NDA American Lit student, Nicolette Cottingham, won first place in prose for the sophomore level of the Haunt Your Library Halloween Writing Contest sponsored by the Kenton County Public Library. Her short story was called “The Siren of Siglufjörður” and can be found below:
The Siren of Siglufjörður
By Nicolette Cottingham
The salty air was chilling as an ancient fisherman creaked out of his shack. The wind
racked his entire body making his whispery hair fly about him and his fragile body to quiver. The
townspeople of Siglufjörður regarded the fisherman with suspicion, and they referred to him as
Old Olav. Olav became the main amusement of the town’s children. They flocked to his hut to
peep in his windows, throw rocks at his door, or try to speak a word to this hermit.
Iceland’s Octobers were always harsh, but the fog that was settling in this morning was
thick and haunting. This menacing cloud enveloped Olav and drew him closer to the shore below
his house. He felt the slick rocks under his feet as he scrambled for his footing. His vision blurred
Then, he heard the melody of a harp. Haunting, hollow, hypnotic. Olav craved that sound
the more he listened. He began to walk slowly towards the beach. His eyes glazed over as the
music entranced his entire being. His pace quickened as he desperately tried to get nearer to the
Soon, he was standing at the ocean’s edge. A wave of nausea and shock overtook Olav
as the cold water engulfed his first step in. Olav waded farther in completely unaware of the
peril that surrounded him. The waves crashed into him, as if warning him to return home, but he
persisted towards the music.
As the ocean widened, the fog began to thin. His eyes landed on a towering rock before
him. Olav’s hand grazed the rock. This one touch made his heart beat match the melody, his head
to hum the tune, and his hands to force himself up the rock towards the sound. The skeg-like
rock was slimy and coarse and ripped his hands. The music consumed his mind and the rock his
Olav reached the top of the rock and found the source of the music. A woman, no not
quite human, was playing a harp. Her slender, translucent fingers strummed the strings silkily.
She had black spider-like hair, pitted, dark eyes, and a smiling mouth that was filled with tiny,
This alien creature was beautiful but intimidating. She didn’t speak a word, but,
somehow, Olav could hear her speaking in his mind. Her words weren’t English, and yet he still
understood her message: come closer.
The steps he took in that moment were the most life defining of all, or, perhaps, those
steps were death defining. Olav was now just inches from this phantom and her harp. He heard
the echo in his mind: reach out.
Olav touched the harp and immediately the music stopped. He became lucid, and he
regretted all his steps. The monster now looked harsh and ugly. He saw it for what it truly was. It
laughed but its laugh wasn’t musical like its song. That was the last sound that ever touched
Olav’s ears. The harp disappeared and Olav with it.
The salty air became warm as the seasons progressed. No one saw the fisherman anymore,
but then again, no one checked. His roof caved in, his boat rotted, and his dock decayed.
Eventually, the townspeople craved Olav’s fish, so they selected one man to visit the
old shack. The man creaked through the house, but he found no fish. All he heard was the
enchanting melody of a harp.