MERHORSE LOVE Tom Mazanec His distant ancestors lived during the Eocene, a species of Miacis. While a related Miacis species was evolving into the carnivora order, this one took up a life in the water, first like the distant future mink, then like the otter, then to a wholly marine lifestyle as would one day the sea otter. As millions of years passed, the creatures grew and took up the ecological niche of the extinct plesiosaur. By Cecil's time they were the largest predator the planet Earth had ever seen. Sometimes the long neck and head of one of Cecil's kind was seen high above the water, but this was rare, for Cecil's kind were cautious about strange things. When they were seen, they were thought to be gigantic snakes, and so were called sea serpents. But they are mammals. Cecil was in the northeast Pacific when he heard the Call. The northeast Pacific is the area of the Call, of course...their territory is almost two-thirds of the Earth's surface, and there are only a few thousand males and a few thousand females in that territory. The infrasonic Call can be heard hundreds of kilometers away, and Cecil began the swimming toward this Call, for it was comparatively close. Cecil was young for his species, but was already 20 meters long, and quite eager to reach the female. Soon, as the Call grew loud, he began to search the horizon for his goal. And in a few gazes, there she was, her head and neck raised above the water like a periscope. Cecil swam over to her, and smelled her. She was Cecilia. Most of Cecil's species grew up alone, but when Cecil was a pup he grew up with Cecilia, for his mother and her mother found each other shortly after giving birth, and had associated as their pups grew. Cecil's mind went back to those years, as he remembered playing (for all young mammals love to play, and even a sea monster is young once) with her. He was gladder than he had ever been...for the moment. For the Other had arrived almost as soon as Cecil had. The Other was old, and nearly 25 meters long...the largest merhorse Cecil had ever seen. Cecil lifted his head and neck to the Other, coming between him and Cecilia. The Other halted at this imposition, then attempted to go around Cecil. But Cecil confronted the Other again. The Other rose up and roared at Cecil again and again, but Cecil held his ground. Finally, the Other reached over and bit a chunk of Cecil's long red mane hair, and anked it out. Cecil roared in pain for a moment, and then returned the favor. Again and again the two leviathans tore at each others manes. Cecilia hoped that Cecil would win, but she would go with the winner, whichever that was, for that was the Way. Size counts in a mating battle, and the Other was bigger. But the Other was old, a centenarian in fact, and was slowing. Cecil was young and fast. More important, perhaps, was that the Other wanted a female. Cecil wanted Cecilia. Finally, the Other turned and swam away. Cecil turned to join Cecilia.