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Fantasy Suspense

I’m like the teacher from the Peanuts comics; of all the important, life-enticing things a person could say, Charlie Brown won’t listen to me. It always seemed to be the same with me and Eda. Eda and I. I don’t care much for the proper grammar. Arranging my words like a psychiatrist on syntax drugs wouldn’t get her to listen to me, anyway.

“Hey! Don't get off the boat! It's not safe!”

“What was that? Nevermind, everyone off the raft; I see an elevated platform!”

Damn your better vocabulary.

***

The U.S. Navy had agreed to send us on a mission in exchange for a promising stipend earlier that week to capture Poseidon’s Vanity, the standardized name given by those hardheads on the Admiral Force for a 20-foot tall sea creature obstructing overseas trade in the Northern Pacific.

Those six syllables proved to be too much for our analytical team of recruits, so we shortened his (or her) name to P.V. Eda was our only exception for the divided name-calling, since she was the most hardheaded.

I can still remember what she said after ginger-haired Commander Percy described the full mission to us.

“Sounds majestic.” She had jabbed at my elbow; her sleeve’s zipper thwacking my epicondyle and leaving me in a pain left uncalled for.

I bit my inner cheek and forced happy thoughts into my head. My elbow told me to kill her, but I countered it with the idealization that she had meant to be nice. How that screamed nice, I don't think I could tell you without convicting someone of an illegal crime.

After an extensive conversation with Commander Percy concerning our general safety (go figure), our crew returned to the pod chamber to be nourished with the necessary vitamins for the mission ahead. Fred had undressed in the titanium pod to my right whereas Eda had barely stepped into the one on my left.

I could've sworn something was watching me as I unbuckled my pants to fasten the Vitamin D tube to my stomach. Keep in mind, Fred was already heavily asleep on my right, if you know what I mean. I let the thought reside after I tightened the Vitamin A to my chest, almost putting myself into a placid trance.

***

The next day, Commander Percy walked into the pod chamber with his mandatory brown coffee mug and pressed a button to play Reveille through our pods. Some traditions were obviously die-hard.

I dressed quickly; a little excited to be face to face with a mythical creature over thrice my size, a little scared of who could still be watching me. Our team of eight lined up by height, thoroughly clad in bulky coats, fingerless gloves and rubber combat boots. Sixth grade me was definitely drooling as we put on our polarized sunglasses in a single synchronized motion.

The back of Jasper’s head became a boring sight to behold as we marched through the given route to a relocated shipping dock on the windy coast of Rota, Spain. His unruly blonde hair looked like it had been burned instead of shaved to its short length, and the scar lining the back of his nape started to look more or so like a terrorized smiley-face pleading to be rescued.

In the meantime, a familiar head of curly, golden ochre locks was humming a not-so-pleasant variation of the Marcha Real, Spain’s national anthem. Not that I cared to notice what happens behind me. But I did. And that is not what a respected recruit should be doing while marching in a single file line.

The sun had barely peeked its head through the horizon before I saw Jasper’s unkempt hair come to a screeching halt. His shoulders slumped in relief, ready to abuse this second of relaxation as long as time permitted, but I knew to keep mine up in an orderly fashion.

“Dude, you can chill out for a bit.” Eda hit me on the side of my stomach, and Tanavi moved her shoulders up and down in a teasing motion while wearing a dangerous smile. Their mischievous reflections glistened in the corner of my sunglasses, so I didn’t bother to turn around.

“You really can.” Jasper mused, completely aware of who was talking behind him. He, too, didn’t bother to turn around.

“Commander Percy can turn around at any time.” I whispered a direct reason into the back of his smiley-face scar. “I'm not risking it.”

“He’s drinking coffee and looking at a chart.” His voice held its usual mellow tone, but I'm pretty sure it went up a slight notch. “What risk?” It went up a slight notch.

I let out a grunt because I didn’t know what to say, other than I wouldn’t let my shoulders slump. In the same moment, a gust of wind lashed behind us, causing Tanavi’s red hair to thwack Eda in the face. My elbow and shoulders smiled in approval.

“Ha, ha! Saw your shoulders go down!” Eda spit the dyed hair from inside her mouth to laugh.

“Ensign Edinell?” Eda’s face turned around to the ginger-bearded one magically appearing on her left, her blithe smirk contorting into a shameful frown. “Mature a little. And don't disrespect the Navy’s protocols so much, would you?” Commander Percy grimaced at her as her cheeks blushed pink and purple in embarrassment. He then walked beside me.

