Off Shore

This flash fiction piece took out the inaugural Punk Out: Wattpunk Contests and Prompt challenge.

Flying sharks? In the middle of the Bass Strait, the crew of an oil rig rescue a mysterious man. When the airborne killer- beasts arrive, there is no time for questions.

When the electrical generator housing got crushed, the power ceased, killing the lights and the offshore installation manager’s hope of sending a warning out to the other drilling platforms.

“There’s a satellite phone in my quarters,” said Owen Browne, the fear was detectable in his voice.

Les Dickson knew that the fear was well-founded. “One of those creatures is still down there. Want to end up like Chadsworth?” He struggled to shake away the image from his mind; those triangular upper teeth biting through her torso, the torrent of blood. Shannon Chadsworth didn’t stand a chance when that monster torpedoed into the dormitory, slapping its leathery bat-like wings against the steel floor and snapping its razor-toothed mouth around until it snatched the second mate by the pelvis. The winged shark-beast wiggled and chewed the screaming women effortlessly like it knew some trick on how to eat hands-free.

“We need to get to the next platform,” Dickson said as he crawled along the deck towards Doctor Ambrisian, who was huddled under the bulkhead.

Browne, the facility’s operations engineer, followed. “Hopefully, they haven’t been attacked as well.”

Dickson reached out and grabbed Ambrisian by the shoulder, pulling the strange scientist closer. “Now, I want you to explain to me what these things are.”

A few hours earlier, the helicopter pilot, heading back from the Kipper Oil Platform, spotted a man drifting in the cold waters of the Bass Strait. A rescue party brought him back, and when questioned, revealed only a tranche of information, mostly gibberish.

Ribonucleic acids.


Alternate timelines.

The man sounded insane, yet appeared resoundingly focused.

Wearing a filthy white blouse under a brocade vest, Ambrisian looked up at Dickson and said, “That’s not important. What is important is that they are spawning in a nest somewhere out there. Their gestation period is fast. Their metabolism is fast. Their learning curve is fast. We have to destroy the nest.”

“Where is this nest?” asked Browne.

“Laboratory vats inside my research vessel. The Solarcus sank just out over the continental shelf, due south from here.”

“Sank? How?”

The man frowned, “We scuttled it. As soon as the first batch of Elasmopterons proved to be…” A horrendous scream cut him off, followed by a powerful thud. “We need to get back and warn your people.”

“You created these sky sharks?” Dickson’s anger boiled, as he was beginning to suspect the man, with the mechanical copper watch and quaint beard, may be genuine, impossible as it may be.

Ambrisian replied, “Once the Elasmopterons figure out that there’s a coast full of carbohydrate snacks, they’ll be nothing stopping them.”

Through clenched teeth, Dickson said, “Then let’s get movin’.”

The three men scuttled toward the upper decks. Bloody guts and eviscerated humans littered the gangway. A dark cloud dominated the sky, sending down a thick drizzle. Dickson looked up and spotted the colony of bat monsters descending from the eastern heavens. With wingspans twice as long as their shark-tailed bodies, they looked more like flying foxes. Only when these beasts flew close did they resemble bull sharks. A hundred metres out, they folded their wings and dove into the sea. They went in and out, sailing across the platform, taking out anybody unlucky enough to have decided that that was a good moment to make a dash for the red Sikorsky S-76C waiting on the helipad.

Browne launched his arms into the air and waved at the helicopter pilot. Before Dickson can stop him, a sky shark corrected its course and snapped up Browne by the head, sending his body airborne. Mid-flight, the monster thrashed until it severed off the torso.

“We gotta go,” screamed Ambrisian.

Dickson looked at the waving pilot inside the Sikorsky. He ran, pre-empting Ambrisian. They both sprinted up the gangway to the helipad. When they got to the helicopter they were greeted with, “What the fuck is this shit?” The pilot’s terror added to the fear-induced mental paralysis Dickson felt.

“Get us in the air,” yelled Dickson.

The engines groaned to life. “Where?” said the pilot.

“Kingfish B.”

The pilot nodded and pulled the throttle. The blades above turned translucent as the Sikorsky’s engine picked up thrust. When the Sikorsky lifted off the pad, Dickson spotted a sky shark performing a nosedive above them.

“Get moving,” he yelled.

Before the Sikorsky could clear the helipad, the kamikaze shark collided into the rotor blades. The Sikorsky shook, its engines strained, losing torque as the blades shredded the half-tonne sky monster. Blood sprayed the occupants, soaking them, and causing Dickson to say an improvised prayer. “Jesus fuck, where dead. God help us.”

The Sikorsky survived and stabilised, soaring above the waves.

“Head to the coast,” yelled Ambrisian.

“Kingfish B is closer,” insisted Dickson.

Ambrisian leant towards the pilot. “Don’t listen to him. Kingfish B is gone, just like Kipper, just like here. This flying machine can outrun these Elasmopterons. We can make it.”

Dickson looked back. The colony of Elasmopterons was pursuing them, but they were losing ground. “What about if they discover the coast?”

“What about it?” asked Ambrisian.

“You said there’ll be dire consequences if they found their way to the mainland.”

Doctor Ambrisian shoved Dickson out into the void, sending him hurtling down into the grey sea.

“That is correct,” said Ambrisian as he turned his attention to the pilot.