We waded through the cold waters towards the void in the cliff face. A cave that wasn't there the day before, so you can understand our curiosity. It could have turned out to be a simple rock fall from years of sea water bashing up against the cliff, but no matter how close we got we could not see the back of the cave. It was indeed something that has been here longer than we have and our interest only peaked when we saw the beauty of the pools inside.
Our boat floated gingerly into the cave and soon the dark ceiling drifted over us as we entered. The rock face looked perfectly cut; water must have been splashing up against the ceiling of the cave for centuries, which would explain why an entrance to the cave broke so recently. It was worked too thin and with enough force would crumble with ease. It seemed peaceful at first, the light of the warm sun cascading down the bright rocks on the blue-green water.
We didn't want to bring the boat too far in, so we decided to climb off and wade inwards through the shallow water. The water was perfect, as if being pooled in the cave aged it like wine, turning it into this calm and just cool enough water that was perfect for wading in. Something straight out of a travel brochure, but the further we waded the further the ambiance shifted from peaceful toward sinister.
There weren't any drops falling from the ceiling, which usually was always the case in these water caves or even the sound of water lapping up against the sides, but it was deathly silent. We couldn't hear the echo of the sea either. It was extremely off-putting after some long quiet moments. I enjoyed silence, but this kind of silence was deafening and found myself talking and noting obvious things to my friends. Telling them how cool the cave was and pitching an idea to set up a private getaway with our other friends and family. None of them responded and soon the overwhelming feeling that the ambiance gave pushed me to tell them of my discomfort in this shallow pools.
When I turned to tell my friends this feeling I realized they were gone. I was alone. At first I thought my friends were playing a prank on me and hiding under the water, but the water was almost crystal clear and they were wearing bright colors for safety. Professionals like us always did this, especially when working with my dad in deeper waters. I stared at the still waters and inklings of panic began to seep into my heart despite my best efforts to push it away and man-up instead.
I heard sound for the first time since entering the cave. The sound of water being parted with force, but there wasn't a splash. It was the sound of underwater swimming. The reverberations were clear. I heard it whenever we went to see the dolphins off the coast near a small island close to town. Of course, I head and felt similar swimming from that of sharks as well during deeper dives. My worst fear realized I searched for one of the large rocks that stuck out of the water. There wasn't time to apply the old tactics; it was time to get out of the water. I quickly located the a rock not too far away that I could scale on top of.
Finding what I was looking for I waded slowly towards it as to not make too much movement to catch the creature’s attention. Of course, when I realized that even slow moves in such calm waters made so much disturbance I decided to book it and splash over to it quickly. Keeping the creature in sight I saw it wasn't too attracted and I made it there easily. Stumbling onto the wet rock, my feet slipping out underneath me I hit the ground, but I stayed on. I noticed a wet crunch beneath me and saw it was fish bones, new and old. The bones were clean of all meat.
I turned to look back at the water and I saw what was in the water a lot more clearly. Even through the slight murkiness of the water I could make out the strangeness that was the form, because it appeared so familiar. A scaly beast with arms and legs swimming through the water. Its back was spiked with protective bones and its eyes glowed red with a fury. It swam in circles around the rock fading in and out of vision whenever the shade of the water was dark enough. My heart was racing with fear. I was breathing heavily and my mind whirled. I had so many questions after seeing it, but at the time I felt only fear. It disappeared again in a dark patch of water and I didn't see it return for a moment.
Silence. A wet hand fell on my shoulder. I turned to see a deformed fish-like face with massive fangs. It only took me a second to realize it was a rubber mask, but in that instant I felt my spirit leave my body. My friend pulled off the mask and laughed heartily. My other friend waded out from behind the rock to join in. I was too happy to see them to be angry. I laughed. It was a spectacular joke that was all too convincing for me, yet I treated them with a congratulatory nod.
We quickly swam out of the cave and back to the boat, me questioning them thoroughly.
"But you were wearing bright orange," I reminded them.
To this my friend pulled the wet-suit zip down revealing the orange swimwear. Apparently they had investigated the cave an hour earlier and stowed the suit under a rock at the entrance.
"And oxygen?" I asked.
"Give me a break, dude," my friend smiled. "I've been able to hold my breath for an age."
I shrugged mockingly, a joked about me being the better at breath-holding, but in the end my two friends had the last laugh when they pulled out a camera. A few clicks here and there as well as a recording of my reaction. The two smiled proudly having pulled it off and sat down in the boat, revving the motor and preparing to return to the closest piece of land to show the media off to the others.
I congratulated them properly, truly not having any hard feelings about it and they thanked me with childish grins. Still, the ordeal made me feel so uneasy and I felt something ask another question at the back of my mind.
My smile slowly faded. I examined the suit to find it completely smooth, singular in color. Upon further inspection I held the mask up and saw it was just like any cheap rubber mask you could buy in a store. It was well done, but so many characteristics of this disguise didn't match what I saw in the water.
There were no dark scales and fins, nor spikes along the back. The mask did not have anything that could on t that could make the eyes glow a faint red. I found myself turning back and looking towards the shallow caves. I saw the shade of the cave ceiling on the pure water and not much else. However, before I turned to look back at the others and ask them I saw it. Something stand up in the water, partly cloaked by the shade, but still clear as day. Standing taller than any man it watched us sail away and I stared transfixed by the horror that soon disappeared into the darkness of the water.
Be sure to follow!