Juan didn’t know what to do. He rubbed his dry hands along his dark forehead and swayed his stocky frame back and forth like he wanted to jump in the water. It had been too long since he’d seen another human being, so when the young boy just ahead of him on shore stepped out of the cluster of palm trees shadowing the lagoon; it was almost like a fantasy of sorts. The drum was sounding between the waves batting the hull. The twilight was bowing to the permanent gloom of night. The air smelled sweet with flowers, mixed with an aftertaste of salt from the orange-sunk water, which was temporarily echoing the glow of the ending sunset.
Juan still didn’t know what to do.
The shape or the creature that had appeared with the drum had already swum beneath the vessel towards the boy, gliding effortlessly, like it was a fleshy current broken free from the deep. It did this every evening when the demonic metronome played. The monster’s appearance was as consistent as the sun setting and rising. It would arrive on land and stalk for survivors. The boy was in the open, and even from the faraway distance of his anchored ship, Juan could tell the monster would be on top of him in moments.
Juan knew what to do.
He ran into the pilot house just above the bow of the ship where he’d been watching. He quickly tried to start the engine, but the key clicked back at him in empty groans and aches, like he was trying to stir some sleeping giant. He had hoped he could start the boat and maybe get the boy’s attention on the lagoon so he’d see her approaching. Too much complacency at the beginning of this apocalypse was now taking a toll. Juan had always secretly wanted to start the boat and run away, but he didn’t. He didn’t know about where she might be during the day. How she might be woken up and try to wrap her tentacles around the boat. Now, when he needed the engine to run, it was as empty as the sky.
Juan quickly dug through the cabinets beneath the wheel and tore out the emergency kit. It beamed red in the clutter, a beacon of hope against the waves of misery the drum had brought with it. Inside was a flare gun with one shot. He held the gun and sighed. He was saving it for being rescued, but nobody was coming except for the monsters. He ran out of the bridge and down to the railing facing the strip of beach. She was almost to the shore. The boy was still standing by the woods, blissfully unaware of the incoming abomination. The air was salty and quiet to the drum. How could he not know to hide right now? If he survived this long surely he knew what the sound summoned.
Dusk was fading away. The dark hit your eyesight quicker on the water. In just a few minutes the beach would be nothing more than a faded line atop the bowing waves. Juan aimed the flare into the sky just above where the boy had been sitting. He closed his eyes, thought of his family and friends, hoped he would meet them on the other side and pulled the trigger. There was a burst of air pressure, a snarl of sparks, and the arc of the flare gliding upwards over the water. The monster instantly broke the surface in a violent spray, twisting back at the boat with her eyeless face, like she’d been betrayed by a friend. Juan dropped the gun and sunk back into the boat.
He knew he’d be dead soon.
Alright, some new flash fiction from the Greenland Diaries. If you want some context to this story there are other parts to read in this order: Largo, the Marksman, the Lagoon, and Awake. Today on the Kindle, the first 100 days of the Greenland Diaries is free. Or, you can read more about it, or check out my Square Store for paperback versions. Thanks for reading.