Between the Creature and the Hull

Pencil drawing of a sailboat
Eduardo Suré; Catboat, 2018; Graphite

Water and sky were the only things Samuel saw as he sat at the stern of his best friend Benjamin’s 22 foot catboat. He was disappointed that the color of the sky beginning at the horizon was light blue and then darkened as he looked upward. He had always hoped there would be a day when the entire sky would be the same blue color. Of course, no such day would ever be. There were no clouds and the sun was where he could not see it, so he felt pulled into the sky’s enormity. Nearly feeling sublime, he pulled himself out of it by looking back down at the water surrounding them. He felt its strength as waves lifted the four thousand pound sailboat and dropped it over and over again.

“Shouldn’t we begin heading back?” Samuel shouted into the ocean.

“What?” Benjamin was occupied tightening the sail sheet to stop it from luffing. He was not satisfied with the results, so he steered the sailboat away from the wind. Samuel felt him bear off, so he thought his friend had heard his suggestion. However, Benjamin did not intend to begin to return to port until much later.

“So when are you going to relax, man?” Samuel shouted.

“Well, we’ve gone as far as we can on this tack and I was about to turn the boat through the wind; but I can lower the sails and let you sit on my lap while I stroke your hair for a few minutes if that’s what you want.”

“Why am I even friends with you?”

“Because I have a cool car, and a boat, and my parents are never home,” Benjamin shouted back as he alternated between looking at the sail and telltales.

“That’s right! I’m a mooch!”

“Well, stay alert, Mooch: the boom is going to go across the boat in a minute.”

Suddenly, the boat struck something in the water. Benjamin fell forward and his head struck the top beam of the cabin. He lost consciousness.

“Oh, crap! Ben! Ben! Are you OK?” Samuel moved quickly to where Benjamin had fallen. “Ben? Ben?” he pleaded as he shook him. Benjamin did not wake, so he adjusted Benjamin’s body so he was on his back.

The bow of the sailboat did not go through the wind quickly enough, so the boat came to a complete stop. Samuel attributed the stop to whatever they had struck, so he made his way toward the bow. Before he reached it, he saw a huge blob attached to the hull. It looked disgusting to him. It was the size of a refrigerator, amorphous, and beige and pink colored. Its texture appeared wet and slimy. Removing the creature from the hull felt more urgent than waking Benjamin.

Samuel retrieved a pole he had seen on the sailboat. He returned to the bow and stood over the hull where the creature was attached. Then, he lowered an end of the pole to it. The creature felt fleshy, but firm. He tried to gently push it off. It did not budge. He thought he might be able to force the pole between the creature and the hull to pry it off. He tried several spots, but gentle and firm force did not work. So, he tried with all of his strength to stab the pole in between the creature and the hull. The creature reacted to being struck by releasing a foul odor like rotten eggs, but much stronger. Samuel stumbled backward when it hit his nose.

“What is that horrible smell?” Benjamin yelled from the deck. He was awake.

“Ben! You really freaked me out!”

“Why is the boat in irons?” he asked as he felt around his head with his hands.

“What?”

“Why aren’t we moving?” Benjamin stood up.

“We hit this thing that’s attached to the hull,” Samuel said as he pointed to the creature. Standing at the stern, Benjamin looked over the starboard side and saw it on the hull.

“Gross! It looks like a giant intestine turned inside out and tied in a knot!”

Benjamin dashed into the cabin and then walked out with a hatchet. He scurried to the bow. Then; he leaned over the side, swung the hatchet in a plane parallel to the hull, and struck the creature. It released a smell more horrible than the first. Benjamin and Samuel both fell back when it hit their noses.

“It smells like the body odor of an extremely sick person!” Samuel exclaimed.

“Yeah, if you place your nose between infected fat folds!” Benjamin added.

“Look! It’s crawling into the boat!” Samuel shouted. The creature moved like an amoeba. It was using its blobby feet to climb into the boat. It appeared to be making its way to Samuel and Benjamin.

“I think it wants to eat us!” Benjamin shouted.

“Hit it again!” Samuel said.

“You hit it!” Benjamin handed the hatchet to Samuel.

“Does it have a head?” Samuel asked as he adjusted the hatchet in his fist.

“How should I know?” Benjamin replied. Samuel approached the creature cautiously and hacked at the front end of it with the hatchet. Each strike released a horrible stench. “Stop it! It smells like the armpits of a corpse! I’m going to throw up!” His eyes watered as he gagged.

“I feel like I’m getting sick,” Samuel said. “We can’t kill it. Look at the size of that thing! It’s going to absorb us or digest us if we don’t do something.”

“I have an idea,” Benjamin said as he rushed back to the cabin. He emerged with a liquor bottle.

“Nothing is so bad, a drink won’t make it worse,” Samuel said.

“Shut up,” Benjamin smirked as he tossed a lighter to Samuel. “I’m going to pour this all over the thing and then you’re going to light it up.”

“We’re going to burn down your dad’s boat,” Samuel said.

“No, we won’t. This is going to work.”

“I’m going to go put on a life vest,” Samuel said.

“Sam, let’s hurry up and do this before that thing eats one of us,” Benjamin looked for confirmation in Samuel’s face. “Ready?” Samuel nodded. Benjamin poured liquor over the creature. It released a horrible stench, but Benjamin held his breath and, through watery eyes, kept pouring until the bottle was empty. Benjamin stepped back and away from the creature.

Then, Samuel ran his thumb over the lighter’s wheel. It did not produce a flame. He ran his thumb over it again and again, but it did not produce a flame.

“I don’t think this lighter works!” Samuel shouted.

“Keep trying!”

The creature touched Samuel’s leg with its amorphous foot. Samuel yelped, ran his thumb over the lighter’s wheel, and – after it ignited – he lowered the flame to the creature. It burst into flames. The creature’s violent thrashing rocked the boat as Benjamin and Samuel held on to stay aboard. Finally, it dove away into the water.

The boat was being blown backwards by the wind. Benjamin began to steer it so the bow was at the right angle to sail again. The sailboat gained speed. Soon, they were far away from where the creature had dove into the water. Benjamin gave Samuel a very concerned look. When Samuel looked back at him, Benjamin asked, “Hey, man. Did you yelp?”

© 2018 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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