Yaaline is a 15-year-old writer (under a parent-supervised account) who likes writing FICTION short stories and novels.
Read My Story Here:
Black Eyes in the Water:
The captain always instructs the cabin boy to check all the cabins to see if all crewmates are still safe and not wandering around every night. Only on rare occasions does the captain himself do this. This seems to be one of those rare occasions. I was expecting for the light and tired footsteps of the small and young cabin boy to come walk down the hall. Instead, the captain's heavy and hurried footsteps were running down the hall. I curled myself tighter into my feeble mattress, tangling my feet in my long thin blanket. I was the only person in my cabin, as I was the only girl among a crew full of men. The captain was already losing money, so he couldn’t afford more than one young and inexperienced cook; me.
My cabin door burst open, and the captain had his hands over his eyes. Unlike many of the other crew members, the captain was always a decent and honorable man.
“Are you decent?” He asked, not in his usual gruff voice that held so much authority, but in a higher more panicked voice.
“Yes,” I said, nodding stiffly. The captain let his hand drop, showing a panicked expression on his face that stayed true to his voice. In the dark, his face looked erie.
“Stay in bed. Lock your cabin door and don’t come out no matter what. I already told the rest of the crewmates.” Said the captain.
“What happened?” I asked timidly.
The captain looked at me in surprise. No doubt that the captain had never been questioned by a cook. Much less a woman. I thought about what my mother would say.
“Emily, you mustn’t talk back, it’s not ladylike. You are a girl, so act like it.” Girl. She never calls me a woman.
I looked at the ground embarrassed for questioning when it wasn’t in my place. I closed my eyes and waited for the captain to strike me, like everyone else I have worked for has.
“Nothing happened. Not yet, at least.” The captain said instead of striking me. I slowly opened my eyes, still staring at the ground, and nodded. “Just lock your door, alright?” He said again, then he left.
I waited in my bed until I couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore, and then I got up. Stumbling to my door, I locked it. I went back to my bed and tried to sleep. What could the captain have possibly been so worried about? Slowly, I fell asleep in the midst of my overwhelming train of thoughts.
I woke up to loud noise. I couldn’t have been sleeping for more than two hours. I listened in my bed for any more noises. Footsteps. I could hear someone's footsteps. Then I heard another set of footprints coming towards the first. Are two crewmates awake? No. A scream. I tried to sink into my mattress, as I bunched up and hugged my blanket. More footsteps. I barely breathed as I heard someone run past my door. Another scream. A gunshot.
I finally worked up the courage to shove my blanket away and put my bare feet on the cold floor. The captain had said to not go out. I shouldn’t disobey direct orders. Another gunshot. A shiver ran down my spine. Nervously I walked over to my door. Two more gunshots. Three more screams. I placed a shaky hand on the cold metal doorknob and opened the door.
I used my hand to stifle a cry as a body collapsed into my doorway. It was the second mate. A spear in his abdomen. “Help.” He croaked. “Close the door.”
Taking his arm, I dragged him further inside my cabin and closed the door, locking it. The second I closed it, I heard a pounding on the door. I was about to go open the door when the second mate held onto my ankle. He shook his head.
“Open it!” A voice outside yelled. “Please!” It begged. I looked back at the second mate, but he was much too injured to object. I opened the door to see a crewmate whose position I didn’t remember. Probably a lower rank. He was not as injured, and only had a cut across his left arm. He helped himself into my cabin and sat on the edge of my mattress.
“Close the freaking door, girl!” He yelled, and I hurriedly shut it.
Looking down at my tattered nightgown, and wild loose hair I suddenly felt self-conscious. No matter the situation, my mother would disapprove that my hair was hanging loose rather than in a neat braid. Another gunshot echoing through the ship, knocked me out of my daze, forgetting my appearance.
“What’s happening up there?” I asked the crewmate. He glared at me and started tending to his own wounds, disregarding the second mate on the ground. I noticed that the second mate’s chest was no longer rising and sinking. He was dead. In surprised horror, I moved away from the body and studied the crewmate who was seemingly ignoring me.
He looked distraught and angry. I barely knew the crewmates other than the higher-ranking ones. But I see all the crewmates when I serve them their meals.
