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I saw the silhouettes of gray clouds in the light of a full moon, which painted a beautiful canvas upon the sea.
The water was fine and silky. That’s how it looked, anyway.
The small, wooden life boat rocked back and forth. I looked at the boat, and felt how minute it was in contrast to the ocean. Just one speck of sand in a giant desert. Rocking, back and forth, back and forth. The air was salty, and filled my lungs with a disdainful feeling, a miserable feeling. I tasted the salt in my mouth, and spit off the side of the boat. I took one oar with each of my hands, and pushed, going into the night.
As the diminutive waves on the surface of the ocean formed and dissipated, I watched the waters enrage and then calm. It was like a pattern, monotonous and simplistic in its ways. Like the rocking of the boat.
The original boat had sunk, like a rock thrown into a small pond. I remember it vividly, for it wasn’t some distant memory miles away. I still felt the wood cracking, the sharp splinters becoming totally engulfed within the water. It was a horrible sight to see, especially as the captain. She had been mine for only a little while, now, but that ancient ship had still been mine nonetheless.
I never realized how much I could smell the salt as well, how offensive it was to my senses. My nostrils would flare with vivacity, and I would turn my head to my right or left. It was an awful smell that one could only ease into with time.
Me, I’m a new captain. With only a few voyages out to sea, the salty air was not something I could easily endure.
I felt overwhelmed when I thought about the dark abyss I was attempting to escape. It was like a feeling of insecurity in my surroundings, paranoia. But I wasn’t afraid of sharks, or anything of that sort. I was afraid of the solitude, the loneliness of my venture out to sea. And something even more destructive.
It all started a few months ago, when I first wanted to try life on the open blue. Back then, I had feelings new and ambitious, for I was enthusiastic. I had never previously been on a boat before in my life, but I intended to learn somehow. I would go to the library near my home, and look up the different guides and books on sailing. They seemed artificial, not from the heart of a true sailor at all. They seemed like a colorful tour guide to a vacation spot that has been vandalized and swarming with filth for ages. But back then, I didn’t know any better, so I didn’t really care.
Although it was still night, I could here the restless birds in the air. They were all white, just plain, colorless seagulls. But surprisingly, they seemed to caw at me. They cawed instead of their usual whiny voices. I could barely see them, but I knew that they were there. Maybe that’s why I was afraid of the ocean. Just truly afraid. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t know what lurked in its waters.
Afterwards, I had gotten a crew together, out of the shambles of men by the docks. They were all rearing for an adventure, looking for something to do, bored with the normal things they experienced in life. They were branded with tattoos of dragons and eagles, pierced with metal rods and rings. They were tough. I hired everyone I could find, for money was not an issue with me or any other of my kin.
The waves were getting stronger. Instead of being small occurrences in the water, they were little brutes, like some of the smallest goblins in a labyrinth of trolls and witches and monsters. Like goblins, they were little, but vicious.
The clouds, now gone, were but whispers, lowly and forgotten. Only the moon stood in its place in the sky by the Earth, a treasure upon treasures. It was the only true “light” in the night.
The waves got faster, and more vicious.
I became apprehensive for my own self being.
As I recall upon the night only a full moon ago, the crew and I were on our way home. We had been off to some islands in the past two months or so. All trips had been successful, and bore many fruits that tasted of satisfaction. The salty air was bearable back then. Now it was a constant reminder of my own faults and wrong-doings.
Instead of stopping to rest, I had been ever vigilant to keep on going. I wanted to see everything; lands beyond recognition, forests and jungles of unknown origin and size, the golden idols of the Earth. In my own pride, I made my own crew testy, and many questioned my authority. I made them question not; it was I who made orders, and I who paid them to do anything that I wanted them to.
I did not fear mutiny.
I did not fear anything.
All was violent, except for the moon, which still glowed with radiant, yet almost sorrowful, passion. The brutish waves were full-fledged monsters now, and there was nothing I could do about them. There were no heroes to conquer them, no Hercules to kill the Hydra, no Bellepheron to stop the terrifying Chimera. I was alone, defenseless, in the ravages of a tempest.
