This is it everyone! Book III – Chapter 9, the final chapter of Maelstrom. There’s an epilogue coming tomorrow, but this is the big fight. Thanks for those of you who have stuck through this rewrite, I know it’s been rough, but it’s on paper now and that’s what matters. Looking forward to getting back to my other projects as well. More Chadpocalypse is coming soon 🙂
If you can, please donate to my campaign for the first book in the Nick Ventner series which is due out early next year. Can’t wait to share it with you all!!
Just a reminder, this is unedited, a rough draft, is the product of too much caffeine and CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR WHITEOUT AND DOWNPOUR. You have been warned!
Links to previous chapters: Prologue,
It was at that moment, I realized just how drunk I must have been, because the cracking of the thunder split through my head just as much as it split through the sky. Rain began to fall in heavy drops. It was an odd thought, being rained on at the bottom of the sea. At the same time, the waves kicked up, turning from a low chop to dizzying swells in less than a minute.
“These men are enemies of Atlantis who plan to shatter our protections and sink us once and for all,” boomed a voice from the clouds above us. “They have already killed one of your own. Make sure that the rest of us remain safe.” The voice slurred slightly and let out a massive belch followed by an immediate silence as if it had been speaking through a megaphone that was cut off.
“What a prick,” I said. “How we coming on those cables?”
Lopsang was crawling around on hands and knees, trying to remain steady through the growing chop. “You mean since you first asked me to check them five seconds ago?!” He fiddled with a set of wires sending a shower of sparks across the deck.
“That doesn’t look good.”
“On the contrary. If I were a mortal, that might have killed me, but it means they’re still working.”
“Well let’s turn that thing on and get the hell out of here.”
Bertha lurched hard to one side.
At first, I thought it might have been a wave, and went reluctantly to the side of the boat to check. What I saw made my stomach sink. “Lopsang, we’re going to need that ASAP.” Looking over the water, my body shivered. It was as if the sea had begun to boil. Beneath the water, tentacles and scales made angry circles around us just below the surface, and not ten feet away, the water had begun moving in a tight circle and sinking.
James had given up on trying to keep the boat steady and came to join me. He started to speak and then went silent as he saw what we were up against.
“How many shells you got left?” I asked.
“Not enough,” murmured James.
“Yeah, me neither.”
A tentacle reached out from the water, suctioning on to the side of Bertha and pulling us closer to the growing whirlpool. James barely looked at it, pulled out his pistol and fired one of the kraken rounds into it. The tentacle lashed backward and exploded beneath the water, but was quickly replaced by another, and another after that.
Steal beams creaked beneath us.
“Alright, it’s ready! Stand back.” Lopsang leapt backward from the device and pushed a button on his controller. All of the lights on Bertha went out at once and the pyramid made an odd fizzling noise before going silent. Lopsang’s eyes fell.
Another tentacle rose from the water and thumped hard onto the deck. James shot it easily and shortly after, it exploded, knocking us all to the deck once more.
Laying, covered in sea monster gore with the rain beating down on my face, I didn’t even want to get up. The game was up, and there was nothing else we could do. There was a flash of light and thunder boomed once more. I winced at the pain in my head. Tentacles raised into the sky above us and a set of large jaws clamped around the edge of the boat.
Lopsang crawled weakly over to me. “I’m sorry Nick,” he coughed. “Maybe it doesn’t work the same both ways.”
Bertha bent and shuddered beneath us, threatening to snap in half as the creature chewed on the edge of the boat. I fired a long rage slug into its mouth and the creature released, sliding in the water beyond. Soon after, another was scrambling to take its place.
“Don’t worry about it, pal. I’m not sure James could have pulled us out of this anyway.”
“Did a better job as captain than you would,” muttered James crawling across the deck toward us.
I took a quick inventory of our ammunition. We had approximately six shells left, and a hell of a lot more sea monsters than I wanted to deal with. The whole situation felt hopeless, and I wished above all else that I had a stiff drink to help me cope with it. Lightning flashed across the sky once more, and then it hit me all at once.
“What are the odds that lightning striking that thing will get it fired up?” I asked, quickly jumping to my feet. The deck of the boat had quickly become a mass of tentacles and gnashing teeth, looking more like something out of a Lovecraftian nightmare than a sea vessel.
