Books by Nickolaus A. Pacione
Afraid of the water before? A horror story written in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft and Peter Benchley. One would never see a shark the same way again, let alone go swimming on the beaches because one may never know when they will meet this character. This is the bonus story in Tabloid Purposes. I wanted the anthology to go out with a bang, and add that final scare. The story came about from reading a book by Dr. Richard Fernicola titled Twelve Days of Terror, it came about out of a conversation I had with William J. Wright. It took me a month to write. In Memory Of Peter Benchley and conjuction to the 20th Anniversary of Disovery Channel's Shark Week.
Written by Nickolaus A. Pacione
Word Count: (9,880 Words)
Allan Isaac was one who always loved the ocean but something he saw in the summer of 1990 kept him out of the waters. The years had passed from the events of the day but he can remember the events of the horror that happened as they just happened. The day he was in the waters and the last day he ever set foot in the water was when he was sixteen years of age and scuba diving with his brother and parents. It was a calm day when they dived but something in his mind felt it wasn’t that calm. All that was told of his events were blurry to him and what he remembers of the day is he had no ability to use his right arm while his brother; or what was left of his brother was a pair of legs with fins attached.They might have been swimming for good two hours in the waters but felt a pair of eyes watching them.
What he really remembers in the water was blood being spilled into the water but nothing chewing on him and his brother, then his parents disappearing without a single trace. He couldn’t scream for them either because of the searing pain he felt as the arm he once had was no longer there; it was being torn off at the elbow. His brother’s organs were being chewed out of him while each limb was being sawed off by a ghost possessing a razor tooth smile. He saw his brother being mangled in the water but nothing was there before him; it was almost if something from beyond was having a feeding frenzy on his now lifeless corpse. It was almost much like what happened in 1916 during the attacks on New Jersey, but they couldn’t see anything applying the vice. He felt himself floating up to the surface of the water but wasn’t able to see any form of a fin. The kind of attack ruled out a Great White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) or a Bull Shark (Carcharinus leucas, a shark native to the waters of Florida) but the fish wasn’t even seen in the waters; let alone existed. The explanations of something weren’t rational about the reasons of this happening or the disappearance of his parents.
All the explanations native to the Florida waters about shark attacks could be rational enough but nothing about this was even remotely rational since the waters were clear and it happened during broad daylight. The possibility lived within the waters of the ocean being haunted, namely since sailors have died because of shark attacks, referring to the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Though a question that stood there was if there was a possibility of an animal coming back as a ghost, such as God’s oldest killing machine. Though all that happened at the time of the incident, Allan tried to put behind him even if the question haunted him. The thing that took off part of his arm was a ghost. A ghost with a large size to it, and no one was able to explain the horrors behind it. Even if someone was an oceanographer. Science was never able to explain the supernatural, or as what happened of this nature appearing to be a shark attack but no traces of the shark.
How does one know about the incident, I am the journalist who interviewed Mr. Isaac –– he took me to the location where it happened as well months later after the horrors happened to him. He told me his parents weren’t found either when he and his brother were both attacked. He read into the attacks of 1916; learned all he was able to learn about them – especially looking at the stump that was once his arm. I saw the photos of what happened when he was driving the boat to the spot; and looking at the photo of the pair of legs with the fins attached was the horror being the thing burned to the memory of his and to mine as he related the details. He kept part of his brother’s bones as some morbid memorial of what happened during one of his dive outings. This was the first time he’s been out to this area since the events of that day took place; the waters were clear as the sky above much as they were on that October he decided to dive.
“Is this where it happened Allan?” The journalist inquired.
“About the place, not the exact place. But close enough to the place,” Allan pointed with his stump.
“I couldn’t see the thing but felt something sawing at my arm, blood was in the water and filling the place. I felt something watching me. I was diving with my family and the parents were no where to be found either, the rows of teeth sawed at my arm and felt my brother was screaming but wasn’t able to hear it. I read some about the attacks which happened in 1916, they appeared in a book published by Reader’s Digest,” Alan stated to the journalist; “I never really got your name, and the name of your friend with you.”
“Allan, I apologize for not introducing myself earlier. I’m Justin Williamson, and my camera person is Christina London. She was intrigued with all the stories of shark attacks in the area and being she was drawn to the story of called Summer of the Sharks,” the journalist introduced himself. Ms. London was wearing a wetsuit and a t-shirt that read “Shark Week.” Her interest of sharks sparked many years ago when she read an article about a fatal shark attack of a man in 1959, he an a woman were swimming off the coast of the Pacific Ocean near the golden gate he was attacked by a white pointer. The fish thrashed off part of his arm, when the friend went to rescue him the arm almost came off. Ms. London’s older brother is an oceanographer. She was an amateur journalist. She bared a scar on her left leg from an encounter from a Tiger shark when she was swimming off the waters of North Carolina. She couldn’t stop looking at the stump which was once was an arm, it baffled her of the kind of shark that would do such an attack.
“Allan, I would be Ms. London. I cannot help to look at the stump of what happened to you earlier in 1990. They say one should never go swimming within the waters during the summer of Key West because dolphins die along the waters and sharks would come and feed.”
