The seas are churning in the storm. The sailboat groans in defiance. In the wheelhouse, a teenager is reading the chart, checking it against the compass, the radar, and the weather forecast. He’s still got braces, but he moves confidently around the boat. He glaces at the door.
Moments later, an older man slaps the door open. He’s wearing a slicker dripping with water. “We need to get westward, son!” he shouts.
“That’s further into the Bermuda Triangle, Dad!” He jabs his finger on the chart. “If we go south quickly, we’ll miss the bulk of the storm head and get out of the triangle.”
Dad scoffs. “You believe this triangle nonsense? We need to take the quickest route out of the storm. I can see on the horizon that it’s that way!” He points west.
“You never trust me! Even though I’ve been right on this trip, you think I’m a little kid or something!”
“This isn’t the time to have this conversation, Jacob! I need to make sure you’re safe.”
“If you want to be safe, go south!”
“Your bid for independence will have to wait for lower stakes!” He turns the wheel west, pointing the bow of the ship in between two enormous storms, a tunnel of calm in the middle.
After a little while, the rain slacks and the seas calm. Dad can’t hide his pride, and his son is sulking in the corner.
“Son, can you read me our coordinates?”
Jacob doesn’t move. He looks up at his father hatefully.
Jacob sighs deeply and gets up. He blinks at the screen for a time. “Dad, I can’t read these…”
“What do you mean?”
“I just, can’t make any sense of it. Come look.”
Dad makes a couple of minute adjustments on the wheel and then turns to his son. “What, are they not what you expected — wait, what is going on?” He blinks at the screen too. He drops his hands to his knees and puts his nose an inch from the screen. “They’re hieroglyphs…”
His son is pulling out a paper map. “It’s the same on here,” he says, slapping it on the table. The numbers and letters are unrecognizable, and even moving and changing each moment.
Outside swells an earth-moving rumble. They both turn slowly and walk toward the window. In between the two storm heads is something that can’t exist. Black tentacles of impossible size are gathering from both of the dark clouds into a form. The form morphs slowly into something like a man, if a man was the size of a city. Stray tentacles hang from his arms and make up his hair and beard. Glowing eyes open.
“I am the Bermuda Triangle Fella’!” he booms. His voice carries any distance without strain or loss.
“What the…” Dad says.
“Can you see me? I’m in the clouds. I’m the Bermuda Triangle Fella’.” His eyes like moons look for his audience.
“Are you a sea monster?” asks Jacob. Dad looks at him, surprised.
“Can you come out of there, so I can hear you better?”
Neither of them move.
“You think you’re safer in there? If I wanted, you’d already be at the bottom of the ocean. Now, come on out so we can chat.”
They look at one another and then march out of the wheelhouse.
“That’s better!” says the Bermuda Triangle Fella’. “Now I can get a look at you.”
“Are you a sea monster?” Jacob repeats.
“Well… I don’t like to be thought of as a monster. I’m more like, just a guy who kind of haunts people who sail into this triangle, and if they’re not pure of heart, I sink their ship — that sort of thing.”
“Is that why we can’t read?” Dad manages to say.
“Yeah, I go ahead and scramble up the part of your brain that remembers how to read. That’s part of my deal as the Bermuda Triangle Fella’…”
“What do you want from us?” Dad keeps putting himself in front of his son, who keeps moving to see the Fella’.
“Basically, I just scramble up your brains and just kind of see what you’re made of. You know, insert myself into your life’s drama. And if you’re pure of heart, I’ll let you go. I haven’t really sunk any ships since the 70s, so keep that in mind. I wouldn’t worry too much.”
“What constitutes pure of heart, Bermuda Triangle Monster!” Dad demands.
“Ok, calm down there, sir, you’re freaking your son out and you’re not making me feel great. I just told you that I don’t like to think of myself as a monster. Pure of heart basically just means you’re just a cool dude. You’re not too bad of a dick. And that’s basically just my subjective experience of you. I can kinda see into your past by reading your mind and see how you feel about yourself, and I’m kinda making snap judgements based off your behavior. I can see mostly that you’re afraid, but don’t worry, that’s not totally out of the ordinary.”
“Bermuda Triangle Fella’,” Dad corrects, “This feels like a bad dream. I just want to protect my son.”
“Well, I don’t know if you’re putting those airs on, but that’s a good sign — wanna protect your son. That’s good. But you know what they say, sir. Put your own mask on first. Just catch your breath, and realize that maybe your son would like to have a sense of independence from you. He’s becoming a man, and from what I can tell, he’s capable and strong and kind.”
Dad looks at Jacob, who looks at the deck. “Is that true?”
“Of course it is! I need you to let me breathe and make my own mistakes! I’m not going to die. In fact, if you had listened to me, we wouldn’t be in this situation!”
The Bermuda Triangle Fella’ shrugs. “I don’t think this situation is that bad…”
“Ok,” Dad says. “I’m sorry.” They hug.
“Aww, that’s nice,” says Bermuda Triangle Fella’.
Dad and Jacob turn back to the Fella’. There is silence.
Finally, Dad asks. “How long does this process take?”
“Oh, now you’re bored?”
“No, no, no!” Dad says. “Just, we learned a lesson, and… what’s up?”
“Oh, don’t say ‘what’s up’ just because you want to seem like a nice guy.”
“No, really. We want to know.” Dad says.
“Well, I mostly just hang out in these clouds! People usually circumnavigate the Triangle these days, ever since those spooky documentaries came out in the 90s. So, I’m mostly lonely. I don’t really sink ships anymore because I want to talk to people longer! And I tell people, you know, ‘tell people it ain’t so bad out here and come on through!’ But that’s not as grabby a tale as people sinking mysteriously…. I mean, that’s basically the gist of it, it’s just nice to be talking to someone. How are you?”
“My son and I were terrified, and now we’re… good.”
“Ok, well, you seem like nice enough people. I guess I can let you go. Unless you wanted to hang out?”
Dad and Jacob look at one another. “Is the judgement over?” Dad asks.
“OK! If I say the judgement is over are you just going to scram?”
“OK, sir. You’re a bad liar. It’s fine…. You don’t want to know about me? You’re not curious about an octopus god-man living in the clouds, maybe even a little?”
“No, I am. I just wanted to make sure my son is safe.”
“Uh, you already tooted that horn, sir. OK, get out of here.”
The boat lurches and begins to move again.
“Bye, Bermuda Triangle Fella’!” Jacob says.
“Whatever,” he says, tentacles retracting into the clouds. “Fucking humans…”
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com on January 25, 2020.