To my loving family.
I would like to thank the following people and organizations for answering all my calls and emails, and for helping me in writing this novel. First, I would like to thank the Central Marine Research Facility for helping me in my research on the animal species of the ocean. I would like to thank George Fleece of Ocean Survival Research and Rescue Facility for helping me with my research in survival out in the open water. And finally, I would like to thank Tony Plinz for helping me in my research on illegal drug transplants and deals. I would also like to thank my family for always being there for me, and brining me endless joy.
Lightning flashed brightly over the open sea like a flashlight in the dark. The rain thundered down as hard as hail and hit the salty ocean water with loud plunks. It was the perfect storm, the largest storm the area had experienced for over nineteen years.
Thunder rumbled through the dark clouds as more lightning flashed. The ship was headed for the harbor and was only twenty-three miles away. The storm was in its worst rage, and was only to get worse. The boat slowly swayed through the rough waves, rising higher and higher, and then sinking back down. Many of the passengers shut their eyes tight as they stood at the head of the boat, the bow tipping down into the water, the suspending back up.
The captain, Fred L. Lanch, waited impatiently for the lighthouse to come into view, but kept his hands firmly on the steering wheel. He narrowed his eyes, trying to see through the blurry water that had splashed onto the glass windshield, but saw nothing. He steered the ship from left a little, but then to the right. More water washed up onto the windshield. He glanced up at the roof to see a small drop of water leaking through, and looked back to the ocean. He picked up his white yacht cap and flopped it onto his head, preparing to feel the water drop onto his head.
He flipped the switch to his right, and turned on a large spotlight on the top of the boat, allowing him to see slightly better. As he looked up, a look a terror swept across his face. The men standing behind him heard a loud scraping sound on the bottom of the boat, and the ship began to tip over to the side. . .
Alton Briche stood against the control panel of the US Navy Combat Ship 26, glaring wearily down at the main deck, and watched the process. His eyes were bloodshot red from the lack of sleep the previous night, and he fought to keep them open. The Command and Control room was empty all except for the younger man un-doubtfully ranked much lower than him, who sat in a black leather chair just two spaces down from him, and watched the process with interest, and tried the controls.
The ship was basically the largest Littoral Combat Ships that the Navy had. It wasn't moving anywhere, and its deck was empty, too empty for Briche's liking. He preferred a full deck, with plenty of trainees and commanding officers. But, today, the deck was just next to empty. Only three commanding officers standing in place, and two rows of trainees preforming their training.
Briche was captain of the whole deal, which made him proud. A rank down from him was Gregg Starch, a younger, odder man than him, and was so blonde his hair almost looked white. Two ranks below him was a middle-aged man named Bill Thortman, who was Chief Officer, and also the main ship engineer, who had taken a liking to Briche, and the same way reversed. They were both good friends, and had been for many years. However, Thortman was the only man on board that Briche really liked. All the others were too young and inexperienced for him.
The odd silence in the room was disturbing to Briche, and he had to find some way of breaking it. He turned to the man seated near-by.
"Young man, what's your name?" he asked sternly.
The man turned to him slowly, keeping a slight eye on the trainees below. He finally met Briche's gaze, and smiled nervously.
"Uh, Roger Clod, sir," he replied.
"I see. Anything going on?"
"Nothing at all sir." Clod smiled, with Briche returning it.
"Then, are you supposed to be up here?"
Briche thought for a moment. You had to be careful with these younger men.
"Who sent you here?"
"My commanding officer."
"Why, might I ask?"
"He said I needed to learn about controls, sir."
Briche turned and peered out the window again, and stared. He looked down at the three commanding officers, and watched them as they yelled out their daily training commands. The trainees obeyed in an instant, which impressed him, just a bit. He glanced back at the man from time to time, keeping his distance all the while.
"Tell me," he said at last. "What's your commanding officer's name?"
The man stammered for a moment. "I think it's Drake. . . Hooper." Briche raised an eyebrow.
"Drake Hooper, aye?"
He turned and faced the window again. "Everything all right, sir?"
"Yes, I suppose. I'm just a little bored is all."
"Yes, young man, bored."
"Well, mainly because I was expecting a little more action out there on deck."
The man stood up and watched for a moment. "Well, I have to agree, sir."
Briche only sighed lightly as the man took his seat again. He could tell already the morning was going to be wasted away with the trainees by simply having them walk here and there, do some funky salute, or maybe even just march around the deck. Either way, he didn't like it.
The door opened behind him, and he quickly spun around to face the Head of Controls, Dave Trikeson, who smiled endlessly as he entered.
"Morning sir, hope I'm not disturbing nothing," he said cheerfully.
"Oh, no, nothing was really happening. Just watching a few trainees do their daily goofball dances."
The smile vanished from Dave's broad and thin face. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure I like the exercises that they're doing out there, Dave."
"Well, that won't do."
Briche sighed. "No, it won't." He lifted his cap and ran his fingers through his neatly combed, greying brown hair, and smoothed it out.
Dave looked him over. He was wearing his usual black uniform with shiny, golden buttons down the front, and of course his well-fit white peaked cap, and grey trousers. He had been in the navy nearly forty years now, and was quite old-school.
"How are you, Dave?" he tried his best to smile.
"I'm fine, and yourself, sir?"
"I'm doing just as well as I can."
"Good. Excellent." Dave turned to leave, but Briche stopped him.
"Dave, before you go, can you get this young man seated behind me a proper commanding officer?"
"Oh, and what have we got today?"
Dave pulled out a small notebook from his back pocket.
"We have about five injured trainees, and seven sick ones."
"Good lord, that's a lot of trainees. That must be why there's so few out there this morning."
"Yes sir. We also have some new graduates from the US Navy Academy."
"We can only hold thirteen more. Send the rest of too Number twenty-eight."
"Right away, sir."
They both paused. "Is that it?"
"Yes. . . except for that distress call we received. . ."
"Yes sir. We received it last night."
"Why wasn't I alerted of this?"
"I don't know, sir."
Briche sighed again. "You responded, right?"
"Uh. . . actually. . . no, sir, we. . . didn't. . ."
"Because, the storm last night was just too strong, and the signal couldn't quite make it. . ."
"Then why did their call make it?"
Dave said nothing.
"Get down to Headquarters and make sure that call is answered to."
Dave gulped, and nodded frantically. "We may be too late."
* * *
Jasper shivered. The sound was so nerve-racking, it seemed like it was some electrical shock from an unknown and unseen source. It echoed off the walls, and finally echoed right into the room where he sat, shivering and trembling. Sweat trickled from his black hair, and streamed down his face from the one ray of sunlight that burst into the room. His began looking back at the events of the previous night, reminding him of the terrible incident. Images of flashing lightening and thundering clouds rolled through his thoughts, sinking in deep.
The noise sounded off again, repeating the process of echoing through the walls, then finally reaching him. It was the sound of metal creaking while in motion . . . the ship was moving. Jasper looked over at the small port window that centered itself on the wall to the right, and stared. He scooted closer, narrowing his eyes just to see out. The ship hadn't gone underwater . . . yet. He leaned forward and watched out at the sunny sky, and then the noise sounded again, much closer this time. He looked down and saw his arms, putting pressure on the slanted metal floor. He jerked back, and leaned back against the wall behind him. It was cold, really cold. He shivered again as Goosebumps rose all around his body, and made him ever colder.
The sound repeated itself over and over again, echoing through the walls, and then reaching him. He shut his eyes and tried to steer his focus from the sinking ship that held him in its empty, deserted clutches. His mind began displaying images, flashing in and out. He tried not to listen as the sound rumbled in again, but it was nearly impossible.
His mouth was dry and numb from both the cold air and the lack of water. He hadn't eaten or drunken anything for a full day and a half now, which added to his body's weakness and dryness. He felt dehydrated and half starved-to-death, and his stomach was complaining at a bare minimum for food.
He had sat there, in the dark for nearly eighteen hours now, cold, wet, and hungry. The awful sound of the creaking and rumbling metal was his only companion. It was just the previous night that the ship had hit the rocks, and was hooked on them. The incident killed everyone on board, most of the innocent souls that were involved thrown out the windows. All accept him. His business had been failing, and he needed the money. He was a fisherman, and always kept up a good working show and provided the local market with thousands of fish. But recently, the fishing had been a bit off. Recently, the fishing had been horrible in the area where he lived. Hightide, Florida. It was right along the coast of Florida, and had great business from traveling and local fishermen. He was one of the locals. He had lived in that small town all his life, went to school there, and got married there. He had a wife, Lora, who was now waiting for his return.
She had let him go along on the ship hoping he would bring back a good supply of fish to sell on the market, but not now. He had failed to complete a simple task. He had only gotten three days of fishing in, and had only caught five big ones, and thousands of small, worthless bass. The thought of Lora only made tears fill his eyes, and stream down his face. The saddest part of it all was the fact that Lora didn't matter right now. Right now, all that mattered was getting off this sinking vessel, and find some way to get back to shore. He sniffed, and rubbed the tears away. He imagined her smile, her straight, blonde hair, and the warm feeling she always gave to anyone who really knew her. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself, and tried to pull himself together. He knew he'd find a way off the ship. He knew he'd find some way to survive. Everything had gone so perfect, but now, he sat listening to the awful sound of the massive cargo ship, leaning against those rocks . . . slowly slipping further and further down into the water.
His eyes flew open at the sound of his stomach rumbling loudly, its loud roar echoing the opposite direction. Pain shot through his lower stomach, and he winced as it traveled lower. He rolled over onto his side, and peered again out the tiny window, that, despite its size, let in a good portion of warming sunlight. But it wasn't enough to keep him warm. He reached up, and rubbed his forehead. But something came off and onto his hand. He jerked it down into vision. Blood. He was bleeding for some reason. He had hit his head when he fell . . . when the ship had started to turn.
He didn't know for sure if everyone on board was dead, but the silence behind the room told him it was very un-likely that another person had survived. He had just gotten lucky. He had been in his safe, locked tight guest room, safe and sound when the incident occurred. But that wasn't to say that he hadn't fallen to the floor due to the motion of the falling ship. He had felt the motion right away, and he knew something was up. He was walking toward the door when the entire ship started rolling over to its side.
With every breath he took, the metal creaked more and more, and its sound thundered through the dark and empty halls, doorways, rooms, and beyond. He began imagining the ship at that moment, slowly slipping into the dark depths of the sea, and taking him with it. He had to get out of there, time was running out. It would only be another day or so before the ship was on its way to the bottom of the sea, and he didn't find that thought so appealing.
Then, a strange scent hit him like a punch to the gut. It smelled like a rotting corpse. The scent of death. He began to imagine another person on board, hungry and cold like him, but then dying on the floor. He sat up, and peered forward into the dark abyss, and began crab-crawling across the floor. As he changed positions and began crawling on his stomach, the cent grew stronger. He crawled faster now, clawing and straining to get to the source faster, urging to know what was causing the terrible smell. He had to know, he just had to. But then he stopped. He listened. The loud creaking was now joined with a loud, deafening rumbling. He covered his ears, hoping and praying the terrible noise would stop . . . then, after a moment or two, it did. He un-clamped his hands from his ears, and began looking around the room. Then, his eyes caught sight of the window again. The ship had begun to descend into the water. Now, time was really running out. The scent of decay caught his nostrils again, and then he continued to crawl towards it, but slower this time. He took caution to not disturb anything, not to assist in the ship sinking . . . but then the scent vanished.
He sighed with agony, and lay there for a moment. He waited for a possible comeback of the cent, or even just a quick whiff to get him back on track again. But nothing came back. No cent. No smell. No food. He quickly turned around, and crawled slowly back to his original position and stayed there. He began to wonder where the cent had come from. What its source was. But, the more he thought of the brief moment when it had smelt it, he longed for it to return. The noise thundered through the ship again, much louder this time. He tensed his muscles, and held his breath, and tried his best not to move, or twitch, or tremble.
The only thing he could think about was escaping, leaving the ship to sink. Floating away in a small life raft, floating off to safety. But he needed more time. Or maybe he just needed more rest. Since the incident, he hadn't slept hardly a wink, but stared here and there for hours, re-living the accident, re-living the feeling he had when the ship hit the rocks, and started to tip over. He needed rest, and lots of it.
He looked over at the window again. The water level was now just above the bottom seal of the window, and was very slowly rising. He needed rest, but didn't have time. But, he had to take a chance. He shut his eyes softly, and tried to sleep. His mind began to wonder, but it never wondered far from that vision . . . the vision of the cargo ship, sailing through a rough storm, and sinking. But the vision worked well enough. He was asleep in no time.
* * *
The faint dripping of a small water droplet hitting the floor woke Jasper to a start. He sat up with a jolt, and stared for a moment into the room. His breathing was heavy for some reason, but his mind was too foggy to remember why. All he knew was that he was having a dream about something, but he simply couldn't recall what it was about.
He toned down his breathing and let his nerves calm, then leaned back against the wall. He rested his head sternly against the hard metal, and sighed. His stomach now not only rumbled, but hurt also. The pains were consistent and never-ending now, and they seemed to add extra throb into his pains that pressed his skull. He must have hit his head harder than he thought. He reached up and rubbed his eyes, and massaged them for a good long moment. But it felt good. Really good.
His hands then flopped from his face and down into his lap. He looked down, and stared at them. He wasn't sure what had made them so dirty, but they certainly were. Then, he heard something. He looked up, and searched the room. He didn't see anything, except for the quiet drip of the water. There was no other sound. A look of realization swept over his face. What happened to the creaking sound? He turned and looked out the window. The ship hadn't sunk any further down, and was still. He sighed briefly with relief, and placed his head back against the hard, metal wall. His thoughts were still scrambled, some on the past, and some on the present situation. His mind had cleared more, and he remembered the constant visions of the ship, sailing effortlessly through the storm. That's all he could remember.
He heard it again, a small noise, growing closer, but not louder. He held his breath, and listened. Silence. He listened for as long as his breath would allow, then he let it out, gasping for air. He caught his breath back, and then breathed a few easy, small breaths.
Through his stomach pains and head throbs and sore muscles, his body felt refreshed and energetic. He wasn't sure how long he had been asleep, but he knew it must have been long enough. He stretched out his arms, and smiled lightly as the amazing feeling of stretched out muscles evaded his pain. After a good, long stretch, he let his arms flop down onto his side, and relaxed. Then, he heard it again. That same odd noise, now somewhere in the room with him. He leaned forward, and looked around. He looked for anything unusual, from a small glowing light, to a buzzing fly. He didn't see a thing. There was no fly. No light, or any of the items in between. Nothing.
He shrugged, and leaned back again. He sat erect now, at full attention, listening for the noise. Then he heard it again, and looked towards the source. He saw a tiny, black fly. That's all it was. He wiped the few drops of sweat from his forehead, then began planning his escape.
Jasper tried his best to scoot into a much better position, but it was tough. The hard floor was beginning to send pain shooting up his tailbone, and it was very uncomfortable. He scooted over a few inches, and then positioned on his side, and lay there. Now, he was comfortable. Now he could think.
He shut his eyes, and tried to remember the map of the ship he had spent so much time staring at near the beginning of the voyage. He thought hard, trying to vision the map . . . and where it was located. He sighed with frustration as, in his mind, he searched high and low for the one memory or image of that blasted map. It was somewhere on the next floor down . . . attached to the wall next to the stairs. He opened his eyes and slightly smiled. He knew where the map was, he just had to get to it, and follow it out to the main deck. Maybe from there, he could escape.
His thoughts were quickly interrupted by the same dreadful sound of metal creaking. The sound echoed though the walls, and elapsed into the room though the door was bolted shut. He sat up, and looked out the small window to his right. Time was now ticking, and every second he wasted hoping and praying he would stay alive counted. He leaned back and thought through his plan one last time. He would carefully walk down get down to the next floor below him, and read the map. He would memorize it, and follow it through twist and turns until he finally reached the deck. He didn't know how long it would take, but he knew that it couldn't take long. He needed to escape fast before the ship fully sank into the water. But he needed to wait until the ship wasn't moving.
If it was moving when he began his escape, his weight would add to the pressure, and cause the ship to sink even faster. So, he pulled his knees up to his chest, tried to make himself as light-weight as possible, and then waited.
* * *
The sound continued to echo off the walls endlessly as Jasper listened. He wondered when it would stop, or even slow, but he had no answer. He was hoping it would end within the next two minutes, but he knew that was asking for a lot. It was asking for a bit too much. He sat as still and stout as he possibly could, his muscles slowly beginning to cramp, with pain shooting in all directions.
He winced as the loud creaking sound echoed long and hard into the room and right into his ears. The sound slowly died off, but too slow. It was just so loud and shriek-like, he just couldn't bare it. Every time he heard it, a chill would run up his spine. It sounded again, shorter this time, but still nerve-racking. He squeezed his knees tightly to his chest as goose bumps slowly rose on his wet legs. In small places around the room, on the hard floor sat puddles of fresh sea water, that had splashed in through his open window during the storm. It littered the floor here and there, and he had been in it. His clothes had soaked it up, and, when he became conscious, he was soaked, and he was just now really beginning to feel it.
He shivered again, partly out of fear, and partly out of the dampness on him and all around him. He glanced from the window to the celling to the door, and everywhere he glanced, he saw a darkening glow. The sun was setting. Another day was gone. He looked over at the window and saw the now thin ray of sunlight that just barley reached through it. He turned away from it, and rolled back onto his side, and began waiting. He wished the sunlight would stay just a little longer, mainly because he feared the dropping temperature would assist in the ship's sinking. The light stayed for another twenty minutes before finally really starting to disappear. Jasper, though, was grateful for the twenty minutes that it stayed, and took advantage of it. He positioned himself to where he could see clearly out the window, and watch the sun setting lower and lower, behind the sea that stretched out far beyond the ship.
He sighed as it finally disappeared, and the stars started to show in the night sky. He stared up at them for a moment, and then sank back down into his original position. He leaned back, and continued to watch as the last of the sunlight faded away. After it did, he looked back to the wall that was just across from him. It was the darkest he had ever seen it, mainly because he had been long asleep the before it had gotten dark the previous night. He stared into the darkening abyss, his mind filled with visions of him escaping this terrible place, and being rescued by some unknown ship.
He shut his eyes, and relaxed his muscles. They were quite sore along with his wounds and headache. The tension he felt building up in his stomach made it hard to keep his eyes shut, but he fought it. He tried his best to keep them shut. But they kept reeling back open, only to see more darkness. The room was now pitch black, and he could no longer see any more detail of anything. The only thing left to do was to try and get some sleep. He shut his eyes again, and kept them closed. He began thinking of things to try and fall asleep. He thought of arriving back home to the grey yet inviting dock that soon lead into the small town of Hightide. His mind tried to en-vision him hugging Lora tightly in his arms, and her smile gleaming back at him.
Within moments of these thoughts beginning, he was asleep.
He dreamt of being safe again, and happy. He dreamed about seeing his family again, and his wife, and his old pals. He dreamed about escaping the terrible darkness of the prison he sat shivering in. He dreamed of fishing, and catching enough to make feed him and Lora for months. He dreamed about everything positive and warming to him. His incisive dreaming lasted most of the night, keeping him in a deep snooze. He never squirmed or changed positions; he just sat exactly as he was when he was awake, hoping and dreaming in the quiet, lonely darkness.
But then, his eyes flew open. He leaned forward and peered sheepishly into the darkness beyond him, and listened. All he heard was the soft dripping of the water drops from the ceiling, and the occasional moan of the ship's rusty and bent sides. But that was all he heard. Nothing more. Nothing less. He sighed with slight relief, and leaned back against the wall. He shut his eyes again, hoping to get back to sleep. But he just couldn't. He tried the same technique that had worked before, but it wasn't working this time. Every few seconds, his eyes opened back up, and stared blankly here and there.
Now, he moved around. He squirmed over onto his opposite side, and shut his eyes again. He began en-visioning it all again, filling his thoughts and mind with all that he could to get him dreaming again. But it wasn't working. He just couldn't get back to sleep. He opened his eyes, and sat up straight, and watched the window, waiting as patiently as possible for the sunrise to start. But then, an eerie, damp feeling washed over him. He began to lightly tremble, as if cold or cooling down. He twitched a few times, then scooted uncomfortably around until he found a position he liked. But there was another problem. His stomach pains. His stomach rumbled loudly now, it's sound echoing off the walls like all the other sounds he'd heard that day.
The water dropped in a slow yet stand able pace, and kept up a good rhythm, and was almost calming. But it was also irritating. Jasper watched it drip, or at least he watched the area where it sounded like it was coming from, and slumped his shoulders. He shut his eyes one last time, and listened close to the drip. He listened close to it, followed its pattern. But then, at that moment, the first rays of sunlight slowly peered inside.
* * *
The sunlight pierced through the window, and streamed into Jasper's eyes. It blinded him for only a few seconds after he had jerked away, but it was still too much at once for him to stand. He lay on his side with his back to the window, waiting for the blinding rays of its light to pass on up higher into the sky. The loud creaking sounds had started up again recently, and had been echoing loudly through the walls and all through the dark ship. The water level was still just a smidgen above the bottom frame of the window seal but was slowly rising every few minutes.
