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From Below

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A fisherman's body washes up on shore in New Bedford, MA. His death has a mystery that Maggie sets out to uncover.

Submitted: December 30, 2018

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Submitted: December 30, 2018

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From Below

 

20 August 1996 New Bedford, MA, local boardwalk, 0700 hours

I would run this path every morning in New Bedford.  The boardwalk was a great place to jog without interference of crosswalks and it had a great view of the whitecaps out at sea.  Jill and Andy were expecting me in a few hours for lunch so I had a good amount of time to just be in my own head.  They wanted to go over the details of tonight’s party.  My brother Andy was leaving for his first long fishing tour and everyone wanted to celebrate rather than mope about it.  I’m going to miss him like crazy.

I had been jogging for fifteen minutes or so when I noticed a group of people on the beach standing in a circle.  They all looked very alarmed and in need of help.  I slowed my jogging slightly to get a steady view of what was going on.  I stopped on the path just in front of the group of people to gather a clue as to what the commotion was about, but the thick mass of patrons was growing steadily.  I diverted from the path and continued to jog in the direction of the concerned townsfolk.  Upon reaching them I saw a man lying on a chunk of washed up debris.  A horrid stench mixed with the brine smell of the ocean air hit my nostrils.  I held back vomit as I looked over the man.  He was missing half a leg and one foot was severed only attached by a mere ligament or two.  The massive piece of debris the man was lying on looked to be a part of a boat.  There was a name scribed on it just under the man’s arm that read Nordic Warrior

I continued to scan the man’s body with my eyes as I covered my mouth and nose.  His arms were hanging over the sides of the chunk of debris, but the majority of each arm had been chewed off at the forearm; sharks l would assume.  His face was black and blue from what seemed to be a badly broken nose.  His eyes were swollen shut and his front upper teeth were missing.  His hair was long and matted stuck to the sides of his face. 

I heard sirens off in the distance which I assumed were for the poor soul that was lying in front of me.  Then I noticed something drift ashore just off to the right of the man about twenty feet away.  I casually walked over to the object as to not attract attention.  A clear air-tight container was ebbing with the waves on shore.  I grabbed the container slowly, flipped open the two latches and pulled out a thick wad of warped paper.  I looked over my shoulder at the group of people still milling around near the dead man.  I noticed the man’s eyes were looking directly at me.  Grey, blood-shot, lifeless eyes that seemed to be giving me a message from beyond the grave.

“Read it.”  The man looked like he was trying to say to me.

Secured within the wad of papers was some sort of old piece of bone.  It was polished and had some old language in stark blank ink that almost looked burned in.  I slipped the artifact into my vest pocket slowly as to not be suspicious.

I turned my attention back to the papers and shuffled through them to make sense of what was written.  The top page simply read:

“If you’re reading this I’m probably dead.  I just want to let everyone know what happened from my perspective.  I need something to take my mind off the pain.”

I continued to read on.

 

11 August 1996, commercial trawler, The Atlantic, 22:00 Hours

Waking to the ship nearly capsizing in the midst of a storm, I sloshed back and forth across the back deck of the ship.  The rain accumulating aboard was nearly drowning me. 

My face smashed the deck breaking my nose spurting blood on my white under-shirt.  My head was wrapped in bandages and throbbing with pain which made it hard to focus, but I was able to pull myself upright using the walkway rail.  I stood up desperately grabbing hold of anything that would keep me from falling overboard. 

Pulling up worn suspenders over my shoulders I made my way into the storage shed. Breaking the emergency panel with my elbow I grabbed the high-beam lantern and flares scattered on the floor of the shed.  The pistol I had hid in a coffee can was gone.  Only one other person knew about it. 

The lights on the boat were out and the storm all but concealed any way of seeing in all directions.  I lit a flare and tossed it out the shed door to get my bearings.  I needed to reach the bridge in order to assist in riding out of this hellish storm.  Shoving open the shed door the sheets of rain beat upon me.  I wrapped my hand around the door frame to pull myself out and into the pelting storm.  Flipping the switch of the high-beam flashlight back and forth with a rap on the side sent some comforting light into the darkness.  The sound of the storm was deafening that when I called out I could barely hear my own voice.  “Johnny!?  Burt?!”  I called out as loudly as I could.  This vessel was a ghost town.  What the hell happened to the guys?  What happened while I was unconscious?