Allan just looked at her in a puzzled look – because he was never able to see the shark or sharks attacking him and his brother. The possibility of his parents disappearing might be the same result of the incident staring back at him as a stump. She suspected the bite radius of the fish taking his arm off was that belonging to a White Tip; but no traces of the fish were seen during the time when he was attacked. The news didn’t even know what to make of the events staring at them in the front of their face. She was wanting to get in the water but the look on Allan’s face was sheer nervousness especially of the thing taking his arm off and killing his older brother was still down there. They managed to bring a shark cage with them on the boat. They couldn’t begin to fathom of what was down there being down there as long as it has, the creatures gliding around in a world which belonged to them. He stared at the water, and all he heard in the water was his brother’s screams.
Slowly he watched the cage being lowered into the water, and Ms. London was getting the rest of her wetsuit prepped along with pair of orange, deep diving fins. Her mask was a neon pink and her wetsuit was slate gray – she tried to disguise herself as a shark as much as she could so they won’t even think there was a human in the water. She went on to say humans are not normally the diet of sharks, but something in the water developed a taste for human meat. She took her video camera in the water while one of the other crew members jumped in only wearing a swim suit (all natural) and scuba gear. She knew something was there long before the attack on the Isaac brothers, Allan, then sixteen, and Nathan, nineteen. She was young to be an ocean journalist, for being twenty-two years of age. She was right out of college; or studying to get her degree in it.
“We ready to go?” Ms. London asked.
“Yes we are – be careful down there. We don’t know of these things are down there with us,” the second cameramen responded as he was just climbing in the water putting on each fin as he entered. He tried to avoid making the same kind of splashes a fish in distress would make. The kind of splashes which attracts a shark.
She said nothing as the water went over her head and all she saw was steel from the cage. Allowing the camera to power up as the other camera man was swimming near by; all was calm and it was like that for the next two hours. The waters around her felt as she was in a sensory deprivation chamber but she was able to see the other camera worker ahead of her but the thing that was to happen next she wasn’t prepared for. She saw blood gushing from his leg but nothing there providing the wound. She watched in horror to what was to happen to him the cameras were rolling and documenting every second of the thing as the diver was getting ready to lose a part of his leg; he didn’t even feel any pain as it was being thrashed apart. He felt a vice on his leg but there was no trace of a shark in sight. She tried to tell him but couldn’t, get out of the water – God please get out of the water.
The swimmer didn’t even have time to say, “oh shit” when the phantom bit on his leg and tore it from the knee. Frantically he swam for the boat but didn’t make it; a living shark grabbed on and pulled him under and there was little he was able to do about it since he was with only one leg. Allan tried to grab at him with is good arm but couldn’t get a good hold of him, when they managed to pull him into the boat it was only one half of his body that was intact. Half his organs were eaten out of him as well.
Allan screamed, “Get Ms. London out of there, there is a tiger shark swimming around the boat and just got a taste of human. She’s still in the cage and a shark swimming around the waters. This shark and a shark they never seen was swimming in the waters around us. I don’t know if they are still taping or not on the boat, but please turn off the camera because I don’t think the family of the person here doesn’t wish to see their little Johnny become fish food [shark chum] on camera.”
They raised the cage about three feet out of the water so there was a margin of safety for Ms. London to get out of the water. She was frozen in horror to what happened under there, something bit on her friend’s leg and tore it off but the reality check sank in when she saw the upper part of his torso laying on the deck of the boat.
“What are we going to say of his family, especially since we got the whole thing on tape?”
“Allan, I will wait until what I saw down there made some more sense but if that is the same thing you were talking about that took off part of your arm, we will have to start telling people to stay the hell out of the water. No one was able to see what happened down there but if I think what I thought it is, this thing existed in urban legends.”
“Shit, I cut my arm coming out of the cage. Is there a first aid kit laying around on the boat? We need to stick his body in a bag of ice to keep from the blood to getting all over the deck. Tell the medical examiner to be ready to receive this, because we are going back out tomorrow to look for that fish. True the facts scare the hell out of me, but this is something I know needs to be studied. Even this was the reason my brother became an oceanographer,” She responded with a nervous look to her eyes. She was repulsed by the thought of having to go back into shore with the smell of fish bile on the organs, and even in the bag to keep them from bleeding all over the deck there was blood on the deck collecting from the bag itself as the ice melted.
“We have to call a medic to get this arm looked at,” she stated.
“The first attack was described as a thematic type of thing then the other shark came without warning. Was that having to be similar to what happened to your brother Allan? The thing that happened to our camera worker was described almost as was happened to your older brother except they were only able to retrieve his legs.”
It was about four in the afternoon when the boat pulled into the shore of Key West, the United States Coast Guard was yet to be notified about the incident and locals were swimming in the waters without a worry or knowledge of what happened about miles south to their vicinity. They had no way of knowing they had a gliding phantom swimming off the waters or if one had actually said something, no one would truly believe them. They didn’t see a fin from the first attack in the water let alone a razor tooth smile. The existence of ghosts were always evident within the state of Florida, but it was always a question of the kind of ghosts were inhabiting the waters. The question came to mind of there being ghosts of people who were living in the waters after the result of shark attacks, and the swimmers in the past never seen one but the divers have. One account coming from Lawrence Osbourne who was diving off the waters off a beach near Jasksonville, Florida.
“I knew about him,” Allan responded, “My family was friends with his family and the reason we were in the waters that day was by his invitation to go diving near a boat wreck. He said each time a person goes diving they will be going into a world that was never ours to begin with.”
