Rob Sommers was sailing around the point when his boat sank. It was the last day he'd have expected an accident like this to happen. A warm sun was rising up into the sky. A gentle breeze carried the scent of sea from the east. The blue waters were as flat as a piece of glass. Seagulls flew overhead in search of early morning snacks.
Then his boat sank. Just like that.
Weirdest thing Rob had seen. There was no reason for it. It was like an invisible pit had opened up before him in the sea and his little sailboat had plunged right into it like a Viking barge going over the waterfall at the end of the world. Yet the sea here was just as flat as it was everywhere else in the bay.
Rob's boat went down and he was pitched--coughing and spluttering--right into the cool waters.
Other than his struggles the sea was completely still. It was one of those days where the water was so clear you could see right down to the bottom about twenty feet below. He watched as his little sailboat, tipped vertical now with the prow facing downwards, sank beneath him like an anchor. He couldn't see any sign of damage to the hull. His poor little Cali-Mari was sinking like she'd been torpedoed and he couldn't see a mark on her.
And he was following her.
That couldn't be right. He was young, fit, healthy. He'd been born on the coast and lived here his whole life. The sea was like a second home to him. He was a strong swimmer...
... and he was sinking just as surely as his boat. No matter how powerfully he moved his arms and legs back and forth the bottom loomed closer and the surface rose further away. He was sinking and he couldn't understand why. He was not caught in a whirlpool, there were no weights in his pocket. Hell, the only clothes he had on were a frayed pair of cutoff shorts. It was like the water had become unable to support his weight. He moved his arms and legs back and forth in powerful strokes and still continued to sink.
He saw a silvery wall rising up to meet him and then he understood.
Gas. The seabed had belched up a big ole bubble of gas. He'd heard about this phenomenon. Gas deposits were occasionally released from the bottom and bubbled up in such quantity the water became saturated. It lost its buoyancy. Things that should float stopped floating. It was one of the theories to explain the Bermuda Triangle. He'd seen it on the Discovery Channel.
And now he was caught in the same phenomenon.
The Cali-Mari settled on the bottom below him, kicking up a small cloud of silt. Not far from it he saw the body of a naked girl lying on the seabed. A real looker as well. She sat amongst the coral with long red hair drifting out behind her like a fan. Serene. Like one of the mermaids of lore. She must have gone out for an early morning nude swim and been caught in the same phenomenon. Damn shame.
And he'd be joining her if he couldn't kick out of this gas pocket.
He frowned. Something wasn't right. That wasn't coral she was sitting in. It was moving--waving in the gentle current--like tentacles. Like a sea anemone, he thought. But that couldn't be right. Sea anemones were tiny blobs of tentacles kids poked at in rock pools. This was the size of a man and with orange-pink tentacles a few feet long.
The girl's eyes opened.
Rob's mouth opened in shock and bubbles of precious oxygen escaped his lungs.
Her eyes were black like marbles made out of coal. Shark-eye black. Blacker. She looked up and stared at him with naked hunger. Full lips more suited to a swimwear model turned up in a smile that chilled Rob to the bone.
Wraith. One of the drowned dead seeking out someone to join it on the sea bottom.
No, worse than that.
Fuck. Bottin was right. His crazy cousin was right.
As he drifted lower he saw it was impossible to tell where the girl ended and the giant sea anemone began. She tipped her head back and she convulsed like a woman pleasuring herself to the point of climax. Her pussy flared wide, wider, impossibly wide--a glistening pink maw opening up where a woman's sex should be. A huge silvery bubble expanded outwards and rushed up to meet him.
Rob wasn't swimming now, he was falling.
Falling and drowning. The worst of both worlds.
The girl put a hand to her mouth and her shoulders shook as if she was giggling. The fleshy orifice between her legs contracted and pulled down, as if preparing to shoot another big bubble.
Rob knew what she was. Bottin had told him, even though he wasn't supposed to.
Stephen Bottin was Rob's older cousin. He was the cool kid that hit adulthood first and became the one all the other kids went to when they wanted alcohol or cigarettes. He even used to sneak them into the T & A club, so long as they hid in the shadows at the back and didn't stare too obviously at the naked girls like the wide-eyed virgins they were.