I knew something must have happened during the initial parts of the storm.  Something must have knocked me out.  Running back into the shed I grabbed a raincoat and proceeded back on deck with my face partially concealed.  The flashlight’s light bounced off the sheets of rain that cut into my body, but the little amount of light being given off was enough to slowly traverse the boat in small steps.  I filled with panic once I reached the stern and immediately corrected my course of intended direction toward the front of the ship. 

Spinning around in haste, the beam of light fell on a darkened figure no more than twenty feet in front of me.  I pushed myself forward and the figure became no less shrouded as I came within proximity.  The beam of the flashlight began to flicker and disappeared for a few moments which then I gave it few more raps on the side.  The batteries jostled and the light sprang forth back into the darkness.  The beam landed back in the general direction where the figure had been, but nothing was there.

Continuing forward I began to feel weak against the relentless lashing of the wind and rain.  I gained some clarity of my surroundings once I reconvened with the storage shed.  Grabbing a nearby fixture I pulled myself further in the direction of the bow, when immediately in front of me, the shrouded figure reappeared.  The fear and surprise of the encounter forced me backward onto the deck where I once again hit my face and continued the bleeding from earlier.  I saw the sheen of the red fluid shoot along the deck and toward the back of the ship carried and washed by the rains; as helpless in the storm as I was. 

I tried standing but slipped letting go of the flashlight watching it hit the ship deck.  The batteries fell out like eggs from a basket.  I quickly took my coat off and whipped it overhead and onto the cascade of batteries sent to the back of the ship, holding only an inch of a sleeve in my hand.  Yanking the coat back in my direction I scooped up the runaway capsules and nervously shoved them back into the flashlight.  I hit the flashlight on its side once more and the light shone forth in the path I was headed but the figure that was there before was gone once again.  Collecting my fractured psyche I hesitantly continued to push in the direction of the bow, but I stopped in the communications quarters for a quick reprieve. 

I slammed the door behind me and took a deep breath.  I thought I was going to drown from the rain.  I fished for my wallet and took out the only photograph I owned of my wife.  I gave it a look-over and read the inscription on the back, “For the long trip, love you.” Securing it back into my tri-fold my breathing became slightly filled with panic.  I looked over at the comms station to see photos taped to the equipment of Burt’s family.  “We just need to ride this out.”  I thought to myself.

The light of the flashlight began to flicker violently which was when I knew that finding fresh batteries would be imperative to finding my way to the bridge.  I limped over to the cabinets and tore them apart and found stockpiles of radios, headsets, satellite phones and half empty packs of cigarettes.  Underneath the desks I found a milk crate filled with packs of batteries.  My eyes widened with relief.  I shoved new batteries into the flashlight and it shone brighter than before.  The light landed in the corner of the room where I saw the wall covered in blood with Burt sitting slumped in the corner. 

I squinted thinking I was seeing things while holding the flashlight steady as to study the remains of Burt.  A low gurgling noise was audible above the thrashing wind and waves outside.  Burt’s mouth came to life and thick, red spittle drained from his mouth.  Shocked, with mouth agape I ran to Burt and kneeled at his side to look him over. 

"BURT!  Hey, man!  What the hell happened to you?!"  I asked loudly over the storm’s commotion.

“Donny,” Burt said into my ear, “Grab me a cigarette, will ya.”

I scrambled to find Burt’s cigarettes near the comms equipment.

“And the picture of my family.  Please.”  Burt said.

I grabbed both and made my way back to Burt making sure to grab hold of anything mounted as the boat was still heaving with every wave.  I lit Burt’s cigarette with a little green Bic lighter.  He took a long drag in and breathed out with a cough.  Smoke billowed out his mouth and through a quarter-sized hole in his cheek.  I pointed my flashlight at the side of his face.  I could see teeth glowing white against the light.  Burt gripped the picture of his family tightly in his other hand.  I ran the light further up his head only to see a soft crimson socket where his left eye used to be.