When out on a cold night like tonight, about two weeks ago, where the full moon looked out upon our rustic boat, the crew and I were discussing what we were doing.
Many of them refused to go further into the marine wilds, for they were scared that my actions would end their lives. Others wanted to go home to their families, to feel like a part of society again. But then again, there were others who followed my own pursuits. They were thirsty for knowledge, hungry for adventure, and almost magnetized to the thought of risking their lives for their own self-pleasure.
So I went into my cabin, got the pistol that I had bought just for this reason, and shot every one of the crew who opposed. Those who sided with me, I saw in their eyes, became scared as well. I questioned them to see if they wanted to be like the dead, the decaying flesh that was to be the feast of a loathsome shark. They all said no.
As it is obvious, I was, and still am crazy.
I shall be what I shall be.
I lost an oar in the violence of the waters. Now only my left was working at the currents, trying to subdue the constant surge. My end is near, I’m afraid. My end is near, and it is coming fast, through the nocturnal reaches of the far waters. Something is coming my way, and it is like lightning. It won’t stop, I have already decided. It won’t stop for the heavens, the Earth, or for me. I know, because I have seen it.
That night, that in which I killed those men, I could feel the blood flowing through the anatomy of my frame being tainted with the sin I had produced. I had cursed myself into oblivion; there was no turning back. I made sure that the crew stayed up with me as I brooded. I decided that my fate was their fault as well; they had been my arms and legs for those days on the sea. They deserved it as well.
But I knew who deserved it most.
I knew who deserved the cursed day, that day in which would rouse…
“May the heavens forgive me!
Oh, let them stop, let them pity me, let them! I am a mortal, nothing more; what more can I do to pay for what wrong I did? Oh, oh it cannot be!”
The other oar was lost in my emotional ranting.
The crew became restless. Most were all on deck, conversing to each other about “omens” and “bad luck.” That’s all I could hear, for I was in deep thought.
As I had watched the moon from the side of the boat, glorious and sad, I felt a sudden change in the wind. The salty air rushed against my rugged, unshaved, heated face, and with it came a strong curiosity. The boat began to shake a little, gradually harder and harder. One of the crew came to my side to ask what was going on. I replied with no answer, and, as I looked upon his face, I could see the apprehension in him as well.
When he left, I stayed in my place, even when the waves got rougher. The quaking waters seemed like omens, at the time. Since when does the ocean become livid that quick? It was a bad omen. The sudden wind, the persona of the waters. It was awful, just awful.
The moon, at the time shining brighter than ever, made a glistening effect upon the whole ocean. I could see every bit of its radiant, dark-blue color. I was nothing compared to its awe, the simplistic power of being gargantuan. The vicious waves were now beating the boat to death, blow after blow, and bludgeon after bludgeon. I had felt the boat’s pain, each time the hull was hit.
I had closed my eyes, I remember, and felt the wind. I could smell the salt even clearer then, like I had been buried in the stuff. I gripped the side of the boat, feeling the ancient wood enter my flesh. It felt like I was dying. That’s when one of the crew members screamed. That scream, I think, was the most blood-curdling I had ever heard. It was so horrendous that I felt chills running through my spine, raising my neck hairs to attention. I then opened my eyes.
What I had seen was a nightmarish image, a devil of infinite time and space. From the open waters, appearing to be miles away, was an enormous phantasm; I say this because it was like no other organism on Earth. At first it was only a large hump that I saw, rising from the depths of the sea. The moon glistened upon what seemed to be scales, and they sparkled green. It was mesmerizing and beautiful.
But then I saw the whole beast. It was a marine demon, with gills, fins, and other aquatic features. The actual monster was a serpent, a snake in its own sorts. But it wasn’t just that; the demoniacal creature had a bulky body of a whale, and along the side of its body sprouted long, yellowish horns. The whole time I was examining the demon’s features, it was still ascending into the air, like it was being pulled up by a godly force.
I looked at the gargantuan serpent’s face, and my own facial countenance went into a state of revulsion; the brute’s eyes were of a yellow hue, allowing me to see its huge, black pupils. Its nostrils were like wells carved into earth, flaring and expanding with a ferocious movement. Two jagged horns were upon the thing’s forehead; they were very similar to the horns of a mountain goat, as they were both stone-like swirls.
