It had been built up as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, thanks to that damn TV show. Ray gripped a stanchion as the boat rode up another swell, watching the pile of recovered traps shifting nervously in their stowage, and nodded. It sure wasn’t easy.
The seas were calmer than they had been when the traps were being set. That had been… unpleasant. Ray smiled. You can get used to a lot, and he was used to walking around on what most people would think was a nightmare roller-coaster. Fair enough. His throat closed up at the thought of spending all his days in an office job, doing whatever the hell people did there day after endless day until they got fired a week before the pension. Different strokes, and that was fine with Ray.
The winch was lugging a little as the last of the traps came up. Ray glanced at the machine, saw that Sonny was right there, keeping an eye on it, no sign of worry on his craggy old face. That meant the winch wasn’t about to let go, it was just struggling to bring up the trap. Good news for the crew, delivered in an unknown language of chugs and screeches. It wasn’t as if this trip hadn’t already put a lot of crab in the hold, but one more trap stuffed with the things was a fine bonus.
“Here she comes,” said Jake, closest to the rail, and Ray moved a little closer to his station. Sonny would mind his business, and Ray had to pay attention to his own.
The winch gave one last grunt. The burden which had given it so much labour was atop the trap rather than in it, a thing shaped for life in the abyssal depths, all spikes and teeth. A single obsidian eye set high on its vast head swept across the men on deck, before a multitude of chitinous arms lashed out.
Ray dropped to the deck, felt his coat go the shreds as one arm passed over him. He saw Jake caught by two of them, snatching him into the air before he could start screaming. Sonny threw up his own arm to protect his face as he tried to shelter behind the winch controls, and howled when that limb was wrenched away.
A moment later, the rigging of the crane groaned as the thing rolled off the trap, the splash a sudden punctuation to Jake’s cries. As Ray crawled along the deck, desperate to keep below the side of the boat, the only sound was Sonny’s sobbing. Whatever it had been, that segmented awfulness that crouched on their fishing tackle, it had snatched up its victims and vanished into mystery.
“Inktober 2019 – Catch” ©2019 Dirck de Lint.