“BURT!  What happened?!”  I asked again in frustration.

Burt’s one remaining eye rolled toward me.

“Our last catch yesterday.  Something was caught in the net.  Captain said it was some sort of substance inside an old container.”

“What container?  Why didn’t I hear about this?”  I asked insistently.

Burt motioned with a nod and pointed toward the shelves next to the comms station.  On the floor was an upside-down ordinary looking Tupperware container.  The contained slid back and forth with the rocking of the ship.  Around it was a thin, shimmery, black substance.

“You were sleeping Donny.  You got hit on the head when the net came over the side.  Whatever was inside that container must have gotten knocked lose when the first wave hit.  I walked into the comms room last night and the container was on the floor.”

Burt continued.  “There was something else in there too.  An old piece of bone.  Had some weird ancient writing burned into it.”  Burt’s sentence seemed to trail off at the end.

I thought for a moment with a blank stare.  I averted my view from the container back to Burt only to see him lying on the floor with the cigarette still between his fingers.  The ship heaved, I gripped the leg of the steel table in the middle of the room and Burt’s body was sent to the back of the comms room slamming against the back wall.  I turned my head away as to refrain from witnessing his body receive the impact.  At the sight of Burt’s mangled body a lump formed in my throat that I could barely hold back. 

The pounding in my head continued.  I grabbed an aspirin bottle that was rolling on the floor, popped six of them in my mouth and stood up facing the door.  Before I could begin looking for supplies a small hard object rolled across the floor at my feet.  I snatched it up with one hand and gave it a close look.  It was the piece of bone that Burt had referred to.  I stuffed the object in my pocket and grabbed a Kevlar safety line.  I fastened the safety line around waste, grabbed the carabiner clip with one hand and threw open the door.  Wrapping my coat snuggly around my body I used the safety line as a sash to keep it insulated and secure.  Pulling my hood over my head, I stepped back into the violent, black haze as a gust of wind caught the door and tore if from the ship.

I used the carabiner clip on the safety line to latch onto any anchored object thin enough to allow it.  If I were to trip or fall, this would ensure my safety and position on the ship; a holdfast.  Lunging forward I slapped the clip onto a cleat fastened to the deck a few feet ahead of me.  The ships lighting came back on, but dimmed and shut off occasionally.  I left the flashlight behind as it was too hard to carry only allowing one hand to man the safety line.  Even though my eyes were beginning to adjust to the dark the return of lighting to the ship gave me a feeling of relief in the pit of my stomach. 

The rain seemed to become harsher against my face as my excursion to the bow of the ship continued.  I lifted my hand up to eye level but could not see more than a vague outline of it.  I coiled my right arm several times around the safety line and jolted forward, wriggled the line free of the cleat and threw my body against the side of the ship. 

My eyes began to well up as I recalled the last moments I spent with my wife and the thought of this trip turning into the mistake I subconsciously knew it would.  I should have listened to her plea.  “The storm of the year was coming,” she kept saying and I paid no mind.  I just saw the cash flow as reason enough to put my life on the line, not taking into account that she might have something to say about it. 

The bow of the ship darted upward suddenly and sent me tumbling back toward the stern.  I watched as the scenery passed me by as I hurled the safety line in a random direction but it caught hold of nothing.  I had no choice but to aim for the communications room where door had previously been ripped.  I stuck out my right arm and grabbed the door frame with what strength I had left and flipped myself inside.

The ship’s bow slammed down against the water after a large wave causing the stern to fling upward and all of the equipment was thrown askew.  I reached into the opened cabinet of collected packs of cigarettes and lit one in a hurry.  Taking a drag of it, my lips were having a hard time coming together.  I grasped a mounted handle on the wall as I puffed and gazed at the eleven inch scar etched into my arm.  The culprit had been a bait hook.  A pain that even my swollen face and broken nose couldn’t even match.

I stamped the cigarette out on the damp floor amongst the rubble of the consoles and navigation monitors as the winds still battered the windows and doors.  The storm wasn’t going to let up any time soon.  Therefore, my grind to the bridge had to continue with haste. 

