Monster!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Monster!

Submitted: August 12, 2016

Reads: 135

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Submitted: August 12, 2016

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Monster!

 

Alexander Arnason stood alone, soaked, at the prow of The Ketos, hands clasping the harpoon gun in front of him and gazing straight ahead through the rain storm lashing around him. Captain Kristofer Olafursson, master of The Ketos, looked out at the lone, imposing figure on the bow, and saw a man with a definite purpose. He had argued with Alexander about the dangers of sailing into this storm but the man had simply been too stubborn. Rich would be a better word thought Captain Olafursson as, despite the dangers of the weather, captain and crew had succumbed to Alexander’s nearly obscene offer of $200,000!

 

Alexander stood stock still, tuning out all background noise and concentrating on two things. One was the input from his eyes, ears and feet and the other was the output of a Portable Display Unit (PDU) of the ship’s detection systems. The Ketos was no ordinary ship. Commissioned as a trawler cum factory ship, she had modern electronics for navigation but cutting edge technology when it came to SONAR, satellite weather prediction/imaging systems, SatComms and radio tracking systems. She would ply the seas as a fishing trawler/factory but her intended use had been slightly different. She was part of a fleet of eight owned by a wealthy American and he lent her out for such illegal purposes only.

 

They were now 500kms out of Vagar Island, part of the Danish Faroe islands in the middle of the North Sea, heading due north when it happened.

A long low moan issued out of the PDU speaker and the SONAR screen on the display lit up!

 

“Oh my....this is a monster!" breathed Alexander.

“What the....!" exclaimed a startled Captain Olafursson.

 

The 3D SONAR images on screen showed a leviathan moving just below the surface about 3kms away.

I’ve never seen one this huge before thought Captain Olafursson.

 

At a total length of 75ft displacing approximately 80 tons of the ocean, was a massive physeter macrocephalus.

Sperm Whale!

 

 

Sperm whales, both Alexander and Captain Olafursson knew, grew up to 60ft in length and weighed 63 tons on an average. This is not possible thought Captain Olafursson looking at his display. No way was this a sperm whale. Sperm whales were extinct! Maybe it is a submarine.....but the systems know the difference.....

 

Captain Olafursson knew that though sperm whaling had been banned by the International Whaling Commission, several countries had turned a blind eye to it and so enforcing the ban had been really difficult. Everyone discreetly breaking the ban meant that no one could rat the other out without getting caught themselves. This had resulted in extensive albeit shadowy whaling operations in the North Atlantic, South Pacific and the Arctic oceans.

 

The effect on the sperm whale population was disastrous! At these high latitudes, only the male of the species hunts. Therefore the majority of the victims were the bulls. This led to an alarming gender imbalance in the sperm whale population which inexorably began to spiral towards extinction. Realizing that failure to act then would be catastrophic, the International Whaling Commission with the help of the United Nations had imposed sanctions on the offenders. This had worked for a few years when several countries withdrew from whaling. Just when the population seemed to be getting stabilized, it had begun to decline again!

A new player had entered the scene.

Private hunters.

 

Sperm whales were primarily hunted for their blubber and spermaceti from which they derived their name. The spermaceti organ is located in the whale’s head making it as long as a third of their body length. The spermaceti had been used extensively for cosmetics, soaps and machine oils until the ban. The sudden lack of sperm whale products had resulted in sky rocketing prices on the black market which in turn had engendered parties to resort to illegal hunting. Sperm whale meat had become a very expensive delicacy while whale bone art was being sold for millions of dollars! It had become a vicious cycle. More the demand, more the hunting and so lesser the whales, which had made them rarer, which in turn had increased the demand and had fueled aggressive hunting until the day had come that the entire species had been hunted out of existence!

 

Captain Olafursson was still reeling from the shock of a sperm whale sighting, especially one that looked like the big daddy of all sperm whales! But then it can’t be anything else he realized. Years of hunting had taught him what was what. Alexander, he understood now, was a hunter. This must have been exactly why Alexander had insisted on this voyage. And of-course, when it came to sperm whaling, the captain knew money was no problem. How he had garnered knowledge of its existence, he did not know. But certainly Alexander and whoever he worked for had the resources to locate sperm whales. They could retire for two generations to come on this catch alone!