His stomach was hurting even worse now and pain shot through every muscle in his body . . . or so it felt. His bones felt like they'd been crunched, his nerves were the most sore they had ever been in years, and his head throbbed rapidly through his skull. His whole body felt broken and run down, and also very tired, and sore. He rolled back onto his side, and faced the window. The bright sunlight had rose above his vision line, and filled the cold room with warming light that made a fresh glowing effect on every inch of metal wall that surrounded him. His mouth was beyond dry now and he tried to wet it with his saliva, but it didn't work the best.
He sat up, and stretched out his arms, reaching higher and higher as the great feeling of stretching the muscles kicked in. He let his arms fall back down to his sides, and then glared for a moment at the wall in front of him. His mind scanned through his plan one last time, re-assuring everything and looking through the cautions. As he sat there, he tried his best to remember everything he'd seen in the ship, all the twists and turns and long hallways that were sided with doors leading to various rooms and compartments. It all sounded so complicated, but he had to do it, or he would end up buried thousands of miles under the surface. Without hesitating any further or stalling any longer, he heaved himself onto his feet.
* * *
Jasper made his way slowly down the hallway. His knees shook with every step, and his arms weakly gripped the walls on his sides. He was amazed at how much weaker he was than his thoughts had lead him to believe, and he occasionally stumbled when he took a step. But it wasn't his weakness or pains that worried him.
It was the loud creaking noise that thundered all around the ship, indicating that it was sinking, and fast. He moved as quickly and as swiftly as his shaky legs would allow, keeping his eyes ahead of him. He didn't smell anything odd or unusual, nor did he see anything odd. But he knew, guessing from the way the ship had hit those rocks, there had to be a dead or dying body somewhere. It was only the previous day that he had smelled something rotten nearby, and that was clear back in his room. He had made it down two halls and was heading for the staircase that lead to the floor below, but his aching body seemed to be taking it's time.
The horrible noise continued endlessly now, making him want to cover his ears with his hands, and maybe even fall to the floor to keep the sound out, but he couldn't. No matter how loud it got, he assured himself he wasn't going to let go of the slick wall. He stumbled forward again, nearly falling face-first into the stained carpet below his feet, but he managed to catch himself. He waddled around into the next hallway, and stumbled down it quickly. At last, at the end of it, he saw the stairway. It was just about fourteen steps away. He took another step. . . and heard a loud creeeaak. . .
His foot quickly jerked back, and he paused for a long moment. After looking over the floor again, he took a long step over the area, and tried once again to walk across. And, just like before, the loud creaking noise sounded off. He didn't jerk back this time. He couldn't wait much longer. He took another step, and then another, and kept on going. He turned and hurried down the steps, letting out a brief, relieved sigh. His feet landed down gently on every step, each time making the noise repeat itself. The stairway took a dull turn, and he followed it at a quick pace, trudging down the stairs like his body was in perfect health. He couldn't fully run, partly because he was going down stairs, and partly because his leg wounds would only allow him to limp at a good and needed speed.
At last, he reached the bottom of the stairs, and stepped onto the second floor. There were no windows anywhere near-by, so the area was very dark, but he could still make out everything along the walls, which is what he needed. He scanned them for the map, a vision of it from a distance re-playing in his mind. It was looked like a blue-print of the ship, but it wasn't that at all. It was just a map in case of emergency, or for one's interest. He didn't see it anywhere that he looked, yet. He began slowly walking along the wall, hoping it was the right one. He followed the metal siding as he walked along it, watching close for the map. He turned and looked up ahead, but, even in the dark setting, he didn't see it up ahead. His hopes began to drop.
He limped further and further down, not seeing even a sign of the map. The slither of a smile that lingered on his face vanished as he neared the end of the wall. Was he on the right floor? Was he looking on the right wall? One of those two questions had a negative answer, and he was determined to find out which one it was. He turned and continued on, following the parallel wall, still searching longingly for sight of the map. Without it, he was as good as lost, or maybe even dead. Either one wasn't good. With his hopes dropping more and more, he pushed on, trying his best not to give up. But then, he caught sight of it.
It was on the opposite wall across the room. The smile returned to his face as he made a B-line for it, limping across the creaking floor. He stopped for a moment and listened. The ship had stopped sinking for the time being, which came to his advantage. He didn't waste any more of his precious time. He scurried across the floor, feeling as if he wasn't going nearly as fast as he could. But he made it, and the map came closer and closer, and into better view with every pounding step his foot took toward it. And at last, all his hopes skyrocketed higher than a water fountain. He placed his hands against the wall, just inches away from the border of the thin, blue paper. He stared at it for a moment, and memorized it. He figured out what floor he was on, and then went from there.
He was only two floors down from the main deck, where he'd try and signal help, or somehow escape into the water below. As his eyes scanned back and forth over the glorious piece of paper, the terrible noises started up again. The ship was moving, and moving faster than it had ever done since the night it hit. He quickly finished memorizing the map, and then got moving.
It was very simple to follow; he had to simply go up two floors, and he would arrive on the main deck, and, as he had imagined so many times before in the last couple days, he would signal for help. . . somehow. He hurried back up the staircase, limping faster than he ever imagined he could, gripping the railing and following it with his hand as he went up towards the next floor. But then, the ship turned just a little, and threw him against the wall on the opposite side of the railing. He heard a faint crunch, and then paint shot all through his shoulder muscles. He gritted his teeth tightly for a moment, then forced himself to move on. He limped up the steps a little slower now, but still, he kept up a good pace.
He reached the floor where he'd come from, then hurried across a short amount of tiled floor to the stairway that lead upwards. He climbed intensely, his heart racing like a pack of jack-rabbits, and his lungs beginning non-stop for air. But he ignored these facts, and hurried on, up towards the next floor. The ship was moving so fast now, he wondered if he'd make it in time. He wondered if he would vanish beneath the surface, along with the massive cargo ship that contained him. He spun around the corner and hurried up the next fleet of stairs, his feet pounding down hard on the metal steps like they never had before. At last, he reached the next floor, and limped over to the last staircase that lead up to the main deck. He flew up them as fast as he could, but his legs were too close to giving out. He slowed a little, but not much. He couldn't waste any more time, or he'd be dead. He stormed towards the door, and opened it. Then, he stepped onto the deck.
Sunlight poured down on him like water from a showerhead, but it surprisingly felt good. He slowed to a stop near the railing, and laughed in spite of himself. He had made it. He was alive. The feeling didn't last long, though. The ship slid down even further, and the surface of the water was rising fast on its sides. Jasper fell on his back, and moaned in pain and agony. He slowed his breathing, and tried not to feel the pain, but he couldn't fight it. The pain flooded his muscles and bones, along with the painful pressure from his last blow to the shoulder. It was all too much, but, luckily for him, it didn't last long. It soon faded away within a minute or less, and then he carefully sat up. It was hardly two seconds after that when the ship rumbled down again, and sent Jasper rolling down the wood of the deck and against the metal railing that stood between him and a long fall. He slid back and away from the railing, but the movement of the massive ship that followed sent him right back to it.
He peered over the railing and down along the ship's hull. The water was only eleven inches from overflowing onto the deck, and was rising quickly, too quickly. He quickly crawled back, away from the frightening sight, but then, the unthinkable happened. The ship suddenly started falling the opposite direction, toward the water. He quickly started sliding towards the open, un-guarded side. He spun around and flopped on his stomach. He grabbed hold of a thin crack that lay in between two rotting boards, and hung on with all his might. He didn't dare move, or even breath. He just listened as the creaking noises the ship made slowly died off, and then momentarily returned. The ship went plunging again towards the water on the opposite side of the rocks. The whole thing came un-stuck from the shards of rocks, and was on a well-paced course for the water. He quickly climbed up towards the railing, and, grabbing ahold of it, swung himself over the edge, and fell towards the now cleared water as the ship itself descended the opposite direction. He landed with a large splash, and quickly shot back up above the surface. He watched as the ship disappeared into the inky depths.
Jasper blinked a few times to try and at least begin to figure out what had truly just happened. The sight had been so exciting, while also being frightening and heart-stopping all rolled into one giant mess of emotions. The water that had held the ship above its surface was now dispersing rings of water from down below having swallowed the mighty vessel, which was hard to believe. Especially for Jasper.
He shook his head wildly and took a few breaths, but he still couldn't believe the ship had done such a thing, even though no one was really controlling it and the law of gravity was obviously at work, it still seemed odd. He had spent two days and nights there, shivering in that dark and lonely room. It was an empty room too. But all through it, he was almost saddened to see it go. It's now deceased crew had been kind and generous to him, and its captain, Fred Lanch, had been reasonable enough to bring him along. He had met so many new people on that ship, and was having a good time up until the night of the storm. And now it was gone. The whole ship was piercing through the water below, and was headed for the dark fathoms that made up the ocean floor. The wild waves that echoed along the surface tossed and turned him from side to side and back and forth, making him slightly nauseous.
But then, through all of his thoughts, he blinked, and then looked around him. All he saw was water. Nothing but it. He was stranded. Adrift. Lost at sea. In open water. He swallowed hard, and felt a ping of fear bite back at him. There was no sight of land, or a ship or a boat . . . or anything. He was all alone, and was un-doubtfully being watched by sharks. It was only a matter of time before they found him. The thought sent a long and extra cold chill down his spine. He needed to get above the water, or at least to a safer place . . . then a thought hit him. The ship's life raft. He spun around, sending off a small and weak wave of water as he did, and searched for anything that might have been left behind by the sunken cargo ship. But he didn't see anything. He let out a heavy sigh but continued to search.
After looking for a moment longer, he gave up, and watched the waters around him for anything that might surface. But his muscles didn't agree. Pain vibrated in his shoulders and neck, along with his stomach and legs. His feet were the only fraction of his body that wasn't sore or aching, or flat out painful. He held his breath for a moment, and let everything slow down, and settle. The pain vanished within a few seconds, and his muscles relaxed from their tension.
He started breathing again after another few seconds, his body now feeling oddly recharged and fresh. His muscles didn't react as fast as they had done before, but they were definitely noticeable. He swished around and looked into the distance, but he didn't see anything.
But then he heard something. It was a low rumbling noise, and it never got louder. It stayed at the same volume, but caused an odd friction in the water. He could feel it, and it was coming from somewhere down deep. As it continued on, it seemed to grow not louder, but closer. He looked along the ocean surface, and saw the waves becoming raged and violent, and large quantities of ocean water splashed up onto the rock and himself. He spit out a good amount of salty water as the noise slowly began to die off. All he could do was listen as it finally ceased. What just happened? He wondered deeply what the noise was, and where it had come from. It was so un-usual, and sudden like an earthquake.
He slowed his breathing to a stop at the arrival of the tension in his nerves and bones, and of course, his muscles once again. He tried his best to keep his focus off the pain in his body. It was easy. He simply began thinking about the noises he'd just heard echoing up from the depths. Was it an earthquake, or something else?
The only thing he saw as water, and the small and useless rocks that the ship had sunken by, but they would have to do. He drifted towards the largest one, which only stuck up out of the water twelve feet. He ran his fingers along its rough and scratchy edge, and looked up at its tip, which stood only six inches above him. His eyes wondered up to its tip, which gleamed slightly in the late morning sun. These rocks were very interesting; they were a dark, coral-like brown color, and were definitely a rock formation that had become as it was under the water. He'd seen rocks rising up from the ocean before, but not quite this small. Another few moments passed, and he then quickly hoisted himself up against the rock, and let his legs float out in front of him, and then, he relaxed his entire body. It was the perfect spot to spend the night. It was shallow, and away from the waters where sharks would be lurking. He looked up towards the sky and began planning out his next move.
He would need to wait until morning, then he'd begin watching for passing ships. If one came along, all he had to do was signal it somehow. But, ways of doing that were limited in this particular area, Except for maybe the rocks. He wasn't sure how they could assist in that, but he knew they could somehow. There was no hope of a fire without steady ground, and wood to burn, so that option was out. His only hope was somehow attracting someone's attention, with some form of noticeable object or vision.
But, with every second his arms clung to the hard rock, his shoulder bone began to hurt like nothing in his body had ever before. He shut his eyes tight as the pain lingered in that one area. He definitely had broken his collar bone, and it was really starting to complain. But, he fought it off, and continued to cling to the rock, where he hoped he would signal for help the following morning. He looked back down into the water and continued to watch it, and then looked up at the horizon. What better did he have to do.
The sight was amazing. Out of all those years he had spent fishing out on the sea, he had never seemed to notice how big it really was until now. A slight smile spread across his face as he stared out into the blue field of beauty.
But then, one again, he felt a strange tingling rising up from the depths of the ocean, followed by a low rumbling sound. Something else was happening. And it was much bigger and louder than before.
* * *
Alton Briche walked slowly down the hallway that soon lead to the main control base that was the highest floor on the control center of the entire ship. He stopped occasionally to look over a door that stood facing his side, or watching a janitor do his stuff as he mopped rapidly back and forth on the hard, white, tiled floor.
He had been strolling through hallways and up stairways for almost an hour now, checking out this and that, and making sure certain things were happening and in order. He rounded another corner, and continued on, taking his time, checking things out. From the repulsive and almost disrespectful acts he'd seen the trainees preforming for the last two and half days, he wanted to make sure everyone was still doing their side jobs the right way. What he had seen so far was good enough. Some did their jobs better than others, but that was part of the journey. Learning how to do things better. Learning things period.
Briche at last reached the end of the hallway, where the large, pure metal door that lead into the main control base room stood. He twisted the doorknob, and the door swung open with a loud creaking sound, and then a soft bang as it tapped against the wall to its right. Everyone in the room turned and greeted him with either a smile or a quick "Good morning, Captain!” Security heads, navigators, and sonar experts all glared cheerfully at him, and all he could do was smile back. Most of them were the same rank, E-6, with some being either E-5 or E-7, they just had different positions. He entered into the room, shutting the door behind him. He walked down along the walkway that every few inches along the sides turned into a row of stations where everyone sat. They all nodded a second greeting to him as he passed, and he returned it only by nodding.
The doorway lead into a long row of metal flooring that stretched clear up past the rows of stations, and stopped at the base of two metal steps that lead onto one big platform, which faced the largest window on the entire ship. Briche walked along the metal flooring, eyeing certain people, and some he only glanced at, but he just wanted to make sure everything was going smoothly. He walked up the two steps and walked sternly up to the window, and stared out for a moment.
"Good morning, everyone," he turned to face them again. "How are we all this morning?"
"Most of us are fine, sir," a younger man with straight, red hair spoke up.
"Most of you?" Briche asked.
"Well, everyone I know is, sir," the man replied.
"I see." He turned to Dave who smiled nervously back at him.
"Morning, sir," Dave said.
"Good morning. What have we got?"
Dave, as always, pulled out his little yellow notebook from his pocket and flipped through the pages. Briche waited patiently for him to speak again.
"Well, first, those new graduates arrived safely this morning," Dave replied at last.
"Uh. . . nope. That's it."
"Excellent." Briche turned back to the window. "What about that cargo ship?"
"Oh, we sent a reply out, but we never got a response."
Briche nodded understandingly. After a pause, he turned to the field of people working and caught their attention.
"If any of you have anything to report, do so now."
There was silence for a few minutes. But then, someone spoke up.
"I have something, actually, sir," a woman's voice said.
Briche turned his attention right away to a young woman seated in the left row closest to him. He didn't recognize her. Her hair was black, and was put up in a neat bun. A small stream of it hung down on her cheek. Her eyes were light blue, and her face was slightly pale. He waited for her response.
"Well, go on," he told her.
"You'll have to come and look at this, sir," she said in a low and nervous tone.
He rushed down the stairs and walked up to her station at a much quicker pace then he had entered the room, and soon arrived at her desk.
"What's happening?" he asked sternly.
"I had this on my radar around twenty-six minutes ago," she replied, pointing to the radar that lit up the computer screen.
It showed a large sonar image of the area surrounding the combat ship.
"What on the earth is that?" he asked, pointing to a small dot.
"It's some kind of ship sir. It sunk just a little while ago."
"I don't know sir. All I know is what it shows here. This radar somehow caught the ship as it went down, around 120 feet below the surface. When it reached the ocean floor, major friction was created and it caused the ground to rise up a ways. Now the ship is sitting down there in the ocean, on this rise, and it's only 120 feet down."
Briche thought for a moment. "A human diver can survive at that depth."
"Why do you say that?"
Briche didn't answer for a moment, but walked back up onto the platform, and stared out the window.
"I say that because we need to find that ship, and try to identify it. Call up my old friend, Mr. Luchas. I'll give you the number if you need it. Have him get a few divers out in that area. I’d like to find out as much as we can about that ship."
"I know the number sir."
"Good, call him up and tell him about this."
Everything went silent, but Briche kept an ear open for any further conversation. None came, until he finally spoke.
"I never did catch your name, young lady."
"Um. . . Silvia, sir."
He only nodded in reply, and kept on staring out the window. He watched as the trainees finished up their morning rounds, and soon headed for their cabins. As usual, he didn't like the performances the commanding officers were having them preform, but he couldn't do too much about it. He could only watch them daily and hope the commands would soon get better. But he knew that was asking for an awful lot. The commanding officers often stuck to their ways, and never changed them, which irritated Briche. He sighed, and straightened out. He loosened his shoulders, and tried to relax.
"What's our current speed?" he asked suddenly.
"About thirty-eight knots, sir," replied a voice from somewhere in the room.
"Slow us down seven knots."
"Why, might I ask, sir?"
"I want us to stay in the area of that ship that went down. I'd like to keep an eye on that area down there for a little while."
"But sir, it'll throw us of course."
"I realize that, just slow us down."
The man messed with the controls for a moment, then the ship quickly slowed down. Briche watched with a smirk on his face as the commanding officers down below exchanged confused looks, but kept on giving commands. Then, the room went silent. Briche let out a deep sigh, then turned to face everyone.
"Silvia, you're now in charge of monitoring that ship. If anything moves down there, or if it moves, you let me know, understood?"
He turned to Dave. "Dave, get those new recruits down onto the main deck right away."
"Everyone else, remain at your post, and do what you do daily. I don't know what this ship we've found down there is, but we need to be on guard, even though it's sunk. We still need to monitor it."
He glared at every person in the room, and they all nodded back at him. He turned right back to the window, and continued to watch on.
But, the silence was once again broken seconds later, but not by anyone in the room. Up from the depths of the ocean, Briche heard a deep and gristle rumbling that started in a low tone, and quickly became louder. He spun around to face Dave who seemed to be taking no notice of the sound. No one in the room seemed to be taking notice.
"Silvia, what's happening on the radar right now?"
She quickly checked, and looked back at him with an expression of shock, and utter terror.
"What is it?" Briche asked impatiently.
"I'm not . . . sure. . ."
He hurried down the steps and over to her station, and peered down at the small computer screen. What he saw was not a radar image, but a digital image of the same area where the ship had gone down just half an hour earlier. The waves beyond the ships' bow were now wild and rampant. Something was happening.
The image he saw showed a large crack that was spreading quickly along the rise of ground down a good 120 feet below the surface. It spread forward and soon went over the edge. But then, the rumbling noise grew even louder, and the image showed the crack busting open.
"I've never seen anything . . . like this," Silvia managed to say after a gasp.
"Neither have I, and I've been in the Navy for years," he said.
To a normal person, that would've sounded almost like a joke. But, like everything else Briche said, it was serious.
"How is this possible for us to see what's happening?"
"We have sensors in the area down there, sir."
"The ground down there is like, separating, and opening up. . ." Silvia gulped.
"Yeah, it is," Briche replied, stun in his voice. "How wide is it opening?"
"So far, it's separated almost thirteen feet, sir."
Briche watched as the image showed the ship falling down into the crack, and falling a good distance.
"What the. . ."
"The crack seems to have come from behind the ship sir. Basically, the bottom of the ocean is splitting open."
"The ship just vanished."
Everyone in the room sat in silent shock as they watched the odd image displayed across their screens. Some of them sat their mouths hanging open in shock, while others just watched. Briche then heard yelling out on the deck, and scrambled to the window to see what the commotion was. He saw gigantic waves of water splash up onto the side railing of the deck, rising higher and higher each time they came up. Seagulls scattered up from the water, letting out cries of fear. The men on deck backed away rampantly as another giant wave washed onto the metal before them.
The rumbling noise grew louder, and Briche had to cover his ears to even stand it. But, as his hands filled his ears with nothing but silence, the rumbling ceased and died off. He took his palms from his ears, and listened. Then, he peered out the window and saw the water beyond the ship calming down.
"What just happened?" someone asked from behind him.
"I do believe we just experienced a small earthquake," Briche replied without turning. "Silvia, get Luchas on the phone. Tell him to get those divers out there. And tell that, when he does get out there, have them report everything to me."
"Right away sir."
