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Path of the Rub
June 26th, 2006, 03:29 PM
I wrote this short story over the last couple days, it's my first one. The setting was inspired from an episode of the "Deadliest Catch", despite having nothing to do with it. I'm not a fan of long prose, so yes, it is very short.
Comments of any sort all well appreciated, thanks for reading.

The Deep

The black wisp swirled lazily in the distance. It appeared to have a face, maybe just eyes – but when Lasesco focused on them, they seemed to fade
back into the smoky figure. A wistful feeling saturated every aspect of the void around him. There was no sense of gravity in this place, but pressure was everywhere, pushing in on his rib cage, crushing every bone. Even still, the call was strong, the enticement to swim deeper into the greenish obscurity below.

As he descended, the pressure dissipated, and a smile formed on his face. The depths of this place were so familiar and inviting, and Lasesco breathed deeply, as if taking in the air of a place long forgotten. Everything was silent, serene – there was beauty in this emptiness. As he sunk, it felt like the forlorn layers of his being were being shed off, leaving nothing but the pure core within.

However, all of the sudden, his lungs became filled with liquid, and his body became excruciatingly cold. All his senses came to life with fervor unlike anything he had felt before. Panic overcame him, and he took in gulps of this murky fluid, gasping for air but getting nothing. Then the sense of pressure was back, and suddenly Lasesco began to float upward with great speed. A pair of eyes glared up at him from the deep, where he had been before. They were yellowish, impatient, and sinister. His legs dangled helplessly as his limp body was dragged up to the surface, the top of the chasm. Seconds before his head pierced the skin of the water; bubbles erupted from his nose and mouth, purging the stale oxygen from his torso. As soon the surface was broken, Lasesco’s eyes opened, and he was back, back in reality.

It was apparent that this was reality compared to the ethereal abyss, for that place was shadowed in his mind, like a dream – and besides, there was ground beneath him, right? He focused his attention to answer his own question. Sure enough, there was something supporting his back, and light was shining on his face. Then the picture became clearer, and everything made sense. He was in a room. There was a square-shaped, flickering light beaming down on him. He was lying on a hammock, the shrill smell of alcohol drifted in the air. The walls around him creaked loudly. His body is human. “Hello…?” came the sound out of his mouth. The noise startled him for a second, for he didn’t realize he could speak a language, let alone understand one.

Slowly, he got up off the hammock, carefully noting how his limbs moved. The sensation of moving muscles and ligaments was strange, and made his movement somewhat awkward. As soon as his feet touched the ground below, the floor tilted, sending him flying into the wall to his right. A few empty glass bottles rolled on top of him. They were wine bottles. Another tilt came, but Lasesco was ready for it. Why are the walls moving? It is a boat in the waves, rocking in the waves, rolling in the waves. These faint memories ran quickly through his head, but he hardly noticed them, for he had already started walking forward to the other end of the long room.

The worn blue rug beneath him made a scratching sound as he tread over it, and there was a faint roaring sound coming from outside of the room. There were other hammocks, all of them empty, and a kitchen in the middle of it all. Packaged food was spilt all over the tiled kitchen floor, presumably from the cabinets on the wall that were swinging open. A refrigerator hummed softly, almost in unison with the dull, flickering, square lights on the ceiling. He continued walking, until he came to an area of the room with benches, lockers, and heavy, neon –orange arctic suits spewed all over the floor. Another fragment of memory ran through his head, something about Alaska. The benches marked the end of the room; the only thing ahead was a heavy, metal sealed door. With nowhere else to go, Lasesco opened it.

As it sluggishly swung open, pellets of ice, freezing water, and snow rained down upon him, and his suspicions were confirmed. He was on a boat, in the middle of some unknown ocean. The greenish-black water below him churned and frothed violently, and the vessel was at its mercy. The air was very cold, and immediately his head started to throb and ache, more so than it had been before. Again, Lasesco shouted some words, to see if anything would answer. The growling ocean was all that called back. A huge wave sent a splash of icy water onto the deck, soaking his already wet clothes. He shivered, and the orange suits came into his head again, but curiosity pushed him forward.

Towards the middle of the deck was a tall building, with a crane built-in on top of it, and in front of that was a stack of large, metal cages. The vicious snow that fell from the stormy grey skies obscured everything, and nothing would be visible in the darkness if it were not for a massive light on the crane illuminating the deck. The beams of light shining through the mist created a spectral twilight that enveloped the ship. Another thought entered his head: crabs. The memory triggered yet another thought – he was on a crabbing ship, those metal cages were pots used for trapping Alaskan King Crabs. Lasesco looked up at the crane building again – it was also where the captain operated the ship. He began walking towards it, and saw the panoramic window where the captain would look out. Perhaps there was somebody up there…

He opened the door to the place, which revealed a stairway to get up. Eagerly, he closed the door behind him, and felt his way up to the top, careful not to slip on the wet rubber-coated steps. When no more steps were apparent, and he could see blinking red and green lights of the controls, Lasesco began feeling for a light switch on the wall next to him. His hand brushed across one, and he flipped it. The room was small, with lots of buttons and levers, a big, fancy wheel for steering – but no people. He began to turn around, but a voice resonated from an unseen place: “What are you doing up here? You don’t belong here.” Frightened, he looked frantically around for the source. It spoke again: “Down here, champ.” Laseco looked down at the ground. A king crab, with a golden-colored carapace, was looking back up at him impatiently. For some reason the idea of a talking crab did not seem so absurd as it should to him. “Crabs don’t talk. I know enough to understand that. Where am I?” said Lasesco. “I talk just fine – and you’re on the finest crabbing vessel in all of Bristol Bay! The crab found his own statement funny, and grunted a few times. “Well then, why am I here? Who am I?” The crab didn’t answer; instead it started crawling down the stairs, motioning for Lasesco to follow. A robotic, fuzzy voice came from behind him – from the CB radio mounted near the steering wheel. The voice came again: “Hello? Is anyone there? Over.” Lasesco went to answer the question, but before he got to it, the crab had already cut the radio’s wire with its sharp claws. “Ignore it. Follow me.” Explained the crab, as it continued its journey down the stairs. He followed, ignoring the feeling of apprehension in his stomach.