I rewrapped the safety line with care around my waist and tied a large cargo hook upon the end of it for this next go-around.  Once secured, my back had grazed against an object directly behind me.  I turned around immediately only to come face to face with the unknown, shrouded figure that I saw earlier.  I backed up suddenly and tripped over the rubble of monitors on the floor, jettisoning myself into the storm.  Before sliding overboard I tossed the hook in the figure’s direction catching the doorframe.  After sliding over the edge of the boat I hit the side like a wrecking ball.  I was dazed momentarily then began climbing my way back up the safety line and over the side.  My frustration grew as the figure was once again nowhere to be seen.

Upon righting my stance in parallel with the ship’s temperament, my anger and frustration were emanating profoundly.  I propelled myself forward with every dip the bow took, sliding when permitted, avoiding any toppled beams and life boats in my path.  With hook in hand I saw that the bridge was near and felt my chest puff out as I took an early breath of victory inward. 

The ship took its time settling back to a level position causing me to fall and slide again.  Tossing the rope at the stairway leading to the bridge, the hook caught hold of the railing, jerking me to an immediate stand-still.  Only a few feet of slack lay between the stairway and I.

I extended my hand forward and around the baluster and propped myself up. I stood tired and sullen facing the stairway that led to the bridge.  I climbed for what seemed like an eternity staring at each stair step that passed in front of my view when finally I reached the door.  Without hesitation I pulled open the door with brute force against the winds.  What I saw next was hard to describe or even believe.

Its form spread throughout the cabin of the bridge and consumed all salvageable equipment.  The sludge that gripped the floor and the walls stemmed from the wheel in tentacle partitions, and at the wheel, towered the figure.  It steered the ship menacingly and darted its gaze in my direction as it animated and reanimated into different members of the crew.  The sludge lapped and lathered across the floor in a writhing fashion.  The walls and ceiling were covered in webbed muck that dripped dark fluid. 

My stance was frozen as I examined the room that the entity had consumed and become a part of.  Its gaze tore away from mine as it began to resemble Captain Niles.  Letting go of the wheel it turned to face me, and suddenly its features resembled that of my wife, Patricia.  As its viscous form shot onto the ceiling and pulled itself slowly toward me it took on a feminine figure to match that of my wife’s face and stopped mere feet in front of me. 

I wanted to run, but I couldn’t move from the shock of it all.  The eyes of the entity were stark and dripped black as a smile crept to the corner of its mouth.  Its hand came up to meet my face and writhed across my swollen, cold, wet cheek and through my hair and back down to my neck.  The partitions of its form encircled me and laid across my feet soaking my boots.  I backed away slowly until I met the wall as she…or it, continued to walk assertively toward me.

Before the entity reached me I heard several loud cracks echo in the bridge cabin.  “Donny!  Run!  Grab anything you can and get to the lifeboats!”  Captain Niles shouted while readying another shot from the pistol I had been looking for earlier.  He was standing at the secondary entrance to the bridge.  My gaze was fixed on him.  I couldn’t move.  Captain Niles raised the gun and pointed it at the entity.  As shots kept ringing out the sludge from the entity crawled across the floor and enveloped his feet and quickly travelled up the rest of his body.  He seemed to stop breathing as the sludge looked to be squeezing him.  He howled loudly in pain over the storm outside.  His eyes went bloodshot and blood trickled from his ears.  His rib cage collapsed and his howling finally ceased.  Captain Niles disappeared into the sludge as if he were never there. 

I became nearly ensnared in the infinite sects that made up the entity's form as each tailed partition wriggled up the wall and above my head.It continued to mold itself into the likeness of my wife.  Her hands, blue and cold reached for my face to pull my head toward her for an embraced kiss. Its lips white and dead felt frighteningly foreign.  I pulled away and helplessly slid down the wall to sit on the soaked floor. 

