This flash fiction piece took out the inaugural Punk Out: Wattpunk Contests and Prompt challenge.
As the electrical generator housing was hit with a deafening crash, the entire offshore installation was jolted with a sudden, violent force that reverberated through the metal structure. The lights flickered and then went out completely, leaving the interior quarters in pitch darkness. The installation manager, who had been monitoring the situation from his control room, felt his heart sink as he saw the screens go blank and the alarms fall silent.
He knew that without power, the crew were completely vulnerable. They would be left without any means of communication, and any warning they could have sent out to the other drilling platforms was now impossible. Les Dickson knew that they were in a race against time and that every second counted. Without any power, there was also no way to pump the gas out of the well, and there was a real risk of an explosion.
As Dickson struggled to come up with a solution, he could feel his anxiety mounting. His mind raced as he tried to think of a way to restore power, but the damage to the generator housing was too severe.
“There’s a satellite phone in my quarters,” said Owen Browne, the fear was detectable in his voice.
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.
Dickson, his body trembling with exhaustion and determination, mustered all his strength as he crawled along the vibrating control room floor. Each movement was an arduous struggle against the relentless force of wind and rain gushing through the smashed windows, but he refused to succumb to despair. His eyes fixated on the figure of the stranger, Doctor Ambrisian, who huddled under the protective shelter of the bulkhead. The stranger’s presence offered a glimmer of intrigue amidst the chaos that surrounded them. With every painstaking inch, Dickson inched closer, his heart pounding in his chest, fueled by a mix of fear and an unyielding determination to reach the enigmatic figure.
Browne, the facility’s operations engineer, yelled, “Hopefully, the other platforms 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, noticed something strange in the water below him. Upon closer inspection, he saw a man floating helplessly in the frigid Bass Straight waters. The pilot immediately radioed for a rescue team to be dispatched to the area. The rescue party arrived quickly and managed to pull the man from the water. He was shivering uncontrollably and barely conscious. They wrapped him in blankets and brought him back to the drilling platform.
When the man regained some level of consciousness, he was questioned about how he had ended up in the water. All he could manage to say was a series of incoherent phrases and verbiage that made no sense to the rescue team. Despite their efforts to get some information out of him, the man revealed a tranche of information that was mostly gibberish.
Ribonucleic acids. Elasmopterons. 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 with an outlandish accent, “That’s not important. What is important is that they are spawning in a nest somewhere out there. Their gestation period is brief. Their metabolism is fast. Their learning curve is quick. 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?” demanded Dickson.
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-like monsters descending from the eastern heavens. With wingspans twice as long as their shark-tailed bodies, they looked more like flying foxes. They only resembled bull sharks when these beasts flew close.
A hundred metres out, they folded their wings and dove into the sea. They dove in and out, sailing across the water, then leaping up over 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 the head was severed from the torso.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ2Wz49N-6M[/embedyt]
“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.
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 with 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.