Sacrificium de Quattuor

                                          A short story by LR Forgues                                                                                                            Started Aug 13, 2018

 

The beast watched from below.

The sunlight beamed down into the depths from the calm ocean surface… but didn’t reveal the monstrous shape poised in the shadows, it’s large pale eyes hungrily sweeping the view above. Thick muscle, stretched tight under the tough hide, twitched as a new sensation reached it where it hid among the clusters of flowing sea-grass; a sound, a vibration…then a shadow, cutting across the columns of diffused luminescence reaching down into the mysterious undersea world.

The yacht was enormous, even by yachting standards. It was a vessel of a size afforded only to the insanely rich, the stupidly rich; the type of rich that honestly don’t know their own net worth. Why should they? That’s what accountants are for. The boat was the Merrow II and true to its ancient Irish namesake, there was a beautifully airbrushed and needlessly voluptuous mermaid stretched along the hull, pointing triumphantly toward the horizon. Standing on the outer deck was a young woman. By all counts, she was beautiful. Sexy. Untouchable. She looked every bit the modern-day movie starlet that she was; a daughter of old-school ‘Hollywood’ royalty. Her long, blonde hair, held back by a red bandana, fluttered lightly in the crisp headwind while her icy green eyes scanned the ocean surface from behind Louis Vuitton shades. She raised the smoldering joint between two manicured fingers to her pert, bow-shaped lips, drawing in a strong toke of Panama Red before flicking the roach into the shimmering waves; the pungent cloud billowing over her shoulder. The martini in her other hand washed the piney taste from her mouth and she turned, waving up to the spacious crew cabin. The captain, lazily poised at his station, caught the movement and curtly waved back, his salute morphing into a mocking middle finger as the girl turned away. The omnipresent rumble and splash of the large twin engines faded quickly as he eased off the throttle, bringing the large boat to a crawl; small waves lapping at the expansive white and blue hull. With a knee-weakening grin of perfectly white teeth, she spun with an excited squeal, quickly sashaying down the deck, the passage of her thong’d, centerfold-ready ass attracting the attention of the two young Mexican deck-hands nearby, who snickered knowingly to themselves.

The pale eyes in the watery gloom stared, intently focused on the dark shape moving by. Without adjusting it’s monstrous ridged skull, it pushed along the bottom on a huge pair of clawed, webbed hands; the 3 long fingers of each pushing through the sand and seaweed. The long, eel-like tail slithered behind, scattering small schools of colorful fish as it slipped past, keeping pace with the slowing yacht. The boat drifted to a stop, as did the beast, hunkering it’s massive shape down among an odd scatter of coral-encrusted boulders on the underwater plain, again hidden.

She heard the snorting before she came around the wood-paneled corner of the expansive leisure space on the lower deck, at the stern. Absently noting the bass bump of some anonymous techno track on the impressively decadent sound system, she saw a rail of expensive cocaine vanish into the nostril of her latest fuck-toy, Stavros; the shirtless muscle-bound and garishly tattoo’d son of a Greek shipping tycoon. He lurched back, forcing the bitter cool of the powder deep into the delicate nasal tissues for more brisk effect. With the drip already thickly oozing down the back of his throat, he rocked forward, seeing international film star Collette Merryweather strutting toward him, his blood-shot eyes widening, scanning her form hungrily. The barely-there, pink string bikini arrested his gaze, wonderfully accentuating her tanned lines and curves. Slapping his bare knee, he gestured her over. She complied, grinding her world-famous booty against his Gap cargo shorts, a moment longer than necessary, as she eased down. Stavros grinned his toothy grin, running a hand beneath her, his middle finger travelling through the taut valley of her world-famous ass-crack, stopping to gently press inward, only the narrow cotton of her thong preventing entry. Collette squirmed excitedly as he murmured…

                                               “Just remember, baby…how Greek I really am.”

…pushing in again, relishing her warmth beneath the fabric. She playfully slapped at his large shoulder and felt herself flush warmly a little…get wet a little. She knew exactly what he meant, since they’d done it two days ago in the posh bathroom of her father’s penthouse suite back on the island, after 3 bottles of red wine and a gram of high-end cola. They’d used hand moisturizer to grease the way, and it had worked well enough…but anticipating this, she’d added a tiny bottle of trendy lubricant to her red ostrich-leather purse down in the stateroom. As she briefly pondered what it might do to the silk sheets, a voice popped in from across the room…

                                                                   “Yo, bitches…we there yet?”

Collette looked over at the diminutive speaker; her best friend and personal assistant, Chloe, just as Stavros pulled her thong aside, probing with a coke-dusted finger. With a giggle, Collette leaped up from his lap, carefully swiping at the powder crumbs on the small mirror nearby with a finger, pulling her bikini bottom back into place as she moved. Striding toward the dark-haired pixie reclining on the red leather couch, her producer father’s studio logo emblazoned proudly in gold, Collette rubbed the residue on her gums, nodding excitedly as they went numb…

                                   “This is the place! You are going…to…LOOOVE…it!”

Chloe looked unconvinced as her dark eyes glared from behind her horn-rimmed hipster glasses…

“’C’…you know I fucking hate the water. Really, I do…so THIS shit better be worth it.”

Collette rolled her eyes, mimicking a blabbing mouth with her fingers, pushing her shades up onto her forehead and sinking into the plush leather beside the petite Asian goth-girl who, as usual, was clutching her two iPhones like her life depended on it…

“Chill out, girlfriend…it’s going to be great. You’re a nerd, you like science, Shark Week and all that shit. Wait till you see what I have to show you!”

There was barely a trace of Collette’s British accent in her speech any more, but it was still there, hanging around the edges.

The polished wooden door leading down into the plush bowels of the yacht banged open, admitting a sun-bleached, long-haired surfer bro in jean shorts and a classic Van Halen tank top, brandishing a large, intricate glass bong in one hand as he pushed his oddly-quaint wire-rimmed glasses back up his nose with the other…

                                                               “Behold, Ladies…

Rick, the Pro Surfer, gestured over at Stavros, a Bic lighter clenched in his hand…

                                                                  …and Germ.”

