Jeff Parsons has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like pure fiction. In addition to his two short story books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, he is published in The Horror Zine, The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories, The Horror Zine’s Book of Werewolf Stories, Aphelion Webzine, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, and Bonded by Blood IV/ V.

He is currently seeking a publisher for his first novel titled Tomorrow Will End, a sci-fi/ horror adventure. For more propaganda, visit his Facebook Author Page HERE


by Jeff Parsons


The schooner tilted low to starboard then slammed to a sudden stop with a jolting crunch.

Thomas Eagen’s slight frame was propelled from his bunk, trajectory halted by the white cabin wall. He crashed head-first, leaving a blood splatter and runoff trickle oozing down the wall. Stunned, he realized that something had happened to the ship. Something dreadful.

Feet sliding, floor listing about thirty degrees, Eagen hoisted himself upright. Through his socks, he felt the ship shudder, immobilized yet subject to further impacts. He held on.

Don’t sink! his thoughts wailed. He heard multiple shouts from the deck above. He grabbed his shoes and put them on.

He yanked open the cabin door and pulled himself out into the long corridor. The luxury yacht was 270 feet in length, so the crew quarters deck stretched like a racecourse ahead, making his walk to the closest set of ladder stairs a struggle.

The ship rolled, as if trying to shrug him loose, sending him into a metal hallway mirror etched with the oak-leafed frillery of the Duchaine Company crest. Looking back at him, he hardly recognized the face there: short grey hair, unkempt, blood oozing from a purple welt on the upper forehead, brown eyes open wide.

Pushing away from the wall and scrambling on the angled floor, two disparate sounds competed to alarm him as he reached the steep ladders: shouts from above and water from below. He took the steps quickly, lifting himself using the handrails, anxious to reach the outside air of the freeboard deck.

Finally he reached the main deck. The night was overcast with dense clouds. He could see the yellow safety lights spaced along the white composite walls, shining softly onto lacquered, golden floorboards.

On the starboard side, the ship’s green navigation lights showed frothy Atlantic Ocean waves smashing against the hull closer than they should. The deck was slippery from the spray of waves, but pushing from a wall guardrail, he managed to grab hold of the higher portside rail.

He moved to see the mayhem occurring at the bow. At the foredeck, the captain was struggling at the railing, using one of the long boathook poles to push against something in the water. It looked to be a dark gray, lumpy mass below the ocean’s surface. Around it, the water rippled as if boiling with anger as many large, snake-like shapes writhed within.

Eagen realized that the shapes were actually the suckered limbs of a giant squid. Oh my god, he thought. It’s a kraken. The old legend is real.

Darting among the tentacles of the giant squid were some sort of speedy creatures. The unusual animals leaped above the waves, greenish-blue and dolphin-like in their movements, yet their shapes were like nothing Eagen had ever seen before.

One of the tentacles of the kraken lashed out from the water, looped around the captain’s body, and lifted him into the air. The limb pulled the captain below the churning water, all in one smooth motion, abruptly cutting off the man’s agonized scream.

The enormous end of a curled tentacle rose again. Along its suckered length, globs of white foam fell to the sea. The ship groaned, then inched forward, righting itself unexpectedly as the anemic wind in the sails pulled it away from the gigantic squid.

The ship creeped away from the danger. Overhead clouds parted momentarily to allow more moonlight to reveal the creature that the yacht was leaving behind. It was a sea monster by any reckoning, easily as long as the boat, its baleful head rolling above choppy waves, limbs flailing, reaching, and grasping.

The squid smashed into a school of those strange, dolphin-sized creatures that were equally bizarre, both discernable enough for lasting nightmares.

The clouds shifted again and darkness descended with a newfound creaking in the ship. From the front, the second mate and engineer raced past Eagen.

“Captain’s gone!” the second mate named Oswin screamed as he ran. “Need to check the aft end!”

Eagen chased after him and found two men assessing a two-foot-wide swath that smashed deep into the open spaced lounging patio, only stopped by the battered engine below.