“Those blasted–” Was all I heard as the crewmate began angrily mumbling. Sudden recogniation filled me. Thomas. The crewmate’s name was Thomas. He was the man who had bullied the lower ranks during every meal, and he was the man who disrespected me last week. I didn’t know his rank on the ship, but I always assumed it was high.
“What happened up there?” I asked again, more firmly.
I only realized that Thomas was holding a gun when he began reloading it.
“Nothing a little girl should know. Hide here.” He said in a tone that indicated that he did not care about my well-being. He took his gun and then ran back out of my cabin. Little girl. He had called me a little girl.
In a moment of disobedience and anger, I ran out of my cabin. I ran past the blood-streaked hallway, running into the occasional body. I hear a guttiural scream coming from above decks, so I run even faster towards the scream. Somewhere in the back of my head, I recognized the scream. When I got to the top, I saw the most horrible thing.
The captain was on leaning on a wall for support clutching his bleeding arm. Standing across from him was a woman. She looked beautiful. With perfect symmetrical features. She had perfect and silky long black hair. She wore a beautiful dress. She glanced at me and smiled with her full lips. The woman had the most alluring and beautiful blue eyes that were flecked with a dozen other colors. Wait, no. Her eyes were black. Then they turned blue again. They kept flickering from black to blue. The air around me suddenly seemed cooler, as I began to grow warier of the dark sky. Somehow the sky had seemed blue and shining a moment ago when I looked at the woman. The womans eyes were black again. All black. I cried out when I realized she didn’t have pupils, and her eyes were hollow. Her full red lips suddenly looked thin, cracked, and dry. Her alluring smile quickly turned into a frown, as I started seeing her sunken face, hollow cheekbones, wet hair, long nails, and unnaturally thin limbs. Her dress turned into tattered rags, barely concealing her feminine body. I stepped back and looked at her again. She was a monster.
She let out a horrible scream, and I stood frozen, terrified. She was about to lunge at me when the captain let out a war cry and pushed her down with his full body weight. He got up, grunting, and ran towards me. The woman… No, the thing, got up more angry and lunged towards us again. She snarled, revealing multiple sets of sharp teeth. I closed my eyes and braced myself for impact when I heard a gunshot. The captain had a gun in his hand which he got from who knows where, and the thing was on the ground.
“Is it d-dead?” I stammered.
“Let’s not stay long enough to find out.” The captain said, grabbing my arm. He ran until we came across one of the smaller storage rooms, and he shoved me inside.
“W-who. What was that?” I asked.
“Stop shaking.” He said.
“Calm down.” When he told me to stop shaking it seemed more like he was pleading with me. But now he just gave me a clear and direct order. I forced my hands to stop shaking.
“Your name is Emily?” He asked. I nodded feebly.
“Alright then Emily. I need you to take this pistol” He said, grabbing a smaller gun from his belt. He was still holding onto the bigger gun. I couldn’t tell, but it looked like a rifle. Nervously I took the pistol from his outstretched hands.
“I don’t know how to shoot,” I said. “And... And I’m scared” I added, trembling.
The captain looked at me with a forced calm expression. His eyes still seemed panicked though. “That’s the trigger. Just pull it, and point the barrel towards the enemy.” He said simply.
“I already know that. I can’t aim. And I can’t fight or anything that would be of much use. We’re gonna die.” I said, immediately regretting it afterward. Unladylike to talk back. But then again, the captain was handing me a gun. I don’t think he wants me to be ladylike right now.
“Ok, Emily, look. I would much rather have a trained crewmate by my side right now, but more than half my crew is dead. If you stay with me, you’ll be fine. I’ve captained plenty of ships, and have plenty of experience.” He said. A lie. The captain was not much more than 20 years old. He only got such a high ranking because of his father.
“Have you ever fought that thing,” I said. It was more of a confrontation than a question. Ha, what would mother say to that? “What even was that? She– it first looked… beautiful and then I saw what it really looked like” I said,
“I thought that it's a…" The captain took a breath. "It’s a Siren.” He said. A siren. It brought back memories of my older brother scaring me with stories of Sirens. Sirens which were just stories.
“They’re not… No, they’re not…” I stuttered.