Stavros took a mock bow from where he was sitting, dive-bombing a fresh line of coke on the way down. Rick strode over to the girls, plunking down beside Chloe as though gravity had just won, careful not to spill the Evian water sloshing inside the blown glass. Collette gestured to the bong…

                  “Good…Ricky, smoke this little hag up and chill her funky ass out.”

Collette stood, looking down at Rick sprawled before her, lean and tanned, gesturing back to her assistant…

“And…when you find the time, could you please…PLEASE…get around to humping Chloe…”

Rick choked on the toke he was working on. Collette continued…

         “…she REALLY needs to get filled out, you know…like an application, like,               immediately.”

Chloe’s mouth dropped open in shock, as Rick grinned like the stoned idiot he was, sparking the lighter again, hovering the flame. His gaze wandered down from Collette to Chloe as he inhaled, the pipe excitedly bubbling away. Meeting his half-lidded gaze, the dark pixie threw a threatening finger up between them, a tangle of tattooed orchids spiraling up her arm…

“Don’t even think about it, Richard. Like hell you’re getting near my girl holes!”

Rick pulled away from the pipe, still grinning as he bowed in mock submission…

           “Whatever you say, my inked little Asian princess…whatever you say.”

…exhaling smoke. Giving the bowl a quick tap with a finger, he said…

                   “But…if you’re not going to let me explore your holiest of holies…”

He held the bong out, winking confidently behind his lenses…

                                “…then at least have a good suck off my glass cock.”

Chloe’s eyes narrowed suspiciously as she reached out, accidentally glancing down at Rick’s long torso, his prominent abs standing out proudly. Catching herself, she quickly looked away, as though intently investigating the half-scorched foliage in the bowl. But it was too late…he’d already noticed…and was already looking to the future. ‘Doggy Style’? Or maybe a lil old skool ‘Missionary’? He couldn’t decide which he’d go in for first…but he sure liked the idea.

The bubbling of the bong faded behind Collette as she gracefully made her way back out to the main deck and up the stained-wood stairwell to the bridge, sunlight glinting off the gold features. Captain Mendoza looked over as his boss’s daughter sauntered through the hatchway, once again marveling at what the combination of genetics and money had yielded in the approaching female form. Collette was exquisite, but any X-rated thoughts of the irritating starlet vanished as a burning particle from the black cheroot he was smoking entered his eye without an invitation. Wincing, he turned away, rubbing with a knuckle. Looking back, he was startled to see her already standing beside his cushioned captain’s seat, pert breasts tantalizingly close beneath the thin material of the bikini top. Forcing his eyes to meet hers, he asked…

                                                                   “Si, Senora?”

Collette was indifferent to the pervy glances of her father’s male employees. They all did it. Even the gay ones. The costume designers, Raymond and Maurice, may not want her impressively nubile body…but they sure loved her style! Any time she was feeling down, she would just flirt shamelessly with a doorman, a security guard, a chauffeur, just see how the peasants might react to her. Get them feeling special. Get them hopeful. Build their egos up… only to have her dismissively walk away, leaving them used and confused. She did it time and again. It was fun…a game. But right now, she wasn’t in the mood…especially for Mendoza. Looking at the swarthy ship captain, she asked…

                                                      “Is this it? Are we there?”

Mendoza stubbed out the small cigar, waving away the smoke and motioning to the nearby GPS monitor. Speaking in heavily-accented English…

“These are the same coordinates as last year, Senora Merryweather. This is the spot.”

The green dot representing Merrow II was parked on the small locked-in alpha-numeric marking their destination.

Collette pulled away, peering out the tall, tinted windows that dominated the spacious bridge…

                                                            “What side is Ernie’s house on again?”

Mendoza sighed under his breath, grudgingly resigned to his forced interactions with stupid rich people…that happen to pay him very well. Leaning forward, he flipped a switch…then another. The expensive sonar set, running along the keel, used for cheating at deep-sea trophy fishing, activated below the water line.

In the quiet depths, the beast startled; a ripple lancing through it’s spiny green body. The clawed hands pulled from the sand, the sinewy finger webs spread wide, rising to the grotesque skull…but not touching. To an observer, the dark creature was holding something that was no longer there; claws rising toward the dark shape bobbing up above. Another sub-sonic ping. The creature’s upraised appendages fluttered about frantically, forcing tiny cavitation bubbles toward the surface as it tried to quickly catch the invisible irritation that assailed it. From the shadows of the head, below the bulbous pale eyes, a distinct clicking. The teeth were chattering. It was agitated. Another ping. The area violently swirled away in a cloud of silt and shredded sea grass, the shadow of the monstrous tail snaking away into the murky darkness…

                                                                   “What the hell was that?!”

Collette spun around at Mendoza’s exclamation. He was staring intently at the Fish Finder’s screen, his questioning features bathed in the glow of the display. He sensed Collette beside him again, trying to also see; her toned stomach, small dolphin tattoo standing out, announcing itself in his peripherals…

                             “What is it, Captain? We are in the right spot, right? You said…”

He barely hid his exasperation as he glanced over again…

                                                     “Si Senora. This IS the place. Look.”

He pointed. The blue-tinged image showed the contours of the bottom, the gently rising and falling silt dunes, a plain of shadowy sea grass…and a collection of large, semi-circular boulders, showing below on the port side. Seeing the strangely symmetrical formation, Collette squealed with delight, the coke from earlier now showing itself in her reactions…

                                                               “Yay! That’s it!”

                                “But Senora…I think there was something there.”

Grinning again, Collette looked back at the captain.

                                                               “Was it Ernie?”

Mendoza shrugged…

                                                       “Don’t know…look for yourself.”

Tapping a small button on the Fish Finder, he cycled back to the last saved exposure from the previous ping. This image looked the same…except for the shape in the upper left corner. A fuzziness along the bottom, a murky serpentine shadow within. Squinting at it, Collette smirked…

“It IS Ernie! See?! You can see his tail right there! The boat probably spooked him as we pulled up…”

Glancing at the captain, she sarcastically sneered…

                                                                       “Way to go, asshat.”

Mendoza ignored the insult, gesturing again at the screen, concern in his voice…

    “But Miss Merryweather…are you sure that’s your fish? It looks…a little big.”

Collette shrugged, unconcerned.

