Man Adrift: A Short Story

Man Adrift: A Short Story

Even warm memories couldn't rid him of the chill seeping into his core.


His eyes opened to the forbidding gray of an overcast sky, the burn of salt and dehydration on his lips. Gentle winds caressed his matted hair. As he began to come to, he realized he was adrift on open waters, rough-hewn wood pressed against his back. He did not know who he was or how he had gotten there.

Heaving himself onto his side, he realized he was in some makeshift boat. There was a small cloth bag in the corner with a waterskin inside it. He reached for it hastily, before remembering that this was likely his only source of drinking water. Hesitantly, he took two sips and replaced it.

Other memories began to return, too. Light laughter under sparkling chandeliers, the tinkling of wine glasses and china plates. The churning in his stomach as the ship rocked on rough waves. The feeling of Emily's skin under his hands as she fell into him, unsteady on her stilettoes. "I must not have gotten my sea legs yet." She had grinned up at him, eyes alight with mischief.

The warmth of the memories slightly alleviated the chill he was beginning to feel. His coat had been thoroughly soaked and offered little comfort. Without any instruments, he had no means of telling where he was. Not that a compass or sextant would have done him much good. He had been a banker, not a sailor. Another gust of wind came, its cold fingers reaching through to his bones.

Another remembrance assailed him, then. A bitter wind, carrying smoke and screams as passengers scrambled for the lifeboats. Emily, her hair whipped into a loose frenzy as she was bundled away with a few of the others. His own cold hand, clenched around a drawstring bag as he was lowered into the swirling black void of the sea.

The chill that rocked him now had nothing to do with the winds. There had been five people to a boat. Where had all the others gone?

A particularly fierce wave set his boat rocking, and he grabbed the sides for support. His flailing foot struck a single oar. He scrabbled for it, atrophied muscles aching. A slight throbbing began to make itself known, a persistent rhythm pounding against the inside of his skull.

He could hardly see through the thick sheets of rain that came hurtling down. The oilskin could only hold out for so long, and he had cast it off to begin bailing water from his boat. But he could swear that the shadowy mass had not been there before.

Something bumped against the underside of his boat and he let out a croak, too parched to scream. Something beat wetly against the hull. Again it struck, this time harder. Whether he was feeling nauseous from fear or seasickness he did not know.

The horror that had settled like a dark cloud over his mind escalated into a full-on panic when a pair of tentacles flopped over the edge, their pustulant flesh covered in wickedly curved black barbs that left pale gashes on the sides of the boat. Another two came over the other side, effectively securing the wooden vessel in place.

If he had been rational, he would have no doubt realized that his pitiful oar stood little chance against some horrific monstrosity whose limbs were longer than his entire boat. As it was, the terror had overtaken all capacity for rational thought and he lashed out, striking the tentacles with wet, leathery slaps. The tentacles seemed to recoil for a moment, one of them slipping below the dark waters again. With renewed adrenaline coursing through his veins, he began beating back the other with vigor.

His frenzied exertions were halted when six more barbed limbs came shooting out of the water and snatched away the oar. In a matter of seconds, all that remained of his one weapon was a handful of splinters adrift on the open sea.

His eyes were wet, salt crystals lashed on his face. There was no hope, no way out. He opened his arms and succumbed to the dark void opening over his head. There was a flash of lightning, and then the waters were still.

Nothing remained but a few broken planks, adrift on open and unforgiving seas.

Popular Right Now

Top 9 Places to Get Tattooed in Western Washington

Places in Western Washington that'll leave you with the best ink.

So, you've finally decided to get tattooed! Great! The hardest part about getting a tattoo is actually committing, to getting the tattoo. Now that you've made the leap, and decided to permanently decorate your body with art, here are the top 9 shops in Washington, the west side of the mountains.

9. Action Tattoo

Action Tattoo in Auburn is absolutely excellent at realism. Head over to Auburn for a beautiful black and grey.

8. Artful Dodger

Located on Capital Hill in Seattle, this tattoo shop also moonlights as a comic book shop. Every year, they set up shop at Emerald City Comic Con and tattoo nerdy flash. They have a ton of artists-and are constantly bringing in guest artists. Check them out!

7. Old Gold Tattoo

Up in Bellingham, Old Gold Tattoo rocks the American Traditional game. For those of you who firmly believe that bold will hold, Old Gold is the place for you. Take a drive up to the edge of America, and get a traditional tattoo that'll make your average sailor jealous.

6. Two Birds Tattoo

These ladies are a jack-of-all-trades type shop, and yes, just the ladies. That's right, Two Birds Tattoo in Seattle is a woman-run tattoo shop. Every single tattooer is a woman, and in a field that is pretty-male oriented, that's pretty rad.

5. Damask Tattoo

Another woman-run tattoo shop in Seattle, Damask is breaking barriers by consistently putting out amazing work. Known for it's comfortable environment and chill tattooers, Damask is definitely a place to check out.

4. Cicada Tattoo

Another shop hailing from Seattle, Cicada has artists with a diverse portfolio. These artists can whip out anything from realism, to traditional.

3. Linda's Body Piercing & Tattoo

Ariel Fender, the artist at Linda's, is an expert in watercolor and cover-ups. With the popularity of watercolor on the rise, Ariel's work has shined.

2. Emerald City Tattoo & Supply

An older shop, most of these tattooers have been tattooing for longer than anyone else in Seattle. Their friendly environment, and great tattoos, makes clients feel right at home.

1. Sunken Ship

Up in Everett, this sea themed tattoo shop busts out amazing tattoos. This tattooed lady sees this shop as one of the best in Washington. Mostly American traditional, but plenty of new school and realism tucked in as well.

As they always say, do your research before getting tattooed, and find the tattoo artist you think can give you a masterpiece.

Cover Image Credit: Youtube

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Poetry On Odyssey: Spring

Living in hopes of tomorrow.


Bold enough to to rise from the ground. An
extra hour here and there to soak up the sun's
rays beyond the clouds.

Living in hopes of tomorrow. Unsure of the
course of today, but beliefs that the course of
things will change for the better along the way.

Opportunities on the rise.
Somedays, sometimes.

Sprouting beyond the ground. Reaching beyond
the skies. Must remember that windows of
chance are unforeseen, but not unattainable.

Overcoming the unknown is a fear to be true.
Like the tears I fear to cry over future
unfortunate news.

Moments are here. In time, til then and now. I'd
like to believe that things will be better another
season, another year, another time from now.

Related Content

Facebook Comments