“It was about July-August 1990 when he invited us to go diving with him; I couldn’t remember the time when we were in the water about but I knew something was watching us from below. My parents were about 30 feet ahead of us, Nathan was paired up with me because of the buddy system. It started out normal enough but when all the horrors took place it was about closer to a boat that sank, years we don’t know but knew the boat was underwater for many years.”
Ms. London just sat there enamored by the details, Allan continued.
“Next thing I knew I felt something biting down on my arm then thrashing off a part of it. I couldn’t see a set of gills or teeth sawing at my arm, it was if it wasn’t even there. The question of how something like that can be a ghost was beyond me. I heard the stories of a phantom in the waters long before my parents were diving; something which resembled an ocean white tip but no traces of a fin out of the water. Next thing I knew I felt like that guy who had his legs bit off in New Jersey. As my arm was getting ripped off at the elbow, I watched my brother Nathan become a meal for a frenzy and each member of the frenzy weren’t seen either. It was almost if the sharks weren’t even there, if they were some sort of ghost.”
“Shit, I cannot begin to imagine.” Ms. London relates, “wait, in a way I can. I noticed that you were looking at a scar I had when I was putting on the rest of my wetsuit. I was attacked by a shark but nothing too major. It bit me but didn’t thrash on where it bit me at. I didn’t feel any pain but felt rows of sharp teeth sawing on me while it clamped down. I felt the thing let go – one of God’s oldest killing machines sparing my life. I still carry those scars from the event, they had to stitch up my chest and other wounds. Lived six months in the intensive care unit –– I have very minimal feeling in the left side because it bit part of my major nerves so I suffer from slight nerve damage. The shark separated one of my nerves, I can walk and do everything normally just it takes a bit longer. Hence, the reason the cage has to be raised a little higher on the boat when climbing in and out.”
Allan looked with a glassy expression, not realizing everything she related to him. After she told the story he was looking at the stump that was once his arm.
“Get all that you read about sharks in fiction and movies out of your mind because normally sharks don’t attack humans. They’ve lived on this world longer than the dinosaurs. The possibility of a ghost in form of a shark never really crossed my mind until what I saw out there when I was in the cage.”
“Damn,” Allan responded, “what happened to your friend out there was almost like what happened to my brother, something grabbed him and started thrashing him to pieces then something else grabbed my parents by their scuba gear and caused them to drown. I haven’t gone much into the water since then because I knew; it was out there. As much as I would swim I felt like I was being watched from below. Almost if they knew we were swimming in their world, we’re the outsiders they are just doing what they were designed to do.”
“I understood this from the shark attack I encountered, they do deserve a lot of respect,” Ms. London agreed.
“This would be nothing like those shark attacks in New Jersey; but I can see where you can relate to the attack of that man who lost his legs at the knee. When I saw you from below pulling my camera man up — I kept thinking about that attack in New Jersey; or of that 1959 attack where a Great White mauled a young man. I noticed you carry around the scrapbook of what happened to you, I can only imagine of what you are going through. The reason you keep those clippings about shark attacks, and how they impacted you. They were never able to see the shark that attacked you, the possibility of God’s oldest killing machine can haunt the oceans as a ghost.”
“Sharks as ghosts, a possibility I don’t want to even think about.”
Allan continued to look at the stump that was his arm as Ms. London was showing part of the scar from her encounter with a pair of vice forced jaws with a razor tooth smile. The image in both their minds of what happened to them were still playing out. Namely of the person on their crew who was bitten in half.
“I was never afraid of the gliding beasts, just had this fascination with them. More so when the one clamped down on my stomach. My wet suit was the thing that literary kept my blood in body. Though something clamped down they never really knew what kind of shark it was that took a bite out of me but they said it was a bull shark.”
“Sounds like almost if it was the pages out of Benchley’s novel. The rogue shark off the cost of an island. Except that was a work of fiction,” Allan commented.
“I read about such attacks, more so after what happened to me. I was born right handed and now I have no use of my right hand because of that thing which tore off my arm. They never knew the kind of fish that did it or if it existed. They said it was long dead, following the theory of the ocean being haunted. If people really knew what was in the water with them, they won’t even think of going swimming or diving. I just dive because I like to dive, but with this thing that happened to me. I haven’t set foot in the water because I can still see what happened to Nathan playing in the mind.”
The saying of this being true because of the sinking of the Titanic and the Indianapolis. Though there had always been the thought of the discovery of his brother being the thing that haunted him the worst. He’s seen shark attacks happen off the waters where he lived but never thought he would end up being the result of a shark attack. He was something that no one wanted to be and that word was described as one thing, a statistic. He sat there with Ms. London for about two hours, looking into a darkness that glistened off the sea and that darkness hiding something one cannot put in words or a fin that wasn’t seen in the water. Ms. London still dived with the sharks even if she knew one of them almost killed her.
“You going to have any trouble sleeping tonight?” Allan asked.
“I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight because of what happened out there, it was if nothing was in the water but his leg was ripped off at the knee. Then a live shark tore the rest of his body off as he was trying to get out of the water,” Ms. London responded.
He looked on and listened carefully.
“It was almost if I saw what happened in the pages of a book, the one about the 1959 attack. It was if it actually happened it was almost if that attack happened before my eyes when I was out there in the cage, I couldn’t help him,” she started with tear in her eyes, “He was out there because I wanted to get some footage of me in the water.”