Silvia reached for the phone, but then stopped.
"But sir, we don't know what's down there. . ."
"Oh please, Silvia. There can't be that much down there."
She only nodded in reply, then picked up the phone.
"And even if there is, it will not be a threat."
* * *
Jasper didn't dare move as he listened to the odd noise, now ceasing off into silence. Something far below his feet that dangled in the water was beginning to shake violently. He could feel it, and it wasn't a good feeling, either. He couldn't help but wonder what was really going on, and he was tempted to stick his face into the water and see if he could figure it out. These noises had sounded off like a gunshot two times in a row now. Something was seriously wrong.
But he didn't really know what. Something was happening down deep, and he probably wouldn't be able to see what was really happening from the surface. The waves around him were now very violent and hateful, and their force tossed his legs around everywhere beneath the surface. He tightened his grip on the rock he leaned against as the water's force grew stronger. His mind was spinning with fear and confusion, asking only one question: what's happening? He looked to his left, and saw the exact same thing he had been seeing for nearly an hour now, and that was water. Only this time, violent water. There was no noise, no rumbling or tingling, but the waves were still massive and wild.
He shut his eyes tight and listened to the water, occasionally getting splashed in the face with its salty linger. He waited a few more seconds before opening his eyes again. When he did, he saw the water was calming, and the waves were dying off. Whatever had just happened was now over, for the time being, anyways. He loosened his grip on the rock just a bit, but still clung to it in fear of yet another incident. The waves finally died down enough to where the water no longer whooshed up onto his chest area, but was now calm and silent. The wet form he was in made him tremble and shiver, but the hot afternoon sun quickly took care of that. But even when the sunlight dried him out, he still had a problem. His hunger.
Aside from the shock he felt from what had just happened, the pains only made him weaker. His mind still assisted him in wondering what he had just experienced was, but he just couldn't figure it out. It had happened so suddenly, and then died down so quickly, none of it made sense. He looked out onto the water, and stared for a moment. He watched, studied it, wondering if anything further would happen.
But then, he felt something cold and soft hit his cheek. He looked up into the sky. Dark clouds were gathering in. A storm was coming.
* * *
The raindrops that landed on his face quickly grew in numbers every second now, and lightning occasionally flashed through the clouds. Thunder followed close behind, booming over the sea and echoing back up into the sky. Jasper now not only bobbed in the cold ocean water, but also trembled from the wet clothes he wore due to the rain. There a slight fog that had covered the surrounding area, and was closing in on him like a pack of hungry beasts. Only from the sea, and not from the forest or jungle.
He reached up and did his best to matten down his hair, but it was nothing but a mess now. He wiped water from his forehead and eyelids, but more trickled right back down. He scowled at the clouds as he looked up at them, and got a few raindrops in his eyes in return. He had let go of the rock and was now afloat in the open water. The rock formations were still in sight, but a little farther away than he appreciated. But the worse part of not having the deserted ship as shelter was the rain. It was so cold, and soaking. He was wet from head to toe, and scowled even harder because of it. The sun was only half an hour from setting, but still couldn't be seen through the thick grey color that compressed up against the sky.
He hoped, however, that the rain would continue to fall throughout the night to scare away any sharks or fish that could be of arm. He remembered a few details from an ocean survival class he'd taken years earlier, mainly because he was going to be a fisherman, and, had he known how difficult the ocean could be, he would've paid closer attention. But, he did remember something about staying adrift, and staying in one area as much as you could. But that was all he could recall from it. He was nineteen at the time, and had his visions set on going out on the water every day, and fishing his heart out. But then, as he grew older, he realized that fishing wasn't all there was to owning a guide service. There was bills to pay, taxes owed, and he also had to hire help. All that really drained his wallet and his bank account.
Another flash of lightning lit the sky above him, followed by more loud thunder seconds later. The sound of thunder reminded him of the odd conversion that had taken place before the storm had rolled in. It was the oddest thing he'd ever experienced in his life as far as he was concerned. It was just like an earth-quake, but smaller, safer maybe, but all the while, it was obviously different. Even though it hadn't seemed vary threatening, he still didn't want to go through it again. Like any odd or new sound, it was still frightening. But it wasn't the way the water had acted during the incident that bothered him, but the noise that had echoed up from the depths. That was the worst part of the whole deal.
Even now, the waves were violent with rage and jerked him endlessly from side to side. The feeling it gave him was a mixture of nausea and illusion. But most of all, nausea. He wasn't going to bother with sleep, mainly because he knew the storm wasn't going clear out any time soon, and night was coming. He needed to stay alert for as long as he could. But that would be hard, especially as the night wore on. When it was young, sure, he could keep his eyes open. He sniffed a few times at the coldness he felt all on him and around him began to engulf him in the form of the rouge waves.
He turned away best he could as another big wave splashed up against him. He accidentally took in some of it through his breath, and coughed a few times to get it back up. As he coughed and gagged, his muscles tensed, and began really hurting. He slowed down his coughing the best he could, but the pain didn't cease like it had before. It stuck to his muscles and bones, and lingered for several minutes. Another flash of lightening, and more thunder rolled through the sky and made him jump. Another wave washed towards him, and soaked his clothes even more. He tried to get the water out of his nostrils again, but then shut his eyes as more water came soaring towards him.
As he fought back the sea water, it swallowed him. He went under without any warning, inhaling the water as he did. He reached for the surface, but it was above him now. He was surrounded by the foggy and grey color of the underwater world, and he couldn't escape. As he began to panic, hoisting himself upwards the best he could, He caught a glimpse of something. It was a dark, reddish color with a little blur of gold mixed in. But the image vanished quickly as he finally shot above the surface, gasping for air, fighting to get the water out of his lungs. He coughed long and hard and got just enough out. He relaxed a little, now staying alert for any more on-coming waves. The waves themselves now moved in a circular motion, taking his body with them. His head tightened and throbbed, and now the queasy feeling was returning, and fast. His thoughts began looking back to when he was under the water. He had seen something. Something odd in color. Something big.
He shook it off, and focused on the storm. He looked up into the sky and was blinded momentarily by another flash of lightening. Flashbacks of the cargo ship followed, screaming around his brain, embedding themselves in his thoughts. He blinked a few times to get them out, but they only stuck harder. He blinked again, in hopes that, this time, the storm would disappear. Everything about this situation would disappear. He wished he could be back at home right now, in bed, fast asleep. He wished everything would change in an instant. . . but it didn't. He blinked, but the storm was still there.
And it continued on for the rest of the night.
The speedboat soared through the water at an amazing speed, and was already half way to its destination. The driver, Benni Luchas looked up from the steering wheel and peered over into the thin morning mist and smiled. He had always enjoyed its soft feeling and its fresh moisture content, but this morning's batch seemed a little bit dry. The sky above was clear and the sunlight was beaming brightly down onto the boat, its rays stretching over the ocean like the East coast. But it wasn't the bright, sunny day or the sweet mist that had drawn them out here. No.
Luchas looked over the steering wheel and latched his eyes on the gages beyond it. He looked them over and made sure everything was in check, and then he picked up speed. The loud noise coming from the motor grew louder, and then boat heaved forward an extra two feet. Inside the boat with Luchas were his assistant and navigator Jim, along with the camera monitor, Wanda, and three professional divers, Matt, George, and Brid. All of them were on that boat for the same reason . . . to explore a crack 120 feet below the surface. Or at least that's what the job description had been.
"This ought to be good. Can't wait to see what's down there," Matt said.
"Yeah, I can totally agree," Brid smiled.
"Calm down, boys. We'll be there soon enough," Luchas called over his shoulders.
He heard a few faint shrugs, and giggled. He was always amazed at how much those guys loved to dive, especially with something like this. He had gotten the call from a Navy person just yesterday, and got right to setting everything up. Now, he was on the way to exploring a large and unknown section of the underwater world through the cameras that the divers would be taking down. The excited feeling he felt burning inside him made him smile even wider. He wondered what they would find, if anything, and how large it would be.
"Hey Jimmy, how far are we from the spot?" he asked in a loud tone.
"According to radar we'll be there in about a minute," the young man replied.
Luchas said nothing, but kept his eyes up ahead of the boat, on the sparkling water. His eyes began to sight-see around the area. He couldn't help it, the area was beautiful. A two miles off the their left sat a ring of small rock formations that had to be a couple hundred years old, and were a sight for sore eyes. They were simply astounding. Another three miles to their right was a fairly large patch of land that held high cliffs on its surface. Everything was so pretty, especially this morning with the sun shining and the mist disappearing.
"We're here!" Luchas' thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Jim's shouting, and he quickly slowed the boat to a stop.
"You sure?" he asked.
"Yes sir. This is the exact spot of that lady's directions were correct."
"Right. Let's get this thing going."
Both Jim and Wanda went right to work. Wanda began preparing the cameras for the underwater dive, while Jim began setting up the computers and monitors. The three jumped to their feet to get on their gear on. Luchas watched as everyone prepared for the mission. It was going to take nearly two hours, maybe longer depending on what they found, and how long it took them to actually get down there, search, and then get back up.
"Listen up everyone," everyone turned to Luchas, but kept working. "We need this to go as smoothly as possible. Matt, George and Brid know what they need to do. Just get down into that opening and find out what you can. But don't report it to me. Report it to the Navy Combat Ship 26, understood?"
The three men nodded as they slipped on their steamer wetsuits.
"Good. Now, Wanda should know what to do as well. She's going to be monitoring the film that the divers take down there, and also make sure that nothing bad happens. Jimmy is going to keep track of your depth and air compression, and will warn you if your air tank gets low for any reason. Got that everyone?"
"Yep, got it," Jim replied first.
"Right," Wanda followed, rolling her eyes.
Matt, George and Brid just gave Luchas a thumbs up after finishing with their diving masks. Jim assisted George in getting his oxygen tank on while the others did so independently. Wanda took stood near the computer screen, setting it all up by connecting cords and hitting buttons. It didn't matter to Luchas. Just as long as everything went well. He turned and picked up a small, handheld radio and pushed down on the button.
"This is Luchas to NLCS 26. Do you read?"
A voice returned the call within a few moments. "This is Captain Briche of the NLCS 26. I read, over."
"We're sending down the divers now."
"Good. Be sure to have them report everything to me."
Luchas let go of the button and turned back to the divers who were now all set to go.
"All right men, there's no turning back now," he said rather sternly.
"We understand that, sir," Matt replied with excitement in his voice.
"Now, get going before we lose any more time."
Without hesitation, the three of them leaned against the side of the boat, and plunged into the shiny water, leaving a big splash behind them.
The temperature of the water was slightly cold, but warmer than they had expected, especially up against their thin wetsuits. But they quickly began making their way down. The further down they went, the darker the surrounding water got. It became murkier, and even colder.
George heard a voice through his little ear radio. "Do we have any lights?"
"Yes Brid, it's attached to your mask," he replied.
In the following moments, two small LED lights were switched on, and soon enough, Matt joined in. The black abyss became lit up with the vision-blinding light, and then they could clearly see the ground rise, just six feet below them. They quickly swam towards it, and soon saw more detail.
"Holy crud! Look at that! It's like a valley buried underneath this whole thing!" Brid said.
And it did look like just that. A hidden valley underneath the bottom of the ocean.
"We need to report all this to the NLCS 26 before we go any further," Matt pressed a button on his small, waterproof radio wrapped around his wrist. "This is Diver #2 to NLCS 26, do you read me?"
"Yes, we read you. Report."
"We've found the ground rise."
"What do you see?"
"It's cracked open at the top, and the whole thing tore apart. There's a trench beneath the rise, and we're entering it now."
The three of them continued on, and swam towards the opening. It seemed to be so much darker than what they had come through so far, mainly because they couldn't see anything down in it. Slowly but surely, they entered, engulfed by darkness. Their lights were the only things to guide them through the pitch black painting they seemed to be in.
"Man, it can't get much darker than this," George muttered.
"Nope. You wouldn't think so," Matt replied.
The darkness wasn't just empty, but also silent. But that didn't bother Matt. He didn't mind quiet, because that usually meant they were safe from earthquakes or a cave-in, or anything else. But, for some reason, Matt felt uneasy right now. Though it was silent, he sensed movement. But he didn't see anything, and he wasn't going to get off course to relieve his senses. The three of them were still together, and that showed that nothing was wrong. He thought about asking the others if they had the same feeling, but he didn't. It wasn't worth the time.
They kept on moving forward, shining their lights in every direction, and having a good look. So far all they had encountered was rock. Rock that made up a perfectly round tunnel that seemed to go on forever. Brid's feet were beginning to get tired from waving them up and down to propel himself forward, but he pressed on.
"How much further do you think we need to go?" Brid asked suddenly.
"Are you kidding me? We need to go on until we find something worth reporting to the NLCS 26. Push on," Matt replied.
* * *
Luchas leaned forward and took a closer look at the screen.
"Doesn't look like they're gonna find anything," he said with a smirk.
"No, it doesn't," replied Wanda.
They both watched as the image in front of them moved slowly on, showing everything the divers down below were encountering. And so far, it hadn't been very entertaining.
"How far have they gone?"
"According to the sonar sir, they're about sixteen feet into the tunnel."
"Yes, they are sir."
Luchas only nodded, and silently watched as the camera pushed on. He turned to Jim.
"How's their oxygen?"
"They're all set."
"Good. Don't let that get out of whack."
He turned back to the screen, and watched closely. But, as he watched the screen, he caught a glimpse of something in the top right corner of the camera lens.
"What's that?" he pointed to the area.
Wanda paused it and rewound it. Then, he saw it himself, and hit the pause button again.
The image wasn't quite clear, and he couldn't tell what it was. All he could see was that it was moving.
"That doesn't look good," Jim said, gasping.
* * *
Matt stopped at the sound of Luchas' voice beaming through the radio.
"Hello down there, can you read?"
"Yes, I read," Matt replied.
"We have an un-identified object in the area. Do you wish to proceed?"
Matt paused for a moment. "Yes, we do. I'm not worried."
"Alright then, just keep an eye out."
They continued on, pressing forward through the water of the tunnel. Matt kept his eyes open as wide as he could for anything odd. But as they swam deeper and deeper into the darkness, he didn't see anything. Bubbles echoed from every direction. And they were massive bubbles. Matt couldn't believe how big they were. They seemed to be coming from small holes in the walls, like some sort of volcanic tube. Only underwater.
But then, he looked up and saw something far more amazing than the bubbles. His mouth hung behind his mask at the sight of it. It was the entrance to a large, underwater cave.
"Hey guys, do you see this?" he asked.
"Yeah! It's crazy!"
"Should we go in?" asked George.
"We're going to enter, yes. But carefully. Follow my lead," replied Matt.
And so they entered into the dark cave. Their lights pierced through the darkness and allowed them to look around. There were stalactites and stalagmites scattered here and there along the top and bottom walls of the cave.
"NLCS 26 do you read?"
"We've have left the tunnels and have reached a wide-mouthed cave."
"Nothing besides a few stalactites. We will report if we find anything else."
"Alright. Proceed with caution."
Matt didn't reply, but continued to stare in wonder as he looked around the amazing little cave. At the opposite end of the entrance was another really wide opening that lead on through more tunnels. George turned and shined his light into it, and saw only rock.
"Doesn't look like much of a find to me," he said.
"You never know," Matt replied.
At that instant, George turned his light away from the opening and continued to scan the ceiling with it. He swept the light over towards the right, and saw the same thing he'd been seeing; rock. Nothing but smooth and perfectly rounded rock. Matt and Brid did the same with the same results.
"I think we should keep going. Maybe there's better stuff up ahead," George mumbled.
He turned back towards the opening that lead on, and saw the gaping tentacle reach for him. He had no time to gasp or gulp or even scream before it wrapped itself around his chest, and squeezed.
* * *
Matt ran his hand along the rock wall to his right. To his surprise, a strange, cloudy dust came off and onto his palm. He stared at it for a moment, and then turned to Brid.
"Ready to move on?" he asked.
"Not yet. I haven't had a good look yet," Brid replied.
Matt chuckled at the kid's enthusiasm. It was a good thing to have, but it was funny how much of it he had. He flashed his light over at the biggest stalactite in the whole cave, and awed at its form and size. George didn't seem to find this interesting, but Matt did. He had found this whole thing interesting. From the moment he had hit the water and began to diver deeper, he loved it. This was truly an amazing discovery, and both he and Brid were enjoying it. But not George.
But then a thought hit him. Where was the guy anyway? He looked around for George's light, but didn't see it anywhere. Panic started to run through his veins.
"Brid, have you seen or heard from George?"
"Nope. Where is he?"
"That's what I'm wondering."
Matt swam over to the opposite wall, shining his light all around. He saw the walls, stalactites, and of course, stalagmites. But no George.
"See him?" Brid asked.
"Nope. He must have gone on without us," Matt replied.
"Why would he do that?"
"Don't ask me."
Matt turned and started swimming towards the opening, and kept the light on the tunnel beyond it. He lowered his head and began to swim inside. All he saw was darkness and more rock. But then he saw something move in the darkness. His eyes darted to that area, but it was gone. He scooted in a little further and shined the light up ahead. That's when he saw it. A long and scaly tentacle reaching for him.
He tried to scream but nothing came out. The tentacle wrapped around his neck and the long rows of suction cups latched on and pulled him into the darkness.
* * *
Brid turned his head and peered over at the opposite cave wall, waving his light in the same direction. The only light that now flickered in the dark cave was his own. Everyone else was gone. He turned and shined his light on the opening, but he didn't see anything there, either.
"Yo, Matt? Do you read?" he asked into the radio.
No answer. "Matt, come in."
He waited a few seconds. But still, there was no answer. They must have gone on without him. He started swimming towards the opening, but then stopped. He pressed the button on his radio twice to switch channels.
"Come in NLCS 26, come in!" he said, panic now filling his voice.
"We read you Diver #3, report."
"We've been separated. I repeat we've been separated. Should I continue?"
"No. Fall back to the surface and report to Luchas."
Brid didn't say anything father. He immediately started for the exit of the cave. He was so close, he could reach out and touch it. . . but something pulled him back. Something thick and slimy wrapped around his leg, and yanked him back towards the center of the cave.
He looked behind him. The last thing he saw was the image of a mass of tentacles screaming towards him followed by one large beak.
* * *
Briche turned to face Silvia's desk and stared at her, waiting for her to continue.
"We just got contacted by Luchas. He's lost all communications with the divers!"
"Yes, sir. He's waiting for your reply."
He stopped and thought for a moment. There wasn't much to do except wait for a possible response from the divers. But he didn't know if that would be happening. There was only one thing to do, and that was having him leave the area and send a search party down there.
"Tell him to get out of the area, and I'll send a search-and-rescue team out there right away."
Silvia nodded, and quickly passed the message on to Luchas. Briche turned back to the window and continued to stare out. But his mind was elsewhere. They had lost all communications with the divers. That could only mean a handful of things. There could have been a cave-in, and they were all crushed. Or maybe they were just so deep that their communication gear stopped working. Anything could have happened.
* * *
Luchas was getting more and more impatient as he listened to his instructions. As the last of them came through the radio, a look of confusion swept over his face. He was supposed to just leave and let his divers stay down there, even if they were dead? What kind of a plan was that?
He began pacing back and forth, determining whether to follow the instructions, or do things his own way. Finally, after a few more paces, he turned to Wanda.
"You're sure all the cameras are down?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm positive," she replied, reflecting the worry in his eyes.
His decision was made. He would follow the captain's orders and leave. He turned and grasped the steering wheel, but then hesitated. It wasn't like him to just leave behind good men. But he had to this time. He slipped his fingers down onto the key, and turned it. He listened to the engine run faintly, but then it stopped. He tried again with the exact same result. He tried another time. Same thing. The engine wasn't starting.
He sighed with frustration, and slammed the steering wheel with his hand. He tried turning the key again, but nothing happened. Jim looked up from the computer and watched him try again and again, turning the key with the engine failing each time.
"Come on you sorry, no good. . ."
Something hit the bottom of the boat. They all went flying to the floor, knocking Jim out cold. Luchas got up quickly and peered over the side of the boat. The dorsal fin would be circling back around any moment . . . but there was no fin. He didn't see anything. He watched closely, hoping he could catch a glimpse of what was out there. . .
The boat was hit again, harder this time. Luchas was thrown back against the opposite side of the boat. Wanda flew into the computer screens, and was knocked un-conscious. All the equipment went dead. Wanda died from a cut to the throat. All that was left was Luchas, who didn't dare move. His eyes were wild with fear and confusion as he stared out into the water. Still, no dorsal fin came by. There seemed to be no shark.
Then, the boat was hit again. The last thing Luchas saw was the horrifying image of a tentacle rising up out of the water, and wrapping itself around the boat. . .
* * *
Briche snapped out of his deep thought at the sound of a computer beeping. He didn't bother turning around and finding out what it was about mainly because he didn't want to know. He figured that the sound meant something bad was happening, and he didn't need any more bad news at the moment. Instead, he continued to glaze out the window at the water beyond the deck that was now slightly roused for some odd reason that he didn't particularly care about.