Oswin spread his fingers through his curly black hair. “Priest, you need to get this engine into high gear, fast!”

“It’s damaged by that thing. I’ll go see what I can do to get it cranked,” the engineer said.

“Take him with you,” Oswin said, pointing towards Eagen.

“What!” Eagen stuttered. “I’m an Accountant out of Halifax! What do I know about a yacht engine?”

“Not you. You’re practically useless. Behind you. Him—Weinraub,” Oswin said, indicating the deckhand. Oswin walked away with the deckhand and Eagen was left alone on the stern.

Eagen prayed that the squid monster was not chasing them. He risked a glance at the ocean, but it seemed empty of monsters. The flap of canvas high above reminded him that the ship was still sailing, even though the three sails barely fluttered in the mild wind.

The engine! Please let it get us out of here!

And then suddenly, one of the strange, greenish-blue creatures leaped from the water and landed on the deck. Eagen stopped in his tracks. The details were sketchy in the shadows between deck lights, but the slender creature had limbs and a long-tail flailing about like someone having a seizure from a head wound.

His throat constricted and his stomach squeezed as if he’d soon vomit. He felt completely overwhelmed.

The deckhand Riley was suddenly in front of him.

“Help me throw it overboard!” Eagen yelled.

“Are you stupid?” Riley said. “I’ve never seen anything like this thing. It could be a new species of some kind. We could make some money off of it once we get to shore.”

If we get to shore,” Eagen said.

“I’m a betting man,” Riley said.

“I’m not touching that thing,” Eagen said. “You’re on your own.”

Eagen raced away and went down through the aft cabin access door. He entered the aft stairs, amazed at the damage inflicted by the kraken. Burned grease lingered in the air of the engine deck. Water sloshed over his socks and wicked up the bottom of his khakis. The storage deck below was taking on water and flooding upward.

When Eagen approached the engine room, Oswin and the deckhand were listening to Priest as he secured the bulkhead door, sealing off the destroyed engine room on this level, even though water still cascaded into the room.

With the door closed, the noise level dropped considerably. It was easier to hear Priest’s dour words. “…diesel’s a no-go, propeller shaft snapped, flooding faster than the pumps can handle, slowing us down…”    

Oswin cursed. “Sails still working but not much wind.” He glanced towards Eagen, then spoke to Priest. “Still have electrical, but for how long?”

“I’ll check the generator room,” Priest answered. “This whole deck has tears in the hull. Worse below.”

Weinraub spoke from behind Eagen, “Sounds like we’re fucked.”

Priest ventured, “You may want to consider an SOS.”     

Oswin tugged on his scraggly beard. “Find out the situation on the generator. Seal what you can. Give me a status. I’ll be in the radio room talking with Duchaine.”

Weinraub said, “Oh, wait, Oswin. I saw one of those leaping dolphin things, uh…whatever it is…it’s certainly not a dolphin. It somehow landed on the deck; seemed to have knocked itself out cold when it hit. Riley took care of it. He locked it up in the business suite.”

Oswin barked, “I can’t worry about that now. You said that Riley locked it up. Good. Priest, get to work!”

Everyone left him. Again.

Eagen was alone in a corridor of a ship taking on water. Farther away from the water would be better. The business suite was two floors up. He considered going to see the dolphin-like creature. After all, it was just a fish…well, a water mammal anyway, and it was locked up. He hesitated for a moment in indecision. He felt useless.

Eagen wondered if he could do something about the sea creature. He had read books all his life…maybe he could somehow identify it. It would make him feel less useless. He finally decided.

His muscles ached as he slogged up to the next deck. There was a cabin that had its door left open. That one.

Eagen was surprised to see Riley inside. He would have thought that everyone would be trying to fix the ship.

Riley sat in a plush wingback chair close to the door, facing into the large room. He glanced at Eagen sideways and acknowledged him with, “You won’t believe what we found. No, let me rephrase that. You chickened out. What I found.”

“Where is it?”