“It is a common thing in Florida, sharks live in the oceans and the gulf. Just that recently they’ve taken the limelight. Living with something that sudden changes one’s outlook. Especially since you got that death tape.”
“I want to invite you back to my hostel, especially since not being able to sleep. I want to sit and watch that death tape. Especially wanting to find out what happened out there. I keep seeing what exactly happened to him, how he couldn’t scream when something bit his leg off at the knee. Then within a few seconds of this happening, something else took off half his torso.”
She toted her gear back to the hostel she was staying at; the wetsuit she had during the dive was hung out from one of the windows to dry. She was very much alone with her thoughts about what happened that day and the day when she was bit. She looked in the mirror to look at the scars of her nightmare. Then she motioned to Allan to come in. The attendants at the hostel responded if they haven’t seen an amputee before. They wanted to ask him if he was that teen that they were reading about losing their arm in a diving accident. They couldn’t begin to think about how his brother, Nathan was found. The thought of finding only a pair of legs attached to dive fins were something repulsive to them along with the remains of a pelvis and a spine. Allan had the scrapbook in tow; wanting to show the attendants about the other shark attacks he kept records of. The subject to them was horrifying but part of the truth within living in Florida. Some of them never scuba dived, but others who have seen ghosts near the site where his parents disappeared.
“Are you that teen who was attacked in the summer of 1990?” One of them asked, they had a thick Creole accent, “My condolences about your older brother. That must have been really rough for you.”
He noticed one of them had a copy of JAWS laying around. He pointed with his stump, “I see you are reading one of Benchley’s books. That book is the one reason why Great Whites were almost hunted to extinction. I was wondering if you read anything about the shark attacks off a California coast in 1959. A man was swimming with his girlfriend and he was fatally attacked by a White Pointer.”
“I think I read about that somewhere,” the attendant responded; then pointed to a set of a tiger shark jaws, “these jaws were to a man eater in 1980. They caught it after the thing managed to devour a 14 year old boy swimming off Datona Beach. They found very little of that boy, just his arm then at the funeral they had a small box with the half digested arm in the thing. They also said of a boat that was attacked by a poltergeist in the water, no one was able to see what happened but the thing had no fin. The bite radius was about 46 inches in width –– no traces of teeth left behind. The story became the start of an urban myth about a phantom shark gliding in the waters. Turned out there was a bit of truth behind the story.”
Allan quietly stared at the jaws hanging in the back, kept thinking about what happened to him and the horrors it left behind. The ghost in the water taking off part of his arm at the elbow might be that same thing that they were talking about in the hostel. The thing he kept thinking about was that footage Ms. London collected of the death tape. The attendant kept looking at his stump of an arm if he was some wartime novelty. It was if he never seen a victim of a shark attack before.
“Do you have a camera, take a damn picture to keep in here because it was almost if you never seen an amputee before,” Allan said with some biting sarcasm.
“Sorry sir, just never seen someone with part of an arm left. I knew of your story of the thing that took off your arm and killed your brother – my condolences,” the attendant responded, “Mind of I take a look at your scrapbook – I knew that you carried around a scrapbook of old shark attacks. I was following that special they had about the death of your brother and how you kept photos of what happened.”
“Oh, I knew I would get a few questions about the arm every now and then, sorry for the sarcasm,” Allan responded while handing over the scrapbook. Pointed to the account of the attack in New Jersey in 1916.
“Where did you find all this shit?” The attendant responded.
“Various libraries and newspapers all over the country. The were magazines who chased me around for a few months and years after my attack. Ms. London was going shark hunting with a cage for a documentary she was filming –– the footage was now called a death tape because the other diver involved got bit in half by a tiger shark and leg was bit off by a phantom. They have eyes that are black, but almost if they were not alive until they bite you. This is the case of the man from California in 1959. He and his girlfriend were swimming near the golden gate and then something huge bit off part of his arm. They say the spirits of people who die at sea haunt the waters especially if they were dead by means of God’s oldest killing machine. It isn’t the shark’s fault they killed humans, it is just in their design. They are predators – they don’t consciously hunt human beings. It is often a case of mistaken identity.”
“Damn, seems like you were living out the first scene in JAWS when the arm of yours was bit off at the elbow,” the attendant nodded in agreement.
“Where is the VCR? I have footage I want to play back,” Ms. London asked.
“It is over in the recreation area, I will hook it up for you. I was just reading over your friend’s scrapbook,” the attendant yelled over to her, “If you don’t mind I want to sit and watch this with you. I heard about what happened on the news. CNN had it all over their channels and it reached the papers overnight.”
It was about an hour before they got everything going, Allan did the honors of turning on the video tape and the attendant sat with them when they were watching the footage. The whole room had an eerie calm to it because they didn’t believe what they saw on the tape. Ms. London was in the cage and beyond the bars of that cage was a horror no one was prepared to see. The footage they were watching was actually the death of the camera person before their eyes. The attendant couldn’t believe his own eyes of what he saw; it was almost a horror novel playing itself out but it was real. Something bit off his leg but nothing was there, then as he was swimming for the boat a tiger shark bit off the lower half of his torso.
