Published on April 5th, 2013 | by jarradkulick3
The Plastic Sea (part I)
It had been 9 days since the plane went down, 4 days since any of them had eaten, and almost 48 hours without fresh water. The sea was damnably lifeless, and had offered up no sustenance to the weary survivors since they had drifted into these blacker depths.
Dennis had been the first to note the distinct changing of the oceans pallor. The previously bluish waters had grown dark and murky, and this blackness had heralded not only the deadening of the winds and the rise of an inexplicable chill, but the stubborn refusal of the waters to yield any of its abundant life to the beleaguered group. The undulating ocean took on a strange greenish cast that, steeped in shadow, was like no known color in our spectrum. It had at once suggestions of green and bluish hues but at the same time was possessed of an undeniable blackness that seemed to almost absorb the other vying colors as well as any and all light that struck its opaque surface.
As the hours ticked by his gaze was drawn to the strange swirling waters. Dennis Ward at first justified it to himself and the others as the need to scan for potential meals, he citing his powerful abilities of observation and his famously steady hand as the reasons he should be the sole member in charge of fishing duties, and as such be in possession of their one and only means of defense and acquisition of living sustenance, the pilot’s smith and Wesson 44 caliber revolver and their now lost make shift harpoon.
Simon Hobbs, their hired pilot and guide, had died on impact. His helmeted head, inadequate protection as experience has shown, shattered the front window of the tiny Cessna sky master they had chartered. Their route was to take them thru the forbidden stretch of water between the Florida Keys and the Bermudian islands, known notoriously as the Devil’s Triangle. Dennis’s quick yet professional observation had shown that Hobbs had severed his spinal column between the first and second vertebrae and had expired instantly. Hobbs had been the only one of their five person crew that had been fortunate enough to be spared the then unrealized horrors that were unavoidably ahead for the remainder of the sky master’s passengers.
The immediate concern was water. If they did not hydrate soon they would never make it long enough to see rescue. They had taken all they could from the downed airplane and loaded everything they dared into the small rubber life raft that inflated automatically as their plane sunk swiftly beneath the waves. Several canteens and a dozen plastic bottles now lay empty, strewn about the raft, any remaining contents having evaporated hours ago thanks to the oppressive sun.
Dennis could not remember if he had ever hated a blue sky so much. He wished, begged, prayed for even a hint of cloud, a portent of shade or maybe blessed water. There was a certain irony about dying of dehydration in the middle of the ocean. He dismissed those morbid and strangely hilarious thoughts and looked upon the second reason for his concern. His wife, Rose, lay unconscious in a corner of their floating rubber refuge, unreachable to the waking world. The land of Morpheus, however, had its tendrils wound tightly about her judging by the rapid fluttering easily detected beneath her heavy eye lids. He could only guess with a visible shutter at the denizens of her perceived reality at the moment.
Her restless countenance did not hold his interest for long because he soon found himself again distracted by the unusual swirling motions he thought he could detect deep beneath the oddly colored ocean. He imagined that at times the murkiness of the water cleared just enough that he could glimpse movement or shadow at depths he could not accurately estimate. His studious observation was interrupted by a moaning from behind him. Prying himself with great difficulty from his vigil he focused his attention now on the other male that occupied a far corner of their raft.
Herbert Milton was what one terms morbidly obese. His orca-ish wife Sadie was not far behind. Although being stranded at sea for over a weak had taken its toll on their swollen waistlines, the effect had not nearly been great enough. The combined pair of them had to weigh easily over a quarter ton; testament to this was the obvious depression they made in their rubber raft. The corner occupied by the two of them sat a full foot lower in the water then the corner in which Dennis crouched. “You see anything down there Doc?” The fat man quailed hopefully, reverting to that abhorred professional familiarity that Dennis hated so much. He felt that people who called him Doc either had no respect for the medical profession or could not be bothered with saying the whole word, and in Dennis’s albeit haughty opinion, anyone too lazy to enunciate an entire word, especially one that denotes professional respect, was too lazy to be given much consideration.
Dennis knew exactly what the fat man meant to say, and he answered with silence. He admittedly was furious with the Milton’s for not adhering to the strict rationing they had established the very first day they found themselves in the hopeless grips of the Atlantic. He had discovered their shameful secretive snaking late in their fifth night, by then the damage had already been done. Coupled with the fact that the man had proved utterly useless in nearly every imaginable capacity Dr. Dennis Ward had cultivated a deep, festering hate for the other man.
