Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


The sailor struggled as he sank down, down, down towards the silty bottom of the lagoon. Just seconds ago he had been hauling in a fishing net when something had reached up and grasped his wrist, pulling him over with a strength he couldn’t hope to match. Whatever it was didn’t stop when he hit the water, but instead wrapped around him and dragged him ever deeper: something with cold hands and sharp nails that bit deep into the flesh of his shoulders. He could feel slick, slimy skin pressed up against his back as his captor churned the water behind them with powerful strokes. Its arms were slender and soft, but against their iron grip he was helpless.

Suddenly, with the same deft speed with which it had snatched him, the creature stopped. Only the barest hints of moonlight shone through the murky water, poorly illuminating the scene that surrounded him. The sailor could feel something wrap tightly about his leg and waist, nearly crushing his bones. The arms that held him wrapped under his own and around his throat in an embrace that left him spread-eagled and powerless. Craning his neck, he could only now just make out the face of a woman over his shoulder: a crone with harsh features and the green, mottled skin of an eel. She barely afforded him a glance, instead staring into the darkness before them, her thin mouth twisting into a triumphant grin and revealing needle-sharp fangs.

He turned as he followed her gaze, spotting something else swimming up from the murk of the lagoon: something stocky and immense that nonetheless moved with all of the intent and grace of a predator. The sailor’s stomach fell in instinctive fear at the shark-like silhouette, and it twisted further when the shape resolved into yet another creature with the face and torso of a powerfully-built woman. She wasted no time pressing her body up against his as well, her rough skin biting into his like sandpaper, the muscles in her arms even stronger than the eel-hag who already held him captive. The newcomer inspected him closely, her nostrils and gills flaring as she took in his scent, and when she opened her mouth to return the eel-hag’s grin he shivered at the unkempt rows of her jagged, razor teeth. He struggled uselessly against the coils and claws of the creatures, and the pair of them shook as though laughing at his plight. As the last of his breath escaped, his vision dimming, the final thing he saw was their huge eyes glowing eerily in the moonlight.

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