“Jesus, if I didn’t see the video I won’t believe it myself. Is it possible for ghosts to be sharks as well as there being of people?” The attendant commented on the footage, then looked at the scar which was on the torso of Ms. London. “I see you also survived a shark attack as well, noticed by the scars on your body. It looked pretty vicious. But seeing what happened to you was something close to what happened to your friend out there, I cannot even begin to imagine of the horrors you experienced. It was almost the devil was given jaws; waiting for the judgment in the water as he nervously swam to the boat. It was if he never had a chance.”
The attendant looked on in an absolute horror. He could not make out what the hell just happened on that tape. He saw the tiger shark bite the diver in half but the other thing on the tape of something biting off his leg was the thing that left a chill in his blood. Allan reminded him that the thing that bit off his arm was the same thing that bit off the cameramen’s leg. He was thinking it was almost a scene from JAWS at first but when the phantasm bit off his leg it was real.
“What was the name of the guy that died in the video?” The attendant asked with a shaken tone to his voice.
“Richard Clayton Thomas, age 24. He was just out of college and working as an intern for this program. His sister was a marine biologist,” Ms. London answered. She had a long look to her when she answered the attendant; “His sister was a good friend of mine.”
The attendant said nothing; looked at her in an absolute horror and disbelief because of what happened out there. Then he started to ask about the scars she carried from a horror that happened to her years before. Something about the shark attacks in the waters on the video became the focus of his morbid interest. It was if he was looking at a ghost when he was looking at Ms. London, even though she was very much alive. He had a chill down his spine because of the scars were not familiar to him, namely he’s seen shark bites in books but never the scars up close and personal. The attendant asked Ms. London if he could join her on one of her dives, but she was a bit hesitant; almost standoffish. She didn’t have enough diving gear for him but she kept an extra set of fins.
“You can come with us but you have to remain in the cage. I don’t want what happened to Allan Isaac or Richard Thomas happen to you. Wear a lot of gray because the sharks are attracted to bright colors. I will be wearing something that resembles chain-mail armor when going back under there. They say what is described as the phantom inhabits an abandoned boat, the boat was there for centuries. They said the ghost lived as along as the ruins of Atlantis. The closer one got to the ruins, the more the ghost would attack. When the ghost attacks, the live sharks would finish the job because usually when it strikes it doesn’t kill but seriously wound its victim. The fate more so was suffered by Richard Thomas was in the hands of Leviathan.”
“Thank you for the concern, “ the attendant responded with a chill in his tone. The video footage still didn’t register with him yet as he watched the tiger shark bite Richard Thomas’ lower torso in half. All he was able to do was stare at the screen which played the footage, the attack must of lasted less than a second as the organs were crushed before his eyes and seen as Richard Thomas was almost swallowed whole. He was barely alive when they pulled him up to the boat according to the tape, but expired moments later. The attendant was feeling lightheaded after watching that footage, it was almost if he was watching something similar to Faces of Death. He didn’t feel much like sleeping after seeing that footage.
“Jesus, I don’t think I ever seen something like that up close. One can see the beast from dorsal fin to tail.”
“I know that horror all too well, that is what happened when I got attacked by the bull shark. They don’t look alive until they bite you. The high pitch screams being drowned by the ocean water when it turns red with your own blood. When I was bit by the shark I saw all the ghosts in the sea, they were staring and saying it wasn’t my time to go.” She said as she was taking a bite from a forkful of pasta, “We’ll head out on Saturday to the location where Richard Thomas was attacked, in fact it wasn’t that far to where Allan and his brother were attacked as well. I just need a few days to really take in what the hell happened out there.”
Two days had passed from the attack and a couple of people who were living in the hostel decided to go for a swim. Almost if they had no knowledge of what was out there, watching them from below. One of the swimmers, Leigh Quinton, age twenty, was in the water with her best friend and they were swimming further from land – about two miles out. Two miles seemed like an eternity when one is swimming in the Atlantic. The buoyancy of the water allowed them to float because of the salt within the water, they splashed around playfully without any care but felt that they were being watched from below with a pair of black eyes, doll’s eyes. They didn’t see the thing swimming toward them, it was almost they didn’t see anything cutting across the water —no dorsal fin cutting across the deep blue sea. She looked to her friend but no trace of her friend around; almost if she was pulled under without a trace by an undertow but she heard a high pitched scream in the water. The moment her friend started to scream, the water silenced it as it was slowly suffocating her. No sign of a shark but the marks were a telltale sign of an attack. No fin breaking the surface of the water either, just limbs being bitten off without a rational explanation. A ghost gliding in the water during broad daylight, something as innocent as swimming in the ocean would become a gate of horror. It was if her best friend, Regina, disappeared beneath the glassy surface in the jaws of a carnivorous ghost.
Leigh was left there all alone threading water, shaking violently from the fright that took place. The sense of it sinking in was nonexistent as she tried to make her way to the shore. The nausea she felt when she noticed the blood in the water – it wasn’t her own blood but the blood left behind when her friend was carried off in the ghost’s jaws. Those jaws in a split second pulling Regina Carlson, twenty-six, to her watery grave.