When I saw the demon serpent’s mouth, I became suspended in total shock; its mouth was a black hole full of smooth, yellow teeth that chomped into the empty, salty air. I could see its long, pink tongue as well, slithering about the mouth and around the teeth.
The serpent was a monster of its own kind; it was a malevolent mutation in the scheme of life that was never meant to be. It should never have been, anyway, for the pure girth of its body could make a mere man insane.
Suddenly all went gray. The sea, the sky, and the demonic beast, all went into that state of nothingness. All, except for the moon. I shuddered fervently, feeling even more chills.
The image that I would then see was the most influential upon my mental health; there I was, standing on an aimless boat, in the middle of an eternal ocean, looking upon the biggest manifestation of evil on Earth. It was literally miles high, and extremely thick, with huge fins and horns. But that wasn’t it.
What it was that scared me the most was how, as gorgeous as it was, the light from the moon shone from behind the creature, causing the creature to appear as a shadow. It was a terrifying shadow, which cast yet another shadow across the waters.
Which meant that I was in total darkness.
Into the air, it bellowed a loud and horrifying roar. I couldn’t hear it, for at the first moment that it had sounded, my ears went numb with pain.
Slowly, the demon serpent, what I could see of it and what lay beneath the waves, set motion towards the little boat. The waves were surging all about; even in what little movement the monster set in place, that movement affected everything around it drastically. It was a living tempest.
And it was coming right for me.
Shrieking, the crew, who now seemed so small in comparison to the monster, scrambled from place to place. Some of them jumped off of the boat in fear, and tried to swim away from the beast as fast as they could. They were blatantly swallowed by the forces of the pulling waters, drowning in their own cowardice. Others had stayed with the ship, curling into little balls upon the deck. The crew wasn’t tough at all in the face of a true danger, a living solidification of hell. They were mice captured by an entity that was all too real, and all too powerful.
This is all that I saw from the life boat, the only life boat. I was still only yards away from the ancient boat, but yet, I was light-years away, compared to the crew’s doom.
This was our punishment.
I hadn’t known my true fate until now.
But when I was far away, about a mile away, I saw the serpent stop in its place, and go under the water; that’s when I saw the true length of the thing. In its entirety, it spanned at least three villages! That’s when I started to lose it, to lose all the sanity left in me. When, after a long five minutes, the beast’s tail finally submersed, I was almost relieved. But the monster wasn’t done.
Instead, what seemed like yellow mountains rising about a large radius around the ship, were in fact the teeth of the monster, the demon that devoured worlds. A little speck was all that I saw, which was the ship itself, and in one slow movement, the mountains closed upon each other, interlocking. I actually could only imagine the wood of the boat cracking, and eyeing it sink into the dark depths of the ocean. I could only imagine.
That’s when I realized that only yards away, the maw of the demon serpent was close to my life boat. The last images that I had seen were that of the mountains, like old and forgotten Atlantis, descending below. But those yellow mountains weren’t to be forgotten. As I passed out, I knew that fact well.
And now, after this elongated period of time, I especially feared those yellow mountains. I was a sitting duck, alone, without my crew, and I knew that it was coming. It was coming to exact the Earth’s will upon sinners. The turbulence of the waters quickened. Trying to grasp a hold of the life boat, I felt dizzy and confused.
Suddenly, I was knocked out of the boat into the cold, desperate waters. I felt a freezing upon my body that only a blizzard could deliver.
Under water, I opened my eyes, feeling nothing, and gazed purposelessly into the darkness. I looked into those dark chasms of Oblivion, which stretched infinitely to the horrible pit of Tartarus, and found nothing. Because there was nothing where I was going, a nothing place where nothing was found, nothing was forgotten, and nothing could be forgiven. My punishment was set, and issued.
But then, finally feeling the painful salt in my eyes, I began to gasp for air. I became panicked, and tried to swim to the boat. But I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with fear.
As if the emptiness of the dark abyss wasn’t enough, I saw the opening eyes of that thing, that demon serpent…