Categories > Original > Sci-Fi > Solitude


by Shmitz 1 review

The first work of fiction I succesfully finished.

Category: Sci-Fi - Rating: G - Genres: Sci-fi - Published: 2005-03-02 - Updated: 2005-03-03 - 2022 words - Complete

The man huddled at the base of the sheer cliff, watching the sea lap up onto his meager shelf. He knew it would soon be time again and braced himself for the rise of the tide. He had little hope of surviving this time. He had lost his knife the last time, and the creature had learned much. It was now arriving much earlier than it did at first, and it defended itself much better than before. His suit was torn, ragged, and would not hold out much longer, which meant that if the creature did not kill him and no one answered his emergency beacon, then without anything to purify seawater, he would soon die of thirst on a world covered with water. Of course, the gaping holes in the suit made it much more likely that he wouldn't even last long enough to worry about impure water. If it found even one tear large enough to crawl through, he wouldn't ever need to worry about anything again; he'd be dead. He had seen what the creature had done to the fish that he had caught and placed in a small tidal pool. It wasn't pleasant. He felt for the beacon in his inside suit pocket and prayed desperately for someone to rescue him from the desolate ocean planet. But that was a futile hope. All he could do was wait, and battle.
The water began to spread onto the ledge. It crept slowly towards his position wedged between the two great walls of rock. Little ripples under the surface of the incoming waves told him that his nemesis was near and waiting eagerly for access to his shelf. A solitary tentacle poked out of the rising water and strayed across the smooth rock, just in case its prey had not taken a position out of reach. Of course, once the waterline rose half a dozen inches above the ledge, the creature could easily just slide closer and attack at will. The tentacle, deciding that it was wasting its time, slithered back into the wavy sea.
The man struggled further back into the tight crevice, hoping that the cleft in the rock face-which unfortunately tapered to an thin crack a short distance up the cliff-would be deep enough to provide an adequate bulwark against the imminent assault. He positioned himself so that he could easily kick anything that came his way. He checked his gloves to make sure that they were sealed. He made a quick and speedy supplication to whatever deity might get him out of his current situation, and then braced himself for what was to come.
There was a surge in the shallow water ahead, and something struck his foot. He lashed out with his foot and struck the thin membrane of a thick pale orange tentacle. It's surprisingly soft flesh turned purple and hung limply. It retreated, but he knew that the creature's arms healed altogether too quickly.
Three more tentacles attacked, trying to find a way to wrap around his legs, but he kept them pressed against the rocks tight enough to prevent it. One tentacle reared back to try to knock his leg away from the wall. He pulled his foot up as the arm swung down, and he stomped as hard as he could on the limb, bruising it as well. Two down, a hundred more to go.
By this time the water had started seeping into the crevice. Soon the main body of the monster could get closer, and when that happened, he would have to face the real killers, the arms with the acid secreting needles. He remembered what had happened to his fish. The tentacle had stuck its thorny end into one of the fish as it had tried to escape into the then accessible sea. It hadn't seemed like the tiny needle could do much harm, until the flesh around the needle had actually started to melt away and the fish hung lifeless on the end of the tentacle. Fortunately, the needle couldn't penetrate his suit, otherwise he would have been long dead. The only problem was he couldn't swim very well with the suit on. It had been only a miracle that had brought him to the ledge in the first place.
He looked out onto the water covered shelf and saw underneath a mass of waving arms. He could almost make out the central body, which was nothing but eyes, a mouth, a brain, and a stomach. He had almost killed it last time by throwing his knife right at one of its eyes, but the knife had missed by a few inches and was now lost in the unfathomable depths of the ocean. Something wrapped itself around his left arm and gave a hard yank towards the tangle of tentacles before him. He smashed his right fist down upon the tentacle, but for the first time, it stayed. That was bad. The pull became stronger and he found himself being assaulted by several more arms attaching themselves to his left arm. He struggled with the sinuous onslaught for a few seconds, beating his arm against the cliff. A few tentacles fell off, but most remained. He beat repeatedly on the tentacles until finally they all fell off. His nemesis was learning tolerance. It wasn't until he felt something moving up his leg that he realized that while his attention was focused on his arm, his legs had been wrapped tightly in a blanket of orange flesh. He kicked wildly but succeeded only in leaving a few purple marks among the mass of tangerine. The creature was just full of surprises this time. He briefly wondered just how smart the thing was, until he saw the thorned killers and was forced to think of other things. One thrust itself at his stomach but only succeeded in bending the needle and forming something of a barbed end. He immediately grabbed it and thrust the needle at another oncoming tentacle. The creature was familiar with this tactic, however, and dodged this counterattack effectively enough. He swung down, though, and plunged the needle into the cluster of tentacle around his legs. Several quickly withdrew, but his legs remained partially bound.
