Welcome dear reader! This will be my last blog post for a while. I’m in the middle of moving house (changing countries, no less), so with trying to work on the second draft of Ghosts of September (which is shaping up to be a doozy!), writing blog posts, updating the website with new content, saying drunken goodbyes to friends and colleagues, and packing boxes, I’m pretty exhausted!
But fear not! In 2017 I’ll be posting samples of screenplays, and works in progress, plus bringing more short stories as promised (I also have a new idea I’m more than a little excited about, which will involve you, beautiful readers).
Before we delve into the latest short story; a dark tale of a cage dive gone awry, I’d like to thank you all for your support and remind anyone not already following on social media to do so by clicking the pretty coloured buttons at the bottom of the page!
Without further ado, I give you…
Ever tried cage diving? You sit in cold water for a few minutes and watch as creatures that could easily kill you gracefully swim a few metres by. It might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but it was always a dream of mine. There’s something humbling about it. Some people don’t like it. It’s too overwhelming. The ocean itself puts most people off. Huge. Powerful. Uncontrollable. Like the Great White sharks that swim by, queueing to get some of the huge chunks of flesh thrown into the water by the guys on the boat.
That’s how they attract the real big fish. Chum, they call it. The blood and smell of fish thrown overboard draws in sharks. And it happens quickly too. Unnaturally fast.
And a few minutes in the cage is long enough, believe me. More than enough time to feel the inadequacy only offered by the touch of death. Besides, a lot of people panic. Panic and use up valuable oxygen. Never a smart idea. Not underwater.
The water is clouded red by the blood that draws the monsters of the deep to you. Through the clouds shadows appear, shapeless, forming into the unmistakable outline of the deep’s most efficient killer. An evolutionary masterpiece. As beautiful as they are terrifying. The whole experience is terrifying. You’re in the water, with limited air. You’re pretty much at the mercy of the guys topside who throw the chum in the water to draw the sharks close. From up there, they’d just see dorsal fins: ominous triangles hinting at the death just below the surface.
More chunks of flesh rained down, clouding the water red. They were still chumming the water? Christ, how long had he been down here? He glanced at his watch. They were supposed to bring him up ten minutes ago. Something was wrong. A huge Great White, maybe fifteen feet, swam by flicking its powerful tail to change direction and devour one the huge chunks of flesh that drifted aimlessly to the sea bed.
He tried to focus on the show Mother Nature was providing a few feet away, but not even the three massive Great Whites circling could distract from the overwhelming feeling that something was horribly wrong.
His mind raced to the night two days back when he’d met the ‘tour operator’ in a small shady bar. It didn’t seem right then. A rough place in the darker part outside of the resort. Why had he trusted him? And this morning, when he saw the lack of others waiting for the tour to start, alarms bells were ringing. And he’d ignored them. It was just him and one other guy. No crowds of tourists. A quiet stretch of beach.
His breath had quickened and the sharks seemed to know that he was panicking. They swam closer to the cage, staring at him with those dead, black eyes. His air wouldn’t last much longer. He’d have to slow his breathing otherwise the only option would be to make a break for it to the surface.
What the fuck had he been thinking? Was it drunken bravado that had landed him here? He’d always wanted to cage dive, and the guy in the bar seemed on the level. Kind of. Maybe it had just been the rock bottom price that had attracted him. Jesus, hadn’t the guy asked him if he was here at the resort alone? His heart was pounding.
A shark swam quickly, deliberately into the bars of the cage. He screamed as the cage shook. It suddenly felt like it wasn’t enough. Flimsy. That a forceful enough blow would force the thing apart.
He peered up through the murky water to the surface, hoping for all he was worth that he could still see the boat.
It was gone.
Ah Christ. He was going to die here. Either suffocate through a lack of air, or drown when he tried to swim for it. Those were the good options. He watched as one of the sharks thrashed, gripping a piece of flesh in its jaws, tearing it effortlessly in two.
Stop. Think. The cage is still here. Of course the boat is still here too. You’re panicking. The guy probably just wants to give you a better show because the sharks are so active today. That’s all it is.
But your air. It’s running out.
He screamed again and rattled the cage himself this time. The sharks drew closer. Now there were only two of them. Where was the third? He span around. Nothing behind. He looked down, expecting to see a black mass rushing from below. Growing and growing until it formed the shape of a huge killing machine.
He screamed again. A vignette of dark shadows closed in on his vision. The air. It was running out. He was losing consciousness. He’d have to swim for it. He looked at the lid of the cage, half expecting to see some sort of clasp or lock, but there was none. This was it. His vision again grew dark.
He’d always wanted to swim with sharks. This wasn’t what he had in mind.
He was close to the surface. He didn’t need to worry about the bends. He could lose the oxygen tank and just go for it. To the back of the boat. The guy might ask why he was back so soon, but fuck him. He’d wait till they got back ashore and beat the crap out of him.
He looked around and the sharks were nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t sure if that was good or not, but the darkness encroaching on his vision came again, lasting longer each time it came. He threw back the lid and it clattered against the outside of the cage and he turned again expecting to see the sharks, but there were none. He drew a deep breath and threw off the oxygen tank and peered up. The surface was close. Oxygen was close. Then he saw something. Something disturbing.
Droplets of dark blood punctured the surface and exploded into clouds. He pushed off the bottom of the cage and towards the surface. A few feet from air another large chunk of flesh fell into the sea. It seemed to drop by him in slow motion. That’s when he saw it. A tattoo.
He screamed and almost breathed seawater into his lungs. He breached the surface and gasped huge, desperate lung-fulls of air, before screaming aloud. A head appeared over the side of the boat. The driver. His face was pale, mouth slack. Then he saw the hand, holding him up by the hair.
The driver moved closer. The movement was unnatural, almost like he was floating. Then a glint of silver appeared. A machete, dripping blood.
It wasn’t the driver. It was the small guy. The other diver. He too was pasty white, his face flecked with blood. The driver’s head was just that. A head. He and the other 'diver' just stared, then, without a word, the man disappeared.
Panicked, he span, looking for the thin strip of land that marked the horizon. It was gone. He turned his back to the boat, but there was no land. Then behind him, the sound of the boat’s engine coughed to life. He spun back around, just in time to see the boat edging away. He screamed and leapt after it, but it was too late.
The driver’s head flew over the side of the boat and splashed into the sea. It bobbed like a cork. Within moments it was gone, soon after the appearance of an ominous dark triangular fin. The boat shrank into the distance, and what was left of the driver’s body slumped over the side and flopped into the water.
He screamed until the boat shrank, shrank to a dot, then finally disappeared over the horizon, until there was only him left in the sea.
The large open ocean.
And three of those dark, ominous, triangular fins.
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.