“It’s in the water.”

“In the jacuzzi? Uh, I mean the spa?” Eagen edged closer to the water.

Just below the water surface, a greenish-blue hand was chained to the silver-colored support bar on the entry steps. Diaphanous webbed skin spread between clawed fingertips.

Edging closer to the aqua-tiled spa rim, Eagen saw that it was almost humanoid, with a streamlined head. It floated face down, the water ebbing around gills where ears should have been. Spiny fins went from the crest of the head down the back to a drooping dorsal fin and extending further along the long tail tucked between a pair of legs. It had dark, cobalt-blue skin on the backside with a lighter blue-green underneath. There was no hair or fur, but no scales either.

“It’s not awake, right?” Eagen asked.


“Any idea what it is?”

“Could be something never discovered before. Not mammal, but not fish. If we can get it back to port, we’ll all be famous. This here critter is the find of the century. Worth a fortune.”   

And then the sea-creature woke up.

The creature’s huge forward-facing eyes suddenly peered from the spa lip. It brought down a mouthful of sharp, conical teeth on the metal chain with a grinding, rending screech that had no effect upon the high-tensile steel.

Eagen jumped back in fright.

“Calm down,” Riley said. “It can’t get out of the restraints. I put them on it myself.”

The creature stopped trying to free itself as suddenly as it had started. Lowering its trapped hand, it stared down its captors with deep eyes that didn’t blink. Slowly, it slipped back under the spa water, chain rattling along the pole, its manacled hand still close to the surface.

Riley was still calmly seated in the chair. “You know, maybe those critters weren’t being attacked by that kraken. Maybe they were attacking it.”

Eagen was horrified to imagine that any being that had the guts to attack a giant squid was in the same room as him. “Look! It’s changing!”

Within seconds, the creature’s color drained from its body, making it possible to see through it to the background. Parts of its body, eyes, skeleton, and stomach remained, albeit almost invisible as well.

The lights dimmed, then went out.


“God damn it, the generator must be going out,” Riley said. “We should have battery backup in a minute. Stay here.” Riley’s footsteps stumbled off into the darkness.

Eagen’s throat constricted, making it difficult to swallow. His pulse quickened with fear. He had to get out of there! He turned to find the door but he couldn’t see it.

And then a small emergency light clicked on above the door. Feeble as it was, the lurid red illumination was infinitely better than the darkness. Eagen almost cried with relief. He ventured a glance back at the creature.

It had risen above the water again; so quietly. Was it readying to attack? Or maybe it didn’t want to startle me.

It studied its cuff and chain, then looked sideways at him. Its eyes grew wider, each the size of grapefruits, as it cocked its head. He’d seen that behavior before from his golden retriever, as if saying, “What now?” True to form, it exhaled through a tiny nose with a long exasperated snorting whistle. He half-expected it to wag its tail.

It’s intelligent. Kinda cute in its own way. Weird how we both have head wounds.

He yelped like a startled puppy when a pounding echoed on the hull below decks. His eyes darted across the floor, tracking the sound’s erratic movement. More pounding from diverse locations with accompanying sharp cracking. What is that?

Suddenly he realized the sound was not coming from the floor, but the sea-creature. A deep clicking purr was coming from it. Its body had returned to the bluish-green color, except repeating bands of white slowly covered its body from head to tail. Clawed hands writhed, almost in sublime pleasure, maybe in anticipation of an attack? Unbidden, he visualized those cold wiry hands wrapped around his throat—would he bleed out first or simply choke to death? And those teeth…

Wait! Maybe it’s reacting to perceived danger and not me personally. 

“Eagen!” he heard from the hallway, causing his heartbeat to skip and the creature to dive below the water surface, invisible again.

The deckhand stood at the cabin door, both hands spread against the upper frame for support, breath ragged. It was Matson, an American with fiery red hair and a beard that reminded Eagen of braided Viking warriors of old. “Rescue ship on it way. Frikkin company wants the creature safe, and Oswin—”

“Rescue! What? Are you saying the ship’s going down?”

