Homer sighed as he cast his reel into the churning waters of the Gulf, his boat rocking back and forth gently in time with the dipping of the waves. He’d been fishing here for three days and he hadn’t caught anything worth keeping. True, he’d caught a number of small fish and squid that he’d chopped up and used as bait, but he hadn’t been able to wrangle a truly beautiful fish up onto his boat’s deck this entire time.
This annoyed him.
After baiting the hook with some squid dipped in cows blood, he’d cast it out into the water with a whip and a crack of his fishing reel. Sitting back in his chair, Homer picked up his beer and took a sip of it, adjusting his straw hat to better cover his ears from the blistering sun. His arms and legs stank of sun block, having rubbed in the protective lotion earlier this morning; His cheeks were ruddy from exposure to the sun, though the back of his neck and ears were safe from the sun burn that his face had built up.
Setting his beer down as he stared at the reel, which cranked slowly as something pulled on the bait. Taking the fishing rod in both hands, he carefully began to reel in the heavy line, praying that he had something big on the end of his line. The small craft tipped to the side as he reached the taut end of the fishing line, forcing Homer to brace his feet against the railing of his boat.
Whatever he had was strong!
“Come on fishy, come to papa!” Homer said, reeling in the line for a few seconds before allowing it to run loose for a moment. He repeated this for the next ten minutes, slowly pulling whatever animal he had on the end of his line towards the choppy surface of the murky water.
“Maybe it’s a shark!” Homer said excitedly, reeling in quickly to drag the beast up to the surface, its strength ebbing away. “I’ve never caught a shark before…”
Looking down at his ice chest full of chopped bits of fish and squid, Homer smiled; the cows blood was the key to catching this creature, he just knew it. Maybe he had a Bull Shark, or a Hammerhead; both were indigenous to the Gulf and both were attracted to the scent of blood.
The wriggly tentacle Homer had dipped in the blood had twitched and writhed as he’d stuck it on the end of his hook before casting out, perfect for attracting a fresh kill.
Homer could see the shadow of his catch rising in the water, a large dark splotch that seemed to writhe and twist against the heavy duty fishing line that held the creature in check. Whatever it was it was large, and red, with writhing tendrils and large black eyes. It breached the surface, a tentacle rising from the deep to wrap around the thick cord attached to the hook lodged within the center of the beast. Homer stared in horror as the creature wrapped a blood red tentacle around the fishing line and, with a hearty pull, began dragging the boat through the water and towards the creature where it floated.
Homer, fixing the fishing rod to the holster near his groin, reached out and grabbed a long harpoon, designed for emergencies, in the unlikely event that one found themselves with a beast too large to handle.
Homer figured he was in that boat, so to speak, when the tentacle monstrosity tugged his boat closer, dragging it beneath the water’s edge enough to splash the interior with seawater. Homer stood up on shaky legs, holding the harpoon high as he prepared to stab the massive squid in the mantle.
Before he could thrust down into the red monster, he felt his boat rock uncontrollably from something ramming the starboard side. Wobbling on shaky sea legs, Homer did his best to keep his stance in the boat while looking over the edge of the boat, into the eyes of another six and half-foot squid, this one unencumbered by a fishing line.
“What in the world…?” Homer said, looking down at the hole in his aluminum siding, water gushing in from where the squid had bit a hole into the side. Panicking, Homer reached down and grabbed a rag to stuff in the hole, only to be thrown to his knees in the boat as the port side of the boat was rammed by an even larger creature. Bringing a hand up to the lip of the boat, Homer looked over the edge to peer into the lone eye of a large squid, tentacles trailing up the side of the boat as it sought purchase.
“Oh no, I’m not going down that easy!” Homer cried out, reaching into his boot to pull out a short but sharp knife. As the tentacles clambered over the port side, wriggling like worms reaching up from the earth after a fresh summer shower. Barbed suckers slid and clacked along the metal sides as they groped their way along the edges of the boat, searching for Homer’s yielding flesh.
He slashed out with his knife, severing a a chunk of tentacle in a flurry of black blood and a high-pitched scream of agony coming from the water below. Rather than retreating, the tentacles clambered over the side faster than ever, sweeping back and forth as they searched for something to grasp onto.
Homer stood and stepped back onto the raised section of his small boat, eyeing the three large crimson squid that were raking the metal with sharpened bone lining the suckers of the tentacles.
Homer grabbed the harpoon and readied himself to stab down into the main torso of the larger squid when he heard the clacking of bone on metal behind him. Looking back, he screamed as tentacles lashed out from the squid that had partially climbed onto the boat, waving its cone of tentacles fanned out wide as it lashed at him, pulling him into the opened cone with wild abandon, one tentacle wrapped firmly around his right wrist, digging into his skin with bony suckers as if yanked him down into its waiting maw.
Homer cried out as the tentacles wrapped around his upper torso, encapsulating him in a vermillion shroud lined with razors; every move he made seemed to cause another ache and pain as the serrated bone barbs dug deep into his flesh. Losing his grip on the harpoon, Homer cried out as he felt the cool rush of water splash around him.
The squid had pulled him into the ocean!
He immediately felt his legs, kicking and thrashing about, become wrapped in tentacles from the other squids. Copper flooded the water around him as the water grew murky from his blood, forcing Homer to hack and cough as the squids pulled him under, dragging him deep into the chilly abyss that was the Yucatan Gulf. Homer’s last thoughts before blacking out, from the combined blood loss and lack of oxygen, were a morbid sense of satisfaction.
“At least I caught something big,” he thought bleakly as he was dragged under the waves, his boat left to drift on the open sea until it happened to run aground onshore.