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Krakens Aren't The Worst Things Out At Sea
When she wasn’t busy with her work, she often taught me a lot about the sea, and its inhabitants. Needless to say, I grew pretty fond of the watery depths early on in my life.
She was out on some expedition or something and decided to take me along for the ride.
I remember being on the ship for 3 days, tops. I’d spent my days on the deck, staring off into the horizon, or near that awesome glass bottom which gave me a mesmerising view of what lies beneath the waves.
I probably had the best time of my life on that ship. If only it had lasted.
The sun slowly descended into the horizon, signalling the end of my 3rd day at sea.
As usual, I stood at the front deck, hands gripping the railing firmly, admiring the darkness of the night sky, seemingly lit by billions of tiny glowing orbs.
“You’re supposed to go to bed, Angus.” I turned around to face my mom, who was walking over with a smile on her face.
She stood beside me and patted my head.
“Will I get to see the whales?”, I asked hopefully.
“Well, let’s hope that we do.”, She said reassuring me.
We stood there in silence. I glanced over to my mom. She had a perturbed expression on her face. 9 year old me stood there, quiet, not knowing what to expect nor possessing the maturity to comprehend the situation.
My mom turned to face me. “Angus.”, she said softly.
“If you ever see a silver colored carp out in the ocean, leave the area immediately.”, she replied, trying to stay as calm as possible.
I nodded in acknowledgement, not knowing what to think.
Suddenly, the air felt colder. The gentle breeze that blew through the deck was replaced by an eerie atmosphere. I turned towards mom for reassurance. However, before a single syllable left my mouth, the boat lurched sideways, throwing me off my feet. I hit the floor hard. Stumbling around a bit, I tried to regain my footing.
Before I could get up however, something grabbed me from behind. A hand. A human hand. Its rough, muscular phalanges gripped my arm tightly. I turned to face my captor. It was a crew member.
“Get up lad. We have to get out of here.”, he screamed as he motioned my mom to follow him.
My mom had a stern look on her face. Suddenly, chaos erupted from the ship as all of the crew members rushed themselves to the lifeboats.
“What’s going on?”, she asked.
“Something big crashed into the hull.”, he replied, almost out of breath.
The sailor picked me up and began running for the lower deck. My mom followed. About halfway towards the door leading down to the lower levels, the ship lurched again. The sailor tripped, almost slamming me into the floor. Regaining his composure as quickly as possible, he lifted me up once again. I looked behind him in search of my mom.
My eyes widened in horror. There she was, lying on the floor, blood dripping from her forehead. A giant, round metallic object, probably one of the ship’s antennae, crushing her under its weight. She couldn’t even get up if she wanted to.
She looked up towards me, and forced a weak smile.
“Please, take him with you.”, she pleaded to the guy. Tears welled up in my eyes. My mind couldn’t fully render the details of my surroundings.
“Damn it.”, the guy cursed under his breath, as he resumed his dash towards the lower deck of the ship. I couldn’t take my eyes off my mother.
“It’s okay.”, she called out in reassurance. “It’s okay.”
After that, it was a mad dash through a few hallways to somewhere near the bilge.
I remember being geared up in a life jacket by one of the crew members. The lifeboats were located in some chamber near the bilge of the boat. They had to be ejected out of their compartments manually. As I sat there in my lifeboat frozen in fear, I heard a loud and violent rumble coming from beneath the ship. The entire vessel shook violently. Some crew member on my lifeboat pressed the eject button and the boat went sliding down a rack and out of a hatch. It landed hard on the water’s surface with a resounding splash.
The men started to row away from the boat. There appeared to be 2 scientists on this boat as well. Through terrified voices, they explained to the crew about something massive the SONAR picked up. I glanced towards the column of water under the abandoned ship.
I could make out the faint outline of something moving beneath the murky depths. A giant black sphere occupied the center of this massive thing’s body. I stared at the black orb. I felt a chill run down my spine. It felt as if the object was staring back right at me.
Suddenly, another rumble shook our petty lifeboat. It seemed to be coming from somewhere near the ship. It’s vibrations spread across the water, creating vigorous ripples on its surface.
Something massive came out of the water. I refused to take my eyes off the giant pillar of red. A tentacle. It looked like the tentacle of an octopus. It rose from the water and rested itself upon the upper deck of the ship, slowly curling around it.
I heard an enormous splash as 2 more giant tentacles broke through the surface and wrapped themselves around the ship.
Another rumble from the depths shook the boat. About 300 meters to the left of the boat, another tentacle rose. Then, another one wriggled out around 500 meters to its side. Then another. The seemingly empty waters surrounding the ship came to life with multiple sets of tentacles. From the distance between individual sets, I could tell they belonged to separate bodies. There were more than 1 of these things. Around 7 by my count. The first set raised 8 tentacles from the water and proceeded to wrap them around the ship. The metallic vessel was slowly being crushed by the force of those giant appendages.
All of the 4 lifeboats that made it out of the ship stopped rowing. All of us simply stayed in place, paralysed in fear. For some reason, my eyes glanced towards the right of the boat, into the water. I saw something moving in there. Something bright and shiny. A carp. A silver carp.
I tensed up, remembering my mother’s warning.
I looked at the crew members on my boat. They were still staring at the massive wall of tentacles strangling the ship. Should I try to warn them?
I didn’t know what to do.
Our boat lurched backwards as something of enormous magnitude charged towards the nearly destroyed ship. The tentacles loosened their grip on the ship. Within seconds, all 7 sets of tentacles retreated into the depths, disappearing from sight.
Nothing happened. However, I couldn’t help but keep my eyes trained on the remains of the ship.
I heard the sound of metal clanging against each other. With an enormous splash, the ship was launched 50 feet into the air before it smashed onto the water’s surface. In an instant, it was pulled down into the murky water, never to be seen again.
I sat there in silence, unable to move or make sense of what the heck just went down.
