Ship's captain gives an oral report on what happened to his crew during a terrible storm.
|Aye, I'll tell ye' exactly what I saw.
We'd been on the water since early morn. Was a clammy and bitter day. The sun'd been up for hours but we'd not seen it, so thick the fog and mists of night were hanging.
But ol' Dagny Jenson wasn't bothered, experimenting as he was with his custom deep trawling rig.
Dagny, his money allowed, was after Architeuthis, the giant squid and gave us common folk little notice.
He was a quiet man, always adjusting and figuring, so naturally we all turned to see what made him yell out as he did.
Maybe he'd finally bagged his squid.
I wished it'd been that, but no.
As I said, the sun had yet to burn off the night. The water in the air made the visibility scarce.
I's on me way over to Dagny and I seen him bent down, squatting o'er whatever he'd brung up.
Closer I could 'ear a bit of sloshing and dripping and I could see his prize twitching on the deck.
Weren't shaped like no squid I'd seen but Dagny was between me and it, so I'd not seen it all.
I called to him, "Oy, Dagny! What'd you haul in?" but he don't answer. He just keeps squatting.
I hadn't noticed who else was approaching him 'til Martin called out, "You forget how to speak, Dag?"
I glanced back and saw four of my men coming with me.
The thing at Dagny's feet was dark green, bloated, it was, and it glowed with a sickly faint light.
Dangny seemed to try to stand but fell over onto the deck and didn't move.
I suppose we all were prepared to run and help him... but... the thing he'd caught was sitting there like a man.
Its head was large and mostly fused to the trunk; it was turning its whole upper body to look around. Those eyes... shiny and black as the abyss itself, each the size of my fist stared unblinking at me and my mates. The mouth opened and closed, rhythmically, breathing, tasting, I don' know.
It reached out an arm ending in a hand with four fingers and a thumb like you and me, but huge, could wrap the webbed fingers 'round my head with ease, it could. The pointed, black finger nails were just as likely talons.
The hand found Dagny's prone body and picked it up like it weighed nothing. Its mouth opened wide, by God, disjointing like a snakes and lined with needles for teeth.
I wasn't about to let it eat Dagny so I grabbed an iron fishhook and ran straight on shouting, "Drop him! Drop him or I'll spill you all over this deck!"
I know it wasn't a man, that'd understand my words, but I had to do something.
It ignored me until I was almost upon it. I don' know, maybe its eyes don't work so well out of the water.
When it caught sight or smell or sound of me, it dropped Dagny, crouched, and with surprising speed, rose up.
I was stopped where I stood.
Was nine feet tall if in inch, glistening with the water oozing from its porous skin. The arms, all four and a half feet of them, reached up toward the sky and the creature began to cry.
How can I describe such a thing? If you'd heard a pig being slaughtered, that'd be close.
With its scream came wind and wave.
I believe it was calling a storm to capsize us and drag us below and it was well on its way at that.
As much as I love my own life, I love my ship's more, so I barreled toward it and knocked it on its arse. No sea legs on that swimming monster, it went down with a splat.
The skin had been rough like a shark's, not scaly, but still soft underneath as it gave way when I hit it.
So when I saw the blood that was on me, I thought it the creature's. I thought I'd wounded it, and feeling the confidence charged forward with my hook.
Though on its back, the creature began to cry again, but was low, a sound you could feel in your bones more than your ears.
I heard my men screaming in agony like the sound was boring into them. I don't know why it didn't do the same to me, but the storm was still coming and my ship was tilting to and fro and I had to save my ship and my crew so I plunged forward and raked my hook across the beast's side.
The moan broke and it howled in pain. Before I could strike again, it swatted me across the deck with one of its massive hands as if I was just some insect hovering about it.
It broke three of my ribs, cracked my sternum, and its claws nearly sliced open me jugular.
I passed out, I'm told, and woke 36 hours later.
The beast had taken Dagny's body, split open like hung meat--aye it'd been Dag's blood on me and not the beast's--and leaped back to the sea singing its low song, driving my men to madness.
Five of my crew of seven threw themselves overboard in response to its call.
Six died that day: Dagny, Carl, Jan, Toby, Ted the Younger, and Rob.
My mate Gabe says he'll never go to sea again.
When my wounds heal, I'll be back out there. It's all I know and I have a family to provide for.
The investigation determined that those men were simply lost at sea because of the freak storm.
And they were, I suppose, but it weren't the storm that truly claimed them.
Was what brung it.