Thursday, April 15, 2021

Leviathan by Owen Reilly

Leviathan (plural leviathans)
1. A vast sea monster of tremendous strength, described as the most powerful and
dangerous creature in the ocean.
2. Something large; behemoth.

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The sea is not a place for the foolhardy or the arrogant. The depths are filled with more than
water; the gloom of the deep is for the good of all. While the ocean has an abundance of
beauty and wonder, there is also a darkness and melancholy hidden within the waves and
currents. The creatures found in the water surpass mere sharks and whales, true leviathans
of the deep reign in the furthermost corners of Poseidon's kingdom. However, not all deities
remain in their slumber.

*

The obsidian waves parted before the ship’s hull. The glasslike sea slowly being carved by
the relentless wood. Froth splashed against the side of the stained oak, like a fervent painter
upon his canvas. The night sky was lightly clouded, hazy grey swirled over the inky heavens,
obscuring the moon but still allowing the sky to be visible. The constellations burned bright
above the ship, writing ancient stories in the heavens. Captain Elijah Ahlstrom sighed lowly,
a visible breath rising into the arctic night, as he gently steered the ship though the still
water, wary of ice in the darkened ocean. The sky above was reflected perfectly in the sea,
showing the clouds stirring softly in the nocturnal breeze. The twilight night held a hint of
serenity, calming the captain’s anxious mind though his fingers continued to beat a steady
rhythm into the wheel. The rest of the crew slept below, resting before their tasks in the
morning. Elijah shifted his weight slightly, his dark leather boots creaking in protest into the
night. The clouds were slowly drifting apart, allowing some of the light from the moon to
land upon the water. The water seemed to gather mist on the places where the lunar beams
struck. Elijah's eyes were drawn to the strange sight, held there by a strange desire.
The moonlight grew stronger as the clouds dissipated, allowing the entire rock to appear.
Elijah's eyes remained fixed on the moonlight on the sea, swaying lightly. The moonlight
never faltered on the onyx water, the white and black clashing in haunting beauty. The boat
seemed to drift faster toward the misty water, Elijah having let go of the wheel. An eerie
sound filled Elijah's ears and seemed to beckon him on, sealing his ship's fate as the sound
heralded him closer. A low keening wail sounded leagues below the surface, disturbing the
calm waters, and stirring something deep in the primal thoughts of the enraptured man. The
dull thrum emitting from the lunar rays, grew louder as the ship drew closer. Mist billowed
over the waves, seeking the hull with a faint desperation. Elijah began to breathe in time
with the soothing sound, exhaling with a wistful smile gracing his lips as he was tugged back
into more pleasant times.
The water swirled lightly as something stalked out of sight below the surface, the deep
current beat weakly against its powerful form. The being's scales bulged with every
movement as its muscles grew taught against the sea's desire. The serpentine form
stretched deep into the water as its head sought out the wooden vessel far above, the
crimson eyes drifting over the surface in search of its prey. Far above Elijah continued to
stare, the incandescent white danced with the ghosts of a past long gone within Elijah's grey
eyes. His mouth twitched lightly as though wishing he could address this perfect sight, yet
all words failed to encapsulate the feelings which stirred his soul. The sails twirled with the
twilight breeze, carefree in the eye of the storm which swirled around them. The silence of
the night lay heavily over the ship as though it was a shroud.
“Sir?”
The crisp night’s silence was shattered by an unsure voice, the first mate had appeared at
the stairway to the quarters. His eyebrows were furrowed together as he stared at the
unresponsive captain, whose eyes never wavered. The first mate’s worry kept his eyes away
from the hypnotic sight which lay some distance from the hull.
“Sir? Erm… some of the men are complaining about sounds below the ship. Have you seen
anything out of the ordinary?” The first mate's worry had leaked into his voice, as he
regarded the captain’s blank eyes. Sighing lightly, the man wandered to the side of the ship,
and peered over the side and gazed into the water. The man gazed deep into the abyss,
struggling through the pitch-black water. He had challenged the abyss, and it had its answer
waiting. A glint of red drew his attention, steadily growing larger; the scarlet orbs never
wavered from its target. The man struggled to form words as the beast began to take shape,
its massive body appearing behind its furious glowing eyes.
As the leviathan of the ocean bed broke the surface, ice cracking under its primordial
rage, it let out a grating screech piercing the calm night, wrenching Elijah from his celestial
prison. Water boiled into steam at the points closest to the monstrosity, as its fury and
bloodthirst manifested. The ancient horror slammed into the side of the vessel, causing the
wood to crack under its weight, and Elijah, along with his first mate, were thrown to the
floor. The colossal snake began to wind its frame around the ship slowly, water being
sprayed everywhere in its fury. Elijah strained to collect himself after the lunar
phenomenon, trying desperately to think. The scales of the beast shimmered against the
light like unholy diamonds. The first mate scrambled to his feet in an effort to round up the
crew, but the tail of the beast slammed into his chest sending him hurtling towards the mast
of the ship. The horrifying sound of splintering filled Elijah's head, yet the mast seemed to
be untouched. Elijah realised too late as scarlet began to pour from the dead man’s chest,
his shirt barely disguising a bloody ruin which was once a torso.
Elijah's mouth opened to roar for help as he knelt on the soaking wood. The moisture
soaked into the cloth, colouring the fabric almost black under the fading light. It was then
his dark grey eyes met the creatures crimson gaze, and the world seemed to stop. The wind
forgot to blow, the waves halted, and Elijah's breath refused to leave his lungs. The
behemoth’s head tilted slightly, jaws slowly drawing apart, as it stared at the proud captain.
Elijah could not draw his eyes away from the monstrosity. The deck was abruptly bathed in
moonlight once more, painting shadows alabaster in majesty. The glistening body of the
leviathan caught Elijah's attention, mist rising from its scales as the lunar beams hit the
water dripping from its coiled body. Moonlit water always was beautiful.


© Owen Reilly

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