The rest of it is a complete blur. I woke up on my back, gazing upon a ceiling I had never seen before in my life. A fan slowly rotating on my left, and a window to my right. Sunlight shined through the panels, lighting up the isolated chamber I was in. I was in a hospital bed.
The nurse told me I’d be up and running in a few days. For the time being though, I was bed ridden. For the next few days, a few people dropped by to interview me about the incident. For the first 2, I gave them the true story. They both disregarded my claims however, calling me ‘mentally unstable’ and in a state of ‘shock’.
So, for the rest of the lot, I simply told them that I didn’t know.
About 5 days after I came to my senses, I heard a knock on the door of my hospital room. A man opened the door and walked in. He wore dark grey trousers and a jet black trench coat.
A deer skull was printed on its back in white. From what I remember, he was tall and buff. I initially thought he was from the military or something.
This mystery man sat down on the chair beside my bed, cleared his throat and introduced himself. “My name is Alexander Myers.”
Silence persisted for about a minute before he continued.
“I’m not here for any interviews for the press, or anything of that sort. I just want the whole story of what happened. The true version, if you will.”
His charismatic voice echoed through the gloomy room. I looked into his eyes, and I was convinced. This man would believe me. He surely would. And so, I told him everything. From the tremendous rumbling, to the giant tentacles, to even my mother’s death. I couldn’t stop myself. I just let it all out. To my surprise, he listened to my childish rant attentively.
By the time I was done, I was out of breath. He waited for me to calm down.
I looked at him. He just sat there, with a grim expression on his face.
“Thank you for the intel.”, he said, getting up from the chair.
“I’m sorry for your loss kid.”
He reached for his bag, and pulled out some weird metallic box. He began toying with it for a moment before looking at me. He now had a blank expression on his face. Slowly making his way towards me, he pulled out a big wire from the peculiar machine. He reached his hand out to my neck, trying to reassure me. “Don’t worry kid. It won’t hurt. , I’m gonna have to do this for legal reasons.” I was frozen with fear, not sure of what he was doing. Now that I think back, he was probably trying to erase my memories or something.
I looked at him, Afraid and desperate. He stopped for a second, and hesitated.
He just stood there, deep in his thoughts, for about 2 minutes.
Seemingly defeated from his inner conflict, he retreated. As he began packing his weird device into his bag, he gave me a look of pity.
“Just forget about it kid.”, He spoke. “If anyone asks, tell them it was a iceberg or something. Don’t mention the squid to anyone. For both my sake and yours.”
With these final words, he left, never to be seen again.
I was discharged later on, and taken in by my uncle, one of the few relatives I had left.
From my conversations with the other survivors, I found out that nobody remembered the tentacles.
I was the only one who knew. I was an outcast. A single man, stranded on this one vivid memory, amidst a sea of ignorance. It drew me insane. I had no one to confirm those terrifying visions. No one to share my terror.
I eventually stopped searching, and isolated myself. As for my love for the sea, drowned under the waves of thalassophobia.
Every time I sat down in a bathtub, I felt it. That intense rumbling, rising from the depths of the abyss, to take my soul. My paranoia only grew as the years passed.
I just couldn’t get the disaster off my mind. It tormented me, both in my dreams and hours of consciousness.
I eventually got over with high school and college, and landed the job I strived for. A marine biologist at a research facility, whose name I won’t be disclosing.
As the years passed and my reputation grew, I began researching classified documents related to the tragedy that happened years ago. As a kid, I would run off to libraries and look up websites and forums trying to find any accounts of my mystery sea monster. Needless to say, I came across the legend of the kraken pretty quick.
A Scandinavian folk tale about a giant octopus, or squid, or something that lurked off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. The legend fit the beast’s description perfectly. My childish mind went bonkers at the striking resemblance. But obviously, I needed proof. Until I got compelling evidence of that monster’s existence, it was just another myth.
Throughout my teens, I tried to search up more realistic documents of creatures that fit the description. But as usual, none of the data had any credibility to it. I didn’t falter, however. The years passed by but I really never grew out of it. I wanted conclusive evidence. Evidence that I was not crazy. Evidence that validated my entire existence from that day. I devoted every second, every buck, and every inch of my sanity to crack the case of those wretched tentacles, that took my mother away from me.
And then one day, I found it.
A file of documents titled 'macrocephalus_batch#13_7’.
The name on the file was my mother’s.
I took a moment to comprehend what I saw, and then quietly exited the records room.
Back at home, I sat myself on my study and opened it up.
It seemed to be a track record for 7 sperm whales that were tagged by my mom’s team 5 years ago. This pod of 7 had 1 giant albino male in their ranks. He was given the name ‘Moby Dick’, based on Herman Melville’s novel.
This mighty beast was around 70 feet in length, probably the largest specimen of its species to ever be recorded. The track record continued until 1997, the year that disaster happened.
The track records abruptly stopped in September of that year.
All 7 trackers stopped sending information to the server at 19:37, on the 13th of September, 1997.
They all went silent mere seconds apart from one another. It would be ludicrous to think that all 7 of them would malfunction at the same time.
My mom, leading a group of 5 other researchers, was tasked to investigate the sudden disappearance of the trackers, and the whales at large.
And I think I had a pretty good guess on the culprit as well.
That thing with the tentacles. Those monstrous appendages had to be around 20 to 30 feet in girth. As for their true length, only god knows.
Just one of these things could’ve eliminated that pod of whales in one go, and from what I saw, there was probably an entire gang of them out there.
I felt like I’d gotten closer to cracking the case. This one document was crucial information to verify the existence of this beast, but it didn’t really justify anything on its own.
I needed to get out there. Get this thing on film and hopefully snag some samples too. All I needed was an opportunity, and boy did I get one.
Around 3 years after discovering that file, I got it.
A call from my research facility. I rushed to HQ immediately.
On arrival, I was guided to a conference room, where the director was waiting for me, along with a team of 6 other scientists.