 

 

“Keep her as steady as you can, slave the autopilot to follow Moby here at a distance of 150mts and switch on the synthesizer.” commanded Captain Olafursson to his first officer.

“Mr. Alexander, you may take your shot when ready” Captain Olafursson called on his walkie-talkie after the ship had been set to follow the whale.

 

“Thanks captain” replied Alexander. He began to adjust the aim of the harpoon gun. The first shot was always a small dart containing the tracer.

 

“Here we go...” breathed Alexander as the whale breached the surface, rose gracefully and began to dive. Aiming for the spine just above the tail, Alexander shot. The dart zipped through the rain and true to its aim, slammed into the whale’s back moments before the tail flipped up. The dart contained a radio transmitter. So, this whale was now marked and even if it eluded them today, they could track it to anywhere in the world by GPS.

 

“We have Moby on screen” called Captain Olafursson to Alexander on the walkie while looking at the pulsing red dot superimposed on a magnified section of the global map. He was referring to the whale as Moby Dick - the famous white whale character of fiction. And now it starts he thought.

 

Alexander was loading an explosive harpoon onto the gun. He had felt no pity on previous hunts. Only the thrill of the hunt and the deep satisfaction of accomplishment. But today was different.

He had come expecting a routine hunt but looking at Moby’s sheer size, he now had misgivings.

Am I doing right by hunting the last of a species? And such a magnificent specimen at that!

But then professionalism kicked in and he pushed the thought aside.

 

Alexander aimed the harpoon, now ready, at the place where Moby was below the surface. He will surface again and I will get him he promised himself peering through the cross hairs.

 

“Here he comes, Mr. Alexander” squawked the walkie.

 

Alexander stood firm, eyes looking through the cross hairs, waiting with bated breath. As the rain fell on and the pitching ship climbed a wave, Moby surfaced again. The great sea beast was clearly in a playful mood as he jumped out of the water and began to twist in mid-air for a belly-up landing splash! Just as Moby rotated about thirty degrees, Alexander fired.

 

The harpoon struck home!

 

The great animal fell back in with a splash and immediately began to dive. The harpoon would explode as soon as the whale dived and the trailing cable went taut. Alexander waited for the explosion that would kill or cripple the whale and for it to surface again. He would finish it off then.

He waited as the cable unspooled and..... Twang!

It had gone completely taut.

 

Captain Olafursson and everyone on the bridge waited for the explosion. Alexander held his breath. The moment seemed to last forever.

 

Suddenly, the entire prow of The Ketos plunged downward! Moby was dragging them down!

Everyone was thrown forward. Alexander had clung on to the harpoon gun to stop himself from going overboard. The Ketos resisted the drag down and the cable slackened momentarily.

 

Getting himself upright, Alexander fixed the next harpoon. Meanwhile, Moby had begun to thrash underwater. The cable was pulling the ship with erratic, abrupt direction changes like a puppet trying to break free of the puppeteer’s fingers!

 

“Why no explosion?” screamed Captain Olafursson as The Ketos plunged once more and was suddenly pulled left.

Alexander didn’t know why and so he didn’t reply. He was waiting for Moby to surface again as he hung on to the gun.

“Reverse engines.” cried Captain Olafursson.

Through all the erratic pulling Captain Olafursson had realized that Moby was merely trying to free himself by all the thrashing. But before long, he would truly try to dive to the depths.

“Reverse engines now before he dives!”

No one knew how deep the harpoon was embedded, so they were unable to guess whether it would tear free or whether Moby would drag them down too when he dived! The first officer was frantically adjusting the ship’s controls.

 

The engines ground to a stop and then began powering up again. Only this time they were backing instead of propelling The Ketos.

The Ketos was powered by twin 20,000 horse power engines. Her twin screws had been propelling her through the heaving waves at an easy 12 knots. Now reversed, she was straining against one of the biggest monsters of the sea! The erratic pulling stopped and the ship slowly began to back through the crashing waves. Not for nothing was she named The Ketos which in Greek literally meant “The Sea Monster”.

