Do you like horror stories? What is the best one you have heard?
Time passes differently at one thousand feet below the surface of the sea. Only the ship’s clock and the changing of the shifts indicate any time has passed at all. I don’t remember how many days we have been down here. Surely we must be near the end of our patrol.
I sit in the sonar room, monitoring for… what, I can’t remember. I’ve done this every day for months. Sometimes it feels as if it’s been years. Still I listen. The steady pings keep me grounded in my seat. The only other sound is the creaking of the hull. There is nothing out there.
Day in and day out, I sit in this seat and listen. I’m certain I must eat and sleep at some point, but the days are a blur and the only thing real in any of them are the sonar pings. Constant. Steady. Unchanging. What is it I listen for?
I am not prepared when I hear it. The sonar continues its rhythmic pinging, but there is a new sound today. I remove my headphones and stare in wonder around the room. The sound is coming from outside. I can hear it through the hull.
My captain appears in the doorway, pale and almost translucent. His face is grave and he nods at me. “Sound the alarm.”
I do not know what it is we have found. All I know is I have orders. And by sounding the alarm, I am giving the rest of the crew orders to get to battle stations.
A monstrous keening rings through the metal tube we call our home and I throw my hands over my ears to block out the sound. It does nothing.
Frantically, I turn back to my readouts, trying to pinpoint the location of whatever thing is assailing us so deep underwater. It is with cold dread I understand that it is no enemy ship we face, just as I know it is no ordinary creature of the sea. Our war is a different war.
The captain orders our weapons readied as he calls for targeting coordinates. I scan my system and realize it is moving. I run a quick calculation in my head to predict where it is going and send these vectors over to targeting.
The submarine shifts its course to reach its attack angle. The captain gives the order to fire the torpedoes. The creature howls as they hit their mark, but it does not go down. We’ve only angered this old god and now it is swimming towards us.
We dive to evade and I listen again to recalculate its position. It is circling back. I send updated coordinates to targeting and weapons sends another volley of torpedoes. The ship rocks as the shockwave rolls over us. It was too close for comfort.
I scan my readouts again. There is no sign of movement. Everyone on board holds their breath and listens. The pings are steady. The creature is silent.
“Target destroyed,” I announce. A collective sigh of relief washes through the sub followed by cheers. My crewmates are as pale and ephemeral as the captain. I look at my own hands as if for the first time to discover I can see through them too.
I remember now. We have been floating down here for decades. We hunt the monsters that threaten humankind. It is our duty to protect the world from the horrors of the deep. That is why we are still on patrol. As long as we are not forgotten, we will remain on patrol.
Notes: I knew I wanted to write a creepy story about something unexpected out at sea, like a knock on a submarine or isolated shipping vessel. I was really leaning toward the sub story when I remembered a story I’d read online about the US Navy’s tradition of never declaring submarines “lost” and how they are “still on patrol.” The post originated on tumblr and had a decent thread of additions, one of which being the idea that these 52 ships are out there protecting us from the unknown and so I decided to write that here.
I have a tenuous relationship with horror stories. I am not really a fan of horror films, which I know aren’t necessary the same as horror stories but they do tell stories in a medium that really visualizes the terror. I do like a Stephen King book every now and again. Some of his short story collections are more terrifying than his novels. The novella N. from the collection Just After Sunset has stuck with me all these years and still scares me to think on it too long.
What about you? Do you like horror? Have you heard any really good ones?
My vacation is officially over tonight as I set my alarm for the morning. The only good thing about this is I have a 3-day work week before it’s the weekend again. Ah well. One day I’ll live my dream of not having to work for a living, I’m sure. Until that day, I will continue to sit here and write every night! Have a great night! I’ll see you tomorrow!
PS-Like these prompts? Like the short stories I write based on these prompts? Want to show your support? Give the blog a follow! Leave a comment! Buy me a coffee! I put a lot of time and effort into these posts and your support means the world to me! Ok, now go out there and write!