24 Sep Stay Away From the Ocean
“Stay Away From the Ocean”Written by Richard Saxon Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 8 minutes
In 1989, we detected a faint call coming from the depths of the ocean. A strange cry from a massive creature, traveling alone in the vast blue waters below. At first, it sounded like an oddity, a malfunctioning hydrophone, but then we heard it again in 1990, and 1991.
With only five percent of the ocean explored, it baffled us. To any untrained ear, it sounded like a whale, but its pitch was too high. Measuring at a frequency of 52 hertz, it meant that the song couldn’t be understood by any known species of whale. Thus, it was destined to exist on its own, and is has been dubbed the loneliest creature in the world.
We called him: Blue 52.
* * * * * *
Every year, we’d hear the lonesome whale. Measured through hydrophones spread across the west coast of America and Canada. Still, it wouldn’t be until 2019, before we finally lay eyes upon it.
Our crew was tasked with finding him, tag him with a tracker, and observe for others like him. Onboard the RV Song of Solitude, we traversed the North Pacific in search of a whale that had been heard, but never seen.
With technology constantly advancing, tracking it had become a much easier task. While it took us weeks just to locate him, we grew closer with each passing day.
“Do you think he knows?” Rita asked as we stared out at the horizon.
The ocean was calm, gently rocking our large research vessel. It was wonderfully peaceful, and though our mission was interesting, it carried an undeniable hint of dread.
“Knows what?” I asked.
“That there are others like him out there?”
It was a fair question. Whether or not the strange frequency of its voice was caused by a deformity, or if it was a hybrid species, it had to have been raised by someone. Whale calves stay approximately one year with their mothers, as they grow and get ready to face the oceans alone.
“I don’t know. Why else would he sing?”
The whale had been traveling in the same path as blue whales, yet the timing was off. It meant that despite it going exactly the same way, it would never meet anyone else on its journey. Wherever he swam, the others would be long gone.
“Forty years alone, just looking for someone else…” she trailed off.
Weeks passed as we searched, and in the late summer of 2019, we finally found him.
There it was, surfacing for a breath of fresh air. An eighty feet long whale, spurting a fountain of water from his blowhole. He had a magnificent blue color, yet the shape of his body resembled that of a fin whale. Our theory of it being a hybrid had been confirmed, and he looked extraordinarily healthy considering that he had survived on his own for so long.
“He’s magnificent!” Rita exclaimed in excitement.
Without hesitation, we planted a tracker on his skin with a suction cup, and let him dive back beneath the ocean. We went to work and recorded more of his song, a somber tune of melancholy.
We spent the next three weeks just tracking him, hoping to see another of his kind. Alas, he remained alone. During the nights, I often found Rita staring out at the ocean, marking each time he surfaced to breathe.
“He looks to sad.”
“How can you tell?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Just a gut feeling I guess. Poor Eros.”
“Yeah, I figured we’re the closest thing he has to a family. We ought to be the ones naming him.”
I mulled over the name for a moment. It certainly sounded better than Blue 52.
“A bit ironic though, don’t you think?”
“Not at all.”
As the mission went on Rita started sleeping less and less. She was afraid that we’d lose Eros if we didn’t keep a constant eye on him. Whales hardly ever sleep, constantly needing to resurface, always on the move. Of all the mammals, they have the lowest requirement for sleep.
* * * * * *
We were two months into our mission, when I was shook awake in the middle of the night. As I opened my heavy eyes, I saw Rita standing above me with a wide smile on her face.
“There’s another! Another whale!” she shouted.
We rushed to the control room, where Captain Banks stood, eyes fixed on a new set of frequencies. Sure enough, there were two distinct, but similar sources of sound coming from about a thousand feet below.
“I knew it, I knew Eros wasn’t alone!”
Suddenly, our depressing job had turned to one of joy. If there were two, we could assume with high probability, that there were more. In fact, we might have been witnessing the beginning of a new subspecies of whale. It was a beautiful moment to behold.
“You sure it’s not just a malfunction?” one of the crew members asked.
I took a look at the numbers. Eros’ voice had lowered a bit in his later years, at 50-hertz, while the other, new source was slightly higher pitched.
“Could it be a calf?”
“No idea, the sonar isn’t picking anything up. We need to get closer.”
We waited until morning, and tried to get closer to Eros. According to the sonar readings, there was a creature roughly twice the size of our whale, swimming a couple of thousand feet beneath the surface. Even for a whale, it was huge.
About an hour passed, and we finally caught Eros coming up for air. Despite tracking two distinct beings, only one of them ever breached the surface.
“Do you see anything?” I asked.
“No, it’s not coming up. Are we sure it’s a whale?”
“What else could it be?”
“I don’t know, but even whales can’t hold their breath forever.”
We discussed the possibility of a new species entirely, but before we could even alert our superiors back on the mainland, we heard something else.
It was a third song…
Then a fourth, and a fifth, and before long, a whole pod of these creatures had been detected. They were massive, far larger than any known creature to occupy the ocean. It was a frightening, but intriguing discovery.
We were ordered to send down a submersible drone, to get an actual view of the beings.
