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224pps
ISBN 978-0-557-31314-3

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SQUID

first bit of it,
anyway


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     It was three hours. Only three hours. But it was the longest three hours of my life. Horrifying, terrifying, intense.
     I'm writing it down now, over a decade later, because chances are I'll be dead before my son will be old enough to read this let alone understand.
     I haven't seen D' in years. He found himself a woman in Southeast Asia two years after our ordeal on the sea. Sharice was her name, I believe.
     When I was ready to move on, he decided that life with her would be better than a life with me being a nomad. I didn't fault him for it. In fact, I was a bit envious. I was still alone, and would be for another eight years.
     But those and others are different stories that maybe someday I'll tell. The one I want to tell you this time around is about those three hours in the middle of the Pacific about a year after the Big Crash.

     We hit the doldrums three days before. No wind, no swells, the air and sea still. The days have been hot, the nights warm. Late in the evening on the third day we felt a thump on the port side of the hull. I leaned over to see the bloated body of a man in a Speedo, floating face down. It was misshapen, deformed, grotesque. The buttocks were so swollen that you could only see the bathing suit as it disappeared down the crack that started at the small of the back. His skin was a whitish-blue, the dark veins standing out in contrast against the white skin. The arms and legs dipped into the water so it was impossible to tell if it had hands or feet. It looked to have been in the water for some time, at least twenty-four hours, which made it's appearance the more strange. This carcass should have been devoured hours ago. Perhaps it was dead that long and just recently pushed overboard. I quickly scanned the horizon. No boats. "It's a body!" I called to my crew.
     My crew. D' and I stole this boat sixteen days ago. Well, maybe not stole. The owners are dead and no one else wanted it. There are no more banks or economy. It's every man for himself. And D' and I have known each other a long time. We've been friends almost the entire time. Best friends now. But, since I know how to sail, kinda, and am D's senior by three years, I'm captain. D' doesn't mind. He's always sort of looked up to me as an older brother-type, even though he's taller than me.
     "We have to get it away from us before it gets any darker," I informed him.
     "Why?"
     "It'll bring the predators; shark, 'cuda, squid. If they get a whiff of us up here, and there's enough of them, and they're hungry enough, they could sink this boat."
     "Bullshit."
     "I'm afraid not." I looked to the west, remembering the stories I've heard about whales sinking sailboats, sharks attacking in open water, and before the Effect. Now, afterwards, when food is scarce for Man and Beast, Beast has resorted to killing Man. The stories I caught while we prowled the coast for a boat, sitting anonymously in bars as we listened to the drunks talk of abandoned boats and dead crews. Stories of sharks and whales ramming hulls, puncturing holes and sinking the wooden and fiberglass boats. I overheard one story of how the Humboldt squid, with their abrasive tentacles, tore through a fiberglass hull in less than ten minutes. The story reported there were thousands of squid, not the single thousand, which is bad enough.
     That one was a bit hard to believe. Those squid only get a meter or so in size, and the only hard part of the creature is that nasty, efficient, parrot-like beak of a mouth.
     I shudder as my mind forces an image of a squid biting into my thigh, then I focus on the horizon. Half the disc of the Sun was below the horizon. We had only min...
     Something hit the boat, hard, causing it to rock. I reacted without thought and grabbed the rail on the cabin roof. I looked aft to D'. He was at the helm, legs spread wide, ducking the mizzen boom as it flopped from side to side. "What hit us?!" he barked.



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