I took a seat, waiting for the director to start.
He walked around towards the projector and turned it on.
The screen lit up to show an overhead view of the coast of Scotland.
"As some of you might know, we had tagged a pod of 7 humpback whales 4 months ago. Well, around 6 hours ago, all 7 trackers went dark at roughly the same time, at around this point."
He pointed towards a spot, deep within the Norwegian sea.
I felt my heart racing. That was just 11 miles west of the spot where those 7 sperm whales disappeared.
The director continued.
"Surprisingly, this has happened before. Back in 1997. This is classified intel, but for obvious reasons, I've chosen to acquaint you with it."
Karthik, our technician, stood up. "So, when are we scheduled to leave?", he asked.
"You have 30 hours from now.", the director replied.
I left the conference room with mixed feelings. This was my chance. My one moment to capture this monster in action.
But on the other hand, only I had a clue of what we were heading towards. All of us could potentially die out there. I needed to prepare for countermeasures, fast.
Later that day, I decided to head out to the local pub, to pay a visit to Scotty and his whaling crew.
They were pretty easy to find, considering how much liquor they downed in a day.
At the right corner furthest from the door, was a pod of large, hefty men and women. All of them chugging down beer like no tomorrow.
I've known Scotty for quite a while now, so I approached without any hesitation.
He noticed me walking over, and called out.
"Nice to see ya, lad.", he said.
I sat down and made some small talk.
Scotty's father was a sailor. He had a real passion for the sea, kind of like I did.
After around a bottle of beer, I dropped the bomb on him.
"Say, is there anything out there that can eat 7 whales at once?", I asked.
Scotty put down his glass. "Why do you ask?"
I noticed another woman, across the table, staring at me skeptically.
I turned to Scotty and continued with the details. I told him about the 7 whales, and their sudden disappearance.
Scotty listened intently.
"So, you want us to join in on the hunt?", he asked.
"500 grand irrespective. 1 million if you help us find out the cause.", I said.
Scotty's jaw dropped, and after hearing myself, mine did too.
The woman across the table slammed her fist on the table. "we refuse.", she said sternly.
"Is there a problem?" I asked. "I'm fairly certain I've made an extravagant offer."
"That's not the issue here.", she said.
Scotty was deep in his thoughts.
"We leave in 26 hours.", I said. "I'd appreciate a response in the next 5 hours if possible."
I stood up and began walking away.
"We'll take it.", Scotty said softly.
"But Captain-", the woman tried to retort.
"Come on, Blaire.", he insisted. "What can possibly go wrong? We've been out at sea for, how long now? Don't tell me you're scared of sea monsters."
Blaire balled up her fist. She retreated to her seat, giving me a death stare as she continued to down another bottle of beer.
"Alright then. I'll email you the rest of the details.", I said before walking out.
As I reached the door, I spotted that same woman named Blaire, waiting outside.
She noticed me and started walking over.
"You're hiding something, aren't you.", she said.
"I've given you all of the verified details about the expedition.", I replied.
She eyed me for a moment, unconvinced.
Then, she pulled out a pocket knife and pointed it at me.
"If that thing is involved in any way, I'll kill you myself."
"I'm not quite sure if we're on the same page."
I was nervous now. Does she know anything about that creature? What was she talking about? I wasn't sure if she was overly superstitious or actually knew something about the waters we were going in, but something didn't feel right.
None of it mattered though. I wasn't fairly certain if I would even be alive at the end of this. I just wanted to see this thing again. Those same tentacles that took my mother away from me. Call me a psychopath, I don't care. All I knew was that I had to do this.
After leaving the pub, I took out my phone and dialled a few numbers. I had to meet up with Karthik to discuss our vessel of choice.
"Dude, I'm a bit busy right now. Can I call you later?", he said.
I told him about the boat situation, and how we needed a big, sturdy ship with a reinforced hull or something.
"I got a few thousand bucks to waste. Mind if I drop by?"
Karthik went silent for a moment. "Sure, I guess."
For the next 10 hours or so, I worked closely with him, discussing shit I have never studied in my life. Long story short, I have neither the brain cells, nor the audacity to become an engineer.
I stood at the docs, Karthik by my side. Our hulk of a ride gently bounced up and down with the waves.
'Vento D'oro', the ship's name, was painted in gold at the front. She was huge, about 50 meters in length. A variety of gear decorated her massive form: all the way from giant underwater microphones to a remote submarine drone.
"Say, you do realise you have a life after this mission right.", Karthik asked.
"Who knows.", I replied.
"Let me get this straight.",Karthik began. "You spent almost all of your fortune on a big, sturdy ship, a bunch of trinkets we probably won't be needing, a whaling crew and god knows what else, just to investigate a missing pod of whales."
"Hey Angus.", a voice shouted over from the deck of the ship. I looked over to see Natasha, another marine biologist from Russia, descending the steps of the ship ladder.
"There's an M134 on the front deck." She sounded tense.
"You bought guns?", Karthik turned to face me.
"It belongs to the whaling crew." I lied.
"Why are you preparing so much?", Karthik asked, perplexed.
"7 whales disappearing seconds apart from one another. I have reason to believe we might encounter something dangerous.",I replied.
"You're crazy.", he said.
I looked towards the dimly lit horizon.
I climbed the ship ladder and set foot upon the front deck. The salty air breezed past my face.
I turned to my right where the hatch to the lower decks was, and there she was. Blaire. That same woman from the bar. If looks could kill, I'd already be dead.
Without uttering a single word, she retreated to the lower levels of the ship.
The whaling crew continued assembling their hunting gear, along with the firepower I illegally sourced.
Everything was going as planned.
I'd accounted for special upgrades and equipment without tipping off the director, or my team.
The only thorn in my plan seemed to be Blaire. She clearly knew something about this mission. Something even I didn't know. Luckily, the whaling crew and the team didn't know either, so this expedition was going smoothly, at least for now.
