The creature under the dock

Sitting in the air like wine in water is the soft hum of a nearby festival; a world of desires where what you want is what you don’t have. Always. But not here. Here there is only the gentle rush of waves moving in and out of a forgotten pier. A steady, practiced rhythm like old lovers remembering each other again. There is a man there too. Deposited by the waves in the wrecked womb of supporting beams underneath the crumbling pier. All is dark to him. He hears the water. Feels the chill, night air. But he does not understand. Does not think to open his eyes. Does not desire anything but the eternity that is slipping toward him like a shadow at sundown.

When the woman arrives with a shriek, the creature under the pier does not comprehend. When her rushed footsteps hammer along the wood above him, the creature under the pier does not move. When the wrathful man, voice angry and loud, careens after the woman, the creature under the pier does not hear. It is the smell that finally rouses him. The smell of blood and sex. He follows the scent like a hound, and for the first time in a long time his eyes creak open. The darkness around him seems bright and, although he wills them to move, his limbs hang heavy and sodden in his nest of rotting wooden beams. The sounds above him are clearer now; tearing fabric, screams, spitting anger. A damned refrain sung by a doomed chorus. The gentle caresses of the waves are forgotten now, replaced by the acrid tang of sweat and fear. The creature’s eyes begin to focus and through the planks above him, silhouetted against the stars, he can see them fumbling for control. Each desires; one for freedom, the other for the one. There is a final cry, the sharp crack of skull against the wooden boards, and then things are quieter. Screams replaced with whimpering. Spitting anger replaced with sterile repudiations. Like an avalanche settling at the bottom of a cliff, the chaos has found equilibrium.

She sees him. Her face pressed against the pier, she sees the creature beneath them. He looks a dark shadow of the underworld cast in ink-black relief; dim light from an unseeing moon reflected in the deep pit of his eyes. He sees her as well, but the creature is unmoved until… until he tastes her. Blood from her head, or mouth, or ear, or all, slides over the plank above, pools momentarily, and then drip, drip, drips onto the creature’s face. Compared to the sea water the blood is warm. Not numbing, but invigorating. The creature’s limbs begin to respond; slowly at first, but with more power each passing second.

Above, the man on the pier glances around furtively; the cloud of hunger has begun to recede and, in its place, the reality of the situation is becoming clear. He wants to make sure that there’s no one around. He wants to find a place where he can leave her once he’s done. With his forearm, he increases the pressure on her neck, hoping she’ll stop with that damn whining. If she would just shut up none of this would be happening. He wouldn’t have had to do this. A familiar feeling begins to build inside him. He presses harder. Her whimpers become faint, choking gasps. Harder. The feeling rises. Once more, harder. Her eyes roll upward in her skull but he isn’t looking at her to notice. The tide breaks once again over the gravel shore and the man lets out an anaemic groan. It is at that moment that the woman is rent open from inside. There is the sound of snapping wood and tearing flesh; and a hand, large and bloodied and monstrous, reaches up from the shredded corpse. Another, just as huge, presses upward and the woman’s body is torn in two. The man stumbles backward tripping on the pants at his feet. A creature rises from the body before him. Fully-formed and glaring. For a dark second this creature is the only thing that exists in the man’s universe. He sees everything. The rising and falling of its great shoulders with the steady rhythm of its breath. The placental film of blood and detritus that clings to it. But mostly, as before, dim light from an unseeing moon reflected in the deep pit of his eyes. The second passes and the man scrambles to his feet, jerking his belt up and urging his legs to carry him away. If he can just make it off the pier, back to the road, he can get out of this. Away from that. He doesn’t even make it to shore before he feels the creatures great hands dragging him down. His cry is cut short by the cold links of an old chain around his neck. An anchor abandoned on the pier. The links are not even, and so to cut the air flow they must be forced into uniformity, the doing of which tears the skin. The man falls to his knees, hands vainly trying to find purchase on the chain. The end of the pier is so close! He tries to muscle his way toward it, but his leash is held too tightly. The creature takes a knee to be closer to the man. He draws the anchor backward causing his companion’s eyes upward. The last thing the man sees are the stars as he is penetrated by the blade of the anchor. Not once, but many times.

The man is long dead by the time the creature rises. The soft hum of a nearby festival can be heard on the air. But here the waves are still. The air unmoving. No signs of life, save one. The anchor scores the gravel as it’s dragged away from the pier. The creature disappears into the night.

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