He took in a deep breath and held it for a moment, then let it out. The odd tension that ran through his body made his hands shake just a bit, and that made him nervous. Something was making him worried, and he knew just what it was. The beeping sound ringed in his ear again, but he still didn't turn to address it. Then, another sound the he had heard when the beeping began sounded again.
"Sir! You need to hear this!"
At last, he turned to Silvia and glared at her, beckoning her to continue.
"Luchas' boat just disappeared from my radar, sir!"
Briche's face grew stern. "What do you mean?"
"I had him on my radar sir, but the dot that resembled his boat just disappeared sir."
"Well, sir, that's what it shows."
"Our radar equipment must be failing."
"I doubt that, sir."
Briche thought for a moment. "All right, get that search-and-rescue party out there as soon as possible."
"And get me a sonar image of that area."
"But, it's nearly a mile away, sir. . ."
"At least try."
Silvia brought up the sonar detector and typed in the location.
"Go down 120 feet below the surface."
She followed his instructions and was soon watching everything going on near the place where the divers had gone down. As she watched, the image picked up a massive, moving object fleeing from the surface, and disappearing past the screen's limits.
"Sir, I think we have something."
"What is it?"
"The sonar equipment is picking up a massive moving object in the area of the crack, sir."
"Is it still there?"
"Could the computer identify it?"
"All it shows is that it's moving fast. And it is big."
Briche was silent for a moment. "Get that search-and-rescue party ready by tomorrow afternoon. I want them to go down to where those divers were and report anything they find to me. I don't know what happened or what's down there, but I have a feeling we're going to find out."
The young man steered the fishing trawler a little more to the left, then a tiny bit back to the right, the straightened out. He kept his eyes on the distance, and watched for the spot he hoped to arrive at. He had gotten a free three-month boat rental coupon, and used it up quickly. Three months of fishing, he thought.
The loud engines below worked themselves as hard as they ever could, make the loudest of noises. The trawler moved at a steady pace, having already traveled a good forty-six minutes, and only had fourteen more to go. The man in control stood firm as he held the steering wheel, and watched every inch of the water in front of him. He was mostly looking for possible schools of fish, but it was hard to see into the water, especially from this distance. The only thing he had seen that morning was water, and the metal of the trawler's deck, which was not the most appealing of objects to stare at.
He looked over to his side and peered out the side-view window, and saw, once again, nothing but water. A sigh escaped from his mouth as he turned back to face the main. The sun had finally raised enough to make the water glimmer and shine, and sparkle with light and warm heat. The sight was pretty for a while, then it just got tiring. But then, a much more attractive sight came into view; his destination. The spot he could always identify, the brig pool. It was simply a large, deep pool-like area of the ocean where thousands of fish came daily to feed. He bent down and pulled on the breaks, and the trawler came to a heaving stop. He quickly jumped onto the deck and grabbed his fishing pole.
After a few minutes of preparation, he sat down into a small blue folding chair, and cast out onto the water. The hook landed twenty feet out, and slowly fell deeper into the water. The man leaned back and waited. Everything went silent. Then. . .
The bottom of the trawler was hit, and hard. The man went flying backwards onto the deck, and slid to the opposite side. He quickly got up and peered over the edge, about to see a dorsal fin. . . but he didn't. There was nothing. . . no fin, no shark, nothing.
It was hit again.
The man flew across to the other side, and peered over again. Nothing. No dorsal fin, no shark. Just some unknown predator. . .wham! The boat was hit again, sending the man flying into the control compartment. He reached up and grabbed the steering wheel, and hoisted himself up. He listened for a moment. Everything was silent. He quickly began turning the wheel away. . . Away from this terrible place. . . something smashed up against the windshield, forcing him to fall backwards.
It was a long, scaly arm that looked like it could only belong to the worst of nightmares, it had nothing but horrifying eyes on one side, and scaly skin on the other. The eyes stuck to the glass of the window, oozing wet slime that ran down it, streaking it. The man backed up slowly, crab-walking away from the horrible image. . . but then another arm rose up from the water, bumping into the side of the boat.
The man watched in terror as the arm slithered over the side and onto the deck. It made an odd motion, then reeled back into the water below. Then. . . he heard something. He jerked his head in the sound's direction, and saw three more arms, rising up, and smashing into everything they could. His breaths were short-lived as he watched, blank with fear.
Another large arm broke through the wood, and pushed him down to the back of the boat. His head hit the wood with a hard blow, and blood slowly oozed from the gash. The arms towered menacingly above him, smashing everything they could. The arm smashed against the glass broke through it, and wrapped itself around the metal bar that held the control compartment together. The other arms joined in, and wrapped themselves around the other three bars, and pulling to the left. Two pushed while three pulled, and the man watched with a look of utter terror on his face. He knew now what these things were that tore apart his boat. He knew they could only belong to one creature. . . and only be one thing. . .tentacles.
He climbed. . . he climbed towards the compartment, with the red metal bars beginning to break free from the wood. The boat suddenly leaned to the right, with the tentacles pulling it. The man slid down, towards the right side of the boat, now filling with water. . . and the massive, towering tentacles directed it.
At the last second, it all broke free, and the boat jerked back into position, throwing the man back and forth, from side to side. Then, the massive monster below whacked the bottom of the boat again, rocking it even more.
The tentacles rose again, and pulled the man down. . . down into the water. He held his breath and shut his eyes as the led him straight for his watery grave. . .
* * *
The sunlight that now made up the afternoon was becoming hotter with every second that ticked by. Sweat soaked Jasper's upper half that wasn't beneath the water, and made him feel like he was fully under it. He had fully dried out from the previous night by this time, and was miles away from the rocks that he had clung to only yesterday. But none of that mattered now. All that he cared about now was finding something to eat.
His stomach was beginning to hurt like never before. The pain felt like major cramps or even food poisoning. But he knew that it was neither of them. It was simply hunger. He was drifting along in the open water, nearly vomiting from the combination of the lack of food, and the way the current jerked him softly from side to side. His head was throbbing for some reason. Every bone in his body felt like it had snapped. All of his muscles were sore and some of them even felt like they had been ripped apart. His should felt like it had been pulled from his skin, and tossed away into the inky depths of the ocean, just like the cargo ship had done. The thought of that ship made him shiver. A chill ran down his spine and made his nerves tingle.
Then, his stomach rumbled once again, vibrating the water surrounding it. He slid his hand over it, hoping and praying he would find something to eat soon. But the chances of that while adrift in open water were slim. At least that's what he remembered from the ocean survival class. But he had no choice but to at least try. Otherwise, he would die. He needed water just as much. Maybe more. All he knew is that he needed it all. What he wanted was to be back home. That was clear. But that wasn't happening right now. He shut his eyes as the pain rumbled on inside his stomach, and he shut them tightly.
But when he opened them again, he saw something, off a little ways into the distance. It was large and white in color. It wasn't far from the area where he was drifting, and he could easily reach it through swimming in a few minutes. So he did. He began stroking through the water at a quick pace, just waiting for his muscles to fire up with pain along with everything else that hurt. He swam for another fifty seconds before finally having to stop on account of the pain that, just as he expected, was now shooting through his muscles and nerves. He let the pain cease before swimming a little further towards the object.
The closer he got, the better he could see what it was. It looked like a fishing boat that was sinking very slowly. There didn't appear to be anyone on board, as of what he could see. It didn't look like he seeing the full boat. He swam a little closer, inch by inch until he reached it, and saw the whole thing. The boat was leaned over to its side, and had holes along the sides and deck. Jasper raised an eyebrow. The boat was in a very odd shape. Clearly, something rammed it.
He carefully swam up to it, and felt its splintered wood siding with his hand. The paint was real old, and came off onto his hand. His thoughts all came to one conclusion: investigate. He reached up and grabbed the side, the hoisted himself over the thin edge and onto the deck. He landed with a loud thud, and then sat still for a moment. He listened for any sound that would indicate the ship was falling. But he heard nothing. Only the same old sound of the water below. He began looking around the ship's main deck. In the corners sat puddles of drying sea water, along with some bird feces, and . . . . blood. The sight sent a chill down not only his spine, but his entire body. The stuff was everywhere. Even along the sides and bow.
His eyes couldn't move away from the puddles of blood that filled the boat's interior. There was something odd going on here. Really odd. But, obviously, he didn't know what. He forced himself to take his eyes away from the gruesome sight and continued to search around the boat. The large, towering poles and wires that hung from the navigation compartment were snapped and bent, and some even torn from their places. Then his eyes came to rest on the odd markings that were embedded everywhere on the boat. They were long rows of thick and perfectly round circles. It was almost like a pattern . . . except made out of blood. He gulped as he stared at them, trying to make sense of the whole thing. When he had first seen the ship from a certain distance, it looked like a shark had rammed it. But this was different. Something much bigger had attacked this ship. Something that was definitely not a shark. The markings could have been a design that had been put on the boat, but he seriously doubted that.
They didn't usually do that. Usually they just painted it or just left it as wood, with no paint or designs. And, these markings were ragged and just too odd to be man-made. No, something had made these. Out of the corner of his eye, Jasper saw something slither down into the water off the side of the boat. From what he could tell, it almost looked like a snake wiggling down into the depths. He looked in its direction, but it was gone. After a moment, he shrugged his shoulders, and kept looking around. The markings had even been embedded onto the metal equipment that rose high above the roof of the navigation compartment. Jasper's eyes widened when he saw that. Something really big must have gotten ahold of this ship. But what?
As he stared in amazement and dis-belief, his breathing slowed. The sight before him was simply to horrid to bare, but, just like with the pools of blood, he couldn't peel his eyes from it. Then, something hit the boat. He fell over onto his side and slid across the deck. He stopped at the opposite side while hitting his head against the wood. He sat up quickly and peered over the side of the boat. He expected to see a shark's fin, but he didn't. He waited a few minutes to see if one would circle around to his side. Then, after that failed, he looked over to his right. Still, no fin. Then, he heard a loud banging noise, and turned around to see a slimy tentacle smashing against the window of the navigation compartment. The rows of suckers latched on to the glass with their tiny hooks, and it cracked. He couldn't move. He was paralyzed by fear. The suckers that lined the tentacle were an exact match. Whatever was lurking below was the same thing that had cap-sized this boat.
More tentacles sprouted from the water, and latched onto the sides. One wrapped itself around the bow, and one was already wrapped around the hull. With all their strength, the tentacles pulled the boat onto its side. Jasper gripped the opposite wall, watching as more sea water cave onto the deck. He looked up at the tentacle that was wrapped around the ship's bow, and stared at it. Its dark red skin was scaly and wet with a transparent slime, and the suction cups that lined the bottom of it were the size of tennis balls.
The boat made a creaking noise, and then began the final fall into the water. Before like, its bottom side would be facing the sky, and he would be under water. In an instant, he jumped from the deck, propelling himself by pushing against the wood with his feet. He whizzed through the air, passing by the tentacles that were tearing the small vessel to shreds. He landed in the water with a large splash, and went under. He inhaled nothing but water. He struggled to get to the surface. As he rose above it, he caught a glimpse of the creature that was ravaging the boat. It looked like a squid from the brief moment that he saw it before he shot above the water, coughing and gagging on the water he'd just inhaled. He looked over at the boat, but it was gone. The only thing that he saw now was one last tentacle retreating back into the water.
Jasper couldn't move his arms or legs. He was too shocked to move any part of his body. The horror in his eyes only grew as the last bit of the boat sank below the surface. His mind began replaying the image over and over again, along with the horrid image of the tentacles that pulled it down into the depths. He tried to make sense of it all. He tried to find the reality in the incident. But it was just too un-real. Too un-believable. Maybe he was seeing things. Maybe the lack of food was now taking a very odd effect on him. Maybe there wasn't anything with big tentacles that had just smashed that boat.
Maybe the boat had just sunk on its own, and he had seen it as a horrid sea monster attacking it. Or maybe he wasn't seeing things. Maybe what just apparently happened really did happen. Maybe there was a gigantic, squid-like creature that had come out of nowhere. He had no idea if he was still even sane. Sure, a shark ramming a boat was believable. A boat's remains able to float in the open water was actually believable. But everything else wasn't. None of it seemed real to him. But something kept him from thinking it was all an illusion. He hadn't just seen the tentacles, but the rest of the creature's body. After he had dove into the water, he had caught a glimpse of its full body. He tried to re-imagine it in his mind; it moved like a squid does. It had the long mantle, just long a squid. It had the two fins on top of the mantle, just like a squid. The whole thing looked mostly like a squid. But much bigger and stronger.
As he stared into the water beyond him, a noise interrupted his thoughts. It was his stomach rumbling. The pains were growing worse by the second and his queasiness returned. He swallowed a few times to try and keep it down, but the feeling was just too over-baring. He couldn't hold it in any longer. His mouth flew open and his head jerked forward. He let out nothing but dry heaves. The fluid that was escaping his body was the last amount of water that he had consumed, and now it was gone. After he was done, and the front of his shirt was covered in wet slime, he began to tremble from the emptiness in his stomach. But now, the pain was gone, and he felt so relieved. But he knew that wouldn't last too long. He still needed to find food, and now water.
He glared off into the distance, his eyes blurry from the force of shutting them tight while heaving. But, through the blur, he saw something. It was a little ways off in the distance, and this time, it was moving. He rubbed his eyes to try and clear them, but when he opened them, a drop of water from his hands fell into his left eye. He did his best to dry his hands off, and then he opened his eyes once again and peered into the distance. He saw what looked to be a large Navy ship heading straight toward him. His breathing stopped. His eyes widened. He couldn't believe it. He was going to be rescued. His life would be saved. They un-doubtfully had food and water available.
As the ship drew nearer, Jasper couldn't help but allow a really wide smile spread over his face. He was wet, cold, and very hungry, and now he was going to be rescued from the hellish place. All his thoughts and memories disappeared into a joyous fog that filled his mind as he watched the ship inch closer to him.
* * *
Briche jumped at the sound of the ship's horn sounding off. It's loud roar echoed over the water's surface and then vanished into the horizon. He kept his eyes on the deck as he stared out the large window that he had been staring out of for hours now.
Everyone in the room was silent. They had been most of that morning, which surprised him. Usually there was at least a few complaints or notices, or something. But not today. This morning had been the quietest morning they had experienced in a long time. But that all changed in an instant.
"Sir?" a young man asked from behind him. He turned to face him.
It was the same kid with red hair that seemed to always remain at his post. Briche had never gone a morning without seeing him there.
"Go on, report."
"We have a man adrift out there in the water. . ."
"Yes sir. The men have him out on deck now."
"Hmm. . ." Briche was silent for a moment as he thought. "Give him a room and have the doc check him over," he said at last.
"He just might have some information we need."
Jasper stared down at the floor as he listened to the ship's head doctor slipped on a pair of blue, latex gloves, making a snapping sound as he did.
"How long were out there?" the doc asked straightening his grey hair. And adjusted his glasses.
"Oh, I don't know, a few days maybe," Jasper replied.
"Wow," the old man looked him over for a second.
He felt along his arms and legs. "Do have any open wounds?"
"Not that I know of."
"Good. That could have been bad."
The doc slid his hands through Jasper's hair and felt for bumps. "For as long as you were out there, you certainly are in good shape. How did you survive?"
"Well, it's a long story. . ."
"A long story?"
The doc moved his hands down to his feet and removed his soaking shoes.
"Yeah, really long actually."
"I've got time," his hands moved up onto Jasper's lower leg.
"Well, it started out with this cargo ship I was on. . ."
"Yeah, I had come along to do some fishing. . ."
"According to the captain, we received a distress call from a cargo ship a few nights back."
"Anyways, it hit some rocks. When it did it killed everyone on board, except for me. When I awoke from hitting my head, the whole ship was like . . . stuck on the rocks. When I made my way up onto the deck, the ship came loose and sunk completely."
"Really?" The doc now stared at him with an un-readable expression latched onto his face.
"Yeah. I managed to get off the ship's deck before it sunk, and I've been adrift out there ever since."
The doc stood up straight and smiled. "Thanks for the story. Captain Briche's XO will be by shortly to escort you to your room."
"Thanks, doc. How am I?"
"Well, you'll be just fine. From just feeling your shoulder, I can tell that some damage has been done there. But other than that, you're fine."
"Excellent. See you around, I guess."
The doc only nodded his reply and slammed the door behind him, leaving Jasper to himself. His thoughts were scattered and his mind was scattered. He just needed some more rest, but not yet. First he needed a shower. The trouble was, the XO hadn't arrived yet to escort him to his room, and he was beginning to get impatient. But at least he was safe now, and would be fed and clean before long. He could only dream of the amazing feeling of food entering his stomach, and tossing his pains away.
He began looking around the room, and taking in the surroundings. The room was empty except for the metal table that he sat on, along with a few cabinets and a counter that spread from the right side of the door to the end of the wall, then stopped. Along the counter was a big sink, an ashtray, and a few pieces of paper. Other than that, the room was empty. The cabinets were placed on the left side of the door, opposite the counter, and were made out of a very fine tan color. There was one light that hung over the table, and it lit the entire room. He looked down and ran his hand along the flat, metal surface of the table. It was cold. Really cold. He jerked his hand away and placed it back in his lap, then continued to stare at the door just seven feet in front of him.
He began to look back on the heroic moment when the ship had picked him up. The men on the deck were so kind and made sure he was all right. He'd met only them and the doc, but no one else. He didn't just want to meet the captain, but he needed to. He needed to warn the captain about the "creature" that he had seen earlier that morning. He still wasn't sure if what he had seen really happened, but he was sure enough that he felt like he needed to warn the captain.
At last, the door opened and a chubby, sweaty man stepped inside. He turned to Jasper and smiled.
"Good day. I am Frin Bogo, the captain's XO. I'm here to escort you to your room."
"Well, I'm ready."
"Excellent. It's not too far, just a few rooms down."
Jasper stood up and followed the man out into the hallway. As they walked, he couldn't help but stare at the man's short haircut. Placed on his head was only a few inches of dark brown hair on the top, and he was bald all around the sides. It was the oddest haircut he had ever seen.
The man lead him to a door marked 365 and opened it for him.
"Thank you, sir."
"Oh, my pleasure. And by the way, you don't have to call me sir. Just call me Frin," the man's smile widened.
Jasper returned it and thanked him, then entered into his room, shutting the door behind him. He let a relieved sigh, then hurried over to the small fridge. He opened it and looked inside. There was about eight bottles of water, a few apples, an orange, and a full casserole. He quickly grabbed up a water bottle, and guzzled it down.
The feeling it gave him was beyond good or great. . . it was life changing. He smiled as he took the last gulp and took the bottle from his lips. He took in a deep breath and then let it out slow. He bent down again and grabbed an apple. He took a bite, and swallowed. Then, everything went sweet. His pain disappeared. He took bite after bite, feeling better and better with each one. After he finished it and through away the core, he hurried into the bathroom to take a shower. The bathroom was the typical scenario, with the toilet against the side wall, the shower in the very back of the room, and the sink closest to the doorway.
The water running down his face felt really good. It was warm and fresh, unlike the water he had been drifting in for so long. The steam that came from the heat produced felt good as well. He had always enjoyed that. He washed up well, and then got out. He dried off, then entered back into the room. The captain had assigned clean clothes to his room which were now neatly folded and sat on the bed. He quickly got dressed, and then lay down. The bed made a slight creaking sound, a noise that he had too much of for the past few days. But it soon ceased, and then he relaxed. He shut his eyes, and drifted off to sleep.
* * *
It was late afternoon before Jasper awoke. He sat up and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands and groaned. He looked over at the door to find it still shut tightly. He yawned a few times, and then stretched his arm. His collarbone burst out with pain, and he quickly stopped. The pain shot through his entire body, his muscles and bones and nerves all hurt. Everything but his stomach hurt.
He looked around the room for anything in particular, but saw nothing out of order. The hard, wood floor, the small, black card table, the fridge, and of course, the air conditioner. Besides that, the room was pretty much empty. The only other thing was a small shelf that sat in the corner that was farthest away from him. He slumped his shoulders and then lay back down, and stared up at the ceiling. His eyes swept over the odd pattern that the white paint had been placed on with, making out faces and images out of the old stuff. The only sound he heard was the faint sound of someone talking in the next hallway over, and the fridge's quiet motor. But the silence was almost too much to bare after being out in the water for so long. He was used to the gentle wish of the waves, and the cry of a seagull here and there along with the soft breeze passing through.
But, on this gigantic ship, none of those sounds could be heard. Despite that, he was safe and well-fed now. And that's what mattered. He was no longer fighting hunger pains that worsened every other minute, and he was no longer dry-mouthed and thirsty. And he was thankful for that. Very thankful. He began looking back on the dreams he had while sleeping through the day. While inside his cabin, he had dreamt of the massive Navy ship taking him home. He dreamt of seeing Lora again, and holding her tight in his arms. He dreamt of never going back to see again, and finding some other job. But that bugged him. He loved fishing, and he loved the ocean. He could never quite the business.