“They’re not like the Sirens in the stories we’ve heard. They have legs instead of tails, and they don’t sing. They have horrible screams instead. If anyone screams, then they can mimic that scream to sound like someone else. They can change their appearance however they want, and look like whoever they want. First all I saw were black eyes in the water, but then it turned into them. And from what I can tell… They hurt you, but they don’t kill you. All my men killed themselves. Those damn sirens made my men kill themselves. And I couldn’t see the Siren’s true form until it cut me! How did you see her?” He asked angrily. He wasn’t angry at me, but I still became nervous all over again.
“I’m a…” I was going to say girl, but I stopped myself. “I’m a woman. I was able to see past the disguise, although not immediately. It took concentration, but for men…” I trailed off not knowing how to phrase my conclusion.
“Men can be easily fooled 'cuz we're lovesick idiots. In the old stories, the Siren always lured men in… I guess it means that part of the stories is true. But it also means that the rest of my men and I are screwed” He said. Somehow he didn’t look as distraught and panicked as I saw him before.
My mother always admired the captain. She had wanted her son, to be as brave as him. Instead, my brother became a novelist. She always said that the captain was a brave man. I now see what she means, seeing how it looks like he has everything under control when I know it’s all falling apart.
“I’ll stay with you,” I said quickly. “I can tell the difference between the Siren and your men. I’ll help.”
He surveyed me for a second. “How old are you?” He asked.
“Fifteen,” I said.
He frowned. I got worried for a second. What if he decided that I’m too young, and decides to leave me? Surely by myself, the Sirens would easily kill me.
“I’m almost sixteen!” I squeaked.
“Got a grip on the gun?” He asked. I held up the pistol. I don’t know how I should feel holding a gun, but I felt powerful. I liked it. But a fifteen-year-old girl with a gun? Ha. Unheard of.
“There's only 6 bullets in there. We have to get to my cabin. I have more bullets there so we can restock.” He said.
“But… Why would we need that many?” I asked. Then I had a horrible aching thought. Looking at the captain’s face, I could already tell that I wasn’t going to like his answer.
“Captain… How many Sirens are there?” I asked nervously.
He shook his head. “Too many. I saw over thirty climb onto the ship. There could be even more of those blasted Sirens for all we know.”
Over thirty…. It was a huge ship, they could be anywhere. They could be anyone.
“Two people can’t possibly kill over thirty Sirens! Even the idea of it is stupid!” I exclaimed.
“What do you want us to do? We can’t exactly run away ‘cuz we’re on a damn ship for god’s sake! What am I even doing about it huh? Talking to a little girl, that’s what.”
“DON’T CALL ME A LITTLE GIRL!” I yelled in sudden anger.
The captain pressed his hand over my mouth at my outburst. He squeezed my arm and whispered, “Don’t. Move.” I wouldn’t have heard him if he weren’t so close to me. The captain tensed up and I could feel his heart beating faster. He was listening to something. I didn’t hear it until it passed us.
Footsteps. Uneven footsteps, and behind every step was something scratching the floor. I let out a cry of fear into the captain’s hand. His hand tightened, and I could barely breathe. The footsteps stopped in front of the door, and I tried backing away from it. The captain however was as still as a statue, not letting me move. So instead I shakily held up the pistol with my free hand, and the captain finally let go of me so I could use both hands. I aimed it at the door, but the captain had to readjust my aim. A snarl came from outside the door.
“Stop shaking.” The captain whispered into my ear.
I breathed in and out. I told myself the gun felt natural. My aim felt natural. I felt natural. I smiled. I felt powerful. The door flung open, and I saw a man. Thomas. I was about to lower the gun when I remembered that the Siren could look like anyone. The captain on the other hand seemed to have forgotten.
“Thomas? Are you the only one who’s still alive? Are there any other survivors?” He asked.
“Sorry Captain. I think I’m the only one.” Thomas said remorsefully. I put my gun down and walked over to the captain and Thomas. His eyes suddenly widened.
“You!” He said accusatorily. “Captain, that’s one of them! That’s one of the damn Sirens!” He yelled, knocking the pistol out of my hands.
I looked behind me in a moment of confusion before I realized he was pointing at me.
