IN THE DEEP




        Ever since his dad took him on the lake, Billy loved the open water. From the static crash of the waves, to the crisp wind that flowed into the sails, nothing was like being on a boat. As soon as he was old enough, Billy would go to the marina by himself. All summer long, from morning until night, he’d spend his time on the pier making friends with the fishermen, learning about the deep. There was something peaceful in the conversing squawk of seagulls and the warm smell of fish that wafted from shore.


        Rarely could you ever find a boy as hard working as Billy. He often helped the boaters on the dock, bringing items into their ships, detangling their net, and cleaning their fish, all while drinking in each task that brought him closer to the sea.


        When the fishermen returned with a rowboat they found in the deep open water with no captain aboard, there was no argument among the crew that the vessel should go to the boy. Billy was in love. A boat of his own…. A boat with no name.


        From that day, Billy was connected to his sailboat, tearing through the tides of the summer bay's wake. The marina even let the boy keep his small boat at the end of their pier near the lighthouse. And while they were all aware of the dangers of the deep, they entrusted the boy's sense of responsibility; though the fishermen knew to keep an eye on the child. But boys, like fish, are quick and slippery creatures, often traveling into the unseen nets that lay before them.


        The sky was hidden behind a curtain of thick clouds when Billy left one morning. The docks were filled with empty vessels. Everyone was gone. The air was thin, calm, missing the smell of fish that wafted from the shore. The seagulls had also fallen silent, taking flight inland as seaweed crept onto the coast. That’s when Billy heard the curious chime of a bell ringing out across the glassy water.


        “Is someone out there?” Billy called into the deep.


        The bell continued to ring over him. Eagerly, Billy entered his boat, untying the complicated knot that held it to the dock of the attentive lighthouse. He pushed his way into the water, splitting the flat surface into bending ripples. The further he traveled into the deep, the louder the ringing rang and the heavier the air became; swallowing the boy, the boat and all, in the thick fog.


        “Hey! Are you out there?” Billy called to the clang of an anxious bell.


        Further in the deep he went, closer to his goal. It was then that the ringing stopped.


       Like a net pulling taut, the grey haze sky snared with an enveloping fog.  Wind blew tossing the boy and his boat. In that moment, the threat of the deep became realized and Billy quickly paddled back. Frantically, Billy rushed towards the turning beam of the lighthouse’s lantern, hoping for land.


        “Help!” The boy yelled, rushing towards the high yellow lamp.


        Faster and faster he paddled through the turning waves, crashing against his small ship, water seeping in through the cracks. The desperation grew as the visibility diminished. Within the storm, the tiny boat was tossed and twisted, until suddenly everything stilled. All at once, Billy found himself on the smooth glassy waters, within the center of a hollow tunnel of fog. No land could be seen... only the tips of trees peeking from the mirrored surface.


        Billy scanned the tunnel walls, finding the flash of the lighthouse not far off. Tired from the thrashing sea, he paddled towards the high yellow lamp. Further in the deep he went, closer to his goal.


        The light grew as did the shadowy body that held it, until strange features became apparent. A heavy round base rose from the sea with long thrashing tentacles, each with it’s own row of hooks and claws. What Billy confused for the shaft of the tower was actually a thick neck which stretched upward. This was not the rotating lens of a lighthouse light, but the terrible eye of a monstrous creature seeking out the unfamiliar boat it had captured in the shore of his body. The beam fell on Billy until, like the light, the tiny boat was lost in the deep.



 

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