Bottin used to be the biggest hound dog going. If he wasn't chasing skirt he was down at the T & A club slipping dollar bills into the cleavage and butt cracks of sexy strippers.
Until he came back ... then Bottin didn't seem all that interested in naked flesh anymore.
Everyone said it was the PTSD. While he'd been out in Eye-raq or some other hell-hole, one too many bangs had gone off too close and now Bottin's nerves were scrambled for good. Bottin didn't contradict them. It was only later, after a few drinks too many, he told Rob another story.
'Wasn't Iraq, or Afghanistan, ' he'd said. 'Wasn't even Earth. Fuck, I shouldn't be telling you this. Don't be going on telling anyone else. The ones that don't know will think you're crazy. The ones that do will take you away and lock you in a box and you'll never see the sun again.'
Bottin told a wide-eyed Rob the craziest shit he'd ever heard. Inter-dimensional gates ... hell-space ... nightmare creatures that looked like sexy chicks crossed with unimaginable abominations and used sex as a weapon to kill men.
'I saw one of them. Had a rack you could put on the cover of Hustler. Hot as hell, until you looked down and saw she had a body like a giant slug or grub. I watched her slurp a guy right into a pussy that was as big as a door. Her skin was transparent; I could see right through it as she sucked that dude up like a carton of juice ... sucked until he was all crumpled up. And he'd moaned in pleasure the whole time like a porn star getting all jiggy. Moaned like he was getting blown by all of Charlie's Angels at the same time. Moaned right up until his skin stretched taut across his skull and his eyes fell in.
'Haven't been able to look at a pair of tits the same way since, ' Bottin had muttered morosely into his drink.
Rob had thought his cousin was fucking crazy. PTSD ... to the max.
Not now, not with one of the monsters Bottin had described waiting below him with arms and tentacles outstretched. It wasn't a story from a far-off dimension. It was in the bay. Men like Bottin had returned and brought their nightmares back with them.
Rob kept trying to swim. He had a big pair of lungs and he'd filled them full of air, but it was running out. He felt a tickling sensation in his chest and throat, one that would grow and grow until his pipes burst open and he gulped down a lungful of salt death.
His foot brushed up against something that felt soft and squishy. Reflexively, he kicked out, but that unpleasantly pliant something had already wrapped around his ankle. As he thrashed, another sinuous tentacle circled his waist. Another curled around his wrist and more were unfurling hungrily to reach up and snare his limbs. Lying at the center of the nest of writhing tentacles, arms outstretched as if to hug him, was the girl with eyes like black pebbles.
Panic raced through his blood. His lungs were burning. His feet were tangled. He was going to die here--caught and drowned by a thing that shouldn't even exist on this planet. He glanced up at the blue surface, so far above him.
Uncle Bob, Sheriff Kamen, the coastguard ... please someone be up there and looking down.
He knew there wouldn't be. It was too early. No one was around at this time. It was why he'd taken the boat out in the first place.
Rubbery tentacles wound around his ankles, binding them together. Others slithered behind his back and cuffed his wrists together. His feet landed on a soft and yielding surface that gave like a trampoline. It opened up beneath him and Rob felt something soft, fleshy and muscular wrap around his feet and ankles. He was tugged down with a peristaltic jerk.
Caught, drowned and eaten, he realized with horror.
Another gulp and he was inside up to his knees. Warm slippery flesh smothered his feet. It was like his legs were being wrapped up in an elastic bag, one that gripped and expanded to take more of him in.
At least he'd be spared the horror of being eaten alive. He was out of air. It was getting harder and harder to resist the automatic reflex to open up his windpipe and gulp down sweet air. Only there wasn't any air there, just ocean.
The fleshy lips beneath him swelled open in a wide gape. He felt the internal membranes vibrate against his calf muscles. She was belching up another big air bubble. He felt the bubble membrane tickle over the hairs on his chest as it welled up around him. He dimly registered it rolling up past his neck. His consciousness wavered. His mouth fell open...
... and he gulped in air.
.... There is more of this story ...