Swallowed by the Dark

After Life

By Taanvi Bhasin

“You know what they say, red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Think we’ll be lucky?”

“Whatever Clare,” Andy rolled his eyes from where he stood behind her. Kaltain walked up beside them, looking out at the brilliant crimson of the sunset against the pale sky.

Clarissa stood at the front of the boat, watching, looking out to where the sun had been swallowed, leaving only a half moon in its place.

Andy walked in small circles near the little plastic table. His feet shuffled along, the boat rocked gently with the ocean. Kaltain joined him a while later, talking in a quiet voice that was almost carried away by the wind.

Then, suddenly, the boat lurched violently to the side, water lapping higher at its old, rusted steel sides. Kaltain slipped, her body moving with the boat, everything suspended for a moment. She then crashed into Andy, who gave a shout of surprise as she did. The two of them tumbled to the floor in a mess of limbs.

“What happened?” Andy asked as they struggled up, but Kaltain just shrugged her shoulders.

At the front of the boat stood Carissa, still looking out to the sea, its deep water blending at the horizon with the dark night sky. She jolted as she noticed that up ahead the water had swirled around itself into a vortex, reaching down into the cold ocean. Her alarmed shout caught the attention of the other two who approached her from behind.

“What is that!?” Kaltain shouted.

Already, the boat rocked more than before, going faster, being drawn towards the giant whirlpool. Andy shouted at his sister to turn the boat around and Kaltain tore across the deck, heading inside to try and steer, but the water pushed and pulled like it was game of tug a war.

She got to the door and threw it open, rushing in to grab the faded black wheel. A loud screech sounded as she yanked it to one side. The boat turned but more water crashed into it from the other side, causing it lean.

Outside, Clarissa ran towards the center of the boat, towards the cabin. A white fold up chair clattered down, falling in her way, and she jumped back. Strong winds howled and shrieked while the boat shook unsteadily. The deck of cards that had been sitting on the table flew off the boat and drifted into the water. Buckets skidded across the floor from their spot in the back, and inside the cabin, Kaltain dodged the little objects that flew off from the long window ledge. Behind her, a wooden table toppled over, and the used cups and plates fell down.

The boat had turned around so that its side almost faced the whirlpool that drew the water towards it. The little moonlight glinted off it, as it spun faster and faster and faster. Andy grabbed Clarissa, moving towards the cabin, but the back of the boat lurched up, throwing Clare forward. Her feet slipped on the slick floor, and she slid towards the bow.

“Clarissa!” Andy called out.

At the very end, she managed to catch herself on the rail. But as the boat fell back again and she collapsed to the floor, huge waves continued to push it this way and that. Water splashed onto the boat, creating a thin layer of watery black film over the entire floor.

Finally a large wave rose up higher and higher, before it curled in like a snake about to strike. It crashed into the boat. Another one shoved the boat into an almost vertical position.

“Jump!” Clarissa yelled, as she fell into the black water, and dived down, but Andy didn’t.

He slid backwards and grabbed for the door of the cabin where Kaltain struggled to reach, but the boat fell -the back corner already completely submerged, most of the rusted hull still visible. Andy felt the numbness of the water as it overtook him. He tried to swim away but the boat pushed him down into the deep.

In the cabin, the black water seeped in, filling it up. Kaltain pulled herself higher and higher taking deep breaths until there she had nowhere else to go. Then she sunk down and pressed herself against the glass, her dark red hair the only thing still visible one were to look through it.

Meanwhile, further away from the boat, Clarissa watched as the boat disappeared from view, along with Kaltain and Andy. She kicked her legs and moved her arms, trying to keep herself afloat in the middle of the ocean. She looked around for where the whirlpool swirled itself into a frenzy. But Clarissa saw nothing but the lapping waves.

The water was calm once more. She dove under.


Photograph “After Life” by Emily McCormick

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