Kraken

by David Serra

It was a long and exhausting day at sea, my partner and I were still on patrol that night and the fatigue after a hard day's work was slowly creeping up on us. Being in the coastguard for three years I've learned methods of keeping awake when the ocean, with its swaying and churning, would try to seduce you into sleep or worse. Sometimes my partner and I would talk about anything that came to mind just to keep each other occupied while we patrolled or we would count the stars when they were out or we would remain silent and focus on our jobs and surroundings.

            It was Friday night on a cool and crisp autumn day. My partner was at the helm of our patrol boat while I kept lookout. The ocean was bumpy but not rough, no reports of riptides or sharks in the area and things were quiet. Actually it was all too quiet out there. We were about to head in after our shift ended when we heard an almost unearthly scream from the distance of the pitch black ocean. I turned sharply in the direction of the sound with my night vision binoculars and searched the horizon. My partner was already on the radio calling the mainland. As I searched, I couldn't help but feel chills running up and down my spine. I've seen my share of traumatic events to not be so bothered anymore by what happens. This wasn't an exception however, when I saw a large fishing boat in the distance get dragged under the surface from an unseen force. The chills increased and alarms in my head sounded off.

            Arming myself with a shotgun and my partner still on the radio while steering the patrol boat, we sped towards the carnage of the fishing boat which grew nearer and nearer. Backup was on the way as my partner had radioed in the other patrol boats about the incident. By the time we got to the remains of the fishing boat we were the first ones to arrive on the scene. This boat was in pieces and larger portions of the stern and bow had already sank while no survivors could be found. We were about to radio in the mainland and report our finds when we heard what sounded like gargling at the starboard side of our boat. Gun at ready I went forth and looked over the rail to see a bearded man struggling to stay afloat while spitting out mouthfuls of seawater. My partner and I plunged our arms out and grabbed the struggling and squealing man and hauled him onboard. As I held him down and tended to his legs, which were both broken, my partner radioed the mainland. The injured man was muttering and shivering as I did my best to calm him. I could see other patrol boats approaching us in the distance. After my partner finished radioing in the report, he came to my side and took hold of the quivering man as I went to the helm and started up the engine.

            We went a few inches forward and stalled. I tried again and the boat remained stuck in place as if we were being held down by something below. Did we drop anchor? No. I checked. The anchor was secured to the portside. The injured man's eyes widened and he grew quiet, as if the pain in his legs had been forgotten and replaced with a feeling of alarm and dread. I readied my shotgun and radioed the other approaching patrol boats, when out of the corner of my left eye I saw something long, dark greenish, and slimy slither onboard our boat next to me. Whipping around I saw the object to be a large tentacle that quickly wrapped around my left ankle and pulled hard. I collapsed to the deck and felt myself being pulled overboard. I kicked at it with my free foot and my partner, wide-eyed, grabbed me around the arms and a tug-o-war began. I screamed something at my partner before another large tentacle crept up the portside and wrapped around my arms and waist. With one quick yank from both of the tentacles my partner was thrown back against the deck with the cowering injured man and I was pulled into the cool and tingling waters.

            It was pitch black as I struggled to hold my breath. The tentacle that was coiled around me was tightening hard enough to make my ribs feel like toothpicks ready to break and my lungs like balloons ready to burst. I could feel myself being pulled down further and further into the abyss. I don't remember if I saw my whole life flash before me or what really happened next, only that when I finally opened my eyes, there in front of me was a blurry reflection of me in an enormous shiny yellowish-black eye that stared at me intently. I struggled weakly, which only made the creature tighten its grip, finally crushing a few of my ribs. The pain was like someone bashed me in the chest from the inside with several hot irons. The creature then pulled me towards its gaping maw filled with rows upon rows of sharp pointed teeth circled around an endless tunnel that led deep into a foreboding darkness. I drew nearer and nearer into the tunnel of teeth and this was my last memory before I blacked out.

            When I regained consciousness I gasped and nearly choked on the rushing seawater that swept over my body on shore. I felt dazed, aching, and I coughed painfully as I laid sprawled out on the sand in the surf. I tried to move but it was no use, I felt like jelly. Actually I could've sworn that I was covered in a thick mucus from head to toe, which I was and not even the surf could wash it off. Struggling to breathe and move I felt a pair of arms grab me by the arms and pull me up the beach. Finally catching my breath I let out an agonized groan and muttered something harsh under my breath. Soon I realized that the people who pulled me out were ambulance personnel as they put me on a stretcher and loaded me in the back of an ambulance. It was one of the worst drives of my life, with the bumps in the roads nearly shattering my broken ribs and the blaring sirens I thought for sure would make me go deaf. When we finally arrived at the hospital, they wheeled me in with the lights overhead rushing by like blinding streaks of lightning. When I came out of being sedated, I saw the work they did on my chest to fix my ribs in the form of surgical scars and splints. Days passed as I recovered, with a few occasional visits from my wife and a frequent visit from a male nurse that would take care of me. Then one day my wife came to visit me with an older, bearded man who claimed to be cryptzoologist.

"Mister Gordon, I'm Doctor Hawthmeyer," he began, "and I would like to ask you some questions."

"L-Like what?" I asked with a slight stutter.

"One moment."

He reached into his briefcase and took out a large book and flipped through a few pages. When he got somewhere in the middle he turned the book towards me and pointed at the picture.

"Was this what attacked you?" he asked.

I studied the picture for a moment, it was a painting of a huge octopus attacking a large ship. My wife shot me a worried look and I returned her look with only a slight nod of approval. I then turned back to Doctor Hawthmeyer and said, "Yes, I think it looked something like that."

"Then it may of been a kraken." he began, "Oh, may I?"

He gestured to my bandaged foot. I nodded my approval and he undid the bandages. I winced a little at the soreness of my foot and saw the look on his face as he stared down at it. I strained to see what he and my wife were looking at and it was a circular suction cup scar around my foot. The sight alone sent a chill down my spine as he bandaged my foot back up and pulled a chair up next to me.

"I've been investigating your attack Mister Gordon. I tried to interview your partner and the man you saved but he was too hysterical and your partner wouldn't cooperate. So, with your permission could you tell me what happened. Oh wait."

He took out a digital tape recorder and set it down on a nearby table, turning it on. I didn't mind that this was going to be recorded or that he would ask about the attack since maybe talking about it would get my mind off the nightmares I've been having.

"So before we begin do you have any questions for me?"

"Yes, why am I still alive?"

"Come again?"

"Uh, never mind. Where do you want me to start?"

"From the beginning if you would."

            I told him everything, with my wife listening intently as well. As I was telling my story I realized I had no idea why I wasn't in that creature's stomach by now. Maybe I didn't taste good? Or maybe something else happened out there that I'm not aware of. Whatever happened out there though I hope it's finally over.

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