The captain looked confused. “Wait, no, this is Emily. Our cook. She’s not a–”
“Captain, trust me! I saw the little girl die in her cabin. I saw her body. The girl is dead, that’s a Siren! Shoot her!” Thomas yelled.
“But… No… I was with her… The other Siren tried attacking her…” The captain said. He looked back and forth between Thomas and I.
“Dammit, captain! Shoot her! She’s playing her mind tricks on you!” Thomas insisted.
I started panicking. “C-captain! He’s lying! Thomas came into my room and he had a cut on his arm, but look at it now! There’s nothing there! That’s a Siren, not me!” I cried.
“Go to hell, Siren!” yelled Thomas.
I looked at Thomas more carefully now, convinced he was a Siren. I could see past him. I could see past him. I could see past him. I stared at his brown eyes until they turned black. I waited for the Siren’s wet and long hair to appear. Slowly, I saw the same sunken and hollow cheekbones, and unnaturally thin limbs as the other Siren had. I determinedly stared at Thomas until it was no long Thomas. I stumbled back, and my heart began racing faster than it already was.
Standing in between me and the captain was the Siren.
“Captain look! It’s a Siren! It’s not him!” I cried.
The captain looked at the Siren but I could tell that he was still seeing Thomas. The captain slowly aimed his rifle at me, and loaded it.
“Shoot her, captain.” The Siren snarled in its raspy dry voice.
The captain’s finger hovered over the trigger. There was no use in arguing anymore. The captain is convinced that I’m a Siren. I glanced at the pistol on the ground. Right before the Captain fired the rifle, I ran, sliding across the floor to grab the pistol. Without hesitation, I aimed the already loaded pistol and fired at the Siren.
I somehow hit its lower right abdomen, and it fell to the ground screaming. The captain immediately got out of his daze and looked at the Siren, repulsed.
“Son of a–” He muttered and came to my side. “That was a Siren.” He whispered in shock.
The Siren gave out another ear-piercing scream.
“Would be a god damn miracle if the other Sirens didn’t hear that. We gotta get out of here.” The captain said, running out of the storage room.
“Follow me!” said the captain as he began running down the hall. I held my nightgown down to keep it from flapping as I ran after him. He was faster than me, so the captain turned a corner and I was still behind. Suddenly the captain reemerged from the corner.
“That way.” He said, shoving me forward.
“Why?” I asked.
“Don’t question me, little girl!” He bellowed, and then dragged me along with him the other way.
“For the last time! Don’t call me a little girl!” I yelled back at him.
He shoved me to the ground and then glared at me. His black eyes had a look of pure hatred. He grabbed my arm again and started pulling me up.
Suddenly shivers ran down my spine. The captain’s eyes were blue, not black. I looked back at the captain and saw not him but a Siren pulling me.
I screamed and began thrashing against its grip. Where was the real captain? I bit the Siren’s arm as hard as I could, making it let go of me in pain.
“CAPTAIN!?” I yelled running away from the Siren.
I heard a response from the end of the hallway near the captain’s cabin. “Emily?” A confused voice asked.
I ran towards the cabin, the Siren running after me. When I got to the cabin, I saw the captain with… me. No. not me. A Siren. I took my pistol and blindly shot at the Siren next to the captain. I took four shots and missed them all. The realization filled the captain’s expression as he quickly aimed his rifle at the Siren, and shot it right through the head.
“Behind me!” I cried. He reloaded, aimed, and shot the other Siren in the shoulder.
The shot Siren collapsed on the floor, but right before it collapsed, it threw a small decorated knife. The knife flew past me and landed in the captain’s chest. Then with a last spluttered scream, the Siren stopped moving.
Somewhere inside me, a scream escaped. “Captain!” I cried, running over to him.
He groaned on the floor, clutching his chest. The knife was lodged in.
“Emily.” He croaked. “Here.” He passed me a small pouch, inside were five magazines with 6 bullets each in it. That meant I had only… I never learned mathematics. Not important for a girl, my mother said.
“You only have 30 bullets, so make every shot count. Kill ‘em blasted Sirens. Send them back to hell.” said the captain.
“By myself? I can’t do that, captain. I already told you, I can’t aim! I can try finding some other men to help me.” I said quickly.