I hadn’t blinked once since entering the room.  Her form had grown so dense that the windows gave out and the ceiling was riddled with spicule limbs that punctured through.  The sludge on the floor wrapped itself around my legs.  I shouted in agony as my ankles began to disintegrate.  I fell to the floor as my muscle tissue gave way.  My ankles were severed.  I was helpless to flee.  The entity lowered herself…itself to my field of view and spoke in a smoky tone: “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”  The entity seemed to be able to manifest the worst fear that hung the pit of my stomach.  Her embrace grew tighter. 

In a last ditch effort I grabbed the safety line still fastened around my waste and threw the hook out the door and onto the stairway railing.  With the strength I had left I pulled myself outside onto the staircase landing and hoisted myself partially over the railing with my severed feet dangling. 

I stole one last glance back at the entity which to my horror no longer resembled my wife, but instead a large mouth with what looked to be gnarled, bloody shark teeth took shape.  Several skulls and appendages fell from the viscous form.  The faces were half disintegrated.  They were the faces of the crew. 

My eyes bulged out of my head at the macabre sight of it.  Fingers, toes, flesh and blood continued to pour toward me from the entities dark viscous form.  The entity moved closer to me which snapped me out of my shock. 

With the last bit of strength I had I hoisted myself over the railing and plummeted into the white-capped waves below.

 

20 August 1996 New Bedford, MA, local boardwalk, 0730 hours

Once I read the last paragraph of what seemed to be the dead man’s story, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Ma’am, could I get a statement from you on what happened here?”  I turned to face a policeman standing behind me.

“Oh, I’m sorry Officer, but I showed up after everyone had already gathered around.  I haven’t seen much else.”  I explained.

The officer’s name tag read ‘E. Cromwell’.

“What’s your name, ma’am?”  The officer asked assertively.

“Maggie.  Maggie O’Shea.”  I said

“Alright.  I’m taking inventory of everyone near the man when I arrived.”  The officer paused for a moment.  “What have you got there?”  He pointed at the wad of paper gripped in my right hand.

“Oh, here.  This washed up on shore not long ago.  Looks like a story was written on the pages or something.”  I handed the officer the wad of paper.

The officer thumbed through the pages.

“Ha!  Sounds like we’ve got a dead fiction writer washed up on the beach.”  The officer said with said sarcasm.

“You think that was written by the dead man, Officer?”  I asked. 

A gust of wind blew into my nostrils with the pungent stench of the man’s rotting corpse.  I gagged with my hands cupped over my mouth.  I coughed violently.  I looked back at the man’s body.  His grey, bloodshot eyes were still fixed in my direction looking right at me.

“Sorry, ma’am.  I’ll walk you back to the boardwalk.  After twenty years of smelling dead bodies it doesn’t become easier on the senses but becomes…well, regular.”  The officer flashed a crooked grin.

“Yes, please.  I already feel for the man and I don’t even know him.”  I said still grimacing with a tear in one eye.”

“It’s natural.  That’s what makes us human.”  The officer said placing a hand on my shoulder.

“I should really get going.  I have an important event to attend for my brother.”  I explained.

“Well, if you ever need to talk about what you saw on the beach, please don’t hesitate to call us.  We have professionals that can offer counseling.  We’re over on Main Street in case you’d like to stop in while out jogging as well.”  The officer explained.  He had a fatherly way about him.

“Thank you.  Much appreciated.  Take care.  I hope those papers help with the investigation.”  I said.

“Ma’am, before you go.  Was there anything else you might have seen or found on the beach besides those papers you gave me?  Anything at all?”  The officer inquired.  “Even if it seemed benign in nature it might help us a great deal.”

“No, nothing.  That was all I found, unfortunately.” I said.

“Okay, no problem.  Take care, Ms. O’Shea.” The officer waved goodbye.

 

20 August 1996 New Bedford, MA, O’Shea residence, 2200 hours

I walked into my parent’s home to laughter and music.  I had gone to the store to grab more liquor and food because my brother and his friends were fiends.  I set down five heaping plastic bags which got the boy’s attention immediately.

“Sis!  Thanks for planning this all out.  I love ya!”  Andy said planting a wet kiss on my cheek.

“I’m going to miss you too!  But, that was gross!”  I said while laughing.