He also dreamt of old and abandoned ships, with savage sea monsters crushing them beneath their violent tentacles, blood spilling from the deck . . . the door opened and Jasper snapped out of his deep thoughts. He stood up in an instant, ready for anyone or anything. Moments later, he found himself staring at an older man who had neatly-combed brown hair, a thin and broad face, and was probably in his late fifties. The man forced a smile and shut the door behind him.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Hutchision," he said kindly.
"Same to you . . . captain?" Jasper asked.
"Yes. I am captain Alton Briche, and I have come to ask you a few questions, if that's alright," the man said.
"Ask away," Jasper turned and walked over to the card table, and took a seat.
Briche did the same. "Now, I understand you've been out there in the water for quite some time."
"Yeah, I was. A few days at least."
"Well, I'm certainly glad that you survived."
"Thank you, captain. I am too."
They eyed each other for a moment. "How did you get out there?"
"Well, it all started probably four or five days ago. I was on board a cargo ship during the night of that storm. I'm sure you encountered it."
"Yes, we did. It was a big one, too. Go on."
"Anyhow, the ship hit some rocks, real hard. It sent everyone on board flying through windows and doors, and over the deck. No one survived except me."
"So, I was stuck in my cabin for a good day and a half, maybe two days. Finally. . ."
"Wait a minute, in your cabin? I would think that, when the ship hit those rocks, it would have sunk right then."
"Well, it somehow got impaled on the rocks and didn't fully sink."
"Hmm, that's unusual."
"Yes, but that's the way it happened. Anyways, when I finally got up onto the main deck, the ship finally gave way, and started to sink. I jumped off and fell down into the water, and that's how I became adrift out there."
Briche was silent for a moment. He processed everything he had just said, and then he spoke.
"That's a very interesting story."
Jasper gulped. Surly the captain believed him.
"Don't worry, I believe you. Stuff like that can happen." Jasper sighed with relief.
"The reason I ask all these questions, Mr. Hutchision, is a good reason. It's time you heard my side of the story."
Jasper raised an eyebrow. "Your side?"
"Yes. You see, about two or maybe three days ago, my radar tech had a ship on her screen. When she told me about it, the ship had been on her radar for a while. A little while later, the dot disappeared from the screen, indicating that it had sunk."
"And then, just a few minutes later after that, we experienced a small earthquake. According to our sonar equipment, that earthquake caused a crack to split open a large ground rise just 120 feet down. So, out of curiosity, I contacted a good friend of mine, Benni Luchas, to get some divers into that area, and see if they could figure out some things."
"What did they find?"
Briche paused for a moment, and stood up. He began walking slowly around the room. He stood up to the door and stared out into the hallway.
"Well, what did they find?"
"The divers never returned," Briche turned back to him.
His face lit up with confusion and worry.
"There were three of them, and neither of them returned," Briche paused and clear his throat. "And then, we lost contact with Luchas, and his boat disappeared off our radar screen, just like your cargo ship did. Something happened down there with the divers, and I'm trying to find out what."
"Well . . . what does it have to do with me?"
"The ship that sunk and started this whole thing, was the same ship you were on."
"Are you sure?"
"So, I still don't understand what all this has to do with me."
"Well, I came to ask you lots of questions, but this one is the most important. I want to know if, while you were adrift, you saw anything out of the ordinary, or just plain odd."
Jasper's face grew stern. "Actually, I did see something odd. And when I say odd, I mean it."
"What was it?"
"It was a deserted fishing trawler that had been rammed by something."
"No, something much, much worse than a shark."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I climbed on board, and did a little investigating. And guess what I found, captain."
"What did you find?"
"I found, first of all, that everything was smashed and destroyed. The wires and poles and everything were completely ruined."
Briche glared at him. "I also found pools of salt water and blood."
"On the deck?"
"Yes. It was everywhere. And then, the craziest thing happened. Something hit the bottom from below the surface. Something big."
"Did you see it?"
"Yes, I certainly did."
"What was it? A shark?"
"No, captain. I told you. It was far worse than a shark."
"Just tell me what it was!"
He took a deep breath. "You've obviously seen a squid, right captain?"
"Yes, of course I've seen a squid."
"Well that's what this thing looked like. . . except much bigger. Like a mutation or something."
Briche narrowed his eyes at him and walked a few steps toward the table, then stopped.
"So you're telling me that you saw a 'mutated squid'?"
"That's right, captain."
He slumped back into his chair as Briche let out a frustrated and almost angry sigh.
"Look, Mr. Hutchision, I have six missing people on my hands. I'm not looking for a joke! I need answers!"
"What, you think I'm joking? It scared the heck out of me. . ."
"I don't care! Ever since the diving incident, I've had four missing boat reports. Boats that were rented from some near-by harbor, but then were never returned."
"Well, I'm sorry sir, but that's what I saw, and I'm not changing that."
Briche took a step back and stared against the wall to his right.
"Look, Mr. Hutchision, I'm sure you were just. . . seeing things, alright?
"That's what I thought as well, sir, but. . ."
"But what? I've been in the Navy for over forty years and I've never even heard of such a thing."
"Then what about those old stories from fishermen, you know, the Kraken?"
Briche glared even harder. "That's nothing but legend and myth. None of its true."
"How do you know that?"
". . . Well, to be honest, I don't. But come on, there isn't a squid that gets big enough to ram even a smaller-sized fishing trawler."
"Sorry, but I have to disagree sir."
He could tell that Briche was clenching his teeth, so he decided not to push him any farther.
"That's all I know, sir."
Briche turned to him and nodded, then headed for the door. When he reached it, he stopped, and turned back to him one last time.
"Thank you for your information."
The captain opened the door and slammed it shut. The room then became silent, and Jasper laid back down. He stared up at the wall, and his worries began to flood his mind. He had tried to warn the captain about that thing he'd seen. But he had failed. The captain seemed to hate his job, and perhaps that was why he had failed. All he knew was that he had to convince the captain of the danger before it was too late.
* * *
Briche walked quickly now down the hallway and farther away from Jasper's room. He was slightly raged by the conversation he had just gone through. He just couldn't by the guy's story. At least not the latter part of it. Sure, he had probably seen a sinking fish trawler that had been rammed . . . by a shark. Not some nightmare squid out of a person's imagination.
It was obvious that the guy was crazy, seeing things, lying even. He didn't care. All he knew was that it wasn't possible. He shook his head as he opened the door and stepped into the main control base, and eyed everyone inside. They all returned the glare with a smile, and then turned back to their computers. He only shrugged them off, and then stepped up onto the platform. He walked up to the window and peered outside.
"Find out anything from that drifter?" someone behind him asked.
He took in a deep breath. "Nothing beyond what the doctor got from him."
"So, no luck, aye?"
"No, not really."
Just like most of the times that he stood at the window, his eyes were on the trainees, but his mind was elsewhere. It was on that Jasper guy, and what he'd said earlier. He tried his best to remember all of the things Jasper had told him aside from the rammed fishing trawler and the super squid. He had mentioned the fact that he was on board a sinking ship for almost two days. That was something Briche found a bit odd. Though he believed it, there was something off about it.
True, it was possible. But two days without food or water, and then three more days adrift in the open sea with the same circumstances. He seemed to be in awfully good health to have gone through all that. But, Briche had no real good reason to doubt the man's story, all except for the squid part. That was way too farfetched for his liking. There was no such thing as a "Kraken" and Briche knew it. He knew it real well. And Jasper's wild story only made it even less believable. Out of those years in the Navy, anyone would have thought that he would have either seen it or come into contact with it on the sonar screens or even the radar. But he hadn't.
Such a thing just didn't exist. Or at least it shouldn't. But as Briche stared through the glass that showed him his reflection, something down deep was saying otherwise. A tiny voice inside of him was saying maybe. Maybe there was a Kraken, or monster squid, or whatever you wanted to call it. Maybe there really was something out there in the deep, and it really had attacked that ship, once while it was in motion, and once with Jasper on board it. But he fought that voice. That can't be. Something like that existing and attacking the same boat twice? Really?
He didn't really know for sure, but there was still something that told him maybe there was. Just maybe.
"Sir," a voice interrupted his thoughts. It was Silvia.
He turned to her. "Yes?"
"What was the man's name?"
"I believe it was Jasper Hutchision."
Silvia's face lit up slightly.
He paused for a moment.
"What's our speed?" he asked over his shoulder.
"Um . . . twenty-eight knots, sir," the red-haired man replied.
"Speed us up."
"Might I ask why?"
"No, don't say or ask anything, just do it."
There was a pause. "What do you want me to speed up to?"
"Yes, now do it."
The conversation ended with that. He went back to staring out the window, and thinking hard. But then, out of all the things he had to converse on, something hit him.
He turned to Silvia, who was in her usual spot.
"What about that search-and-rescue party?" he asked.
She looked at him. "Just sent them out about thirty minutes ago. Why?"
"Well, keep in contact with him."
He turned back to the window.
"Who's in charge of the party?"
"All right. Do you still have contact?"
"Yes, sir. Is everything all right?"
"For now, anyways."
"What do you mean?"
"Let's just say I have a bad feeling about this."
* * *
Commander Ryan Eirght was one of the toughest men on board the Navy Combat Ship 26. His men had always been strong and tough, and hard workers all thanks to him and his way with teaching. The things the men under his command had been through were some of the toughest Navy-related incidents ever recorded in history thanks to their fighting abilities and brave spirits. But Eirght had pounded that spirit into them, and had won great praise from the captain for it. Recently, though, the numbers of missions was decreasing, and rapidly, too.
But earlier today, they had gotten lucky. They all sat in the U.S.S speedboat that rumbled over the waves and towards their destination, which was some open spot about sixteen miles from the ship. The landmark that would point them to it was the odd rock formations that everyone on board ship knew about and some of them had even seen. Eirght sat on the edge of the boat along with fourteen other men with a smirk on his face. The mission was simple; get down a good 120 feet below the surface, and enter some kind of tunnel, and then follow it straight on until they came to a fairly big cave. Then they would do a little search for three missing divers. If they found anything, they would report it right to captain Briche, and the job would be done. It wasn't as dangerous as Eirght usually liked, but it was good enough. The boys had been doing nothing but simple jobs like mopping and cleaning up. That wasn't what they were trained for. When the opportunity to go out on a mission had come up this morning, Eirght had taken it right off the spot, knowing they would all be thrilled.
Sitting near him were five Navy divers who were all set to go in their wetsuits, masks, oxygen tanks, and all the other necessary gear that divers were required to wear. Everyone else was just camera monitors and communication experts. He didn't care who was involved. All he cared about was getting his men down there and back before long. The sun was beginning to slowly set, and it would only be an hour at most before the sky would become pitch black.
"Okay men, this one’s gonna be a bit tough. You all know what to do down there, but just keep your eye out for anything suspicious. We still don't know what happened to those other guys, but it couldn't have been good," he said in his soft yet stern voice.
They all nodded in reply. "Now, Floyd, where the heck are we?"
"We're here, actually," the young navigator replied.
"Remember, this is a search mission, and we're just here to find out what really happened the other day."
The boat slowed to a stop, and everyone hurried to their places. They booted up computers, opened up maps, and prepared the divers with one last check before sending them off. Eirght stood up and peered over toward the West, where large rock formations stood.
"This is the place," he said.
"Don't worry everything will go smooth, captain," replied Floyd, their navigator.
"I'm not worried about anything."
It was six more minutes before the divers were off into the water. The cameras the held jiggled a little as they straightened out, but soon the screen became steady. Everyone on board watch the monitors closely, never taking their eye off it. Especially Misk, the boat's main camera monitor. Eirght watched just as intensely as him, hardly ever taking his eyes from the small screen.
"How deep are they now?" he asked.
"About eighteen feet," replied Misk.
"Yes, there off to a good start."
"Let me know when they actually get to this tunnel."
Eirght walked over to the hull of the boat and scanned the water beyond it with his eyes.
"What are you going, might I ask?" Misk called out.
"Captain Briche said to watch out for sharks. They've had a couple of rammed boat reports recently."
Misk only nodded and then went right back to the computer monitor. The second camera showed them nearing the tunnel. The third and first cameras showed them entering the cave. Somebody was behind. Sight-seeing or looking for something. Misk picked up the radio and tuned in to station 2.
"Diver 2, come in. You're falling behind."
Suddenly, the image from the second camera went blurry as the diver holding it swam to catch up. Eirght turned to him.
"Don't let them get separated, Misk. I have a feeling that's what happened last time."
Misk gave him a thumbs up as he turned back towards the ocean. Now, all the computer screens showed the divers were inside the tunnel.
"Sir, they've arrived!"
Eirght hurried over and stared at the screen. "Everything's going smoothly, so far."
"I see that, Misk."
No one said a word as they watched. Now, the screen showed the gigantic stalagmites that stuck up everywhere around the edge of the tunnel's smooth, rock-plastered walls. There were small fish that jittered across the camera's lenses, and also strange speck of dust.
"Wow, what a deal," Misk said in a slight whisper.
"Yeah, it's beautiful down there," Eirght replied.
The sound of someone calling on the radio pierced the monitor watching. Eirght picked it up and answered.
"Yo, this is Commander Eight, sir."
"Anything to report?"
"Nothing yet sir."
"Be sure and report when there is."
There was a click at the other end. He set the radio back down and continued to stare at the computer. Now, all five cameras showed a large cave entrance up ahead.
"They've made it. Now we shall see. . ."
"We're approaching the cave sir," a voice came in over the radio again. Eirght picked it up.
"Proceed. Report what you find."
As they entered, the camera showed the cave interior which was illuminated by their lights. There was nothing but thick, rock walls, stalagmites and stalactites, but nothing else. Camera two panned down to the floor, but again, they saw nothing.
"Nothing yet," Eirght said.
"Isn't this supposed to be the cave that those other divers found before they disappeared?" Misk asked.
"Yep. According to the instructions, it was the first cave in the tunnel."
The camera panned up and down, and then the diver holding it entered in a little further. That's when the camera caught sight of the opposite wall, where another entrance was place. They all swam towards it, their lights causing more and more detail to be shown. Eirght scowled.
"I hope we find at least something. . ."
Camera two went dead. The screen went black in a flash, followed by number three. Number one, four, and five were still on.
"What happened to number two?" Eirght asked.
"I don't know. Try the radio."
Eirght picked it up and switched to station two.
"Come in Diver 2. I repeat, come in Diver #2."
They waited for a few minutes. That time seemed to be not minutes, but an eternity. There was no answer or reply. Nothing.
"Oh great," he switched to channel three.
"Come in Diver 3. I repeat, come in Diver 3, over."
"This is him, I read you."
"Where's Tryd? His camera just went dead!"
"Um. . . I'm not seeing him anywhere. Maybe he went on without us. Have you tried his radio?"
"Yes, there was no response!"
Just then, camera three went dead, and there was a sudden and short-lived scream on the radio. . .
"What the he. . ."
"Come in sir, come in!"
It was Diver 5. "I read you. Report."
"Something just grabbed Liam!"
"Yeah! It was long like a . . . a . . . tentacle or something!"
"Tentacle? What a squid?"
"Yeah, I mean. . . I don't know!"
Eirght let out a frustrated sigh. "Pull back. Get up here now!"
Camera four went dead. The fifth and last camera remaining was hurrying back through the tunnel, picking up the sound of heavy breathing coming from the person holding it. But then it went dead. The last thing it showed was the fleeing image of a long and thick tentacle. . .
"What on planet earth?!" Eright’s face was now filled with panic.
"We've lost them all, sir!" Misk replied.
"Get the boat started. Get us out of here!"
The driver hurried to the steering wheel and reached for the key . . . but then something hit the boat. They all went flying to the floor and blood came trickling from Misk's head. Then, the boat was hit again, and Eirght went flying into the side railing.
He turned back just in time to see one giant tentacle wrapping itself around the navigation compartment, and then everything went black.
* * *
"Sir!" a voice called out, making Briche jump.
He turned to Silvia, who stared up at him with worry in her eyes. He didn't like that look.
"What is it now?" he asked.
"We've lost contact with Eirght!" Silvia replied.
"Yes! He's not responding at all!"
Briche sighed with an angry flare in his breath. He looked from her to the floor a few times, and then finally replied.
"Just wait for his reply. If he doesn't respond within the next hour. . ."
He paused, quite unsure what to do. What was there to do?
"I'll think of something," he said at last.
She nodded and looked back to her computer. He turned back to the window and gazed out with a worried expression stuck on his face. Everyone he sent out there never returned, and vanished from the radar and everything else. He couldn't just send party after party out to rescue the previous one. He needed someone left for other things, like real assaults on the US by sea. But really? Commander Ryan Eirght? His men and he himself were the toughest men around almost. What could have possibly happened?
Perhaps that Jasper fellow was right. There definitely was something weird going on. Ships were vanishing. Sailors and fisherman were disappearing. Something was afoot, and it wasn't good. It troubled Briche that he didn't what was behind it all, and it would have seemed that that Jasper fellow may have given him some good answers. It all just seemed too crazy to believe, like an atheist believing in god. But, maybe he needed to consider it.
The problem was, if it really did exist, he didn't know whether he was headed away from it or towards it. Trying to be as positive as he could, he guessed the latter option.
"Raise our speed up to thirty-eight knots."
"What's going on captain? You've never raised our speed this much."
"There's something out there. I know it."
"What in mother nature's vocabulary do you mean?"
"It's this Hutchision guy. He's got me worried."
"So he did tell you something?"
"Well, I'm not sure I believe it."
"What was it?"
"Just speed us up. No more questions."
There was silence for a moment.
"Um, sir?" Silvia's voice interrupted again.
"Yes?" he asked without turning to her.
"I was wondering if I might try and reason with that. . . Jasper guy?"
"Reason with him?" Briche turned to her now. "I've already done that. He doesn't have any more info."
"Well, can I at least try?"
He listened as she hurried away from her station. After she had shut the door, he whispered a quick "good luck" to her under his breath. He tried to get his focus back on the missing party. They still had not responded, and things were looking grim. But then he remembered, Silvia was gone. He needed someone to keep an ear out.
He turned to the young man with the red hair, and got his attention.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Um, Brent Wirte, sir," the man replied.
"Well, you are now in charge of things for Silvia. Keep an eye on that sonar screen, and an ear out for Eright's call."
It was a moment after Briche turned back to the window that the silence was once again broken.
"Sir! We have a large shoal of squids following us!," Brent called out.
The word squid made him twitch a little. "What do you mean?"
"Just that, sir. According to the sonar equipment, they're riding our tail."
"How big of squid's?"
"None of them appear to be very big."
Briche let out a silent and relieved sigh and sent an up prayer of thanks. "Well, keep a very close eye on them. Don't take your eyes off the screen."
"What should I do if they come any closer?"
He took a deep breath. "You are to open fire."
The bed made an extra loud creaking noise as Jasper sat up. He was now quite refreshed from the often-on naps he had been taking, and now stared at the door. The pain in his shoulder was still lingering, and it made him wince. It would have spells of hurting and then ceasing, and then hurting again. The worst part was he couldn't control it.
His mind was foggy and he couldn't remember what he had just dreamt. He shrugged knowing it was probably something about his previous experiences. He lay back down and stared up at the wall once again. He had nothing else to do. But then his stomach rumbled. He was famished again. He sprung to his feet and hurried over to the fridge and opened it. He grabbed up the orange, sat back down onto the bed, and began peeling it. He pulled a small trash can from around the corner of the bed and went to work. He used his fingernails to dig into the tough skin, and pushed down. The peel came off easily, and it was soon ready to eat. He took the first bite, and chewed for a while. After swallowing, he took three more bites, but then stopped after that. His stomach was oddly satisfied, so he put the half-eaten orange back into the fridge.
As he sat back down onto the bed again, the creaking noise made a quick sound off before vanishing into silence. He looked down at the floor and stared. He stared at the small cracks in between the boards of the neatly polished wood floor, wondering what was beneath those cracks. The sun was now on a full course to set, and was a good thirty-four minutes from allowing the sky to go dark. The waves were silent and still now, which was standard to reason. He wasn't sure if it was just the darkness of the night falling onto the last rays of sunlight or just a blanket of black clouds, but the sky higher up was dark. Really dark. He stood up and looked out the window again, smiling at the amazing sunset. He had always enjoyed them, and this particular one seemed to be extra beautiful against a blue sea.
He watched as two seagulls passed over his window, probably headed for the top of the ship to roost or whatever else sea birds usually did. He didn't care what they did. What they looked like gliding through the sunset was amazing enough. He spun around at the sound of a knock at the door.
"Come in," he said after a moment.
The door opened slowly and a beautiful young woman stepped inside. Her pitch black hair was put up in a neat bun, and her face was bright and slim. For some reason, she looked familiar. That fact was only added to when she smiled at him.
"Hello Jasper. It's been a long time."
The sound of her voice confirmed his suspicions. She was Silvia Glandmoore, the woman he had met clear back in 1989, and had dated for many years before she went off to join the Navy, and "dumped" him.
