Tentacles

It’s tentacles were coated in a thick jelly like substance that stank of dog urine in the heat of the stormy night air. Though the muck it’s grip held firm to Jacob’s arm with the aid of small barbs on the tentacles underside. Jacob, a thin gangly man, pulled hard to remove his arm from the beast. It’s gripping teeth chomped at the air trying to reach Jacob’s face. The goo covering it’s body dripped onto Jacobs force. Some of it slipping into Jacob’s mouth and causing a knee jerk vomiting reaction that was difficult to suppress. It had risen from the dark ocean of the night and attached itself to Jacob in a flash.

Richard ran across the ship’s slick deck aid the young boat hand Jacob. The boat was tilting on the starboard side. Shifting with the black waves that’d pounded the boat all night. Jacob had some board four days ago when the ship stopped to resupply at a port in Cuba that Richard couldn’t pronounce the name of. Now the poor boy was being pulled by a further tentacle that protruded from the back of the comping mouth and lengthy tentacles wrapped around him.

Helping was an instinct that served to help him ignore the fear of trying to fend of a tentacle that’d emerged from the sea just moments ago. The remainder of the crew was below deck taking shelter. The sails were up and there was little the crew could do to help the situation other than play the waiting game below deck and sent Jacob up to keep an eye on the storm and alert them if the situation worsened and needed the crews attention.

Richard slipped as the deck tiled to his left and fell sliding across it. Slamming into the side rail of the ship he tried to stand but stumbled and fell nearly dropping his revolved. Crawling on his hands and knees Richard moved a few feet and stood as the ship tilted back in the other direction with the motion of a new black wave. He’d fired two shots before falling and wasn’t sure that either had hit the beast. As he slid across the again tilting deck he made himself wide to keep his surface area wide and reduce his sliding.

The moon was coming through the clouds more now and in it’s dull light the tentacle could be seen. Black outlines slashing around the ship like a dozen whips. The Tentacle holding Jacob shook violently like a dog with a rabbit’s neck in its mouth then shot back into the ocean. The tentacles receded in the blackness and laid flat on the deck while wind and water whipped at the ship. Richard’s skin was numb and his knees ached from crawling and sliding across the deck.

Richards heart was sank into his stomach in a way that made him sick. Not only had he failed to save the boy Jacob but the ship itself was now in peril and he was in no place to help. Each attempt to stand caused Richard to fall more and with each fall he seemed to slide further towards the edges of the ship. Thunder crackled and with it came lightning that illuminated the deck and forty foot waves around it.

The ship had risen to the top of a wave and was about to slide down into the valley. It rocked the boat over the crest of the rolling water and down like bird swooping after it’s prey. Thunder held a concert above with scattered showers of lighting mixed between the black waves surrounding the ship. The storm was worsening and the tentacles were receding in the strobe light effect of the increasingly intense lightning storm.

Richard was stuck in a world of black and white. The skies were darkening and now he could see everything when the lightning flashed or he could see nothing. When there was nothing Richard tried to remain still. He was on both knees with one hand on the wood of the deck ready to move forward when he could see. In his free hand his revolved. There was one shot left if he’d counted right. There was no taking chances with the tentacles. A few of the slightly thinner tentacles had hap-hazardly swung across the ship. The tentacles were so long they reached fully across the forty foot wide deck. Wooden strong boxes of supplies were crushed under their might.

Splinters bounced off of him but through the growing density of the rain he could not tell. There was a flash and he saw the black mass in front of him. A tentacle. Richard dove forward and rolled under the tentacle. He was ready to fire the pistol but held back. If he fired then he may not have had the bullet. If the tentacles grabbed him he’d need the bullet. The last bullet would be a final move for survival or quick means of saving himself from the pains of drowning.

As Richard slid on his belly he knew above there were rippling tentacles. He was over the cargo hold. Maybe if he were a child he could have slipped down through the iron grate but he about thirty years past that size. Moving across the cargo hold was the easiest part of his journey. The stairs to the lower deck were twenty feet away. He could see the doorway with each flash. He held to the grate and locked his feet around its bars to keep from moving as the ship tilted hard to starboard. It was crushing down another wave.

A gush of water overflowed the side of the ship. For a moment Richard swore he was underwater. He nearly let go of his pistol to better grip the grate but rejected that idea. If he were washed overboard he’d still want his pistol. Another gush of water came over the edge of the deck like a waterfall and Richard could feel the skin of his palm breaking from friction with the flat iron grate. He gasped for air and shook from the icy wetness.

His trousers were heavy, his boot full, and his skin felt covered in a dense muck. The smell was rancid. Between the smell and the salt water that’d gotten into his mouth Richard was on the verge of vomiting. Taking long deep breaths he slowly moved past the cargo hold. Seeing a clear path with the last lightning strike Richard bolted for the doorway down. His legs caught on something sending him flying forward through the air. A rope possibly. He couldn’t tell in the dark. Unable to see where he was falling Richard collided first with his face and then with his body.

Richard figured he had a concussion at the very least. There was something warm running down his forehead and over his eyes. The tentacle he’d just tripped over wiggled. In the flashing like it was like looking at the choppy motions of a children’s picture flip book. If he’d been standing, he’d be dead. With the tip of his fingers Richard could feel the cold wood of the door leading down to safety.

Richard rolled over so he would be able to see the tentacle. He tried to stay flat while aiming the pistol from his hip. He tried to convince himself that he was shaking from the cold and not pure hot fear but that was a lie.

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