Welcome to Beware! Dark Seas Halloween showcase, an annual author & artist showcase that features talented creators. Come back each day, the entire month of October for a scare! Prepare for dark stories, myths & legends, and creepy creations that will make the hair on the nape of your neck stand up straight. May the water have mercy on your soul.
BY M.L. SATKIN
The sea is not my home. I belong elsewhere. I know it in my very bones – tugging at the back of my mind. The humans think I belong here. That I was born here, and that I shall always be here. Trapping them. Calling to them. They think I am dangerous, that I live to hunt and pull them into the sea. And I do. Now I do.
The darkness of the ocean wraps and swirls around me, the inherent chaos comforting. Here, you are either prey or predator, but this can change by the moment. Even as powerful as I am, I am not the strongest entity in this sea, merely one among them. There are those even I must submit to. Luckily, the oldest are sleeping this night. All is quiet.
The fish whisper to one another as I swim past. They’re disturbed, something is wrong. I swim a little slower, a little lower. We have nothing to fear from one another, but everything to gain by working together. I listen – they whisper – to the south. And so I go. Nothing could possibly keep me from my calling.
It is dark towards the surface. A small sigh of relief escapes my lips. This is so much more difficult in the daylight. When it’s been too long since I’ve fed, my features are gaunt and frightening, my hair too limp. And it has been too long. Far far too long.
My powerful tail propels me south at a swift clip – the current is with me tonight. I am hungry, the bubbling in my stomach impossible to ignore. The thought of a potential meal drives me faster, fantasizing about the slow thick slide of blood coursing down my gullet.
Ahead I see a shadow on the surface above.
The sharks have long since chased off the dolphins. I’m not sure what dolphins were in their past lives, but it must have been something light and brave. Not like me at all. They protect, harbor those they deem worthy. However, sometimes bravery can pale in the face of hunger. And tonight the dolphins are nowhere to be seen.
The sharks circle, patience their best virtue. They too benefit from my attentions, but much less than the fish. Sharks are hungry. Bitter. I can feel the vitriol spewing from their very skin. They want me gone, but they are not willing to fight me. My claws are sharp, and as long as it’s been since I fed, I am still much stronger than they. Domination and submission is the universal language of my new home.
I see the bottom of a small wooden boat. It’s the only vessel for miles and miles. I turn a slow circle under it, forcing the sharks away while I make certain there is no threat waiting to ambush. The scars along my arms tell a tale of fear and mistakes. They leave tangible lessons not soon forgotten.
But there’s nothing. Just a singular boat. And very little moonlight. Perfection.
I swim away from the boat for a short while, allowing the current to push me along. My tail helps steer more than move; I need to conserve my energy. Finally I feel as though the distance is great enough to take a look above the water without spooking my prey. My eyes always need a little time to adapt to the change, so I wait patiently and let the water keep me buoyant. After a time, I can see. Two in the boat this time. Highly unusual. It was usually one.
I open my mouth and take a deep breath, tasting the air in both my mouth and nose. All the usual smells are there. Salt. Kelp. Death. Life. But they’re too far to scent. I need to be closer. Unwilling to take such a risk prematurely, I close my mouth and concentrate instead on my hearing. I am able to quickly filter out the sound of gentle waves, the lone sick seagull cawing and the sharks grumbling.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
A set of heartbeats. One far stronger – one weak and fluttering. A potential complication, strength. Weak prey is always best. Strong prey could fight back, add to my scars. The blood pumping through my veins is scarce. I can’t afford to lose much before I replenish it. Still. It is worth the risk.
I swim a little closer. Then a little more. I stay just out of reach of the boat before I let myself surface once more. Two bodies, but they are lying down. Nearly impossible to tell which is stronger and which is weaker. My interest is piqued. Sailors rarely rest in the dark hours. The time of the vicious light is the time to rest. Something is very wrong here. Perhaps they are too young to know. Perhaps too sick in the mind.
I start to hum. Not full song. Just enough sound to startle the bodies in the boat. Abruptly, one figure sits bolt upright. There is the dangerous one. The other snores lightly, exhaustion battling with the pull. The upright figure is confused, looking this way and that. My claws flex, itching to slice and tear. I want to feel blood coating them, the warmth and the ooze promising a meal. I want to lick it, drink it. Feel it spread through my flesh, revive my soul and my essence.
I swim closer. My eyes focus on the figure. I dip my mouth below the water, the hum of my voice spreading through the waves, making it harder for the figure to pinpoint my location. Confusion works in my favor.
The stronger rouses the weaker. A tongue I am not familiar with erupts from within the boat. It’s lyrical in nature, sounding nearly like a song in spoken form. But, most peculiar – the voices sound female.
For a moment, I can’t believe my ears. I hum a little stronger, willing more of myself into the sound. There it is again! They are female. Both of them! The weaker of the two has a slightly deeper voice but a slimmer build. The larger has a sweeter voice, but a stronger build. How did they end up in my domain? Not that it matters in the end. Sustenance is more important than mere curiosity.
Still though…something about the pair is intriguing. They cling to each other, damp from the salt spray. Wild red hair flashes under the moonlight, their curls swaying gently in the rocking of the boat. They are wrapped protectively around one another, heads so close together that their breath must be intermingling. How odd for them to be out here together. I have never come across females stranded in such small boats before. Usually only criminals and degenerates find themselves at my tender mercy.
My empty veins pulse as my heart quickens. I need to feed. Unusual or not, the weak will perish so that the strong may live.
I lift my head out of the ocean, filling the air with a song of allure more ancient even than the one who made me. The noises from the boat cease. Only the creaking of the wood can be heard, bated breath and two heartbeats.