"Ye-yeah, it h-h-has . . . been a long time," he stammered.
"Don't be nervous. You know me," she said softly.
"Well, I'm not nervous, just shocked. That's all," he returned her smile.
"It's good to see you, though."
"Same to you. What are you doing here?"
"Well I came to. . ."
"No, no, no. What are you doing on this particular ship?"
"Well, this was the one they assigned me to. I've been on board ever since they left about a month ago."
"I see. Now, what are you doing in my room, just out of curiosity?"
"I came to ask you a few questions. . ."
He rolled his eyes. "You too, aye?"
"The captain didn't send me, I came on my own."
"What would you like to . . . know?"
"First of all, how'd you get out there?"
"I was on board a ship that sunk."
"A cargo ship, right?"
"Because the captain said that you told him about some kind of . . . creature."
"Well, yes I did."
"What was it?"
"It looked like a . . . an overgrown squid."
She nodded slowly.
"Why do want to know?"
"Well, you see, according to our records, there was a cargo ship that departed a harbor off the coast of Florida that was carrying something The Navy wants. We think that was the same ship you were on."
"I see. And you think I've seen it or found it?"
"No, we don't think that at all. We just think this . . . creature that you saw might have something to do with it."
"I see. Well, I wouldn't know. All I know is that there's something dangerous out there, and the captain needs to be warned. I tried to myself, but he didn't buy it. This ship might be in danger, and the captain needs to know before it's too late."
"Look, while I was adrift, I happened upon a sinking fishing trawler. I climbed aboard to see what it was about, and, as I was about to get off, something big hit the boat. Then these giant tentacles came up and finished the trawler off. It scared me half to death, and nearly killed me."
She nodded slowly again. "So, this thing was like some sort of . . . mutated squid?"
"That's certainly what it looked like to me."
"And it attacked this boat you found drifting?"
"Yep. It had been rammed by something, and was sinking. I was just investigating around the deck when this creature came out of nowhere and attacked."
"It had tentacles, you said?"
"Yeah, the biggest tentacles I've ever seen. Like I said, that thing nearly crushed me."
"Well, thanks for the info."
She stood up and headed for the door but then stopped at the sound of his voice.
"You know that I missed you, right?" he asked.
"Yeah, I know. I did as well."
She turned back to him. "I always cared for you and worried about you," she continued.
"Would you please pass on that message to the captain?"
"Sure. Will do."
She smiled at him, and then left, shutting the door tight behind her. He smiled as he watched the last glimpse of her hair fade away as she hurried down the hall. He hoped she would be successful in delivering his message, and he knew she would be. She had always kept her word, which was one of the things that impressed him about her.
"Be safe," he said suddenly under his breath.
And he meant it. He lay back down onto the bed and stared up to the wall, waiting for anything to happen.
* * *
Briche stared at the slowly dying sunset and smiled. It was the first time he had smiled in days now, and it felt good. The sunset was very beautiful and unique, and was fading fast. Before the hour was up, the sun would be gone, and the night sky would shine brightly onto the deck, hopefully through moonlight. He never liked it when the moon was just starting its course over, and the only light in the sky was stars. The trouble was, he obviously couldn't see the moon yet, so he had no idea.
The room had grown silent, with most of the people gone from their stations, most of which were on break, or just quitting for the night. Briche had ordered Brent to stay up as long as he did, just in case. The men on watch duty were, luckily, very tough and were fast at reporting any troubles, so that didn't really bother him. What did bother him though was the same thing that had been bothering him for half a day now. The same conversation with Hutchision, and his "Kraken" theory. There had been no sight of such a thing on the sonar, but the shoal of squids that trailed the ship were still at it. He turned to Brent.
"What's the shoal's speed?" he asked.
"They're keeping up really well, sir," Brent replied.
"As long as we're ahead," Briche turned back to the window.
As he continued to stare out the window, he heard an odd beeping noise. He spun around and glared at Brent.
"The shoal is approaching, sir! What missiles should I use?"
"Use the smallest ones. Those should do for a shoal that size."
"Right. Firing now!"
The sonar image showed a small missile heading right for the large shoal of squids. Briche was the explosion take way followed by a gigantic splash of water landing on the deck. The explosion hit the shoal with a direct hit, and scattered them.
"Direct hit, sir!"
Briche smirked a little. "Perfect. Hit em' again."
The second missile blew away another big chunk of the squids right out of the water . . . literally. Chunks of slimy flesh went flying everywhere within the next big explosion of water.
"How many are left?"
"Not many sir. They're scattered real well."
"Excellent. That'll teach em'."
"But there's a problem sir."
"They started scattering before I fired the missile. They seem to be disturbed by something else."
Briche's face lit up with worry. The missile wasn't the thing that scattered them, then what was? It all seemed to be coming true. If the shoal hadn't been pursuing the ship, then they must have been running from something else. And that was what made him the most worried.
"Sir! There's a massive object heading straight towards us! It swimming through the shoal!"
Briche spun around and hurried down the stairs. He turned and stared at the computer screen. And sure enough, there it was.
"It looks like some kind of super-sized squid or something. . ." he heard Brent whisper.
And, true enough; the enormous creature was headed straight for them.
* * *
Jasper had fallen asleep just six minutes after Silvia had left his room. He slept peacefully for a while, until now. He was dreaming. Of what, he couldn't quite tell, but the image of a squid reach out for him was the only thing he could see. It missed him every time, but it kept reaching out for him. Each time he would back away, and the squid would launch at him, pointing its sharp beak right towards his face. He rolled over onto his side, but it didn't help. The dream kept on playing, over and over again the multi-armed monster would reach for him in the dark water surrounding him, and he would try to get away as fast as he could.
He trembled now; sweat raining down his entire body. He began tossing and turning wildly as images of terrifying, man-eating squids hurled towards him while aboard an old, abandoned ship . . . he let out a faint moan, now on his back. Then, images of lightning and thunder pounded and blinded his dark vision. Tentacles outstretched from the ocean, and swallowed him, wrapping themselves around his body, and squeezing hard . . . then they pulled him down into a large beak, the beak of a creature so hideous that it should never had existed. . .
He awoke, and sat up, breathing heavily. He looked around the room, but saw only darkening light. The sun was finally setting. He stood up and stretched out his arms for a few seconds, and then peered out the window. Only three rays of sunlight were left. He sighed with frustration, and then took a seat on the bed again. He looked up at the card table and stared at the black metal siding that was reflecting the dim light. But then, the ship was hit. Something big hit the metal on the bottom of the ship, and sent it lurching forward. Jasper fell from the bed and went rolling across the floor. He slammed his head against the metal door, and moved onto his back. He glazed up at the wall until his vision became clear again, then he hurried to his feet.
It was too late. The creature had found them, and was attacking. It was the only thing big enough to ram a ship this size and make such a jolt like that. He peered out of the small port window that was latched onto the door, and saw men running back a forth, panicking.
Then, he heard an odd and soft rumbling. He spun around and hurried across the room, and peered out the window on the opposite wall. Then, he saw a single, gigantic tentacle rising up from the water along the railing of the ship. It was the biggest thing he'd ever seen, and his eyes couldn't leave it. It rose higher and higher out of the water, and its numerous rows of suckers made a sucking sound as water dripped from their centers. The tentacle rose up a little ways further, curled up its tip, then sunk back down, taking a small portion of the railing with it. He hurried towards the door, and stared out again. He had to get to the captain. He didn't know why, but he just had to talk with him. He looked down and watched as his hand turned the knob and the door creaked open.
He stepped out into the hallway, and made his way towards the main control room.
* * *
Briche opened his eyes slowly, hoping it had all been a dream. He wished the earthquake hadn't happened and he had never sent those divers down there. He wished Hutchision had never told him those stories about the "Kraken". He wished none of it was true.
But, Hutchision had been right. The creature that had attacked that fishing trawler was real, and much bigger than he had ever imagined. He stood up on all fours, feeling around with his hands. A red light was glowing on and off somewhere in the distance, but he couldn't tell where. He felt something running from his nose. But that could wait. He stood up carefully, and took on one foot at a time. He was on both legs in no time. He reached up and felt around his nostril. Blood. It was running everywhere down his face. He pulled out his white handkerchief and wiped it away, and it seemed like pounds of it were coming off his skin. He sniffed a few times, and then looked around the room.
Brent was slumped over his computer's keyboard, knocked out cold. Everyone else that was still at their stations were now on the floor, pools of blood every few feet of floor. He heard yelling and commotion outside on deck. He hurried up to the window, and peered out. Then, he saw the un-believable. Gigantic, swarming tentacles lined with rows of powerful, slime-covered suckers were rising from the ocean, and causing havoc on the deck. One of them wrapped its scaly skin around a man that stood near the bow's edge, and pulled him down into the dark depths. Other tentacles wrapped themselves around various objects around the deck. They gabbed up mean, and squeezed hard. Blood and body parts went flying all over the concrete that made up the deceasing deck. Briche had never seen a more gruesome sight in his life. The creature was real. Hutchision hadn't been lying. That was clarified now. Everything he had said was true. The sinking fishing trawler was true. The lost cargo ship was true. The horrifying nightmare with tentacles was true. It was all true.
Briche turned around when he heard a slight whimper, and then a creak. It was Brent. He was waking up, coming too, and becoming conscious. He sat up, moaned a little, and rubbed his eyes.
"What happened?" he asked a bit sheepishly.
"Brent! Listen to me!"
"Fire all missiles!"
Brent looked down at the computer and gulped.
"But sir, that creature's tentacles are blocking the storage unit!"
"Blocking it?! That's impossible!"
"That's what the sonar shows, sir."
"If we can't fire, then we're doomed!"
* * *
Greg Marty had always loved the open sea. He had always love being in the Navy. But now, the horrid sight before him ruined all of that. Something big had hit the ship, and sent everyone flying to the ground. And now, gigantic, towering tentacles were destroying everything. He had no idea what they belonged to, but they were no doubt gigantic. Their massive suction cups allowed them to stick to anything, and destroy anything.
He had just seen two men squeezed to death, with their insides popped out. Now, his eyes were stuck on one particular tentacle that was wrapping its massive self around the communication poles at the end of the deck. It wrapped around it all the way to the top, curving around perfectly, and then pulled. He heard a loud crack, and then the pole came loose. The tentacle let go, and dropped it down into the water. But then it grabbed ahold of the cement stronghold that once supported the poles. It pulled with all its strength, and soon, the cement cracked. It all came loose, and was tossed back into the water.
Then, he spun around at the sound of metal snapping, and saw one of the tentacles pulling off the metal railing, and then sinking back down into the water. He heard a scream above him, and looked up to see another man being squeezed until he was purple. The tentacle holding him dropped him onto the ground, and splattered organic matter all over his feet. Then, he puked. It was all too much to bare. It was all too gruesome. He spat up everything in his stomach, and then slowed to a stop. He looked up to see more tentacles crushing the main broadcast tower atop the decoy system.
It pulled with all its strength, and the tower leaned over, and began breaking off. It fell from the decoy system, and crashed through the metal lining along the sides of the ship. It crushed a small portion of the dock, and slipped away into the water. Then, a tentacle crashed into the side of the railing, and erupted another part of the dock in the middle. But then, Greg felt his stomach tightening, and then he was lifted into the air. . . he let out a scream, but no one heard him. He looked down, and saw the rows of slimy suckers, and he knew. A tentacle had grabbed him. It was over.
It dragged him down into the water, and he shut his eyes. When he opened them again, he saw the creature itself. It looked like a mutated squid. It had two, gigantic and angry eyes that glared at him, and its red skin was reflecting off the last of the daylight. Then, Greg was engulfed in swirling tentacles, and then he saw the large and gaping beak. . .
* * *
Briche shut his eyes tight and tried to breath. But the fear and confusion he felt inside of him was too over-barring, and he just couldn't keep calm. He let out a half-scared and half-angry sigh, and then opened his eyes. He stared out of the window, and, in the last rays of sunlight, he saw the tentacles still destroying everything. He couldn't just let this happen. He needed to do something, and do it fast. He turned to Brent, who was now fully awake and alert.
"Brent, is the storage unit still blocked?"
He turned back to the window and growled faintly. He needed to do something. . . The ship was hit again. Briche went flying onto his back, and heard a crunch. He sat up as quickly as he could, pain shooting through his upper back. He stood up and looked out the window again and saw the tentacles slipping back into the water.
"Sir! The squid is now retreating!"
He spun around. "Really?"
"Yes, sir. It's headed towards the front of the ship!"
"What do you mean?"
"It's curving up towards the bow, sir!"
Briche didn't reply for a moment as he thought. There wasn't much he could do except warn the guys in the back station, but that wouldn't do much good.
"Open fire," he said at last.
Brent went right to work, typing away. He heard the missile launchers take aim.
"Sir, the missile launcher is bent!"
* * *
The front control station was the smallest one on the entire ship. It could only hold up to seven people, and all of them were very important. They were the people who steered the ship. The head of control for that particular section of the ship was a younger man named Liam Bronson. He had been in the Navy for over two years now, but not quite three years.
And, right now, he was scowling at the odd commotion that was going on. The ship had been hit by someone, or something at least three times now, and it had really tossed them around. It made him wonder what on earth was happening, but he just guessed some sort of submarine attack. That's what they did now a days. There was an awful lot of yelling that had gone around on the back deck, and he had no idea what it was about. The bugged him to the point of his teeth clenching. He didn't like not knowing.
"Steady, now. We may be hit again," he said as calmly as possible.
No one responded, which was the way Bronson liked it. He hated the chit-chat way of things. As he stared out of the small, thin-lined window, his face grew with concern. He watched as the horrid, gigantic tentacle rose up, and wrapped itself around the railing . . . then, more tentacles rose up and joined in with the destruction.
"What on mother earth is this?!" he asked, half screaming. "Get some firearms out there, now!"
The men went right to work, aiming straight for the tentacles . . . but then, another tentacle wrapped itself around the canons, and heaved them from their foundations. The tentacle tossed the canons out into the water, and then slithered away. Bronson's mouth was hanging open as he watched, un-aware of the flashing red light behind him.
"What now, sir?" one man asked.
"I. . . I don’t . . . know," he could hardly speak. "I suppose we should . . . alert the captain. . ."
"I'm sure he already knows. He's been warning us to keep a lookout for something."
"Then I'm not sure what we can do except. . ."
Before he could finish, another tentacle slammed up against the window, cracking the glass. The shards went flying into the room. Bronson turned just into to feel a sudden jolt of pain shoot in his neck, and then he fell to the floor, dead. He let out one last breath before he died, the image of tentacles reaching through the window slowly fading away.
* * *
Briche gulped as he watched the sonar screen. What it showed was just as horrifying as actually seeing it happen. The image showed tentacles ripping shreds of metal off of the bow, and letting them drop into the water. They were just too enormous to defeat. The problem was, the tentacles only made up half of the creature's body. And that presented a problem. A really big problem.
"What damage has the bow taken?" he asked.
"Let me, check," Brent replied.
The young sonar expert began scanning the bow of the ship, as well as the front deck.
"Oh no, the canons are gone!"
"Yes sir, gone! That thing must have ripped them off!"
"Oh good grief, will this horror ever end?!"
He couldn't say that just yet. Mainly because they couldn't give up without at least somewhat of a fight, but also because the creature seemed to have just began. He could feel the vibration clear back here of the bow being ripped to shreds.
"What are we going to do, sir?"
"Contact Bronson, and tell him to get a few men out there with some serious firearms, but remind him to be careful."
Brent picked up the small radio and began speaking into it. He couldn't hear what the man was saying because his words were drowned out by Briche's deep thought. There just was that much he could do except fire at the creature with explosive missiles, and hope that they would bring it down. But he didn't want to waste any ammo, not a drop of it. They needed to wait for a clearer shot, like when the beast was moving, but there was no time for waiting.
Everything was just timed so horribly. Brent's voice finally came through.
"Sir! I can't get response from Bronson!"
Briche turned to him with a look a pure horror. Now, not only had they lost connections with other boats, they were losing connections with people who were on board the same boat as him.
"Try again. Keep trying until you get him!"
Brent nodded, and then continued to try again. He tried numerous times, waiting at least two minutes between each try.
"Nothing, sir. They're gone."
". . . That can't be though, they can't be gone. . ."
"Well, there's no response."
Briche turned and slowly walked up the stairs. Once on the platform he began to pace. Just as he had hoped, the moon was almost full, and spread a nice, thick layer of light on the ship. The stars added to the brightness as well, and the water sparkled as it reflected the glamorous sight. Usually it was glamorous, anyways. Not tonight. Because tonight, he had things to worry about.
"I don't know what to do, except send a few men up there to check on them. Do that," he said at last.
Brent nodded in reply, and did as he was told.
"Attention to anyone on guard duty, attention. You are to report to the front control room immediately, and report back as to what you find. Over."
He lowered the radio from his mouth and slid it over its holder.
"What's the creature's position?"
Brent looked back to the computer screen. "It's retreating again sir, away from the bow!"
"Yes, sir! It heading back this way . . . it's passing right under us!"
"You mean it's gone?"
"Yes, it's retreating!"
"Alright. Speed us up to forty knots. Make this ship go as fast as it possibly can!"
Briche turned back to the window. Despite the good news, he wasn't smiling. There had to be a reason why that thing would just give up like that. Perhaps they had somehow scared it off up in front, or maybe something else scared it off. But he tried not to think that. If anything bigger than that thing attacked, and they would be toast.
Then, he heard the door open. He turned around to see Jasper entering in. He shut the door behind him, and looked up at Briche.
"Hutchision. It looks like you were right," he said.
"Yes, captain. But that doesn't matter now. We need to stop that thing before. . ."
"You think I don't know that?! I don't know how many men we lost, but it was way too many!" Briche narrowed his eyes. "I can't have that, Hutchision. I need those men!"
"Oh yes, I think you do, it's just, that thing is so much bigger than I remember."
"You're telling me that the thing that just attacked us was bigger than the thing you saw?!"
"That's right, chief. Much bigger."
"Surly it's the same thing. . ."
"I think it is, captain. Just bigger. I have a theory, want to hear it?"
"Whatever. I don't care."
"Here it is. Say, when this 'creature' first was awakened, it was much smaller, only about a size larger than your typical fifty-eight to sixty foot squid. But then it ate flesh. And it got bigger. It went on a killing spree, and with each bite of flesh it takes, it grows bigger. Following me?"
"Yeah, I am."
"This means, if it's true, that you half to keep it from attacking any more boats."
"I don't have that kind of control! Besides, the things gone."
"Yes, Hutchision, gone. It retreated for some reason, and now everything’s fine, for now."
"Oh no. If it gets any more food, it'll be unstoppable!"
Briche's face lit up with worry. "I see your concern. Thanks for the advice. Now, get back to your cabin, and stay there. I'll alert you if I need anything else."
Jasper turned around and walked towards the door. He was just about to open it when he stopped.
"Sir, we have another moving ship in the area," Brent shouted.
"It's about half a mile away, sir."
"Keep your eye on it and the sonar."
Jasper quickly opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.
"Keep your eyes on every screen you have. I'm afraid you won't be getting to sleep any time soon. I need someone to watch for that thing, and you seem to have the energy. I'll be here with you."
Brent nodded and smiled. "No trouble, sir."
"Now, I need you to contact headquarters in Washington, and tell them to send help. Attack jets and rescue boats. We can't take any more attacks from that . . . thing."
He began to type rapidly into the computer. Then, his face grew worried.
"Sir, all communications are down! I can't contact anyone!"
"All of them?!"
Briche sighed. "That thing must have done more damage than I thought."
"And that moving ship we have here, it's another Navy ship. In fact, it's Combat Ship 27, sir."
"Keep an eye on them like I said. I'm not sure what we'll do without our communication."
"Me neither, sir."
Briche gulped slightly. "We'll need everything we've got to get through this."
* * *
Jasper took another step down the hallway then stopped. He listened for that same sound he'd heard so many times before. . . the sound of metal creaking. He didn't hear it, which calmed his nerves a little. He had gotten into that odd habit somehow, and he knew it wasn't going to be easy to break.
He continued walking down the well-lit hallway, keeping his focus on the floor in front of him and the conversation he had just listened to. They had lost all communications, and they have another Navy ship in the area, whatever that meant. All he knew and understood was the fact that the communications were down. That wasn't good at all. They needed to get a distress signal sent out somehow, maybe to that other ship. Being a Navy ship, the people aboard it could probably help with the situation, all though, he wasn't sure if anyone or anything could help with defeating a gigantic and horrid sea monster. But, if that was the case, the "Navy headquarters" couldn't help either. Nobody could.
As he neared his room, he couldn't help but pausing at the sound of whispering. He froze, and listened as silently as he could. The whispering was close, but not too close. It almost sounded like the doc's voice.
"I don't know what happened out there, but someone has to do something about it," one of them said.
"Let the captain deal with it. He's got the know-how," the other voice replied.