“He probably had a fat winter, eating all the little fishies in sight. Ruining his figure like a fat bitch.”

Mendoza wasn’t sure. He continued to stare at the screen, frowning…

                                                                     “But, Senora…!”

Collette waved his next words aside with a flutter of her bejeweled fingers, determination flashing in her green eyes…

“‘But’ nothing, Captain. We came out here to see Ernie…so we are going in…to see Ernie. Drop the anchor.”

With that, she spun, striding back to the outer deck. Mendoza watched her go, no fantasies coming to mind this time. As the hatch clicked shut behind her, he turned back to the frozen sonar display, something cold forming in his stomach as he pondered the fuzzy shape. Without averting his gaze, he reached toward a panel of switches…

The anchor released, dropping from its housing beneath the bow to plunge heavily into the water; a small rainbow glittering in the mist left behind by the splash.
The chain gently clinked and clanked as the anchor dragged it hastily toward the bottom. In an explosion of silt, it impacted with a muted thud. This was heard out in the depths beyond the light…and something changed course.

Collette strode down to the open deck at the stern and spun, raising her golden-brown arms toward the warming sun above, yelling…

                                                      “Let’s do this, motherfuckers!!”

Chloe trotted out in a flattering black swimsuit, a menthol cigarette smouldering in one hand, an iPhone clenched in the other. Collette pointed accusingly, a mock scowl clouding her angelic features. Chloe just shrugged, taking a defiant drag as she scampered past, aiming for a nearby bench at the rail. Stavros and Rick stumbled out into the sunlight behind her, both rubbing their noses and sniffling between bouts of tipsy laughter. Something hilarious seemed to have happened. Stavros had one of the bottles of Don Julio from the bar clasped loosely in a large hand. They sidled up, Rick speaking first…

“So Miss Merryweather, our reigning Box Office queen…what exactly is the plan then?”

Collette clasped her hands together dramatically, sunlight glinting off several rings as she addressed her three companions…

“Well, my fine little friends, we have travelled waaaaay the fuck out into this ocean...”

Chloe smirked behind her, looking back at the faded mound on the horizon, the lush resort island they had come from…and would later be heading back to; a moment Chloe was eager to get on with. This open water shit? Not her thing. She was just glad she could make out the needle-sized tip of their ritzy hotel from here. Just barely…but still. She turned back to the movie star and her studs. Collette continued…

“…to visit my buddy Ernie! Now…for those who don’t know…Ernie is my moray eel and he lives here. I met him the first time I was out, with Daddy…and Mommy during one of her benders, about 4 years ago. I was snorkeling along, away from everyone, checking out these cool boulders, when I saw him. He was just a little guy, but there he was, slowly swimming up to me from the rocks…”

Stavros belched, Rick smirked, and Collette narrowed her eyes disapprovingly…and kept going…

“…he was SO pretty! With his little stripes. I freaked at first, but then he just poked my arm, no bite…just a wee little poke. Then he swam away, so I followed him. He has this tunnel that leads up to a hole in the top of one of the boulders I’m going to show you. Every time I’ve been back, I’ve gone down to meet Ernie…and he recognizes me every time!”

She shook her head in amazement, inwardly marveling at the ‘cool’ factor of having a pet moray eel. Then she remembered through the pleasant haze of weed and coke…

“And…we just saw him on the Fish Finder!! Mendoza got a ping pic of him and thinks he’s grown! I’m SO excited!”

She dreamily wonders aloud…

                               “I wonder how big he’s going to be this year…”

Stavros cut in, twisting the cap off the expensive tequila, bellowing…

                                         “And here’s to Ernie The Eel, mofos!”

…before slamming back a mouthful of booze. With his dark, shaggy head tilted back, gargling the liquor obscenely, he passed the bottle over to Rick, who tipped one back just as fast. Collette took it from him next, allowing a fragrant plug of the Don Julio to pass the gloss of her lips, grimacing a little as it went down. Expensive tequila was still tequila…there was no getting past that sad fact. Chloe looked up from her phone, lit cigarette dangling lazily from her pierced lip, as the slosh of the bottle being thrust at her grabbed her attention. She cocked her head in barely-concealed annoyance, glaring through the wisps of blue smoke rising before her almond-shaped eyes…

                                                                    “Puh-leeze…”

Collette shook the bottle at her again, a smirk pulling her Cover Girl smile out to play…

“C’mon, bitch…you have to. I’m pulling rank on this one. I’m ordering you, Sassy Soldier.”

Chloe couldn’t help but to grin in return as she fired off a sarcastic salute. Collette just pulled you in, as she had Chloe when they first met in the 8th Grade, eventually becoming so tight they were referred to as ‘CC’, like a single unit. Less imaginative people later thought they were dykes, which amused them enough to try having sex one night, out of sheer boredom and mild curiosity, fueled by a couple stolen bottles of sangria while they were both in Acting School. Even though they had figured out how to make each other climax, it wasn’t for them. They both agreed that Men was how they were programmed. Chloe definitely learned to hold her own, when it came to guys, despite her stand-offish demeanour, but Collette was The Master. Some of the stories Chloe heard, often from Collette herself, were enough to get her a lil ‘hot n bothered’, even long after their failed lesbian experiment. As Chloe tipped the bottle back, she watched Collette slide over to Stavros; one hand slipping down to firmly cup the bulge in his shorts. He yelped in surprise, then grinned like a dope as she squeezed. Rick leaned comically around the softcore embrace, catching Chloe’s eyes as she lowered the empty tequila bottle. He motioned to the pair beside him before gesturing down to his own unattended shorts, wriggling his blond eyebrows suggestively. An upraised middle finger was the answer he got from across the deck. He sighed in mock defeat and went to check out the stern. Collette, arms wrapped around the Greek’s thick neck, was slowly grinding her pelvis against the stiffness she could feel, teasingly pulling away, sucking on Stavros’ tongue when movement caught her lusty, half-lidded eye. Releasing, she looked over as the two deckhands, Stephano and Cristos, emerged into the sunlight, as a leftover string of her saliva vanished with Stavros’ tongue. In unison, both deck hands tipped their heads in her direction, Cristos, saying, with over-accentuated politeness…

                                                                  “Senora.”