He turned from the couple and resumed his silent study of the depths. His sharp mind began to recall any information regarding the consumption of human liquids and their sustainable effects. He knew that once urine or sweat was boiled down and purified to a degree it could be consumed, but with no way to start a fire in their rubber raft the human waste products presented the same problem as the sea water. “But what about the blood?” He mused. He could not recollect what, if any, nutritional properties human blood or plasma possessed. Due to the morbidity of the topic he was certain that his faculties were unable to summon forth the correct information because of a lack of published studies or readable information of the subject.
Shaking his head he banished the ghoulish thought from his addled mind. Day’s with-out food and water and suffering from exposure had begun to wear upon him. His rationality, and indeed his humanity, were beginning to weaken under the strain. He instead concentrated on trying to find any indication of food below them. Watching for phantom tentacles he reflected on their luck their second day in the raft. Seeing that their stores may not last them as long as needed, and not relying on the notoriously unreliable navigational equipment on-board the plane for chances of a swift rescue, Dr. Ward decided to fish in the clearer waters in hopes of supplementing their supplies.
The revolver was not an instrument that could be turned into a means of extracting fish from the sea, but in addition to the fire arm their prepared pilot Mr. Hobbs had a large folding knife on his belt that the survivors had liberated before taking to the raft. It was with the blade that Dennis attempted to fashion a spear of sorts with the help of a 46’ leather belt and a spare oar. His endeavors successful he began to prepare to descend into the water, his plan was to keep mostly to the surface but with the help of a diving mask and snorkel that the survival kit in the inflatable raft had provided, he would descend to depths no more then 25-30 feet and skewer anything in sight. It was obvious that he was the only one with any hopes of successfully diving, exercising the proper athletics and reflexes and coming back victorious. So without discussion Dr. Ward leapt unceremoniously over the side of the small craft.
His action had been prompted by something he thought he had seen whilst gazing into the waters. He had been convinced since they had first been set afloat that the ocean beneath them was teaming with life. Schools of fish he said he could glimpse deep down below, and the shadows of great cephalopods he witnessed propelling themselves about using that form of locomotion so alien to bi-pedals. Ward was the only one able to see these things with his superior surgeons eyes, and as hungry as the Milton’s were they scarcely cast a second glance at the sea and were satisfied with the Dr’s expert opinion.
Even on the second day the opaqueness of the sea only a few feet below them increased dramatically and the esteemed Dr. Ward found himself in a labyrinth of large reed type plants and almost solid clouds of some unnamable murk. As far as he knew they had crashed somewhere in the middle of the ocean far from any land mass, but the aquatic flora that existed here would indicate otherwise. He was no expert on these things and with no air tank or respirator he could only stay beneath the surface for short periods before having to return for air. There were other problems as well. The current was strong and the sea seemed to writhe against his intrusion casting him about and causing him to surface frightfully far from the tiny raft.
Becoming exhausted and not wanting to worsen their situation Dr. Ward resolved himself to hanging on to the side of the raft and just staying still while looking into the water. This method proved ultimately to work far better than the former and with Herb’s sole contribution, the idea to affix some of the rope they had to the end of the oar, they were able to engineer the capture of the mighty squid. It was only after hours of waiting patiently along the side of the raft and scanning with the utmost diligence the waters beneath them that Dr. Dennis Ward spotted the beast.
It, in truth, must have spotted them because the creature came straight up from beneath them and materialized suddenly out of the cloudy depths. The animal was no gargantuan but it was big enough to be terrifying, certainly so large as to be an extreme anomaly in waters such as these. Dennis, being in the water and first laying eyes on the monster, was overwhelmed with fright and nearly dropped the oar. Its mantel had to be four to five feet in length with tentacles extending well over 35 feet. It had great yellow eyes the size of saucers, and perhaps most frightening of all, these orbs had an unimaginably intelligent cast about them. The nightmare greeted the Dr. by wrapping two of its ten iron like tentacles about Dennis’s mid section, if he had not been holding tightly to the little raft he would have been yanked under to suffer unspeakable horrors.
This is Part 1 of The Plastic Sea, a five-part series. Part 2 can be read here.