Jasper took a step, and the floor creaked.
"Shhh! Someone's coming!" The voices stopped.
"Hello?" he called out.
Then, seconds later, the doctor emerged from the shadows, wearing the same outfit he had been hours earlier.
"Oh, hello Mr. Hutchision. I was calming down the janitor back there," he said in a kind voice.
"I see. Frightened by the commotion?" Jasper asked.
"Indeed he was. Any idea what happened? Something hit the ship and sent us all flying to the ground."
"Well, I've heard rumors that some kind of . . . squid attacked us."
"Yeah, that's what I've heard. Not what I know."
"Ah, I get it. Just a rumor?"
"Yeah. Just our little secret though, all right?"
"Why a secret?"
"Because we can't have everyone on board in a panic."
"Oh, I see," the doc cleared his throat.
"If you'll excuse me, I have to get on deck and check out a few bodies."
Jasper smiled and nodded, then watched as the old man hurried away. Then, he proceeded toward his room. He quickly shut the door and flipped on the light, and then let out a breath of air. He was tense, and needed to calm down a bit. He thought about taking a shower, but he didn't feel like it. Then, a thought hit him.
He jolted towards the fridge, opened it, and grabbed the orange from earlier. He dug into it, chewing each bite with a smile as its juicy taste filled his mouth. Then, his mind cleared from its constant fog. He sat down onto the bed, and finished off the small fruit, then lay back down. His thoughts were still hung up on the whole situation. But it wasn't time for thinking. It was time for action.
The trouble was, he wasn't sure which was more needed. Thinking or action. The thinking process could lead to a plan, and a plan, mixed with action, could lead to destroying the problem. So, both were needed. And, right now, he was still only in the thinking process of it all. He began looking through the options. They could abandon the ship in life-rafts, but the chances of getting past the creature and surviving were really low. They could try to kill it by missiles or bombs, but that had a possibility of not working. It could just make the thing mad. Last but not least, they could simply try again and again to signal for help, or send out a distress call, but the communication wires were down, so that was out. The best option was to stay and fight the battle. Either way, they would probably die.
He let out a sigh as his eyes shut, and he slowly began to drift off. He didn't know if he would wake up alive or not, but he knew that it was a possibility that he wouldn't. If he knew that thing, it wasn't going to give up that easy. One thing was for sure. It would be back.
Littoral Combat Ship 27 was at least two sizes smaller than Ship 26 and had weaponry to match. Its docks were loaded with well-engineered weaponry and well trained men. That's what it was known for, training its men with pure Navy spirit. But, with the sky dark, no one was on the dock, not even a seagull.
Captain James Leverhorn stood listening to his XO, Drake's report. It was the same old stuff. New recruits now and then, the radar and sonar were working well. Everything was good. But there was nothing wrong with that in Leverhorn's mind. Not at all. He didn't need any problems right now. All he needed was good reports and his people working hard. Tonight's report had been just about the same as always. There was a trainee sick with the flu, the equipment was functional, the weather was nice, and the missiles were loaded and ready to go. Nothing was wrong, which made Leverhorn smirk. Having to command a smaller ship meant easier tasks for him. He didn't mean to brag, but Briche certainly had it a lot harder. That made his smirk grow. He was almost certain that something was out of order aboard the Combat Ship 26, or maybe not. He didn't know. But that was the joy of commanding a smaller ship. Not knowing.
"And that's it," he heard Drake say.
"Right. Get back to work," he replied. "We have a lot to do yet."
Drake hurried away, and vanished from the room. Leverhorn cleared his throat and straightened out. He was tense for some reason, but he didn't know why. Everything had gone smoothly throughout the day, and nothing was wrong, but, despite that, he was tense. He took a deep breath, and relaxed. He needed to relax. This was the part of the day that things slowed down, and grew silent.
He pulled a cigarette pack from his pocket and lit one up. His appetite was gone thanks to the nasty habit, but it was getting addictive, again. He had gone a good three months without smoking a single one, but then returned when he got stressed. After those three months, things started happening. His wife died from heart disease, which was the worst thing that happened. That was what got the smoking habit started again. As he drew in deep puffs of smoke, smiling at the feeling, he heard a beeping sound.
"Sir, we've got a small raft approaching!" someone said from behind him.
He turned around to face them. He eyed everyone in the room, but no one was looking back at him except Eric, the Commander Officer.
"What do you mean raft, like a life raft?"
"Yes sir. It's about that size."
"Have someone on deck check it out."
Leverhorn turned back to the window and tried to see just a glimpse of this mysterious life raft. But, unlike Ship 27, the window was too small to see out beyond a certain point.
"Good. I'm curious as to what this could be. Maybe Briche is pulling a prank or something."
"He doesn't seem like the type that would do that, sir."
"True, but you never know. Today could've been a good day, putting him in a good mood."
Eric listened on his radio. "Sir, there's a person in the raft."
"Bring him onboard."
The room went silent again as Leverhorn now saw the man being guided from the dock and into the deacon. The man was a thin man with dark brown hair, and had a face that almost looked like Bill Murray. And the guy looked scared, too. That got Leverhorn worried. The guy looked like a Navy officer, and also looked familiar. He guessed it almost had to be Ryan Eirght, one of Ship 27's toughest men. If that guy was scared, there was a problem. The door opened to the room and two officers stepped in with the man in between them.
"Well, well, well. If it isn't Ryan Eirght, aye?" Leverhorn said.
"Y-y-y-yes s-s-sir," the man replied.
"What brings you so far from Ship 27?"
"W-w-we were . . . on an r-r-r-escue mission when. . ."
The man stopped.
"Speak up," Leverhorn shouted.
"When we were attacked!"
"Attacked? By who? Terrorists?"
"N-n-n-no! Something much w-w-worse!"
"Yes, sir! Tentacles and beaks, and monsters!"
"What on earth do you mean?"
"It was a . . . a . . . a creature! It had tentacles, and a long and gigantic body, and a beak!"
"Like a squid?"
"Yes! Exactly like that but . . . b-b-bigger!"
"Yes! You need to get out of here!"
"It's coming for us, I know it!"
"You're pretty shook up," Leverhorn eyed him.
"You would be too if . . . if . . . you had to see that thing tear your crew apart!"
"Hmm. Get him out of here."
The two men dragged him away, but he fought. "No! You have to listen to me! I'm trying to warn you!"
"Hold it," the men stopped. "Let him speak a little more.
"We need to get out of this area! It's coming for your ship!"
"The monster squid! A . . . a . . . Kraken or something!"
"Alright, that's it. Get his nut out of here."
The man yelled out a loud "No!" as the two men dragged him towards the door. But then, something hit the ship. Everyone hit the floor, and blood trickled from Leverhorn's head.
"What the heck is going on?!" he asked.
"It's here! The Kraken is here!"
"Oh please!" he stood up and looked out the window.
Then, he saw the dark red color that made up the scaly skin of the tentacle. It rose from the depths, and smashed itself down into the dock, then re-coiled back into the water. More tentacles rose up and began tearing the ship apart.
"Battle stations!" he cried out.
Then, he saw men hurrying out onto the deck with large guns in their hands, and they began firing away at the massive suckers.
"We need more than that! Fire the underwater missiles you moron!" he spun around and glared at Eric, who smiled back nervously.
"I don't think that will stop it!" Eirght joined in.
"It has too!"
Eric hit the button, and missile went flying into the massive creature's body.
"Direct hit, sir!"
"Good. Keep firing 'til this thing disappears!"
Eric sent three more missiles into the thing's body. But it didn't seem to faze it.
"It's not working, sir!"
"What?! It's not retreating?!"
He spun around and watched as a tentacle wrapped itself around a small shipping container that was placed at the edge of the dock, and heaved it into the water. Then, another tentacle dug into the strong rock that made up the dock's form and sent gigantic rocks flying into the ocean.
"Fire again!" he shouted at the top of his lungs.
Eric sent two more missiles sending into the creature, but, once again, it didn't budge.
"It's still not working sir. The sonar is showing that thing's full appearance. Eirght was telling the truth!"
"Yes I was! We have to leave, now!" Eirght himself called out.
"Full speed ahead!"
But then, the ship jerked back, and Leverhorn went flying against the window. He heard a soft crunch, and then he fell down onto his back. . .
"Sir, the creature's tentacles have grabbed ahold of the ship's stern!"
He jumped to his feet despite the pain he felt in his arm. "Fire more missiles!"
"No! It won't stop it!" Eirght was crazed with fear.
"Then what do you suggest I do?!"
Leverhorn faced the window, and watched with terror in his eyes as the tentacles gripped the deck, and then the ship started to turn sideways . . . everyone fell from their seats, and he slid onto his side, and fell sideways.
"Help!" he screamed.
Eirght had left the room and was now hurrying towards the outside bridge. He threw open the door and stepped outside, and then slid towards the railing. The ship was being pulled down into the water by the horrid tentacles latched onto it. Everything Eirght knew was lost in his mind. The monster below overpowered the Navy's strength by a million, and he knew there was no hope left.
He clashed against the railing and looked down in time to see a tentacle reaching up for him. He quickly jumped off the bridge, and fell down towards the water. As he fell, he smashed into the side of another slimy tentacle, and felt its suckers trying to latch onto him with their meat hooks. He hit the water with a loud splash, and held his breath as he went under. That's when he saw it. The gigantic, red body of the creature. It glared back at him with its angry eye, and then he shot up to the surface. He came up and began swimming away from the monstrous tentacles.
He swam as fast as he could through the dark water, luckily able to see enough to make through, hoping the tentacles weren't following. . . then a loud creaking noise pierced through the night sky. He spun around, sending a wave of water as he did, and saw a tentacle wrapping around the entire bridge, and heaved it down into the water. The entire ship sunk with the tentacles pulling it into the murky depths. Eirght couldn't believe his eyes. The ship was gone. The entire ship was no more.
But then, he felt something wrap around his chest, and jerk him under, and then he saw the massive suction cups, latching onto him, digging into his skin. . .
* * *
Briche took in a deep breath and then let it out slowly. Everything was fine, at the moment. There was no reason to be tense, except for keeping an eye out. Since Jasper had left, he had spent his time staring out the window and watching the shadowed figure of the ship's doctor running around and checking bodies that the horrible creature had left in its wake. And that hadn't been too entertaining.
Then, a quick beeep sounded off.
"Sir," Brent said. "That Navy ship just disappeared off my radar!"
Now, he tensed up again. That thing had gotten to them, and God only knew how bad they had gotten it. They were so much smaller than this ship, which was an Independence-Class ship, and they were Freedom-Class. It was too late do anything. They had disappeared from the radar which meant they had sunk. Despite the slight rivalry that he had gone through with captain Leverhorn, he still felt bad for having to watch them sink in the form of a digital dot.
It was wrong. Everything about this was wrong. None of it was natural. That creature should never have existed. It should have been long extinct, and buried in mankind's dead and forgotten knowledge. But it wasn't. It still existed, and was now threatening their very lives. Not only that, but it was also taking lives.
"Your order, sir," Brent said suddenly.
"Are we at full speed?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," came the reply.
"Then, there's nothing else left to do but wait."
"Wait for it to return?"
It went silent behind him as a quick breeze fluttered by outside, making him shiver. The thought of being attacked by that monster in the dark of night was frightening. What if it hit the ship suddenly without Brent's knowledge, and finished them off? What if it bent the rest of the missile launchers, and their weaponry was cut off? There was thousands of possibilities. But he could only count three; death, death, and death. Nothing but death. He just didn't know if there was any chance of defeating such a creature of its size, and if there was, they didn't have it. Or at least, that was his take on it.
Sure, the ship was much larger than Ship 27, but still. That thing was the largest living thing he'd ever seen in his entire life. It was almost impossible to even imagine them defeating such a behemoth. It would take all of the Navy's firepower to do that. And he wasn't about to spread the word and start a panic. Beaches would shut down, fishermen would lose their jobs, and no one would dare touch the water. No one in the world needed that kind of trouble. Him especially.
"Sir, we have another shoal of squids approaching!"
Briche turned to him. "Another one?"
"Yes, and there moving faster than the last one!"
"Don't open fire, not yet. Wait and see if that creature comes back first."
He turned back to the window. Great he thought. It's back.
* * *
Jasper looked up at the sound of the emergency alert beeping. The red light the beamed down the hallways was now blinking non-stop. He stood up and walked closer to the door, trying to catch a glimpse of what was really happening. Once again, men were running from their posts to find a window or door to look out from. He couldn't help but opening his door, and stepping out a bit. He knew these men had reasons to be like they were, and he didn't want to get in the way.
He stepped out, trying to make himself as slim as possible, and shut the door behind him. Then, after watching six more men pass by, he followed them. Slowly but surely, he followed close behind them, hoping to figure out what was going on. Obviously, he knew it had something to do with that. . . The ship was hit, and hit hard. Jasper fell to the floor, smashing his already hurt collarbone against the floor. Now, pain shot all through him, and blood ran from his nose. He carefully got up, and stood there for a moment.
"Hey, what's going on?" a voice said behind him.
He turned around to see Silvia staring back at him. She was still dressed in her clothes and her hair was still up. "I'm not sure," he replied.
"That was some hit."
"Yeah, it was. I told you I wasn't lying."
"What do you mean?"
"That creature I saw, it's back. And it's gotten bigger."
"Is that what's happening?"
"Yes, it is. Did you get my message to the captain?"
"No, actually. When I got back to the control room, he sent me to my cabin because I was off duty. I'm sorry, but. . ."
"That's fine. But there's no time now, it's too late."
The two of them heard screaming coming from the deck. "Oh crud! I've got to talk with the captain. I'll be right back."
She watched as he hurried away towards the control room. He rounded the corner, now running to get there. His breath was running out itself, but he ignored that. He needed to get to the captain in as little time as possible. He hurried down the last hallway before opening the door, but then the ship was hit again. He flew up against the wall, and heard a loud crunch. He tried to move his shoulder . . . it wouldn't budge. As carefully as he could, he gently lifted himself from the wall, and continued on.
He soon arrived, and swung the door open to find Briche and the other guy staring back at him.
"Hutchision, I thought I told you to stay in your cabin," he said.
"I need to know what's happening," Jasper replied.
"That thing is back, and it's attacking with more force than before," replied Briche.
"Let's stop calling it a 'thing'."
"What do you mean?"
"Just call it a Kraken."
"Forget the name! Brent, fire the missiles now!"
* * *
The men watched as an eruption of water blasted through the night air. They had seen the glow of missiles shooting from the launchers, and, if it hit the creature, it hit it hard. One explosion took place, sending water up nearly ten feet in the air. Then, the second blow came just seconds later, creating the same effect. Then, everything went still for just a few moments.
But it wasn't long before another explosion blasted off. But none of it was working. The men watched with a look of horror swept onto their faces as the horrid creature's tentacles smashed down on the deck, and then slithered back into the water. They heard the sound of metal being crushed, and saw a tentacle smashing down a landed helicopter. More of the massive creature's tentacles wrapped around the ports, and squeezed. They broke off in that instant, and fell into the water. Then, more tentacles smashed into the side helicopter compartment, and wrapped around the machine that it contained, and pulled it down into the water. Any more damage to the ship would and it would sink. Then, they all heard something breaking off the bottom of the ship.
Tentacles were everywhere, tearing off the Multifunction Towed Array, and letting it fall into the depths. More massive suction cups latched onto the stern ramp and caved it in. Then, a loud cracking sound . . . and a chunk of the deck came off, with the tentacles pulling it.
"We have to do something," one man yelled out.
"The guns!" replied another.
They all spun around and hurried over to the main gun storage room. Each one of them grabbed a firearm, and then ran back onto the deck moments later. They all took aim and fired at the towering terrors latched onto every inch of the ship. Bullets went flying into the tentacle's thick skin, but it didn't seem to do any harm. They kept on firing until they ran out of ammo. That's when the tentacle wrapped around the back radar panel and tore it off. The men heard a scream and saw another tentacle wrapped around a commanding officer. It threw him into the ocean, and blood filled the water. . .
* * *
The sight was un-believable. The missiles weren't doing one bit of harm to the creature's body. Its tentacles were still destroying stuff on deck and now had taken the life of even more men. At least they tried to defend themselves with weapons, but that didn't work. They were all dead now. The water surrounding the deck was now red. Even in the dark night sky he could see it.
"Brent, is the creature showing any signs of retreat?" he asked.
"None sir," Brent replied.
"Then what can we do?" Jasper leaned against an empty station.
"Don't ask me Hutchision. I've tried everything but the bombs and I'm not going to use them until we finish off the missiles. Brent, keep firing!"
Brent sent out three more missiles into the creature's lower half. Its tentacles slowed for a moment, but then continued. Jasper kept a close eye on the screen, ready to alert Briche if anything happened. . . then, one of the thing's tentacles slithered over, using the cover of the water, and smashed another missile launcher. But Jasper could tell Briche heard the crunch from way down there.
"It's destroyed another missile launcher!" Brent called out.
Briche spun around and glared at them both. "Keep firing at it, we can't give up!"
"But sir. . ."
"Don't give me that just fire!"
Two more missiles were sent into the things body, but, once again, nothing happened. Then, a man stumbled out onto the deck, and looked around. It was obvious his eyes were still adjusting to the darkness due to his way of walking. Briche's mouth opened to try and warn him. . . but he was too late. A tentacle wrapped around his body and pulled him into the eternal blackness of the ocean. How was it that these tentacles knew where stuff was? Was it the creature itself sensing stuff?
Briche wished it were a darker night so he couldn't see the horrible things he was. He still couldn't believe any of this was happening, especially to his ship. Sure, it couldn't happen to a small row boat or anything like that. It had to happen to a US Navy LCS 26. This thing had to discover them drifting slowly along out in the middle of nowhere. Its senses were just too strong to fight off. It was too smart for them.
Any idea hit him like a rogue wave of salty water. He turned to Jasper, whose eyes were still glued to the monitor.
"Hutchision, I need your help," he said.
"My help, sir?" Jasper asked.
"Yes, I've got an idea."
The two of them hurried out the door and into the hallway. Jasper followed him down the hallway, and they soon turned the corner. Then, the ship lurched backward, and he went flying back. He grabbed ahold of the railing and grasped it tight. Jasper fell to the floor, moaning at some odd pain that seemed to be located in his shoulder. He couldn't help but rounding another corner back a little ways and peering out a window. He couldn't see the main deck or the tentacles, so he hurried back to Jasper, who was now on his feet.
He pulled out a small handheld radio and pressed the button.
"Brent. Brent, come in."
He waited for a moment. "I'm here, over."
"Listen to me. I need you to use the blast-guns that are located on the deck and fire them at that thing's tentacles. You understand?"
"Locked and loaded, sir."
That ended the conversation. He turned to Jasper.
"Come on," he said.
They continued down the hallways, taking twists and turns until they reached a wood-polished door. Briche opened it quickly and pushed Jasper outside and onto a short bridge. The image of eye-blinding light filled their eyes. The guns that were placed all along the deck were firing off. Each orb of flaming bullets hit the tentacles with a perfect hit. The first hit went to a tentacle more towards the left that was just dispersing from the water. It quickly slithered back under. The second shot hit another tentacle that was attaching itself to a small portion of the stern with the same results. More were fired, each one hitting their targeted tentacle. But then, Briche's eyes widened as he watched another tentacle slither up the side of the ship and wrap around one of the guns and tore it off.
Then, another tentacle slither up the opposite side and tore another gun off. Then a third gun was tossed into the water, coming loose from the slime of the tentacle's suction cups. . . and then a fourth tentacle slithered up and torn two more guns off the deck. Another gun went off, and hit a tentacle that was revealing itself. Then, that gun was tore off by a fifth tentacle that wrapped itself around the tiny yet harmful weapon.
"Oh no, it's just too smart."
"What do you mean?"
"Can't you see what's going on?"
Jasper nodded as he watched a sixth tentacle tear off another gun. Now, there were only three guns left, two on the right and one on the left. One of them went off, but missed their target. It was ripped from the deck, and crushed by a seventh tentacle. Then, a duo of tentacles wrapped around the remaining weapons, and tore them off.
"We have to do something!" Jasper said.
"You see this machine?" he asked pointing to a small computer-like machine that sat in front of them.
"Yes, sir," Jasper replied.
"This machine can be used to target specific submarines or things under the water. You need to use this thing to navigate and fire at a more crucial part of that creature's body. Understand?"
"Got it. . . but why me?"
"You're a fisherman, right?"
"Then you'll know what areas to hit."
"But, this is a squid, not a fish. . ."
"That doesn't matter. Sure, this thing is obviously not a kind of fish, but its still and underwater creature. Now do it."
Jasper nodded, and then watched Briche hurry back into the hallway. He turned to the computer and hit the small START button, and the screen lit up. He quickly figured out the main menu, then saw a sonar image of the ship. He saw the rest of the gigantic squid's body moving effortlessly as its tentacles destroyed the ship. He looked down at the thousands of tiny buttons, and raised an eyebrow. Computers had never been his thing, but this was necessary.
