Morning fog, cool and thick, hovered just above the churning peaks of the water that enveloped the grey Kerry Coast. The spot was hundreds of miles away from land, and despite its loud, sloshing waves, the word that a witness would use to describe the scene would probably be “dead.”
The wind was at a standstill, and there were no sea hawks or gulls unleashing proud squawks, nor any eager creatures jumping out of the sea for a gulp of air. The spot seemed frozen and untouched, and when a dark, looming shape began to emerge from the east, its presence was so startling that it seemed to crash loudly through the fog.
The cables that used to trail the ship loosely had been gnawed into stubs, and so had the decals of its rusty exterior. The vessel was still pitch black, having lost power long ago, but there was clearly activity in the darkness. Tiny, scrambling feet ran from one level to the next, providing a pattering soundtrack that seemed at once uniform and chaotic.A pink tail swung around a corner and before disappearing, accidentally smacked into a barrel, which was at this point quite worn down from its unfortunate location.
There was a mission today, and it needed to be completed. A couple hundred miles away wasn’t far enough. The ship’s tiny inhabitants could feel the world’s eyes from the shore, waiting to pounce, waiting for the day they could flurry into newsrooms and point their cameras to the sea. If things went wrong, today would be that day. They would lose what they had so carefully and thoroughly taken from that Newfoundland dock. Another tail turned the corner, smacked the barrel, and ran the length of the ship.
Moments later, the sound of a rusty steering wheel creaked so loudly from the ship’s bridge that it sounded like a man’s scream. Interwoven throughout the wheel were dozens of gray, fat-bodied rats who were so aware of their surroundings that the darkness was nothing more than a fact of life. They squished against each other, and while some wove their tails together as tugging braids, others wrapped them around the wooden helm itself.
As they writhed and pulled, the wheel began to slowly turn, and to the relief of the ship’s vile new owners, it began to retreat. The shape grew smaller and smaller from the shore, and in just a few minutes, it had been swallowed back up into the dark, distant fog.
Miles and miles away, a young blonde man turned to his father from the top of their family lighthouse and said: “What was that?”