“And as for you, Ensign Sanerick.” I gulped as his hot breath flooded my face. “Keeping your shoulders up is not a protocol.” He patted me on the shoulder with his unusually large hand while I tried to maintain my balance on two gauche feet.

“Ahem,” Commander Percy cleared his throat, signaling us to about-face 90° towards him. “As you all know, we’re lined up here for a specific reason--one which I may not express in great detail while still on the people's land.” He started to leisure back and forth from gargantuan Fred all the way to microscopic Celeste, bending his neck side to side as if someone were trying to ambush us.

He stopped moving, crossed his hands behind his back, and looked into the eight pairs of eyes giddy with the realization of their mythical dreams finally coming true. “I’ll only say this once more, ensign recruits.” He paused and took in a long breath of salty air for a greater, commander-like emphasis. “Work together, don’t die, and bring me its head.”

Commander Percy called another about-face, making me have to look at Jasper’s flaxen hair again as we marched onto a cargo ship barely pulling into the dock. The waters stayed timid as an unnamed man in an ironed uniform steered us through the miry ocean with one hand on the wheel, the other hand devouring a club sandwich.

Caleb and Oden, the other two guys who are only somewhat hardheaded, stole a couple beers from inside the unnamed man’s little office. They had offered Fred one but he declined, neither bothering to offer any of the cold beverages to the rest of us. The three girls, who were a little less hardheaded despite the exception, leaned on the ship’s ledge with binoculars cemented to their faces. It felt like an adult field trip.

“Hey, Gavin!” Jasper’s voice unnerved me from my daydream and grasped my attention. “See that?” His bruised finger pointed in front of my line of vision, directing its gaze towards a fuzzy shadow in the distance.

“You don't think it could be P.V., do you?” He gave me a quick run-over, conveying his short answer through no sound. “Honestly, it looks more like a fat island to me.” I continued, disagreeing with his zero words.

“It has to be P.V. What else could it be?”

“A fat island.”

He took out his own pair of binoculars, trying to get a closer look at the furry being from behind Eda, Tanavi and Celeste roped together at the ledge. The dark shadow had started to move, growing bigger by the second. Jasper mumbled a small gasp before the figure started to descend again, going back to the guise of a fat, desolated island.

“Boy at the wheel!” Oden shouted besotted at the unnamed man after seeing Jasper heed warning to the sight of a moving island. “Steer the ship negative 45° and into the storm; that’s where he’ll be!” He pointed to a charcoal cloud of thunder and lightning not too far from us, surrounding the area where the moving island was.

“This is so exciting!” Eda jerked her arm to hit my elbow again, but my elbow quickly moved away to a distanced safety after earning wisdom from the night before. She didn’t seem to care, though, going back to stare at the billowing, blue sea some more as the rain began to pelt against our eyelids.

As we neared the storm, the atmosphere around us rapidly blackened, the air becoming hard to breathe and even harder to see through. I may have seen a ghost, but I wouldn't have known.

A lightning bolt struck the water beside us, spreading electricity throughout the ocean. Dozens of fish and a couple sharks floated sideways to the surface, electrocuted and dead. The lightning charge wasn’t much, though, compared to the a giant tentacle with warted claws for fingers ripping through the front of the boat the next moment. The unnamed man in an ironed uniform went with it into the frigid waters, screaming for his life as if his fate wasn’t already sealed.

The ship rocked back and forth, much like our chances with life and death, and there was no way to steer the ship away anymore. The armed tentacle came back again, glimmering a viscous red and sticky, inhumane organ goo. Breathing became a hard act to perform, and everyone was huddling together with the murky air and pouring rain, trying to think up a quick plan.

“Hey! Don’t get off the boat! It’s not safe!” I shouted before anyone could think to take another initiative. Only Eda turned her head to my cry.

“What was that? Nevermind, everyone off the raft; I see an elevated platform!”

Fred took the notion to be a happy coward and dive straight into the electrified ocean, his body temperature plunging a great degree as soon as he hit the gelid water.

“Gav!” Eda yelled through the surging winds.

“Gavin.” I quickly asserted in a tone frequently used by Commander Percy.

“Whatever, golden boy.” She rolled her eyes. “There’ll be a team to pick us up after the storm is over. We need to get out.” She pulled a strand of windblown hair behind her ear, giving me a glare that could've made Hitler rethink the Holocaust.

Jasper put his wet hand on my shoulder. “I think she has a point, Gav.”

I gave him a look, but he ignored it and instead grabbed me by the collar, tossing me into the arctic salt waters alongside Caleb and Oden--who I never noticed had jumped in too. The devil's ice-cold tentacles whipped back and forth from where Fred was still dog paddling in the open, barely able to keep his head above the planetary grey water. The last thing we saw of him was his bony index finger, still trying to cling onto the love of life.

