Typecast Prompt #27: Out of the Deep
Patrick picked this one from my Pinterest board. We laughed over the fact that I have pictures on there that I find fun and most of the group would not be interested in - and then I have some unexpectedly dark or creepy (or both) pictures on there....that I specifically add for this group. Haha. So enjoy this one! (Also, it's ironic that Patrick chose this because one of his deepest fears is the ocean and monsters within... so applaud him for using his fear for the sake of creativity!)
Tendrils of light
Swathes of darkness
Travel with me, my dear, travel with me
Traverse the tides of the deep
Like a cloak it fastens
Fastens 'round the throat
Like an epiphany it strikes
Strikes at the heart
The swarms of crustaceans
The symphony of scales
The reaching, reaching, reaching
Tendrils of the deep
The sky overhead beckons
The clouds skip and flurry far
The water is calling, calling
Calling you to the deep
Come answer the call!
Take the boat, fly o'er the waves
Come to the deep
Come see what awaits
Mountains of green and blue
Mesmerize the eyes
Valleys of sparkling gold
Say, "Come, come and see!"
You must come, you cannot tarry
No time for fear, do not be wary
The deep - it beckons, the deep - it calls
The horizon is waiting, waiting
Your bones - they ache to answer
Your mind - it cannot ignore
My call, my inexorable pull
Come, my dear, come to me!
There's naught else to be done
Naught else to be won
What of money and accolades?
Leave them, leave and come to me.
The treasures are here
The mysteries await
Where the sky sinks and meets
The end of the world - come
Your father - he chides
Your mothers - she weeps
But your soul will never
find peace 'til you come
Do I hold peace?
Perhaps, my dear, perhaps
Do I hold the answer?
Always, my dear, just come
Simply enter your vessel
Or use those limbs
Dive, float, pull, or stride
But come - only come
Has it been in you since birth?
You'll never truly know
But my grasp clutched your marrow
When once you saw below
What is it, they ask, what is it?
Why can you not resist?
Why don't our treasures hold gleam
Our interests ignite your soul?
I know why, my dear, I do
It's my siren call to you
And once you are here
You'll never leave
Come to me.
“Thomas! Get back in the boat, man!” a sailor calls out to another. Years of smoking, drinking, and shouting have left his voice course like a pebble beach. The younger sailor, Thomas, starts flailing, only now aware of his predicament. His sea-soaked coat drags him down, but his body is lean and strong. He sheds the weight before going under.
The older man throws a net out, then reaches an oar as far as he can. “Swim! Swim here a’fore ye drown!” He shouts repeatedly like a man possessed. Thomas moves as best he can toward the other, taken aback by the fear in his face. Many a storm he had weathered with John, the older man. More than once, they had been in a ship with near as much water in it as out of it, but never before had he seen John’s face in such a state.
Thomas felt a gentle brush against the side of his leg. He kicked harder and lowered his eyes though he knew the water to be too dark to see far.
“Don’t look at it, lad!” John’s voice almost broke. “Look at me, Thomas. At me!” But Thomas had already grown stiff. His eyes were snapped open, and he started to sink. It was only when the life ring hit him square in the face that he began to panic and tread again. “That’s it, just hold on!” But Thomas didn’t hear. John pulled Thomas to the little rowboat by a string affixed to the life ring.
“Yer white as a bone, Thomas. Ye breathing?”
“Aye,” was the only response.
“Heading back to shore now. Ye stay with me, lad.”
Not a word more was spoken as John brought them back to shore. He got under one of Thomas’ arms and half walked, half carried him back to the humble fishing shack. There they waited in near silence until nightfall; accompanied solely by the crashing of the nearby waves.
Nets were cleaned. Dinner was eaten. Drinks were had. It wasn’t until the two men took to their beds that either of them spoke.
Thomas was sitting upright in his bed wet with sweat as he had been when John had pulled him out of the water.
“John, I saw…” Thomas’ words slipped away again.
John watched and waited.
“I saw…” He turned to face John. His face was white as bone like his very words were choking the life out of him.
“Ye saw the face of death, lad,” John finished for him.
Thomas’ eyes drifted in and out of focus before locking in on John.
John continued, “Ye saw a face so sallow, so sickly, ye thought ye had died and yer soul was watching down on yer corpse. Ye thought ye were already gone, so why bother swimming? Why bother breathing?”
Recognition and horror creeped across Thomas’ face.
“Ye saw the face of Cliodhna, Thomas: the queen of the banshee. Mighty bad luck to see her when the moon’s full.” John’s hand drifted toward the window and the light streaming in from the moon.
Thomas’ eyes followed and came back to John. He still couldn’t speak. His jaw moved speech-like, but nothing came with it.
John shifted around and settled on his back. “Just lay down and get yer rest, lad. Pondering it won’t do ye any favors.”
