A Message in a Bottle

(Horror stories about the unknown.)

“Check this out!” Marcel called.

“What?” I asked, not looking over. I’d been trying to skip rocks, but all I could get were a few hops before the stones were swallowed by the waves.

“It’s a bottle with a note in it,” he replied. “An actual message in a god damn bottle.”

“So open it up,” I said, dropping the flat stones with annoyance. “Whatever’s inside’s gotta be more exciting than anything we’re doing.”

Marcel pried the cork out of the top and turned the bottle over. He shook it, trying to get the note to come out. It didn’t budge.

“C’mon,” he complained, and shook harder. “Screw it,” he muttered, and tossed the bottle against a rock. It shattered. He poked through the shards and grabbed the loosely-rolled note. He opened it and started to read.

“If you’re reading this, we are all dead. I hoped I’d never have to hurl this overboard; that things would settle down and go back to normal. But apparently, they didn’t.”

“Weird,” I remarked. Marcel nodded and continued.

“By the time we realized NK had the egress technology, war was all but assured. The CIC kept it from the public, but we’d all been mobilized months earlier – ready to go. The reports from SK were vague, but some online publications picked them up. Bodies changing. Bones growing long and thick. Eyes multiplying.”

“What the hell is this?” I wondered aloud.

“Stay away from rivers. They take all the water. And stay away from the trees. The trees have eyes.”

“The trees have eyes,” I mouthed to myself. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place the source.

“We’re mounting our final offensive as the sea level drops. A carrier group off NK was devoured last night. I know ours is next. One of the bigger ones is under us. Dead fish and whales have been floating up all day. I think the water tastes us.”

“Is something going on?” Marcel asked, sounding bewildered. “Check your phone.”

I pulled up my browser and navigated to the news sites. Nothing was amiss. Just the usual stuff.

“No,” I replied.

“This is so weird,” he murmured, then continued.

“CIC approved the firing of whatever we’ve been hiding in the new destroyer. It’s something the captain said is our last chance to fix all this. I don’t think it will work. Even as I write this, I feel vibrations all throughout the carrier.

“A few crewman dragged a body of one of the smaller things onboard this afternoon. It was all bones and limbs and eyes. And mouth. My God, it’s mouth was so big. So wide. It looked like it could swallow a man whole. I can’t imagine what people will think when they start washing up on shore alive — when they start devouring.

“This is all I’m going to write. I hope I never have to throw this into the sea. I pray I can bring it home and hug my kids and never think about this again. But, as I indicated, if anyone reads this, know I’m gone. And I think we all will be soon.”

“That’s it?” I asked. “What the hell, man?”

“There’s one more thing,” Marcel whispered. His hands were trembling.

“What? What is it?”

He held out the note for me to read. I scanned through, and when I got to the very end, my eyes widened.

“Please deliver this to my wife, Rafaela Sanchez-Phillips. She lives at 3334 Meadow Lane, Villanueva, CA. I can only pray something saved us before CA was affected.

Lt. Matthew Phillips
January 4, 2020

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4 Replies to “A Message in a Bottle”

  1. Oh damn.
    Because of the “the trees have eyes” sentence, I thought it was a followup to your story with three adventurers and a flesh village at the end. Can’t recall the name.

  2. Great story, as always 🙂 It’s sort of inspired my impish side.. I might have to toss a few notes in a bottle myself this summer, and get creative about their circumstances. I love that you’ve got something new here at least once a week. I look forward to it every time, and I’m never disappointed.

  3. I think this is the first story I read after discovering this site. I just reread it and it’s still one of my favorites. Good stuff.

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