• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 08

The FeeJee Mermaid

It’s disgusting.

A shriveled, bony ape’s torso soldered somehow onto a desiccated fish tail, coated in scratchy hair. An ungodly thing, created by Japanese fisherman and bought by a credulous fool of a sea captain. And now, it’s going to make me rich.

All it needs now is a name. Something that will make them pity this beast through all of their disgust, find it poignant, find it tragic, even. I don’t believe in cheating the public, you see. I give them what they really want, not what they think they do. And while they might dream of women from the sea with skin shimmering like pearls, hair dark as seaweed, and fish tails the color of ancient bronze, the fantasy is unrewarding. It makes it no easier to return to a world of human women who nag and grow fat and break wind. I want them repulsed but fascinated by this brush with the Other. Repulsed so they turn to their wives in relief, struggling against an overwhelming and primal fear, but fascinated enough so they return again and again to my Museum, staring through the glass into the horror in the creature’s eyes, searching for themselves.