After Karthik made a final inspection, the Vento D’oro set sail, leaving the docks of Scotland behind and heading straight towards the lair of the beast, one only I knew of.
2 days went by. We were still about 30 miles away from our first checkpoint.
I was in my cabin, analysing the manuscripts I had.
I was deep in my thoughts when suddenly, I was thrown off my chair. The entire boat rocked violently.
Something had struck it.
I rushed to the upper deck to find the entire whaling crew assembled.
Scotty noticed my arrival and calmly walked toward me.
“You might want to take a look at this.”, he said.
I walked towards the left side of the deck and peaked over the railing, to the depths below.
There was a giant mass of flesh. Bright, red and dripping fresh. The waters around it faded beautifully into a shade of crimson.
A whale carcass. Brutally torn open, to the point where identifying its species was nearly impossible.
The mutilated remains were still afloat, meaning that its death was fairly recent.
Normally, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Everything dies at a certain point. So do whales.
However, the sight of death, in the midst of this vast expanse of water, shook me to my core.
The trauma I experienced back then suddenly kicked in. I panicked and ran back to my quarters, locking the door behind me.
Scotty came after me to check if I was alright. I reassured him that it was just a panic attack.
After I recovered from my initial shock, I slowly made my way back to the upper deck.
I didn’t dare look over the railing in fear of the murky depths below. I simply sat down at the middle of the deck, admiring the stars, just like I did with my mother. It was one of the many things we bonded over.
I felt a few tears roll down my cheeks.
Those millions of tiny glowing orbs housed many memories. And now, as my eyes rested upon the beautiful sight, I couldn’t help myself.
I was finally getting a chance at redemption. Somehow, I felt like witnessing that monstrosity once again would bring some closure. “I’m almost there mom.”, I thought to myself.
“You’ve been here before haven’t you?”, a voice came from behind me.
I turned around to see Blaire approaching me.
“You’ve been around these parts before.
Scotty told me. You were a little brat back then. When your ship went down in these very waters.", she said, in a more soft tone.
" well, what of it.", I asked, utterly perplexed by her demeanor.
" I don't know what's going on through your mind. I don't know what you want out here. All I know is that these waters are dangerous, especially with the circumstances we're in."
I stared at her for a few seconds.
She stared back, clearly hiding a look of despair.
"If I feel like the lives of my crew are in any immediate danger, I'm turning this thing around, and that'll be the end of it."
Saying so, she walked off, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
Day 3 rolled in. And while we’re at it, I’d like to say that the 3 is quite possibly the shittiest number to ever exist.
9:30 in the morning.
Everybody was up and awake. The entire vessel came to life as dozens of people zoomed around the corridors, busy with their own tasks.
We had reached the spot where the trackers were last found.
I reached the upper deck to check if everything was going smoothly.
Karthik was preparing the drone for its dive.
Natasha, and 3 other biologists, were in the cabin, analysing footage and sounds from the underwater cameras and microphones.
There wasn’t a single soul in sight. SONAR revealed the ocean floor to be completely dead.
Everybody was a bit tense. How can 7 sea giants, each weighing around 30,000 kilograms, just disappear.
3 uneventful hours went by.
I was laying around in the cabin when I heard a beep.
I glanced towards the SONAR monitor.
There was a giant thing approaching the boat from the North-West, around a kilometer away.
My heart began racing.
I grabbed my recorder and rushed to the upper deck. The whaling crew was alerted of the incoming object. Scotty assembled them and began prepping the weapons.
A few minutes went by and nothing happened. My eyes were fixated upon the waters around me. I saw something approaching the ship, gently drifting along with the waves.
Another whale carcass. This one too, mangled beyond any recognition.
I stared at the gore before me, trying to keep my sanity together.
Then, I glanced below me, deep into the dark depths.
My heart skipped a beat.
There it was, before my eyes. That black orb, maybe around 20 feet in diameter.
No matter how much I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. Like that black orb was staring deep into my eyes.
That’s when the realisation hit me.
This giant black sphere. It was an eye. A fucking eye.
I fell backwards on my back, completely out of breath. I waited all these years for this moment, but I never realised how unprepared I was for it.
The boat began to rumble once again as an enormous wave of deja vu crashed into my very soul.
Scotty was shouting at his crew to get ready. I saw Karthik running towards me.
“What the hell is happening.”, he asked with a trembling voice.
Before I could utter a single word, a giant splash erupted from the side of the boat as a wall of red rose from the surface. A tentacle. The same one I saw before.
“We need to turn this thing around.”, Scotty yelled.
One of his crew members rushed towards the bridge of the ship.
The rest manned the harpoons and guns, trying to ward off the giant appendage.
I heard a few more massive splashes as a few more rose from the murky waters around.
I glanced around at the sight. The sky was covered in dancing tentacles, seemingly waiting to drag us down to the depths.
I felt completely deprived of breath. The very entities that haunted my dreams now lay suspended above me. Those humongous tentacles, twirling around as if it were a funeral procession.
A loud explosion snapped me out of my trance. One of the tentacles was hit by an enormous ball of fire.
I looked around frantically. To my right, stood Blaire, holding a bazooka over her shoulder.
Her expression was furious.
A low rumble erupted from the depths below our boat.
Blaire braced herself, as she loaded and shot 3 more rounds at the other tentacles, waving violently in the air.
The ship suddenly lurched to the left, as another enormous rumble shook the vessel.
The tentacles had retreated a bit, back into the depths.
I heard the familiar rev of the engines, now running at full throttle.
The ship was turning around. One of the tentacles on the left side of the ship had completely retreated underwater. Someone in the cabin was turning it around.
About halfway through the turn, I came back to my senses.
I had to get this on tape.
I grabbed the drone and hurled it into the water.
My hands frantically ran across the controller, trying to get a visual.
The screen displayed the drone’s camera feed.