“Regina!!” Leigh screamed with a horrific shrill to her voice, almost bloodcurdling. Nervously she swam back into land, she could barely keep her strength up because of the initial shock. She couldn’t get over the initial horror of what happened. She almost passed out in the water trying to swim back because of shock, and she was starting to go into shock the moment she hit beach. Watching her friend get dragged out to sea was the horror she couldn’t even fathom. She was weak from the frantic swim to shore but she had a wound on her flesh, something brushed up against her scraping away flesh. It had a leathery touch to it but nothing was in the water. She felt a cold spot when she felt her flesh being scraped away by the phantom tooth suit. Nothing more frightening than a ghost, and of it being something from a time when the world was only flesh and teeth.
“No!! This cannot be happening — God, this cannot be happening!” She said to herself.
She struggled to go back to the hostel, weak but got there in the time of 20 minutes. She couldn’t exactly explain what happened but they saw the scrapped flesh and knew. They knew it was out there, but not everyone else in the hostel was familiar of the story but they knew sharks lived in the water near where they would go to the beach. The kind of sharks native to those waters normally won’t attack humans unless they were provoked but the thing living in the water was something which didn’t remain of this world. It didn’t break the surface with a fin but had the tooth suit belonging of a predatory fish. She was extremely tired from the shock, Allan and Ms. London helped her back to one of the rooms then offered her some form of help into bed because she did lose a lot of blood from the scraping.
“Thank you, I saw what the two of you were talking about. The thing that you taped on the video, wasn’t there or could tell it was in the water but it was there. “
She struggled to get the words out explaining it. The attendant grabbed a blanket from one of the other rooms and covering her with it. The blood loss from the scrape as enough to attract a blue shark or even a bull, though she was fortunate.
“I felt the thing brushing up against me but couldn’t see it in the water,” she murmured, hands shaking with an uncontrolled fear, “it felt somewhat similar to sandpaper mixed with broken glass though nothing was in the water. When I get my strength back, I want to see that video footage the attendant watched with the two of you.”
Allan and Ms. London both listened because the details of her story were similar to what Allan’s were. He saw he had some scars near where his arm was bit off at the elbow by his chest, described exactly how they were on Leigh. They motioned for the attendant to bring in the TV from the office and a video cassette recorder then bring it to the room where Leigh was resting. He was continuing to read the novel JAWS, which everyone around him thought that was a bit sick for what just happened. There was blood coming off the sheets and blankets from the place she was scraped. She didn’t realize that the ocean truly was haunted; the stories of the ocean having ghosts because of people being lost at sea but she didn’t realize even sharks can be ghosts too. All within that grim video footage was all to real for her. She managed to stay awake long enough, changing her mind to watch it when she wasn’t strong enough to sit up. On the screen she heard the scream of the cameraman as his leg was thrashed off violently by a razor tooth vice; sawing at him though nothing was seen in the water. The video footage watched the horrific display, red water from the pulsing of his leg then a live tiger shark finishing the job. It swam up the gulf stream from Louisiana; but didn’t have a license plate hanging from its mouth to pick its teeth.
“How are we going to stop this thing?” Leigh nervously tried to ask, but she was too shaky to do so, “especially if this thing isn’t even alive or solid. I was able to feel the thing in the water but it didn’t have a physical body. Its skin was like sandpaper, but a lot rougher.”
She struggled to get what she was trying to explain out, but felt really sick afterwards. The struggle was on to keep awake but all Leigh wanted to do was sleep. She dreamed she was threading water, but in the dream the animal revealed a fin cutting the surface of the water. And boats all around her; the shark wasn’t able to hurt her but still managed to take a chunk out of her flesh without warning. She didn’t feel the blood coming out of her because it wasn’t real, though she felt like it was. The reality version of the horror was there wasn’t anyone around to see it –– here the fish resembled a great hammerhead shark; its unusual shape to its head resembled a hammer. It was almost alien to watch. Something looks that bizarre, to be so ever frightening. She felt like she wasn’t dying in the water when the great fish took a bite out of her, she didn’t even feel a wound or see one where it was. But it was certain of what she saw in the water was from a time that was long before her, of fisherman being knocked overboard in fours. She felt the shark pull one of those four fisherman under; and their blood filling the water –– cold water suddenly becoming warm as the insides of a human being’s core body temperature.
While she bleeds, the screams from the fishermen overboard were growing louder in horror. Overwhelmed with the fear they were inhabited by they knew something was in the water but it couldn’t even be seen. The screams from the fishermen were high pitched as they became drowned out by the bleeding waters. In the silence they run trying to get back to the boat though they couldn’t get back in time and their death greets them within the waters. As Leigh watched the fisherman being pulled under she felt herself being tugged once again, about 10 feet below the ocean level. The phantom in the unseen tooth suit pulling her beneath the glassy surface.
It was a matter of time before she awoke again screaming, Allan and Ms. London were trying to convince her that she was only dreaming. The wound received from the ghost was beginning to hemorrhage; appeared as a bruise though it started to bleed through the flesh. Where she was scraped began to show signs of an actual bite without warning. The grab and violent sawing motion on her stomach.
“Jesus, this cannot be happening!” She looked at the wound. There was no pain to the wound but it started to bleed almost if gripped down on her stomach and started to thrash, or as it appeared to happen. She woke with a hard gasp and let loose a bloodcurdling scream. She thought, God – please don’t let this happen but not even God can even help her from the horrors she saw within the waters that took her friend and in the nightmare.
“Get some rest Leigh. Ms. London and I will be going out to the waters tomorrow to look for the ghost fish beneath the surface.”
