline of Blue Hill Bay, she recalled the terrible chorus mysticus ringing all throughout that extinct Martian volcano the day her father went missing down in the magma chamber.
Aunt Belphœbe followed along, guiding Maygene through the sands. “Why don’t you go play in that shipwreck over there?” Aunt Belphœbe pointed toward a fishing schooner run aground some fifty yards to the south.
When Maygene raced off, Emmylou refused to follow. By now the chorus of song tormented her so much that an ache had awoken all throughout her clubfoot. Before long she dropped her walking stick and fell to the earth. Closing her eyes, she dug both her hands into the sands and lost herself in memories of the volcano. How could Father be gone? Though he had often alluded to the perils of Martian vulcanology, she never imagined that someone so good and so wise could go missing.
The song of the Oceanides grew a little bit louder and increasingly dissonant.
Opening her eyes, Emmylou listened very closely. The song sounded like the stuff of incantation, witchcraft. And even though she could not comprehend every word, nevertheless she felt certain that the Oceanides meant to cast a spell upon some unfortunate soul.
Aunt Belphœbe must have noticed how much the song distressed Emmylou. Sitting down upon a Bonaventure mast half-buried in the sands, Aunt Belphœbe adjusted the persimmon sash wrapped around her gown. “You’ve no cause to fear the Oceanides. They should never harm a Martian girl like you. Do you know why the Venutians sent them here? Thousands of years ago, up there on that invisible moon orbiting their planet, some or other duchess decided to send the Oceanides as intelligencers. Just in case Venus ever resolves to conquer this world.”
Aunt Belphœbe’s words did nothing to console Emmylou. She listened to the song, and as the breeze slowly filled with the ammonia-like odor of seagull droppings, she wondered just who might be the intended target of the Oceanides’ spell. From what she could tell, it sounded as if they had fixed upon a little boy living somewhere along the coast. He must have committed some unforgivable sin. How else to explain the Oceanides’ contempt?
Turning toward the wreckage of the fishing vessel, Aunt Belphœbe watched Maygene for a moment or two. “Emmylou, why don’t you take your little sister into town? You could find something to read to her on the journey home.”
Emmylou ignored all. Once more she listened to the song of the Oceanides, and it grieved her as much as ever. She pitied the little boy, whoever he was. More than anything, she thought of her father. Without a doubt, the Oceanides would have despised him when he was young. From what she had heard, no one ever much fancied him. Days of 1863, time after time, he would wander off across the endless fields until he reached the great dominions—the shadow of that bold immemorial volcano, Olympos Mons. Aunt Belphœbe herself always found it so peculiar. While other children learned to fly their simple moon ships through the Martian sky and all the way up to Phobos, what did Father prize? For some reason, he prized only his dreams: of descending all the way into the center of Mars, of proving the planet as hollow as the cold nothingness and solemnity of outer space.
Aunt Belphœbe stood up from the Bonaventure mast. “I mean it, Emmylou. Go collect your little sister and take her into town. The journey home should take several days, and you’ll be sorry if you’ve nothing to read.”
J.G. Źymbalist began writing Song of the Oceanides as a child when his family summered in Castine, Maine where they rented out Robert Lowell’s house. There, inspired by his own experiences with school bullying, the budding author began to conceive the tale.
The author returned to the piece while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, May-September, 2005. He completed the full draft in Ellsworth, Maine later that year.