The weaker gives in first. Two beautiful green eyes meet my own as she fights her larger mate, her blunt nails biting into the wood of the boat. I can see splinters working their way under her sensitive skin, blood welling and pooling just out of my reach. I slink closer, intimately aware that the stronger still poses a threat and has not yet succumbed to my song. Thrashing inside the boat has attracted the sharks back, their fins cutting through the water nearby.
Still I sing, closing my eyes and opening my ears. My song skips easily over the waves, the smell of fresh blood calling me, taunting me. I want to suck her freshly bleeding fingers into my mouth, to allow her life force to feed my own. But still the larger female fights for control, begging and speaking her lilting tongue to her companion.
Slowly, I feel the females both falling into my grasp. Breathing levels off, the smell of blood fades as wounds are no longer inflicted by thrashing of limbs against hard, unforgiving wood. The sounds of the boat rocking and the sea splashing in retaliation fades. It will be only moments until my hunger can finally be satiated.
And then, just as the waves crash upon the rocks, the sound of flesh hitting the sea hits my ears.
My eyes focus under the water much faster than above. My jaws split, mouth opening and lips pulling away from deadly sharp teeth. My claws flex, and my powerful tail moves me closer to my prey without conscious thought.
The two are still clinging to one another, but this time they are swimming towards me, wanting to be ever nearer to my song. To my body, base instincts driving them to mate with me. I cut through the water like a keel through the wake, upon them in mere moments.
The slimmer of the two will feed my body first. My claws sink quickly into the soft flesh of her throat, her crimson blood staining the ocean sea and her clothing. I take her under the surface with me, holding her close as her life ebbs away. Her green eyes hold my own as the last of her breath leaves her, and I press my body against her own, mouth latching across the laceration I had made.
Her blood is hot and euphoric. The hot liquid sliding down my throat fulfills my hunger in ways I could never explain. It feels at once humbling and uplifting, leaving me both vulnerable and all powerful. It is a beautiful dichotomy, and I allow her blood to nourish me. Her dying twitches are the sweetest touches along my body; her feet kick weakly at my fins, actions of a body with no mind left.
Absently I can hear the thrashing of her companion just above the waves. My song had ceased the moment I had begun feeding, and the blood in the water tells of a dark end to a life. It takes only a few blinks for her lithe body to empty into my own, her blood pooling and warming me. It is the deepest bliss. And there is another waiting for me.
I toss the used carcass to the side, knowing that the food chain will be fulfilled in short order. The sharks will eat the bloodless meat, and the fish will eat the pieces the sharks leave behind. They will be satisfied with what I have deigned to give them.
The blood in the water makes it more difficult to locate exactly where the other female is, but her thrashing is dissipating the blood quickly. Instead of going for the kill quickly, I let her thrash and scramble, watching her clothing stain with lifeblood. She tries to flip the boat, but with quickly weakening limbs, it is nigh impossible. Still she tries.
I swim lazy circles around my prey, letting her tire herself before I feed for a second time. The blood in the water has cleared enough to see her flushed cheeks, her strong arms and trim waist. This one is much stronger than the other. She continues to tread water, her red hair dark and matted with the blood of her companion. Even her eyes are fogged with blood and there is a small piece of her mate’s skin stuck to her cheek.
The sharks circle closer, fins cutting through the water, tips of tails redirecting the current around the female, allowing her to feel their presence. Still she does not panic, changing from trying to flip over the boat to attempting to climb it. The algae slickened wood does little for her grip and soon enough the smell of fresh blood incites a nearby frenzy as the lass cuts her legs and hands. A warning growl is enough to keep the sharks from overstepping bounds and they swim in larger circles.
Watching the physical and mental strength of the one before me, my hunger is slowly ebbing away, being replaced by a deeper instinct. One I had never felt before. This female is strong. She is beautiful. She does not panic under the most extreme pressure. She belongs.
My claws flex yet again, but this time not in hunger. Not to rend flesh, but to seize it and keep it safe. My jaws open, not to kill or take life, but to transform it and add to it. The front of my face warms in an unfamiliar and jarring way, I can feel my teeth hurt in a way I have never experienced. Instinct drives me forward. I need to put a piece of myself into this one. The eldest expect it.
I seize the female’s ankle before she can climb any further away from me. The damp slickness of the boat aids me, and the woman falls into my arms in a waterfall of fiery red hair. Her storm blue eyes meet my own, her breath hits my lips. For a split second my chest convulses in a spasm – lungs that no longer work attempting to draw breath. The blood in her hair drips steadily down onto my arm, and I hold her close. I need to confirm that she belongs – one final test will tell.
I tug her down, my powerful tail taking us down into the inky depths quickly and easily. She thrashes, sinking blunt nails into my arms, irritating scar marks and far fresher wounds. The blood of her companion washes out of her hair, enveloping her features in a fine mist of blood. Still she holds my gaze, seeking to face death rather than look away.
The sea is not my home. I belong elsewhere. I know it in my very bones, tugging at the back of my mind. The humans think I belong here. That I was born here, and that I shall always be here. Trapping them. Calling to them. They think I am dangerous, that I live to hunt and pull them into the sea. And I do. Now I do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR M.L. Satkin
M.L. Satkin is an aspiring writer who can be found day dreaming by afternoon and writing by night. When not doing either of these things, she can be found playing video games, cosplaying, sewing, and of course – reading. If you have any feedback on this short story, or just want to chat about writing, please reach out to her at MLSatkinWrites@gmail.com.