A captain becomes lost at sea. For The Writer's Cramp. 4/17
|She never saw it coming. This was how she started the tale but over the years of telling, she began to think that although she had not seen it . . . perhaps she had heard it. Perhaps she'd felt a bump against the hull, just before.
Memory was a funny thing, as changeable as the sea.
That day, the sun was shining bright, cutting its heat through the breeze to strike her full on the face as she stood by the wheel and soaked it in. Freedom on the open seas, mistress of her own fate. The exhilaration was soul deep. Her crew worked behind her, moving ties, swinging though the rigging, using the wind to pull the ship through the waters in the sparkling sea.
Maybe she felt a bump and maybe she didn't but everyone felt what came next, a violent jolt. She slid across a deck that was suddenly tilted at an impossible angle. She could still hear an echo of deep groaning, the boards of her ship bending under immense pressure.
She struggled to turn and grab a rail, something to stop her downward slide. She caught hold and a massive tentacle slammed down onto the deck beside her, heavy enough to crush her, had she been under it. Another tentacle rose from the other side of the deck. She watched it rise and reach, flexing with unimaginable strength. It gripped the mast and pulled. The strength of the snap pulled the tentacle back out to sea where it dropped the wood and sail and returned to the deck, wrapping around the hull.
She could hear her men, calling for direction, but she knew as well as they that there was nothing to be done.
There was a moment of calm. She looked up at the cloudless sky and mused how odd it was to go asunder without a storm in sight.
Then the tentacles squeezed. Wood splintered and cracked, rang out like gunshots. She remembered her pistol then and though she knew it would do no good, like beestings on a bear, she emptied every bullet she had into whatever she could see of the beast.
She knew that every good captain went down with her ship but she wondered how many of the faced being a meal for the kraken. The deck shifted and flattened. She jumped up and ran across the deck, dove over the railing and into the cold arms of the sea.
She swam to a piece of debris, not quite large enough to climb all the way onto, but still enough to hold her aloft. To rest and float rather than struggle and swim. She watched her ship shatter and sink and she watched the kraken devour the remains.
In the end only her and one crewmen were left alive. They went to the mast and lashed two of the larger pieces of wood together in a makeshift raft. They floated, exhausted and thirsty already. The sun burned.
They drifted, waiting for death. She wondered why either of them were trying to hard to stay alive since they knew how this was going to end.
A necessary senselessness.
They talked to pass the time, voices dry and croaking out through cracked lips.
She started to drift in and out of consciousness, her mind twisting though fevered dreams. She awoke once to see her companion sleeping as well, his back to her.
She woke again to find herself alone of the raft. She would wonder what had happened to him through all the years to come. Had he fallen or had he chosen to fall?
She awoke again and felt queasy and disoriented. She heard the surf before she opened her eyes.
Over the years she changed the flavor of her story, because this, her survival, crawling across that beach and away from the cold depths of the sea. . . She never saw it coming.