What I saw skeeved me out. It was a cephalopod for sure, but appeared to be a cross between a squid and an octopus. The mantle itself had to be about half the size of our boat. The tentacles were around 100 to 150 feet long.
No wonder this thing had dragged down many unsuspecting vessels to their demise, into the cold and dark abyss.
I spent the next 10 minutes collecting footage like the despicable asshole I am, while the rest of my team were working their asses off, trying to ward off the barrage of tentacles in a desperate attempt to escape.
Eventually, the boat did turn around. The apparent ‘kraken’ below us had given up and retreated back into the depths. The boat was now almost back on course and ready to get the hell out of there, when I looked back at the spot we were trapped in. Something caught my eye.
The water’s surface was swirling around, creating massive ripples everywhere.
And then, another huge splash, or rather, an entire orchestra of them.
The water sprang to life as dozens of tentacles broke the surface, around 400 meters away from our boat.
I dropped down to my knees, witnessing the cataclysm before me.
A massive army of tentacles, swaying in the air, ever so slightly making their way towards us.
A sea of krakens.
I lost all hope right then and there.
There was no way we were getting out of this.
I glanced towards the drone feed one last time. My life’s work, all of it laid to waste before my eyes, awaiting a fate akin to that of my mother’s.
Just then, I noticed movement in the camera feed.
Amidst the murky water, something tiny and shiny was making its way towards the boat.
A carp. A silver carp.
My blood ran cold as I remembered my mother’s words.
“If you ever see a silver colored carp out in the ocean, leave the area immediately.”
I couldn’t move. I was paralysed in fear.
I heard something metallic drop behind me.
I turned around to see Blaire. Staring wide-eyed at the monitor screen.
“Everybody get to the lifeboats.”, she yelled.
“Drop everything and run.”
Adrenaline pumped through my veins as my body shifted into autopilot mode.
I got up on my feet, rushing towards the nearest lifeboat.
I got a pretty late start however. Almost all of the lifeboats were already deployed and in the water by the time I reached the edge of the ship.
The lifeboats were suspended from the sides via ropes, pretty much like most other ships.
I noticed a lifeboat right below me, mere meters away from the ship.
I decided to jump.
Before I could however, the ship began vibrating intensely. But this time, something was different. It felt awfully like a growl. A low, effortless growl. It felt completely calm and relaxed, but terrifyingly colossal at the same time.
Almost shitting myself, I leapt from the railing, into the water below. Before I could land, I felt an enormous presence below the ship. I was instantly blown away as an enormous force burst out of the water right into the ship. Still trying to stay afloat, I turned to face the ship. Or rather, what remained of it.
Something had casually launched the ship 50 feet into the air.
The giant scrap of metal slammed down into the water, creating another massive ripple that pushed me away even further.
I quickly regained my composition and looked around, desperately trying to find a lifeboat. There were 3 left, all of which were about 50 feet away from me at this point.
I was shivering in the cold water, so I had to act fast.
But, before I could even begin swimming towards safety, I froze.
Goosebumps spread across every inch of my skin.
At that single moment, I felt tiny. I felt violated in every way possible. I felt the weight of my own mortality crippling me.
A massive presence surrounded me, completely drowning me in its wake. I felt as if I was suffocating. This massive presence. Even the slightest movements from this thing felt like a hurricane.
I slowly sank below the surface, still paralysed. From fear? From the acceptance of my inevitable death? From my unbound respect of the entity before me? I will never know.
I still can’t fully comprehend what I saw. I never truly witnessed the full extent of this monstrosity, but whatever I could witness was more than enough to drive me insane.
The best intellectual guess my feeble mind can make is a reptile. Serpentine, but lizard-like as well.Dark crocodilian scutes, capable of bearing the weight of the earth on its shoulders, and the sharpest and most lustrous of spines running along its mighty back, unyielding to even the most adamant of enemies.
It was biblical. This leviathan-like creature gracefully swam through the waters.
I was so lost in this entity’s presence that I didn’t even notice that it had turned around to look at me.
Suddenly, everything around me felt abysmal, and dark. I felt trapped in a concise void I had no jurisdiction over. I was merely a peasant, amidst the overlord’s presence.
This was its domain. Its kingdom.
I felt like an ant sized up against a human.
The leviathan stopped 20 feet away from me. It’s jaws could’ve probably swallowed a 5 storey apartment complex whole.
Every cell in my body ceased functioning to pay their due respects to this behemoth.
At that moment, I understood how it felt to be truly vulnerable, to lose authority over your entire existence.
I understood how it felt to bask in the presence of a god.
I don’t know how I made it to the lifeboat, but I did. Only around 10 people survived the attack.
Blaire was too tired to even attempt to kill me. But she doesn’t have to worry about that. I’ll be taking care of that myself. After what I saw, I decided that I’m officially done. I have no reason to live anymore.
I never wish to return to dry land.
I guess I’ll simply fill up my lungs with the essence of the sea, and become one with the dark depths of the ocean.
That is why I’m writing this out, before I end it all, in hopes of getting this story out to as many people as I can.
The oceans were never meant to be conquered by us, and any attempts to do so will be our demise. We peasants must never step out of the line, that the deities have drawn out for us.
I want to end this with one last thing.
I had a hunch that Blaire knew about that creature. That godlike being. Before I joined my mom below the ocean depths, I wanted to know what that creature was.
So I approached Blaire, who just sat there with a blank expression on her face.
I knelt down and asked her if she knew about that godlike being.
In response, she simply recited a poem, or rather a quote, or something like that. An old Scottish Gaelic folk tale that spoke of a monster that ruled the seas.