Andy melted right back into the party after thanking me.  The smile left my face as I stuffed my hand into my vest pocket to stow away my house keys.  I felt a smooth cylindrical shape within.  I pulled the object out and examined it.  I can’t believe I had forgotten all about the object I had found in the container that washed up on the beach this morning.  Since it was still in my possession I thought I might as well pick Andy’s brain about it.  For a fisherman he was quite learned and knew his history.  I beckoned to Andy over bottles clanking and music thumping.

“Andy!  Could you help me in the garage for a moment?”  I yelled.  Picking up the slew of grocery bags I shuffled my way through the kitchen and into the garage.  Andy came after me with a soft, exasperated jog.

“Man!  It feels so nice in here.  We need to open up the windows or something.”  Andy said with sweat beading off his forehead.

I began unloading the grocery bags putting beer and perishables in the garage refrigerator when Andy chimed in concernedly.

“Looks like you’ve got everything covered.  Is there more in the car?”  Andy asked.

I took a break from stocking the fridge, put my hand into my pocket and fished out the object I had found near the dead man on the beach.

“I wanted you to have a look at this.  I don’t know what it is.  I found it on the beach near that dead man this morning.  I feel guilty for having it because the police officer asked me if I had anything that would help with their investigation.  Should I turn it in?”  I asked.  My thoughts were pouring from my mouth.

“Whoa, whoa!  I’d be shocked if this trinket would help with their police work.  It looks like a homemade charm or something.”  Andy said.  He stared at it closely with intent to uncover something.  His fingers traced the characters burned into the smooth surface. “Well, these characters are a bit smudged, but it looks like Latin.  I’d have to do more digging to figure out.”

“Lotta good that Masters in History did you.”  I said with sarcasm.

“I said I’d do some more digging, butt-munch.”  Andy sneered.

“Ha-ha!  I’m messing with you.  Why don’t you take it with you?  It’ll give you something to do with your down time.”  I said.

“Sure.  I’d like to take a detailed look at this thing.  Looks a bit off the beaten path in terms of research, but I think a simple language text book could unveil something.”  Andy said.

Andy stuffed the object in his pocket and sighed deeply.

“What’s the matter?  Itching to get back to the party?” I asked playfully.

“I miss dad.”  Andy said.  A tear welled in his eye.  “Do you think he’d be disappointed in me?”

“Hell no!  I was just kidding about what I said before.  Doesn’t matter what degree you have.  You’re doing what you love and that’s what dad would have wanted.”  I said.

“Dad also wanted me to be financially secure, but I probably won’t be for a while.”  Andy said.

“What matters is that you’re happy.”  I said.

I hugged Andy tightly as if it might be the last one.  We dried our eyes and went back to the party.

 

24 December 1984, Boston, MA, 2100 hours

Andy was sitting in the front seat.  He was older so he got that privilege.  I pouted in the back as usual; typical bratty Magg. 

We were in Boston to celebrate Christmas with my father’s side of the family.  My mother stayed behind in New Bedford to set everything up for her side of the family.  The holidays were tough, especially having to split our time between so many people.

On our way back from Boston Andy and I were craving hot cocoa and were whining to our dad about stopping at a convenience store to get some.

“Alright!  Enough!  I’ll stop at the next rest area.  You kids sure are bottomless pits.  We just ate a whole Christmas ham and downed a gallon of eggnog!”  He said with a goofy tone.

We smiled and laughed.  Dad smiled back at us and got out of the truck.

“I’ll hit the restroom and grab hot cocoa with a few treats for you both.  If you don’t need to go pee then stay put.  That way I won’t have to wrangle you two back in the truck.  We’re making good time!”  Dad said before closing his door.

Dad opened the door to the convenience store and stepped back a few feet.  He stood still facing the doorway for a moment and reached into his coat pocket.  We heard a loud crack echo in the sky.  Dad turned to face the truck.  His eyes bulged out of his skull.  He fell to the ground with a thud hitting his forehead on the ground.