He finally figured out that the handles must be for aiming. He grasped them with his palms, then moved them around. The screen showed two little dots, representing the aiming point, moving around. He carefully moved them up to the squid's mantle, and then pressed two little buttons on each handle. Two shots were fired, and hit the squid with a perfect shot. At last, the massive creature was stunned, at least a little. He repeated the process, aiming at the squid's upper body, then firing.
Obviously, firing at the tentacles wasn't going to work. This just might. . . another shot. . . another direct hit. Like everything else, though, it wasn't working very well. The squid didn't seem to be taking the hits as hard as he would've liked, but it was stunning it. He fired again, and hit the beast with another good hit. . . then the thing strengthened its grip on the ship. The tentacles latched on to the deck, and gripped hard. . . and then the ship began to slowly turn. . .
* * *
"Do you really trust Hutchision?" Brent leaned forward.
"I'm not sure, Brent. He's obviously willing to help which is a good sign."
"But what if it's a trap?"
"Trap? We found the poor guy adrift in the open sea. . ."
"Yes I know, but, what if he's a traitor?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
All of the sudden, the ship began turning towards the right. . .
"Sir, the squid is trying to pull us under!"
"How many missiles do we have left?!"
"Fire three of them!"
Brent hit the button just as his chair slid away from his station. He fell to the floor, and continued to slide towards the opposite wall. The three missiles hit the creature with great force. . . then the tentacles let go. . .
"What happened? Did the missiles finally stop it?"
Briche stood up straight as the ship leaned back into position.
"No, it would appear it's pursuing something else, sir."
"Yes, like another ship."
"There are no other. . ."
He looked out the window and saw it. It was a large Navy battleship, only half a yard away.
"Warn them! Contact them and warn them about. . ."
"Sir, don't you remember? The communications are down!"
"Oh no. . ."
It was only seconds later when the ship came into closer view, and Briche could see that it was much taller than them. It was so massive and, obviously being a battleship, it had much better weaponry. But then, it was hit. It lurched back for a moment, then reset it's course. That was it. Once that happened, it was all clarification that you were next. . .
Tentacles rose up from the water and began to shred off the metal that made up the bow. They dug into the upper area, and went down from there. A loud siren sounded off and echoed over the water. Briche could see men scampering around on deck, and he could also hear yelling. The tentacles tore a big hole in the bow, and then gripped inside of it, and pulled. He heard a loud creaking noise, then the screws began coming lose. . . Then, the entire front fell off. The screws went flying out into the water, and a small portion of the bow was tore open, revealing the inside. The tentacles rose up again and began tearing through the metal, knocking shipping containers out, and men.
The horrid creature was amazingly pulling it off. It's tentacles blast through the inside like a hammer, and tore up everything. They wrapped around helicopters and storage units, and also continued to widen the hole. Then, one of the tentacles rose up even higher and wrapped around the tip, and began to heave. The suckers tightened and expanded as the slimy arm used all its strength to tear it off. It finally gave, and fell down into the water, taking a few men with it.
"We should have a clear shot," he said silently.
He turned to Brent. "Fire the missiles!"
Brent hit the button after using the computer's software to aim carefully, and sent two more missiles straight towards the creature. They hit directly, and Brent let out a brief cry of victory. But that cry was short-lived. The missiles didn't seem to do any damage. He looked at Briche.
"One last missile sir. . ."
Brent hit the button, and the missile went sailing through the water and hit the creature with the same results.
"Nothing, sir. It's not taking any damage. Should we try the bombs?"
"No, not yet."
He turned back to the window and saw the tentacles tearing off the battleship's radar panels and tossing them into the water. Their suckers latched onto the glass of the helm's window, and a cracking sound echoed through the ship's interior. When the tentacle pulled away, Briche couldn't make out any living souls inside. Then, something caught his eye, higher above the navigation room. A tentacle was wrapped around the navigational pole.
It slither farther and farther up, and was soon wrapped completely around it. It yanked it from its foundation, and dropped it down into the water. During the fall, the pole's top end crashed through more of the ship's railing before hitting the water. Then, a loud boom pierced Briche's ears. The ship's on board canons were firing at the creature's tentacles. They hit two with a perfect shot, but then missed a third tentacle. The missing shot went flying into the ocean, causing a large explosion of water to splash onto the deck of his ship.
The canons fired again. . . but then stopped dead in their tracks. Briche looked up at them and saw the tentacles wrapping around the canons, and squeezing. They came loose, and crashed into the deck. The tentacles then slithered over towards the left, and wrapped around the entire bow's frame. Then, the creature heaved to the left, taking the ship with it. It began to tip over towards the left as the tentacles began to crush the metal. Then, one of them wrapped around the cabin, and squeezed. It busted open, and more screws came out of its siding. The ship was gone, the tentacles pulled it under the surface, and it vanished.
"Sir! The ship is sunk!"
Briche ran up and looked at the screen and saw the squid pulling ship deeper and deeper into the depths. His face lit up with worry. If that thing could take down a battleship, it could take down them. But it was gone for the moment, which gave them an opportunity.
"Turn us around," he said suddenly.
"But sir. . ."
"I said turn us around! That thing has already sunk two ships in our DERSON and we need to go while it's occupied!"
"Right, I'll alert command central."
Briche didn't walk away this time, but stayed there, staring at the screen in disbelief. He had never seen anything like this before. It was a threat like none other. But surely a squid couldn't get the best of them. Surely an over-sized cephalopod couldn't be the death of the Navy. . .
Or could it?
* * *
Jasper gulped as his eyes tried to move away from the area where the battleship had just been taken down. The battleship was one of the biggest ships on the ocean, and one of them had just been pulled down into the ocean's depths by a bloody squid. Or maybe that wasn't the word. More like monster or abomination or something like that.
He couldn't imagine what the crew of the massive ship were experiencing. Only God knew what horrors awaited them down there in the clutches of that. . . creature. He had given up on trying to name it. It was just simply a creature, and that was it. Sure, a name such as Kraken fit it, but that just seemed to calm and humble, considering the situation. At last, he took a step back, still watching the conversing water beyond the stern closely. But then, he ran. He just ran and ran through the hallways. His footsteps echoed off the now empty walls. As he passed, his eyes caught sight of a few dead bodies. Men who had been killed with major head trauma after the creature hit the ship.
He rounded one more corner, and he was there. He slowed down a bit as he neared the door, urging to open it. At last he did, and came barricading into the room. Briche looked up at him and tried to smile, but couldn't. He couldn't blame the old captain, because right now was not the time to smile.
"Captain, did you see what happened?" he asked.
"Yes, I saw it. And it worries me much more than anything else," replied Briche.
"We need to get out of here!"
"I'm turning the ship around now."
"Good. These waters are beyond hell!"
"Don't tell me about it. I've seen things in the last five hours that would make a nervous man lose function."
"Sorry, sir. . ."
"No need to apologize. I just want less talk and more action."
"Yes sir, I'm sure you do."
Briche turned to the red-haired man seated next to him. "Bent, have we gotten fully turned around?"
"I'm not sure, have a look," the man pointed toward the window.
He watched as Briche hurried up the steps and looked out the window.
"Good, we're turning around."
"How quickly can we be out of this area?"
"If the ship is put at full speed, then not long. Seven or eight minutes at the least."
"Yes, the least."
"And the most?"
"Probably eleven minutes."
"What does it show on the radar?"
"Nothing now. That thing pulled it pretty far down."
The conversation was interrupted by a loud beeping sound. They both turned to the computer.
"What the. . .?!"
"The squid is re-approaching sir!"
The screen showed a moving squid-shaped figure trailing the ship. . . only it was much bigger than last time.
"Good gravy, that's not the same creature!"
"I think is captain. Remember my theory?"
"Whatever that is, whether it's the same thing or not, we can't defeat a monster of that size!"
"Can't we pick up speed?"
"This ship is at full speed, Hutchison."
There was a pause for a moment. "Why isn't it hitting us?" Brent broke the silence.
"Good question," Briche said in a slight whisper. "It seems to just be following us. . ."
"It won't be long though," he interrupted.
The squid didn't move, but kept moving forward and was now the same length as the ship. Its massive tentacles could do much more damage than before. It would already take months before they could repair the damages it had already taken.
"You think it really is the same creature?" Briche asked.
"I think so. Like I said, it's been feeding off of human flesh. After it took down that ship, it fed again on its crew, and now it's grown even bigger."
". . . It must have grown three or four sizes bigger! Look at it!"
"And that's just what the sonar shows. It could be even bigger than we think."
"We're toast either way. If that thing attacks this time, we might as well surrender."
They all continued to watch the screen, and kept their eyes glued to the massive creature as it quietly followed them. It didn't seem to rise or descend, but just keep at a steady pace, scurrying gently through the water. Briche walked back towards the window.
"Alert me if that thing moves, but fire at it first," he said.
"And, if that thing should hit us. . . God help us."
* * *
Silvia pulled open the door to her room and leaned out. She looked around for a moment, then stepped fully into the hallway. Her hair was still tied up in a bun, and she still hadn't switched clothes. She had hardly slept do to the sudden jolts and commotion. She strode slowly down the hallway and rounded the corner, passing a few. . . dead bodies as she went.
She tried her best to ignore them and went on. She rounded another corner, then walked more friskily down that hallway, then rounded another corner, and repeated the process. As she rounded the next corner, her eyes caught sight of the ship's doctor, lying on the floor.
"Doc," she blurted out as she bent down to help him.
He was unconscious, and blood trickled down his face. She patted him on the shoulder, but got no response.
"Wake up!" the old man didn't move. "Come one, doc."
She waited a few more moments, then stood back up. The guy was dead. Nearly everyone on board was dead. She walked on down that hallway, fear-stricken by what she had just seen. She rounded another corner, and started down another hallway. But then she stopped again. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something move.
She looked in the movement's direction but saw nothing. She stared for a moment, then kept going. It was only seconds later before it happened again. But there was nothing in the inch of flooring where the movement had taken place. This time she stared longer, hoping to catch another wisp. . . Another glimpse. . . but everything was still and silent. She shrugged and kept on going, feeling more and more like she was being followed. By she just walked that feeling off as best she could. There couldn't have been anything following her. . . then she heard something.
She spun around and saw it at last. Its horrid image didn't last long, but it was enough to make her scream. It had the body of a small squid, and moved like a menacing predator. She turned around and ran for the door, bursting into the command room. Briche, Jasper and Brent all looked at her with slight stun. But that soon vanished, except from her.
"Captain, there's something out there!" she managed to say.
"What do you mean? The Kraken?" Briche asked.
"No, but something like it. . . only smaller."
Jasper stood up and eyed her. "What did it look like? A squid?"
"Well, sort of. . ."
"Sort of? Did it or what?"
"Alright, it. . . it did, OK?"
"Just calm down, I'm sure everything's all. . ."
Jasper's mouth clamped shut at the sound of metal breaking somewhere down the hall. Silvia quickly shut the door behind her.
"Perhaps we do have something running around. . ."
"Sir!" Brent cut in. "We have a problem!"
Jasper spun around and peered down at the screen. The gigantic Kraken in the waves below was rising quickly. . . towards the ship.
It was so sudden, no one in the room had to time to brace themselves. The hit was much harder than any of the previous hits. The creature smashed into the metal plating of the bottom, and sent them to the floor. . . only this time, people died. Brent flew into the computer, electrocuting his face. Blood splattered onto the keyboard. Briche fell to the floor, hitting his head hard on the metal guard. Jasper and Silvia flew to the ground.
But, Jasper awoke moments later. Was he dead? Had the horrid terror from the deep finally killed him? Or was he still alive? He blinked a few times, and his vision became clear. He sat up and looked at Silvia, who lay about six feet away from him. He didn't see any blood, but with the lights knocked out, he wasn't sure if he was seeing things correctly. He carefully stood up on his legs and limped over to the window and peered out. He saw the now overly-enormous tentacles digging into the deck, and ripping chunks of the hard gravel from its surface. One tentacle wrapped around the left corner, and pulled it completely off.
He spun around and hurried back to find a computer that was still working. He found one just across from Brent's station, and took a seat in the leather chair placed in front of it. He saw multiple security cameras recording all of the chaos. One tentacle was wrapped around the entire top edge of the bow while another was breaking off more communication poles and snapping their wires. Trying to focus, he grabbed ahold of the mouse, and clicked around until he came to a sonar image of the ship. He hit a few keys, and then he saw two dots representing bomb launchers appear on the screen. He hit another key and the moved onto the squid's mantle, and then he hit another key, but nothing happened. He began pressing key after key until, finally, a bomb was launched into the creature.
But nothing happened. It still didn't seem to take any effect on that thing. He repeated the process, trying his best to hit the same keys he had before. He sent another bomb into the creature's lower mantle with the same result. A little icon at the bottom right corner read; 1 bomb left. He sent the last bomb and it exploded in the same area where the previous ones had. There was no more weapons left. The bombs might have had an effect on it before it had taken down the battleship, but not now. Now, it was far too big to harm in any way. Now, that thing was going to destroy them.
He stood up and hurried over to Silvia, and felt all around her head. She wasn’t dead, her heart was still beating and she still had a pulse.
"Silvia! Please, wake up. We have to get out of here!" he said.
But she didn't respond. The room went silent again, and the air became cold. "Wake up," he ran his fingers through her hair as he looked around for something to do, some way of helping. . . But then, something smashed up against the slither of glass that lined the top of the door. Jasper saw a small, gaping beak, and thousands of small suction cups, latching themselves onto the door. Then, Silvia's eyes opened, and she sat up.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"That thing hit us again," he replied.
She turned to him. "You mean that. . . oversized monster squid?"
"Yes, the one in the water, not on the ship."
He jumped to his feet and looked around. Only now, he was looking for a weapon, something to kill that small menace with. There wasn't anything, except. . . he spun around and saw the gleaming handle of Brent's pocket knife. He rushed over, and grabbed it out of the now dead man's pocket, and hurried back to the door. Silvia backed away just in time to escape the shattering of glass.
He ran towards the door, making sure he didn't step on Silvia, and opened up the pocket knife. He raised it in the air like a savage head-hunter with a spear, and face the small squid's beak. He shoved the blade into its soft skin, and blood oozed from its entire body. Moments later, it dropped down to the floor, and died. He quickly lifted Silvia to her feet, and opened the door. They both raced out, with Silvia following him.
"What are we doing? There could be more of those things!" she said.
"I doubt it. We would have seen them by now," he said. "Follow me."
"Where are we going?"
They ran through hallway after hallway, their hearts pounding in their chests, and their pulses racing. Jasper slowed to a stop at an un-marked door, and quickly opened it. Silvia followed him inside, and then they both saw the control panel. It was the side control room.
Dead bodies littered the floor, all of them with their heads split open.
"Geese, that thing's blows to the ship kill so many people, much less it itself."
They stepped over the graveyard, and hurried over to the dash. Then, they saw a man, but he wasn't dead. He sat, shivering, in a black leather chair just two spaces down from them.
"Who are you?" Jasper asked.
"I'm. . . uh. . . Rodger C-c-clod. . . what's going on?!"
"We're being attacked. . ."
"I can see that! But by what? Those are the biggest tentacles I've ever seen!"
"I know. Let's just say it's a Kraken, OK?"
"I'm not in the mood for jokes. That's just a myth. . ."
"What else can we call this thing? Super Squid?"
The man paused. "Good point. What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to try and fight off this thing. What button is which here?"
"The buttons that you could use are more towards that way," the man pointed their direction.
Jasper moved as far as the man directed him, then looked down at the buttons. He tried to focus, but the sound of tentacles tearing the entire ship apart was way too much to bare. He looked up and saw a tentacle tearing off one of two remaining poles, and tossing it into the water. I then coiled up, and did the same with the other pole, tearing it off and throwing it into the depths. More tentacles joined in as began tearing apart the large sun panels that lined the deck below.
Then, another tentacle came in from nowhere and crashed into the railing of the cabin. Jasper quickly hit a button that had an icon of a missile, and saw small canons on the deck go off. They hit one tentacle with the first shot, but missed with the second. But the tentacle kept on destroying.
"What on earth are you trying to do?"
"I'm trying to kill this thing, or at least wound it!"
"That's impossible. . ."
"Don't remind me!"
All of the sudden, there was a loud thunk... and the entire cabin started to fall forward. . .
It was too late. He went flying through the window, and fell down toward the water. He grabbed ahold of the railing, and held on tight.
Briche opened his eyes very slowly. The image he saw was nothing but grey-colored blurr, and it wasn't pretty. He rolled onto his back and looked up, but he still only saw lighter-colored burr. He blinked, opened his eyes again, but the blurr was still there, yet clearer. He sat up and blinked some more. Before long, his vision was clear again.
He looked up at the window but he couldn't see what was happening. He rolled onto his side and hoisted himself up with one arm. He still couldn't quite see out, but he could hear lots of crashing and banging. He tried to get up. . . pain shot through his leg and threw him back down. He let out a yelp as the pain tensed for a few seconds, then began to sub-side. He tried again to get up, but the pain shot up his leg again. Lying on the hard, metal flooring of the platform, he looked down and saw a large, bloody gash just about eight inches from his ankle. He winced at the pain that throbbed through it as he sat up slowly, never taking his eyes off of it.
Then, he heard screaming, and turned his attention to the window. This time, he stood. He ignored the pain and heaved himself to his feet. He limped closer to the window, then saw everything. The tentacles were tearing into the bottom of the cabin, and working their way up. The monster had won. The terror. The horror of the deep. The ultimate nightmare. The Kraken. It had won the battle. It was only a matter of time now before he and his ship would sink away just like so many other Navy ships had at the hands of that thing. He couldn't do anything now. He surrendered, right there and right then. He let out a prayer of thanks for the life he had lived, then looked back at the tentacles.
At that instant, something big smashed up against the window. He saw the massive suction cups and the scaly, red skin, and the horrid little hooks that line each white eye that made up a large portion of the tentacle. Glass flew into his neck, and he flew onto his back. . .
* * *
Jasper tightened his grip on the wet and slippery railing that he clung to. It was so easy to let fear over-take him and make his eyes look down, but he fought it. Now, one of the tentacles had wrapped itself around the entire cabin, and was pulling it down toward the water.
He looked up into the sky, and saw the first rays of the morning sun shining through the clouds. He hoped it would scare away the creature, but he seriously doubted that. It hadn't been afraid of the sunlight when it had attacked the fishing trawler or this ship itself for the first time. That thing was unstoppable. He didn't know why he had ever thought they could defeat it. Then, he heard something.
"Jasper!" it was Silvia.
"Yes, I'm fine!" he called back.
"Give me your hand. . ."
"I don't mean to be harsh, but what's the point?" he looked up at her.
"I hate to say this, but none of us are going to get out of this alive."
She said nothing.
"Listen, we had some good times together. And I'll never forget them. But we can't stop this thing now. It's too powerful."
"But. . ."
"Just know I have always loved you, and I'm sorry I had to let you go."
"Now, I may see you again someday. Who knows, everything could go right. . ."
The entire cabin leaned forward even farther and Silvia had to fight to keep from falling out the window.
"But it's not looking that way. So, goodbye. That's all I can say."
He looked down into the water again, and took a deep breath. He almost let go, but then guilt caught him. It was selfish to try and live without giving the others a chance as well. But he didn't know if he would survive. A tentacle could catch him and give him the death it had given so many other men aboard this ship. He just didn't know. But, he had to try.
His hands gave way. He fell down towards the water, prepared for anything. As he fell, he smacked up against a tentacle, but all it did was tossed him out father. He kept on falling inch after inch through the cold morning breeze. He hit the water hard, and his vision went slightly blurry as he drifted, under the surface. He saw the creature one last time before he shot above the surface and swam. He swam as far away as he could from that hellish place. But guilt followed him. He had just said goodbye to the woman he had loved for years, and had almost married.
Tears streamed down his face as he stopped and looked from a good distance away. Why did she have to die like this? Why did she have to die through such a creature that should never have existed? Why had this happened? The creature that was now pulling the ship farther and farther into the water should never have even been thought about. It should be in hell, which was the place that fit it the most.
But it was a squid. A monster. A terror. A demon. Something beyond hell. A Kraken.
* * *
The USS Billings was on a course for The USA when it came to a stop. The men on its deck were currently helping up a man who was just adrift in the ocean. Captain George L. Frinch couldn't believe his eyes. The guy had just been drifting along in the open water, waving frantically at them.
"Sir," his XO, Liam, said. "We're picking up a distress call from LCS 26."
"Respond and find their location. Briche doesn't send out a call for nothing," he replied hastily.
He turned back to the window and continued to watch as the men rushed the strander off the deck. He heard Liam call into the radio. . .
"Come in Combat Ship 26, come in."
They all held their breaths and waited. But the only response they got was the sound of metal being crushed beneath a mass of gigantic tentacles.
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Rookie Burwick
Editing/Proofreading: Danette J. Bradford
Publication Date: 01-30-2017
All Rights Reserved