Allan calmed down Leigh with a bit of confidence someone who survived a horrific event could only do. She saw that because she noticed the stump which was once his arm. She had no real idea of how he lost his arm, but she vaguely knew about the story of a teen getting attacked by something though they weren’t able to find what attacked him. She read about the attacks somewhere but she didn’t know or remember of the place she read about them. All she was able to remember from her nightmare was the razor tooth smile. The nightmares triggered by her friend’s death and remains of an stump that was once an arm played into her horrors. In the dream she saw those eyes looking at her, they had the eyes without a soul. Without any guilt because of the way they were designed by nature to be; predators born of the time when the world was only flesh and teeth.
“While that world was still among them, when the horror was living –– some of them can remain as ghosts and this question remained for years, is it possible for sharks to exist as a ghost? I mean there are the stories of people dying at sea and the possibility of them haunting the waters where they passed, but is it really possible for sharks to live after death as a ghost?” Leigh had a horrified tone to her voice when she was asking Allan the question. Her eyes shifted around from the nervousness because of what happened in the dream and from on the deep blue sea looking back at her. She felt in the dream of something watching from below as Allan did when he used to scuba dive with his brother and parents.
“I know that kind of shifting. I had that feeling too when I lost part of my arm. Something watching me but never knew from where or how,” Allan responded calmly.
She was dreadfully nervous because she couldn’t make sense of what happened or why it happened to her friend. She woke screaming the name of her friend; just something inside of Leigh told her the horrors that happened out there earlier weren’t real yet they very much were. As nightmarish it seemed to her, it just didn’t appear to be real to her at that moment in time. The word she was looking for to describe the horrors around her belonged to something that was morbidly surreal because of the wound received on her torso. What happened still didn’t register with her or won’t register with her, knowing Regina was gone by the grip of a ghost beneath a glassy surface gliding in absolute silence. The only noise heard was a bloodcurdling scream for a split second before Regina was pulled into the depths of the deep blue sea. All the while she was in the hostel bed, she kept seeing that horror in the back of her head about what happened to her friend.
“Okay I am a bit nervous about going with you on this hunt, how do we find a shark that is a ghost?” Leigh nervously asked. Long before she went swimming with Regina, the stories of shark attacks known on that beach were never spoken of in the open. It was almost an unwritten rule for locals who lived near beaches, shark attacks weren’t something they sat down and spoke about in a common conversation.
Something she was quite accurate about, the locals never really discussed that kind of thing happening – let alone of a supernatural fish living in the waters. They never really knew about the bite radius of the being, but it was enough to do some damage. The term they borrowed from Hawaii about the ghost was called Niuhi, or the phantom man-eater. One had seen the ghost phase through a boat and bit into someone as they were sleeping on their bed for the night, (the person they found dead was named Patrick Michaels, age thirty-four) the next morning they were found with a huge bite mark in their torso. Even if there were no signs of a shark ramming the boat as they would say a White Pointer would have the habit of doing. The organs would be dripping off the bed almost if the body was cut up like Jack the Ripper.
The sawing motion on his body resembled that of a Great Hammerhead shark. The coast guard wasn’t even notified because they didn’t know about the story of the phantom Niuhi. They searched hell and high water for a rogue, but they couldn’t locate one. Not a single fin breaking the glassy surface, or remains of teeth shed of the rows belonging to a razor tooth smile. Leigh made reference to the bite remains from Allan’s arm; she couldn’t even begin to fathom the horror trailing it within a pattern of years and all the things that remained among the untold thoughts. Within the myths unspoken becomes a documented reality of a ghost with a razor tooth smile swimming the waters off the coast of Key West. Blood upon the waters seen from the point of view of one victim. When the horror is seen as a form of a shadow swimming in blood filled waters; a type of shadow dwelling during the time when the dinosaurs existed but they outlived them.
It was first daylight when the crew headed out to where the first two attacks took place; about where Allan Isaac’s arm was sawed off at the elbow and a member of Ms. London’s camera crew was bit in half. Leigh felt the skin crawl up her arms and touching the bone because she was able to see the details of her nightmare as vivid as what is going around her surroundings. It played into her head as a bad tabloid article. She kept thinking about how a Great White made itself at home in the waters of Cape Cod, didn’t attack anyone but kept swimming around expecting something to fall into the water. Though what happened to her friend was similar to the incident of the Pacific when a woman saw her leg become chewed off by a Great White. The great fish was big enough to swallow her whole.
“Leigh, are you going to be okay while we go into the water?” Allan calmly asked.
Allan and Ms. London were suiting up to go into the water, this was his first dive since the attack when he was a teen. They had a crew of five going into the water with them, there was a ship they wanted to explore while Allan and Ms. London remained in the cage as lookouts. They had a bigger cage than last time, but the question is if it could protect them from live sharks could it protect from one which is swimming ectoplasm. They gave the crew each suits of chain-material and each of their suits were coated to protect from a fish which was ectoplasm and teeth. The boat they were looking for was supposed to be the source of where the ghost began to become manifest. They never thought a wreckage dive would become a macabre ghost hunt.
“How did you get the chain armor?” Allan questioned with a little bit of amazement.
“I had friends who worked in parapsychology, they wanted me to test this out,” Ms. London answered with a sheepish grin on her face.
