Originally published in the Jeffrey Thomas collection:
The Bones of the Old Ones and Other Lovecraftian Tales
(released in 1995 by Necropolitan Press)
Reissued in the Jeffrey Thomas collection:
(released in 2006 by Mythos Books)
The men of the whaling schooner Scylla
Had witnessed a strange thing only the previous night
The great pale mass beneath Antarctic waters
Had taken two harpoons before sliding from sight
But the last thing observed of the silent leviathan
Was a nest of thrashing arms, serpentine and glowing white.
And now the Scylla's men met another weird vision
Though once this vessel must have resembled their own
A schooner slowly emerged from behind a looming iceberg
Its ice-caked masts and lines like a framework of bare bone
Snow lay heavy on her deck and the sails were stirring rags
She drifted like an apparition, and her hull gave a creaking groan.
The men were afraid to explore her but the captain led the way
They rowed out to the spectral craft through a broken icy flow
She towered above the little boat like a palace made of crystal
A howling wind blew across her deck in swirling ghosts of snow
One by one they boarded her, and shivered at more than the cold
And the captain himself hesitated, before leading the rest below.
The ship's inside was a mausoleum that spoke of decades gone
But they found the corpses of the crew preserved by the frigid air
Like a cargo in themselves waiting long to reach their port
And in his cabin at his desk her captain sat with frozen stare
His log lay open and its words perplerxed the Scylla's men:
"She is no mermaid but a siren and pure evil, however fair."
One of the men yelled and the others rushed to the next room
There was a bed and on it a woman's naked body had been bound
The captain began to remark upon the life-like color of her flesh
When she lifted her head from the pillow and at them smiled around
"Free me from these chains," she whispered straight into their minds
"And I will grant you pleasures, as few live men have ever found."
But the men had seen those corpses and hurried up the stairs
Fled back to the Scylla without even learning the vessel's name
They returned later only long enough to pour precious kerosene
There are some stories even seamen won't give a legend's fame
None would ever tell how the siren pleaded in their skulls
As they sailed away, and watched the ice ship melt in flame.