“Where the hell’ve you been? Captain’s dead, Engineer’s dead…others too. Everything’s shorted out ‘cept emergency power; engine’s crushed, taking on water…for fuck’s sake, Eagen, get a clue. Oswin wants us on deck!”

Arriving at the freeboard deck, he was surprised to see that the wall and floorboards were stained with a spray of sticky fluid. Blood! A nearby rectangular life raft package, not activated, was askew on a wall bracket.

Is that Riley’s blood?

More thumps upon the ship, moving forward along the hull.

Oswin came around the curve of the forward superstructure at a run. Short of breath, he said, “Where were you! Matson, take port, Eagen, starboard. I’ll go to the bow. Shout out if you see anything.” With that, Oswin ran to the bow.

Gathering up his courage, Eagen forced himself to the starboard railing and held on for dear life. In the clouded opaque light, he noticed that the ship crept forward in the water about as fast as a man could walk and the churning sea seemed closer than before. They were taking on more water than he’d thought!

He wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw speeding blurs flash by in the frothy black water. Those creatures put more holes in the hull?

He looked to Oswin for guidance. Oswin bent over the bow’s starboard railing, head jerking in surprise to track the cracking sounds. Standing, Oswin moved towards the port side. Suddenly Oswin was catapulted overboard! He was lost in a mass of limbs rising from the depths.

Eagen gripped the railing tightly, howling in surprise when he realized that the kraken was back. Its maw encased the bow of the ship.

Two deckhands sprinted forward with boathook poles. The swift crunching smack from a tentacle sent them spinning lifeless into the ocean. A serrated bone spear bounced off the tentacle and skidded along the deck.

The dolphin-creatures had returned to the fight. There weren’t as many of them as before. Their trilling squeals penetrated his head as they attacked and died.

Shaken, Eagen pushed away from the railing, realizing he could be killed. He backstepped to the relative safety of the cabin deck.

Matson was already there, almost hyperventilating, “You see that?”

Eagen could only grimace like a death’s head skull; words eluding him.

Matson motioned for him to quickly follow. “We’re in a shitload of trouble! Oswin said a company ship is outbound from Halifax. That’s too far away. We won’t be afloat much longer. I’m going to send a general SOS. Something should be closer.”

“What?” Eagen asked, still not comprehending the situation completely.

Matson griped, “We need to check on that thing we caught. Come with me. Goddamn Duchaine doesn’t want anything to happen to our guest, even with all that’s going on. They’re claiming it as salvage or whatnot.” When they arrived at the room, he said, “Good. It’s still here.”

The creature seemed to have some sort of legs, because it was standing erect, cuffed hand held aloft to the uppermost arc of the spa’s support rail. Fully colored, gills and flat mouth fluttered with each breath. It watched them with calm, unblinking eyes while the pounding racket echoed throughout the ship, kraken becoming far more aggressive, as if demanding to be let in.     

“Why don’t we let it go?” Eagen asked.

“Our having it is the only thing stopping the rest of those creatures from coming aboard and overwhelming us.” He watched it with an expression akin to disgusted fascination. “That is, once they’re done with the kraken…if they win. If not, the kraken finishes us off. Suck it all, we are truly screwed.”

“But the ship is sinking, so we don’t have much time anyway. Why keep it chained up?”

“You know, they said you were crazy. Don’t prove it. Stay here. Watch our guest. I’ll go make the SOS.” Matson abruptly bolted from the room.

Crazy is right. Not getting me out there. He couldn’t hear any more of the crew screams, but judging from the squealing outside, the battle kept on raging. A rasping grind vibrated in the hull, traveling up from his feet to his tense back.

Balance unsteady, Eagen plopped down on a chair, uncertain what to do, the inevitable closing in.

A persistent beating began on the nearby hull at the waterline. The creature watched his eyes flinch slightly with each attack. Curiously, it began to mimic his reactions. Or, it had the same feelings of dread.

