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The day of the arrival of the Great White Thing started off a miserable one. It was one of those awful, humid, mid-August afternoons in which the air is so thick that a breeze can leave your skin feeling sticky and you can scarcely do so much as breathe.
I was passing by the docks on this particular day, briefcase in hand and wearing a suit that was far too thick to be in that sort of heat. But I was headed to my first day of work and wanted to leave a good impression, no matter how brutal the weather.
Heavily muscled men, a great majority of them shirtless, were hauling in the day's catch. Just as many stray cats lurked about, waiting for their chance to nab a fish or two when the men weren't paying attention. An old fellow in a grey cap kept batting the cats away with a broom when they got brave and ventured too close.
At this point, I was just passing by. I paid little attention to the men working along the dock and only showed acknowledgement to the elderly man in the form of a nod when he happened to glance up at me. It was then, at that very moment, that I noticed something strange. Beyond the elderly man, just along the edge of the dock, I saw a wriggling shadow- it was small, so much that if I hadn't been looking in that exact spot at that exact moment, I would have probably never noticed it.
The first thought that occured to me was that there was something wrong with my eyes. I rubbed them, but when I opened them again I saw that the shadow was still there. I glanced around but saw nothing that could be casting the shadow at that particular place on the dock.
I felt, very suddenly, the urge to get away from there as soon as possible. I hurried on my way, feeling the old man's gaze lingering on my back.
Yet that did not solve a thing.
Further along I walked, and even more of those curious shadows began to appear. They squirmed as if they were worms, as if they were alive. I attempted to ignore them, but by the time I reached the end of the dock it was impossible- they were everywhere.
"Can I help you, boy?"
I had been so entranced by the dancing shadows that I did not hear the old man approach. I turned around and gave him a smile out of politeness. Knowing nothing of the ocean, I thought that it may have been some bizarre effect that resulted from it. "Perhaps you could tell me what those strange creatures are?" I asked.
The man squinted out over the docks. He was silent for a long time, then: "I don't see 'nothing. Unless you're talkin' about the fish."
"No, no," I said. "I meant those strange shadows."
No sooner had the words left my mouth than those shapes started to take form. Fat, white, wormlike things that materialized out of nothing. It was all I could do but watch, dumbfounded, as the shadows transformed into physical creatures.
The strange worm-things crawled into a perfect circle, raising their fat little bodies up towards the sun like snakes about to strike. They held this stance for nearly a minute before, one by one, they dropped down and squirmed across the ground to the edge of the dock. At once, the worm-things slithered over the edge and vanished into the ocean.
Too confused to say anything, I just turned around and stared at the old man. He looked at me as if I was crazy before hobbling back to where he previously stood, keeping watch with his broom. Did that mean he could not see it? The horrible little things were clear as day to me, so that either meant that he was crazy, or I was.
Very suddenly the ground started to rumble, the ocean trembling. The workers stopped what they were doing and glanced at each other as if seeking answers. A low murmur sprang up among them. I could hear one of the men turn to his acquaintance and ask, "Is it an earthquake?"
All of a sudden, an enormous tentacle, the colour of bone, reached out of the water and plopped wetly against the concrete. Shouts of alarm filled the air, but nobody thought to move- not even I. Soon after, another tentacle appeared, and another. One slithered across the ground and coiled around a man's ankle, yanking him out into the open water before he even had a chance to scream. What followed was a violent struggle- thrashing beneath the waves, a half-strangled cry- this went on for what felt like hours, when in reality it must have lasted barely five seconds.
There was a wet sucking and popping noise.
The cries faded.
A stream of bubbles flooded the surface.
All of us, myself included, lapsed into dead silence.
There was another grumbling beneath the glossy surface of the water. As if the reality of the situation had just set in, the men started to scream and run from the docks. I wish I had thought to do the same, but I was frozen to the spot, gawking in horror. The ocean shimmered and parted as more tentacles broke the surface. A deep, beastly roar filled the air, and I instinctively knew it was not a creature of this earth.
The last thing I saw was the Great White Thing, rising up from the depths, blocking out the sun.