01 Feb The Many Eyes of the Ocean
[The following is a transcription from the audio logs of Dr. Warren T. McCormac. These are being transcribed into writing by his daughter, Elle McCormac, in order to preserve the quickly deteriorating reels of tape that he insisted on using because “they sound better”. As I, Elle, have been transcribing these logs I’ve found some that have proven… unsettling. I hope to share these in hopes of finding the subjects of tapes, and hopefully clarity along with it.]
[For purposes of the transcription, anything said by my father will be in italics and marked in parentheses. The patients dialogue will be written in plain text. Any interjections made by myself will be done in brackets as shown here.]
(Ahem. Testing. Testing. Good. Today’s date is 8/8/1998. I am attending therapist, Dr. Warren T. McCormac. With me is the patient, Darren Forrest. The patient has been admitted for six days now, with no attempt at speaking or communication of any kind in that time. Patient was found by coastguard in a fishing vessel, no others on board. I will be attempting to diagnose any psychological trauma, as well as any account of what happened aboard the vessel.)
(Darren, can you hear me?)
(Would you be willing to tell me what happened aboard the ship?)
Tempest’s Fate? What happened to her?
(I’m hoping you can tell me that, Darren. You were found on board the *Fate a week ago. None of the other crew have been seen since you left port a month ago. What happened to them?)*
Jesus. They’re gone. They’re all gone. You couldn’t find any of them?
(I’m afraid not. Do you know where they may have gone?)
God help them. Wherever they went, it was a fate worse than hell. We were out there for about a week when it came up in the net. We figured it was just some accident. Had fallen off a ship or something in transit…
(What was “it” exactly, Darren?)
What you mean? It wasn’t still there? Damned thing taunted me for what seemed like an eternity. Just there on the deck… waiting for me.
(There was nothing there when you were recovered.)
There was a fuckin’ coffin right in the middle of the main deck! Goddammit. How could it not have been there?
(Can you please start from the beginning? I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.)
Fuck. Okay. So we were out for almost a week I think. Routine run, just like we had done a thousand times. It was… Friday? Maybe Thursday. I don’t remember exactly. We pulled up the nets and dumped them on the deck, the usual. This time though there was something big in one of the nets. Heard a big thump when it hit and crushed quite a few perfectly good fish. Hank, our first mate, he went over first to look at it.
Turns out it was a damn coffin. We did some looking at it and noticed it was sealed up pretty tight. Captain Kern figured it had fallen off a transport boat or something, maybe someone that died out of country or something. Hell, maybe it was an old one from back in the day that got lost. Who the hell knows?
Well, upon looking at it we noticed it was sealed up good and tight. Big bunch of heavy chains wrapped around it and a big old lock holding them all together, rusted and covered in sea grime. Had a bunch of nonsense carved into the top and sides of the wood. Wasn’t any kind of language I had ever seen.
(Did you open the coffin?)
God, no. Not then, at least. Me and Hank, we said we should throw it overboard. Captain Kern and Tommy though, they said we should keep it and bring it into port, see what they wanted to do with it there. So of course the captain overruled us all. We tied the thing off on the deck and left it there that night.
The dreams started when we went to sleep later. It was surreal, like something out of an old pulp novel. I was on the deck and there was a storm moving in. As it got closer and the wind picked up the rain started. It wasn’t raining like normal though. Fish fell from the sky. Rotten, decaying fish, some of them missing chunks or heads or entire bodies. Then the lightning flashed and there was something huge in the clouds that I could see.
(And what happened to you in this dream?)
I woke up. There was another flash of lightning and I sat up so fast I about took my head off on the upper bunk. It was still dark out so I got up and went to grab a drink from the galley. Noticed the door up to the deck was open so I went to check it out. Captain and Tommy were up there with a pair of bolt cutters trying to open the damn box.
I ran up there and asked ‘em what the hell they thought they were doing. Captain just said there were valuables in it. Said he just knew it was something good. Like the coffin was calling out to him to open it or some shit like that. That was about the point the chain snapped from the bolt cutters and Tommy started throwing ‘em all off.
He gets all the damn chains off and takes a crowbar to the lid when it still won’t open. By then Hank had heard all the commotion and joined us up top. We were both pretty uneasy, looking at everything going on. This thing was shut tight so someone obviously didn’t want it open for a reason.
Turns out it was nailed shut. Big, iron nails had been run through the outer perimeter of the lid, keeping it shut tight. Hell, I’m surprised any water was able to get in there. Tommy and Captain finally got it off of there between the two of them each using a crowbar.
(Was there anything of value inside?)
[The patient lets out an audible shudder at this point and seems to tense up, drawing in sharp breaths.]
Nothing of value. No. Just a body. Looked as fresh as the day it died. Thing was the person in the coffin was standing right beside me on the deck.
(I’m afraid I don’t follow)
It was Hank. Hank was in the coffin. Dead as a fuckin’ doornail but he was there. Poor guy… looked in and immediately spewed his dinner all over the deck. It was so real. There was no way it wasn’t Hank, y’know? Even though he was standing right beside me.
So that was it. After we saw that we put the lid back on the thing and tied it down. Captain put some straps over the top to keep it closed since the nails weren’t going back in, but the damage was done. Hank was in the coffin and we didn’t know what to make of what we had seen.
(I’m afraid that still doesn’t explain the disappearance of your crew mates.)
