A Discovery of Something Frightening

Jerry had been passed out in the bow of the skiff when the first crack-ca-BOOM of thunder startled him from his sleep. Just moments before he’d missed the electric flash that illuminated nothing. Falling crystalline beads pelted Jerry on his forehead and wrists and as his sleep cleared, the sound of a million mice stampeding across a kitchen floor amplified around him. With his calloused, trolling-line burned hands he gripped the sides of the skiff and pulled his body above the edge of the boat. Within the hull, he’d been shielded from the piercing darts of windblown spray, but now the pellets slashed his cheeks and neck. He dropped into the bow and as the rain flogged his back he felt about for his tackle sack. It was soaked, but he emptied its contents and draped it over his head and wrapped it around his face, parting a small slit for his eyes. The sound of splashing droplets crescendoed into an angry buzz. The steady hum engulfed him completely and vibrated inside his chest. He cupped his hands around his eyes but did not stand, for the boat was now thrashing from side to side under the violent pulse of the enraged sea. From his knees, Jerry lifted his head to attempt his first gaze into the storm. He squinted, but could see nothing but the gray partition like cable static that prevented him from even making out the bench at the stern. He knew the cross seat was back there just behind the oarlock, but he could see neither. He could only imagine their existence.

The low grumbling of the sky warned of a coming explosion. Jerry crouched and overhead the sky belched powerfully and sent its charged fury in streak form. It was near dusk and the spark again enlightened nothing, for the rain veiled all that surrounded the skiff. The piercing rain became unbearable. Jerry hoisted the heavy woven net over his body as he cowered into a ball like a sleeping puppy curled at the foot of his master’s bed. He found solace under the pile of nets. The stinging sensation fleeted with the cover of the nets, but in its stead was left a numb, reddening tingle that permeated through the layers of his skin.

He lay in a rising puddle of rainwater, salt and fish scales, but under the nets, Jerry’s powers of observation were restored. The rain continued to pelt the turtle’s shell that encased him and he could feel the tepid pounding of the pouring droplets. The skiff continued to rock and a swell rose above the side and splashed into the boat, warming the puddle he lay in. Jerry’s hands crinkled like rotten grapes and the boat ceased its vicious rocking. As the wind continued to whip across the boat from all directions, Jerry got the sense that they were spinning, that is, him and the skiff. As he lay sheltered from the tempest, he was sure: they were spinning. He could feel the uneven lapping of the waves against differing sides of the skiff. He threw off the heaping pile of nets and reached for the bow cleat. The rain lessened its vengeance and was now falling in wispy sheets. The gray dusk had been replaced by the blue night. Jerry searched for the shore: the yellow dock lights surrounding the bay were he’d been moored.

But no docking lights or vessels could be seen. Far off, he could make out a dim star, the glow from the lighthouse, but it was like viewing Mars on a clear night. Jerry reached the cleat at the bow and felt for his tie line. It was secured tightly to the cleat, but its strewn threads barely skimmed the surface of the now still sea.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by emily on April 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Ben, I’m diggin’ your blog & your stories!
    although it’s a bummer that you didn’t go with my Legends of the Hidden Temple suggestion…

  2. haha thanks… i’ll try to let your suggestion inspire my next piece!

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