With a glittering wave of dismissal, Collette pushed away from Stavros, leaving him standing at attention. Chloe, stubbing her smoke out, noted the sizable package from across the deck, muttering…

                                             “Wow…now THAT’s gonna hurt…”

…thinking of Collette and the sexual acrobatics she’ll no doubt get up to when they get back to the hotel.

Collette strutted over to the ornately-carved locker on the starboard side, drawing the wide double doors open dramatically. Sunlight fell across the various wet-suits, masks, snorkels and water toys neatly packed within. Mounted to one of the wooden doors was a rack hosting several spear-guns, power-heads, and sheathed dive knives. The other held several bright yellow 5 lb mini air-tanks for short, shallow pleasure dives; all fully charged. Stavros’ large shadow fell into place beside hers, reaching for one of the long spear-guns. They were quickly joined by Rick and Chloe, as Stephano and Cristos stood attentively nearby, ready to lend assistance if needed. The spoiled movie-star daughter of their boss, and her entourage of 3, prepped to hit the water.
Masks, snorkels, tanks and flippers ready, the 4 of them crowded in around Chloe on the deck as she raised her iPhone in its clear water-proof case, framing up a group selfie. They all launched into stupid faces and obscene hand gestures, and she took the picture, instantly pulling it in close to critique her own framing. Clapping excitedly, Collette spun around, grabbing Stravros’ free hand, leading him toward the port rail, and the metal ladder that led down into the water. As he leaned over to look, Stavros shrugged, tossing his pair of flippers aside, keeping the spear-gun, and the dive knife lashed to his forearm. Collette looked over and, after a moment of pondering, also tossed her own pair away…

                                               “Fuck it…don’t need em, right?”

Stavros grunted in agreement…and loudly slapped her pert backside, grinning his perverse grin. She yelped in surprise and dove, cued by the sharp sting to her bare ass-cheek, gracefully arcing over the poised ladder and hitting the ocean surface with a splash.

The cool water embraced her in a cloud of tickling bubbles and she comfortably rolled into a lazy somersault in the streams of sunlight, letting her own momentum carry her back to the surface; back into the ocean air through the thinning foam her dive left behind. Spitting out salty water, she yelled to the statuesque Greek poised at the top of the dangling ladder…

                                                      “Get in here, you big pussy!”

Stavros smirked…

                                                         “Pussy? Fuck that shit!”

…and cannon-balled off the side of the yacht, speargun clenched in his meaty fist. Collette quickly turned away, treading water as his 230 lb form hit close by, dousing her. Squinting against the sun, Collette looked back up to the rail, treading water and searching for Chloe and Rick…

                                              “Hey! Where the hell are you goofs?!”

Rick’s blond head popped up, a grin plastered…

                                                  “Chloe needs another smoke!”

Collette scoffed…

          “Oh, Jesus Christ! She’s pussing out!! Chloe, you silly bitch! Get in here!!”

Unseen, her assistant shouted back…

                    “…yeah, yeah! My god! I’ll be right there! Chill out, you cow!”

Turning her attention back to Rick, she pointed to where she thought Chloe was…then straight back at him…followed by her finger sliding in and out of a circle made by her opposite hand above the surface. Rick nodded knowingly, winking down at them…

                                “Go on…we’ll bop down in a minute or two.”

Collette gave a thumbs-up, answered by a quick pumping in the air of the spear-gun clenched in Rick’s hand, brandished with the aplomb of a conquering warrior. He turned, indistinctly addressing the unseen assistant as he sauntered off. Collette reached up, pulling her clear dive mask into place and fixing the rubber regulator between her teeth. Stavros mimicked her…and they dove.

The quiet stillness enveloped them as they swam into the deep blue, narrow trails of shimmering bubbles rising behind them. Through her mask, Collette peered ahead, trying to remember if it had ever been so dark before, so murky. Normally the sandy bottom was easily visible from the surface…but not this time. Stavros kicked along beside her, easily keeping pace. Nudging her arm, he pointed ahead questioningly. Following his gesture, she nodded, seeing the dark circle of rocky shapes steadily rising to meet them. Raising an open hand, Collette moved it back and forth in a quick slithering motion, before also pointing ahead, nodding. Ernie’s Home. Stavros nodded in return, increasing his pace. The large cylindrical boulders stood in defiance of the ocean’s forces, encrusted with coral, barnacles and swaying flags of seaweed. Spaces showed between the blocks of rock at the sea-bed and Collette comfortably led the way through, Stavros appreciating the sight of her thong’d ass twisting tantalizingly ahead in time with her practiced kicks.

The vivid impression of a foggy stone amphitheatre hit Stavros immediately as he emerged from between the boulders, and he scanned the shadowy surroundings, taking in the sight around them. Small, colorful fish darted along the sandy floor nearby, criss-crossing through the thin scattering of sea grass, dimly lit in the milky light from above. Collette, all flowing blonde hair and tanned curves, swam a quick orbit around him and he toyingly grabbed at her, quickly catching an ankle and pulling her to him. Flipping Collette over, he slid up between her spread legs, pressing against the tight fabric of her bikini bottoms. Even over the bubbles, he heard her moan a little; head tilting back, eyes closing. Dropping the spear-gun into the sand beside them, he went to yank her bottoms aside, while also pulling at his own shorts,…but was thwarted when she bucked off of him, abruptly distracted by…something, swimming quickly toward one of the towering boulders across the isolated patch of sand. Startled, Stavros grabbed the spear-gun, glaring around for the threat. Nothing showed itself in the blue murk or the deep shadow around them. Looking back to Collette, he saw her gesturing excitedly from where she was crouched at the sandy base of a wide boulder. Swimming over, spear-gun still ready, he settled beside her. Collette pointed into the shadows of a deep crack showing through the barnacles and seaweed. It took a moment for Stavros’ dark eyes to adjust to the gloom…and there he was. Ernie. The grey, speckled head of the moray eel peered between a pair of smooth rocks, it’s mouth opening and closing gently as it watched them. Collette made a cooing sound behind her regulator, spreading her arms welcomingly. Gesturing to the metre-long fish with her fingertips, she leaned in. Ernie pushed forward in response, hesitant. Pausing. Unsure. Collette smiled behind her mask, wondering where the fuck Chloe was, as her ever-present iPhone would be most welcome right now. Her social media platforms would blow up large from this awesomeness! It would definitely trend. Maybe even go viral. Ernie approached, his flat narrow tail swishing gently back and forth as he pushed out of his cozy sanctuary, coming to a floating stop before Collette, peering into her mask. As she met the fish’s comical gaze, she noted movement beside her; Stavros nervously raising the loaded spear-gun…in the eel’s direction. Without looking away, Collette reached back, her hand finding Stavros’, gently pushing down, disarming him. Their bubbles silently climbed up and away, as the moment hung in the water. Then…Ernie advanced, happily brushing his pointed head against Collette’s neck and cheek with a strangely tender familiarity. Stavros lowered the spear-gun, the razor sharp tip dropping into the sand, and he grinned in his mask, amused by the fish’s undeniable display of affection. Oddly, he felt himself getting hard…again. He was craving another bump, knowing that there was another gram of Peruvian Marching Powder waiting for him up on the yacht.

