The Halloween Project 2019 Story 5: Chums
It was the third day of vacation when I first saw the shark. I was standing on the deck of our awesome ninth floor suite in Turks and Caicos drinking a Coke. Actually, it was a rum and Coke. I had taken some Ron Rico from the stash my parents had in their improvised bar. They were downstairs poolside at a real bar getting smashed as they watched my siblings in the pool. O.K., I'm 15, I'm not perfect.
The suite was awesome. Like I said, 9th floor of the hotel, a bunch of bedrooms and a kitchen. My two older brothers shared one bedroom, my parents had one and my two younger sisters had one. I had to sleep on the couch but it wasn't that bad because the living room had the biggest HD TV. Oh, if I forgot to tell you, I'm a boy also. Pretty typical boy I would guess. I like video games, my brothers are both killer athletes. I'm a freshman in high school, a little older than most because I have a late birthday and my parents started me a year later then they might have. Fine with me. Sometimes I feel a little left out of things. I'm kind of the middle piece of cheese in this family sandwich.
Anyway, I was standing on the balcony looking down into this crystal clear water. Completely clear like glass. I guess it looked blue because it reflected the sky, but, wow, was it clear. This shadow crossed over from left to right maybe 50 yards offshore. It was huge. Gigantic. It was moving slow and steady like some kind of living oil tanker was trying to save energy. I knew it was a shark. You just know. You've seen them in aquariums and you've seen them in those Sharknado movies and on Shark Week on the History channel. They're just amazing. This one was mammoth, like a dinosaur of sharks. Suddenly it burst into speed and I could see it was heading right for a school of fish. I knew this because my father taught me how to recognize schools of fish from up above. Have you ever seen birds fly in a big flock and they manage to not smash into each other? Same thing here. That shark exploded them into wavy lines and probably ate a fair number.
I don't really know what got into me. I slugged the rest of the rum and Coke and made for the elevator. I was a little woozy. Maybe very woozy. Actually, it was my third rum and Coke. Let’s just say I have problems of one sort or another. I ran passed my parents at the pool as they tried to yell something to me but I just ignored them. I made straight for the beach.
Now you're going to say I'm crazy and you're probably 100% right. That's what everyone at this joint is telling me, so maybe I am. That's why I'm supposed to be writing all this down. I made my way to the closest point on the beach where I saw the shark from way up. I am a real good swimmer so I just headed straight out. Through the breakers, out a good 50 yards or so. I stopped, dog paddled a bit, looked back at the beach, saw people waving and gesturing like crazy, but I couldn't hear a thing cause of the waves.
I turned around to look back out to the ocean again and there it was. It's huge dorsal stuck up like a sail, two, maybe three feet out of the water. Everything seemed grey; the water, the sky, the shark's wide back. It came right at me, fast, dead on. Its gigantic snouty head, mouth half open, opening wider. I don't know how big it was but it felt like a cabin cruiser running me down. 10 feet, five feet, then it simply rolled a little, slowed down and glided by. I swear to God it rubbed up against me. I could feel the dentricles on its skin. They were a little scrapy and rough. I know a lot about sharks.
It slowly circled around and I kept turning to face it. As I rotated I could see people on the beach were going crazy. It came around again and slowed even more. Then I saw one really focused eye. It wasn't all cold and glassy like most people think. It just watched me very, very closely. It took one more turn and looked at me again. Here's the weird thing. My heart never skipped a beat. I wasn't afraid, not for a second. But when I swam slowly back to the beach, I knew exactly what it wanted. I understood. It wanted someone. Just not me. It wanted one of my siblings.
But it tricked me.
It was very chill for awhile. They closed the beach. My mother dabbed bacitracin on the scrapes on my belly. Three days later we were still all getting sunburned, hanging out at the arcade, goofing around. My brothers checking out girls, my sisters playing on the beach. My parents still getting sloshed, me stealing whatever liquor I could. That third day the authorities opened the beach again so the sand was jammed with people and the ocean was jammed as well.
I had been thinking about this long and hard. It was not an easy decision even though by this time you think I’m completely deranged. I settled on Alex. He was the oldest. He was 19 and had lived the longest. He was already a sophomore in college and hardly part of the family any more. I mean we barely ever saw him. There were also other reasons. He was a shit to me and a bully. I won’t even go into that stuff. It was easy to get him to swim out with me. I said “Let’s swim out a ways?”
“What about the shark? Hell, he almost ate you, you little turd,” Alex said.
I just said, “Yeah, O.K., Aquaman,” and I turned and headed out. He was swimming next to me in ten seconds. It wasn’t more than a minute when I knew that shark was bearing down on us. Alex didn’t notice cause that damn shark was so smart. It was swimming deeper and I could just make out two or three inches of that fin. When it burst on us it was like a nuclear explosion. It almost arced in the air and came down, mouth wider then a highway tunnel on Alex’s head and upper torso. The fountain of blood rained on me. Alex just disappeared and if there was any left it drifted to the ocean floor. But that was when the shark played its trick. It headed like a laser beam toward the shore. Some people had seen what had happened. There was screaming and jumping and running this way and that. Kids trying to run, splash, kick their way out of the surf which is never very speedy. Parents running into the water. More screaming and screaming. That kind of screaming is weird cause at first it echoes loudly but the ocean just absorbs it and it’s gone. I swam in to shallow water and just watched.
The shark headed straight for my sister Becky. She’s a good kid and I never would have given her to him. Let me correct myself. She was a good kid. A very good kid. And then my father who tried to save Becky. The blossom of blood that spread out from that three foot deep beachside was awful. I would never have thought that shark could even get in that far.
It was chaos and crisis and pandemonium. Screams now were wails, people kneeling and yelling and running. All like chickens without heads. Old men grabbed their senior citizen wives. Chairs tumbled. Lifeguards charged but stopped at the water line. An alarm went off, loud as shit. And it never stopped pealing. I could already hear sirens. A few of them. The blood wave simply grew.
And the shark turned to me, closing the distance, appearing to chomp with bits of stuff in its huge maw.
It rolled over another time and eyed me. That knowing eye, gazing through me as if it understood something. Something that I didn’t.
It circled back once more and this time with a quick vise-like snap it took off my left hand.