“Rest,” Thomas finally croaked. “Is it even possible to sleep now? After seeing that?”
John tugged at the thin sheet that covered him and brought it to his chin. His eyes, wide so they looked lidless, stared unblinking at the shack ceiling, “Tell me if ye ever know, lad. Tell me if ye know.”
“You know we have to set out the offerings, Jim,” Oscar drawled out tiredly for fifth time this trip. Listening to Jim’s constant worrying over the coming storm overhead had gotten very old to him. The ocean waters rocked their dingy to and fro as Jim looked worriedly at the greying clouds overhead. Oscar looked opposite to the almost sickly green waters beneath them. The two men had been their village’s choice this year for the Ride of Offerings. A handful of villagers were sent out to a floating shrine to offer the village’s payments to Melora, queen of the depths for her protection and bountiful fish hauls for the village for the next year to come.
Jim toyed absently with the edge of his bright yellow raincoat. He had a terrible feeling about this trip. He’d been a regular fisherman for the village for years before this, but this was his first Ride of Offerings and he had a number of voices in the back of his mind running through all the ways he could ruin this momentous occasion.
“Ey, Jim! Get your head together!” He was brought out his worries by the gruff sound of his sailing companion. Oscar, a 50-something year old fishing veteran of the village. “I can see you thinking far too much about this.” He leaned forward to place a rough hand on Jim’s shoulder. “Look at me.” Oscar’s not-lazy eye met Jim’s hazel pair. “All we have to do is take these,” Oscar held up a potato sack full of coins, carved idols and other treasures that would be offered to Melora. “And lay it out all on the shrine. It’s easy as cake. I’ve already been on three of these Rides before.”
Oscar’s confidence threatened to invade Jim’s mind, but Jim’s own unease kept it at bay. Oscar’s eye looked past Jim’s shoulder.
“Ah, our destination’s in sight, Jimmy,” Oscar hailed. Jim looked over his shoulder.
There, sitting in the middle of the ocean water was a stone monument about 10 feet tall that seemed to mimic a cyclone of water erupting from the ocean itself. Carved into the cyclone was an upside-down triangle with a thick line going across the center.
Jim heard the jingle of the bag's contents and suddenly felt it shoved into his lap. “I’ll even let you do the honors of unloading them to prove to you that there ain’t nothing to worry about.” Jim stared down, unnerved at having the whole village’s protection for the next year in his hands. Neither of the two had even needed to use the oars: the ocean waves themselves seemed to push the boat toward the shrine.
The boat reached the shrine’s small, rocky platform soon. Oscar jumped out boldly. Jim followed with a careful climb out of the swaying dingy.
“Well, get on with it, Jimmy. The sooner we get this done, the sooner we get back to the Offerings celebration.”
Jim dredged to the base of the cyclonic pillar, set down the sack, and began opening it. Suddenly both of the fishermen heard a sound that equally a squawk, a growl, and a shriek. Rapidly, a group of humanoids flew over the horizon. Their shapes were interrupted by feathered wings across their arms and large talons on their naked feet. As the figures got swiftly closer to the shrine than they had been mere seconds prior, the fishermen could see their entire bodies were covered in grey-red feathers.
“Harpies, dammit!” Oscar began digging around under his raincoat and turned to Jim. “Keep those offerings safe. These vultures are gonna try to rob everything they can!”
Jim heard another shrieking growl, this time far closer. He felt something bash into him from behind and a pair of sharp somethings digging into his arm. The strength of the tackle knocked him down and the sack out of his hand. He heard jingling of coins streak across the shrine’s stone platform. Jim heard a loud boom and a pained screech from one of the harpies, followed by a splash. He looked over to see Oscar holding a pistol, smoke creeping out of the barrel.
He saw the figure of a harpy darting down towards some of the coins swathed across the platform. Oscar took a swift shot at it but narrowly missed as the avian contorted its body to avoid the bullet. Jim felt a rush of energy as he got up off all fours and dashed towards the bag and its contents strewn across the stone beneath them. He saw a flash of grey-red out of his periphery and felt another hard tackle that nearly pushed him off the shrine’s platform altogether. Another boom of Oscar’s pistol and a series of wings fluttering.
“Yeah, that’s right! Run away, you cowardly bastards!” Oscar taunted. Jim took a deep breath that hurt in his ribs and noticed that the sack was missing from the shrine’s dais. He looked upwards and saw one of the harpies carrying it in its talons, the remaining contents falling into the ocean beneath.
No, he thought, he had doomed the village. No…No! A thousand voices ran through Jim’s head. Suddenly, a flash of lightning struck the cyclone. The upside-down triangle became alight, shining a blue-green.
“We can’t be here…” Jim sputtered, his legs on autopilot toward the dingy.
“Jimmy, keep yourself calm!”