Rick watched as Chloe finally stubbed her cigarette out, rising from the bench seat where he’d parked himself after he’d watched the twin splashes of Collette and Stavros disappearing beneath the waves, spear-gun still clasped in his hand.

                                                                       “Ready?”

Chloe shot him a nervous look, quickly answering with a venomous…

                                                                                   “No!”

She softened when he awkwardly looked away…

                                                                   “But let’s go anyway.”

Looking back, Rick nodded, a smile emerging. Inwardly, Chloe shrugged. He WAS cute. Maybe…maybe she WOULD put him on the menu tonight. That’d shut Collette right up. Or maybe not. Something to ponder anyway. A playful smirk tugged at her lips. Rick reached down beside the bench, grabbing the bong, yellowish water sloshing inside…

                                                         “One last toke, m’lady?”

Chloe nodded…

                                                    “Sure…why the hell not?”

Examining the bowl, Rick decided it needed a reload and trotted into the leisure space, where his baggie of Lemon Haze waited for him.

Something was tugging at the back of Collette’s mind as the eel pressed and rubbed against her lovingly. Ernie HAD grown a few inches in length and girth since she’d seen him last summer…but something was nagging at her. The ping pic that Mendoza had shown her. The shape in the fuzzy blur. Had that really been Ernie, spooked by the arrival of the yacht? She wasn’t good with techno nerd gobbledegook like sonar and nautical shit like that, but the shape had SEEMED pretty damn big, if her estimate of scale was even remotely correct. The thought vanished as Ernie tickled her ample cleavage with his nose and she giggled behind an expelled cloud of bubbles, playfully batting the eel away.

Collette and Stavros heard it then; a far-off chattering in the distance, the murky water making it impossible to judge from where. Ernie lurched back suddenly, no longer friendly, hovering before them as they glanced at one another, amusement rapidly fading away. His mouth gaped and closed, gaped and closed, the illusion of hyperventilation. There it was again…that rapid clicking. Ernie lunged forward, streaking out of his hole, passing between them with a spastic push of his speckled tail. Startled, Collette reached for the fleeing eel, but missed, watching helplessly with wide eyes as his serpentine shape was swallowed by the murky shadows. Other fish streaked past, seemingly panicked, slipping quickly away and leaving the two humans crouched on the bottom…alone. Their bubbles were the only movement, placidly rising away. Stavros met Collette’s eyes and shrugged. She quickly scanned the area around them again. Nothing showed itself. They were alone inside this odd collection of boulders; patches of sea-grass punctuating the sand they knelt upon. With a finger, Collette lightly poked Stavros’ thick chest, motioning with a thumb over her shoulder. She spun, ducking through the space in the rocks behind them. Stavros followed.

They emerged into the gloom of the open water, sinking to the sand and pausing. Facing each other, Collette pointed up toward the boat, motioning for them to surface. As Stavros nodded in agreement, the chattering began again…definitely louder and clearer this time. Collette froze, finger still pointed skyward, eyes wide. Something was wrong. Stavros cocked his head, confused. Her petrified gaze was no longer fixed on him, but beyond. He turned.

The murky blue hid most of the creature… but not the eyes. Hanging in the water, locked on them, motionless, were two large pale orbs, back-dropped by the dim shape of a heavy misshapen skull. Below the eyes and almost out of sight, a wide collection of bristling, needle-like yellow teeth, the longest nearly a foot in length. As they stared in shock, the mouth smoothly split along the middle, revealing waiting darkness behind. Seconds later, the teeth chattered loudly, rapidly snapping up and down in a blur as it stared, small bubbles from the disturbance rising. From the shadows below, two webbed hands rose, spreading, sharp claws visible at the fingertips…then the creature came, silently snaking along the bottom like an upright cobra, revealing itself with outstretched arms like a spectre. Collette shrieked behind her regulator and ducked away in a burst of panicked bubbles, vanishing back into the rocky passageway, leaving Stavros facing the monstrous thing that pushed through the sea-grass at him on a long, muscular tail; a tail standing the height of a grown man. Stavros’ mind went blank and he pissed himself without realizing. The creature loomed, close enough to reveal the greens and browns of it’s hide. Snapping out of his awe, Stavros frantically raised the spear-gun, squeezing the plastic trigger. The sharp, steel rod shot away… hitting, passing half-way through the thick webbing of an oncoming hand before stopping, lodged tight in the beast’s coarse flesh. Onward it came, reaching. No time to reload, Stavros dropped the spear-gun and yanked his dive knife from it’s sheath, looking up just to realize it was too late. The towering creature accelerated with a flick of the tail and the dull, protruding end of the lodged spear slammed into Stavros’ face, bursting out the back of his head with a sickening crunch. As though struck by a city bus, his muscular body was propelled away in the nightmarish grip, the dive knife plunging blade first into the sandy bottom. The Greek struck the barnacle-encrusted side of the nearest boulder and the handsome head exploded on impact in a thick cloud of blood, dark hair and skull fragments, yogurt-like chunks of burst brain matter drifting down. The beast drew to a stop, staring down at the warm crimson spreading around it’s open claw; the corpse dangling in it’s grip, bare feet kicking and scraping against the rock it was pinned to. Drawing it up, the large pale eyes coldly inspected the damage. Stavros was unrecognizable, his face and skull reduced to a gory pulp; crushed by the punishing hit. The ruined body kicked again, the dying nerves misfiring. The beast lunged forward, smashing Stavros back into the rock, knocking the protruding spear loose as everything still holding together in the mashed skull burst free. The mini-tank strapped to the body ruptured, the aggressive *pop* of the explosion startling the creature. The cloud of bubbles shot toward the surface, carrying fleshy pieces with it.