The creature’s kin were undoubtedly taking terrible losses. Maybe it could sense that. If the kraken wins… I’m a dead man. His fists clenched. Maybe the creature could help?

An explosive blowout breech occurred on the other side of the ship in the lower decks. Loose items in the room slid on the floor to the hallway door and wall. The ship lurched with a teeth-rattling shake.

If it’s the last thing I do, I have to free this creature. It’ll be stuck in chains if the ship goes down. And we need all the help we can get! Screw Duchaine!

Eagen stood, stumbling, floor at a tilt, reminding him of when all this insanity had started. He remembered seeing a key in the room’s kitchenette. There! On the marble countertop near the fridge! Maybe it fit the lock holding the creature’s chains together? He scooped it up and turned towards the creature, movement jolted to a halt—it was observing him with the intense focus of a predator. And its color drew his breath away. The captive was a stark coral color, as visibly bright as possible, upright, one hand still chained to the spa support bar.

The key! I have to try.

The creature’s eyes blinked once as Eagen, trembling, slowly approached it. He held up the key and pointed to the lock, nodding with what he hoped was a reassuring manner. With emotions as obscure as light at the bottom of the sea, the creature remained motionless while he opened the lock and disengaged it from the chains wrapped around the pole.

Task complete, he withdrew to the kitchenette, careful not to get between the creature and the exit door, where its freedom awaited.

The captive creature watched him intently as if judging his intent and future movements.

Reaching up with its free hand, its delicately clawed fingers methodically pulled the chain length through the cuff holding its wrist. Both chain and cuff fell with a splash into the water.

A short, high-pitched squeal resonated from the creature. It opened its mouth and some kind of sonar-communication reached into Mathew’s brain like tickling fingers, intensified by an answering response from afar.

The creature’s color reverted back to blue-green as it sized-up Eagen. Turning away without a further look, it left the room in a loping gait, thin body hunched over, spiny finned tail held aloft for balance, long and dexterous like a sassy cat. The creature’s footsteps splashed away.

Eagen, who’d been holding his breath, exhaled with relief.

The ship creaked, tilting more to port, while he waited, mind wandering in a panic. Unknown time passed. It could’ve been a minute or ten minutes or a half-hour, he didn’t know, he’d been stuck in a morass of uncontrolled worrying until his thoughts ended with if they win, maybe they’ll leave me alone.

There was no more trilling from the dolphin-creatures. The battle seemed to have ended. I’m still alive!

A sharp pop and something gave way deep in the ship’s keel.

The kraken!

The ship lifted sharply, pulled down to port…sinking!

Egan struggled to walk on the steep slant to the door. He saw that chilling water was now everywhere. It was up to his shins and rising quickly in the hallway. It overflowed from the jagged slice in the rear and some new leaks jetting from the closed cabin doors in the front.

The murky water left a residue of inky stains on his khaki pants by the time he pulled himself up the stairs to the main deck cabins.

Need a lifeboat, he thought, realizing he felt far less disturbed than he should be at the imminent sinking of the boat.

On the way outside, one of the cabin doors popped open; once immaculate, the room was now in disarray, a keen reflection of current events.

The water was swirling halfway up the stairs he’d just used.

He grabbed onto the corridor support railing as the deck suddenly shifted again, this time righting itself close to level. As he ventured outside, the floorboards shivered, much like him, feeling the slight wind hit his soaked pants.

The moon hid behind scattered clouds, but he could still see the life raft package partially disengaged from the wall mount, hanging askew, nearby blood spatter smeared by the sea spray.

His head shifted about, looking around him, seeing no kraken. No creatures. No shipmates.

The ship’s forward superstructure was a shredded mess of composite and metal. The remaining front of the ship stretched unnaturally as if grabbed, twisted, and snapped off completely, leaving a gaping hole in the water. The bow was gone.

Water surged up the stairs inside the cabin deck and ocean waves lapped at the deck. The ship was going down fast.

