4 hours ago
The fog has thickened into a pale cataract across the night sky and the round summits of adjacent bladders hunch up to you as their more distant neighbors recede into the mist. You are getting closer to the sound and it is getting more frequent. Suddenly, it’s deafening. It’s no longer the subdued baritone of a distant fog horn but the atonal shriek of metal wringing itself into perverse contortions. You rush down through a valley between two bladders but, as you round the bend, a bear -a wiry thing, its once white fur stained an orange-brown from its tank insulation den-bolts at you. Agitated by the din, she barrels forward, teeth bared and growling. You fumble the rifle to your shoulder and frantically discharge a round towards her. It is only then that you notice the bloated bladder lurking behind the bear. It dwarves the others and for the barest fraction of a second, you wish desperately that you could take back that bullet that grazes the bear’s shoulder and careens into the distended and howling 80 million gallon vessel. As the bullet hits, the sounds envelopes you. Alumoskein splits like a punctured balloon and the tank water, pressurized by expanding gases and blood red with the brine shrimp and algae that produced them, smashes into you and the bear as your limbs, gun and claws entwine and tangle, and you are scraped through the valleys in a scarlet cascade that turns to pink then grey as it fades into the muted North Sea.———————————————————————— Part 5 of 5 of “Kraken in an 80 Gallon Tank” by Anthony D’Auria @anthony_dauria_design - Third Prize in the 2019 Fairy Tales Competition.