Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Captain Broahm hadn’t been asleep nearly long enough when he was dumped unceremoniously from his bunk onto the floor. Cursing, he’d barely gotten his bearings before the ship righted itself, tossing him backwards into the bulkhead, sending a blinding flash of lightning through his already aching head.

His left eye clouded, and he wiped at the blood that was pooling there from a fresh gash on his forehead.

“Bugger,” he grumbled, pulling himself upright with help from the cargo nets lining the sleeping quarters.

Staggering out of the still swaying cabin into the hallway, he climbed the ladder onto the bridge and found the first officer white knuckled at the wheel. Half the instrument lights were out or flickering and several of the windows were missing, broken glass scattered across the console and onto the floor.

“Grady, what the hell was that? You hit something?”

The startled first officer turned and stammered “Plane, I think, hit us. It’s out there in the water.” He pointed out the battered port side windows into the darkness. In the distance, lights flickered in and out of view as the waves rocked the ship.

“Any plane hit us like that would be in pieces at the bottom of the ocean by now.” Broahm shouldered open the door to get a clearer view from the deck. Both hands gripping the railing against the rocking of the ship, he could see clearly another vessel hanging just off their port side. Broahm blinked, and rubbed his eyes. The other vessel appeared to be sitting just above the water, the waves sliding harmlessly beneath its hull.

Broahm shook his head, wiping again at the blood trickling into his eye. Maybe he’d taken more of a bang than he’d realized.

“Must be a life raft,” he thought before yelling back into the cabin, “Grady, fetch us a flare and the glasses.”

The first officer appeared in the doorway moments later with a flare gun and a pair of binoculars.

“Sir,” he said, handing the equipment to the Captain.

Broahm took the gear from him, firing the flare into the night sky and scoping the other craft through the glasses as the pyrotechnic turned nighttime into midday.

The other craft sat still, featureless, long and narrow, hovering just above the water. As Broahm searched its length, he lit upon at a figure standing on a platform, partially submerged in the water off the side. It was looking up, watching the flare arc across the sky. Easily as tall as he was, perhaps taller with no visible clothing and a large blunt face split by the thin line of a mouth that wrapped nearly half way around its head. From where it’s ears should have been stared large unblinking eyes. Running down the side of its neck, ribbon like slits undulated as waves washed over them, its body slick and glistening in the artificial daylight.

“Grady, get us the bloody hell out of here.” Broahm yelled back into the cabin without looking.

He felt warmth tracing its way back down his forehead towards his eye, and absently wiped it away, flinging the fluid into the sea. As the red droplets hit the water, he caught a flurry of movement through the glasses. The creature was looking right at him now, lips peeled back revealing rows upon rows of jagged teeth. Broahm’s stomach knotted at the realization that whatever it was, it was smiling.

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