As he kicked his left leg free, he noticed two more killers coming out of the knee deep water to his right. They lunged towards his face, but were too short and swung back down towards his abdomen. Both hit with a tiny snap as the needles fell off into the water. He grabbed them both and twisted the yielding pulp into a quick knot. They both turned deep violet and slithered back towards the main body.
The rise of the water was slowing, but not enough. Before he had been able to easily fend off the regenerative tentacles with his knife, and so was able to ride out the chest deep tides. This time, however, he might be dragged under, or worse, the killers might actually be able to reach his face. The thought sickened him.
Suddenly ten more inch thick holding tentacles thrust out of the water towards him and grabbed his arms. He battled to regain control of his limbs, but the combined pressure of all the creature's tentacles was too much. He felt himself being forced from his refuge in the crevice and dragged into the sea. The creature had finally won.
The tentacles pulled down, and despite his acknowledgment of the inevitable, he struggled to remain standing. He felt probing tentacles feeling all over his body for access into his armor. He was pulled under into a volume of writhing snakes and slithering vines. He could see nothing but orange leather anywhere. He was deeply surprised that the killers hadn't gone for his face when his body remembered that it was supposed to breath and surged up above the water.
He sucked in a lung full of sweet, salty air before being pulled down again. His adversary was obviously not done inspecting the cattle before the slaughter. He plunged back down into the shallow tidewater and found himself face to face with his tenacious foe. The large, round, almost vacant eyes seemed to stare back at him with an immeasurable hatred. But he wasn't paying much attention to the creatures eyes. He was looking at his knife that had stuck itself at the base of one of the thick tentacle clusters. Time seemed to slow as he looked back one more time at the smooth, wide face of the sea monster, and then thrust his hand out to snatch the blade, his only hope of survival. His fingers closed around the handle, and he slashed across the cluster, severing about twenty tentacles off the main body. The monster reeled back at the sudden pain and partially relaxed its firm grip.
He stood up out of the water, breathing deep and holding the knife high in the air. He leaped at the creature's head, arm outstretched and poised to tear the fleshy skull in two. But the monster was too quick. He suddenly found himself on a reeling bed of gripping tentacles. They all closed upon his undefended body and took him under once again.
He floated free in the churned water, covered in his entire length by tentacles. Somehow, though, his head managed to get placed above water. A probe tentacle suddenly broke through one of the tears in his suit, explored for a while, and then retreated. All motion abruptly stopped, except for a single killer sliding towards him, slow and meticulous. He closed his eyes, not willing to watch. He felt the tentacle enter into his suit, felt the needle gently scrape against the skin of his underarm, and prayed fervently for his cup to pass away from him. The tentacle violently slithered around inside his suit for several seconds, as if trying to decide the best place to inject its poison. It paused briefly, and he stiffened, expecting the final blow to come at any second. The tentacle lunged and grappled inside his suit, and something made a sharp cracking sound. He resigned himself to death, but when after a few minutes nothing happened, he opened his eyes and looked around. There was absolutely no movement of any kind coming from the creature. Even the killer in his suit was stone-still. He was about to guess that it had inexplicably died when, without warning, everything started moving at once. The killer came out of his suit. The myriad of tentacles in the water all began moving out to sea, towards the sunset on the horizon. The creature swam away from his shelf as if it could care less that its quarry was still alive. In the stillness of the dusk, he stood alone chest deep in salt water, still holding his knife in his hand, unable to do anything but look out at the distant wake if his unrelenting companion and hang his jaw open in confusion.
Only a sliver of the sun could be seen on the horizon by the time he moved. He slowly made his way back to the crevice and wedged himself high up in it, high enough that he wasn't soaking himself in water. He couldn't believe that it was actually gone. He hung his head in silent astonishment.
The last line of light slipped out of the sky, and only the massive moon and the tiny stars illuminated the lonely figure huddled inside the crevice at the base of the sheer cliff. He reached into his inside pocket to fish for his flashlight. He fumbled in the pale illumination for a few minutes, forming a soundless word with his mouth over and over again. Then, instead of a flashlight, he pulled out several broken pieces of a transmitting device that had once reassuringly gone BEEP BEEP BEEP if he held it up to his ear. Now he only closed his eyes and sobbed quietly into the salty water below.
Sign up to rate and review this story