Once Upon A Time: The Vast Ocean

English: Trawler Hauling Nets Source: http://w...
English: Trawler Hauling Nets Source: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/fish0813.htm (was http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/fish/fish0813.htm) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time there was a vast, dark, still ocean with the moonlight glittering across it.  A small ship, sails down, rocked gently with the swells.  The crew of four slept, three on her deck and one in the cabin.  With a sense of foreboding, the captain awoke in the cabin.

He stepped out onto the deck, carefully stepping over the crew, his crew, who depended on him. The captain stepped to the bow and looked out over the moonlit sea.  It seemed to him that he saw a great shadow pass beneath the boat.  A shadow so wide it would take his boat a minute to sail across it.

What to do?  Do you awaken your crew because you see shadows?  How foolish, the captain thought to himself.  But a creature that great would leave a trail of eddies that would rise to the surface, like little whirlpools.  As he watched, the boat was rocked gently by small swirling eddies that stretched almost to the horizon.

Far off, the captain saw an island break the surface.  Nothing else would describe the size of the great thing.  Should he now wake the crew, send them screaming and shouting about as their doom approached? What could they hope to do, with no wind to even outrun the thing?  Better to let them sleep through whatever horror would come.

The island approached, very slowly and very fast.  It seemed slow because of its size, but must have been moving very fast to approach so quickly.

Do you await your doom with clenched fists, white-knuckled along the railing?  Or do you simply wait?  The captain waited.  He had known from the time he was a little lad that the sea would take him in time.  Any man who devotes himself to the waves knows she will claim him at last.  But not like this, not like this.

The creature approached with a head three lengths his boat at least.  It slowed as it approached, and the ripples of its coming rocked the boat.  On the sides of its great black head were great dark pools that could only be its eyes.  A man might swim in those pools full length with three strokes or more before reaching the other side.

Perhaps the creature called out, a great rumbling, or perhaps it was just the grumbling escape of gases.  The captain awaited the opening of the great maw, the dark chasm that would swallow his ship whole.

The creature nudged the ship with its head, turning the ship so that the captain could see himself reflected in one of those great black eyes.

It is a foolish gesture, to try and make the utterly alien more familiar.  We seek even in completely unknown territory to bring some semblance of control over the uncontrollable.  The captain waved.  He waved at the eye, as one would wave at a departing shore, or a newly acquired neighbor.  It was a futile gesture, but seemed the only thing to do.

With a sound like the escaping of gas from great pipes, the creature submerged.  It was so close to the ship that the resulting waves rocked the ship hard enough that one of the crewmen awoke.

“What’s the matter, Captain?  Did we hit a squall?”

“No, nothing like that.  Just a swell.  Go back to sleep.”

The captain paused for a few moments more, watching the ocean settle.  Somehow, he knew the danger was passed.  He had met something beyond imagining, and now it was time to sleep.

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