A/N: Used only one line break for this. Good job me. Also, I'm not sure of the rating but I don't think it's too explicit so I just went for T.
The see breeze smelled like salt. Shane Dollaw knew this, but something about the scent was wrong this time, a subtle tint of something else making her curious. Distantly she could hear the engines of the ship, a faint combination of humming and hissing.
She fidgets on her seat, the soft leather itching at her skin; the room that she had purchased was situated on the deck. With a balcony on both sides, she had a wonderful view of the vast ocean. Shane had always been interested by the ocean, by its mystery and size and the things that it hid beneath. It was why she had picked this room; it was a wonderful vantage point, and ever since she got on the cruise ship she had spent all the time she could watching the ocean pass by indolently.
Their journey was at the point where the naked eye could not see any landmass, surrounded by water at all sides. It was a breathtaking experience, how one could look as far as the eye could see and only see blue and greens and reflections. Especially so during the sunset and the sunrise, when the sun would paint the water a golden hue: it looked like small waves of flame dancing and twirling about.
It was noon, just past lunch, and normally Shane would spend the next couple of hours ocean watching, but the scent was ticking her off. It smelled like the fish market; all dirt and mud water. Shane hated the fish market. With its wet floor, noisy vendors, and disorganized air; the way you couldn't get out of there without getting wet with muck. It infuriated her every time she had to see it, always unclean, always unsanitary, always made her feel like she was filthy by association; as if the gunk seeped into her skin and settled inside her flesh.
And the fish. Always the fish, with their dead eyes and their filthy flesh and their dumb, forever gaping mouths; fish disgusted Shane. They were slimy, looked as if they were stoned, and smelled. She'd take octopuses and squids and prawns anytime over fish. It was, perhaps, the one thing that Shane disliked that could be associated with the ocean.
Irritated, Shane stood up from her position on the plush leather seat, closed the open windows and the door to the veranda. The satin curtains were let down, falling like smooth, glossy hair.
She turned on the AC, set the alarm clock to wake her just before dinner, and proceeded to sleep the afternoon off.
Shane woke up to a tilting sensation.
Disoriented, it took her a while to figure out that the ship was rocking back and forth, a glance to the window showed tumultuous, black waters. The waves that hit the ship weren't that big, but they were enough to tilt the ship ever so slightly.
It was strange. The weather forecast had announced that the waters here were calm, of course weather forecasts have the knack of being wrong most of the time, but the ones that Shane heeded to were reliable.
Not that Shane was really complaining, the ocean was even more interesting to watch when it was in turmoil.
Checking the time and seeing that it was near dinner, Shane turned off her alarm, dressed, then headed out.
There were only a couple of people by the time she arrived. Discounting the waiters and other personnel, there was only an old, graying man with a thick middle, a couple who were giggling over something on the phone, and a group of five boys who were waiting and talking casually.
Shane disregarded them all and picked a seat by the window, where she could watch the minor storm brewing outside. It really was wonderful in a primal and chaotic way, the ocean looked like a great beast, twisting and fighting itself with no care. White bubble topped waves seemed to crest slowly, as if the water was holding its breath and then crashing as it exhaled.
"Miss? Excuse me, miss?" Shane turned her head to the one calling as if she was in a trance, a slow loll of the head that looked mechanically smooth and artificial.
Looking at the faintly frowning waiter, Shane made an inquiring noise at the back of her throat.
"What would you like to eat?"
Shane tried to think about it for a while, but her mind was preoccupied with the water. The dark, inky depths that have not yet been unraveled, and Shane was so close she thought she could feel the waves as it slapped across the ship, thought she could hear the ocean's soft inhales and exhales, there was a faint rumbling that she could feel, a vibration that seemed to race across her skin, raising hair and making everything feel electrified.
"Seriously, you're a grown woman now, and yet you act like a child at times. You mustn't act like a half dazed ghost." Her mother used to say, and Shane had ignored her because she was right.
The waiter was staring at her now, his thumb and pointer finger rubbing the edges of his pristine uniform, his other hand awkwardly extending a menu to her. Shane cleared her throat.
"I'd like to go with whatever your chef's choice is as long as it's not fish."
The waiter opened his mouth, closed it, then hastily left.
Shane returned to watching the ocean. The storm was mostly strong winds. Hopefully it erased the awful scent earlier. Shane wanted to open her veranda and windows, there was just something different when it came to watching through a mirror and watching through the naked eye without any kind of barrier, translucent or otherwise.
Clicking her nails against the table in an uneven rhythm, she continued to watch. There was… something off. A subtle otherness in the water that her faculties could not perceive; it was an idle feeling, a steady, flat thing.
Someone behind her cleared their throat, and when Shane looked back, distracted once again, she was faced with the waiter from before. She murmured a thank you as he set down her food: a light soup; a bowl of salad with lettuce, tomatoes, strips of chicken, and a dressing that smelled like lemons and mustard; a plate of fettuccine with thick and creamy sauce, mushrooms, slices of bacon, and some greens on the side. Someone must have put her glass of iced tea while she was lost in her thoughts.