Ready to hit the water, Rick was approaching the ladder, spear-gun in hand, when foam energetically burst to the surface nearby. The stoned surfer cocked his head, suddenly concerned and confused. That didn’t look right…

                                                                   “What the fuck…?!”

Chloe, iPhone in hand, trotted up…

                                                            “What? What happened?!”

Rick pointed to where the bubbles had surfaced, the disturbance marked by a widening circle of white froth. Chloe activated the phone’s camera, zooming in on the spot.

From where she crouched trembling among the rocks, frightened tears behind her mask, Collette heard two solid thuds, followed by the hollow *bang* of the oxygen tank exploding. Seeing no sign of Stavros, she watched the bubbles roll up from behind one of the boulders. All she could think was ‘Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!’ A shadow fell over the area and Collette shrank away, pushing herself back into a narrow crevasse, ignoring the sharp pricks of pain from the barnacles pressing into her flesh. The huge eel-like body swam down, dragging the headless corpse of Stavros with it; a cloudy trail of red marking it’s passage through the water. Even through her terror, Collette estimated the beast’s length at roughly 25 – 30 feet long, with an armour-ridged head large enough to swallow one of the yacht’s outboard engines. And it had arms. WHY DID IT HAVE ARMS?! It was nothing she’d ever seen before…and it terrified her. Frozen in place, she could only watch as the thick serpentine shape drifted down, settling heavily on the bottom across from her inside the rock formation, raising silt. The jaws chattered again, the sound piercing Collette’s already fracturing mind. Pulling Stavro’s body up like a rag doll, the pale eyes scanned up and down. Pondering. Studying. Gripping with both hands, it calmly yanked. The arm tore free with ease, but the leg held on by a ragged mess of torn red meat, splintered white bone and straining pink gristle. A quick twist and that limb came loose too. The mutilated body, held before the beast that had killed it, was enveloped in a dark haze; pieces of flayed meat fluttering to the sand below. Collette fought to look away, but couldn’t. As though entranced, she watched from behind her mask, revulsion surging as the towering monster laid the separate pieces of Stavros onto the sandy sea-bed, gently arranging the parts in an undecipherable pattern, pausing only to break the severed leg at the knee, folding 90 degrees the wrong way before adding it to the gruesome design it was crafting. Then it looked up. It saw her through the brownish murk that hung between them, the pale eyes, large and bulbous, with no hint of mercy or reason, stared at her nubile form pushed into the rocks. Even without pupils, Collette could feel it’s alien gaze as it coldly studied her. Long arms slowly rising, the thick tail twitched excitedly. New fear chilled her flesh and Collette looked around desperately searching for an exit, an escape. But the beast didn’t approach. Didn’t lunge. Didn’t attack. Instead, the large head, spiny gills rising and falling below it, turned toward the surface. Something had caught it’s attention.

                                                              “‘C”! Stavros!! Hey! HEY!!”

Cristos and Stephano ran up as Chloe, her voice approaching a hysterical shriek, yelled over the rail at the sparkling ocean surface, iPhone held out before her, recording everything, cuz…you never know. Rick quickly filled them in as Chloe yelled again…

“You guys! Are you ok?! GET UP HERE! This trip is no longer fucking funny or fun…YOU ASSHOLES!!”

Without looking back, the creature began to ascend, smoothly and calmly following it’s own fixed gaze toward the small voices above.

Rick made a decision…

                                                  “Fuck this…I’m going in!”

Chloe swung around, phone held firmly before her, unconsciously noting how the sun was perfectly key lighting Rick’s sun-blond hair as she effortlessly composed the shot. Framed on screen, spear-gun in hand and dive mask in place, Rick marched to the ladder, mini-tank bouncing at his side. Stepping off, he dropped into the water.

Plunging through the storm of bubbles, Rick screamed into his regulator as a large pair of webbed claws, able to grip a man’s chest, rose up at him; a mad bristle of fearsome yellow teeth beneath bulging white eyes, pushing up through the water, the brightening light of the surface exposing the bristling nightmare of the beast’s physicality. Seeing the jaws chatter excitedly, Rick lashed out with a bubbling yell, striking the clawed hand solidly with the upright spear-gun. With a loud *thud*, it fired.

Chloe was leaning over the rail, filming Rick’s descent. The spear shot up through her lower jaw, knocking her back as though punched. With a wet *crack*, the length of steel punched through in a messy pink spray, vanishing skyward; an ugly spurting hole left behind. The iPhone flipped out of her hand, splashing into the water and sinking below the waves, still recording. The two deck-hands jerked back as the diminutive assistant stumbled, gaping uncontrollably, blood drooling from her mouth and nose, a dark rivulet streaming down from the exit wound in her hair. She froze, standing rigidly, eyes fluttering as she bled, seeing nothing. Stephano stepped forward, hand outstretched to steady her, but he was too late. The punctured, leaking brain shut Chloe’s left side down first as she died, and that knee collapsed, pitching her forward. She tumbled bodily over the edge, plunging into the teeming water below.

The useless spear-gun was knocked from Rick’s grip as the claws snatched at him, sinking quickly out of sight. As he twisted away, he was grabbed and violently shoved backward through the water.

Summoned by Cristos, Captain Mendoza had just run up when the impact came, a heavy thump below the water line. Gripped in his hand was the Browning Hi-Power 9mm that was kept in the safe, cocked and ready. As he leaned cautiously over the rail, nickel-plated handgun before him, he saw Chloe’s body sink away, a slick of blood marking the spot. Nearby, something was stirring the water up.