The crab tediously waddled down the stairs, pausing at the bottom to wait for him to open the door to the outside. It walked across the deck to the front of the boat, sliding every once and a while due to the swaying boat. When the pots came into view, Lasesco noticed that they were covered in a thick shell of ice. “See all that ice? These kinds of boats are already top-heavy. Enough of that stuff will make it roll. Very dangerous,” said the crab, noticing his interest. Now that it mentioned it, the vessel was swaying very drastically. “You should get up on those cages and chisel some of it off,” said the crab, motioning towards an ice pick lying on the deck. Laseco looked up at the pots – they were very high up, and most likely, very slippery. “I don’t know…sounds like a bad idea,” he said. “Oh just go,” insisted the crab. Against his better judgment, Laseco picked up the pick and began cautiously scaling the cages.

Every lurch of the boat seemed like it was tipping over, and the wind was so strong that he was forced to clutch to the pots closely. A steep lurch sent him sliding across the top of the cages, until he gripped onto one – he almost fell into the ocean below. “What are you doing? Get picking! Don’t want to kill us both, do you?” insisted the crab. With one hand steadily holding a pot, he began cracking off chunks of ice. Lightning flashed off in the distance, followed shortly by a deafening boom that seemed to ripple the ocean itself. He could see the crab below, gazing up at him. A spray of cold water splashed on him, making him self-conscious of his situation. There he was, high above the deck of a rusty boat being tossed around in a ferocious gale, flirting with death, all to appease a talking crab. The view was extremely limited because of the tall waves and thick precipitation; there was no land in sight. Sensing the ridiculous nature of his predicament for the first time, he started to climb down.

The freezing temperature was beyond the point of hurting, and was deep in the realm of being numb. His lungs ached, and lightheadedness was setting in. Halfway down, he realized that the boat was tipping dangerously low to the water. It was close to the capsizing level. The vessel, a mere microbe in the overwhelming size of the ocean, grudgingly climbed up every passing swell – stuck helplessly in a cyclic madness. He hurried to the deck, and frantically searched for a lifeboat. The waves were getting bigger by the second, and huge forked lightning shot across the skies around him, temporarily creating false daytime light.

The crab was yelling at him, in a deep, gravely voice – but Lasesco wasn’t paying much attention to it. A small yellow lifeboat tied to the edge of the boat caught his eye, and he started to jog towards it. Seconds before his hand started to work at the knot that bound the little lifeboat to the railing; the whole vessel slowly began to tip towards the side he was on. He fumbled with the knot until it was loose, and then abandoned the lifeboat to get to other side of the vessel before it was completely vertical. By the time he was firmly gripping the metal railing, the other side had already dipped into the water. Gradually, the ship was sinking beneath the waves, into the fury below. Lasesco was crouching to the part still afloat, holding tightly onto the railing. A few feet next to him sat the crab, doing the same.

“Hey, there’s the lifeboat,” said the crab, taking a claw away from the railing to point at the reflective rubber boat drifting away from the main vessel. “It’s our only hope, this ship is sinking, and trust me, you don’t want to go down with it!” yelled the crab over all the noise of the cages crashing into the ocean. The crab was right; he couldn’t stay on the boat, for it looked like it was dropping very fast. After wiping slush from the corners of his eyes, and taking another glance at the crab, he pushed aside fear, took a breath, and let go. The time it took for him to fall felt like minutes, and when he hit the wall of water below, it was like hitting concrete. It was frigid, and for a few moments he lay stunned in it, but quickly regained his senses and swam to the surface. A patch of yellow from the lifeboat came into vision for a second, but was blocked out by a huge wave coming towards him. Fortunately, the wave did not crash near him, which would have surely knocked him unconscious. Instead he floated over it, and saw the lifeboat again.

The choppy sea was nearly impossible to swim in, for he kept taking in gulps of the salty fluid and the smaller waves smashed against him like punches. However, using all of his remaining energy, he made his way to the lifeboat, and weakly climbed into it, gasping for air. Before passing out, he caught one last glimpse of the crab – in was in the bottom of the lifeboat, tearing into the inflated rubber with its pincers. The lifeboat lost its buoyancy, and the deflated rubber wrapped around him. For the last few seconds of his life, as he sunk into the gelid deep, he noticed how the crab’s eyes, looking up at him from the surface, looked yellowish, impatient, and sinister.

(Two days later, at Dutch Harbor) “So, tell us again, about that guy…Patrick Lasesco - the guy you left for dead, ” said the coast guard. “Well, he had always had a problem with drinking. Always depressed and sad, you know? Well, one day he was very drunk, and he fell off the side of the boat into the water below. It took us a while to fish him out, and by the time we got him, he was dead. Those waters are very cold...nobody can stand them for long. We revived him, but he didn’t make it. When the helicopter came to evacuate us off the ship due to the storm, we forgot about him. Left him for dead, after all, he was.” “I see,” said the coast guard. “It’s shame.”
“Yeah, a shame.."