Because I ain’t got there yet. We all headed over to the galley and sat around the table for a bit, just passing a bottle of whiskey around and trying to rationalize what we had seen. None of us had a better explanation than some shared psychosis. God, if that’s what it had been I wouldn’t be here right now…
The sun rose red that morning. You familiar with sailor superstition, doc?
(I’m not, no.)
Red sunrise means death is on the horizon. Always a bad sign, no matter what. We should have turned tail and taken our asses back to port right then and there but Captain was determined to stick to the schedule.
We go that whole day with barely a damned fish coming up. The nets were practically empty and we’re way behind our usual haul. As if all the commotion of the night before hadn’t shaken us enough, this was setting us further back.
So we decide to call it early, right around three or four in the afternoon instead of sunset like we usually do. Everyone meets for an early dinner then goes off to their separate quarters for sleep. The damned dreams started again for me though. This time it was raining all these fish from the sky and that big thing in the sky seemed even closer. I don’t remember much of it, but there was something different in this one.
I looked over the deck into the water. All these damned fish were falling from the sky and out there in the surf were hundreds of bodies. Maybe thousands. They were packed in tight, almost blocking any view of the actual water.
God. I still remember their faces. All of them, men, women, children… all facing upward with this look of pure horror on their faces. Mouths open in the loudest scream I couldn’t hear over the storm. The thing that shook me though was their eyes.
They didn’t have any. None of ‘em. Eyes were clawed out and all that was left were the bloody pits where they once were. You could still see it though, the wide look and the eyelids pinned open in fear. They died in terror, seeing whatever had taken their vision coming straight for them.
I woke up because of the screaming. The wind was howling outside and rain was lashing the boat from every direction, but that scream pierced through all of it. I scrambled out of bed and up to the deck without missing a beat. Managed to almost break my ankle going up the stairs while I was at it. Hell, I wish I had. Would’ve kept me from seeing what happened.
Captain and Tommy each had one of Hank’s arms, dragging him over to the coffin. There was blood all over the deck too, getting scattered by the rain and sea foam washing over it but it was there, leaving a crimson hue over the whole boat.
When they reached the coffin Tommy held Hank while Captain undid the straps and pushed the lid off. The thing that was inside wasn’t Hank anymore. It was like a mass of ocean grime. I could see shells embedded in parts of it, seaweed and urchins clinging in other parts. The worst thing was that it was blinking. All over the body were eyes, all blinking at different times and darting in every direction.
Hank was moaning in front of the coffin while the thing rose up out of it like some old vampire movie. Damn thing looked like it slithered out of there, one fluid motion. Suddenly it was standing right in front of Hank and reaching straight for him. Poor bastard… he tried to scream but Tommy ran a knife straight across his throat before he could make a sound.
The thing from the coffin just put out its hands and just took him. One second he was there and the next he was almost absorbed into it. Then captain and Tommy just stood there looking at it while it kept looking everywhere.
(And that was it?)
Fuck no. They… they cut out their own eyes next. Both of em. Pulled out some damn oyster knives they must have taken from the kitchen. Oyster knives are dull as hell, meant for just prying the shells open. They took the knives and… [here Darren makes a horrible retching noise. Vomit can be heard hitting a metal trash can.] they popped their own damn eyes out and gave ‘em up to the thing like a fucking offering. Then they just walked straight off the side of the boat, into the ocean.
I wasn’t sticking around there any longer. I ran back to my damn bunk and locked myself in. Had a gun in my footlocker that I pulled out and cradled. God knows if it would do me any good but if push came to shove I would rather a bullet than whatever that thing did to Hank.
I remember seeing the sun come up through the little porthole in my room. I waited until it was at least noon the next day before I tried to go check. The coffin was still there. The damned thing still out there standing beside it, just looking off in all directions still. I know it saw me. I could feel the eyes follow me as I went back down. As long as it didn’t come after me…
I stayed in my quarters from then on, only making the occasional run when the sun was at it’s peak to bring food back with me. I would peak out every once in a while and that thing would still just be standing out there, just staring.
Sometimes at night I would hear it whispering. Like it was calling to me. Those were the nights I kept the muzzle of the gun pressed to my temple the entire time, telling myself to pull the trigger but pussying out at the last second. It was speaking to me. I couldn’t understand the language but I know it was sinister.
A few times I would look out the porthole of my quarters. It was situated just below the water so I could see fish pass by and the sun filter through the waves. Some nights Tommy and Captain would be out there. Looking in at me with their hollow eye sockets, a big smile on their faces. They were waterlogged and decaying already, skin waxy and peeling from their bones. Captain tried to scratch at the glass one night and I saw his fingernails break right off. I covered the window after that.
Everything after that is a blur. I remember the coastguard coming into the boat and shouting for me. I thought it was just that damned thing playing a trick to get me out. I wasn’t having it. Wasn’t until they busted in the door and wrestled the gun away from me that I finally let go. I don’t think I had slept in days.
Doc, you said they didn’t find the coffin when they got me?
(That is correct.)
God knows what we did setting that damned thing loose. I hope I don’t have to see it.
(This ends the interview. My professional opinion is that the patient believes the story he is telling. He is highly delusional, still speaking of continued dreams and a coming “great flood” that he saw in his dreams. I recommend intensive therapy as well as institutionalization until rehabilitated.)
[This is the end of this tape. There’s still boxes of these damned things to go through. I’ll update when I find anything else good.]