Seachd sgadain, sath bradain (Seven herrings, a salmon's fill;)
Seachd bradain, sath ròin (Seven salmon, a seal's fill;)
Seachd ròin, sath mial-mòr-mara (Seven seals, a large whale's fill)
Seachd mial, sath cirein-cròin (Seven whales, a cirein-cròin's fill)
Father Saunière and the Holy Grail - The French mystery that inspired the Da Vinci Code
The next morning, on All Saint's Day, he didn't show up for mass at church. Alarmed, his nephew came to check on him. Father Gélis hadn't missed mass once in forty years, so why would he do so on one of the most important days of the year? When he got to his uncle's doorstep, he instantly knew something was wrong. The blinds were shut, but the door was unlocked and slightly ajar. The clergyman always left his door locked overnight. He was insanely paranoid. He had even hung a bell on the door frame so he could hear it if someone tried to break in. This definitely wasn't a good sign. The young man walked into the dark, sparsely decorated living room and found nothing amiss, so he moved on to the dining room. And the sight that greeted him when he walked in probably stuck with him forevermore.
Father Gélis lay on the floor on his back, in the very centre of a very dark red puddle of blood. The gendarmes were puzzled. Who would want to kill such an unremarkable old man, worse yet, the village priest? Nothing had been stolen. And boy, was he hiding something. Several invaluable, ancient gold coins were found in his lodgings, along with a scandalous sum of money. How had Father Gélis gotten his hands on all that gold? And how come he never told anyone about it? His drawers had been turned inside out. Whoever killed him was looking for something. Had they found it?
The neighbours later confirmed that he had received a late-night visitor, but they didn't know who it was. It was dark. That particular narrow street in Coustaussa had no streetlights. The bell behind his door made no sound, meaning Gélis had to have opened the door himself to greet his visitor. Did the two men know each other?
The crime itself had been horrific: Antoine Gélis had been beaten and stabbed to death with his own fire iron: his neck was broken, his brain was exposed and apparent through several gaping holes in his skull. There was substantial evidence suggesting the old man had fought back with all his might, but strangely, no one heard him scream. His pocket watch was broken and stopped at exactly midnight. His estimated death time was three in the morning. And his hands had been placed together on his chest as if he was saying one last prayer.
One single, silent piece of evidence was left behind: a full pack of Hungary-manufactured cigarette-paper from the brand Tzar. Father Gélis didn't smoke, and he had never been to Hungary. Tzar cigarette paper wasn't sold in France back then. On the first sheet, someone had scribbled in pencil "Viva Angelina."
When Father Bérenger Saunière arrived in Rennes-le-Château in 1885, he was only 33. He had just been promoted from deacon to parish priest, and he was thrilled to take over the local church. The quaint, lush Rennes-le-Château, with a population of only 200, happened to be Saunière's hometown. He was to preach at St. Mary Magdalene's church, an old romanesque construction dating back to the 8th century.
But his excitement was short-lived. When he arrived, he found the place dilapidated. The woodwork was so severely damaged, the altar crumbled beneath his feet. But nothing could dissuade Father Saunière from preaching his new audience with zeal and fervour. A tall, handsome man, he quickly became popular with the local women, who rushed to attend mass every Sunday morning. There was no altar, so he stood on a chair. It rained heavily inside his rectory, so a local widow offered to rent him a room at her place. He accepted. He would further shock the local community by hiring a local damsel, alluring 18-year-old Mary Denarnaud, as his housekeeper. Bold and daring, a fierce royalist and an unbending Catholic, Father Saunière was both controversial and strangely compelling.
It would take Saunière several months to gather enough donations to fund the much-need repairs at St. Mary Magdalene's church. He couldn't pay a carpenter, so a local shopkeeper offered to help him rebuild the altar. Saunière gladly accepted. The two men, aided by a couple of local youths, moved the baluster and the altar stone. As per Catholic tradition, they did so with due deference, regularly stopping to pray and to dip their hands in holy water. After all, the altar stone is an essential part of a church, consecrated by a bishop and sometimes containing fragile, invaluable relics.
As the altar tabletop finally fell to the ground with a thud, the men stopped to catch their breath. But their rest break didn't last. As the ancient Carolingian column tops were exposed, something caught a helper's eye. As the dust settled, it became apparent that there was a strange cavity in one of the columns. And there was something inside. Father Saunière walked over to the column, and noticing it was engraved with the Templar's cross made a joke about unearthing a holy treasure. They were all familiar with the local legend their fathers had told them as children: centuries ago, large amounts of gold had been buried in the area for the initiated to find, but no one ever did. Saunière reached inside the cavity and felt around, but all that came out was a handful of dried fern, so old it quickly turned to dust in his hand. He reached in again, and this time he wasn't disappointed. The men quickly gathered around him, curious to see what it was.
But what Saunière had pulled out of the cache looked nothing like a relic. He was holding three timeworn wooden tubes, all sealed shut with a strange wax seal. French law stated that whatever one found in a church had to be handed over to the town hall before it could be tampered with. But curiosity won the best of the young priest. He carefully broke the seal and began to extract a series of parchment scrolls. They looked as old as the church itself. The repairs long forgotten, the men sat on the dusty floor in a circle as Father Saunière made the sign of the cross, kissed his rosary, and began to lay them out in front of him.
Besides him, the men were barely literate, but they would later share their accounts of what they saw. The first roll was a sort of family tree bearing the date 1244. The second and third were long texts from the 1600s. There was also a fourth one, which appeared to contain multiple lines of disordered writing, including some text upside down. The men looked up at the priest inquisitively, only to see the colour drain from his face. What exactly Father Saunière read in those papers is a mystery to this day. Minutes later, he slipped the parchments under the folds of his dark robes and ran out into the rectory without a word. He was not seen again that day.
A few weeks later, word had gotten around that important relics had been found at St. Mary Magdalene's church. The local mayor approached Saunière to demand an explanation. To his surprise, the young man categorically denied finding anything under the old altar. Nothing whatsoever. The mayor was aghast, but he chose to believe the respectable clergyman. Intrigued, the shopkeeper and the youths that were with him on that day decided to confront him. And they could hardly believe what they were told.
