Ala, by Chad A. Clark
The ship was bathed in blood.
At least, that was what it looked like, from across the twenty feet that separated the two vessels as they passed each other. Gavin leaned over the side rail and tried to get the attention of the one person on the other ship that he could see. The man was crouched down on his knees on the deck, rocking back and forth, screaming incomprehensibly.
“Eli, what the hell is he saying?”
Eli was staring at the man, mouthing the words silently as if he was trying to figure that out himself. He shook his head as he answered. “Something about a snake. A snake with wings in…in the clouds?”
Gavin looked back at the plume of cloud cover that swooped down across the water towards them. The sight of the sudden, impenetrable clouds was unsettling enough, but add to that the image of the vessel coming forth from those clouds transporting such human carnage.
“Maybe we should turn—”
Gavin looked back at Eli and saw the man now standing completely erect, his arms hanging limply at his sides, staring up at the sky with his mouth hanging open.
“Eli? What’s wrong?”
His friend dropped his head back down to look at Gavin, who took an immediate step back. Eli’s eyes had glazed over and all he could see was the whites, with bright lines of veins cutting across the surface.
“I shall have you now.” Eli’s voice had taken on a modulated tone, sounding almost female to him. Gavin turned back towards the bow and saw the clouds rushing in to overtake them. In an instant, they were engulfed in swirling, gray smoke. A black shape passed overhead, so close that a hot breeze trailing behind knocked them off their feet.
The boat floated through smoke, endlessly, until finally it broke through into what must have been the center of the cloud, a patch of raging sea underneath a bubble of otherwise clear sky. Thunder crashed from the cloud and flashes of static electricity rippled from within as well. Gavin heard a sound and looked up, slack jawed as the dark shape flew out from the cloud cover and could be seen clearly for the first time.
“Snake? That’s a God dammed dragon.”
The inconceivable sight of the winged beast bearing down on them caused some of the men to jump overboard, screaming frantically. One by one, the demon plucked them out of the water, showering the boat with blood as it bit down on its victims.
“Too late for you to turn back now.” The voice of whatever was possessing Eli spoke one more time before his head was twisted violently, by the unseen force that had taken hold. Gavin could hear the bones cracking from where he was standing, and watched as the body of his best friend fell limply to the deck.
He looked around him as his crew started to be taken from the ship and the blood began to rain down in heavier torrents. He heard the shrieking cries and looked up into the visage of hunger and desire on the face of the thing as it swooped down on him, flesh torn, and pain, followed not quickly enough by eternal night.
For more short fiction, check out Chad’s books : A SHADE FOR EVERY SEASON (available in paperback, eBook and audiobook) and TWO BELLS AT DAWN (available in paperback and eBook)