Winner of the Weird Tales contest, July 2018 "Avenger of Atlantis"
|There I was, shaking my stuff on the stage below deck. We were already in the middle of the Atlantic and the revelry was riotous! It was in the middle of Prohibition in the US, so of course we had our little booze cruise in the middle of international waters. You wouldn’t know it now, but back in the day I was quite a looker, and I knew it. The men were dancing and laughing along, clapping to the swinging beat.
Then, right in the middle of the party, I heard a rapidly clanging bell somewhere above deck just before the ship violently lurched to one side with a horrible crunching sound. I was thrown across the room and hit the wall. When I lifted my aching head from the floor, I was surrounded by men, all clamoring to be the one to help me to my feet. I graciously accepted their help and gave them a grateful smile, hurrying to my cabin.
I had pulled the key to my cabin door out, when suddenly my arm was grasped tightly by an old woman! She was wearing a shawl, so I didn’t get a good look at her face. She whispered in my ear, “We’ve crashed right into it! Directly below us. The lost continent! It’s here! Stay out of the water. They move faster in the water!”
I sighed heavily, thoroughly unconvinced. “Sounds like you’ve been hitting the sauce a little hard and reading too many Weird Tales, lady!” I wrenched my arm away from the old woman and went into my cabin, packing my suitcase quickly before heading above deck.
When I got to the front of the ship, I found a crowd of people gathered, staring at something off the port bow. I could see that the ship hadn’t just collided with something, it had run aground. The only part of the ground visible was a small piece of land jutting out just a few feet above the water, with a deep cavernous hole in the center, like a miniature volcano. I could tell there was wind blowing up from the hole since it made the mist swirl around its mouth.
Just then, I heard a forceful gush of water spew out from the hole. Then… I raised my hands to my mouth, holding in a scream. It looked as though the bodies gushing up from the hole were pale, bloated corpses. Hundreds of them, all intertwined. Before long, the bodies covered the ground just beneath the surface of the water. The flow of drowned, lifeless human corpses continued for several minutes, piling them higher and higher in front of the grounded ship. And as I stared into the long-dead eyes of one of the bodies… it blinked. I screamed in horror, watching the mass of corpses begin to stir, and soon, were crawling away, beneath the surface of the water.
I heard a lifeboat splash down and turned to see a small boat full of terrified people rowing for their lives. I quickly made my way to the next life boat, and saw some of the same men that had fallen over themselves to help me earlier, now fighting to be the first to board the boat.
The first lifeboat erupted in screams. I looked back to see the tiny vessel surrounded with the undead clawing their way on board. The people fought back with heavy wooden oars, but the horde of assailants was too much for them, and they were quickly overrun. I had to look away as the people were messily devoured alive.
I remembered what the crazy old lady had told me earlier and yelled over to the others boarding the remaining lifeboats, “Stay out of the water! The ship has run aground! It’s not going to sink!” but my warnings went unheeded.
I ran to the bridge of the ship, which looked like it had been hastily abandoned. After grabbing the wireless handset, I saw something big crawl its way onto the ship.
It was some kind of aquatic creature with long, rigid fins on its back and head. Its lower half was a pale green and scaly like a serpent. It held its humanoid front half upright while its serpentine rear half slithered its way across the deck. It saw me behind the glass window of the bridge and produced a deadly-looking spear made from whale bone. I quickly closed the door and locked it just as the creature reached me. It let out an evil, otherworldly scream as it took its spear and began jabbing at the door’s window.
I looked around the room to find something to defend myself with, and discovered an antique fishing spear mounted on the wall. I hastily dislodged it and pointed it toward the creature. As the glass of the window shattered, I screamed and rammed my spear in the direction of the thing, feeling it connect with the flesh of its arm. It wailed, recoiled in pain, and quickly leaped from the deck into the water below.
I stayed in that room, huddled in a corner, my spear poised at the ready, that entire night and most of the next day. When I finally emerged, the water was calm, the fog had lifted, and aside from the damage to the ship, no sign that anything had happened. All the lifeboats were gone, along with all the passengers. The hole in the ground had collapsed into a small mound of rocks and dirt.
Later that day, I was rescued by a group of handsome members of the US Coast Guard, one of only two survivors. I often wonder what happened to the creatures I saw enter the ocean that night. Maybe they’re still beneath the waves, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, searching for people to catch and devour… But what do I know, right? I’m just a silly old woman telling tales. Just like the one that saved my life all those years ago.