Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

The Beast By Solenne Levesque

Andrew was walking down the stairs with caution, tightly holding on to the handrail. The metal heels of his shoes clanked against the rusty steps. Despite the thick leather gloves he was wearing, he could feel that the icy cold was starting to reach the extremities of his fingers. He reached the next floor: minus twelve. Three more to go. As he sat down on the stairs, Andrew could feel the vibrations of the ship shaking his bones. He had stopped noticing them after his first month aboard but they were growing stronger as he was getting closer to the bottom of the ship.

He paused to think again of the instructions he had been given on floor plus two. The captain of the polar expedition had designated him, the clerk, to go to the machine room and find out why the mechanics had given no sign of life for three days. Andrew was not simple enough to think that he had been chosen for his experience, his skills, or even his bravery, it was only because he had been the last one to arrive at the general meeting. He had also not been fast enough to think of a reason why he could not go down to floor minus fifteen. 

Andrew stood up again. He could feel the weariness in his knees but the incessant running of the water against the walls was making him restless. He was walking down the stairs again. He could hear steam pulsating through the pipes and the blood pumping against his temples. 

It had all started a few months ago when he had been appointed to this ship by Head Quarters. Officially, they were supposed to explore the newly melted Arctic waters to find oil basins. His job was to file the logs produced by the scientists on board. Andrew had been surprised and flattered by the appointment as it was beyond his remit and he would have considered himself unqualified for the job. It had taken him longer than he cared to admit to understand that this was precisely why he had been chosen. 

Andrew had now reached floor minus fifteen and had been standing at the door for a few minutes now. The noise was unbearable. He took a deep breath and opened the door to the machine room. There were no machines. There were no mechanics. There was a beast, crouching just below the ceiling and taking up the whole width of the room. It was monstrous. Andrew stood still for a few moments. The beast's body was moving up and down as it breathed. It was looking at him, sitting still. Its skin looked crackled, and Andrew thought that it probably missing the water. 

Andrew walked up to the beast and held out his hand to caress what he assumed was its muzzle and smiled: "Hello, friend".

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