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U.S.S. Cyclops, 1918
The first thing our crew notices is that our compass isn’t working. We are all on edge, there are many stories about ships disappearing in these waters. Captain Worley has always been…. eccentric but now I daresay he’s manic. He keeps plotting new courses and he is not always fully clothed as he paces the deck. “Head towards the sun, you fools! Do you know nothing?” I am not at a high enough rank to say anything to stop him but I sense mutinous feelings brewing in those below and above me yet again. There are 309 people on this ship, passengers and crew and you could cut the tension amongst all of us with a knife.
I know it concerns the navigators that we have found no markers of our location, there has not been one sign that we are near land even as the date we were supposed to arrive draws near. There is nothing but grey sky, white fog and dark waves surrounding us. The stars are hard to see and it’s almost as if our eyes are playing tricks on us. We have been turned around 6 times! Curse this Devil’s Triangle. The grumbling belowdecks grows.
Around noon on our last full day I was talking with my young friend James, he looked as though he hadn’t slept in days. “As soon as we get off this cursed ship, I’m going straight home to my sweetheart. Only one more boat trip back to Miami, then I’m done with all this forever. Yup, I’m quitting, this whole trip has opened my eyes. I just can’t do this anymore! Oh, I can’t wait to see her, she’s a beauty, here!” He handed me an uncreased photo of a sweet looking blonde girl. His eyes shone with hope but they had just a small tinge of madness behind them. I pray for him to make it to her and for all of us to see land again, even though I have no noble cause to return to. I just want a comfortable bed again, I don’t think I’m cut out for the sea, especially as the captain grows worse daily.
The Captain began as a brute but now his punishments are severe for even the smallest infraction. He ignores our job titles and assigns men to tasks they have no experience with. This ship is barely running even when we do have an idea where we’re going. “You there! That knot was much too shoddy to keep you on deck, you’re to work in the galley now.” I wish this would all be over, I don’t want to have to watch another man die in a useless mutiny. The crew were angered on our way to Barbados and now those men who revolted are locked in the hole or worse. They probably eat even less than we do.
I work a lot of nights and I hear voices often. Do they come from plotting men or maidens under the water? I can’t trust anyone, even myself. Once I saw a ship like ours but glowing green, with the dead dancing across its deck. It disappeared then reappeared throughout the night. I knew better than to report this vision.
I’m on the night watch of the stern around 1:00 am when I hear many footsteps coming up the stairs. It’s happening. I turn to face them when a huge splash comes from of the dark water behind me. What was that? The boat tilts and I fall into one of the men who just rushed on deck. He mistakes my lack of balance for an attack and shoves me into a post. My head hits it hard and I crumble to the ground, my vision blurry. I fade in and out of consciousness.
I open my eyes again and the sky is black, water pouring down on all of us in waves. Is there a storm? I raise my eyes to the sky and see the moon’s light has actually been blocked by a monster composed from nightmares. The water drenching us is dripping off it’s body. It is three times the height of our naval vessel and it’s dark grey skin is ridged and scarred and slimy. I strain my neck and my eyes raise higher to reach a curious red eye. The creature is holding itself up with giant tentacles, a few of them gripping the side of our boat which has already started to tip. I feel myself begin to slide, I try to grip but I fade away again.
I start with a twitch and I scramble to grab the post but the ship is righted again. The night is still dark but it’s calm. I shake with relief but when I look around there are only a few men left on deck and they appear to be shouting. I hear the sounds faintly, like I’m already far away. I see James, my friend, being lifted into the air. I think he calls my name. Has the creature got him? I squint through the blood streaming into my eyes. I see no tentacle, just a beam of light. I follow it up and see an inhuman ship in the sky. It’s made of a shiny metal I don’t recognize and I don’t understand how it’s flying. The air around this air-ship is warped and wrong. James. That poor boy. I’m sure he’ll never see his love again. I don’t know what is happening anymore, this must be the stuff of dreams. I close my sore eyes again, almost with acceptance.
I see flashes of red, they could be blood or fire. Perhaps we sailed to hell. I feel cold when I fully wake again. I’m draped across a sheet of metal alone, in what must be the wreckage of our once glorious ship. I think I recognize a German submarine in the distance to my left, we had to memorize them for our training and I remember that day so vividly but when I blink it’s gone, or was never there. It’s so horribly quiet.
I don’t know how I survived but I know it’s not for long. Looking around I don’t see one useful item that lasted through whatever happened to the U.S.S. Cyclops. There is a red sun rising on the horizon, and I pull off my ruined uniform jacket and arrange it under my head. I prepare to sleep my whole death away, the dehydration already burning in my throat. That’s when I feel an unmistakably human hand grab my ankle. I’m not the only survivor! I sit up immediately and the hand pulls me off my makeshift raft and down, down, down into the depths of the sea.
Looking up to the surface I see my boat whole again, but now it glows green. Is this a miracle or the worst curse of all? If I could just kick loose from this hand… I would take anything a ghostly Captain Worley could throw at me over what I have suffered already on this day. That coward never even left his cabin last night. However the hold on my ankle is unmoving and I realize fate just wanted to twist the knife one last time by showing me hope of some form of eternal survival while I die alone. I peer through the darkness beneath my kicking feet and I see blue scaled tails whipping back and forth terribly fast. What will kill me first? The ship above me shrinks to a dot in my dark vision. Pressure on my skull builds and builds, until it is unbearable. I can’t hold my breath any longer, and I lose hold of my consciousness one final time, my hand reaching up to the vision I belong with. I hope James is up there. Maybe he can find his girl somehow, someday.