Rick was dazed from the impact. He felt broken ribs…and tasted blood. The beast hovered in the shadow of the yacht, holding him pinned to the underside in it’s unrelenting grip. There was movement nearby. Through the pain, Rick saw Chloe’s limp body gently drifting down, loosely spread-eagle as tendrils of blood from her pierced skull marked her graceful passage, the black strings of her bikini flitting gently to and fro in the water. The beast’s head pivoted, fixing it’s pale gaze on the dead girl nearby. Holding Rick in place, it reached out, pulling the body into it’s grasp. Rick could feel his clenched teeth piercing the tough rubber of the regulator and he gaped for breath, noting frantically that some of his bubbles were coming up red. Chloe’s trendy blue-streaked bob drifted in the water as the beast pulled her to it, the pale orbs peering. The teeth chattered. Rick, nearing unconsciousness, felt a distant pang of horror as the creature opened it’s fearsome mouth, biting down like a bear-trap and ripping at the flesh and bone in short frenzied bites. Rick heard the rotten-fruit crunch of Chloe’s head bursting between the teeth, a cloud of pale pieces spurting out. Another savage bite, and a chunk of spine was wrenched free, the tatters of a lung fluttering through the shredded wounds.

Rick struck weakly at the clawed hand that held him locked in place, his knuckles bloodied on the hard skin. Gripping the remains of the assistant’s mutilated corpse, the head and shoulders gruesomely missing, the creature turned back, fixing it’s sightless gaze on him once again, tendrils of blood leaking out between the teeth where a piece of scalp was caught. Rick moaned in anguish, dread filling every fibre of his being. He wasn’t scared long. The monster abruptly shoved forward again, Rick grasped in its powerful claw. He died instantly when he hit the boat, his lean torso mangled and smashed in an instant, blood jetting from every natural hole…and some new ones.

The three Mexicans on the deck, desperately trying to get a grip on the situation, stumbled as another impact, far stronger this time, hit below, violently shifting the boat. Mendoza recovered first, and dashed to the ladder, pistol held in a death grip. Leaning over the edge, he opened fire, shooting at random around the bloody foam that spread along the hull.

Rick’s head lolled as the beast pulled him out of the pink haze spreading beneath the yacht. Holding both bodies before it, it chattered excitedly, hanging motionless in the water. *pop*. A string of bubbles streaked past. *pop*. Another, close by. The pale eyes turned toward the surface.

Mendoza saw it. The 9mm locked open on an empty magazine, the echo of the last shot crackling off over the water…and he saw it. The huge shape hung below, hidden from the sun by the yacht’s large shadow and distorted by the waves. But the eyes…! He saw the white orbs staring up at him, the two bodies clutched below, blood bubbling to the surface. The empty pistol, useless even had there been more ammunition, hit the deck heavily as Mendoza’s fingers lost grip; shock taking over.

Two minutes left. Looking away from the mini-tank’s pressure gauge, Collette knew she had to move. Time was up. She had to make a break for it or she was going to drown. As she glanced around, there was movement above. A commotion. The thud of an impact. A series of small, far-off pops. Then silence again. Emerging from the shadow of the yacht, the beast descended, gracefully swishing it’s long tail back and forth. The serpent-like shape grew in her vision as it approached. Then she saw the crushed and cleaved bodies of her friends in it’s grasp, fresh tears stinging her eyes…

Ohmygod!Ohmygod!Ohmygod!

The scatter of sea-grass inside the ring of boulders swayed in the wake of the heavy body’s return. Rick and Chloe thumped into the silt, limbs swaying lifelessly. The creature went to work on Chloe first, coldly pulling at the legs; the cracks and rips of bone and flesh reaching Collette in her hiding spot. The broken remains of the assistant were placed beside the pieces of Stavros, building upon the strange design it had started. Bristling teeth chattering, it reached over, pulling Rick to it, twisting and tearing with purpose. Collette, feeling her air supply fading, then lightly pushed among the sharp rocks and swathes of sea-weed, praying it wouldn’t see her in the shadows as it pulled the surfer apart. Ducking into a space between two of the boulders, Collette shoved herself forward, frantically imagining a sudden alien grip around her kicking feet as she slipped through the narrow passage between the boulders, whimpering in her throat. The pale eyes watched her go, unmoving.

Stephano saw her first, pointing excitedly into the water. Mendoza squinted. There! Movement. A flash of pink bikini. The golden brown of tanned skin. Kicking and reaching up to them from the gloom. Mendoza cupped his hands to his mouth, shouting…

                                           “Swim, Miss Merryweather! SWIM!”

His next words hitched in his throat as he watched the inevitable; a cold ball forming in his guts as a dim shape grew beneath the frantic form of the ascending movie star.
The ladder was so close. It was right there, just beyond her reaching fingers. She could see the shimmering brown faces of the boat crew yelling down to her from above, drowned out by the thunderous pulse in her ears. Almost…there. A relieved grin pulled at her lips. The water pressure then shifted around her, pulling gently at her kicking feet. She looked down in time to see the wide, bristling jaws snap shut, slicing and crushing her at the knees with a loud crunch, the bulbous white eyes watching her. Numbing pain cut through and she screamed, bubbles spilling toward the surface. The sharp bristle of teeth chattered excitedly at the plaintive sound, ripping everything free in an explosion of red. Collette Merryweather ceased to be ‘Collette Merryweather’ in that moment as she was released from it’s bite; her severed legs left behind in the gnashing teeth. Mind blank and broken, she flailed, panicked instinct still pushing her toward the boat, ragged stumps bleeding into the water, masking the vast creature below as it chewed, rapidly grinding the girl’s legs into sliced pieces and swallowing. Light-headedness slammed into her, spinning her mind as stinging pain shot up her twitching thighs. Still she pushed toward the surface as she began choking on water, the waiting ladder seeming to mock her. She could still do it! The boat was right there! The gaping maw opened wide, enveloping the torn remains of her legs, biting down again. Collette’s mask was knocked aside from the impact and she began to drown as she was jerked down again and again through the blooming fog of blood, the jaws pulling and tearing, holding her clamped as it savagely ate it’s way up. Weakly pushing at the quivering teeth that held her, Collette’s awareness was failing, water filling her lungs as her blood spurted out into the cold darkness of the ocean. With a violent shake, Collette’s lower body was torn free. The beast quietly sank away, jaws snapping mechanically on the warm meat. Collette was dying, her ripped midsection trailing dark tangles of viscera as she drifted away from the boat, her long blonde hair slowly shimmering like silk in the wind; green eyes wide and fixed. As she loosely rolled in the current, arms hanging before her, she saw the beast rising up through her blood and pieces as her vision faded, the mouth hungrily yawning open again. Her last sensation was of being held in a vice-like grip as it continued to eat her, excitedly biting off pieces, greedily shoving her torso in with a claw. Her chest and shoulders were quickly clamped in the mess of teeth, pierced and shredded, twitching in death. Grasping the flowing blonde mane, the beast pulled, tearing the head free and releasing it to drift toward the bottom, hair swaying gently through the water as it sank. The sounds of chewing followed it down. The separated body part came to rest on the bottom, bobbing lifelessly. Reflected in the glassy eyes, the descending monster reached out, grabbing the swaying hair and lifting. With left-over tatters of pink flesh showing in the butcher knife-sized teeth, it leaned in, the pale eyes examining the angelic face of the killed girl; paused in death, pale and limp.