“It could just as easily fry it and kill us all,” said Lopsang.
“Probably take a few of them out of it did,” added James.
“We don’t exactly have time to build a lightning rod,” I said, “but we do know how to piss off the guy throwing the lightning.” Looking around the deck, the situation was still hopeless, but we had a plan, however bad it was. I walked directly over the pyramid.
“Hold on Nick, what are you thinking?” James had stood up and was loading his rifle again.
“I stand here, hurl ungodly insults at the prick creating the storm and hope to hell he’s still not a very good shot.” Again, it wasn’t the best plan, but it was something. “You just try and keep those things off of us long enough.
James rolled his eyes, “right, the easy job.” He fired his rifle into the water causing a large surge of bubbles to pop up from beneath the surface.
Lopsang picked up the grenades that I had dropped on the deck and began lobbing them one at a time over the side.
I, for my part, began hurling the worst insults I could think of at the sky. “You know they’re never coming back, don’t you? Those extraterrestrial pricks you love so much left you down here to rot.” It still felt weird to say out loud, but the evidence was mounting against my skepticism.”
The whirlpool next to Bertha began to strengthen and some of the creatures holding the ship let go. The churning water was about five feet deep, centered around a quickly spinning white circle of foam. Through the thunder I thought I could hear curses, and continued.
“You know, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they just ran off with your brother, Zeus.” For the first time in my life, I was thankful for having paid attention in mythology class. “I mean, why stay with the god of the sea when you could have his better looking brother?”
Lightning struck the water by the edge of the boat and the large creature that had been holding onto the bow dropped off.
“Especially when you cower down here, condemning your people because you’re a scared, clingy little god with a sad room full of old memories.” It felt good to be angry and vehement. It had been a while.
The whirlpool continued to grow, swinging the Bertha around in circles like it was nothing more than a toy. Soon, the water on either side had blotted out the horizon.
“Nick? I don’t think it’s working.”
“Oh come on, are you just going to drown us? How original, god of the sea drowning his enemies because they found out about his dirty little secret…”
“You cowardly little fool!” Roared the sky.
The next part was a bit of a blur. Above us, the sky opened up, bright white light spilling from between the dark clouds. I remember thinking, Oh shit, I hope he misses. And then seeing the bolt of lightning headed straight for my chest. Luckily, Lopsang was able to push me out of the way at the last second, but the blast was enough to knock us both straight against the side of the boat.
Everything was fuzzy for a minute, but I could see the pyramid glowing white hot from where it had been struck, and the water continuing to mount above us. I could see the shapes of various unfriendly creatures swimming around the edge of the maelstrom, eyeing us hungrily. Then, a giant beam shot from the tip of the pyramid, breaking through the sky and blinding us all.
It felt as though the floor dropped out from under us, and suddenly Bertha was falling through space and time. The whirlpool closed above us and black, empty space took its place. I tried to yell out in excitement, horror, and pain, but found myself frozen. Then we were surrounded by clouds, falling still, but only for a second or two. There was a loud crash, the sound of breaking bricks and that was it.
“I remember looking over the side of the boat, seeing your fine city hall crushed beneath it, and then I blacked out.” Feeling the complete memory gave Nick a certain satisfaction. The memory loss had to be something to do with the portal, the lightning strike, the drinking, or the concussions. Any of them were equally likely in his mind, but at the moment he didn’t care. Nick Ventner sat in the back of the cop car, grinning like an idiot. “I remembered!”
“Good for you,” said Murphy with a sarcastic laugh. “Now you can explain it all again to a judge and a jury who might be entertained, but I doubt will be sympathetic.”
Nick began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“It’s like you didn’t even listen. I was working for the CIA the whole time!” He continued to laugh. It all made sense. He had never finished his contract. There was no way the CIA was just going to let him go. “Why do you think I’m being transferred downtown?” It all made so much sense.
“You’re being transferred because you’re a danger to society, a drunk, and you wasted six hours of my partner’s valuable time.” A smug grin spread across Murphy’s face as if handing down such life judgments gave him great pleasure.
“Just you wait, you’re going to get a phone call, and it’s going to be a disappointing one. They’re going to tell you to let me go, and I’m going to walk right out of the jailhouse doors…”