There was no time to think about it, though, as over five hundred tentacles frolicked in the water as if they were a baby in a bathtub. And we were its rubber duckie. Tanavi and Celeste were some of the last to jump into the water, having to endure the same struggle of keeping their head above the water since our life vests must’ve been lost with the unnamed man. I looked around for wherever Eda could’ve gone but got my question answered after feeling one hundred pounds of scared human flesh cling to my head.

“I can’t see!” I shouted from her nails biting into my neck and damp elbows taking out my eyeballs.

“Oh,” she unclenched her fingers from beneath my skin and slid off my back into the unstable water along with the rest of us.

“Everyone, grab hands! It’ll be like we’re one heavy person, so we can resist the waves some more.” Caleb reasoned while grabbing onto Oden’s and Celeste’s hands, the waves making it hard to do anything else. I grabbed Eda’s and Jasper’s hands, one of which I have to admit I liked more than the other, and hoped for the storm to end.

It didn't.

Mangling through the dark ocean, another tentacle found us. My feet felt heavy, and I realized I had left my combat boots on. The freezing water numbed my feet entirely, becoming nothing but an extra twenty pounds of danger. I cried out in fear, realizing our closeness to the Great Beyond with Fred was close.

In front of us was the abandoned ship, nowhere near sinking and appearing very sturdy compared to how I felt. I wanted to swim back to the ship, find safety in an uplifted corner and pray for the storm to end there, but I knew better than to go against the group.

“That’s the island! That’s it!” Eda whisked her head towards the direction of a giant rock.

Almost as if the currents had heard us, one of the monster’s humongous tentacles kicked at the ocean, flinging our connected human chain closer to the island. At the distance we flew to, it was a little easier to swim freely since the waves could only somewhat push our heads underwater. Some of the saltwater went up my nose, flooding my nostrils like a pot to boiling water.

“Land!” Tanavi shouted.

“Sand!” Oden shrieked.

“P.V.!” Eda bawled.

The giant rock arose, slowly turning around to look at us. The concealed creature didn’t have any tentacles, fins or enormous claws of death. Its body was made of a boulder, legs longer than P.V himself (or herself), and a gaping hole for a mouth paired along with its two beady eyes. 

It smiled at us and extended one of its rocky hands. I counted; there were twelve in total if you counted the two lithic limbs jutting from behind its eyes. In those long moments that were merely seconds of time, the waves started to rage slower, the air becoming less turbid, and the overall disposition slightly more humorous. Nobody did anything for a while, the saltwater finding its way into everyone’s ears and nostrils and the waves still testing our baneful mortality.

Without an attested answer for the obscure creature, it picked us up by our coats and lifted us into the air, almost resembling what the Grinch famously did to Cindy Lou Who’s wretched Christmas ornament.

It was on its dirty hand when I realized how a bright and sunny morning could quickly turn into one of deadly lightning, raging waters and an abnormal moon.

“You know I wanted to stay on that boat.” I turned to Eda, who was hugging her knees tightly into her chest.

“Yeah, I know.” Her voice sounded soft, a little embarrassed. The type of embarrassed that could make anyone feel embarrassed for their own selves.

“We aren’t going back to the normal world, are we?” Jasper asked from behind us, eyeing the base of the creature’s hand.

“I wouldn’t count on it.” Her voice had become raspier, the sounds of tears faintly reminiscent in her words.

The rain continued to fall, and the living boulder holding us started to leisure through the waters that had taken two lives and question while we still had ours. It lifted us above the clouds, those of which were fluffier than I had imagined and patted tiny Celeste on the head before becoming a beam of light, killing the storm with an innocent sin. Looking through the midst of the orchid clouds, a mass of blubbery tentacles fell from the light.

Triumph rose along with the angelic beast, though it was hard to feel anything but humility. We would tell Commander Percy what had really happened; sure, but like the stars, we would always be there, only being able to shine at night when everything was calm and mild of possible dangers.

Poseidon’s Vanity was dead, and Eda may have saved our lives by approaching the giant rock. I wanted to fall into the churning waters that had turned calm after the destruction of P.V. But I knew I wouldn't, I looked into those golden stars that were burning into my eyes. And Eda looked into the open cessation of reality, and Jasper glared at his hands as if something he touched had cursed us. And Caleb, and Oden, and Celeste and Tanavi murmured confused mutterings to each other out of dismal fear.

And the golden stars came pummeling down.

March 06, 2021 02:45

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