That Sinking Feeling

The Shore of the Turquoise Sea (Emerald Sea) - Albert Bierstadt (1878)

“The Shore of the Turquoise Sea” by Albert Bierstadt (1878)

A short story about death at sea.  Written on the 26th May 2016.


That Sinking Feeling

There’s a sucker pulling out my eye. It doesn’t hurt. But still, I’m not too pleased about it. The thrashing thing obscuring my vision suddenly retreats, and I see it. Bulbous, wriggling, darting into the darkness. A squid? Where the hell am I?

Dead. I’m dead, but I can still think. My thoughts are slow and the ones that manage to fully form are arguing and fighting with the others, but through this cerebral brawl I manage to recall something: my body flopping overboard in a storm. It’s like my entire life was a dream up until this point, and try as I might, I can’t quite seem to recall it anymore. This cold and angry water is my everything now. I’m sinking into the abyss.

Judging from the state of the splintering hull I see disappearing above, we must have crashed. Or maybe we exploded. Or something. It hardly matters now as I continue my slow descent into the darkening midnight blue. Nothing really matters anymore.

I see another squid. I hope it fucks off.

Why did I have to die at sea? My body will end up in a right state now, of that I have little doubt. How I wish I’d never seen those pictures on the internet. Stomach churning. That’ll be me soon enough, and apparently, death is very generous and offers front row seats to the macabre transformation. Consciousness and ruination, hand in hand throughout the whole, disgusting process. Fantastic.

The second squid didn’t see me. It vanishes into the gathering gloom.

After counting a few prehistoric-looking marine creatures and wondering why there’s no heaven, my body eventually catches some wayward current and rolls at an awkward angle, giving me a glimpse of the bottom for the first time. It looks quite rough down there, like a submerged city of onyx rock and foreboding kelp forests. An ancient home to a thousand unseen denizens of the deep. There’ll be plenty of them down there too. Slithering bodies, rumbling stomachs. All patiently awaiting my arrival. God dammit, I’m going to be eaten by these unnameable fiends.

I think I used to be a fisherman once, but I can’t be sure.

If I could sigh, I would. But seeing as I can’t, I’ll just content myself with sinking further into these blackening waters, as they envelope me like the frozen hand of Njörðr. I wonder how long I’ve got left until I hit the bottom, until I’m resting on my rocky bed in my new aqueous world? With only one eye left, I’ve got pretty bad depth perception so it’s hard to judge. God damned squid.

Fate didn’t plan on me completing my journey, however. I didn’t make it much further. The bane of my death, that god damned tentacled menace comes back. This time he finishes me off. His cephalopod limbs with their serrated suckers separate my pale flesh from bone, and in the billowing cloud of ink and blood, I dissipate into the sea of nothingness.

10 thoughts on “That Sinking Feeling

  1. I love how matter of fact it all is. It feels like it could happen that way. Like he’s in mild shock from his death and doesn’t have the time or the mental energy to scream at his (her?) fate or even to be paralyzed by existential dread. It’s just sort of…inconvenient. Death has robbed him of some of his mind, but also of his passion. Makes sense to me.

    Liked by 2 people

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