Saunière confided in them that the documents he had found were of the utmost importance, not just to St. Mary Magdalene's church. Actually, the information they contained was so groundbreaking and potentially dangerous, it was vital to Catholics all over the world. And thus, the men were to keep quiet, and he was to make sure the parchments never left his rectory.
But that was not all the men would discover as they dislodged the massive stones in the central aisle. Weeks later, a helper came running and practically dragged Saunière from his perch under a pine, causing him to drop his bible. As the men brought down a brick wall behind the altar, they had found a small hole in the ground. As they widened it with a pick, the light shone on several glistening objects. Saunière ran inside to find several solid gold coins and an ornate golden chalice. Later that day, they would also unearth a gravestone, engraved with the likeness of a knight, and a human skull with a mysterious hole drilled through the very middle of the parietal bone. Like the first time, Father Saunière, who had trouble hiding his shock, convinced the men to sweep it under the carpet. And so the bones and golden items disappeared into the dark confines of the rectory, carefully hidden under his black robes.
In the months that followed, the once charming Father Saunière became increasingly withdrawn. He avoided all contact with the curious parishioners, who by now believed an invaluable treasure had been found at the local church. There was talk of gold left behind by the Knights Templar. Or maybe a monstrous secret relating to Mary Magdalene herself. And why not both?
Myths and legends died hard in places like Rennes-le-Château. And this particular legend said that a boat without sails washed up in Southern France circa 35 A.D, carrying three women named Mary, one of them being Mary Magdalene. It sounds too good to be true, but the truth is that the apostles, pursued by the Romans in the wake of Jesus' trial, had to flee Jerusalem to stay alive. Going back to the legend, Mary Magdalene went on to start her own church and later died somewhere in the mountains. To honour her memory, the pious built a large number of churches dedicated to her. Her remains have never been found.
The mayor paid Saunière another visit. And priests from other parishes came to see him in hopes of teasing an answer out of him, but they got none. Saunière moved from the widow's spare room into his newly refurbished rectory, locked the door, and would only share his deepest secrets with his young housemaid, Mary. At night, he would go back into the church and dig. He was particularly invested in digging a hole in the back wall of a small crawl space in his sacristy. When asked, he told churchgoers he was just building himself a closet. The matter was dropped, and Father Saunière quickly resumed his digging, the sound of his shovel an eerie omen.
Shortly afterward, rumours surfaced that Father Saunière had extended his nightly digging to the church's adjacent cemetery. In the moonlight, one could sometimes make out his servant Mary's dark figure, upright, solemn, and undaunted, assisting him in his profanity with her enigmatic presence.
He was often seen digging up old tombs and trying to erase the epitaphs in specific gravestones. He was particularly invested in getting rid of one: the grave of a woman who had been dead for over a century - Marie de Nègre d'Ables. If records are to be believed, Marie de Nègre had been a character as mysterious as Saunière's motives. She had been a marquise, yet her tomb was hastily and sloppily engraved with several spelling mistakes. Her name had several typos in it, and certain words alternated capitals and lower case. Put together, the lower case letters spelled out the word "sword." The few records that survived to this day also show that the Latin inscriptions can be rearranged to form one or more anagrams. Could they be coded messages? Marie de Nègre was said to have discovered a terrible family secret. Ancient parchments were also involved. In her deathbed, in 1781, she called a priest from Rennes to confess, but as was protocol, he took her secrets to the grave.
When the increasingly concerned town council put him between a rock and a hard place, the increasingly erratic Saunière had to come clean about his discoveries. He provided a tracing paper copy of the parchment rolls he found but never produced the originals. The texts turned out to be testaments, papers mentioning the treasure of Blanche of Castile, royal Merovingian family trees, Old Testament writings, and coded messages dating from the 13th through the 17th centuries. Remarkable as those might have been, the town council was convinced there was something else at play. Something far more unsettling.
After the Bishop of Carcassone himself came to pay the young priest a visit, the latter was seen hastily hopping on a train to Paris. Whatever the Bishop had read in Saunière's parchments must have shaken him to his core. Saunière ended up spending the summer in the French capital. He supposedly went there to seek an expert opinion on the coded parchments at the St. Sulpice Seminary. No one knows what St. Sulpice's verdict was, or even if there was one. And no one even knows what exactly Father Saunière did in Paris, except that he was often seen with occultist Jules Bois, who also happened to be the author of several books on satanism. An unusual choice of friends for an unusual clergyman.
When he returned in early autumn, Saunière began to spend less and less time in Rennes-le-Château. The local folk lined up for their weekly confessions, but sometimes he wouldn't turn up for several days. Every now and then, a local would find him digging holes in crop fields or dragging a heavy suitcase through secluded country roads.
It was also around this time that he began to refurbish his church with lavish artifacts. He had sculptors ornate the aisles, and painters decorate the walls with impressively realistic bible scenes. Except that the style he chose was described as strikingly inappropriate for a church: he placed the column where he found the parchments with the Templar's cross upside down in the garden and had the words "mission 1891" engraved on it. He redesigned the floors in black and white, so they resembled a chessboard. He had the painters draw ominous Latin inscriptions on the walls, one of them reading Terribilis est locus iste, that translates to This place is dreadful, right by the front door. Many have noted that the names of the saints he chose to decorate the church with spell out the word GRAIL. Coincidence? And better yet: he insisted on having a local artist sculpt him an uncanny statue of a devil holding up the holy water font. Remarkably unholy.
Saunière also went on to buy himself a stretch of land adjacent to his church under his servant Mary's name. He used it to build himself a villa, complete with a personal library inside a tower facing the lush green plateau. He would later add a greenhouse and a menagerie where he kept his exotic pets. Monkeys, macaws, cockatoos. Not to mention his two loyal companions: two large black dogs. And that's not all: Father Saunière seemed to have a soft spot for fashion. He spent immoderate amounts of money on clothes, jewelry, and rare stamps for his extensive collection. Mary, despite being a simple housemaid, was often seen in town in opulent silks, velvets, pearls, and furs. He opened himself a secret bank account in Hungary, where he deposited his spare money. In his free time, Saunière frequently received guests in his new, eccentric home. He greeted them with the finest imported alcohol and threw grand receptions. But nobody in town knew who these people were.