Our faces were right up against the windows.  The glass was fogging from our increased breathing.  We screamed out for him, but he didn’t move.  A man cloaked in a black hooded sweatshirt ran through the door stopping to stand over dad.  The man yelled at him: “I told you to put your hands up!  Why’d you make me do that?”  The man shouted.

Before long, a car pulled up to the front of the store and the man jump in through the window.  The car was gone in seconds.  And, so was our dad.

-------------------------------------------

Mom blamed us for what happened.  She left New Bedford once we turned eighteen.  She wanted to sell the house, but Andy and I worked three jobs each to save enough for six months on the mortgage.  We felt empty, but we luckily had each other.

That was until Andy left for his first fishing tour.

 

22 August 1996 New Bedford, MA, the wharves, 0200 hours

 “You setting sale?”  Officer Cromwell shouted while walking down the docks.

“Sure am, officer.  A little nervous, but excited as well.”  Andy said while wrestling with some ropes.

“Don’t sweat it.  You got a good group of guys with you.”  Officer Cromwell insisted.

Andy finished up with the ropes, walked over and shook the officer’s hand.

“You usually see off ships leaving the harbor?  It’s really early.”  Andy said with a chuckle.

“There’s nothing going on this early in the morning.  I get lonely.”  Officer Cromwell said.

Andy pulled the trinket out of his pocket that Maggie had given him and began to fiddle with it.  It reminded him of home.

“What’s that you got?”  Officer Cromwell asked.

“Just something my sister gave me.  She said she found it on the beach yesterday.”

The boat sounded its horn and began to pull away from the docks.

“Oh yeah?  What’s your sister’s name?”  Officer Cromwell asked loudly over the engine.

“Her name’s Maggie.  Take care!”  Andy waved goodbye, put the trinket in his pocket and began shuffling cargo around on deck.

-------------------------------------------

Thirty minutes had passed while Andy and the crew readied the boat.  New Bedford was a mere twinkle on the horizon as pale pinks of the sun began to show in the East.  Andy decided to turn in and lie on his bunk for a few minutes.  He had a lot on his mind.

Andy reached into his coat pocket and fished out the trinket Maggie gave him.  He sat up on the edge of his bunk and began thumbing through a language text.  He flipped to a page showing the entire Latin alphabet.  With one hand on the book and the other holding the object, he read aloud the Latin etched into it: “Ex Inferis”.  Andy’s eyes widened from the translation he cobbled together in the text. 

The object then slipped from Andy’s hand as the boat hit a small wake.  The object broke apart and spilled black fluid onto the bunk room floor.  He picked it up and examined the inside.  More black fluid continued to drip on the floor. 

The fluid began to travel up the legs of a metal folding chair sitting just opposite Andy.  A human shape began to take form right before Andy’s eyes sitting atop the folding chair.  Pale white skin with deep black veins adorned the man now sitting across from Andy.  The man was wearing a red flannel, winter cap, and jeans.  A dime-sized wound in his chest gushed black fluid profusely.  The man turned his gaze up toward Andy.  Grey eyes with black pupils held their stare to Andy sitting on his bed.

“Dad?...”  Andy said.

The man grinned an open, inhuman smile from ear to ear.  His teeth looked like miniature shark teeth; smooth on the front and barbed on the edges.  Black fluid began to spill from the man’s mouth without breaking his smile.  Then, the man spoke:

“Hi, Andy.”  The man said with a deep, sludge-filled voice.

The bunk room slowly began to darken as the black fluid pouring from the man’s mouth started plastering itself over the walls and the lighting in webbed gobs. 

Andy slowly reached for the radio sitting on his end table next to the language text book.  He held it to his mouth and lightly pressed the button alongside it.

“Captain.  This is Andy.”

“Andy, what’s going on?  We’re about to get moving out here on deck.” The Captain chirped back.

“We need to go back to port.”  Andy said.

“What the hell you talkin’ about?  Why?”  The Captain asked.

“My dad is in the bunk room.” Andy said with panic in his voice.

A lump of sadness and fear formed in Andy’s throat.  He swallowed hard and tears began streaming from his eyes.


© Copyright 2019 R. K. Mallegni. All rights reserved.

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