Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
A bestial tentacle breached the surface with a tremendous display of aquamarine power. The resultant shower of water rained down in a torrent upon the deck, drenching the observing passenger. A groan, impossibly deep, reverberated from the waters; an ancient guttural bellow that shook the three thousand ton ship.
At near full erection the tentacle towered over the vessel at an imposing four hundred feet in height, with a width of about a sixth of that, and a thickness of proportion equal to several of the ship’s decks stacked together. The colossal appendage weighed no less than several thousands of tons, and if brought down on the ship, would surely bisect it from sheer weight alone, regardless of how much force was applied to its descent. If the physical proportions of the anomalous creature adhered to those of its lesser sized yet scientifically-classified kin, it would seemingly exist on a scale beyond even fictionally fathomable extremes of cephalopod life.
Three columns intersected by innumerable rows of relatively small suctioning protrusions extended from the meaty colossus. Though no sound could be heard, each bowl shaped nodule clenched and unclenched in excitement, or possibly thirst, while the great appendage to which they were attached merely swayed with apparent disinterest at the vessel it dwarfed. Observing with a sense of near-maddening fear from the railed topmost deck—an elderly man, dwelling in the blurred twilight between sixty and seventy—conjured a scene of lovecraftian quality: The tentacle, obviously an extension of a greater body, would probably at least maintain a proportional reality consistent with its presented immensity. Despite the horrific nature of it, there had yet to appear any suggestions of a paranormal origin, leading to the conclusion that nature had simply produced a terrifying anomaly. Going by this strain of logic, the man then speculated—with a summation based on the observation that only half of the full appendage had cleared the water—that whatever creature existed below the surface, probing the waterless realm, held claim to a truly monstrous immensity. Its body would have to weigh countless tons, possibly of comparable weight to the surrounding water its presence displaced. For sustenance it would have needed to feed on either a genocidal amount of exponentially smaller beings, or a few like-sized ones. The nightmarish contemplations strained the wizened mind of the near-centennial, and he soon fell to a defeated heap on the deck.
As if sensing its effortless victory over the will of its audience, the tentacle began writhing in morbid excitation. The nodule-ridden underbelly began undulating in a rhythm that suggested the regurgitation of some substance, but no mouth existed for a projectile to exit. Instead, to the horror of the helpless onlooker, the tentacle lowered towards the ship, gradually shadowing the entire surface. Stopping just inches from the wooden paneling of the flooring, and mere centimeters from the man’s face, the tentacle seemingly froze with an unexpected rigidity. Stunned by both fear and relief, the man remained under the claim of the once-encroaching tendril. After what felt like an aeonic passage of seconds the tentacle—in a truly disgusting dematerialization—lost what could only be described as structural integrity; of a biological nature. Instantaneous cellular decomposition plagued the thing, degrading its entire form with a rapidity never before seen in an animal of land or sea. It simply diffused into an almost gaseous suspension of particles before dispersing to nothingness by wave-borne winds—an estimated weight of thousands of tons evaporating into ether by divine intervention or some inexplicable agent of physiological deconstruction.
“Oh thank God, thank God almighty!” exalted the man, saved from the colossal horror once set on besieging his ship. Although still afflicted by the subsistent tremblings of trauma he had regained a comfortable sanity. He rose to his feet and approached the railing, curious not only of the fate of the creature, but also if any salvageable parts floated to the surface for collection and presentation. At that moment the concepts of optimism, happiness, and a man-dominated world were immediately ejected from his mind.
Through the partial transparency of the water he witnessed an enormous fang detach from a dissolving form. After a few more seconds of diminishment the waters were completely clear and brought a bleakly grave elucidation. Below the creature that planned to destroy the man’s ship existed a much larger thing. A grand horror that did not even care to abide by a general anatomical framework. A mass of absurdly large limbs, features, and inexpressible tangents of body that seemed to only serve a lethal purpose hovered below. At its center—which spanned a diameter around the vessel of comparable ratio to the earth set in the center of the sun—sat an eye embedded in a cavity of abyssal darkness. The pupil, a red sun of dismal focus, gleamed with a fiery luminescence that would shame the greatest conflagrations of Hell. A staggering heat radiated from the depths of the water yet did not cause it to boil; a hatred transcending the once-stark barrier of ocean and air. Whether he came to the conclusion of his own cognition or by the indoctrination of that impossible entity, it is not certain, he conjectured that this Aqua-God was the true Procreator of all earthen life. If the academic’s claim of life arising from the primordial organisms of the sea held any merit, this creature could reasonably have been the progenitor of those azoic lifeforms. Beset by a dismal recognition, the man surrendered to the sovereignty of the God—as if resistance was even an option—and allowed his mind to unravel at the obscene morbidity before him.
As unconsciousness dawned he laughed to himself when a final irony became apparent to him: The first threat, the mammoth octopus-like thing that reared a lone appendage, was probably the prey of the abysmal abomination beneath it. A foe that could rival a conglomerate of naval fleets was mere food to a much more sinister entity. Just when you think you’ve seen the apex form of horror a greater depravity trumps it. This momentary lapse into humor gave the man a grim peace of mind that allowed him to ignore the growing intensity of that already fierce stare. In those last moments of existence he expelled a deep, resonant laughter as the visible horizon of ocean instantly evaporated and was replaced by a rising hellscape of sanguine flame.
Credit: Bryce Simmons