Our crew and I landed on an uncharted South Sea island on August fourth. We were happy to see land, for our food reserves were slender, not at least the fruit and vegetables, and our health was not the best. Also, the ship hull had shown problems lately.
We made camp quickly, and the First Mate came to me. "Captain," he said, "we may have to stay here for a week for general repairs and restocking."
"You imbecile!" I yelled at him. "We have to be home by Christmas, or our whole profit goes, and the Queens reward goes to somebody else."
"But Cap'n, the crew..." continued the First Mate, but shut up when I hit him hard over the mouth. He is rather a slight man compared to me, so he knows who is captain.
A surprise turned up when one of the younger crew members appeared with a dark young woman in tow. "She followed me home," he joked. "Can I keep her, Captain?"
After hitting him for joking in front of his captain, I looked at the young woman. She was very easy on the eyes, that had to be admitted. She was slender and brown, with big eyes, smiling lips, pointy breasts, and curvy hips. Her long, brown legs ended in small feet that seemed to always balance perfectly on the warm sand. The only thing she wore were decorative bracelets and some pearls around her neck.
The unusual sight had drawn a lot of the men, so I had to act decisively. I told them that of course they could have nothing to do with the natives, and that I would keep this one around for now, for study and interrogation, for their safety.
There was some grumbling, and I noticed that more men than usual found work to do in the immediate vicinity. Ordinarily the respect that I inspire would keep them away, but this girl had an effect upon them.
Of course she could not speak real language, so what I did when the first hut had been erected was to retire to it with her and a prime selection of the fruit the men had gathered. After eating, I approached her physically. It was very enjoyable, she was a warm and passionate creature.
After, she and I took a bath in the brook, and I felt so good that I did not even take any note of the fact that the men were looking at her and me with decidedly mixed emotions.
When the sun set, the girl got nervous somehow, and started clucking her godless tongue, and dragged me back into the hut. I did not resist.
We made love all evening, and feeling drained, I fell into a deep sleep.
I had dreams of the sea. I was deep under it, and fishes were taking care of my life and making it pleasant. But the fearful Kraken was outside, always a threat. I knew that persons of authority was a particular tidbit for the vile creature, and I was always on guard. The Kraken had long teeth and would take weeks to kill its victims, the better to savor the fear it generated.
When we woke, it was late morning, but strangely I did not feel very rested. My body was unhappy and sore, and I was not in a good mood. I took it out on the men. Even the closeness of the girl, always around, did nothing much to improve matters. Worse, the ship was in poorer condition even than expected.
Yet nothing prepared me for what they found behind the camp that morning. Bones, chewed and ground. Not a speck of meat on them, and much of the seemingly human skeleton chewed into fine dust by what seemed like razor-sharp teeth or implements.
No clothing was found, but the mood took a turn for the worse when one of the men recognized a ring on on of the few fingers found in a whole condition. The ring belonged to his bunkmate Percy, who was soon established as being nowhere to be found.
I decreed that this island contained some manner of fearsome wild beast the manner of which we had not heard of, and I ordered no time off for anybody from the ship repairs, and the erection of barricades around the camp, and double guards. In my anxiety I even doubled my own efforts in nagging the men working.
In the afternoon, a ray of light while my beautiful young lover was bathing in the stream, two of her sisters arrived, just as slim and toothsome as the first one. I was too tired and irritated to keep them to myself, and I let my officers take care of them. They were smiling all the time, the girls that is, the men were too fearful still.
By late evening we had a decent barricade erected, and I attempted to get some sleep, not even able to get much pleasure from my young morsel.
Ye gods, what noise the nature on such tropical lands emit. I tossed and turned. Yet I must have slept a little, for I suddenly noticed that my lover was not there anymore. Worried, I went out in search of her, of course rousing two men and their guns.
The night was pitch black, and we brought torches. We toured the barricade and found it whole. We were about to cross the camp again when we heard noises from the hut of the First Mate. We entered. Our weapons were ready, but we weren't. In the hut we saw blood and flesh everywhere, and to creatures the like of which we had not imagined in our most feverish nightmares.
They were much bigger than humans, and much more elongated, like insects. They had big, black eyes, and seemed like the bones were outside, like insects. They moved slow, though, not fast like insects, except they suddenly would appear to slip in space, like they could move so fast the eye could not follow, like an arrow can. They had enormous hands and foot-long fingers with something like blades on the ends, in constant motion, like sea weed in turbulent waters.
The First Mate was no more, he was the blood and tissue all over. I recoiled from all this horror, and bolted backwards out the door to escape, unlike the men I had brought, who were too slow. I ran from the screams of the damned.
Bolting into my hut I nearly collided with my young lover who had returned, and I grabbed her arm and my weapons, and pulled her out. I quickly collected few men, and we ran in haste to the boat we had on the beach, and set to sea.
It was a quiet night, and the sounds of the slaughter in the camp on the island followed us for a long while. After it died out, we started relaxing a bit, and I ordered the rowers to take a breather. We sat in stunned silence for a while.
Looking at the stars, they seemed cold and unforgiving, unchanged unlike our own lives, and not caring. My young native lover snuggled up to me and said "It is always about barricades with you, isn't it?"
I asked her what she meant, before it dawned on me that she was speaking the Queens English! I backed away from her, as did the seven men in the boat with me, and she was sitting alone in the bows, silhouetted by the fierce moon light in the sea.
"You meet something you don't know or understand, and you erect barricades. You always do that. Throughout the history of man, that is what you have done. It is you against the Universe."
The young girl, who suddenly seemed not only not like a young girl, but not really human, moved closer to us, with a fluid motion. I think if this had not been shark waters, we would all of us had gone overboard at this point.
She continued, her voice growing less human by the minute "Oh, you could learn so much from the universe, and from other creatures in it. But you don't want to, do you? It is always about conquest with you. Pillaging and raping, robbing and burning, treading down everything and everyone in your path. And when you find something you can't eat, rape, or steal, it must be destroyed. And if you can't destroy it, lord forbid, it must be kept out with barricades."
She moved even closer. "But you never seem to learn the lesson. The lesson is that the worst things you find, always, are within the barricades. The worst things you find are amongst yourselves every time."
I pointed at her and said "You stay away from us, you monster. We have done nothing to you!" I was ashamed that my voice was shaky.
And then I noticed two things at the same time One was that my finger pointing at her was very long, and had a blade on the end of it.
The other thing was that the men with me were moving away again now, but not from her, from me.