“They knew about the ghost shark living in the waters of Key West, so thought they would make the material both live shark and ghost proof. If this ghost resembles a hammerhead shark, we would know because of the re-breathers we’re going to use are designed to sense its movements. We might not be able to see the thing but you might be able to see its outline in the dive mask. I had the one suit especially designed for you. Stick close. The behavior of hammerheads are quite erratic and able to turn at a split second. Look for sharks cannibalizing on each other.”
The camera crew were the next to suit up in the shark proof armor; one of them as a small cage to use when diving in it was light enough for them to push around and hover. It had some propellers on each side of the thing and a small door which could be opened from the inside. They [as in the divers] were able to swim down safely without any form of worry of predatory fish. The equipment given to them were almost if they were part of the military, almost if Ms. London had connections to the Navy. Who’d thought the military had this kind of gear at their disposal. Though they couldn’t find where the creature attacked Patrick Micheals.
“Everyone, here we go, be very careful down there and keep your eyes open for violent movements. The only way to tell if a ghost was in the water, especially if one sees something thrashing but nothing is there.”
The other surviving camera crew quietly took the splash into the waters while Ms. London and Allan made their way into the shark cage. The cage was bigger than most shark cages used, and it was backed with a special plastic as well as titanium. They were unsure of how this new equipment was going to work against a shark that was dead for long centuries past but knowing from the dream that Leigh had the prior night it was the same one that attacked Allan and the last camera member to go down in the waters below. All the while the other two surviving members were down there looking for whatever the seagoing phantasm was guarding.
Hours had passed since they first approached the haunted depths. They didn’t see anything but might of felt a few set of eyes looking upon them. It was either if they were from a live shark or the phantom which lives in the waters. And closer they got to the sunken boat, it had the resembling symbol similar to a book that was long to be buried. With that symbol it showed a horror that wasn’t seen before –– it made the fish materialize without any sign or warning. The ghost fish had a strange shaped head, it was alien-esque in the way it swam in the water and being able to turn a fast one hundred-eighty degrees. The characteristics of a great hammerhead shark were the telltale things about the fish. Its resemblance was that of a hammerhead but its aggression was similar to a tiger shark.
“Shit, get the hell out of there both of you. I see the thing swimming toward you,” Ms. London screamed, but with her aqua-breather they couldn’t hear her. She tried banging on the bars of the cage but they couldn’t hear the steel of the bars banging against her blade. They couldn’t hear the banging of the blade, the loud clanging noise she was trying to make to grab their attention only she could watch in horror as the glowing shape glided faster towards them. One that was invisible once before now appeared if it was still alive. It made a vice crush on one of camera members who wasn’t in the cage and started thrashing. It might not of ripped the arm off but it was enough to attract a few living relatives of it. The crescent shape fin and the slate blue coloring of the shark resembled that of a short finned Mako, and it came at a breakneck speed to clamp down on the back of the diver. The ghost did enough damage to bring the living shark to its suspected “prey item.”
Ms. London was baring witness to an unnamable horror before her, but she knew it from a few days ago when her other camera crew member saw his leg become shark chum before her eyes. The other camera member kept rolling with the film despite what was happening to his dive partner. He was injured but the chain suit kept him from sustaining some serious damage. The short fin Mako let go and swam away, they abandoned the cages and hustled up to the surface. They knew the only way to kill that shark was to destroy the sunken ship. In those ghostlike waters they saw the boat that resembled the white ship, and the carvings behind it were described in the pages of the ancients. They knew they couldn’t go any further because blood was flowing in the chain suit. He was becoming a swimming chum line. They hustled up as fast as they were able to but only for the mako to make another grab for the diver’s arm. This was a ten footer; only a young male.
The shark managed to let the diver go but the blood loss in his arm was one that resembled the actual bite that took off Allan’s arm years ago. Ms. London looked on in horror to what happened, similar thing happened a few days ago with the other camera crew but they knew they couldn’t go out and destroy the boat. All they were able to do is nothing but flee the area. She and Allan climbed out of the cage to the extent of the damage the mako and the ghost did to the diver –– at the jaws of a phantasm. They left in the coming darkness while they felt those supernatural eyes –– watching, still from the glassy surface below.
Site: Tabloid Purposes
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|Reviewed by Isaiyan Morrison
|I never liked the water anyway.
Great read Nick!
|Reviewed by J.C. Brinson-Untiet
|Totally scary fantastic write. It'll never go in the water again. Nickolous is one of the best horror writers around. I look forward to all his work
|Reviewed by S Cardin
|I love the premises of a shark's ghost haunting the waters, Nickolaus! The descriptions make the reader feel as if they are right there where the action is happening and you've got a great ending that explains what's happening. Very good read.
|Reviewed by Terry Vinson
Nothing like a little 'rending and tearing' within the deep blue's normally tranquil waters. Great homage to Benchley...and like you mentioned...just a touch of Lovecraft thrown in for good measure. Still, its all Pacione. Enjoyed it...
|Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain
Move-over "Jaws" - this is the quintessential shark story, delivered in an exceptional 'horrific' style ... Bravo on "Leviathan's Ghost"!!
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Deeply disturbing and graphic tale, Nickolaus, but very well presented! Well done as always!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your Tx., friend, Karen Lynn. :)
|Reviewed by Judy Lloyd (Reader)
|I have had some very vivid dreams about sharks but I do like a well done horror story and sorry I have not been back to your stories before now. You continue to do well with this.|