Juan counted the days at first, but it became too much. Ignorance was a less of a sin and more of a survival tactic when living through an apocalypse like this. He knew it had been at least a few weeks since the night had woken to their drum, and the bladed shadows dripped out of every surface. It was like the world was nothing more than a haunted hourglass being turned upside-down. Juan knew that everyone was mostly dead back home in Mexico City if the monsters had appeared there as well. He had already resided to himself that he’d never get back there to see his family. He just prayed to them at night before the drum started and that was all he could do.
Juan was lucky to be alive despite the depression, anxiety, hopelessness, PTSD, and paranoia that had appeared when civilization vanished. He was working on a shrimp boat just outside Key Largo. They were anchored on a lagoon, where the water was actually deep despite it being the Salt Water Everglades, where if you fell into the shimmering blue, you could typically touch the sand-coral bottom. Juan didn’t know how to swim very well, but the captain, an older man with a bald head and gray beard who’d been cut-in-half on the first night, told him in a grunting voice to just: “Stand up!”
There were two other fishermen on the boat when the devils appeared besides the captain. Both were killed nearly instantly when the tall, pulsating shape crawled over the bow and wrapped each man in some sort of fabric. It pulverized both of them into bloody piles on the deck. Juan washed away their parts the next day with salt water. He hid the bucket he used. The sight made him nauseous and taste blood in his mouth.
Juan had been below decks when it happened. He hid inside a supply closet that was so disorganized it was like it had been destroyed already. Juan was short, stocky, with a full head of black hair and a square jaw. He made the rest of the crew look old, tired, and withered. Juan already felt unsafe aboard the ship, before the nightmares had even arrived. The boat was called “The Clergy,” and it was a two-level skiff with silver railings, a net on its back, and white paint flaking free on the hull from the constant Florida sunlight. He was surprised that the creatures simply missed him and moved on to attack other boats in the area.
Juan had survived for quite some time with the food that’d been packed on board. He collected rain water to drink, and he also caught fish. He was too afraid to head towards shore with the boat, and too far away to try to swim. He didn’t want to start the engine and have the creatures reappear. It was bad enough they turned the water over at night when their drum played. During the day, when the clouds were absent and the sun seared the water with lucidity, like a camera being focused, Juan could see black veins running throughout the sand. There were trickles of pulsing red light between each coil.
It was yet another reason he didn’t want to leave the boat.
Those supernatural highways that now lived beneath the waves weren’t as bad as the shadow that appeared when the drum would start. The moment that faraway boom would begin, a long, human-like shape would glide beneath the boat towards the shore. It looked like a woman. It had narrow legs, hips, and what looked like a tangle of hair, only it appeared more like tentacles that moved independently from its body. There was also a curve of folded fabric being dragged behind it, like an unwilling child being dropped off at school. The water muted the color of the creature, but she still look green and dark, like the plants that had consumed the earth in the wake of the drum. Juan was glad he couldn’t see her face. Her back was always turned to him as she moved towards shore.
This ignorance was the only gift he’d been given since it all began. It was too soon to decide if being alive was a blessing or punishment in this eternal cataclysm.
Another piece of flash fiction from the world of The Greenland Diaries. Check out Largo and the Marksman for some connecting bits of narrative. You can read more about The Greenland Diaries or read a sample of the first book. Books are available on Kindle or get a signed paperback through my Square Store. This is still my best series that I write and there are more books on the way. It is the apocalypse that just keeps on giving, in a morbid sort of way. Thank you for reading.