There was an awkward moment when he finished setting down her food and they made eye contact, neither party knowing quite what to do. The waiter settled for a strained, lopsided smile to her, and then left.
Shane paid him no mind and begun to eat. Still, even as she slowly savored the sumptuous meal, she thought of the ocean and the tint of something in it. It whirled in her mind's eye, a whirling whirlpool that made her feel sleepy and odd. It was a black hole, a space of emptiness that consumed everything.
The soup felt like air and the fettuccine tasted like ash on her tongue.
Get a grip Shane. It's just the smell that's gotten into you.
But it wasn't. Shane might be half dazed most of the time, a by product of a life filled with little socializing, but she wasn't stupid.
She was noticing it now, how the water seemed to be darker in some parts than the others. Each time lightning flashed she could see something underneath. It looked like a whale.
A particularly bright flash occurred then, and Shane saw something white and pink near the surface.
She finished her meal mechanically. Maybe not. Maybe Shane was stupid after all. Her mother had said she was sometimes delusional and Shane, privately and seldom, agreed.
The fettuccine still tasted like ash. And Shane's heart was in her throat, her nerves frizzling like busted electrical lines.
This time, she saw the waiter head for her.
"Are you done, ma'am?" There was a droning quality to his voice and Shane wanted to scream at him. Wanted to tell him that she was losing her mind in the middle of the beautiful ocean in a cruise ship headed for Alaska; she refrained though, if only because she could hear her mother telling her no Shane, you can't. People don't like weird. They don't like different.
It was only when the expression of the man became strained that Shane remembered that she still hadn't replied. She opened her mouth to say something only for nothing to come out. Her throat felt like sandpaper and it was locked up.
"Ma'am are you- are you okay?" There was a faint urgency in his movements now, his hands hovering awkwardly at her.
Shane shook her head and hummed a sound of appeasement. Tremors were wracking her body; she huddled deeper into her coat, her fingers covered by the long, flapping sleeves. Shakily she stood, and for a moment she thought her knees would fail her, that the bones would slide over each other and refuse to be solid. It didn't. And Shane should feel silly right now, should feel childish and young and apologetic because the monster under her bed wasn't real and shhhh Shane, see, as long every part of you is on the bed it can't reach you okay? Now be a good girl and let momma sleep, you're gonna be okay.
Nothing was okay this time. Shane's mind was fracturing, creating half formed delusions. She wrapped her coat tighter around her body, and focused on getting to her room, one step at a time.
Shane was sure she was going to have a coronary soon.
She arrived at her room, a bundle of nerves and half buried neuroses, and huddled within her pillows and silk sheets, then waited in mind numbing, flat, terror.
It was the kind of fear that made you removed, you could feel the thundering ba-thump of your heart, and you could feel the sweat, the anxiety, the sheer terror; but it was also far off in the distance. Like worms that you could not see that chomped at your insides.
Shane spent the next hours like this. In her own little corner, removed and distant; with the knowledge that the boogey man most likely wouldn't be repelled by simply keeping one's whole body on the confines of the bed.
She tries to focus on the fact that boogey men were not real but her mind was cracking, her anxiety returning like guilty secrets kept under her toy box down under the space in her closet.
Time crept by slowly.
The next time she looked at her alarm clock it showed 2:11 AM. Shane couldn't take it anymore. Her mind was eroding, the blank spaces growing larger and eating the good parts. It was a blight.
Shane didn't bother taking off the blanket off her shoulders. Instead, she wrapped it tighter, opened her veranda, and ventured down onto the deck.
The storm was gone now. The only sign that it was once there were the flashes of lightning here and there, sporadic and distant, there was a heavy feeling in her gut. Her intestines twining and knotting itself, morbid and filled with hysteria, she thought it was how ear buds tangled too.
She went for the rails. Each step was a deep revelation that further corroded her mind.
The rails were as cold as ice when she touched it, Shane carefully balanced her feet on the lowest railing, and then peered down at the ocean below.
It was dark. A deep pitch black that was not due to an absence of light. Something pink and fleshy, like gums, flickered at the edges of her vision. A white, bony thing was just ahead, and if she looked up a bit more she would see it.
Shane kept her head down. Even as a faint shadow covered the whole area, even when the moonlight slowly became fainter and fainter; the dominant light source soon becoming the ship lights. Shane kept her head down until the only light source was artificial.
When she looked up her mind became white noise for a second, her heart skipping a beat and then starting again like a hummingbird's.
The ship was enclosed inside a fleshy dome; pink and glistening with water. Long teeth that were the size of cars protruded like spikes from it. The teeth were everywhere. It was an endless wall of pink and white.
Shane was numb. Numb and unfeeling and undergoing shock, drool dripping out of her open mouth in a single, lazy stream; it was colossal. Distantly, she could hear screaming, high shrieks lighting up like wretched fireworks. The smell of fish lingered.
The mouth, for what else could it be, snapped shut then, the white and pink filling her vision rushing to meet her.
Shane Dollaw didn't even feel it.