Sunday, June 7, 2009

Murky Depths

by Brenton Tomlinson

Richard braced his foot against the back of the boat, a massive rod bent almost to breaking point in his hands. “Get the bloody chair organised.”

Andrew, his best mate since pre-school, gestured toward the waiting game fishing chair, but Richard couldn’t drag the rod backwards. He flipped the lever on the reel and allowed the line to spool freely into the water. The monster on the other end didn’t need a second invitation and took off; nylon zinged from the rig.

Shrugging off the thought of having to wind in all the line now disappearing into the deep blue, Richard settled into the chair and allowed his friend to buckle him in. “What took so long?”

“The pin securing the chair to the deck was bent, but I straightened it out,” Andrew said. “Should be fine now.”

Richard flipped the lever on his new fishing rig to stop the free spool of line and began winding the thick aqua blue nylon back on. The line went taut, causing the rod to bend. Leaning forward, Richard reeled as fast as he could before pulling the rod back, drawing the piscatorial wonder on the other end closer to the boat. “This thing is huge,” he gasped as he leaned forward and wound on again. “We won’t be needing to shop for seafood for some time to come.”

The grin on Andrew’s face matched the excitement Richard felt as the adrenaline coursed through his veins. This was life: the thrill of the hunt, the chase, the kill.

A hundred yards out from the boat, something big broke the surface and Richard’s line went slack. He leaned forward and wound on, squeezing his eyes shut as exhaustion threatened to overwhelm his muscles.

“Jesus,” Andrew said. “Quick, cut the line.”

“What, no,” Richard said, snapping open his eyes to see what was going on.

“We have to,” Andrew said, his face a deathly white, spittle flying from his sun chapped lips. “A Great White is chasing your catch, and it’s too big for this boat to handle. Sometimes you have to let one get away.”

Richard scanned the ripples and white caps in the boats wake. There, his giant sailfish broke the surface, pulling against the strain he’d setup on the line, almost dislocating his shoulders in the process. As it disappeared back into the water another grey torpedo shaped creature broke the surface.

“No,” Richard yelled.

Andrew bent forward, a knife poised to sever the line. “That shark can go to hell before I let it win.” He leaned forward and wound on another length of line, ignoring the screaming muscles in his back.

“You don’t have enough time or strength—” Andrew stood motionless as the pin holding the chair to the deck gave way. It was only meant for small game fish.

Richard sucked in a lungful of air as the chair broke free, but it was forced from him as he struck the rail and went over into the water. Instinctively he unclasped the belt around his waist and kicked free of the fast descending chair.

A black shape sped by him. The sailfish was magnificent as it shot through the water, the gleaming hook in the side of its mouth the only blemish. The heavy weighted nylon between the steel barb and the fishing rod still tangled with the chair snapped taught, cleanly severing Richard’s right ear and filling the water with blood.

Another shape sped past him.

Richard struggled to the surface. In the distance the boat was turning, Andrew, at the helm, waved in his direction. He tried to raise an arm in reply but his energy reserves were spent.

He dipped below the surface. Beneath him the darkness resolved into his worst nightmare: a gaping maw full of razor-sharp teeth. Freshwater tears and warm urine mingled with the sea as Richard tried to utter a final expletive.

Intense pain immediately dulled as he was shaken from side to side.

The sailfish streaked by, iridescent scales flashing in the red filtered sunlight.

Richard wished he was the one which got away as the Great White rose from the depths again.


Knowing nothing about writing when starting in 2006, BT has taken many false steps in an effort to harness the craft. With past publication credits in Fantasy, Erotica & Sci-Fi, it wasn’t until he turned to dark fiction that things began to fall into place. Publication in NVF print magazine, Yellow Mama, Fear & Trembling, and now Fifty-Two Stitches has seen him embrace his twisted soul. To find out what other blackened delicacies he has in store, and all sorts of other tips and advice for writers, visit


Jameson T. Caine said...

As someone who has spent a lot of time in the ocean and has had my own close encounters with sharks, this story absolutely scared the crap out me. Well done.

Benjamin Solah said...

Well done. This was nice and chilling.

Rachel Green said...

Good piece. Bad Andrew for freeing the chair!

Cate Gardner said...

Fantastic last line. Well done, BT.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Enoyed this one alot, BT. One line was great "The sailfish streaked by, iridescent scales flashing in the red filtered sunlight".

Jamie Eyberg said...

Makes me thankful I don't have competition for gamefish where I live. Nice story, in a twisted evil way.

Anonymous said...

Matches the name of the dark spec fic mag.

Michael Stone said...

The writing was superb. A fine action piece. Good one, BT!

Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

Great story, BT! Just when I thought I'd be able to get over my deep water phobia... ;)

BT said...

Thanks for the nice comments everyone.

I'm glad everyone liked it.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, Great Whites! I was spellbound! Excellent, BT. :)

Aw, Jameson, I read this story and was all excited to point you in it's direction. You beat me to it.


L.R. Bonehill said...

I always thought fishing was supposed to be a relaxing experience! Nice one, BT.

Fox Lee said...

Reminds me of when I was a kid and used to read all the "killer" shark books in the school library : )

Katey said...

Gah that freaked me right out. Well done, lovely writing.

Unknown said...

Definitely an enjoyable story. The fisherman became the fish. In a non literal sense. Like he didn't grow the gills.

52 Stitches always knows how to pick the stories :^)

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