It was now a battle of brute strength!

 

Sea Monster vs. Sea Monster!

 

Something had to give in this battle of wills and it did. The harpoon head tore through Moby’s side and came free. The Ketos jerked backwards by the recoil and the rear deck nearly went under a huge wave! 

 

Alexander, on the prow, was thrown overboard by the sudden jerk. Suddenly, after the sounds of the raging storm around him, the world went wet, silent and totally black as he was plunged into the sea! He sunk to about six feet. Visibility was almost zero. And then he saw the underside of The Ketos looming above him, slightly to his left. Alexander turned around. There was Moby! He was swimming, like a dark shadow, away from them, trailing a cloud of blood. Alexander felt the huge suction of a wave and before he knew it, the stormy sea had thrown him back up! He had been wearing his bright orange safety vest and so when he surfaced he was visible, albeit barely.

 

“Man overboard. Man overboard” shouted the first officer. The crew reacted and struggled through the tossing deck to toss a rope at the orange figure. In mere moments, the violent sea had pulled Alexander a good way from the reversing ship. Alexander tried hard to swim towards them but the rope was just out of reach, being withdrawn by the reversing ship. The first officer, realizing this, threw the controls forward again.

 

The rope was thrown once more by the deckhands and this time Alexander reached it. Clinging to it as if it as life itself, which it probably was, Alexander let himself to be hauled by the crew on deck. It was a slow process made difficult by the raging sea. Alexander reached the starboard side of the ship. The rope momentarily slackened as the crew rested in-between heaves. Alexander, still clinging on to the rope, leaned back against the hull to shield himself from the waves. As he came in contact with the ship, he felt the waters suddenly press against him. Simultaneously, he heard a low, long moaning sound coming from the ocean in-front of him!

Whale-song!

No! he thought. Not this!

 

Alexander pulled on the rope and ducked beneath the waves. What he saw was terrifying! Moby was making a run at the broadside of The Ketos! He had felt the bow wave of the charging beast moments before. The crew on deck was surprised to find Alexander suddenly pulling the rope away. But before they could think...

BANG!

 

The Ketos listed to port, coming dangerously to capsizing! Their whole world tilted crazily! Captain Olafursson was caught totally off guard. He was thrown against one of the screens mounted on the side wall of the bridge. The first officer had gone sliding into the wall beside him.

 

Alexander watched in horror as it had played out, under the waves, right in front of him. Moby had swum with determination at its hunters and rammed them on their starboard side with full force!

He felt the concussion of the impact in the water around him. The crew, though caught off guard, had not released the rope. Alexander felt himself suddenly yanked upwards! The deckhands had scrambled around, found their footing and heaved with renewed urgency.

 

The Ketos rocked from side to side. Through it all, the crew pulled Alexander on board. Captain Olafursson regained balanced and glanced at the SONAR screen. Having rammed them, Moby was swimming under The Ketos to the port side. He could feel the ship rock by the turbulence caused underneath her. He could feel her take a couple of moments to stabilize herself as much as she could in the heaving waves.

 

“Engine room report” Captain Olafursson barked into his microphone.

“Damaged hull on the starboard side sir. No hull breach. No leaks” replied the engineer.

“Be prepared for anything. We are not out of this yet!”

“Yes sir”

“Siiiiir..... Moby is turning around!” the first officer was tracing the beast on SONAR.

Captain Olafursson swore! “Brace yourselves! We are going to be rammed again” his voice thundered on all the ship’s speakers. Alexander was running now to the harpoon gun. On deck, the crew clung on to anything fixed. Alexander held on to the gun just as......

BANG!

 

The Ketos tilted right crazily. Alexander was ready for it. Even as it was happening he had been loading another explosive harpoon into the gun. He looked around for his PDU and couldn’t locate it.

“Screw the PDU...." He swung the gun right, aimed at the spot where he guessed Moby would come from under the ship after the assault and waited.

Now his instincts screamed.

Alexander fired. The harpoon arced over the starboard rail and entered the water. He waited with bated breath.....

