The ship isn’t moving anymore. We’ve run out of gas and all our energy is depleted. We’ve been floating in the mud-like water for God knows how long. The water is so dark, we can see past the surface. We haven’t seen a fish hop in days and Ethan suggests that maybe the ocean is empty. I ask him how that would happen, how would the entire ocean be empty and he shrugs before saying, “aliens,” before saying, “too many fishermen,” before laughing and saying, “Yeah, that probably couldn’t happen.”
The cabin’s empty of crackers, drinkable water, and morale. Mark picks apart the pillows and eats the beans inside. Ethan goes through the motions of lighting a cigarette. His pinched fingers bring an invisible light to his lips and when he inhales, a small orange circle illuminates where the cigarette ends. “We need to do something, Capt. I’m starving and I’m not eating the cancer beans stuffed in pillows,” Ethan says.
“We’ll find a way,” I say and plead to believe myself.
“All I wanted was an adventure,” Ethan mutters into his cigarette.
The days melt into one another with little difference between them. Mark eats the beans, Ethan lights up, and I watch over the muddy waters for any sign of life. When it comes, it’s not a boat, it’s a messiah walking on top of the muddy water like a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Two men trail behind him like shadows, large black boxes on their shoulders, pointed at him.
“There’s someone there,” I say, and when I don’t receive a response, I say it again, louder. Mark comes to the edge of the ship with his pillow in hand like a bag of popcorn. Ethan flicks his invisible cigarette into the muddy water.
“How’re they doing that?” Mark says with a mouth full of beans.
“Doing what?” Says Ethan.
“Walk on the water like that?”
“Aliens,” he says, then, “fisherman tricks,” and then he laughs and says, “the beans are making you nuts.”
“You see it too,” Mark says. “And what if… what if we can do that too?” He drops the pillow to the floor and climbs over the boat.
“Mark, no!” I grab him by the back of his shirt. He swats at me. I don’t let him go and he punches me in the stomach. I fall back and he falls out of the ship. A loud splash, but no water, and the muddy water devours his body as immediately as he touches it.
The Messiah with two shadows boards the ship saying, “I can’t believe we found it. The ‘official’ story says a crewman fell overboard, but the rumors say the captain ate him. Either way, this place should be haunted as hell.”
“We’re not haunted. We’re stranded in a muddy hell. Help us.”
But he doesn’t; he walks past me, into the cabin and says, “Bro! You need to get a shot of this! It’s a real-life skeleton!”
This is a short story written in response to the #WriterInMotion Event hosted by Jeni Chappelle. The challenge was to take inspiration from the image above and write about 500 words using anything about the image as a prompt.