Besides Mary and his mysterious guests, he only had two other close friends. One of them was Henri Boudet, and he was the priest of the parish of Rennes-les-Bains, just southeast of Rennes-le-Château. Boudet was passionate about history and archeology. He wrote several books on local Celtic lore and, most remarkably, a book on Mary Magdalene. Henri Boudet came from a slightly more affluent family than Saunière, yet he, too, was unexplainably rich for a clergyman. When he learned that Saunière wanted to renovate his church, he offered to help him pick the right icons. He is rumoured to be the mastermind behind the uncanny symbology we can still see today at St. Mary Magdalene's. Were the two men working together to leave behind an elaborate code?
His other friend was called Antoine Gélis. Father Gélis was a priest in Coustaussa, an hour's walk northeast. Father Saunière, being much younger and the athletic type, visited Father Gélis almost every week until his brutal murder in 1897. Saunière didn't attend his funeral.
The villagers were understandably dumbfounded as they watched Saunière spend thousands on his very own cryptic projects. As a priest, his salary was ludicrous. His family had left him with no heritage. Churchgoers were penniless, and donations were scant. It had taken Saunière years to save up enough money to rebuild his crumbling altar. Yet when he returned from Paris in the summer of 1891, he was a millionaire. And by the looks of it, he was sharing a large slice of his earnings with his close friends.
The archdioceses made multiple attempts to understand where his wages came from. Invariably, Saunière replied that he often received generous donations from anonymous benefactors. His asset registers were seized on multiple occasions, but they had all been tampered with. Unimpressed by the local rumours hinting at a hidden Templar treasure or the Vatican paying him to keep the contents of his parchments a secret, the Bishop suspended him from his duties as a priest. He was convinced Father Saunière was practicing simony: hosting private masses and services for the royalists in exchange for large sums of money. Some believe those secret masses might have actually been satanic rituals, considering his ties to Parisian occultist cliques and the unsettling decorations he picked for his church.
Undeterred by the ecclesiastical verdict, Saunière continued to host private masses in his villa until he died in 1917. He was only 65 when he succumbed to a brain hemorrhage in his library. His governess Mary rushed for the doctor, but there was very little that could be done. Bedridden, father Saunière survived for a total of five days. He had Mary burn all his files and the journals he kept, dragging himself to the fireplace to make sure all evidence was destroyed.
The town's new priest, Father Rivière, rushed to grant him his last rites and take his confession. For an entire afternoon, neither man left Saunière's room. As night fell, Father Rivière was seen running out of the old man's villa, aghast. Father Saunière was refused his absolution and went to his grave a sinner.
Mary Dénarnaud, his governess, survived him by many decades. She never spoke about the puzzling parchments, the treasure, the hidden crypt, Saunière's misadventures in Paris, or the nature of their relationship. A local businessman called Noël Corbu approached her in her final years and offered to buy the invaluable estate she had inherited from Saunière, which she accepted. Mr. Corbu had secret hopes that in gaining Mary's trust, she would end up telling him Saunière's secrets. She never did.
She died a recluse in 1953. Corbu, aware of the potential of the whole affair, published the story in several local newspapers. People began to flock to Rennes-le-Château, looking for a treasure or clues in the church's intricately deliberate symbology. Many believed Father Saunière had uncovered a deep, dark secret the Catholic church had tried to dissimulate at all costs: proof that Mary Magdalene had married Jesus Christ and given him descendants. These descendants later went on to form the Merovingian dynasty, as shown in the family trees found in the parchments. Her tomb was likely to be in a crypt beneath the church, accessible through the small, secret trap door Saunière had hidden in his sacristy.
As more and more people began to visit, Corbu decided to renovate the premises and turn Saunière's villa into a hotel. As he moved the furniture around the former priest's private chapel, he, too, found an odd cavity inside a baluster. Inside was a parchment dating back to 1907. The handwriting was uncannily similar to Saunière's, and it appeared to be a coded message.
The businessman, who had always believed Saunière might have been Gélis' killer, had experts crack the code and use the same cipher on the sentence found scribbled on the Tzar cigarette paper found at Gélis's death scene. When cracked using the same pattern, "Viva Angelina" translated to "an angel returns."
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world visit Rennes-le-Château in hopes of solving the mystery of Saunière's parchments. Rennes-le-Château has a current population of only 80.
After decades of dealing with unruly tourists carrying out unauthorised excavations in the vicinity of the church, authorities forbid all digging and treasure-hunting activities in the area.
The tombs in the adjacent cemetery were brutally vandalised in the years following Saunière's death. Access has been denied to the public for decades now, and nature soon took over.
Nobody knows what happened to the original parchments, and while there are alleged copies in different archives, no version was ever confirmed to be authentic.
The skull Saunière found was discovered years after his death and turned out to be a real human skull belonging to a 50-year-old male from the 13th century, possibly a knight.
Many researchers believe there is a crypt beneath the church, home to the tomb of Mary Magdalene herself.
In the small sacristy Bérenger Saunière refurbished, the small, secret trap door is still visible. A dog once found its way in, and its owners then heard it bark deep underground, further cementing the rumour that there is a large hidden chamber.
Several reputable archeologists have tried to obtain permission to excavate the site and locate the crypt, but it was never granted.
Antoine Gélis' murder was never solved. Like Noël Corbu, many believe his murderer was none other than Saunière. He probably considered Father Gélis a liability and wanted to keep him quiet. The Tzar cigarette paper was made in Hungary, where Saunière had a bank account.
Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code is loosely based on the Rennes-le-Château affair. One of his characters is named after Saunière, but his death was inspired by Gélis' murder.