Sweeping around, it swam over the familiar rock formation, where the bodies of it’s first three victims still lay among the swaying sea-grass, arranged in a grotesque, interlocking design beyond human understanding. It slowed to a hover, the eyes blankly staring down at it’s hideous handiwork. There was a low creaking pulse from deep in it’s throat, building and rising, as it raised its clawed hand, the lolling body part hanging before it. The fingers sprang open and the head dropped away, spiraling down toward the gory mess of human body parts below. The pale eyes watched, emotionless. Collette joined Stavros, Chloe and Rick in their final resting place, coming to a stop face-up in the silt, in a space in the design left empty, framed by the other remains. A space for her. Tendrils of her hair swayed in the current, the half-lidded eyes already glazing over. Then…a deep rumble. From below. Far below. The large tail twitched and the beast chattered excitedly, the open clawed hands coming together before it, held as though in prayer…or deep contemplation. The pulsing creak in it’s throat increased in tempo…and volume.

The sand began to vibrate, shiny particles glittering in the dull light as they shook. The bodies shifted, dead limbs jarred loose, dancing in the silt. Collette’s movie poster face sank away, pulled quickly down into the sand; a spurt of blood escaping the limply open mouth as the ocean floor hungrily swallowed it, a growing black spot left in it’s place. Sand and sea-grass vanished, also pulled under by the widening void. The cluster of entangled body parts disappeared next. The circle of darkness grew, expanding beneath the hovering terror, the bass rumble rising. The black expanse threatened the surrounding ring of rock, closer…closer…and halting, held at bay by the inner walls of the prehistoric formation; a majestic, forgotten artifact from a time beyond our own. Streams of sand and silt, mud and sea-weed, flowed along the ocean bottom like tentacles, pouring steadily over the lip, disappearing from sight. Water was being drawn down in huge volumes, the force pulling at the beast as it hung motionless in the water. The pale eyes tilted to the surface, webbed claws outstretched in the columns of light. With a last, sinister clatter of it’s teeth, the creature let go, it’s grotesque alien form pulled into the void by ancient cosmic forces, stretching vertically to it’s full monstrous length before the blackness swallowed it. The wide pale eyes still watched as it flashed away in a blur, vanishing. The rumble beneath the sea-bed cut off in a sudden flash of electric blue light. The portal collapsed; a booming explosion of sand and shredded foliage billowing, instantly blanking out the towering boulders that contained the macabre event. When the maelstrom cleared, there was no trace. No beast. No void. No bodies. Only a disturbed floor of settling sand carpeting the inner courtyard of the rock formation.

On the deck of the Merrow II, the shocked crew spun, grabbing for a purchase as the low vibration below the hull climaxed in a muffled detonation. Off the port side, a wide ring of turbulence punched the surface, bursting in a spray of white foam, buffeting the yacht and sending it rocking. There was a loud *bang* in the air, the pressure snapping painfully. The sea-lather spread quickly, vanishing, the gleam of the bright sun glittering it away as it dissipated across the low waves. All fell still again, only the tinny squawk of the emergency radio frequency drifting down from the bridge…and the low whistle of the crisp ocean breeze. With wide haunted eyes, the 3 members of the yacht’s crew stared into space, unable to meet each other’s looks, unwilling to see their own terror reflected back in the face of the man opposite. Mendoza moved first, hurriedly making his way to the bridge.

The anchor rose from the sand, chain clanking gently on the way up as the twin outboards roared to life, a storm of foam and bubbles eclipsing the chrome propellers as the yacht arced around, the large shadow tracing over the underwater dunes as the engines rose in pitch. The wake spread across the surface in a ‘V’ as the boat sped away, the shimmer of distorted sunlight reflecting off the bottom as the drone faded into the distance, racing back at high speed to the posh resort island on the horizon…

The streams of light filtered down on the scattered patches of swaying sea-grass, the formation of boulders standing still and defiant in the clearing tropical waters, the eerie murk of earlier swallowed by the pull of the alien portal.

The Sacrificium de Quattuor was complete. The Dark Sentinal was gone, having slipped through the rift it had summoned, to return to it’s own nightmare realm deep in the briny waters beneath the surface of an icy world far beyond our own. It wouldn’t been seen on Earth again for another 360 moons and when it was, it wouldn’t be alone when it returned…when it watched… and when it stalked.

Life returned, first in the form of a spotted ray flitting along the bottom, then a trio of yellow fish zipping through the fronds of sea-grass. The shadow of a small reef shark passed overhead while crabs emerged from shadowy recesses to resume hunting. A short distance from the ancient formation of rocks, an iPhone lay in the silt, pressed up against a jutting piece of sharp coral, the upright screen glowing as the camera recorded an extreme close-up of the bottom. The eel’s mouth gaped silently as it cautiously approached, attracted by the shining light. Ernie hovered over the device, staring with wide eyes before lifting the phone in his mouth, his small sharp teeth digging into the water-proof plastic. Prize claimed, he slipped quickly away, light from the screen playing over the sand as he swam. Reaching the nearest rock, the eel twisted into a crack in the craggy surface. As the narrow speckled tail slipped into the darkness, the light from the phone faded away, disappearing…like it, and it’s former owner, had never existed.

                                                                    THE END

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