A callous sound of thunder disturbs me. It forces me awake. Pulling myself from my makeshift hammock, I groggily walk up the staircase onto the deck of the Balagore. The moment my face breaches the outside air, the sting of cold hard rain stings against my face. The wind whips at my hair as I turn and see the captain at the helm of the ship.
“Aye, Mr. Thorn, help with those sails,” he shouts, “or they’ll take us all down to the sea floor!”
“Aye, Cap’n,” I reply.
Grabbing a length of rope, I tie one end to the knobs of the center mast and one to myself, creating a lifeline. I climb up the roping on the side of the ship to get to the crossbeams. The rest of the crew managed to get most of the sails up. I start to tie a rope to it and then jump from the crossbeam. Holding onto the rope as hard as I can, my weight helps the sail raise. As I finally get the main sail raised, a deep guttural sound rises from the darkest depths of the ocean. Even the captain turns and looks from the direction of the sound. Off in the distance a massive group of tendrils rise from the surface of the water and lash about almost slamming into the side of the ship.
The captain turns the wheel of the ship. I can feel the bow of ship now turning toward the direction of the hellish tendrils. I look to the captain.
“Cap’n, what are you doing,” I shout at him, “you’re taking us toward the beast!”
“Aye, Mr. Thorn,” he replies, offering no other answer than that.
A grin rips its way across the length of his face. But the horror and terror in his eyes show that he is nothing but absolutely mad. I brandish my cutlass, making my way up the stairs to the helm.
“Cap’n, turn the ship around,” I say, “I don’t want to have to do this.”
Before the captain can respond, a spurt of blood grazes my face. Looking down, one of the abyssal tendrils from the beast in the distance has pierced the body of the captain. Raising my glance to his face, a black ichor runs from his mouth.
“God bless this beast,” the captain says as he is whipped from the helm of the ship and drug into the depths of the ocean.
With a look of primal fear, my brain now shutting down. My instincts start to kick in. No longer in control of my own body, I grab the wheel and turn the vessel as hard as I can in an attempt to get away from the beast. To my surprise the vessel refused to turn. A crack, as loud as thunder, comes from the stern of the ship. It was now in free fall in a way. The only explanation for that sound was the rudder breaking. Some of the crew start to jump ship in the raging sea beneath us. A few make it into the water, but those that don’t are caught by the black tendrils and hurled into the distance. Those that land in the water are not as lucky. Where they land, they are shredded and ripped apart by the raging waves.
The ship is drifting toward the creature that has taken the lives of so many of the crew. I begin to realize what the captain had earlier. We aren’t making it out of this alive. So, I brace myself and put a heinous smile on my face and take command of the vessel and the remaining crew.
“Alright, you sons of bitches, listen up,” I shout to the remaining crew, “We aren’t coming out of this unscathed! And I ain’t going down without a fight. Man the guns and take aim at the beast!”
The crew looks to me, at first hesitant, but then as if with a renewal of spirit, they start to brace themselves.
“Aye, good lads, now give me a shanty!”
Almost in unison the crew starts to chant a shanty. If we are being observed by some other-worldly force, they’d think us mad. Which is probably true. The Balagore came about and was drifting faster and faster bow first toward the beast.
As this great beast comes into range of the cannons, they fire one by one. Each thunderous shot, louder than the thunder that surrounds us, punctures through the air. As the cannon fire continues, I stand atop the wailing lady, my cutlass outstretched.
“Alright, you vile monstrosity, if I die today, so do you,” I shout.
The Balagore’s speed ever increasing, the waters beneath us starts to turn the ship as a whirlpool starts to form with the beast at the center. Some of the men have a look of fear on their faces.
“Wonderful,” I shout, “More shots for this sorry beast!”
“AYE AYE, CAP’N!”
The firing continues. Though it only lasts five minutes before the ship is headed straight for the creature. I stand there with a gleeful smile on my face and a sinister look in my eyes. The ship rams the beast and shatters on impact. I am knocked from the bow of the ship into the water. I sink like a stone, my cutlass slowly drifting from my hand. I watch as the beast continues to destroy the water above. The air in my lungs slowly leaving my body. Despite the occurrence above I feel at peace, almost serene. Eventually everything fades to black.
A callous sound of thunder disturbs me. It forces me awake.
–K. E. Oskold