The Krakenbanke (Story)

‘Alright! Winch it in!’
The call came from the top deck, and the fishing ship sprang to life. The cables rose slowly from the Pacific Ocean; the sun sparkled on the sheen of water running from the steel.

Ship’s Captain Malone looked up from the instrument panel, ‘We’re right on top of them – this load should see us full.’
‘Good news, Malone,’ said the second from his position at the wheel. ‘We’ve been out here a damn sight longer than I would’a thought.’
Malone grunted in reply, not looking up. He had been thinking the same, as well as calculating how much profit was lost by every extra day taken to fill the ship. If it kept up, he was not going to be able to pay wages.

The sonar reading changed for a moment, catching Malone’s eye. The entire area of ocean around the net had darkened briefly. It didn’t happen again, so he dismissed it, and went on deck to help the crew.

The cables continued their ascent, coiling onto their spools with a mechanical whine. Finally, straining nets full to bursting!

‘Captain! You’d better come look at this.’
Malone sighed and left the deck. This was his first run with Jones, and the man did nothing but irritate him. ‘What is it?’
‘I’ve been watching the depth soundings. The depth was beyond the equipment, but now the reading’s changed to a coastal shallows warning.’

Fuck! There was always something breaking down! Equipment failures were going to chew through the last of the cash reserves.
‘Jones! Hold course; continue winching! We’ll fix the damn thing when we get back.’
‘What Captain? No, it’s not the machine… it’s a krakenbanke!’
‘What the HELL is that supposed to mean?!’
‘The ocean floor – it’s not earth.’
‘Alright, enough! There’s work to do.’ Malone spun around to get back on deck.
‘No, you don’t understand! It…it’s the giant kraken resting beneath us…I shouldn’t have come back. The body, miles wide… I should’ve stayed away from the sea. It’s all happening again!’ He grabbed Malone by the jacket, ‘We need to head in. Right now!’
‘You crazy bastard! GET…YOUR…HANDS…!’
The ship surged abruptly, sending packing crates sliding dangerously.

‘Why aren’t those winches moving?!’ Malone bellowed as he took charge and shrugged Jones into the wall dismissively. Jones slid to the decking and curled up near the railing, staring out into the clear blue sky.

‘Malone, the winches should be turning. They’ve hit their load capacity.’
‘Impossible. They can bring those nets up full to bursting and still have power to spare. Get them moving!’
Smoke tendrils drifted lightly from the engine housing, and with a screech of twisting metal, the cable began to drop back into the ocean.
‘Now what?’ Malone whispered.

The cable whirred to the end of its length, and then went taut with a bang. The ship lilted sharply, sinking into the water momentarily, until the steel roll peeled from the deck and flew overboard. Released, the ship bounced up again, while debris clattered down all around.

In the following silence, Malone looked at the spray of blood covering the deck. One of his crew had been caught by the departure of the fishing cable.

Jones began sobbing, ‘I know I shouldn’t have come back. Norway’s so far away. I didn’t know it would find me here.’
Malone stormed over, intending to shut him up forcefully. Or throw him over. He never quite decided which, as the sea darkened all around them. Rising slowly from the ocean, directly in front of him, were a number of huge tentacles. They were wider than he was, and reached into the sky to shadow the sun.

Fascination took Malone, and he watched with his mouth wide. The underside of the arms were not covered in rings of suckers, but were armed with twin rows of hooked claws, each sitting on a raised mound. He felt a scraping on the underside of the ship, and tentacles appeared behind him now, settling in and tightening on the ship structure.

The raised arms drew in, enclosing the entire fishing vessel. Great muscles contracted, and the ship disintegrated within their grasp.

#

From the lounge room of a weatherboard Queenslander in Cairns, a huge blonde-haired man sculled the last of his can of beer, tossing the empty aside. He stood and stretched, muscles tightening along his chiselled stomach, then pulled on a blue singlet.

So, he thought, now there is only one left. That other cursed fool should have stayed in the mountains. Why can’t any of them control their urge to be on the ocean? If the bloodline of Aegir dies, what control will remain? The other beasts of the deep water will be unfettered, and humanity will never be allowed on the sea again.

He kicked the empty beer can, and walked to the door with a hard-done-by sigh.
Time for me to take matters into my own hands again. Bloody mortals. They can’t be trusted with a task for more than a few hundred years. I wish Aegir was still alive to do his own BLOODY work.
‘C’mon you, I guess it’s time to go fishing,’ he said, and picked up a large hammer from the floor.

Constructive criticism welcome.

© 2008 Damian Herde

The Krakenbanke (Story)

Damian

Toowoomba, Australia

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Written for the Bubble Bestiary, or Don’t Pet the Griffins Short Story Project: K

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