 

BOOM!

 

A huge geyser erupted where the harpoon had entered and the waters immediately turned crimson! The harpoon had struck. Moby had pulled and the charge had detonated!

The listening post speakers in the bridge emitted the long wail of agony from the injured sperm whale.

 

“Hull breach! Port side! Water incoming. I’m sealing the engine room!" shouted the engineer’s voice on the bridge intercom.

“Do it” ordered Captain Olafursson. The Ketos rocked form side to side, its superstructure damaged.

But it would take more than that to sink The Ketos. The leak now isolated, she listed slightly to port before she found her center of gravity at that angle.

 

 Alexander picked up his walkie after it had come skittering across the deck during the last attack and had got lodged between his feet. It was squawking something as he raised it to his lips.

“.......ull breach port side. Do you read me? Come in Mr. Alexander” the captain’s voice cried.

“I read you” he replied.

“Everything okay down there?......Nice shot, by the way. Where did it hit?” asked the voice of the captain.

“On the head. Just fore of its blow-hole. It is not safe yet. Be alert” he cautioned.

“Roger”

 

 

If the blue whale was the biggest animal on the planet, the sperm whale was the biggest carnivore. Even killer whale groups that usually attacked blue whales would never dare approach a sperm whale. Bull sperm whales usually fought each other by ramming their heads against each other to select their female companions during mating season. So their heads were used to battering and injury. Alexander knew this and so knew that the hunt may not be over yet.

 

The waves pounding The Ketos abated slightly as the rain too thinned. The storm was passing but everyone on board was keen and alert. Alexander kept his gun pointed in Moby’s direction. A few moments of silence passed. Only the waves made any sound. Alexander moved no muscle. His stance perfect, his concentration - total.

The ultimate hunter.

 

The Ketos was bobbing gently on the waves now. To its starboard side, the ocean was a sea of pink. No sign of movement beneath the surface. No ripples. No currents.

A static filled voice suddenly cut through the silence on the prow. “He is heading back! Approaching the ship head-on. He’s lost speed.”

Alexander turned the gun straight and aimed just below and in front of him. He waited again. If the whale was slow, the impact would be less forceful and at that moment he would shoot to kill.

 

Alexander was concentrating hard for the instant of impact when, just a few feet ahead of him, Moby surfaced!

Alexander looked at his wounded prey and Moby stared right back at him! It was as if the giant from the ocean knew that he was the one who had shot it! The great whale came to rest and simply floated there, eyes locked on Alexander.

 

Alexander took in the state of the great animal. The harpoon had blown a considerable chunk of its forehead. Blood was gushing in torrents from the open wound.

This magnificent creature was in every way extraordinary! Its unbelievable size, the ferocity of its attack and the sheer guts to swim up to its hunter and look him in the eye - as if to say I dare you to face me head on without your fancy weapons! Openly challenging him! He was not just fighting for his life but for his entire species!

 

As he surveyed his prey floating bravely in front him, he felt something stir deep within him! Years of hunting experience then took over and he tightened his finger on the trigger. Do it! Do it now!

I am a hunter for hire and it wouldn’t do to ruin my reputation he thought. I’m a professional.......

“Forgive me.....” he whispered.

 

Alexander turned on his heel and started walking back to the bridge. “Turn the ship around captain, kill the tracer tracking system. We head back! The hunt is over.” he spoke into his walkie.

 

The first rays of the setting sun broke through the clouds as the storm cleared. Just as they touched Moby, everyone, to their utter bewilderment, heard a far off she-whale mating call on the speakers!

After one last glare, Moby turned himself around and began to swim away issuing his own reply.

 

Alexander stopped and turned back. The monster of the seas dived, graceful as ever, and with a last flap of his great gray tail, he vanished.

As Alexander watched the whale disappear into the sunset, he wondered who the real monster had been.......

 

 

The End

 

Fact: Though the whaling ban exists today, hunting still goes on in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Current Sperm whale population stands at approximately 1 million (reduced from the 3 million at the time of World War II).


© Copyright 2018 akshays86. All rights reserved.

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