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Creative Saturdays: Boo Maslen - Leviathan

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“And if this be madness in the multitude, it is the same in every particular man. For as in the midst of the sea, though a man perceive no sound of that part of the water next him, yet he is well assured that part contributes as much to the roaring of the sea as any other part of the same quantity: so also, though we perceive no great unquietness in one or two men, yet we may be well assured that their singular passions are parts of the seditious roaring of a troubled nation.” 

― Thomas HobbesLeviathan

 Leviathan

They lasted three years before they grew hungry and began to journey upward once again. The impossible pressure of the deep ocean that had embraced them for so long was slow and reluctant in its release, and each mile upward revealed the depths of their hunger, as more empty ocean unfolded and their almost endless bellies uncoiled.

Light was a curse they had forgotten, and as the water around them grew brighter they took each other in for the first time in centuries, eyes like moons in the shifting blue, their silent communion echoing against the tides that brushed their skin.

I am starving.

As am I.

I might eat you.

And I you. 

I might eat my own tail.

I might tear out my own stomach.

It was only complaining. As the ancient Egyptian carvings, that humanity once deemed to predict the end of times, were revealed to be nothing more than shopping lists and fairy tales, so too would a thousand years of science be able to strip back the ancient language of giants to the grumbling of the hungry and the tired. They kept swimming upwards, the water stained blue and dulled too grey. Their heads, released from the weight of the whole sea, bloomed like flowers, jaws unfurling and eyes bulging outward from their skulls.

Finally the surf revealed itself. A churning sky of dancing froth and water, throwing the suns rays about the place and hungrily gumming at the flotsam and jetsam. Rubbish bobbed nervously amongst thick, shining coils of oil that web-like seemed to encase the water. It grappled with the ocean as though wave and storm might try to fling it away, reflecting back the world in its own distorted colours. The leviathan looked at it for a long time, seeing their kin’s souls in it sheen, but the hunger in their bellies drove them on, on to where they remembered land to be.

The change in their waters did not affect them much. They had been about since the beginning, and the aching movement of the world’s ages was to them only the fluid turning of the weather.

The land reared up from a dark shadow far beneath them, the bones of a vast coral still clinging to the rock, bits and pieces brushing unnoticed against their hide. The shoreline began to pay the price of their presence, giant waves crashed against the cliffs that lined the coast, seething and frequent so that the ocean spilled out over itself. The water level swallowed up land and asserted itself only a few meters below a highway. It was a grey afternoon, and cars raced both ways- hissing across the smooth asphalt. Smooth and shining, convenient and individualized. They contrasted oddly with the messy, lumpy beasts they carried, but you could not see so through the dark tinted windows.

A single dead cockroach was smeared across the ground. Too small a detail for human or leviathan to notice. Its wings, pinched upward by its crushed shell, fluttered in the wake of every passing car, so that it seemed to still be attempting to fly away.

When the first beast rose its head from the water, many took it for a rogue wave. The grey underside of the leviathan curved over the twisting highway, and a great pale eye peered down as if the moon had suddenly descended beneath the clouds. The few cars that weren’t being driven automatically swerved, but most kept their pace, the passengers not even granted the time to take in what they had seen. The second leviathan rose up to greet its companion.

I haven’t seen crabs this big since fish started walking on land.

Where are their legs?

Who cares? Things change.

I haven’t had crab in forever, they were always too small.

Well now they’ve come to land and got bigger. Count your blessings and eat.

Bodies as thick and as long as the highway itself were heaved from the water to wrap around concrete. Cars simply stopped in the middle of the road or bunched themselves against the thick hide, crumpling easily against a wall of muscle and sinew, and then against each other. The operation began of removing the shells of these strange new crabs. People were spilling out onto the road, the hissing of engines replaced by a slowly rising wailing. Panic intoxicated the air, shivering into the lungs of the masses as they scrambled against each other, pushing friends and strangers to the ground to get away. The leviathan tore away all we knew and tossed it to the wind without even noticing. Like serpents we turned on each other as we ran, the mad struggle of escaping masses. Some spilled out over the edge of the highway and fell into the oily water below, or dashed themselves on the rocks. A car sailed from the road as if attempting to dive in after them. A mother stood in the center of the movement, her baby screaming in her arms, the population around her becoming bigger and more terrifying than the unknowable beasts above. 

But that did not matter, the creatures were recoiling, the highway began to come apart under their movement as they reared away, like a mouse crushed in the arms of a snake.

 

Men! They are men! The men are still here! 

Mother forgive me! But I cannot live without food!

 

They turned on each other without hesitation, long bodies intertwining and falling backward into the ocean. Teeth tore into any purchase that could be found. It was not a battle but a feast. Pale flesh drifted amongst the coral, dark blood mingled with the oil above. Their bodies kept twisting and thrashing and their mouths worked like bellows until there was nothing left but tatters, and the ocean was still again, still and cold and vast and nothing was left within it. Nothing at all.

Creative writing pieces are not edited by The National Student staff in order to respect the creative choices of the writer. 




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