Kill, Feed, Grow

Attack from the deep.

Image via Mark Asthoff —

Eying the morning line up, I pull my surfboard from the back of the car. It’s offshore and pumping. There’s no one around. A light mist hangs in the air, giving the car park a supernatural feel. It’s like the zombie apocalypse has hit the coast. The recent spate of shark attacks has reduced the regular flood of crowds to a mere trickle of salty warriors. I smile inwardly at my fortune that people can be scared so easily. Don’t they realise you’re more likely to have a car crash on the way to the beach, than get mauled by a prehistoric eating machine? I wax up my board, thinking of all of the waves I’m going to gorge myself on over the next few hours. The fact that I didn’t die en route to the surf reassures me that statistics are on my side.

Another car pulls into the car park, headlights on. The beams cut through the mist like yellow lasers. The car stops and the lights are cut. A grizzled seadog gets out. He gives me a stoic nod hello. I nod back. I’m glad this guy has shown up. If there is a shark out there, my odds of being chomped in two have just been halved. The seadog pulls out his board. The bottom is striped black and white: a feeble attempt to ward off great whites, that reportedly steer clear of sea snakes the same colour scheme. Whatever makes you feel safer, Moron, I think to myself, pulling on my wetsuit that has been printed to look like a blue ringed octopus.

Paddling around the back of the point, the sea looks like a surrealist mirror, smooth as glass but rippling with energy. There are a few splashes ahead of me as a school of baitfish flees my approach. I settle my flutter of nerves by telling myself I’m more likely to be killed by a lightning strike or rabid donkey attack, than die in the surf. Karma won’t let me die like that. I’m a good person. The only dubious thing I’ve done recently is leave comments on the WSL forums, saying that Kelly Slater is a bald cry baby and Medina is a faggot. But that was all in good fun.

A bigger splash disturbs the water out the back as I settle in and wait for a set. Probably dolphins. I look into shore to see what’s keeping that seadog from paddling out. He’s stretching on the sand, going through some kind of hippy yoga routine. I rub my hands together, warding off the shiver that’s gathering in my spine. Something brushes my leg. I jump, pulling my feet up onto my board, so I’m like a Buddha sitting on a stick of fibreglass. My heart thuds in my chest, but my breathing settles when I see it was just a piece of kelp that startled me. I pick up the seaweed, toying with it, popping the little bubbled bulb on the end between my fingers. I pull the seaweed apart into wedges and scatter them into the water. They look like so many green teeth floating on the surface. Where’s that fucking seadog?

Three waves. Four. A few little tubes change the deep sense of dread inside me into boyish surf stoke. I’m frothing back into the line-up as the seadog takes his first wave, slices a stylish turn and rides past me down the line. I look back to the beach and see that there’s still no one else venturing to even check the waves, let alone surf them.

Out the back again, alone. There’s a lull in the sets. The seadog has beached his wave and is doing a run around. I realise my feet are sitting on my board again and I force myself to lower them back into the murky depths, chastising myself for being foolish. I’m more likely to die from malaria, or a coconut dropping on my head, than being attacked by a shark.

Another piece of kelp brushes my leg and makes me jump. “Fuck you, Seaweed!” I yell, grabbing it and throwing it away from me. I try to calm myself, when the water boils around me. I’m like an egg in a hotpot, being tossed around by the ocean. Thick strands of kelp whip upward, lashing at me. I try to kick away, but one of the fronds wraps around my ankle and starts pulling me under. What the fuck! I hold onto my board as hard as I can. More slimy tentacles wrap around my legs, torso and arms, dragging me down. The stench is overwhelming, like rotten nori rolls. I try to scream for help, but a stinking piece of kelp slithers into my mouth and down my throat. I choke. I feel the weed squirm inside me, like a giant maggot trying to eat my entrails. Foam bubbles around my ears as my head is sucked under. Kelp slides into my nostrils and ears. It wiggles inside my wetsuit. My anus is violated. Penetrating fronds split the eye of my penis. In my last gasp I open my eyes. Just before kelp spears into my pupils, I see the rotting face of the surfer who was taken last week. Around his head is a ring of severed limbs wrapped in weed. The kelp enters my eyes, deep into the sockets. My mind implodes into darkness. All is still.

My consciousness stirs. Vague memories of a final few waves flutter around my brain. I’m floating: at one with the kelp bed around me, drifting toward a new break. I open my empty eye sockets and can somehow see. Everything is a shade of green. Next to me, the pitted eyes of another surfer blink. His mouth smiles a gruesome grin. Our intent is one. All thoughts of a past existence fade and are replaced with a unified, overwhelming urge: kill, feed, grow.

Image by Lauren Probyn —

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