“We can’t be here, Oscar!” Jimmy raved.
Oscar maneuvered himself to the dingy when suddenly, a large, webbed green hand erupted out of the ocean, curling itself around the shrine’s cyclonic pillar. Oscar watched with wide eyes.
“Sweet Melora…” He trailed off.
From behind them, Jim felt the water ripple and wave. He looked, and there he saw a matching hand emerging from the abyssal ocean. The hand cracked down on the dingy, crushing the bow in its grasp, causing the rest of the boat to unbalance, sending Jim into the green waters below. His eyes grew red as he took one look into water and met the eyes of the creature that sent him to his watery grave. Fishlike eyes stared back at him as a large maw of sharp teeth took over his vision.
Amanda: "The Lady of the Deep"
It’s always amusing watching the greenhorns find their sea legs and learn the ship. I wonder how many will make it past this whaling trip. Some are so green I’m surprised they aren’t still milk-drinkers. Oh well. I suppose it will be my amusement for this trip, as long as they do their job and stay out of the way.
I’ve been on a ship for most of my life. I couldn’t imagine being on land for a stretch of more than a few months. I’m glad that I’ve never been tapped to be first-mate or captain of any of these vessels. Don’t much care for that headache. Instead I’m happy with my spot as a senior crewman. Need to learn the way on a ship? Ask me, I’ve done all the jobs. Captain and first-mate looking for advice? They come to me with their questions. Lord knows why. If you have to ask your own crew for advice, you’ve got no business being a captain or first-mate. I prefer to keep to myself. Not my ship, not my problem.
For some reason, I find myself on deck where the younger crewmen are regaling the greenhorns with sea tales and shanties. I settle into my favorite spot topside and listen to the stories. Jasper is telling the story about how Davy Jones came to be and tamed a kraken that obeys his command. Normally, I would just listen to the story and watch the emotions flash across the greenhorn’s face. For some reason, tonight I find myself speaking up.
“Come now, Jasper. You know that Davy Jones and his kraken are not the concern at sea. You need to worry about the Lady of the Deep. She is the only thing that should frighten a sailor at sea.”
“Tsk.” Jasper turns to look at me and the greenhorn jumps a foot off his chair. “Come now, Luke. There ain’t no Lady of the Deep.”
“Really, Jasper? Who do you think created Davy Jones? Who raised the kraken? No? Don’t believe me? Mark my words, she’s taken more than one derelict ship and made them her crew. She’s real, and you best do well to mind the sea. Listen when she speaks. The captain has lost his mind sailing into this stretch. Only dead men sail this stretch. No famed whale is worth sailing these waters.”
I stand and head below deck to my bunk, which is really more of a hammock between the rafters. I try to get some sleep, but it just won’t come. I voiced my concern to the captain when I realized our heading. This was not the planned whaling location, but the captain has it in his head for glory. He’ll get it alright; people will be talking about this boat for years to come. I just hope we’re all alive to tell the tales.
The next morning greets us with a red sunrise. Not a promising start to the day. As I recheck the stock on the ship, I hear the scout shout, "Whale off the port side!"
“To the boats!” shouts the captain.
I watch as Jasper leads the greenhorns to the boats. Four boats are dropped in the water. Thirty-two men descend to the boats with harpoons and hooks. Eight men to a boat. I man a harpoon gun on the ship.
The boats scatter to surround the whale. Something about this whale doesn’t look right. It’s too pale, almost ethereal. I shout to the captain, “Cap, we should leave this one.”
“Nonsense! This whale will fetch a fine price. Haul her on boys!”
As the harpoons launch, the sky darkens. The heavens open up and release a torrent of water. The storm came out of nowhere. The water is churning, and the waves are pitching the ship side-to-side. The dinghies are trying to make it back to the ship, but it’s hard to navigate with the ever-increasing swells.
I spot Jasper’s boat the farthest out. I can barely see his face, but the shouts of terror can be heard even over the storm. Their dinghy turtles and I see the men are trying to make it back to the capsized boat. The cries are getting quieter. Another dinghy tries to go pull the men from the water. I see the men bobbing along when suddenly, Jasper goes under. This man can swim, I’ve seen him swim, but he’s under in a second, and I can’t see him pop up. Another man is yanked under.
I finally see it. A giant waterlogged hand with long spindle-like fingers appears out of the water and pushes the men down one-by-one. The dinghies are rowing with the might of Vikings to make it back to the ship. All thoughts of helping their crewmen are gone.
“They aren’t going to make it.” I watch as each boat turtles and one-by-one they all succumb to the sea. The sky is black, and the sea continues to rage around the ship. I look over to the captain and first-mate. “Only dead-men sail these waters cap. And dead men you shall be. I hope you find the accommodations in my locker to your liking. The Lady of the Deep shall take her haul and your ship will be my prize.”