Trying not to overthink about what was going on, he focused on tugging the life raft package from the wall, unsuccessful until he lifted the covering bag’s strap handle caught in the mount. Releasing the bag, he realized it was surprisingly heavy and fell into the water pooling on the deck. He couldn’t see the instructions, but a big yellow arrow pointed to a rip cord.

Pull it here? He wasn’t sure if he’d need to do it now or throw it overboard then pull the cord.

The point became moot as the water rose above his shoes, soon to set him swimming.

Upper teeth pressed into his lower lip, he pulled the cord. The loud pop of the raft expanding from the carry bag caused him to step away with a stuttering heartbeat.

The raft was fully inflated by the time the water reached his knees. He entered it, careful not to overturn it, feeling isolated in its middle—it must’ve been built for six people. Inside, tied with a nylon rope, sat a smaller red rectangular package and two small paddles.

Need to get away! The ship’s sinking might pull him under if he was caught in the down draft. He slid across the rubber bottom and hands fumbling, unlatched one of the paddles. Scooting to the side, he began paddling. Using the plastic oar was highly ineffective, but a rush of water geysering from the cabin deck sent his raft cascading over the submerged rail and spinning away from the ship with a drenching splash. Swiping away stinging saltwater from his eyes, he scooted to the new backside of the raft and paddled as fast as he could.

Glancing back, the bridge structure disappeared before his squinting eyes, the last part of the ship being the antenna, and with a great release of trapped air, his last hope of security sunk beneath the waves.

The raft drifted backward despite his frantic paddling. Luckily, the pull eased off to nothing by the time the raft entered the sinking location, surrounded by bobbling debris such as seat cushions, assorted clothes, a beverage cooler, and many other loose items.

Choppy waves, obscure as obsidian glass, rocked and slapped his bobbing raft. The pontoons filled with pressurized air were the only thing protecting him from sinking as well. Surrounded by water, childhood memories returned unbidden: he’d fallen off a tube float into a river current that dragged him down, choking on water even as his father rescued him. He hated the water ever since.

Again and again, he did whatever Duchaine asked, but this was ridiculous. On board, his purpose had been to perform accounting for the ship’s purchase in Italy, upgrades in England, and ongoing operations and maintenance, traveling to Halifax. What was I thinking, coming out to sea?

The embrace of the ocean chilled him, and his clothes were saturated, so there was no chance of getting warm. Smothering darkness was all around; he couldn’t recognize details of the debris further than thirty feet away.

Matson said he’d send out a general SOS. Had he managed to complete that call? He sighed, almost sobbing with despair. So many lives lost. Scared witless, he was adrift in a foreboding, merciless sea.

Moonlight appeared. He saw no more shipwreck bubbles in the water. A graveyard of floating debris marked the location, already being dispersed by the relentless low rolling waves.  

And then he saw them.

Moonlight reflected off a set of eyes just below the surface. Many sets of eyes. They were spread out at varying distances, some as close as an arm’s reach from the raft’s edge. The eyes surrounded him.

The creatures! No no no no! But I rescued one of them. Would they take that into consideration?

Heads crested above the rippling waves. The creatures watched him with an eerie still silence, possibly over a hundred of them.

He heard a tiny moan, then realized the sound had come from his own lips. He tried to swallow but couldn’t. Sweat broke out, making the chills worse.

A dot of light appeared on the horizon, almost as far away as the stars above. Rescue ship? Too late. He squeezed his eyes shut, awaiting the inescapable attack.   

They were quiet, so quiet; he heard no approaching noise. Rapid heartbeats passed. Nothing.

Cracking an eye open, he saw that the creatures were gone. Except for one. One that had a discoloration on its forehead.

Smaller than most of the others, it nodded to him, then slipped beneath the waves.

He’d been spared.

He had observed the sea-creature in the spa and felt it had intelligence. Perhaps it was capable of empathy.

The light from the rescue ship on the horizon was closing in, but it seemed excruciatingly slow. It would be a long wait; plenty of time to think about what had happened and what he’d say about it. Maybe some things were best left unsaid.