Death On The High Seas
It’s been almost two weeks since I set out by myself on a quest to find the man-eater terrorizing these shores. My craft is a single sail vessel, easily operated by one man, however with the frequency with which I have been “hitting something”, I’ve now taken to leaving my wetsuit and self contained underwater breathing apparatus on at all times, for at any moment I might be forced to throw myself over the edge and into the sea. I must find this beast. This shark. This JAWS.
The underwater ecology seems to have transformed vastly since my days in university studying marine biology. Be it a result of global warming or the tidal currents specific to this particular season, there appears to be an extremely limited number of species inhabiting the ocean these days – six to be exact. Of those six, sting rays and jellyfish seem to have it out for me in particular; a single touch can mangle my entire body and send me spiraling to my death.
The rays are easiest to deal with; traveling at all times parallel to the sea floor and in a straight line; without fail, two of shots from my spear gun will fell even the fastest of their kind. The jellies are different. Although it takes but one spear, they do not come from my left or right but rather appear as if birthed from the seafloor itself, and sometimes in overwhelming numbers, thrusting upwards on a homicidal mission to end my shark hunt. Over time they have changed their once simple attack plan from a perfectly longitudinal approach to stalking me laterally as well, shadowing my movements with every rhythmic strained flex of their tentacles – certain death, hunting me from bellow.
With inconceivable randomness, these two predators can explode into one of four things upon death.
- Conch Shell
Crabs and starfish are merely collector’s items. They offer me nothing but an empty sense of reward. I occasionally scoop them up and examine my vitals as to gauge any possible benefits they may bestow on me, but to date I have no conclusive evidence that attaining either of these items benefits me in the slightest degree in any way shape or form.
The conchs on the other hand are wildly valuable. Within the two ports I have been sailing between exists a mysterious conch trade wherein I offer them up to what can only be described as a modern day shaman who heats and grinds them into a fine powder and, with the addition of various other herbs and tinctures, creates a potent elixir that increases both my physical strength and the pace at which I can swim. I remain vulnerable to attack though, as one hit from any of the oceans villains can rob me of my power, strength and remaining conchs in my possession.
Sometimes after a particularly hard fought battle against a group of rays and jellies, a small shark will appear – a baby jaws if you will.
With razor sharp teeth and a menacing glide, he makes several passes at me as I swim unprotected in the open ocean. I shoot, with machinegun-like rapid fire succession, he explodes, I collect all that his left of him: a conch. My shaman will be pleased.
After such battles I rest. Lately, I have experienced recurring dreams wherein I am in an airplane – soaring high above the glistening salty water, dropping cannonballs, clumsy in their fall but devastating in their damage, upon entire schools of jellyfish engaging in some sort of synchronized swimming ritual. I am free of any danger in my plane. I am free to destroy those who seek to destroy me. I am God now. Fear has vanished. But every dream has an end – every sleeper must awake…
For a long period of time the only technology I had on board my vessel was a rickety old Jaws Tracker that I traded some conchs for at first port. Its read out looks like an old EKG machine and I’m not exactly sure how the technology behind it works, but sure as the day is long it screams with alarm whenever I see the beast’s massive dorsal breach the surface close to me. But recently I stumbled upon my greatest weapon and the thing that might just tilt the scale of power enough for me to take down the massive Great White.
It’s a single man submersible: bullet-like in shape and orange like the setting sun over the western horizon. Built for speed and power and armed with two different weapons; with a pull of the trigger I can loose an unlimited stream of torpedoes or send depth charges careening into the dark abyss below me. The jellies fear me now, for they are not the only ones who can attack longitudinally. I imagine the sub washed up after the man-eater took out a scientific exploration of some kind, or perhaps a military warship. Whoever they were, I’ve now got more deaths to avenge.
I feel the weight of those lost at sea on my shoulders now. I feel their hands grabbing my ankles and dragging me overboard and into the sea. I hear their cries and smell their blood mixed in with their churning salty grave. I know what I must do.
My jaws tracker is screaming – it is time to end this once and for all.