I controlled the machine, as it quickly descended down a thousand feet. We held our breaths as the light of the sun gave way to the darkness of the ocean. Before long, we’d be right on top of the unidentified animals.
“Where the hell are they?” Captain Banks asked.
“There, I saw something!”
It was Eros, diving down to follow the drone. He seemed to understand that the device belonged to us, and started leading us towards the other creatures.
We followed Eros down further. Two thousand feet below the surface, before we finally found them. At first, all we saw were yellow, glowing orbs dangling in the darkness. Then, we saw the true monstrosities we’d discovered.
“They’re not whales,” Rita gasped.
They looked like torn pieces of bright-green flesh, bobbing up and down like jellyfish through the water. They had massive bodies covered in glowing blisters. Dozens of tendrils reached out from their mangled mass. What we assumed to be their heads, had multiple, dark holes with thin membranes through which they emitted their songs.
“What are they?” I asked.
Before my question could be answered, one of the crew members shouted out in protest. All we heard, was a splash, as someone dropped into the water.
“Wait, no!” he shouted.
“What happened?” Captain Banks asked.
“Simon, he just – he just – took an anchor and jumped off the ship.”
We peeled our eyes in a hopeless search for the lost sailor, but he was long gone.
“Call the mainland, tell them what happened,” Captain Banks ordered. “Get the drone back up, it’s time to leave.”
I glanced back at the screen. The camera had gone dark, and we’d lost contact with the drone. With little hesitation, we decided to set course for the coast. The footage would serve as enough documentation of our discovery.
We were still days away from reaching land, but we didn’t have any other choice. Nightfall came, and plunged us into overwhelming darkness. Nothing but a million stars above to keep us lit up in the night. Despite their beauty, they signified the immense size of emptiness surrounding us.
“What do you think we just saw?” I asked the Captain.
He looked over the multiple recordings we’d gotten from our hydrophones. They all matched the voice of Eros in terms of frequency, yet the rhythm seemed completely off.
“Whale songs can travel a hundred miles, no problem. Based on the composition of these things, I’d say they were airless creatures. It would suggest that they come from the very depths of the ocean beneath us, but I can’t say for sure.”
“You think Eros alerted them with his voice?”
He nodded. “Why else would they venture this far up?”
Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of an anchor moving on deck. We rushed outside to find Rita standing by the edge, staring longingly into the ocean below.
“Rita, what are you doing?”
“They’re calling for me.”
“The dancers of the sea. Their songs are so beautiful. Don’t you hear them?”
“Rita, please step away from the edge,” Captain Banks begged.
I took a slow step towards her, ready to snatch her away from the edge. Before I could even get close, she just stepped over, and fell into the water.
“Rita!” I shouted in despair as she sank out of sight.
By the time we could even turn around to search for her, she’d be too far gone to rescue. Anyone that willingly jumped into the depths, could never be rescued.
Captain Banks jumped on the radio, getting ready to demand an airlift back to the mainland. Yet, the only sound that greeted us on the other end, was the damn song from the depths. Whatever these creatures were, they interfered with our system, making it impossible to call for help. We were effectively trapped.
On the ocean, a hundred glowing orbs appeared. The creatures, despite coming from thousands of feet below, had the ability to surface, and they were heading straight for us.
“Oh God, they’re – “ was all I could get out before the ship shook violently. A tendril reached out from the water, and grabbed onto one of the crewmen. He screamed in agony as it pierced his abdomen, pulling him into the water.
Captain Banks took a knife, and tried to cut one of the tendrils that had wrapped around our deck. It was a futile task, and another quickly wrapped around his leg, instantly snapping the bone within. He screamed as the creature tore at him, digging into the leg, and reaching through his abdomen. He was dead before he even hit the water.
The ship started to topple over, and I clung to the railing. Then, something rammed us, and the ship fell back into place. The tendrils retreated into the ocean, and we were temporarily free.
I looked for any sign of my crewmen, but they’d all been snatched away. Alone, I peeked into the waters, and saw what had been my unlikely hero.
It was Eros. He had plunged his massive body into the monster, which had redirected its attention towards him. It dug its tendril into his body, blood filling the waters. He kept swimming, pulling away from the monstrosities, and they followed. In his wake, he left a trail of blood, leading them away from my damaged vessel, giving me an opportunity to escape.
I set course in the opposite direction, not hesitating to make use of the escape window granted to me.
The creatures didn’t follow, but I never stopped fleeing. It took another full day before I finally made contact with the mainland. I alerted them to the situation, and they sent a ship out to meet me. I’d sustained minor injuries. My crew on the other hand, had all but succumbed to the horrors of the ocean.
I don’t know what happened to Eros, if he managed to get away, or if the things caught up with him. Whatever the case, he saved my life, and I owe him everything.
In his search for a family, he inadvertently awoke something from the deepest parts of the ocean. According to recent hydrophone recordings, there are millions of them across the Pacific, and they’re spreading further and further around the world. The seas are no longer safe, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
I might have made it back to shore. But, what truly horrifies me, is that despite being a thousand miles away, I still hear them singing. At first, they were only sounds, but now I finally understand…
…they want me to come to them, and I don’t know how long I can resist.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available