The captain gave something in between a snort, a chuckle, and a groan. “You don’t need any men. They’re all dead anyway. I already sent out a distress call, and you just need to live long enough for them to come to rescue you. We need somebody to tell the story. Dead women tell no tales.” He said, now wheezing and struggling for air. I heard another ear-piercing scream coming closer to us
“Go.” The captain said. He grabbed his rifle, still lying down on the floor. He weakly aimed the rifle at the door. “Go the other way. I’ll hold off the next Siren. I’ll be damned if I go down without a fight.”
At that, another empty-eyed Siren appeared at the doorway. As frail as ever, the captain fired his rifle. He closed his eyes and slumped down before he could even feel the knockback of the shot. Stifling a sob, I ran out of the cabin. I ran holding the pistol so tightly as if my life depended on it– and it did.
I heard a snarl behind me, followed by another Siren scream. I turned around and shot the Siren behind me. I hit its chest. I couldn’t believe it!
My moment of joy was quickly overthrown when I saw three more Sirens start coming toward me. I ran back to the upper deck. I heard even more Siren screams. I didn’t have to look back to know that there were a dozen or so Sirens running after me. When I got to the top deck, I ran to the railing at the edge of the ship. Looking back, I pulled the trigger on one of the Sirens. I heard a click in the gun, but no bullet came out.
The Sirens slowed down to a walk. I looked at the pouch the captain had given me to reload the pistol. But in horror, I realized I didn’t know how to reload it. I scolded myself for forgetting to ask the captain earlier.
As I began fumbling with the gun, trying to figure it out, the Sirens came closer. One of the Siren was so close to me, that in a panic I threw the gun at it. It only enraged the Sirens. A dozen empty black eyes seemed to be glowing as they looked at me hungrily, sharp teeth showing. Wet hair plastered onto their faces, and their long fingers reached forward.
One of the Sirens put up a hand, and all of the others stopped. The Siren who put up her hand seemed more important than the others. It had long hair and wore an abundance of necklaces and bracelets while the others bared nothing. In its nestle of wet hair, I could see something that somewhat resembled a crown. It was a pile of bones, carefully constructed into the shape of a crown. This was their leader.
The Siren leader had another beautifully engraved small knife in her hand. With a scream, it threw the knife at me. It buried itself into my stomach. Sudden gushes of pain overwhelmed me, and all I could manage to say was “Oh.”
Behind me, out far in the water, a blinding light came closer. Light from a boat. A rescue boat was here. I looked back at the Sirens, and my heart sank. It was too late, the rescue boat was still too far away to make it here on time.
Seeing the rescue boat, the Siren leader screamed and right after her, the other Sirens also screamed like a pack of wolves would howl. I could not die at the hands of these monsters.
Using the small bit of strength I still had, I got up and climbed over the railing. Pain tore through me, but gritting my teeth, I pushed past it. I heard the horn of the rescue boat as I jumped into the water.
I forgot about my pain for a quick second when I felt the cold water envelop my body. I could hear the screams of the Sirens on the boat, and the screams hurt. It was pitch dark and I couldn’t see anything in the water. I let the water support me, and it almost felt peaceful.
Then under the water, I saw a black dot. Two black dots– eyes. I remembered the captains words, "black eyes in the water." I screamed, letting go of the little air I was holding in. There were over a hundred Sirens, all looking at me hungrily.
How were there this many Sirens underwater? How does the world of men not know about the horrendous monsters lurking here?
I wanted to swim away, but I was already feeling lightheaded from the lack of air, and my knife wound throbbed. The underwater Sirens all screamed, and I never know how clearly I would be able to hear the horrendous cry of the Sirens, even when underwater. The screams of the Sirens seemed to repeatedly stab my skull.
I started to close my eyes, and I could feel my consciousness slipping. Then I felt something grab me. I first thought it was a Siren, but no. It was a net. A net from the rescue boat. It started dragging me upwards, and at the same time, the Sirens speeded toward me. They were incredibly fast. Would they be faster than the boat reeling me up? What would mother say to this? The last thing I saw was the empty black eyes of the Sirens as darkness clouded my vision and I fell asleep.
© 2022 Yaaline